Mike Fellows at Lakewood High School allowed us at SEP to pilot our Google sponsored iPad Project with his class. This was not only a trial to determine whether or not iPads are as viable as I thought they were but also a trial of my aptitude as a pseudo-educator in a high school setting.
Mike chose to use the iPads with his parts of the cell project. He had previously taught this project in the computer lab and the students would create Powerpoint presentations to then present in front of the class. We planned on not deviating from this plan too much as we had Keynote(Apple’s version of Powerpoint) available for use on the iPads.
Day one was more just for me to get acquainted with the classes. I introduced myself and showed the students some of the apps that were available for them to use during the course of their project. I encouraged them to use the apps other than Keynote. We had other options such as iMovie, Comic Life, Keynote, and Garage Band for the students to really branch out and try a new and creative approach to learning parts of the cell. Our main goal with including apps like iMovie was to really engage the non-science interested students.
Day two was the first real day they had to work on the project. It was also the day I had difficulty getting the internet to work. Initially I had planned bypass the school’s internet by using a wireless router from CradlePoint along with a USB modem from AT&T. We were concerned with certain Youtube videos and other research elements being blocked by some school districts’ very strict internet settings. I had tested our go around in Mike’s classroom earlier and it worked just fine, but when it was time for all 11 iPads to connect to the internet at once the strictness of the settings turned out to be the least of my worries. The cell signal in the classroom was just too weak to support more than one client at a time and, as a result, would drop most of the students attempting to access the internet simultaneously.
On day three I was able to remedy the lack of internet access by just using a regular router and plugging into the school’s Ethernet jack. The district’s filters didn’t seem to matter too much compared to the complete lack of internet from the day before and the students were able use the more than just the book resources available.
The days four and five were completely dedicated to presenting the projects. The projects presented ended up being either made in Keynote or Comic Life. The ones in Keynote were all pretty general Powerpoint style presentations. The groups that used the Comic Life app didn’t make comics so much as used the app as a different type of Keynote theme; adding the obligatory information into the speech bubble and the pictures were just copied and pasted from Wikipedia.
I was able to take advantage of the iPad 2’s video mirroring ability and we used VGA cable adapter and projector to project each presentation to the front of the class. This made for some very smooth transitioning and data management. There was hardly any set-up and tear down time for each group.
At the end of my week at Lakewood High School I was left with an accomplished feeling. I had completed my first real classroom assignment and felt that it was as bumpy, but I had expected as such.