The GoodThank you for your patience as I return to this blog that I've neglected for far too long. (I learned to say 'Thank you' instead of 'I'm sorry'... what do you think?) We have been using our iPads daily in the classroom, and it's been one heck of a roller coaster.
I've had several district meetings during the school day, and it was so great to be able to communicate digitally with my students while I was away. I could also monitor their progress from afar, which beats going all day wishing and hoping that my kids are a) behaving well, and b) actually working.
Luckily, my students are very flexible, so when I decided to take a break from Google Docs/Slides/Drawings (Drawings doesn't work on iPads anyway), they were able to go with the flow.
I LOVE MY STUDENTS. I know that I say that every year by the time May rolls around, but this group has been especially resilient, encouraging, and creative during our short period of pilot craziness.
Another reason for straying from G Suite apps was the LMS we were piloting in addition to our device. I wanted to see what Canvas could do, so we intentionally said goodbye to Google Classroom. We still use Google Drive, but I've been trying hard to use discussions, assignments, and quizzes within Canvas.
Part of that has been experimenting with outside websites or apps such as Flipgrid, MyOn, and Kami. Twitter has been a big inspiration, and I was able to glean some ideas from a Google Summit I attended at the end of spring break (more on that later, I promise). We have these iPads for a limited time only, so it's important to mix it up and see what they can do! When I was talking about this to our Tech Resource Coordinator (TRC), I told her I felt like I was on a reality show called, "Let's Try It!" I was joking at the time, but this has become my reality (show). :D
IF my classroom were a reality show about all the new things we've tried, there would be SEVERAL confessional scenes of me screaming, crying, throwing things (probably including my iPad), and crying some more. Almost every day of "Let's Try It!" has produced a problem or challenge of some sort. I feel the worst for my first period class because that's usually the first time I realize there's a problem. Common issues include the following:
- Links won't open
- Videos won't load/play
- Embedded content (documents, videos, websites) are blank
- Work that students have started disappears suddenly
The great thing, though, is that my first period kids are incredibly helpful in finding a solution to the problem, or will at least let me know the issues right away so together we can find a work-around relatively quickly.
And sometimes there is no work-around. Like, for example, some of the iPads are running out of storage, so some of the apps won't run. For some unknown reason, we are not allowed to delete any apps off the iPads! We can install hundreds of apps, but we can't DELETE any. Factor in the fact that each iPad is being shared by three students and all their individual files, and you have a lot of frustration on your hands.
So the result of all of this is that, basically, I'm not coping well with the daily failures. :P
I feel like I'm not being a responsible teacher. I'm wasting insane amounts of time just "figuring out" how things work on these devices. Grading in Canvas is also a nightmare, which leads to more wasted time and a grade book full of holes.
Unfortunately (for me), when I talked through all this with my students, they don't want to give up the iPads! What?! The iPads cause us all headaches, but then the students started saying things like, "But we're learning to be problem solvers!" and "We can persevere through it!"
Where I see failure, my students see opportunities; they are amazing.
We have just under 3 weeks of school left, and I'm going to keep on truckin' with these iPads. Apparently the students are learning things that I'm not even teaching, thank God.