My Pedagogy -
The way I teach will always be changing and evolving (as any good teachers should) but it had to change rapidly to keep up with what the students could now do. As much as a teacher is seen as a driver in the bus that is education and the students are just the passengers, the students are getting closer and closer to that driving seat. Occasionally they have even snatched that wheel and gone for a joy ride. This is scary at first and nothing that any teacher is used too but this year it had to happen. The students had to be allowed to grab the wheel and put their foot on the gas. Decide which road they were going to take. The iPad opens up their roads too. No longer do we have to wait for library time to get a certain book out or POD time to research a particular point because the device that was in their hand gave them this access any time of the day no matter what subject we were doing.
Teaching freedom is the most difficult thing in the world. Trying to get 7, 8 and 9 year olds to understand that they had the freedom to explore when and how they liked was almost impossible because students are not used to this environment or way of thinking. Too often curriculum areas are blocked between walls of time. Students know that we start maths at 9 and finish at 10. Any work not finished gets looked at again tomorrow or forgotten about. The iPad allows the students to continue to learn a subject even when it is not being taught. It allows those students to extend themselves in areas that they love and also continue to work on areas that they need more time in. No blocks of time just freedom to learn. Again how do you teach this ?
We experimented with days when the timetables only set tasks were morning tea and lunch and the students just had learning goals. This had its pluses and minuses and I could see how it could be hugely successful when it is established and becomes the norm. Students could continue to work on the tasks of their own choosing and get help when it was needed. I found that the students are still very dependant on YOU (the teacher) to provide them with reassurance and guidance. Not all but some. These students will always struggle to know what or how to learn independent of the teacher. BUT I also believe on the other hand that it could work. If clear learning goals are established any student could, given the freedom find a way to work towards it.
Breaking a habit is always hard and for the students who rely heavily on us to support and guide them, freedom can be too big of a concept for them when the expectation is to still learn by exploring and guiding themselves. Again though when it becomes the norm and the whole class environment is just this way any student could adapt and change. My slowest, lowest students become some of my best independent workers when clear goals and tasks were established for them to work on. They choose how they would get there, what they would work within, which app was best for the task and just worked away until it was met.
As a teacher the habit I found hardest to break was stepping back and just watching, not intervening when I thought a student needed help. Locust of control...
Talking to those that have tried a similar approach to learning needs (with and without iPads) they have all had success. Keys - Set it up early in the year, don't give up, expect a battle, expect a few tears, expect parents to worry, keep working away on it and allow the students to see what it should look like and how it could be done, start small, stay clear, work together.
I never gave set tasks that had to be done a particular way or had to completed on a certain App. The students had the choice to use what they were comfortable with. This coupled with the students understanding that they could continue to work on any learning area that they wanted to see completed or finished or just passionate about was successful, to a point, but needs refining like most things. Not a bad effort for a first attempt at relinquishing control.