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discussionsDiscussions: Making it easier to capture what was said, and creating new ways to contribute to discussions in the first place…your students are going to love what’s possible when they start swapping ideas via iPad.


The engagement trap

One of the reservations many teachers have about the iPad enabled classroom is that students will disappear into their devices, becoming iStudents, oblivious to anybody else in the room.

Managed thoughtfully, the reality is starkly different. Not only does the easily-gathered-around and hey-look-what-I-just-did nature of the iPad encourage collaboration, its wifi connectivity opens the delicious possibility of extending that collaboration to students who can’t be in the same physical space.

So instead of just studying volcanoes by using mere books (hah!) or wikipedia entries (pshaw!), students could be running a Skype session with a school that’s actually in the shadow of Mt. Etna in Italy, and then asking those students anything they like. What does it smell like? Are you afraid? Have you ever seen lava?

And in response to “just how close are you?”, the iPad at the Mt. Etna end can actually be pointed out the classroom window, so everyone can see the smoking summit for themselves…

Contrast this with “please read the page I’ve photocopied about Mt. Etna and then fill in the information sheet.”

But there’s more to collaboration than occasionally delivering the world to your students. Regular discussions within your classroom have never been as engaging, inclusive and flexible as iPad makes possible—assuming, as ever, that you’ve got the right apps.

Fairer, more inclusive discussions

One of the challenges with conventional throw-the-question-to-the-room classroom discussions is that the format is skewed in favor of those who are confident about speaking, and can formulate their answers quickly. You may be a student with a deep grasp of the relevant issues, but if you’re uneasy about addressing the class—or like to take a few minutes to really think things through before contributing—your hand is going to stay down.

Collaborize Classroom is a web-based iPad solution that allows students to contribute to discussions, but without the pressure of having to come up with an instant response or public speaking. As the teacher, you’d still be posing a question to the entire class, but that question would be appearing on everyone’s iPad.

Below that would be one of a range of different ways to respond:

  • You can ask students to vote yes or no to the proposition, and then have them justify their position.
  • You can ask students to select from two or more options, and then explain their choice.
  • You can ask students to either vote for one of the existing student-contributed answers to the question, or contribute a fresh answer of their own.
  • You could allow students a completely free response.

The beauty of this approach is that it’s asynchronous—students can respond to each question in their own time, potentially long after you’ve posed it. The format can also accommodate simultaneous responses, raising the participation ceiling from one-at-a-time-please to everyone-at-once, allowing you to get through more input in less time.

Comprehensive reports

As responses are submitted, they appear in a common thread, so students are able to see—and then respond to—what their peers have to say on the subject, while at session’s end, Collaborize Classroom can convert all the input into a graph that showcases the most popular responses.

Each of these sessions is then saved and searchable, which means that a portfolio compilation of everything a student has had to say in every session so far can be generated with a single click—a priceless resource when report-writing season hits.

How to set it up

You can actually run the whole thing by using a browser, but it’s best if the Collaborize Classroom app is installed on every iPad. (it’s free). Once you’ve done that, go to collaborizeclassroom.com to set up your account—it’s also completely free, and your very first session can actually be up and running within a few minutes.

A speech to the class…from home

We looked at this in more detail in the section on Brainstorming, but VoiceThread is an alternative approach to taking classroom discussions online that actually allows students to record their responses as audio or video, using the inbuilt camera/microphone in their iPad. Once submitted, the recording will appear as a clickable icon next to the original question, which means that other students can watch/listen to that response for themselves—subsequent responses can either be to the original question, or to some of the existing responses.

This means, for example, that you can set speaking-based assessment tasks for homework, without then having to set aside what is often hours of class time to get through each of the speeches—instead of performing the speeches live to the class one-at-a-time, students can record them and upload. Better still, you’ll be able to watch or rewatch any of the comments, making assessment less dependent on your fading impressions of what was actually said.

Meeting people who aren’t there

Groupwork traditionally depends on students meeting to move the project forwards—not normally an insurmountable requirement, but also not infrequently a complication that arbitrarily caps the preparation time.

If your students are able to take their iPads home, then a wide world of remote preparation opens, helping them to group prepare everything from debates to drama scenes via FaceTime or Skype. Of course, it’s possible with a Mac or PC too, but an iPad Skype session can be anywhere…very handy if the household is a noisy one.

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a topic fertile enough to get an iPadoPedia entry in its own right—most of the apps discussed in that section also work just as well for small groups of students running their own sessions.

Capturing what’s said

Video or audio-recording each student’s contribution to discussions is hardly a new idea; what is new is how convenient it’s become in an iPad classroom, and therefore how much more likely it is to happen in the first place. There’s no need to request a video camera for the session, or fuss about getting the resultant footage off the device before another teacher overwrites it. Instead, the constant proximity of your iPad

Always prepared: An iPad means you’re always ready to video or audio record any discussion...or any other classroom event, for that matter.

Always prepared: An iPad means you’re always ready to video or audio record any discussion…or any other classroom event, for that matter.

means that you can record students whenever the thought occurs to you—from the spark of “hey, let’s film this session” to hitting record and actually doing it can take just seconds—while the relatively sizable storage on iPads can accommodate plenty of footage.

The class can then use those videos to replay points; to analyze how people are speaking; to identify when perhaps points were needlessly repeated; to check each point for relevance…all much harder to do in real time than if you’re able to freeze frame, and relive what was actually said.

Likewise, students who are expected to create a recount of the discussion won’t just have to rely on whatever notes they managed to take—they’ll be able to watch replays of any or all of the points made, thus creating total recall. They’ll obviously still need to be smart about analyzing what they heard, but there won’t be any issues with being able to determine what was said in the first place.

At the end of the process, the footage could easily be turned into a best-of, with (say) the ten most compelling/convincing/difficult to refute/unexpected points being showcased—this compilation video would make for a brilliant model for next year’s students, and also an exciting resource to add to your class website.

Synchronized Annotations

We look at this more in the chapter on taking notes, but if you really want to be able to jump quickly from highlight to highlight on your replay of your class discussion, there are notetaking apps that will sync whatever notes you take with the moment in the recording that caused you to take the note in the first place.

This means, for example, that you can simply type “brilliant point!”, and then later, when you tap on your “brilliant point!” annotation, you’ll actually hear played back the point itself.

You could similarly mark notes for “needs to project more” or “irrelevant?” or “Nooo! Don’t stop there!”, and then with a tap summon the moment in the class discussion that prompted those responses from you.

It’s a relentlessly efficient way both to create a quick review of the session that’s just been, and also to create personalized notes for each student—start each note with the relevant student’s name, and you can quickly find all the feedback you had for that student, together with the moments in the discussion when they earned that feedback. Immediately useful for students who ask “how did I do?”; even more so when the time comes to assess them, or write reports.

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Archiving

ArchivingHow iPad makes a class Archive possible • Collecting everything your students have ever done • Creating portfolios for parent/teacher meetings • Setting up Best Of galleries • Getting written work into your Archive • Giving students access • Tagging student work so you can find anything instantly


Attendance

AttendanceFaster, smarter ways to take the roll • Going beyond what’s possible with paper • Visual tap-to-mark-off photo-based roll options • Multi-purpose classroom admin tools • Replicating traditional rolls • Archiving paper records • Taking the roll in less than a second


Behavior Management

Behavior ManagementUsing iPad for daily orientations • Waiting-room style cycling announcements • Personalized runsheets for special needs students • Noise monitoring • Behavior gamification systems • Managing class chores • Turning students into celebrities • Using iPad as both a carrot and a stick


Brainstorming

BrainstormingWhy brainstorming is better on iPad • Fast, text-based just-get-it-down brainstorming • Sketches and diagram based brainstorming • Classic Buzan-style mindmaps • Capturing sessions on audio or video • Asynchronous Brainstorming


Calculating/Measuring

canstockphoto6258327

Calculation with working(!) and rewind(!!) • Themed, fun and quirky calculators • Calculators on demand • Using iPad to measure everything from angles and distances to seismic activity • Conversion tools • Calculating with Siri and Google Search • Timers and Stopwatches


Co-curricular/Coaching

canstockphoto11121938Video analysis • Slow motion replays • Highlights and blooper reels • Virtual back page newspaper reports • Playbooks • Scoring and stats • Drill compendiums • Team management • Managing temporary groups within a squad


Communication

communication1Setting up group email for instant classwide contact • 
Alternatives to face-to-face meetings for busy parents • Creating an online document repository for students and parents • Plugging iPad into existing schoolwide communication management systems • Setting up a class website or blog


Creative Writing

canstockphoto3592668Using iPad to generate random creative writing triggers • Triggers for younger writers • Tools for fleshing out characters • Apps to help students find the right words • Drafting tools for poetry and lyrics • Planning and outlining • Writing collaboratively with iPad • Drafting, editing and proofreading


Demonstrations

demonstrationsUsing iPad to create replayable video instructions • Archiving your demonstrations • Freeing yourself to teach more, repeat yourself less • How students can access your video demonstrations • Creating help-on-demand with QR codes • Student-created demonstrations • Using existing video libraries


Device Management

thiefMaking iPads harder to steal • “Branding” iPads for easy identification • Setting up a serial number database • Preventing damage • Recommended usage rules • Monitoring usage • Making students accountable: setting up a licensing system


Discussions

discussionsUsing iPad to involve shy or unengaged students in discussion • Working with asynchronous discussions • Maintaining a record of who said what • Giving speeches to the class...from home • Recording and annotating discussions • Using iPad for groupwork assignments


Drilling

canstockphoto4209397Apps for traditional flashcard-based test preparation • Going beyond what’s possible with traditional flashcards • Math drilling for basic arithmetic, tables, mental math tricks, pre-algebra, basic algebra and geometry • Options that work with the entire K-12 math syllabus • Spelling Drills • Foreign language vocab drills • Music drills • Gamification of drilling


iPadoPedia

Also included in the iBook


Handing in Work

Freeing yourself from needing USB drives • “bumping” ipads to hand in work • iPads and email-based submissions • Using DropBox • How your iPad can accept handwritten submissions


Managing Homework

Using iPad like training wheels for time-management • Standalone homework management apps • Syncing homework online • Using GTD to organize their whole week • Basic homework management with Calendar


Marking Work

Annotation options for iPad • Marking handwritten work • Going beyond written feedback • Iterative marking • Peer review • Pre-emptive marking • Marking by panel • Using your class Archive to calibrate your marks


Photocopying

Entering the post-photocopy age • Five reasons you can replace most of your photocopying with your iPad • Using your iPad as a scanner • Apps that turn handwritten words into wordprocessor-editable text


Planning

Using your iPad to plan the year ahead • Freeform planning • Managing the teaching day • National curriculum references • Referencing plans and notes from previous years • Planning classroom layout


Presenting

Going beyond PowerPoint • Creating Keynote presentations on iPad • Non-linear presentations • Getting iPad onto the big screen in your classroom • Using iPad as a speaking prompt • Presenting directly onto your students’ iPad screens • Dazzling with Augmented Reality


Publishing

Rapid repurposing of one source into many types of publications • Setting up a class blog • Creating a magazine-quality PDF • Turning work into an iBook • Creating a comic • Producing a class radio show • Building a self-guided kiosk • Turning assignments into a movie • How younger students can create eBooks


Quizzing

Setting up and working with paperless quizzes • Paperless testing with Google • Real-time testing with Socrative • Turning testing into a game • Students as quizmasters • Creating QR-triggered video walkthroughs of the answers • Adding mystery and anticipation: Using QR to reveal questions


Reading

The case for students doing most of their reading on iPad • The essential reading apps • Creating notes, bookmarks and highlights • Accessing a free library of all the classics (over 42,000 titles and counting) • Reading on the web • Deferred and curated reading • Magazines and journals on iPad


Recounts

Turning field trips into publications • Adding high impact production values to raw media • Your excursion as a comic strip or slideshow • Creating written reports on iPad • Using iPad to edit and assemble video recounts


Report Writing

Using your iPad classroom Archive as a comprehensive student reference • Summoning examples of written work • Attendance and photo cheat-sheets • Tracking and annotating student behavior issues • Customizing your own records • Keeping your records secure


Researching

Collecting and organizing information on iPad • Setting up and working with curated resources • Researching with apps (atlases, encyclopedia, Wikipedia fractals • Resources for the classic elementary school units • Options for upper secondary students • Referencing and citation generators


Taking Notes

Getting past the input hump: using keyboards with iPad, writing directly onto the screen with styluses, or using iPad to annotate recordings • Working with Cornell or guided notes • Options inspired by traditional blank page notebooks • Indexed notes • Managing huge collections of notes • Notetaking with mindmaps • What notetaking with iPad means for students


Video Learning

Helping students work with tens of thousands of teachers • Auditing lectures from around the world with iTunes U • Curating YouTube and Vimeo for your students • Stealing brilliant ideas from great teachers • Commercial video libraries • Creating your own video library