I brought my iPad to school yesterday and let my students play around with it (after I gave a small demo). I gotta admit, it was a bit nerve-wracking to let a bunch of kids play with my new tech toy. I mean if they end up breaking it (through goofing around, an accident, and so on — hey, they are kids) what am I gonna do… ask them to pay for it?
My students can’t afford their own iPads much less afford to replace their teacher’s iPad if there’s an accident.
And really, I knew that score when I passed it around and let them handle it anyway. But still, I did it.
And why? For a few reasons.
1) I want to let them see the future. It’s my opinion that one day all of our school desks will be made of material like this, where kids intellectually operate on desktops that are really touch screens that can do all sorts of amazing things. I literally told them that. “This,” I said. “Is the school desktop of the future.” Not a one of them doubted me either. And every last kid in the class thought the idea was wicked cool. Part of teaching in this day and age is showing glimpses of what is possible. (This, I believe.)
2) Allowing them to hold it, fiddle with it and so on communicates and adult-like trust in them. It’s like I imply that I believe in their ability to behave in a mature fashion and handle an expensive personal gadget in a responsible way and POOF! it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy… they handled the iPad in a mature and responsible fashion. These are the baby-steps of growing up… when grown-ups actually treat you like grown-ups instead of treating you like children. (i.e. walking the walk instead of merely talking the talk, as many teachers often do.)
3) Just turning pages in a book on the iPad is, what I’d consider, a real “literacy moment” because the experience is just so unique. I will never forget the the first time I did it. (It’s way different than a Kindle.) I want my students to experience that… and somewhat marvel.
Because indeed it is a Brave New World and the discussions we have had all year about things like the impact of technology on our lives, privacy in this day of openness, sexting, piracy, 21rst century skills, veracity of info online, the need to be able to navigate the tools of the next era and so on and so on… all of them are re-inforced by a moment such as this.
Nope, ETS and their bubble tests can’t measure this moment. Nope, when they tie bubble tests to my salary and try to demonize me for test scores through lower pay and public shame, I might not be able to prove the value of this lesson but for any real classroom teacher, days like this are days you know that your kids have learned something.
What? Well, it’s hard to exactly quantify. But does all learning have to be quantifiable?
Anyone who says it does is someone I am not sure I trust.
The iPad: already teaching me and my kids a whole host of things.