Check out my new toy! I know iPads are all the rage, but you just can't argue with a $249 sticker price on this refurbished 10 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab. Yes, it's from Walmart, and yes, it's used, but hey... I added a $59 insurance plan that covers freezes, drops, cracks, etc... so why pay for new? (not to mention, I couldn't afford it anyway.)
Get this... I ordered it online on Tuesday, it arrived on Thursday. I also ordered a nice padded storage case because Zombies are klutzes when it comes to carrying things.
So what's the big deal? I remember back when the iPad was a feminine product joke on SNL... we all said, "Who would bother buying that? It's just like a laptop but flat... what a waste of money!" And here we all are... finally realizing what Apple figured out a long time ago, that it's REALLY NICE to have all your web, music, files, movies, books and games in one easy-to-look-at, portable location! Not surprising, then, that something so handy for home/work would also be handy for school.
Tablet Advantage #1: I don't need to lug a textbook home anymore
Here's me playing with the online textbook at home. (I still like the hard copy at school though) Many textbooks are also available in the iStore and Android market for download, just like any other eBook. You can view them pretty much any e-Reader.
Tablet Advantage #2: Interactive Classroom
You can walk around the class with one thing on the Smart board, and use your tablet either for teachers or students to reinforce concepts. All you really need is a decent Wi-Fi connection in most cases. And it doesn't need to be attached to a cell phone plan unless you want network access everywhere you go.
Unfortunately, internet speed does seem to be the biggest stumbling block for businesses, schools and communities. Servers and bandwidth can't always support the needed volume for thousands of individuals to be viewing large files and videos from the internet at the same time.
If you don't have the bandwidth to support online activities, you can still use e-Reader textbooks or download math-related apps and games. I am setting the main page of my tablet to meet student needs, including the Schoology.com login, grading portal, regular and graphing calculators, the e-Book, links to the online textbook site for interactive practice and videos, as well as some games. If you do have internet access, well... then the world is at your students' fingertips! Especially if they are allowed to bring in their own tablet (and if you can trust them to use it responsibly).
The Schoology.com platform is also nice on tablets for automatic updating. Say you have an important reminder to post in your class (like my Math-7 Hour 1 Bellm) above... I can be standing in the back of the room, type in an assignment clarification, or start a discussion, and it will automatically update on the Smart board in real-time in the front of the room. Any students who have Schoology installed on their phones or tablets will then receive the update on their device as well.
Tablet Advantage #3: Quick Reference for Teachers
Sitting at a meeting? Need to check on a student's grade or check out a book from the library and you're away from your desk? Bring your tablet! Type or write some notes while you're there. Open a .pdf or word document while you're there. Show it to your colleagues on the huge 10-inch screen.
Tablet Advantage #4: Take attendance as you walk around the room
Stand by the door to greet kids and mark them present/sick/tardy as they arrive. Or stand in the back and be sneaky. Whatever you do, you're not chained to your desk anymore. You can even set a timer on the device to beep at you so you don't forget. (which I often do)
Tablet Advantage #5: Real-Time polling / Check for understanding
If you trust your students to have their own smart phones / tablets out, and you have working internet and a platform like Schoology (which is free!) to start up a conversation or a random polling question. They can answer from their own device either anonymously or by name. You've got instant feedback, and you can always still check verbally or on whiteboards with students who don't have a device.
Tablet Advantage #6: Timers, Clocks, Calculators, Weather and other Gadgets
Do you have a time management problem? Well I sure do. In addition to needing timers to take attendance, I need a "wrap it up, big talker" timer to get kids back in order and conclude the lesson at the end of the hour. I also like having weather at the click of a button when the kids start asking if their sports are going to get cancelled at the end of the day.
Tablet Advantage #7: Everything else!
Check the news. Read a book. Download a bunch of apps for your kids and yourself. Watch a movie. Listen to some music. And try not to get too addicted.