Do you feel the iPads are making a distinct difference?

Do you feel the iPads are making a distinct difference.  I had a friend ask me this question today, after sending me an article that Bill Gates is featured in discussing why tablets aren’t a good solution for education.  A direct quote from the article is, “Rather than a tablet, Gates envisages “a low-cost PC that’s going to let them be highly interactive” as more effective in education.”.  My first reaction is that, of course Bill gates is going to say that a small pc would be better served in the classroom, but then his above statement reminds me that Bill Gates is not an educator (as much as he has given to education and put himself into education – he hasn’t actually spent time teaching in a classroom) and therefore, really isn’t one to speak about student engagement and tablets.


My response to my friend was that the response I have seen from students has been amazing!  The students are excited about their iPads or iTouches in class.  They are excited about using the technology that they use every day at home and the results of what they can do is amazing.  In my opinion, student engagement is much higher with the tablets, than with the PC’s.  Our students could pick – do they want to use a PC or their own iPads – all but 3 students chose to use an i-device.  The students want to use the tablets because they can do most of what a pc can do, but it is all in one neat package – they have their music, their camera, their video camera, and the software all in one place!

We read Hatchet in fifth-grade this year and had the students use their devices to make a book trailer about the book.  The students had to figure out the theme of the book and pick music, pictures, etc. that fit the theme.  The results were amazing.  I was able to tell from the book trailers that the students really understood what was happening in the book.  AND – the students repeatedly asked to stay in from recess to work on their book trailers – that is student engagement!  The students were so in to creating something that they didn’t want to leave their task!  Click the below link to go to the website that gives all of the instructions and documentation I used for creating book trailers.

book trailer

So, my answer to my friend was that YES, I feel that the iPads are making a distinct difference.  His point to me what that we shouldn’t use technology, just to say we are using technology, which I completely agree with!  I think that the iPads will make a huge difference, but I also think that difference could be made with most any device.  However, the argument for the iPad also has to be, it is our job to prepare our students for the future and the future definitely includes iPads!

Skydrive Vs. Dropbox

              dropbox_logo       Skydrive-Logo-640x440

We are having a hard time at my school deciding which cloud service to introduce our teachers to.  I LOVE Dropbox and have been using it for about 1 1/2 years.  However, the problem is that our school uses Windows Live which comes with a free subscription to Skydrive.  We are rolling out iPads to our teachers which further complicates the issue.

Most iPad app’s are fully integrated with Dropbox but not Skydrive.  I have only found ONE wordprocessing application that allows users to link completely (both download and save to) to skydrive.  The app is Office2 HD.  We will be using this app for our teachers to access their documents on their iPads.  However, just having a wordprocessing storage site does not solve the problem in integrating skydrive with the ipad.  So many of the ipad apps do not save to or export to skydrive that the cloud storage is really useless. 

I would like to see the iPad link more with Skydrive in the future.  I am hoping that it is not a competition type situation where Apple won’t let Skydrive be a player because it is the competition.  From what I can tell Skydrive has all of the same bells and whistles as Dropbox. 

Here is a Comparison:

Dropbox Skydrive
Desktop Sync Yes Yes
Ability to Hyperlink Files Yes Yes
Folder Sharing Yes Yes
Price 2GB free 5GB free
Online Document Editing no* yes

*Dropbox files can be edited using iPad apps like CloudOn (free app).

My preferene is Dropbox because of the wonderful iPad integration.  I don’t mind paying $9.99 per month (for 50 gb) for the access and convenience of being able to access my files anywhere I am (using my phone (droid), iPad, or my home or work computer).  I share photo albums with my family and take advantage of extra free storage space every time someone signs up for Dropbox using a link I shared.  I would use Skydrive if the iPad integration were the same, but I would still be out of space, even with what my school would give me for free (I am almost maxed out with Dropbox).

You may notice that I didn’t mention Google Drive.  I am careful what I put on Google because of their privacy policy.  If you don’t mind your data being mined then Google Drive may be the choice for you, however, I do not want my information open to Google (and their advertisers) so I do not use their storage option.

The Daily Five – Book Study

I subscribe to a lot of teaching blogs (I know they aren’t on my blogroll – one of my to do’s this summer is to revamp my blog!) and there is a lot of discussion around the book The Daily Five.    In my school we have been working on reading workshop and moving away from the basal reader and the dreaded WORKSHEET!  I spent a lot of time in classrooms during the second half of the year (we didn’t fully get our brains wrapped around workshops until Dec!) showing teachers how to use a read-aloud and have students use readers notebooks.  My principal and I are both going to The Teachers College Reading Workshop at Columbia University this summer and I am so excited about that!  And NOW, I have found The Daily Five!  I am a participate book study posted on several blogs – Today’s posts are from Teaching with Style and Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations.

I decided to use a Reader’s Notebook approach to this book study because 1) I have to take notes when I read to help maintain my focus and memory and 2) I like things to be neat and pretty :-).  Below are my pictures of what I put together for the first chapter.  I wrote down the quotes and ideas from chapter 1 that jumped out at me.

2012-06-13_14-21-53_2402012-06-13_14-22-02_1052012-06-13_14-22-09_3642012-06-13_14-22-15_9582012-06-13_14-22-25_925    2012-06-13_14-22-34_4952012-06-13_14-22-39_728The part of the book that stuck out the most to me was, “The way teachers structure the learning environment and the way students spend their time influences the level of reading proficiency the students have attained at the end of the academic year”.  This is SO BASIC, yet for many years in my teaching career I missed the mark on this one! 

During the last year or two while I have been learning everything I can about reading workshop I realized that the one aspect of the reading program I was teaching that was missing was READING!  It is amazing to me that we think we are teaching out of a basal reader, one story a week, and we think we are doing a great job teaching reading!  The “Just Right Book” concept blew my mind and I know that The Daily Five is going to have a similar effect. I love independence in the classroom and have always taught that way, so I think the D5 is going to be a wonderful addition to my reading class (I get to teach a 4th grade reading class this year).

Here are a couple of other links to The Daily Five book study:

Mrs. Freshwater’s Class – grades 1-3 book study posts

Live Love Laugh – Kindergarten D5 Book Study

Dilly Dabbles Doodles – Grades 1-3 book study

We Read, We Blog, We Teach – Upper Grades Book Study