Tag Archives: iPad

Different Road

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Routine isn’t bad.  It provides a sense of security and understanding on how life works.  My children do better when we keep to a routine.  Even in my classroom, I noticed when I arranged my desk in rows there were less issues to deal with.  The sun comes up, the sun goes down; nature has its routine.

But all routines have a beginning and an end.  As my kids grow their routines change.  The desks in my room had to move to fit different lessons.  The time when the sun rises and sun sets change everyday.

When do we change?

Why don’t we change?

The first iPad sold on September 17, 2010 (just two years ago).  In the ESU 10 area we have at least eight schools with 1-to-1 iPad programs this year and at least another five looking at going to 1-to-1 programs next year.  Not to mention all the schools that have iPad labs. iPads are just an example of the rapid shift happening right now in our world. There is change happening in schools, but we are still driving on the same road.

We have been on this road for so long that we don’t even consider pulling over at a rest stop. We put the school on cruise control and head toward graduation.  Even if there is construction, or a bad storm, we have always arrived at our destination.

Courtesy of Flickr user Jared Zimmerman.


But there are many roads we can take.  And reasons to take them.  The first step to change is recognizing that the road we are on may not be the best one for us.

Because I am afraid the kids are sleeping in the back to pass the time…

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Choice or Indecision?

As stated in Barry Schwartz’s TED Talk, too many options can be paralyzing.  We all feel empowered by choice.  It gives us a sense of control of our lives, of our own happiness.  But I agree with Barry Schwartz’s there is a negative side to choice.  Whether it is too many choices, or an unexpected choice, we don’t feel empowered.  We feel frozen and unsure.

Personally, I went through this last week.  I was presented with an unexpected opportunity to return to the classroom.  Understand; this was a choice that was totally unexpected.  It challenged me to think about my future: where did I want to be in five years?  Where did I want to be next year?  Instead of feeling free and honored to be considered for the position, it froze me.   I decided to stay with ESU 10 at the moment because I needed to finish what I had started.  Where will I be in five years?  I can’t say for sure, but that is for another blog.

But I’m starting to see this paralysis in education.  Many schools are considering going to a 1:1 environment with iPads.  I think that is awesome, but there is a hurdle that needs to be addressed: app choice.

7415 free apps in the area of productivity.  How productive would I be sifting through all those choices? I know what you are thinking; use the search option.  OK.  I’ll use the keyword “Grammar” (Hey, I’m an English teacher).

Results: 720 apps, both free and paid.

As the landscape changes in the classroom with mobile technology, it is good to be aware of different hurdles that a school, a teacher, or student may face.  In this case the option of choice regarding apps.  A great benefit of mobile devices is the ability to personalize content and the learning experience a student has through the apps and tools provided for them. But which app to choose? There is not a “right or wrong” answer here, but Barry Schwartz’s does present a philosophy to consider.

We are in a transitional period, a reconstructing of our “fish bowls” you might say. It is not easy, but it is exciting to be in the mix of this change.  What will education look like in 5 years? The choice is ours…


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Using iBook for Lecture Notes

This is the semester that I teach American Literature for CCC Grand Island via distance learning.  For the first time we are reading Tuesdays With Morrie. Instead of creating my notes on a notepad or with 3 X 5 cards, I decided to use the highlight / note option in iBook.  Plus, I decided to project the book on the screen as I lectured and presented notes on the whiteboard.  Day one went well.

My Lecture Notes

As you can see above, my “notes” are crazy and always have been, even in my traditional classroom. The iPad 2 added some unique aspects to my delivery. A cool aspect was integrating YouTube videos into my lecture.  I love connecting pop culture references to my lessons.  As I formulated my notes, a couple of references came to mind and I cued them up on the YouTube app.  Then, placed a cue in the notes when to show them.  With a swipe of my fingers we went from book to video (slight buffering).

Another aspect I liked was that, in most cases, my notes did not hide the highlighted text, so the students could easily see both.  This didn’t happen 100 percent of the time, but over all both were visible.

The rough spot was me.  First, I am use to having my notes on paper or 3 X 5 card, and would have the same craziness on my own notes as you see on the whiteboard. That is the way I think (and usually talk, but I get to the point).  Also, my timing was not perfect in switching from me to the book.  Not a big issue, but I found myself writing on the board when the book was still on the screen.

Talking with a few of the students after class, they said they liked the approach.  They said that seeing the highlighted sections helped.  They also enjoyed the videos; it allowed them time to think and presented a different insight to an idea in the book.

I hope to collect some quotes from the students (an assignment they have) and use those in the lecture as discussion points.  Overall, I like the ease of using the book with the highlights and notes imbedded in the text.  Plus, being able to use one of my favorite tools, pop culture allusions, adds some fun to my lecture.

Share your story of how you are using the note and highlight option in iBook in the comment area.

A sneak peak at the book if you haven’t read it.

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The picture is my youngest daughter with an iPad.  She will turn two in late December.  I recently made folders on the iPad, and with out any instruction, she figured out where her favorite apps were.  She enjoys drawing and animal apps, the ones that make the animal noises.  And yes, we have set her down in front of the iPad when we need a minute or two to finish dinner.  But as soon as I grab a book, or flop down on the floor, she will ignore the iPad to interact with me.  But will that always be the case?

A few weeks ago the boys had their first basketball practice. The whole elementary basketball league met at the high school for this practice.  There were some high school boys helping, and a few other boys that may have been there to help but were goofing around at an open basket.

Two of the boys were on the basketball team and were dressed in practice gear.  The third boy was dressed in jeans and a too-large polo shirt.  They were shooting crazy shots, doing alley-oops, just being teenagers.  Burning off energy and having a fun time.  Honestly, I was watching them with a touch of jealousy as they jumped to see if they could touch the rim.  I remembered those younger days when my friends and I would do the same thing.  Some milestones of adolescence do not change; other aspects seem to be changing.

The three of them were lost in the moment, simply being friends, simply having fun.  Then a cell phone went off.  The boy in the jeans immediately grabbed his phone to send a quick text.  That changed everything, the simplest yet powerful connection of that moment was gone.  One of the boys went off to help a group, the boy in the jeans and the other boy tried to continue to play, but the cell phone was now the most important thing.

Technology had become the focus.  At one point the boy in the jeans was throwing an alley-oop passes to the other one.  The boy had the ball in his hands when his phone went off again.  Ball in one hand, he pulls out the phone to check the text message.  Without even looking at his friend, he simply rolls the basketball toward the basket.  His attention now fully on the phone.  His friend grabbed the ball and walked off.  It saddened me.

I love technology, but this life is about people, about relationships.  Technology allows us even greater opportunities to connect with friends and family.  It gives us a chance to make connects with people we normally would never had been able to before.  But at this time when the definition of Friend is “click accept.”  That a text message on the phone has to be answered right now, no matter what is happening. We need to make the focus on the connection to people, not on the means of making the connection.


Filed under Family, Life, Technology