Using iPads to give instant feedback

Just a quick post in response to @ICTevangelist Mark Anderson’s Twitter question regarding how teachers have been using iPads to improve teaching & learning. I have been getting students to construct their written work on iPads using Pages, Notes or Wikispaces. This was something I wrote about in my big blogpost about feedback, but having now used it in the classroom for a month I wanted to give an update on why I think it is a very effective tool to improve the quality of students’ work.

There are various ways that you can do this type of thing but I have been using Wikispaces. This is the online space where I post my lessons and resources so it was convenient for me to create a space for each student here. I will set a task, such as constructing an answer to an exam style question or putting together a paragraph for a larger essay and after 10-15 minutes I will ask the class to save what they have done (or copy it into their Wiki page if they are doing it on Pages or Notes) so I can view what they have done on my computer or laptop. One of the functions on Wikispaces allows you to highlight certain parts of their writing and type advice that they can view by clicking my icon to side of the page. They then action the advice to improve their answer or paragraph. Looks like this:

Example work from wiki

Traditionally this advice would either been done whilst circulating around the classroom. They would have to re-write the sentence or paragraph in full, often creating a bit of a mess. Admittedly, this could be tidied up if they re-drafted the piece later, but the feedback enabled by the use of iPads means there can be on-going instant improvements. Also, by giving advice on small parts of their work as they construct it also raises the quality of the sentences and paragraphs to be written. In the past I would give the feedback on their completed piece which would often exhibit the same flaws and weaknesses in each paragraph or answer. It would then be a much larger task then to raise the standard of the whole piece.  By commenting as they write I can steer them in the right direction and then hopefully the rest of the answer needs less feedback.

The students have responded very positively to this and are appreciating the benefits that this offers. I have also coupled this strategy with methods advocated by David Didau, such as Slow Writing. One of my versions is below. I tasked the students with writing one paragraph of what would be a group essay on tactics and strategies in World War One.

    • 1. Your first sentence must start with Time/Sequence word

    • 2. The second sentence must start with an Illustration word and be less than 10 words.

    • 3. The third sentence will then explain the second sentence

    • 4. The fourth sentence will start with a Discussion word and include a phrase from a historian.

    • 5. The fifth sentence must contain some specific information e.g. statistics

    • 6. The sixth sentence should start with comparison word.

    • 7. The seventh sentence should start with a cause/effect word and try to link with the next paragraph.

Using iPads this way may not sound particularly exciting, but it has had an impact on the quality of their written work and subsequently their learning than any flashy app that I have some across yet.

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