iPads in the Classroom

At Jenison we are so fortunate to have the ability to have every child in the classroom using an iPad for some of our lessons. Using iPads is very motivating and engaging for students, but their most important use is as a tool to enhance learning. Here is one (out of many) ways that we are incorporating them into our lessons.

In Science in third grade we are studying about freshwater–why it is important and why it is so scarce. Each student was given a nonfiction article about freshwater to read. When students read, we want them to think. We want them to ask questions. We want them to wonder. We used the iPads to help us share our wonderings with the class.

Each student was given an iPad and used a QR code to quickly get to the website that we were going to use.

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The QR Code took us to a website called TodaysMeet. It is a chatroom set up ahead of time. We then read the first paragraph of the article. We stopped and asked, “After reading the first paragraph, what do we wonder?” We typed our questions into the iPad and the questions showed up on the screen.

We then did the same thing together with the next paragraph.

After practicing with two paragraphs together as a class, the students worked with a partner to continue reading the article and typing their questions about the article in the chatroom.

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It’s a very effective way to share our thinking with the rest of the class. We ended up with a list of great questions about what we were learning about, all up on the screen ready for us to answer!

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We then looked at our questions and divided them into “thin” questions (questions that are easy to answer) and “thick” questions (questions that have more than one answer or take some discussion or thought to come up with an answer). We went through the thin questions first to answer them.

Some questions we could easily find the answer to in the text:

What does irrigate mean?

Some questions we could answer from our background knowledge:

Why do farmers need freshwater for their crops?

We then looked at our thick questions to answer them. Those were more difficult to answer, as the answer could be in more than one place. We might have to combine information from the text, our background knowledge, and maybe another text to find the answer. It might be a question that has more than one answer and we might disagree.

Why is freshwater so important?

How can we save freshwater?

Why do we use too much water?

Why is there so little freshwater in the world?

We wrapped up the lesson reviewing what we learned after discussing all those questions. We will definitely be visiting Today’s Meet again in class to share our thinking about what we are learning!

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