Two of our fourth grade teachers at Shell Rock Elementary, Mason Kuhn and Thomas Fields, invited me to join their classes this morning as they worked with some Wartburg College students using the Science Writing Heuristic (SWH). This was the first classroom observation of any real length I've done since W-SR teachers all got their iPads. I was there for a little over an hour and a half, and both teachers' iPads were in use nearly every moment I was there. It was very cool.
When I walked in, Thomas was recording one group's discussion. Mason showed me how they use the iPad to record their experiments now, so they don't have to try to get an entire classroom full of students within good view of what are often very small or nuanced observations. They record their experiements using the iPad, then watch them as a group using the document camera in the classroom. This allows them to stop, go back, and zoom in as many times as they want to be sure they're getting good evidence on which to build their claims.
This morning one of the students made a connection to oceans and was trying to think through how water temperatures in oceans might have some relevance to what they were observing in their experiement. Mason seamlessly opened a globe app, and they explored to figure it out.
Another student had a question about density, and they immediately decided to "check with the experts" and googled until they found a kid-friendly website that helped them process through it.
Amazing. Seriously. Granted, these two teachers already have a student-centered structure for learning in place, but it was remarkable to see how they used just one iPad in a classroom today.