Friday, February 7, 2014

A Small Set of iPads and a World Language Classroom

There are many blog posts and articles out there about having one iPad in the classroom and how to make it work. There are also many posts and articles about having a class set of iPads. I have read many posts and articles of both kinds. However, I find myself in a rather unique position. I have a small group of iPads, 6 to be exact. It is more than one and less than a class set, so how do I work with them?
That is the question that stumped me for a while. I have found 3 great ways to use them to enhance my teaching.
Being a Spanish teacher, I am often asked how to say a word. If I’m not asked how to say a word or sentence, then I often find them using Google Translate. I don’t want to be their personal dictionary and Google Translate doesn’t help them decide which word is correct. So I use my projector to introduce them to a website that will help them. In case you are curious, it is This website is a dictionary. It will give them various options for a word, so they need to make the decision which one to use.
Having 6 iPads has made it much easier to tell them, look it up. When we are doing a project and several students need to find various words, I hand out the iPads and they can share them in small groups. Each child can find what they need and pass it along to another one who is looking for information. When students need to look up little bits of information, a small set of iPads are immensely helpful.

2.       Collaboration
Another feature of a world language classroom is that students need to speak together often in order to practice the language. As such, the iPads are a great tool to encourage them to work together and speak. Without the iPads, they fall into the habit of one student doing most of the work, the others copying, and trying to stutter out a few words. With the iPad, they all want to contribute. Instead of assigning 3 activities to be written by hand, I can assign them to be completed with Haiku Deck or VoiceThread or Blackboard. Writing a sentence or filling in the blank is much more engaging when done on Blackboard. Asking a classmate a question and recording their answer is much more interesting using VoiceThread. A review assignment becomes more memorable when done on Haiku Deck.  A ‘boring’ assignment with a partner or a group can be more engaging, interesting, and memorable when technology is added.

3.       Cultural Explorations
Studying cultures are a vital part of any world language program. There is only so much talking a person can do and expect the student to be interested. It is much more helpful to talk about something and show them photos or videos. However, even better is when they can do the talking and showing. They can work in groups to study various aspects of a country or the different ways a topic is approached in different countries.
Of course they will be students for one reason or another cannot participate in a cultural activity. In those cases, the iPad is a wonderful way for them to explore another cultural topic and demonstrate what they had learned. Culture can be a fun part of the world language classroom and iPads make it come to life for these students.

The world language classroom takes a different approach than most other classrooms. However a few iPads can make a difference in a world language classroom and in your classroom too!

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