The iPad as Teacher’s Clipboard

March 10, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Posted in 21st Century, Apple, Conference, Literacy, Planning, Student-led conf, Tech Integration | Leave a comment

I recently attended a Writer’s Workshop presentation and the same week viewed the video, Up Close: Teaching English Language Learners in Reading and Writing Workshops, prompting me to think more about organizing reading and writing samples and reflections for a student’s portfolio. This coincided with the unveiling of Apple’s iPad and I also began to think about the value of the iPad to a teacher in an elementary classroom.  The name “iPad” brings to mind a pad of paper- a simple, versatile tool. The iPad would be a brilliant replacement for the clipboard that a teacher carries around all day- an electronic clipboard full of documents containing student information, schedules, plans, calendars, anecdotal matrix sheets for reading/writing/math continuums, articles, personal reflection note sheets, and content reference materials. I haven’t spent much time imagining how useful an iPad can be to a student in the classroom, however once I have one I will find endless uses for learners. It is because I see the iPad as a mobile tool that I have been imagining how the iPad can be used in the classroom (and outside) mainly by the teacher.

My first thought for the iPad in my classroom was a place to compile notes and audio recordings during our Writer’s Workshop. When meeting with a student, I would touch the class icon to open a tile mosaic of my students’ faces. I would then select the face of the  student I’m conferencing with and open his portfolio containing individualized writing continuums and other writing skills documents and anecdotal text notes. Access to the student’s own portfolio containing written material and audio recordings stored on the school’s network would also be available if needed. As the student read his written piece and we discussed his progress it could be audio-recorded on the iPad, allowing me to pay full attention to the student and record text notes later, although an application or document for recording quick notes could be used as well. This process would be implemented in a similar fashion for Reader’s Workshop where we would be able to record students reading a text displayed on the iPad as well.

During math-based activities I would have notes and group/project information open. When conferring with groups or individual students I would touch the student or group’s face/icon and open anecdotal notes, continuums, progress charts, etc related to that student/group. Further, I would be able to check a student’s understanding of a concept or skill by asking her to solve a related problem or task and record her audio description of how she approached and resolved the problem.

During science experiments or exploration students could be recorded describing an experiment while others in their group took still and video images. The advantage of recording with the iPad would be the ability to save an audio file right to that student’s “folder” on the iPad.

Outside the classroom on field trips or on the school campus the iPad would be used to record student observations, comments and reflections. It would also hold appropriate documents and maps that support the trip or activity as well as a document showing student questions that were posed before that trip or activity to refer to during the activity. Paramount would be having access to Google Earth and other web resources right there on the iPad display.

Lastly, the ability to sync my iPad with my laptop and store information on the school network would be incredible. I don’t know if this is possible right now, but I imagine each student’s “folder” on the iPad would be like a playlist in iTunes. New information added or documents modified in each student folder during the day would transfer to my laptop/school network drive when I connected my iPad to my laptop at the end of the day.

In this time where we are striving more than ever to develop more relevant and authentic means for students to learn, we are less and less able to fill in a roster book to document student learning. There is an ever greater need for portfolios that display student achievement and progress. The iPad’s long battery life, 3G and limitless applications add power for its use as a classroom tool (although I would need a protective frame with reinforced rubber corners to protect it.)

I believe the ways the iPad can be an incredibly powerful tool for a teacher and his or her students are limitless- what are your ideas?


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