Work Flow in the iPad 1:1 classroom
As you might anticipate, a classroom with integrated 1:1 iPads significantly changes many aspects of the classroom environment and the teaching/learning process. While the apps are the most interesting to find/try out and use (once you find the ones that work for you), what many of my colleagues (we have a iPad cohort/staff development group) who are integrating the iPads into our classrooms have learned is that the flow of work changes were not as anticipated.
A traditional classroom work flow may look something like this:
Granted, everyone’s classroom flows a bit differently. Mostly depending upon philosophy or curricular area/age group of students. This “flow” may also happen several times in one class period. At least in foreign language, we typically have 3-5 “activities” or mini-lessons/movements throughout one class period or more. Each time there is a transition, the different parts of this flow may take differing amounts of time. Especially once students are familiar with a practice the “teacher does” part may be merely minimally stating the next expectation or writing the list of things to accomplish today and letting students get it done.
While some parts of the above statement are true for the 1:1 classroom (timing changes based on familiarity/practice, etc), the REAL work-flow changes are most noticeable when related to:
- teacher planning/lesson set-up
- Content distribution/delivery
- Student work levels
The iPad work almost immediately throws students in to the “deep end” of the swimming pool. It requires them to apply knowledge, create demonstrations, collaborate and interact – NOT just consume. We purposefully chose to work with iPads because of these properties. By their very nature, Apps require interaction. Students are not just surfing the web and taking notes. We’ve noticed that our workflow is much more like this:
As teachers we find ourselves discussion the overarching goals of our activity MUCH more than we did previously. We figure out our “plan of attacked” based upon the demonstration skills that we are seeking DAILY. I know, I know….. “everyone is supposed to be doing this from the get-go”. However, let’s be honest. In the day and age of testing, we are often focused on the final product versus the daily scaffolded skill-building which lead there. Determining which app best helps students demonstrate “x” skill has forced us to refocus our efforts on this differentiation and skill-building. The apps we choose help kids progress at their own levels and immediately launches them into the higher order skills of creation, application and interaction.
Our work before hand: content-delivery (don’t waste time talking! Let them get working!) and during class (roving tech-assistant, support staff, questioner/validator of knowledge) has become more personalized. We can readily see the work of each student as they progress and debate. It’s so easy to stop and clarify or offer support/validation to small groups of students when they are working with their iPads. It’s incredibly rewarding.
Students in our classes publish their work to the class blogs or our private YouTube channel. Their work is shared via Flipboard with other members of class immediately. They can post questions, interact and check out their own progress by viewing that of their peers. They are much more motivated to work on developing their skills when their work is shared so publicly. It’s been an amazing turn around for several students who were previous more likely to disengage or freak out that they “didn’t get it but everyone else around me does”.
Our work with students about publishing and evaluating has really taken a focus. Since the students can create and make/do in so many different apps, we needed to find a way to COLLECT all of these great works. (Nothing motivates a high school student faster than points in a grade book, after all.) The blogs and the private YouTube channels are one way. A shared class Dropbox folder is another.
When I first began planning for the arrival of the iPads, I had not considered all of the different sharing/publishing options. I had no idea how to plan for that. I spent more time planning the apps selection, interaction, “management” pieces, etc. But now that I’m in the swing, I can see that my establishing a clear management practice with students has prevented a lot of what can go wrong to NOT go wrong in my class. (Kids aren’t taking random selfies, etc) And having a very clear delineated plan for work collection, publication and sharing has helped students view the iPads as the true classroom tool that they are rather than just a “toy” or “extra”.
I have many more thoughts about this but for now needed to get something written down. You know how that goes….