It seems that I'm finally able to see a product within my swirling thoughts around an action research question. My first meeting with my team and climbing guide has enabled me to talk through my ideas. I often find that when I'm working on something I love, like technology in my classroom, I have incredibly grand plans. These plans, though inspiring, are often difficult to pin down. I have a difficult time seeing these ideas come to fruition in the state of a product. My first meeting definitely helped with this process.
I was immediately struck with ideas around engagement and "leveling the playing field" for students using the iPad. I truly believe that my students feel they can demonstrate their knowledge more readily and more dynamically than before. Access to technology in school definitely lends itself to more efficient class time. For example, students creating a piece of writing can oftentimes type faster than they can write. Therefore, they are able to write more in the same or shorter amounts of time. The iPad certainly lends itself to increased engagement. From day one, students were in awe of their new device and all it could do for them. They continue to be intrigued by the many offerings (apps, efficiency, differentiation). The piece that has struck me most is around differentiation. We know that every student learns differently. Each student would benefit from his or her own learning plan. However, one teacher per 20 students unfortunately does not allow for this type of individualized basis each day. The iPad allows students to get to know their own styles of learning and experiment with platforms they like best. As the year progresses, the more flexible assignments become. For instance, a question does not need to be answered in writing in a Google document. Instead, students have a multitude of apps to show what they know. They also have opportunities for audio and video recordings.
I believe that iPads help students individualize their learning and meet their needs. This definitely increases engagement and achievement because all students can feel successful.