“I had never used an iPad before this school year.” – Salt Spring Island Middle School, Classroom Teacher.
Salt Spring Island Middle School’s grade 6/7 teacher and students have been learning together this year. Teacher, Kim Moffat, with the support of resource teacher, Tom Langdon, has embarked on the use of iPads as a key tool in her inclusive classroom. They are finding a variety of ways to incorporate the device into daily instruction. At the start of this school year, Kim attended a SET-BC professional development workshop focusing on various literacy apps, SAMR and the transformative learning that can take place with the introduction of technology in the classroom. As some of Kim’s new students had just moved up to middle school from a class at the elementary school that had participated in a SET-BC three-tiered services pilot project in the 2014-15 school year, she decided to embrace the challenge by watering the seeds of technology growth that had been sown the previous year.
An initial consultation with a Tier 2 SET-BC consultant identified the many aspects to consider when attempting to effectively introduce and implement iPads in the classroom. How would the iPads be managed? Which students would use which iPad….and when? Which of the thousands of “educational” apps would motivate and benefit the students leading to both academic and engagement success? Kim had explored several potential literacy apps at the initial summer workshop and, during the initial consultation, moved on to discuss other easily accessible apps.
She initially used Pictello app with word prediction and text-to-speech features to motivate and engage students to write. Energized by the students’ enthusiasm, and learning from them as she went, she quickly moved on to experiment with other aspects of iPad use including imovies, videos, google docs, slides and classroom. Even Kim’s approach to managing the iPads built on the previous teacher’s idea and grew with student suggestions. Number photos were taken and used as wallpaper on each iPad. One inspired student proposed that the numbers should also be on the outside cases for ease of collection, enabling everyone to instantly see if an iPad is missing and locate it promptly. The photo numbering system continued on a management wall where students place their names to sign up for iPad use. Effective, easy and, as one student put it, “just like when we figure out which number bus to get on after school”.
On a recent visit to the class, each and every student demonstrated how they had been involved in using the iPad to support learning commenting on which aspects both enhanced their work and frustrated them. With obvious pride, students demonstrated reams of creative writing samples, shared their talking books, demonstrated useful websites and even showed how they had integrated iPads and movie-making into a math problem solving unit. As for the technology learning curve, teacher and students relied on each other for support. When, during the visit, the consultant explained an aspect of iPad use to one student, that student could be heard passing it on to her classmates as the consultant moved on.
Indeed, Kim’s classroom is abuzz with the energy of engagement and collaboration. With the iPad as one of a variety of tools available for learning, the grade 6/7 classroom at Salt Spring Island Middle School is establishing strong roots of inclusive and accessible education. We can’t wait to see how high those branches may reach!