iPad English Classroom Trial: Challenges, Successes, Discoveries, and Failures

By: Dr. Hillel Broder
from SAR High School

Category:
Risk Taking and Failure

Subject(s) of entry:
Art, Computer Science, Gemara, Halacha, History, Ivrit, Literature/ English, Math, Mishnah, Music, Science, Tanach

Pedagogy:
21st Century Skills

Grade(s) to which this was taught:
9th

Grade(s) for which this will be useful:
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Middle school, High school

Over the academic year of 2014-5, I embraced the introduction of iPads across the entire SAR High School freshman class by taking certain risks and often failing at integrating the iPad into my already digital curriculum. A record of my efforts were recorded on a public blog that I used as both a record of my “trial run” and a platform for networking with other iPad educators via social media. In my year-long blog, I shared questions, answers, successes, challenges, and yes, even failures regarding the first-year introduction of iPads into my already paperless English classroom. My blog record shows that while I failed at fully integrating the iPad as a media device, and while I failed at fully aligning iPad apps with my already digital curriculum, I succeeded at researching, recognizing, and even demonstrating the iPad’s strengths and challenges in my English classroom.

Entry Text

iPad English Classroom Trial:

Challenges, Successes, Discoveries, and Failures

Hillel Broder, SAR HS

Over the academic year of 2014­-5, I embraced the introduction of iPads across the entire SAR High School freshman class by taking certain risks and often failing at integrating the iPad into my already digital curriculum. A record of my efforts were recorded on a public blog that I used as both a record of my “trial run” and a platform for networking with other iPad educators via social media. In my year­-long blog, I shared questions, answers, successes, challenges, and yes, even failures regarding the first­-year introduction of iPads into my already paperless English classroom. My blog record shows that while I failed at fully integrating the iPad as a media device, and while I failed at fully aligning iPad apps with my already digital curriculum, I succeeded at researching, recognizing, and even demonstrating the iPad’s strengths and challenges in my English classroom.

As a teacher researcher open to failure, my research questions for the year were as follows:

  • Given my current curriculum, how can I best create a forum for and record of iPad classroom experimentation?;
  • What are the best practices for tablet integration in the English/Language Arts classroom?

I found that keeping a record of my frustrations and even failures of implementation and integration helped professionalize and inspire my classroom trial. I also found that both research on best practices for iPad integration, networking via social media with other iPad educators, and polling students in my class, over the course of an academic year, generated a richer, more complete picture and conversation around shared frustrations and failures regarding the new classroom medium. At the year’s end, I was proud to present my discoveries, successes, and failures to the faculty.

In summary, I found that my discovery of using the iPad as a media device shifted my thinking around centering more fully student self­assessment, project­based learning, and workshopping student writing on the iPad. While I was free to explore apps for annotating and grading student writing, for digital portfolio keeping, and for video editing, I struggled with the overwhelming series of options, and I failed at shifting my curriculum beyond the corresponding apps already used in software form (Google Docs, Google’s Haiku). I was challenged by the disruption, however, and I gained and shared a tremendous wealth of knowledge to my Professional Learning Community about best practices for iPad use and integration—and how a curriculum might best align itself with these 21st Century standards.

Attached to this summary and application, please find a link to the blog of my classroom trial, a link to student survey results, and a link to my year­end powerpoint presentation.