March 6, 2012

Which One Should I Select?

At the beginning of the school year, two iPads finally arrived in my library.  These iPads were purchased through a Double Matching Grant I had won late last school year.  I had to delay the delivery due to the summer intersession and I didn't have a secure place in the library to store them.   I was really excited to try out the applications (apps), but I learned later that there are so many!  I was faced with the tough question, "Which iPad apps would be most beneficial for my students?" 
I first visited the iPads in CPS Blog which had a ton of information that was quite useful.  One of my favorite links on the website is, One Place for Special Needs.  This website is dedicated to provide helpful resources and support for the parents of special needs kids.   The website is run by Dawn Villarreal a mother of two special needs children.   The section on iPad apps is really helpful because Villarreal has researched these apps, provided a short synopsis of them and has broken them down by skill set.  The viewer can use her links on the website that redirect to the app store where screen shots can be viewed for further reading.  What's really cool about this site is that all of the apps that appear on the website have been researched and are alphabetized by disability and subject.  When you have an opportunity, just visit her website and see for yourself.

Freshman Lunch Period
When the students learned that iPads were coming to the library, they were excited.  One of the first questions that was asked by the students was, "Are you going to let us play Angry Birds?"  I had to stop and think about the iPad integration from a teenager's point of view.  Then I had to think about this for a longer period of time.   The educator in me wanted the kids to use the devices to complete homework and research.  Would it be problematic for kids to play games on the iPads?   Chicago Public Library uses gaming as a part of it's draw for the YOUMedia Center.  There are CPS librarians that are using X-Box Kinect to promote greater learning and physical fitness.  Finally, librarians have always had board games in their libraries.

Two Seniors Playing Chess
I finally came to the decision.  I would allow a 'healthy' mix of iPad research and gaming.  Now wait, before some of you send me hateful emails, please keep the following in mind.  High school students have a :20 minute lunch.  During this time they can read, study, research, enjoy magazines or socialize freely.   Most importantly, it's a time when they can relax and take a break.   I loaded a couple of popular games like Angry Birds on the devices.  The understanding that my students and I have is the games are for free time and definitely not during class time.  

Here's some of the cool things I have observed take place since integrating 'gaming' apps:

- A couple of members of the Chess Team use the iPads to practice during lunch periods and after school.
- Students enjoy testing their vocabulary by playing Scrabble by themselves or with a partner.
Senior Girl Playing Scrabble
- The video and picture taking has increased heavily.  Students enjoy using some of the Art apps such as Sketch Me to express their creative side.
- Kids that normally would not socialize with each other now do.  It's interesting to see kids that are from different social circles sharing, conversing and demonstrating how to use the iPad.
- Students that are introverted/shy are more social among their peer group.

Just Having Fun
Now please keep in mind, I'm still in the early stages of allowing this type of gaming to take place in the library.  I will revisit this decision at the end of the school year.  Through this ongoing process, I have learned that making the decision to purchase an iPad app is challenging.  It takes allot research, time and patience.   I'm just determined to identify the best apps that my students and teachers can use. 

Bye for now!

1 comment:

  1. Hi K.C. love the blog. I think that play is a natural part of learning about technology. My ipads are loaded with "math games." I don't really think that's any different. People say "oh well those are educational." But games are games. The students need to learn to self monitor themselves and develop a responsible attitude about using these devices. Games are for down time, although I've seen some pretty cool educators use them for learning too.