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iPads in the History Classroom - A Teacher Reflection

-by Jody Pereverzoff, Grade 7 Humanities

This reflection is based on the Pre-Confederation Canadian History Unit, Determining Historical Significance (reference Determining Historical Significance and Determining Historical Significance Part II)

This unit required students to work individually, as well as collaboratively, to demonstrate their understanding. The discussions were thoughtful, and rating the events using the historical significance criteria was not an easy task without really discovering why each event occurred, and how each event was connected to another event in time.
I had students record their discussions using their iPads, as I could not be with each group for the entire time, and found that when I was gone, they continued to have rich conversations about each event and the impacts they have had on present day Canada.

They took on their role of experts seriously. They planned lessons that engaged the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners by providing simulations, reader’s theatre, videos, keynotes, songs, and more. One struggle I had was assessing each individual student based on the collaboratively created final product. After completing group and self reflections/evaluations, it was easier to see who had made greater contributions to the assignment and who had developed a deep understanding of their event and its impact on the world we live in today.

Ipad vs. Laptop
  • I found that students gravitated to the Laptops to create their final product, but realized that they did not need it as much as they initially expected. Students were able to do all of their research and planning on the iPads and I think the only people who really needed the Laptops were those who chose to use Flash.
  • This assignment also encouraged me to learn to use Airplay to project their work. Normally I would have set them up on my desk and plugged them in, but it has become extremely helpful to have them put a password into their iPad and control their screen from the front of the class.
  • I had to find a way to receive their projects from their iPads to my computer. The files were often far too big to send by email, so we set up Webdav, a web-based file sharing protocol that would allow them to drop their work onto the server. Now I can collect assignment directly from this space, rather than have them email video clips piece by piece.
  • I also found it would have been helpful to have a collaborative planning space. Students state that Google Doc is not as reliable on the iPad as it is on the Laptop. Last year I would have them include me in this document so I could support them, but most chose not to use this space. I am still looking for a collaborative iPad space that works best for their needs.
  • During this assignment, I missed having Apple Remote Desktop. Students choose to work all over the school and it is nice, at times, to be able to ensure they are on task. It would be great to have this, or another monitoring system that allows us to see their screens, on iPads as well.
  • Students were able to use the iPads to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways. While they did feel limiting for the students, at times, many students were confident using only the iPads when creating their final product.
  • It also helps to have amazing tech support for those moments of, “I’ve never experienced this before!” and “I need your help immediately!”
As the year goes by in a 1:1 iPad classroom, my students and I continue to learn (using trial and error) how to use this new technology in a meaningful way. I will continue to blog about how we use iPads in the classroom as a tool for creation, rather than consumption. Please post any ideas you have about ways that we can continue to make this happen in our grade 7 Humanities class.

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