In beginning my 1:1 iPad classroom, I experimented with my lesson planning formats, to find what works best to allow the students and myself to integrate them swiftly. So far, a project based approach has been the key to a successful learning program. What is a project based approach? I hear you ask...
If we are focussing on a concept, such as 'friends of ten' or 'addition' in Mathematics, using the iPads, our focus would be on constructing a project across the whole week. Usually in a paper based Year 1 classroom, I would use various activities, structures, and ways of teaching a concept. Using iPads is no different, I differentiate my teaching and try to access children's multiple intelligences through varying activities; however, in a project based approach the students construct a book, iMovie, or Explain Everything file using one app as their focus for the week.
Recently, we focussed on making a friends of ten boon through Book Creator. Students added to their book each day and wrote in a new 'friend of ten', as the week went along. Toward the end of the week, students showed their understanding in different ways, for example through adding a ten-frame, bundles of pop-sticks, or ones blocks to display their sum. They were also required to include a written sum, pictures of their example they found (eg: 5 sticks + 5 leaves = 10) and a voice recording of their explanation.
Generating a project, rather than separate learning experiences in multiple apps, allows the children to master the one app at a time and develop their skills. It also allows the student to show their understanding in multiple ways and keep their work in one place.
To complement the activity we are focussing on with the iPad, I would also ensure we had manipulatives for the children to work with (usually as a warm-up/mental math activity) and again, as a finisher, we'd end with a hands on activity too.
In addition, usually I would assess using other apps or ways to measure their understanding. At the end of our 'friends of ten' learning project I had the evidence of what they had produced in their books, as well as my own observations. I supported this formative assessment, with a summative test via another app called 'Socrative' students showed their understanding through answering pre-made questions. This app is fabulous, because it gives you a visual, colour co-ordinated piece of data that determines your ability groups in the classroom.
Old fashioned teaching and learning has a time and place still in the classroom. However, our students are growing up in a world immersed in technology. Not only do we need to provide them with skills to cope in this growing tech-filled environment, but we can also enhance their ability to learn content through creative, digital formats.