The iPad offers both unique opportunities for writing-to-learn activities and challenges for the instructor who must incorporate it into the classroom. As an instructor, you want to keep your students focused on learning and applying the content of your course. Having an iPad equipped classroom can mean struggling to keep students focused on the course and not on their email or social media accounts.
This section of the toolkit will offer practical suggestions for incorporating the iPad into WTL activities and for making the iPad a tool that reinforces learning.
Classroom policies regarding the iPad
WTL Activities and the Apps that Support Them
Student Formulated Questions
- WTL Activity: This activity asks students to write questions about the subject—either for homework or in class. The assignment could introduce students to a new concept, assess student knowledge to determine what they do not yet understand, or conclude a unit to allow students to summarize their comprehension of the important concepts. The instructor provides a prompt (not a question!) to focus students on the essential elements of the topic. For example, after studying the idea of social structure in a sociology class, the instructor might present this prompt: “According to William Sewell, social structures have a dual character.” The students began asking questions about what Sewell means by dual character, how that concept is demonstrated in formal and informal ways, and how Sewell’s idea of social structure is similar to or different from other definitions.
- Using the iPad (Jot!): Students can share their questions in a group activity using the app Jot! as a communal whiteboard. The app allows the students to type their questions in a common whiteboard and share it with the instructor. So the instructor can view the changes groups make in real time. Each group would be tasked with creating a “test” on the concept of social structure.
Blogs and Journals
- WTL Activity: This activity can be used to allow students to write in response to readings or class discussions. Blogs and journals are often assessed based on content-focused criteria rather than on polished writing. Ask students to write a blog based on a topic presented in class discussion or during a lecture. Then have students go back and add to the blog a few days later after they have had time to do more reading or research on the topic.
- Using the iPad (Tumblr, TypePad, or Blogger): Instructors can use Tumblr to create a blog topic and allow students to post pages on the blog. Or students can build a course blog for their classmates to view on TypePad or Blogger.
Double Entry Writing
- WTL Activity: To encourage metacognition, have students use a double entry writing technique. Students can take notes in one column and reflect on those notes at the end of class in the other column. Or students can be asked to write in one column about a topic prior to a lecture or reading assignment. Then students can use the other column to reflect on what has changed in their understanding of the topic.
- Using the iPad (Corkulous or Bamboo Paper): Students can type notes on electronic post-its in Corkulous and then go back and add comments or observations next to the notes. Either the entire board or just a portion of the board can be emailed to the instructor or to classmates as a pdf file. If students prefer to handwrite notes, they can use Bamboo paper to create two columns and then send a copy of the file to an email address, Dropbox, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, or Evernote.
- WTL Activity: This activity can be used to allow students to review materials and prepare study notes for a test. Plus, it allows the instructor to see what students don’t know and still need to review. Students make up a test that centers on the material they are covering in class. Then they share and discuss their test questions with their peers. This helps students think about the material before a test and assists then in identifying the key concepts.
- Using the iPad (Quizlet): The students can write quiz questions in class or for homework. Then they can be shared in small groups or projected onto a screen for the entire class to see. Instructors can even have teams of students create quizlets for a little friendly, in class competition.