Pens, Pencils, Papers, & iPad – Beth Holland

The next presentation I am attending at the conference is “Pens, Pencils, Papers, & iPads” by Beth Holland. Beth is talking about her experiences as an educator in a non-leveled classroom environment. When it comes to tools, which ones are better? Pens or Pencils? Macs or Windows? The reality is, it all depends on what you want to do. For example, if you are in a math class you likely want students to use a pencil – it’s ‘mistake tolerant.’ Whereas if you in a writing class, you may want blue or black ink to make it easier to read and to see where students make changes and revisions. How you want to use the tool is how you choose it. In fact, you can use multiple tools in the classroom! And you should!

The plans we develop, the tools we use, should support our classroom teaching. We need to eliminate the idea that it is one or the other – all in. I whole heartedly agree with this. As much as I integrate technology into my classroom, I also believe in a lot of traditional methodologies and practices. Variety is truly the spice of life – especially in a classroom. A white variety of tasks, objectives, and tools by which to accomplish them.

So, here are the essential questions we should ask:

  • Why Technology and even more so, why iPads?

Here are some good answers to that question: it’s customizable, mistake tolerant, accessible, mobile, communicative, collaborative, and publishable. These objectives are not always obtainable via traditional methods.

  • What do I want my students to… master, demonstrate, learn, achieve, communicate, understand?

So, what do we want our students to do and how? What’s the role of this technology in our classroom? How is this tool going to meet these objectives?

  • How will my students best… master the content, process, or skill; demonstrate their understanding; achieve clearly defined learning objectives; communicate their knowledge?

Again, it’s not about the tool, it’s about the objectives. Not all students will get there the same way. The journey will be different for all.

So how do we do this? Well, it is going to be a lot of work – define learning objectives, scaffold the skills, differentiate presentation, and vary the assessment. What we are going to do in the classroom with iPads is dependent on what we want our students to do in the classroom. This follows up Tom Daccord’s in my pre-conference workshop yesterday – you identify the need, then you look for the tool.


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