Audit Trail Part III Professional Development School Partnership- Lincoln Elementary

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Part III: Action Research

The questions being posed are:

1) Why the iPad?

Savilla Banister (2010) points out that, "As the iPad is still very new to the market, speculations for its use in k-12 environments remains sketchy." The iPad continues to capture the general public, but teachers and administrators are cautious about its use within the classroom. My thought bringing the iPad to the classroom was, "What uses will the iPad provide for me with the students I will work with?" Karen Melhuish & Gary Falloon (2010) describe that, "Apple's iPad is the latest technology to cause a buzz on the international technology scene because it is regarded as a mobile platform that will, at least in theory, offer all of the functionality and connectivity of a laptop, with the mobility of a smartphone." The iPad gives the user these options in education from Melhuish & Falloon (2010):
  • Portability in learning: The iPad is easy to store, tote around, and move from classroom to classroom if necessary. For students, they will not have to carry around a bulky laptop, but a lightweight device with many of the same features as a laptop.
  • Affordable access to learning: Melhuish & Falloon (2010) point out, "The iPad may be a 'tool of choice' for learners with special education needs, due to its comfortable size and weight, its support for audio, and its flexibility presenting texts and images." The iPad is relatively inexpensive as well (starting at $499) compared to laptops (starting at $799) that schools purchase.
  • Situated learning: Support with the iPad from teachers is critical to mobile learning for the students. However, mobile technology is thought to be used for short term learning and interaction instead off an extended period for the students. The iPad is starting to be used for higher-quality, collaborative ways of learning.
  • Connectivity: Most schools have a WiFi connection, so the iPad will be able to access the Internet, download apps, and use anything that requires a wireless connection. Technical support and maintaining the iPad's condition is critical to staying connected.
  • Personalized learning: The teachers can pick which applications are best suited for the students on the iPad or inform them of what is available to use. Textbooks, content, and other areas of education are being adapted by the App Store to make Apple a leader in education.

The iPad is something that should truly be considered for students by the administration and teachers. Melhuish & Falloon (2010) explain that, "The education sector must keep its eyes open and assess the benefits and challenges of any innovation through the lens of what is known to be effective in teaching and learning."

2) What applications on the iPad were utilized?

Melhuish & Falloon (2010) say that, "iPhones, iPads, and iTouches offer an array of application ('apps') that can be easily commissioned for local use and can be selected to meet the learning topics and themes that an individual requires." My idea was to tailor the applications on the iPad to the content being covered in my literature circles. The book covered in the literature circle was Worth by A. LaFaye, which was a novel taking place in 1880's Nebraska about a boy, Nathaniel, who breaks his leg and is replaced by an orphan, John Worth. The initial thought was, "What is something I can do to draw in the students attention?" The application I chose to download on my iPad was Westward Expansion which chronicled the United States of America's expansion during the 19th century. I showed this to the students to get them thinking about the setting. Each student was floored because our group was using an iPad. The second connection was they were using the areas of history and geography from social studies with the Westward Expansion app. From my vantage point, I believe this made the students excited to go through Worth.

Another application I used in the literature circle was Google Maps. Banister (2010) states that, "Maps allows students and teachers to access to real-world information. Maps is an application that has a wealth of possibilities for use in any k-12 classroom." With the information of how Nathaniel's family traveled in Worth, I decided to map out the route taken from their starting point in New York, stop in Chicago, and finishing in Nebraska. The students really got into this use of Google Maps and were intrigued to see how many miles the route was. From this information, the students made inferences on what difficulties traveling would have been in the 19th century, especially the route and how long it would have taken for Nathaniel's family to travel.

The literature circle also used Safari, or the Internet browser on the iPad to look up information regarding the fence cutting and Fence Cutting War in Texas. Reviews of educational applications can be found at for teachers looking for educational purposes.

3) What is the iPad suited for in the classroom?

The iPad is a versatile tool for use in the classroom. From my work with the literature circle, this device can aid in learning within this type of setting. Students can use this tool for collaborative learning when sharing projects, using applications like Notes or Google Maps to show specific ideas/findings, and experiment with new applications that are downloaded onto the iPad. Meluish & Falloon (2010) talk about the fact that, "For the first time, there is a functional mobile device in which the readable touch screen frees a learner from the constraint of a keyboard. Applications are already being developed to meet particular schools' needs, such as adapting textbooks to better meet course learning goals, while the range of available communication tools allows multiple channels of engagement."

An excellent use for the iPad is in special education. As an assistive technology, the iPad can offer VoiceOver technology in which the student can hear what is displayed on the screen and able to be played back for the student. The screen can be magnified as well to help students who are visually impaired. This website gives a more detailed look at why Apple wants to accommodate anyone in special education.

Students want a piece of technology that can help their learning and teachers want something that gives students the opportunity to learn. Using the iPad this semester has helped myself and the students see the many uses with applications like Google Maps and Westward Expansion to expand upon themes of literacy and social studies. For teachers, they need to make sure the iPad would be suited for their classroom and do the research into potential uses for the students. The iPad can have a place in the classroom and from my work with the students in literature circles and during other sessions, I believe learning is furthered through this technology in meaningful ways.


Banister, S. (2010). Integrating the iPod Touch into K-12 education: Visions and vices. Computers in the Schools, 27(2), 121-131.

Melhuish, K. & Falloon, G. (2010). Looking to the future: M-learning with the iPad. Computers in the New Zealand Schools: Learning, Leading, Technology, 22(3).

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