It’s hard to believe the 7th and 8th graders at an Anchorage school have had the iPads for just a few days now. Already, it’s clear this technology is changing the way these students at the Anchor Lutheran School are learning.
“They have so many opportunities at their fingertips that we as kids never had,” says Laura Dirksen -- known to her students as Senora Dirksen, their Spanish teacher.
Dirksen spent some time today showing them how to access language apps on the iPad, something she thinks will improve their pronunciation and comprehension of Spanish.
So far, the students have been pretty good about following the rules that Allison Chandler has laid down for them. Chandler teaches 17 students in a combined 7th and 8th grade class.
“The great fear is that you don’t want to lose your iPad,” says Chandler. “And if you’re abusing it, you’re not going have it. So that’s one good thing. You don’t want to have it taken away.”
Chandler says using the iPad in the classroom has been a trial and error process.
“You have to be ready to try new things, and be ready to have it fail – and then start all over again,” she says.
She especially likes the ability of the students to access Khan Academy math tutorials on their iPads, which are free and can be found on Youtube.
Chandler says students who are having trouble can watch the tutorials at home. Others benefit as well.
“If they have an interest in math, or, if they want to brush up on skills, they can go to any level,” says Chandler. “They don’t have to go to what I’ve assigned them to do.”
“I think the guy who does them is pretty good,” says Ella Ashley, a student who sits comfortably on a sofa at the edge of the classroom with an iPad balanced on her lap. “He teaches math pretty well.”
Ella says she likes the fact that she can watch to the video as many times as she wants, because math is not her best subject.
Ella does say she finds the switch from textbooks to iPads a little disconcerting.
“You can’t really turn the pages with your fingers,” says Ella. “That’s kind of a downside about the iPad, because I just love holding a book.”
She worries that she might one day find herself repeatedly touching a page on a real book, trying to figure out why the page isn’t turning.
But otherwise, this middle school student says the good definitely outweighs the bad.
“It’s a lot more fun to study, because when you’re on the iPad, you get to show it off to your friends while you’re studying. So it’s really fun,” Ella said.
Aside from the “cool factor,” the students also enjoy the mobility.
“I’ve studied at McDonald’s. A café down the street,” says Tyler Breitenstein. “You can pretty much do it (homework) anywhere. You don’t have to carry it around in a backpack all the time.”