Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Thursday, March 31, 2011

iLearn from my Students

This post is about one of the many ways that iLearn from my students (Get it? Give it a minute.)

So many teachers ask me, 'Hey Jennie, how did you get your kids to be so good at using this technology? What did you do?'

My answer is: 'Very little.'

Yes, I did have the day where we sat down and had our iPad rules and iPad101 with a doc cam and a projector. Yes, we went over the whole, 'Do not use an inappropriate app or go on an inappropriate website - under pain of death.' Yes, I have my iPad rules poster up in my classroom. Yet this whole spiel was about 2-3 days in the making. I spent longer teaching my kids math centers.

Now, 8 months later, my kids - many of whom rarely typed in their lives - are typing entire essays in a few periods, creating Keynote (the Apple version of Powerpoint) presentations, zooming in and out on webpages, cutting and pasting text and photos into their documents, using auto-correct (that squiggly red or green line under misspelled or grammatically incorrect words/phrases) and more! Did I teach any of this to them? Not really. So how do they know how to do it with such ease and efficiency?

I gave the kids explore time. I allowed them to use their 21st century in-born technology know-how to problem solve, make mistakes, find solutions and learn the systems. I found that by doing it this way, my kids not only more deeply understood how to navigate the ins and outs of the iPad, cloud file system, and other applications -- but they found neat tricks and taught them to me!

Teachers often feel like they have to follow the age-old "I do, We do, You do" for every lesson. This just isn't so. As with teaching math and science, I love to pose a problem and let the students loose on it. I'm consistently amazed by the solutions with which they return. Even when they make mistakes - or go down the completely wrong path, we have learned as a classroom to discuss those mistakes and learn from each other.

In this case with the iPads, I am constantly "goofing up." I have lost student work on the iDisk (cloud file sharing system). I have gotten waist-deep into the lesson only to realize that the video I created and loaded didn't properly download onto all iPads. I have made even more grave mistakes, but the students are so patient with me... because I'm patient with them. We all know that this is new technology. We all know that this is an exciting frontier on which we're traveling. Therefore we explore together, we fail together and learn together. All in all, more often than not, the students show me better ways to do things that I could have ever imagined or lesson planned. The student has become the master, indeed.


  1. I wonder how this transfers to use of desktops and laptops. The iPad seems to clumsy to me when I am typing, but I suppose that if you're learning on it, it's easier. But do you think that it makes using a desktop or laptop (with a real keyboard and a mouse) harder for your students?

  2. I love using my external keyboard with my iPad but for a class that could be expensive.

  3. My students, having never really used actual keyboards on a regular basis (due to a lack of technology exposure / age), adapted quickly to the digital keyboard. I think it is most awkward for those who have already become accustomed to physical keyboards.