Once upon a time teachers stood in front of a blackboard writing letters of the alphabet with chalk and drilling students to develop literacy skills. But now that children are growing up with laptops, streaming video, and even iPads, what’s a teacher to do? Well, some of them—like James Harmon, an English teacher in Euclid, OH—have jumped on board.
During the 2010-2011 school year Harmon conducted a “teacher-research” study to measure the effect Apple’s iPad had on the language test scores of his students taking the annual Ohio Graduation Test. He published his results in a paper titled “Unlocking Literacy with iPad.”
Among the findings presented in Harmon’s paper were state-compiled statistics, which seemed to indicate that those students with iPad access in the year leading up to the test had a 6-percent greater chance of passing the test’s reading portion than those without, and an 8-percent greater chance of passing the writing portion.
This convinced Harmon of the appropriateness of the iPad as a teaching tool. However, it was anecdotal evidence involving the way his students were typing on their devices that led him to another discovery. Harmon had his three sections of sophomore English play with a vocabulary game on his classroom set of iPads if they finished their in-class journal writing early. Based on a Scrabble letter-tile model, kids had 10 minutes to create as many words as they could in an effort to achieve a high score.