New and innovative ways to better use the iPad in teaching!
The end of the school year looms. Most of you teachers are now probably in the middle of report card writing.
I wanted to remind you of what a powerful app Apple’s Numbers ($9.99) can be, especially in terms of calculating all the marks we give our students.
As soon as you set up your calculations, simply plug in all your marks and they will be synched across all your devices. Since I am a traveling teacher without a classroom, carrying an iPad with me allows me to bring all of my marks within one file. I have all fourteen classes tabbed in one numbers file. I can find the class averages of tests that I give, easily see which assignments and tests are missing, and give students their marks all on my iPad and iPhone.
Since a lot of my colleagues at my school are using iPads, I have introduced Numbers to them, and they seem to be using it quite successfully. Some have even gone so far as to transfer their Microsoft Excel files (along with all the formulas used to calculate and tally grades) exclusively to Numbers. I recommend you read this post and also this post if you are not too familiar with Numbers.
For each student, I give two comments from a pre-made comment bank (done on a PC program called Silhouette). I have my comments approved by my administrator, and then I assign two appropriate comments for each of my over three hundred and fifty students. Using Numbers, I can do this anywhere I want; I am not tied to a desktop PC. I found myself inputting comments in the dark using two devices while putting my daughter to sleep. I was able to continue and do some at home and some at work as well. The beauty of iWork is that I know that the numbers will be synced wherever I am.
A small word of warning though. If, like me, you have many devices, I recommend not having the same document open on more than one device. Yesterday, I had my MacBook Pro and iPad running the same document. and iCloud was having a difficult time syncing, since I was trying to edit on both. Your devices will ask you to “Resolve conflict” by choosing which file to save. Stick with one at a time.
Also, it is not a bad idea, once you have a lot of data inputted, to do a backup of your iWork files. All you have to do is email yourself the document. That way, if anything goes wrong with iCloud, you will still have a recent copy and won’t have to restart!
Have you found a different and effective way of using iOS in your marking? Please let us know in the comments!
Here is a screenshot of using the Numbers file on my iPhone. While outside or in the hallways, I am always able to access their marks when students want to know what they received on an assignment or test:
For educators who teach Math, Science and other subjects where marks are clearly more “numerical”, calculating marks using programs such as Excel or Numbers is (obviously) going to be more relevant to what is being assessed. For myself, as a foreign-language teacher, I wanted to make it clear that this is not the case. I do not solely rely on these numbers to give my assessments of my students. Participation, effort and individual improvement/progress are always considered. One could attempt to give numerical definitions for each of these, but, in my opinion, these things should be considered outside of all the numbers. This is why I have always argued, for my marks and for my curriculum, NOT to have percentage points on the students’ report cards. If, for example, after calculations, a student is 2% away from the next letter grade, I will evaluate his/her performance in the three “non-numerical” criteria, and decide whether s/he deserves the bump.
Please let me know if you have any thoughts on this.