Below is an example of a sequence of Year 7 science lessons from our current scheme of learning, and how it might be enhanced with technology:
|Current sequence of lessons||Alternative with a tablet device|
|Lesson 1||Look at plant and animal cells under a microscope. Draw what you see.||Look at plant and animal cells under a microscope. Draw what you see in sketches to use in your work later.|
|Lesson 2||Use a text book to find out the purpose of internal structures of a cell. Draw and label an image of a plant and animal cell.||Use iCell to interact with and explore in 3D animal and plant cells. Create an animation that explains the differences.|
|Lesson 3||Research whether Euglena is a plant or animal cell, and write a conclusion.||Create a news report in threes, announcing the discovery of Euglena. Use dVPrompter to create a script and autocue, and iMovie to capture the video report.|
It is important to note that students who do not bring a tablet device to school will still be able to access the existing curriculum. Even students who do, may take a pick-and-mix approach. What is important is what they have learned, not necessarily how they have captured that.
Another example in Modern Languages would include students using tablets and earphones to play back sentences spoken in the target language, matching spoken sentences to their English meaning. Then checking their own answers by using QR codes linked to videos stored on the media server. Finally using Puppet pals to act out a typical scene in a local café using the key vocabulary.
These are just two examples, but the benefits can also include simple tasks such as research, word processing, creating interactive presentations, accessing e-books as well as using the camera to capture experiments and visual artefacts in lessons.
Teachers have Showbie Pro enabling them to collect work in the cloud, write comments, annotate, and leave oral feedback anywhere on the work itself. This really is the start of many opportunities to enhance learning.
My Year 13s were telling me today they much prefer Showbie as they get more instant feedback that is easily accessible to them anywhere at any time. Year 7s have finished creating their e-books on Book Creator too, which they thoroughly enjoyed as they able to personalise it and see it as a ‘real’ book. English teacher, 2016
Helping students with special educational needs
The iPad is a great tool to support learners with special needs in many ways. For example, with simple dictation and speech utilities already built into the device. Taking photographs of text instead of copying it down makes learning more accessible for some students. Apps such as Irlen allow the user to put coloured overlays over text. More than 15% of the population suffers from a sensory modulation disorder that makes it difficult to process visual information. Irlen coloured overlays reduce stress on the brain and allow it to process written information correctly, eliminating discomfort and distortions.
We take our responsibility for educating young people in the appropriate use of mobile technology very seriously. We must educate young people in the world they are going to be living in, so they can benefit from IT, and be a responsible citizen with online tools. All our staff are confident in providing appropriate support and advice to students, so that tablet devices become an enabler to better progress rather than a distraction. A balanced diet of educational approaches is what we aim for. Students only use devices when it is right to do so in some of their lessons.