Jr. High teacher Caitlin Heap has received an iPad and an Apple TV through an opportunity grant from the PBL Education Foundation. A visit to her classroom shows just how much the addition of technology can change the way our students are taught.
An Apple TV is not actually a TV, but a streaming device of the same type that many of us use to stream movies over the internet to our home TVs. However, in a math classroom, its uses can be much more practical and educational. This little black box that sits on top of an LCD projector allows teachers to show what’s on their iPad (or iPhone or iPod) to everyone in the room wirelessly. That leaves teachers free to move about the room while using the technology with their students.
In a class of eight students, Heap was working with 5 iPads–the one the Foundation purchased, one that was school-purchased, her personally-owned iPad, and two that are brought in by students every day. At the beginning of the class period two different activities were being streamed at the same time. At one end of the room, four students at a time used iPads to take a review quiz, which was on an app. The Apple TV allowed the wireless connection to be active on all 4 ipads at the same time. As each student logged off an iPad, his or her work was scored and sent directly to Heap’s computer.
At the other end of the room, the other four students were watching, listening and taking notes on a lesson which Heap had recorded earlier with an app. As numbers and symbols appeared almost magically on the white board in front and Heap’s voice explained what was happening, she herself was free to interject comments and ask and answer questions. She never had to turn her back on her students or block their view as the problems and solutions appeared on the board. The lessons are saved so that students can review them any time that they have internet access at home or at school. The lessons can also be sent as an attachment to watch on personal devices such as ipads, iphones, and other tablets.
After both groups had finished the quiz and worked on the day’s lesson, the students paired up and took turns using the iPads or mini white boards at their desks to work on a series of practice problems. Heap could walk from desk to desk helping students. At the same time, with a flick of the remote she could show first one student’s work on the big screen and then another’s because the Apple TV allowed whatever was on any of the iPads to be streamed to the front white board.
Observing this classroom was a preview of what’s going to be the norm in classrooms across the country. The PBL Education Foundation hopes to be able to help bring this kind of technology to every classroom in the PBL district.