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Students Flex Their Critical Thinking Skills with iPads

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As ninth-grade English teacher Liz Pagano dives into using iPads in her class, she's finding ways to use the device for more than just an e-reader. Her students are using critical thinking skills to find and use the most relevant information. I asked her a few follow-up questions about the class's experience.

- How do you think the devices are affecting the way your students understand the content?

We're using them as more than just e-readers. Students are finding their own articles from our online databases and creating presentations using Keynote. The lesson requires that they practice the very important skills of note-taking, summarizing and responding.

- Do you notice a difference in the level of engagement with your students with the readers as compared with print books?

Because the students get to select their own areas of focus, they are much more interested. I definitely see a higher level of engagement. First of all, these devises are personal, so students are able to tailor the information they need quite specifically. This goes beyond personal vocabulary lists (which in itself is fantastic).


- How do you think it's changing the way they interact with the materials?

I suspect that understanding content easier because there are so many tools available at their fingertips. There's just something magnetic about that screen. The kids are willing to go to the Internet to find more information because it is just so easy. They are also talking to each other and helping each other along. This is a natural way for "cooperative learning" to work. Someone next to you has already figured out how to copy the article into the "Pages" application and mark it up, so you ask.

Every student can become an expert at some component, and every student is also at the level of trying out new things. It's a great environment. This environment, I believe, is more like the one the students will enter when they go into the workforce. They will not be sitting with paper and pens being asked to regurgitate facts. They will be presented with a great deal of information from multiple sources and they will have to sift through it and make sense of the stuff that matters and explain why it matters to someone else. This is what we are beginning to do in the classroom right now.