Our school recently purchased twenty-four new iPads. Teachers, who are interested, now have three to keep in their classroom. That means the original set of ten, are still in my room, and while they can be checked out by others, they will mostly be used by my kids. More time for us! That’s good! As you can tell, I have a love/hate relationship with these little tablets. One week I’m complaining that the iPads almost made me cry, and the next I’m excited that we got more of them.
On January 20th, I got to take time to visit the classroom of a teacher who is running a paperless classroom. I was eager to see what he was doing, that I could apply to my own situation. I was happy to see that I am already doing many of the things he is doing. My students complete work using Google documents and Google forms. The big difference is he is a special education teacher with 8 students and iPads and laptops for each student, whereas I have 28 students with ten iPads, six laptops, and one antique desktop.
He uses his class blog as a platform for assigning work to students, and providing them with the links they need. I do much the same thing with my class wiki. While my classroom is far from paperless, it was great reinforcement to see someone else doing these things, and it really encouraged me to continue in the direction we are going, even if it takes us several days to rotate through the computers to complete work.
Our latest project with the iPads is using Edmodo. If you are not familiar with Edmodo, it is a social networking website that looks much like Facebook, except it is designed exclusively for education. The teacher sets up a group, the only people who can access the group are those with a special code. I like the fact that you can include links, embed forms, upload videos, and in this way build background on a subject for your students. Teachers can also make assignments and grade them, conduct polls, and carry on a private conversation with an individual student. To get a better idea about Edmodo, check out the video below.
Last year my students completed a webquest on the American Revolution. This was not as successful as the earlier webquest we did about mountains, so I was looking for a way to improve on that. The advantage of Edmodo over the webquest that I did last year, is that you can follow up the research and reading with discussion.
With the iPads, the students are able to visit the websites that I want them to, summarize the important points, and answer questions that I have posed. I am having students work on this while I work with others on reading. So I’m using the iPads and Edmodo to squeeze in some instruction in a way that hopefully will keep students excited and interested.
If you are interested in learning more about using Edmodo check out Henrietta Miller’s blog, Techie Brekkie on Using Edmodo in the K-12 School. She is a teacher in Sydney, Australia (@henriettami on Twitter.)