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Tuesday, 8 May 2012
The iPad unlocks the shackles of the Interactive White Board - By Mr Yeomans
As soon as I received my iPad I was eager to see how I could use it. As mentioned I only have one for my class and although I could easily borrow other teachers iPads in order to have a class set, the thought of orchestrating a lesson with each child on an iPad seemed a little daunting. So how was one iPad going to impact my teaching and the children’s learning?
What I am about to write will seem silly to those in the know, but it might give you a starting point of my understanding. My first thought was one of shock because the iPad didn’t have Word or Publisher. How was I going to use it for my planning! In fact this was such a good thing because straight away I was thinking about how else it might be used. I wasn’t being side tracked by personal use, but now thinking instantly about the classroom and the children. So what could I use it for? The answer initially was omnipresence in the classroom.
Mr Yeomans' omnipresence in the classroom
Personally I am intrigued by the way my position in the classroom can affect an input, dynamics and feel of a lesson. Try standing away from you white board; standing at the back of the class for an input or sitting on some drawers at the side for a mini plenary, the result is weird. It’s rather liberating and the children seem more engaged simply because of the break from the routine, the teacher being in front of the white board and everyone facing one direction. The problem previously came when you needed to write something on the board or change the slide. You had to go back to the dark side and succumb to the pull or the eerily named SMART board! I digress. As soon as I received my iPad I also got an Apple TV that attached to the computer in a really simple way. In fact I connected it without ringing the IT support helpline. It would be this Apple TV that would impact my teaching for not a lot of effort.
Apple TV - The End for the IAW?
Apple TV allowed me to show anything on my iPad, from any location in the room, on the big Interactive White Board (IWB) screen, wirelessly. Instantly I was seeing results. I could change the slide from anywhere, at any point during the lesson. That meant that if a child I was speaking too at the back of the class could really do with a recap of another slide, I didn’t have to trudge through the sea of desks and chairs to do so. This allowed me to keep pace and fluidity when supporting a child. Better still I can use the freeze function on the projector remote control and just change the slide on my iPad for that one child to see, without changing the big Smart board screen. That meant the rest of the class were not disrupted or missing out on the information on the big screen. It was with this success that I was then pondering what else Apple TV would allow me to do. It didn’t take long for obvious things to come to mind. I used it like a visualizer in the classroom. The children could stay in their seats and show their work. They could demonstrate building or drawing something for the whole class without the upheaval of taking pencils, chalk, paint, blocks, staws, paper clips etc to the visualizer. The children also loved it when they wanted to add an idea to the board. We all know how much the children all want to be next to use the IWB, but image their excitement, interest and engagement when a girl at the back of the class write something down and they see it appear on the big screen. With the iPad being so light and conveniently sized the children can even pass it amongst them throughout the lesson. They could write adjectives they have found in a book or imperative verbs in instructions, to name only a few ideas.
I am not saying that this practice is an alternative in every situation but it did add a little something to the learning environment. Variety is extremely important and shouldn’t be dismissed, but this practice did add something else. It was something polished and sharp, something fresh and new to further develop professionalism and a clean clear learning environment. I liked it. It was easy and quick, resulting in improvements in teaching, engagement and interest. In truth it made the thought of standing in front of the class, limited to a certain area and to touching the board for results, seem a little dated. If the iPad continues to provide improvements for such little effort then every teacher should have one. However I am getting carried away. It is still early days and as yet it is not a requirement of an outstanding lesson. This is but one thing the iPad can do. A good thing I think but maybe not worth the price tag of an iPad alone.
No teacher can be everywhere in the classroom, being all seeing and all doing, (although we try and some might claim to be!) Nevertheless my new iPad is letting me be anywhere I like in the classroom. I wonder if the signal reaches from the staff room. Would it reach from the playground? Think of the map skills, the directional language that could be gathered and recorded on a video whilst getting back to the classroom. What if we used Skype so we could communicate and see someone with the iPad from the classroom. We could try and navigate someone back to the classroom from all over the school!