Tag Archives: iPads

Inquiry to teach bone anatomy and design

31 Oct

Goal: In my anatomy and physiology class students need to learn about bone anatomy and have them understand the following:

  • Shape of a long bone
    • Hollow middle
    • Ends of long bones are wider
  • Discover that there are actually two types of bone *spongy bone and compact bone)
  • Location of spongy bone vs compact bone
  • How does the design of a bone accomplish the structural/support needs of humans

Previously this would have all been taught via a lecture and discussion where I would tell the students all of the information.  This year I decided to have the students discover how and why bones are designed the way they are.

Students move through a series of six stations that have 1-3 real bones. (human, deer, cow, and mastodon) While at these stations, students record observations on their iPads about each type of bone, including the shape, and the structural design. In addition students take pictures of the bone and in some cases place magnifying glasses in front of the camera to take pictures of the bones. Through these observations and just a little bit of research students discovered and learned for themselves all of the learning outcomes I had previously given them.  Take a look at some of my students work!  Pretty amazing!Intro to Bones

What was used to complete lab:

PDF Expert used as lab

Camera of iPad

Simple Magnifying glass


Examples of students work


Intro to Bones

The little and unexpected positive uses of an iPad

27 Mar

I was having a conversation with a physics teacher at my school last week and he pointed out a few interesting and unexpected advantages he has found about using iPads in his class that I thought I would share.


Size of a piece of paper doesn’t matter anymore:

In the past I have always used the default paper size of 81/2 x 11 piece of paper because that is what we can print at school.  With the introduction of the iPad and PDF annotating apps like UPAD, Notability and my favorite PDF Expert 5, the size of the paper no longer matters.  This allows teachers to actually put more information on one page limiting the number of times kids have to flip from one page to the next.  By setting the default page size to something bigger like 11×17 teachers can place notes, text and graphs all on a single page.


Color Matters

In any class the use of different colored text, color images and color graphs can make classroom discussions a lot easier.  When discussing a particular line on a graph or diagraming sentence structure it is really nice to be able to reference different items by color.  A simple yet very effective way to enhance discussions.



ASCD Presentation: iPads in Education

18 Mar

Here is our Keynote presentation that we given at the ASCD conference in Chicago on March 16th.  The presentation examined the ways in which a teacher lead, ground up, proposal based approach to a 1:1 iPad initiative has changed teaching and learning at New Trier High School.

Session Description”New Trier High School is in the second year of an iPad pilot program. More than 600 students in 15 different courses received iPads this year. In this session, the presenters will share examples of how teaching and learning were transformed, explain their process of developing this pilot program and creating buy-in with the school community, detail evaluation plans, and describe plans for the future.”

Here is a link to our slides:

New Trier Mobile Learning Initiative ASCD Final Slides

There were a number of videos embedded in the slides.  The links are below:

Introduction Video:  The student perspective

Video #1:  Students Demonstrating Knowledge

Video #2:  Student Collaboration

Video #3:  eBooks

Video #4: iPads in Science, ESL and American Studies

New Trier High School: Mobile Learning Update.

19 Dec

I am a technology staff developer and anatomy and physiology teacher at New Trier High School.  We have implemented a 1:1 iPad pilot this year with 700 of our 4,000 students.  Below is an update that the director of technology wrote for the board of education.  It outlines our program, it successes and some of the hiccups we have had along the way.  I have also embedded the video that our technology department created to help illustrate some of the way students are using iPads in the classroom.

Board Memo:

The Mobile Learning Initiative is off to a strong start as we conclude the first semester. Our evaluation and research show that several features of a tablet mobile device have been critical to the program’s success, including the availability to instantly record, edit, and integrate audio and video; access to resources in pilot and non-pilot classrooms; a plethora of easy-to-use apps; increased digital communication with teachers; improved student organization and management of work and learning; efficient feedback about learning from teacher to student; and improved classroom routines and practices. The progress in the initiative can perhaps best be viewed from the perspective of students and teachers. The following classroom examples emphasize that student/teacher perspective and the key success factors are embedded in these examples and in the video we will present at the Board meeting.

In our Anatomy and Physiology classrooms, students are constructing their own knowledge of complex scientific processes and demonstrating that knowledge through embedding pictures, audio, and video into presentations and written documents. As an example, rather than simply reading about the process of muscle contraction, students create and narrate an animation of the various steps of this intricate process. These animation tutorials also serve as a study aide all students can use later through whole class sharing on YouTube.

In Biology, the student lab report has been re-envisioned, allowing students to create a multimedia product that demonstrates their learning. In the past, students completed hand-written lab reports. Now, they can use the Pages app to author their reports, which allows them to incorporate actual images and video with the simple click of a button. Data and charts, once written out by hand, are now quickly entered in the Numbers spreadsheet application and embedded into the report, which allows the student to focus on sophisticated and in-depth analysis of data rather than just producing the graph and chart.

In Physics, students often study concepts, such as the movement of waves in water, which are difficult to see. In past years, students used a water tank, which is an imperfect process that produces inconsistent results and is difficult to observe. This year, a brief demonstration was presented in class, and students used a wave simulator on the iPad with a virtual tank to observe the phenomenon in more depth, outside of class, leading to great understanding and comprehension. Having access to the wave simulator for all students through the iPad allows the teacher to construct a lesson where he or she can decide whether the clarity of a simulator or a physical lab is most appropriate for the learning goal.

Each year, students in Sports Medicine learn about ankle injuries, and complete a corresponding lab where they learn how to tape an ankle. Previously, the instructor would demonstrate ankle taping, and then spend the rest of the period demonstrating the same concept to each lab group on an individual basis. Now, one student tapes the initial demonstration, and the instructor posts the file so students can review it and watch it at their own pace, both in and outside of class. Rather than repeating the same demonstration a dozen times in class, the instructor can now provide more meaningful and in-depth feedback to students.

Students in Sports Medicine also now take electronic notes on their reading assignments, which are submitted to the teacher. The teacher can then provide immediate feedback and review, and reports that this has increased student preparation and participation, allowing him to cover more material at a deeper level in class.

In Social Studies classrooms, students can immediately access primary source documents, which can be used for their research or in small group activities.

Students in AP English read The Awakening by Kate Chopin in the iBooks app on the iPad. The teacher reports that there were increases in comprehension and understanding of difficult vocabulary, since students could simply click on a word to see its definition. They also use the annotation features of the app, which allows them to highlight text and take notes that can easily be accessed later. The search feature allows students to spot trends in language in phrasing, and to better understand when similar words and phrases are used throughout the book.

Also in AP English, students create a visual essay, which allows them to link images and text to make an argument about a particular topic. In the past, students used a web-based program on a computer to complete this assignment. Now, students use an easy-to-use book creator app that allows them to easily combine text and video to create a professional looking product, which can be shared with the teacher, presented to the class, and is archived in a class library.

As Junior English students prepare to write their junior theme, the iPad has become an integral part of the process, bringing the resources of the library to their fingertips via the iPad in the classroom and at home. They have access to New Trier’s rich array of journal subscriptions, eBooks, and other publications. They also use apps like Flipboard and Longform to locate long form journalism articles on subjects related to American Life from such publications as The Atlantic or The New Yorker. They can also access resources like TED Talks, as they work to incorporate sources beyond the written word. As they find these resources and progress towards finding a topic, they use the iPad to annotate and create reflections about how their interest is shaped into a more defined topic area. These analyses are shared with the teacher via Google Drive, which allows him or her to monitor progress on a continuous basis and provide feedback, which is an improvement over the traditional method of submitting written drafts on a set schedule.

In French Cinema, students quickly access information on cultural topics related to the movies they are watching. Students then prepare presentations to demonstrate their knowledge using the KeyNote app, which can include video and audio recordings of interviews with fellow students. After researching questions on cultural knowledge, students use the iPad to verify comprehension using the Socrative app, which provides immediate feedback to students.

In French 4, the teacher authored several short stories he distributed to the students in iBook. These stories align closely with the curriculum of the class, and utilize the features available in the iBooks app, such as embedded video, audio, and pictures. Students read and annotate the stories, and use functions such as the dictionary to better understand what they are reading.

Students taking Chinese classes must learn the difficult process of writing Chinese characters, which previously could only be done using paper and pencil. Using the touch screen on the iPad and a stylus, students can practice creating characters and receive immediate feedback from the app, or submit the files to the teacher for assessment. Students in Chinese also can practice the language and pronunciation easily using the built-in microphone on the iPad. The recordings can be uploaded for the teacher, who can give immediate assessment.

Previously, this type of practice was only available once every ten class days in the language lab. In both cases, the feedback from the teacher to the student occurs more quickly and is more meaningful.

In Spanish, the use of the iPad complements the use of the TPRS (Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling) methodology, which teaches the language through reading and storytelling. Students are now able to author and produce short videos of skits, which demonstrate their writing, speaking, and grammar skills. Previously, this process was cumbersome, using cameras and complicated editing software in a computer lab. Now, this process can occur in the classroom and at home, and the focus is not on technology, but rather on language learning. This method has resulted in stronger student engagement and comprehension.

In the Principles of Engineering class, students can use apps that analyze pictures of structures, such as bridges. The app immediately provides measurements that can assist in calculating load or other important factors.

Topics of Psychology and Sociology students demonstrate difficult situations through the use of puppetry and voice recording apps on the iPad, which provides a less stressful experience for presenting on topics that may be uncomfortable for the students to discuss face to face.

One of the most common and significant themes from student and teacher feedback is the improvement in organization and efficiency in learning and the higher rate of work completion. Many students use the iPad for class notes for all classes, keeping track of worksheets, communicating with teachers, and completing assignments. They indicate this efficiency ties to an improvement in their performance in class and reduces stress. This efficiency occurs both in participating classes, non-participating classes, and in their other work at New Trier.

In a survey this week, over 80% of participating students indicate they use the iPad beyond their pilot class in a variety of ways, including:

  • Typing papers for non-participating classes or the college application process
  • Recording Kinesis dance practices for coaching and critique purposes
  • Researching chemicals used in a chemistry lab
  • Using electronic textbooks for other classes
  • Creating flash cards for language learning
  • Submitting assignments via Blackboard or Canvas (learning management system)
  • Completing homework assignments during free time, anywhere on campus or at home
  • Organizing their assignments, due dates and files
  • Communicating with teachers via email
  • Research in Science Olympiad
  • Organizing notes and sources in debate
  • Read sheet music and scores in music class
  • In theater, write light cues, mark scripts, control lighting and sound equipment, and edit CAD drawings.

This increased efficiency is possible in part because many of the participating teachers have shifted their practices and organization. Many participating classes are now paperless, with students receiving assignments electronically from teachers, completing them on their iPad, submitting them to teachers, and receiving them back with feedback in a timely manner with grades that are automatically entered in the teacher’s grade book and viewable online. This streamlined process has led to increased homework completion rates, a reduction in time for providing feedback to students, and has allowed for both teachers and students to add audio or video notes to assignments. For instance, a student might indicate unexpected results in a science lab, or a teacher could record a quick video explaining how a student made a mistake in a science calculation. Students and teachers report this type of feedback is more meaningful and significant. Many teachers now also complete a cursory review of assignments and homework before class starts, so they can make adjustments on the fly for a concept the students may not have understood the previous day.

Teachers also report that this efficiency has led to increased student preparation for class and a reduction in the time students and teachers need to spend on organizational tasks. In some cases, teachers have indicated that this has led to being able to cover more content, or to explore topics at a more deep and meaningful level.

iPads at New Trier

18 Dec

A look at how students and teachers are using iPads to enhance instruction during the first semester of a one-to-one pilot.

Does Size Matter: iPad Storage and the Impact of eBooks

7 Jun

This is an update to a post I made last week about how storage on the iPad 2 and the New iPad compare to each other.  This post aims at looking more in depth at the storage issues of the New iPad as students begin to use it in more and more classes particularly with the added space requirements of digital texts.

As schools nationwide look to adopt the iPad as their 1:1 computing device we need to look at how the iPad will support the needs and growth of the student from year to year.  Last week I showed how the iPad 2 and the New iPad compare in a head to head storage match up.  The results from these tests can be seen in that post, however the main point I want to make in this post is about how the new screen resolution, camera and interactive textbooks make the 16 GB iPad significantly too small.  When you take the New iPad and load it up with educational apps, textbooks, and video projects the 16GB version of the New iPad fills up extraordinarily quickly.  After downloading all of the apps, taking some pictures and producing a short video (description and details below)  the New iPad had just 6.8 GB of storage left.

While applications, photos and videos certainly take up a lot of space, one of my biggest concerns is textbook size on top of all of this.  I have included a list of the textbooks available in the iBooks store in the table below.  You can see that the range of textbook sizes vary greatly from 2.79 GB down to 929 MB; but the bottom line is they are all rather large files.

Textbooks Size
Pearson Biology 2.79 GB
Pearson Algebra 1 2.35 GB
McGraw Hill Biology 1.50 GB
McGraw Hill Geometry 1.26 GB
McGraw Hill Physics 1.22 GB
Pearson Environmental Science 934 MB
McGraw Hill Chemistry 929 MB

As students start to use the iPad in more of their classes, a 16GB iPad simply is not going to be big enough.  This test showed that after installing a handful of apps, shooting 6 minutes of video, taking 60 images and intalling one textbook there were only 6.8 GB of space remaining.  Imagine if I had installed two or three books from either the iBook store or the Inkling app (interactive textbook publisher).  My 6.8 GB of available storage for the entire year could be decreased by half or more depending on the textbooks assigned to my class.

Apps Included in the Test

App VPP Size (iTunes)
Remarks $2.49 37MB
Pages $4.99 269MB
Keynote $4.99 327MB
Numbers $4.99 283MB
iMovie $2.49 409MB
WebDAV $1.99 7MB
QRafter $0.00 5.1MB
Voice recorder for iPad $0.49 4.8MB
iBooks $0.00 58MB
Quick Graph $0.00 4.5MB
pCalc Lite Calculator $0.00 9.5MB
Response Ware $0.00 0.6MB
My School:  Gale Reference App $0.00 2.1MB
Video Downloader Pro $1.99 11.8MB
DocScan HD $0.00 3.7MB
Skitch $0.00 10.9MB
GoDocs $2.49 4.9MB
Animation Creator HD $0.99 24.3MB
Explain Everything $1.49 8.6MB
Dropbox $0.00 9.8MB
Inkling $0.00 24.3 MB
SketchBook Express $0.00 32MB

In addition to downloading the above apps I did the following

  1. Downloaded the Pearson Biology Textbook 2.79 GB
  2. Took 60 photos
  3. Took a 1 minute video with the New iPad
  4. Took a 5 minute video  with the New iPad
  5. Created a 5 slide Keynote with pictures taken with the iPad’s camera
  6. Created a pages document with one picture taken with the iPad’s camera
  7. Created a two minute movie in iMovie using the pictures and image from the iPad’s camera.
Below you can see the results on the storage space taken up by just a few small projects.  Imagine what the impact might look like if students had multiple video projects, paper assignments and keynote presentations.
The new iPad:   6.8 GB of storage left after the above tasks.
(Click the pictures for larger images)

Additional information about file size to consider as your school decides on the correct iPad.

iPad 2 The New iPad
Screen Shot File Size 179 KB 510KB
Photo File Size 228 KB 2MB

My point is this:  

Apple continues to suggest at public events that the iPad, their new interactive textbooks and the iBook Author tool are changing the face of education.  They even talk about how they have kept the 16GB iPad 2 available specifically as a low cost option for school districts, but here is the problem; 16GB on either the iPad 2 or the new iPad is not enough storage to allow students to effectively use the iPad across the curriculum.  So here is my proposal,  keep older models of iPads available for school districts but don’t limit them to the 16GB model.  If Apple had the 32 GB iPad 2 for sale to school districts for the same price, $499.00, as the 16GB iPad 3 I bet a lot of school districts might have given that a strong consideration.  Apple needs to work hand in hand with teachers who are using iPads in their classrooms to insure that this significant investment can actually be used as its being advertised to educators, as a cross-curricular tool.

My closing appeal:

Students, teachers, technology specialist, and administrators do not just stand by on the sidelines and say “iPads are great; lets get them in the classroom and buy the cheapest they have.”  Instead, let us engage in research and conversation with other educators and Apple executives to provide a tool for our students that is both awesome and useful long term. Explore the technology options for your district and make sure that what you buy for your school will work, not just in the sort term, but provide a lasting educational tool that actually will change the way students learn.

Let me know what you think:

Written by Wes Molyneaux, a science teacher and technology staff developer at New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL.

iPad 2 vs the New iPad: Storage

24 May

Our school district is deciding what iPad we are going to make available for students in our 600 student iPad pilot program next year.  The differences between the iPad 2 and the New iPad are fairly well documented across the web but most articles focus on the pixels of the screen, the resolution of the camera, the speed of the processor, size of the battery and amount of storage.  I have yet to see an article that explores the direct impact on storage that all of these changes have caused on the new iPad.

I loaded an iPad 2 and the New iPad with the exact same apps which are listed below.  (These Apps are going to be the core apps that every student in the pilot will be given)  What I wanted to look at was how Apps, Video and Images effect storage on the 16GB iPad 2 and the 16GB New iPad.


Remarks, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie, WebDAV, QRafter, Voice recorder for iPad, iBooks, Quick Graph, pCalc Lite Calculator, Response Ware, My School: Gale Reference App, Coach’s Eye, DocScan HD, Skitch, GoDocs, Explain Everything, DropBox, Animation Creator HD

I wanted to make sure all the apps were the same so my research into file size and storage space was as controlled as possible.  After downloading all of the same applications I completed a few actions to test file size and storage.

On each iPad I did the following:

  1. Took 60 photos
  2. Took a 1 minute video with each iPad
  3. Took a 5 minute video  with each iPad
  4. Created a 5 slide Keynote with pictures taken with the iPad’s camera
  5. Created a pages document with one picture taken with the iPad’s camera
  6. Created a two minute movie in iMovie using the pictures and image from the iPad’s camera.
Below you can see the results on the storage space taken up by just a few small projects.  Imagine what the impact might look like if students had multiple video projects, paper assignments and keynote presentations.
iPad 2:  7.9 GB of storage left after the above tasks.
iPad 3:   6.8 GB of storage left after the above tasks.
As you can see the iPad 2 has more the a GB of more storage left after just this small amount of work.
(Click the pictures for larger images)

Additional information about file Size

iPad 2 The New iPad
Screen Shot File Size 179 KB 510KB
Photo File Size 228 KB 2MB

What is interesting about that is you can take and store 10 photos on the iPad 2 for every one on the New iPad.

We are not sure what direction we are going to go but it certainly seems like if you are going to go with the 16GB iPad…………you might want to choose the iPad 2 because the file size of the New iPad might become an issue.