When Chris Mahlmann called me earlier this month to tell me I was the lucky winner of the iPad, my first thought was disbelief. But once that initial shock wore off, my next thought was how cool this tool was going to be for the students in my English and journalism classes at Boone Grove. I like to think I am at the cutting edge of technology and I try to use that to my advantage in the classroom to connect kids with ideas and concepts. It doesn't hurt that it will help keep their attention as well.
Needless to say, I have spent these first few weeks playing with the iPad just to explore all of its possibilities. I'm impressed, especially with the numerous apps that allow me to track the news (The Daily Digg) and my stocks (bloom berg) and the handful of education blogs I like to read daily (FeedlerRSS). The Times newspaper even has an app that allows me to stay connected to the news in Northwest Indiana. And, interestingy, most of the apps I've downloaded onto the iPad have been free.
Viewing pictures on the iPad screen is amazing, too. Whether the images are coming from professionalm sites (The Guardian Eyewitness) or my own personal pics, the clarity and colors are wonderful. And, yes, there are a few game apps I've played that are great ways to relax or relieve some stress.
My six-year-old daughter loves the iPad as well. There are educational apps for math (Flash to Pass)and reading (Word Magic & K-3 Sight Words) that cater to her learning level, so she has easily learned how to use the iPad for her enjoyment (and, yes, she has some game apps she likes to play, too).
Another cool capability of the iPad is that I can use an app like Docs2Go to create word documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations. As a matter of fact, I am typing this article on the iPad using this app and I plan to send it to Chris at ValpoLife.com using the email app that syncs with my gmail account.
I think the greatest thing about the iPad is its capability to hold a limitless number of books that I can easily get to and read whenever I want. Aslong as I have the iPad with me (which is most of the time), I have access to the books I am (or will be) reading soon. I use the iBooks app to download into my personal library the books I want. The iBook app will also bookmark where I've left off in my reading which I love because right now I am reading from three books at once. In my library right now are 10 books, but the only one I've paid for is Dale Brown's Executive Intent (under $13). The rest were free from the iBooks store.
My mind has already been busy thinking of all the ways the iPad could help me in the classroom. One way is that it will allow me to easily record notes and ideas from students during writing conferences or when my journalism students hold their staff meetings. The calendar app is handy for quickly recording reminders and deadlines and important meetings. The iPad will also allow me to move around the room and sit anywhere and write while students are writing, too.
Finally, I want to thank Chris and ValpoLife.com and the great people at Group7even for sponsoring the iPad giveaway. I am grateful for the opportunity to use this device daily both personally and professionally, and I assure you this tool of learning will be put to good use.