Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Technology and adaptability

Earlier this month my colleague posted four apps that saved her teaching life!  Similarly, I have encountered this blessing, but have had my fair share of moments where technology has seemingly “turned against me.”  To many, this could be viewed as a negative, but it has strengthened my abilities to adapt and think on my feet—and as a middle school teacher adaptability is one of the important tools in the teaching toolbox.  
                                                       Woman doing yoga with laptop Royalty Free Stock Photo

For example, my social studies class took a virtual field trip to The Battle of Bull Run and discussed without a sound being uttered in class.  The “Bull Run” app and “Edmodo” were hard at work and so were my students.  I loved every minute of it and so did they.  (For the record, I do encourage talking and interaction in my room!)

Conversely, to use a football metaphor, technology requires the user to drop back and punt at times.  I began the school year with the idea of online science notebooking!  I have always had my science students create interactive science notebooks.  I thought this would be the year to save some time, copying/paper, and bring yet another opportunity for my students to see these iPads at work, and for a crucial tool used in my classes.  I spent much of the summer creating my example notebook, working on lesson plans for students to set their notebooks up, and even downloading the rubrics to place in their virtual notebooks.  It was going to be perfect!  

The first assignment for my students was to load the rubric on to the rubric page of their virtual notebooks.  The internet was freezing, the app was freezing, and my kids were freaking.  I stopped, regrouped, and had them add me as a collaborator.  I spent the rest of that class period on my computer loading rubrics while they found pictures for the cover of their notebooks!  We continued trudging through for about a week taking notes in this format.  We then had to draw a diagram.  We couldn't do that with the program I was trying to use so I had the students practice drawing their diagrams on “Screenchomp” while I loaded the diagram into each of their online notebooks.  Other issues included internet connection issues during open note quizzes.  It’s unfair to let students use their notes when only half of their notes were visible and they weren't able to add links. Nothing went as planned.
I had to take a step back from my plan and regroup.  Technology is not perfect and I needed to be flexible and do what was best for my students.  I had to offer the students options and allow them to find the program that worked best for taking their notes.  This allowed them to take even greater ownership in their learning.  It was different for both the teacher and the students.  Some students still use our original program, some use “Evernote” which along with “Evernote Peek” gives them a chance to study.  Other students use “ScreenChomp”, notepad, “iBrainstorm”, or “inkflow”.

Great strides have been made to modernize our schools, classrooms, and curriculum; however, if Rip Van Winkle woke up tomorrow morning, he’d first be able to recognize a school and its classroom quicker than anything else.  It is essential that we make education relevant for today’s students each and every day.  This is just one of the many steps needed to improve achievement.  As a 1:1 iPad classroom, I never imagined how much they would positively impact my classroom.  While they don’t fully replace paper, pencils, and books, these iPads can run circles around the same instruments good ole Rip would recognize and be comfortable with.

What apps have you found helpful for taking notes?


  1. This is somehow relevant to what im experiencing right now.


  2. I am deepa, a 21-year-old software engineer. I live in india , I write subtitles for TV. I like your blog its really awesome.
    Do visit my blog ipad training course