Friday, February 18, 2011

Assessing Student Learning

In the last few weeks I've been using the iPad as a tool for student reflection and assessment. To assess students' understanding of Native Americans, I posted 5 photos of different aspects of Native American life to the Burley iDisk. Students viewed all the images and then selected one they wanted to talk about.

Students copied one photo in iDisk and then opened a blank document in Pages. Students pasted their Native American photo and then shared what they knew about that aspect of Native American life.

Once students documented their understanding, they emailed the Pages document to me. I reviewed students' thinking, identified misconceptions and opportunities for reteaching and assessed overall understanding.

My students are becoming experts at using Pages. I've noticed that they have increased ability to create content for their peers and take their thinking public. This week each child published a piece of poetry using Pages and paired their text with an illustration using Whiteboard. I am excited to find additional opportunities for assessing student learning using the iPad!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Student publishing on the iPad

One of the best ways to motivate student writers is to give them an authentic audience for their work. The iPad provides an exciting way for students to publish work for one another. It was incredible to see kids' eyes light up when they saw the book they had created sitting on the iBooks shelf. They felt incredibly proud, and the iPad made it possible for each and every student to hold and examine a full-color publication of their classmates' work -- something that is difficult or impossible without the iPad. One of our goals is to use the iPad to allow students to begin to create resources for one another, which gives the students a sense of ownership over their own learning. Through this initial publishing process, we have figured out one way to start putting students in charge of their own content creation.

Here's how we did it:
  1. After reading about and studying particular topics, students in our second grade used the iPad to make documents in Pages. They imported drawings they had made in Drawing Pad or Whiteboard Lite, added captions and text, and used arrows and text boxes to create diagrams.
  2. We gathered the student Pages documents via e-mail. All the iPads use a single e-mail account, and the teachers are the only contacts. Students e-mailed us the documents as attachments. (You could also have them send in their work via DropBox or iDisk. If they sent their file directly to iDisk as a PDF, other kids could pull it up immediately and open it in iBooks -- instant publishing! The only reason we didn't do this is because we were assembling pages from multiple students' iPads into a single book.)
  3. We took all the related Pages documents and assembled them into a single Pages document using copy and paste. Students designed a front page to serve as the book cover. We then exported them as PDFs, dragged them to iTunes, and synced them to all the iPads. Our virtual bookshelf of student work is growing!