Firstly, as I have said a number of times over the years, I do not believe that there are, or at least that there should not be ‘iPad lessons’, but for the sake of brevity, and because ‘my favourite lesson where technology (and in this particular instance I mean iPads) was embedded seamlessly into a meaningful earning experience’ just wasn’t a very catchy title, I went with this heading instead.
I’ve taught a few lessons this year where the use of technology really enhanced the learning experience of my students, however there were one or two that were as close to ‘Redefinition’ (to use the SAMR terminology) as I have managed to get.
‘Myths and Legends’ was probably the best piece of work my Year 7 class produced this year. The work began about 4 weeks from the end of term and culminated in a short film produced by groups of about 4 students.
The project began with a paper book (retro I know!) – Myths and Legends by Horowitz, which gives a nice summary of myths and legends form around the world – nothing like a bit of culture to end the year!
Each student was assigned a different myth or legend to read and then research – they had to research the story itself, the culture form where it came, when it was first told, if the characters featured in other stories and so on. Obviously the research aspect was significantly aided by the fact that they all had iPads, but it also meant that immediate differentiation could happen as the tasks kept coming and those that could, continued, while those that needed more time, could get on at their own pace.
After that, they created some presentations of what they had found out about their story and culture before moving on to the main event – a film, interpreting some of their myths and legends. The students were assigned groups randomly and they had to pitch their stories to the others to decide which the group thought would be the best one to develop. From their they needed to storyboard and script their myth – these are skills that they had to learn more or less from scratch and the process was very engaging to watch – the whole thing was recorded on a time-lapse video for them to watch back at the end as well.
Then we got to filming and of course this is where the iPad excelled – the students had access to the various sites around the school that suited their re-telling of the tale and a green screen. They had to organise their filming schedule, their costumes, everything, and hand in a finished product on the last day of the term.
So this was a fantastic series of lessons that resulted in some great learning. One student commented ‘I didn’t realise filming something was so hard, but at least I really know the story now.’ Another commented on the difficulty of working on a group with people that were not well known to that particular student. Another suggested that the scenery they had used was frustrating them because it wasn’t authentic enough! At the end of the process I asked these students to record themselves discussing the project – for me this was the best part of the whole project and the thing that the iPad facilitates really well – the opportunity for students to talk candidly to you, without the stress of having to find the time to do this face-to-face. I can give feedback via Showbie once the project is done and I have seen first hand what it is they are commenting on.
Perhaps labelling this experience as ‘Redefinition’ on the SAMR scale is over-stating what happened. These are the sorts of lessons I have always loved trying to organise even before technology was involved. What is different now is that there are so many valuable artefacts produced whereas historically you’ve had to work form memory. Feedback has been more dry and less spontaneous. Whatever the appropriate label, this was a genuine learning experience for my students; they didn’t all learn the same thing in the same way, but they each discovered new knowledge and understanding, and ultimately, that was the point.