Anatomy of a lesson on the Amplify Tablet
NOTE: The article is by a first-year teacher and is "commissioned by Amplify." Ms. Starnes is part of an Amplify pilot program, for which the district pays $108,000 from its local technology budget. Part of that covers insurance for cracked or broken tablets. After this pilot, the district will decide if it wants outfit all of its students with tablets, which will cost a whole lot more.
Education Week reported that a more ambitious plan in Texas was scrapped:
The Digital Reader reported that in North Carolina, after finding that 10% of the Amplify tablets were broken in one month, they scrapped the program.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the Los Angeles snafu:
And so on and so on.
By Shiloh Starnes
As an anatomy and physiology teacher, I'm often in the lab with my students performing dissections. It's the best way for them to really understand how organs work together. But I've learned that keeping my eye on 20 students who are all performing dissections at once can be a real challenge.
When we started using the Amplify Tablets in class, it occurred to me that there was an opportunity here. I could use the tablets to help show students visually how dissections are performed, and they could then use the tablets to collect the information they gathered and present it to the class. The tablets also could allow students to work independently and at their own pace, and could give me time to help individual students when needed.
So in class one day recently, we Googled "cow eye dissection" together. We quickly found 10-minute videos that explain it very well. The night before the actual dissection, I asked them to watch the video we picked out together so they would be familiar with the steps when they came in the next morning. Some of my kids don't have Wi-Fi at home, so they watched it as soon as they got into class.
The students were divided into groups, and each group member had a job: One was the dissecter, performing the actual procedure; one was the documenter, shooting photos and videos with the tablet; one was the researcher, looking up the functions of the cow eye structure and informing the group; and the fourth member of the team was the person who actually put everything together into a presentation--all the information, the videos and photos--so the team could share with the class. Each team member was able to use the Amplify Tablet to help do his or her job.
The students and I really enjoyed this project. The best part was that everyone had a role. Some of the students were grossed out by actually touching the specimen, and so they weren't the dissecters but were still very much a part of the process.
In using the Amplify Tablets, the students are starting to make this connection that they can look up information they need for assignments on their own. I think it's better for them to learn how to do this in the long run, rather than have them listen to me lecture for 45 minutes every day.
When I was in college, I learned that for every hour of a lecture you attend, you still have to spend three hours studying on your own. My success was dependent on me. I'm trying to get them to think that way so that when they get to college, they'll know how to figure things out themselves. The Amplify Tablet is helping me teach them that. They're enjoying familiarizing themselves with the tabletÃ¢€™s tools like Movie Studio and Quickoffice, and they're checking out Khan Academy videos for more information.
I recently assigned them an extra-credit project: Create a video that explains what the five senses are and how they work. They have to use the tools on the tablet and do the work completely on their own. IÃ¢€™m so excited to see what they come up with.
Shiloh Starnes is a first-year teacher at Royse City High School in Texas.
This article is commissioned by Amplify Education Inc. The views expressed are the authorÃ¢€™s own and do not represent those of Amplify Education, Inc.
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