Authoring apps. Two apps, Keynote
and Pages, were great for creating
content. In Keynote, students created
their own hypertext poetry, linking
lines in a poem to web-based citations that provided explanations for
examples of literary terminology that
appeared in the poem.
Journal entries became a far more
engaging process for both me and
the students. When students struggle
with reading and writing, they often
forget materials for journal writing.
They wrote their journal entries on
the iPads, and I made the following
• Students completed journal entries
more quickly than when writing
with pen and paper.
• Both the quality and the quantity
of their writing improved.
• More students who had struggled
to complete entries using pen and
paper were now finishing them.
On top of this, I no longer had to
crate home boxes of journals and
tether myself to the dining room table
every month to assess student writing.
I could now check their writing assignments on my smartphone or iPad.
And I could provide students with
more timely feedback on their writing,
which in turn helped them make adjustments in their own writing sooner.
The English curriculum at our school
follows a simple curriculum map fea-
turing common formative assessments
and common term exams. After look-
ing at the data, I found that students
with iPad access were more likely to
pass the reading portion of the 2011
Ohio Graduation Test (85% compared
to 79% of students with no iPad access
in school). In addition, students with
iPad access were more likely to pass
the writing portion of the 2011 Ohio
Graduation Test (92% compared to
84% without access). I’ve heard teach-
ers say that technology doesn’t prepare
students for a paper-based test. I be-
lieve that assumption is incorrect.
iPads Are More Than a Novelty
At the end of the school year, I determined the iPads met my needs as a
teacher and met my students’ needs
The simplicity of the iPad, the
uniqueness of its user interface, and
the familiarity of design all point to
one thing: excitement for learning.
No other pedagogical tool or technique in my experience engages students in a way that makes learning
fun and leaves students feeling like
they are in control of their own learning. Often students may have an initial interest in something “different,”
but the iPad seems an open door to
a world of self-directed learning that
has significant possibilities.
It is my hope that more teachers
will begin integrating tablet computers into their classrooms so that we
can get a more complete picture of the
impact of technology on education.
I also imagine a day when all of my
students come to class with their own
iPads, ready to engage in learning in
ways that I can only dream about.
“A lot of students don’t like actually sitting down and reading a
textbook, but on an iPad, you can learn your lessons differently.”
—Jim Harmon is an English teacher at Euclid
High School in Ohio, USA, and an adjunct instructor at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea,
Ohio. He is a Google Certified Teacher and an
Apple Distinguished Educator, but he is not
employed by Apple.