Join Laurie Burruss for an in-depth discussion in this video Designing an activity, part of iPad Classroom: Creating a Research Project.
In planning an activity for the iPad classroom, I really had to think about how I'd been teaching before. So, before the iPad, this was the scenario I usually followed. I would do a lecture, there would be a handout. Students would take notes, sometimes I would require a text book. For instance, Ittin, the Elements of Color. Then I would send the students off to do an assignment. And they would work on their own, independently. They'd turn that assignment back into me. I'd grade that assignment, and I'd return it to the student. And when I thought about it, there was little interaction. It was me, being the sage on the stage, a good sage on the stage, but certainly a sage on the stage.
And the students were doing a lot of independent learning along, and isolated, and not sharing what they were learning. It's a teacher centric model. So I took some time to think about the possibilities with the iPad. And I realized that with the iPad and a browser, and WiFi, my students and myself had infinite access to resources. That we could create rich media assets, and we could use rich media assets already created to learn things.
That with the variety of tools and apps available on an iPad, that my students and myself had a much bigger tool box. And with the iPad, there are new ways to share, and to communicate, and to connect. And finally, what would these new form factors look like? And how would we present to each other? There must be new ways of seeing what we're doing. So after the iPad, this is what my classroom started looking like. You can see it's an energetic environment.
I typically do a presentation, or what I call a framework overview of the project or activity. And I stop myself frequently and let the class have interactions and try things out before we move forward. Then we'll move on to focused small group research projects. They're focused I usually do groups of 3. And let them try finding things and researching. And then, finally, we follow up with individual projects. Projects that assess and show the context of what they learned in the previous days.
So the results with the iPad is a very energized, engaging, and somewhat intense and focused environment. In classroom interactions, I saw that they were listening more, observing more, exploring, discussing, responding. And saying things to me like, that was the most engaging thing I've ever done in school. In small group activities, I saw them rush, and hurry, and furiously go to research. And annotate, debate ideas, select, defend positions, write thoughts out, experiment, collaborate, share. And at least three times a class period I would hear how did you do that? When they were working on individual projects they were no longer consumers they were creators.
They were experimenting, they were using critical thinking, they were applying evidence based learning to what they were doing. They saw that context mattered. And most importantly, they were empowered and enabled by the fact that they could create evidence and artifacts that showed academic rigor, professionalism. And that they were learning something. So the iPad, for me, has really changed everything. I'm not telling you that it's easy. I'm not telling you that you'll get it right the first time. Reward the risk-taking, if you fail, go get feedback and fix it. Your students will tell you, do it, do it and do it again. It's an iterative process.
I want to design an activity to teach color theory. Itten's theory of color contrast. It's one small part of a book he wrote. So I sit down and think about a project and I knew that is what I was target theory particularly the theory of color contrast. I realize that one of the things that I don't see a lot of evidence among students is project management skills. So I wanted to make sure that we had time management built into the project. That for each task that we did there was an assigned amount of time, that there was an opportunity for feedback.
That there was an opportunity to take risks, and that I encouraged iteration. Telling them that the research process Is to collect, curate, disseminate, and do it again, and again until you're ready to publish. I really emphasized authenticity and ownership, and trying to use your own voice to express what you have learned. For communication skills I selected a number of apps and tools. You'll be seeing them in the next movies. Nearpod, PDF's, Keynote, PowerPoint. And I inserted real-time interactions, short answers, multiple choice, wordstorming, visual quick sketches of ideas, polling, and quizzes. And when I design communication skills, I include visual, oral, and written presentation skills.
I try to incorporate some team based learning or communication in every activity that we do as well. A way to share and diseminate. And this is often done by posting to the Wikispaces. The Wikispaces serves for the group is a place where we can share, and see what all of the members of the class are doing. And then individually I have them post to Evernote. And that is their personal, unique class notebook, in terms of digital literacy scales, we talk about internet research practices.
What it means to do academic research with rigor and critical thinking. And we talk about attribution who does it belong to and how do we let people know where we got our sources. And how to use online digital libraries. And then again I do, do a time schedule for the class interaction I allowed 60 to 90 minutes. For the small group research project, 2 hours for research and 15 minutes for the presentation. And for the individual activity, the project based assessment, I allowed one day in class. So my before and after is a much more interesting picture. I used to think I was a good teacher, now students are telling me I'm a great teacher.
I think it's really the introduction of the iPad, and the engagement factor, and the joy that we have in learning together. And trying out these new tools for the 21st century.
- Designing an activity
- Using the Nearpod app
- Selecting apps that support your teaching style
- Researching a topic and sharing the results
- Presenting academic research
- Assessing the success of iPad projects