At the end of week three we are still comfortably plugging away with our iPad. I’m finding it a handy place to bookmark and share sites that have classroom applications. We started a jazz unit in sixth grade band last week and I was able to share some common tones for improvisation with the entire class via a bookmarked web page. We don’t yet have a direct video connection between the iPad and our LCD projector, but I found the ELMO works just fine projecting the iPad’s screen. Plus it doesn’t have the output limitations that the internal USB output has. For more complaints about that and other current limitations read Dr. Joseph M. Pisano’s post on the iPad.
We also started sharing concert video using the iPad. Our post-concert ritual is to have students view the video in class and either complete a written evaluation or participate in a classroom discussion. It works just fine, except for the fact that between six and eight students miss seeing the video entirely because they are pulled out for their small group lesson. I hate to have them miss a lesson in order to view the video, but perspective and opportunity for self-evaluation is valuable too. Enter the iPad! I quickly dumped the video from the camcorder into iMovie, then created small videos (about 10 minutes for each concert) and copied them to the iPad. Each lesson group that missed the video in class took the iPad out into the hall, watched their portion of the concert and passed it off to the next group. In the future I would like to create a survey that students could then complete on the iPad which would allow the students to participate in the evaluation part of the activity. This also illustrates the capability of the iPad to catch kids up on classroom presentations when they’ve missed class.
In the realm of teacher productivity I must recommend Evernote. I discovered that you can log in/out of your account on the iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch which enables multiple users and maintains privacy. So, we went ahead with the free download. It is a simply beautiful app that I find more uses for all the time. Our colleague at the high school just got an iPad of his own and recommends a pdf reader like GoodReader or SimplyPDF and the amazing Air Sharing HD which turns the iPad into a wireless hard disk. So far our wish list has $28 worth of apps on it!
Looking ahead to the future I’ve started talking to our principal about the idea of virtual concert programs. With the printing budget cuts we’ve experienced this year we have stopped printing programs for our sixth and seventh grade concerts. Last week we had a sixth grade band concert and I saw at least one iPad and all manner of WiFi enabled devices from phones to Nintendo DS machines. This is typical of a 21st century concert in a gym and I personally don’t mind it. These devices keep the younger kids occupied and relatively quiet. But seeing this caused me to imagine a way to engage the audience in the program with the devices they are already bringing to the concert. Here’s the idea: we post the web address of a virtual program in the gym for the audience to access. We also make the school WiFi available (that’s the part we have to wait until next year for). Not only is the virtual program loaded with the items we typically have in a printed program, but it contains all sorts of links to information on the compositions, the composers, musical styles, and for audience members to register their reactions. It would work not only on the iPad, but any wireless device. I’m not sure I’m ready to see an audience full of glowing screens in a darkened auditorium, but for a concert in a gym it seems like it may be an appropriate venture. I’d love to hear readers’ reactions to the idea and if anyone has seen anything like this used in school concerts.
Thanks for reading – we’ll post more next week!