Apples for teachers sure have changed over the past few years.  Over the past few months, I have been working towards my certification as an Apple Teacher.  Obtaining certification wasn’t really that difficult as I had to read 16 ibooks and take quizzes to prove that I had mastered the content.   Since I teach daily with an iPad, I tackled those ibooks first (there are also 8 sessions for Mac computers).

The curriculum started with the basics for an iPad then progressed through Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie and GarageBand.  There were also two summative sessions:  one on creativity and the final course on productivity.  Not too bad overall but if you are not familiar with iPad then the courses could be a bit daunting.

apple screen

As I worked my way through the materials, I challenged myself to think of applications in my classroom and my tech-resistant high schoolers.  During one of my courses, I discovered the power of working on multiple applications at one time and how to maximize the Notes app.  On an iPad!  Who knew?

apple noteNotes is way more powerful than for just making shopping lists and storing those addresses or passwords that you constantly need.  You can actually pull up a PDF and make your annotations directly into Notes.  You can scan documents into Notes as well for quick annotations.

Using the Notes app, you can type text or pull up the drawing tools to add color or graphics to your note. You can also add videos and pictures to your notes to make them comprehensive summaries of text or research and make sketches.   Collaboration is one click away simply by inviting others to work on the same document.  What a powerful way to engage all of our learners !  You don’t need to spend money on apps such as Paper (which I love) when Notes does the same thing for you.

The other feature I really like is Screen Split which my students can use when they are working on multiple documents.  Swiping up from the dock, you open the first file or application you want to work in.  Next, you put your finger on the icon for the second app and drag it onto the first app.  Now drop it!  You  have two applications open at the same time.  The kiddos are learning this first as a survival skill for high school and beyond.  I will have them create Notes while looking at sources at the same time.  They will be challenged to annotate, summarize, visualize and find primary source documents to embed.  We will swap notes at some point for think –> write –> pain –>share/write activities.  As an added bonus, they will be able to use their notes on a test so the more thorough the better.  My head is spinning with ideas.

screen split image

I remain baffled as to why students who cannot put their cell phones down don’t know how to harvest the power of these tools beyond Snapchat and Instagram.   They are walking around with a mini iPad in their back pocket.  It’s time to get serious about building technology skills in my classroom and working with Notes will be our starting point.

 Cheryl Stahle is a contributing blogger for WVCTE.  She teaches at Parkersburg High School and is the Co-Director of the Central West Virginia Writing Project and Vice President of the state reading association based out of Marshall University.  She is a not so regular tweeter @msstahleclass.  Besides teaching American Literature, her other classroom goal is to teach 1970s classic rock to her students. 

WVCTE is wondering how you are using iPads in your classroom? 

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