REAl-World Issues

1 - The Basics

How do you teach spelling, grammar, and other language skills with so many "helpers" that don't let students learn from their errors?

  • Choose Simple Tools. Use basic tools that don't have built-in spelling and grammar checkers. Let students know that the focus in on student writing skills and that they need to be careful in these environments. Focus assessments on these basic skills. For instance, use photos and bubbles to practice spelling in Comic Touch Lite.
  • Design Focused Activities. Infographics are great for foreign language skills because the auto-translators don't work on them. Do a Google Images search for "infografia" for Spanish language graphics.
  • Encourage Reference Tools. With an iPad, reference tool apps are at your finger tips. Encourage students to use, Merriam Webster dictionary, and thesaurus by building in specific activities such as a log of new or revised words.

2 - The Plagiarism Battle

There are two things we can do to eliminate student plagiarism:

Start with content-rich apps. Use Fotopedia: Heritage from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to jumpstart a writing assignment. There are ones related to many places including Paris and North Korea. The site doesn't have a copy option so students are less likely to "copy and paste". However students can create a "trip" to bookmark locations.

Teach Information Skills. Students need to understand the concept of plagiarism and how to avoid it. For instance, design activities around websites with built-in note-taking tools that promote student writing rather than copying.

Rethink Assignments. If you ask for facts, you'll get information copied from websites. Instead, design assignments that can't be copied. Ask students to:

  • Evaluate the facts in a game. THe old way is to write a report, then play the game. The new way is to skip the report and evaluate a game. Is the game Oregon Trail ($.99) like or unlike real-life. How? This report asks for a different kind of writing.
  • Critique a critique. Give students the Cliff notes and ask them to evaluate them as they read. For instance, provide CliffNotes on Huxley's Brave New World. You can also get LitCharts for books like Pride and Prejudice.
  • Compare two people, places, things, or events. Rather than copying facts and writing a report about a bird, use the Build a Bird app to learn about two birds and write a comparison.
  • Create a new idea, invention, approach, or other innovation to extend an existing idea. The old way is to copy other people's ideas. The new way is to use other people's ideas to build new ideas. Like, write a new chapter for a book. Give students tools like Bobo Explores Light for inspiration. Provide off-computer resources for students to experiment. Use it in a station environment to stimulate writing.

3 - Working with Apps

Software is changing. Apps are becoming a common way to access tools and information.

  • EasyBib (free). Use this app to create citations. You simply scan the ISBN code on a book and choose the citation you want. You can even edit the citation.
  • Writer's Studio has many tools beyond the classic word processor. Provide students the opportunity to write in new ways such as writing scripts for audio dialogues or creating visual descriptions.
  • inDecision ($.99) helps students weight pros and cons in making a decision. It would be a great tool to plan for writing.
  • Consider whether it's worth the money to purchase a tool. For instance Book Creator for iPad and eBook Creator are a nice way to create books, however they are $4-8 a piece which may be prohibitive if you have multiple iPads since it's not any better than other tools that are free.

4 - Managing Communication

  • Private vs Public. Teach students to carefully manage what they share publically and privately. Model this through the use of cloud-based tools.
  • Syncing. Many students now have multiple devices. They need to learn the value of backing up information and syncing various devices. QuickOffice ($19.99) This suite contains a word processor any syncs with Google Docs as well as many other online tools and social networks.
  • Passwords. Students are growing up in a world of passwords. They need strategies for managing this complex activity.
  • Shared Space. DropBox. Share documents online.
  • Collaborative Notes. Evernote. Allows sharing of documents.
  • Teach Cybersafety. Use Professor Garfield Online Safety App to teach cybersafety. Also look at the other Professor Garfield apps including Cyberbullying, Fact or Opinion, and Forms of Media.

5 - Assessments

Use electronic tools and process checks as part of assessment.

  • Note-taking. Everything doesn't need to be turned into a "paper" or "final product". Grade student notes along with a simple product such as a 140 character text message, bumper sticker, postage stamp, or media generated product like a newspaper heading. For instance, Diigo is a web highlighter that is now available for iPad Safari. It allows users to highlight web pages, make bookmarks, make sticky notes, and share this information privately or publically.
  • Page Histories. Use new tools to help with grading group projects. Wikis have HISTORY so you can trace what students did and when they did it. Tools like wikispaces allow you to see the history.
  • Fun. Tools like StoryBuddy Lite are a great way for students to share their understandings. Be sure to include visual, auditory, and motion elements in evaluations.

Go to Conclusion.