Royal Happenings: Even in first year, iPads have meant big changes

By Nick Guertin
WMMS Principal

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role this year as middle school principal has been the opportunity to visit classrooms and connect with our kids about their learning.  During the first month of school I’ve had the chance to pop into rooms and really begin to understand the initial impact that our 1:1 iPad initiative is having on teaching and learning.

It is amazing to see that in a very short amount of time teachers have moved away from more traditional methods of teaching and adopted new and innovative approaches to teach content and lifelong skills.  I see iPads as a powerful “tool” that promotes utilizing a variety of techniques for students to build their own understanding through real world applications and interactions with their peers in group activities.  I believe this is what were really after, if we’re truly trying to develop 21st century learners.

I’d like to share a great example.  Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time visiting with middle school students during a computer class, taught by Mrs. Wilkens.  From the moment I stepped into her classroom, it was clear as to just how transformational the iPad initiative has been in only one month.  One of the highlights of my visit was observing students participating in “I Explore” day.  During this time Mrs. Wilkens facilitated a lesson in which individual students were given the opportunity to share educational “apps” that they would recommend to peers.  Apps, an abbreviation for application, are basically computer programs that can be downloaded onto devices such as iPads (tablet computers) and smartphones.

During my visit Mrs. Wilken’s students took turns individually presenting their educational apps, sharing features and discussing real-life applications.  Learning experiences like this really reinforce the skills that today’s world requires of young adults.

• Critical thinking and problem solving
• Creativity and innovation
• Communication
• Collaboration

iPads provide students with convenient and engaging apps (most of which are free) that can be used to directly promote personalized learning.  Some of the more popular examples of educational apps shared include: US Citizenship 2012; Sketchbook Express; Leafsnap; Poplet; Screen Chomp; Notes; Scribble; iBooks; Reminders; My Homework; A + Spelling; Keynote; Google Earth; Tempo Typen; Educreations; Math ninja; Unword; News360

Here’s what some of Mrs. Wilken’s middle school students had to say about using iPads in the classroom:

• “I enjoy my iPad in class because it helps me stay organized  It also helps me by reminding me to do my homework go to band lessons things like that.”  -Jordan Winter, 6th Grade
• “I like that there is a English spelling app. We can go at our own pace and not wait for the whole class.”  -Gregory Jansen, 6th Grade
• “I love using iPads, it makes things so much better in my opinion.  It allows us to look up things, contact our teachers with questions, and many other things.  It lets me to keep organized.  Reminders helps me see all the assignments and things I need to study. The iPad is a great tool!”  -Kallie Unowsky, 7th Grade
• “The iPads at our school have helped us immensely! It is much easier to organize papers and homework. It is also easier to send in homework and do worksheets with the iPad.”  -Griffin Murane, 7th Grade
• “The iPads are really great. They help us keep our homework in one place so we don’t lose it. We can email our teachers our homework and questions.”  -Nick Juusola, 7th Grade
• “It is easier to take notes and keep organized. We don’t have to go to the computer room to look something up, and the home work is on it.”  -Nicholas Rosenlund, 8th Grade
• “It’s easier to take notes and keep all of your papers organized. It keeps me organized and I don’t have to worry about forgetting my homework. Going into apps that you can take notes in is way more fun than having to do it on paper when it makes you tired.”  -Alysa Dietrich, 8th Grade
• “I like that you can turn in homework on the iPad with certain apps. I also like that in reading class instead of bringing big books home and worrying about losing it, we can open the books on an app called iBook and we don’t have to worry about leaving it at home.”  -Arianna Franklin, 8th Grade
• “I think that iPads in the classroom helps me to be more organized! I take all of my notes on my iPad! I like taking quizzes on the iPad a lot better the on paper because I am more focused on my iPad then I am when we use paper. It is easy to check your grades on the portal, and gives you reminders of homework you have that night! I think that the activities we do with the iPad help me in class because I love using the iPads and I focus when we use them! I have become a fast typer on the iPads from taking notes so I don’t get behind!”  -Emma Strom, 8th Grade
• “I like that we can discover new things while using the iPads. Some things like Google Docs and Penzu are very useful for making documents and taking notes. I use the reminders app and its helped me keep more organized.”  -Ashley Sutton, 8th Grade
• “I like having assignments sent to me! Paperport Notes is my favorite app for school! It makes me a lot more organized.”  -Riley Heid, 6th Grade
• “We take out the iPads in class to look up words, also to put reminders of our homework or assignments that are due soon, another thing is to go to websites. We also use them to take our spelling tests. I think it’s a lot easier because we do almost all of our work on our iPads and we can just email them to our teachers!”  -Taylor Crawford, 6th Grade
• “The iPads have helped the students keeping us organized. It also cuts down on the amount of paper we use. The apps I like are screen chomp. In math class we use them as white boards.”  -Alexander Pearce, 6th Grade
• “I like the iPad because we can do a lot more stuff on them then we can do on just paper.  It helps me to talk to teachers over email in case I forget something.  I can send my stuff in by email to the teachers.”  -Zachary Neaton, 7th Grade
• “I like using the iPads. I think it has helped me learn more about technology. I enjoy being able to make videos and presentations with certain apps and being able to type up notes for classes.”  -Erin Berg, 8th Grade
• “I like the IPads because I like getting reminders at night that I have to do my homework. I can also email teachers for questions and help. It’s also easier taking notes too.”  -Jade O’Riley, 8th Grade
• “I think they are a real advantage to have in school. I like how we have the ability to type our notes, and that keeps me more organized. I also like how we can email our teachers our homework, so you don’t have all these papers flying around in you locker.”  -Madelyn Maas, 8th Grade
• “Taking notes is a lot easier and I know that I can’t lose them.”  -McKinley Gehlhausen, 8th Grade
• “I think using the iPads has been a great addition to our school.  They have made everything a lot more convenient.  For example, I am writing this on my iPad, and I got to this survey by scanning a code with my iPad. They also help us stay organized. I have had a much easier year because if I have a question, I can just e-mail my teacher with my question.”  -Charles Chadwick, 8th Grade
• “The idea to bring iPads into the school learning system is was a great one. The iPads help me stay organized a lot better than with the tons of papers that you lose in the depths of your locker. They also help me when I have a question on the homework. I can email the teacher and they respond to my question. The iPads also keep the things that you have to carry back and forth to school a lot less. I have a much lighter backpack because of them.”  -Jordan Koehnen, 8th Grade
I am really looking forward to discovering the learning opportunities that the iPad initiative continues to promote.  Mrs. Wilkens classroom is a snapshot of just how transformation the incorporation of these learning tools have been for our middle school students.  I really believe we are just beginning to get a taste of what capabilities iPads have on learning…we are still very much pioneering a digital approach to learning.  It is very exciting to know that our kids will be a part of this experience!

For more information about the impact of iPads please contact Nick Guertin, MS Principal at nguertin@wm.k12.mn.us.

Royal Happenings is an occasional feature in the Carver County News. Content is provided by Watertown-Mayer staff.

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