Tuesday, October 12, 2010

iPad as Teaching Tool Day 1

So, yesterday morning my Assistant Principal put my iPad into my hands. Today was really my first teaching day with it. Tasks accomplished yesterday:
  • gmail and Google Calendar synced.
  • Confirmed Google Forms will work on the iPad. You can't edit Google Docs, but you can enter information into a form.
  • Downloaded and installed a few apps
Apps used in the classroom today:
  • Mobile Mouse - Turns the iPad into a giant wireless trackpad. I set it up to work with the computer hooked up to my projector. $2.99 for the iPad app, the client app (either Win or OSX) is free.
  • AirSketch - I got the paid version of this one. It lets me draw on my iPad but allows any computer on the same network to view what I'm drawing. All you need is a web browser pointed to my device's IP address. You can also annotate on PDF's or images. I just open the webpage on the computer attached to the projector and students can see what I'm writing/drawing. $6.99 for the iPad app, but they have a free version.
  • DropBox - Online storage. 2GB of free storage. I can drag files, like pdfs, into a folder on my Mac and then access them from my iPad (or any computer on the internet for that matter). Useful even if you don't have an iPad. If you join DropBox please follow this link (then I get an extra 250 MB of storage). The program itself is free for Win, OSX, and iPad.
Today I showed a quick animation to help illustrate motion maps to my physics students. I used Mobile Mouse to control the computer while running the simulation. In the morning I had taken some screenshots of the simulation that I could bring into AirSketch. After running the simulation I drew all over the pictures I'd taken in the morning. Overall, it worked pretty well. In general my Wacom tablet does a better job of this, but it's nice to see what I'm drawing on my tablet for a change. I'll need to refine the whole process a bit.

All of the above is secondary, however. The main reason I wanted an iPad as a teaching tool was so that I could carry it around and keep track of students. I've been doing a lot more group discussion this year and it's tough keeping track of who knows what. Or, more importantly what we still need to work on.

I set up Google Forms where I can rate my students on a scale of 1-5. This is a very rough estimate on my part. Do they know the concept? How secure are they? How much coaxing did I have to do? A 5 would indicate the student demonstrated mastery and is very secure in the concept.

I'm not entirely pleased with it, I'll be tweaking this approach over the coming weeks. To the right is a sample of my form. I like this approach, because I'll be able to see who I've called on (and who I haven't) and how their demonstration of mastery changes over time. I can also quickly scan down my spreadsheet and get a rough idea of where the class as a whole is as well on any given concept.


Mica said...

I work in a middle school and just received mine for the same reason. I am a reading specialist and looking for some ways to incorporate it into my classroom. One thing that I am having a problem with is viewing the ipad through the projector. I have the adapter but nothing shows up. Any suggestions?

Steve said...


As I understand it, not all applications support VGA out. This functionality has to be coded into the app when it's written. If it is "in" it will probably be mentioned in the app description.

To check to make sure stuff is working try showing a video from your iPad with the included Video app.