The first day of school is always a bit awkward. You feel like you are talking at the kids all day long. There might be a few fun ice breakers and brain breaks and what not, but mostly it is procedure this and procedure that. You still have no idea who or what you are dealing with, literally stumbling over names. They don't know who they are dealing with either. They have some idea from stories they hear from siblings or friends, but mostly all of us are flying blind just trying to make it through the day.
So on day two I needed a tried and true lesson. One that would surely engage every student in the room. One that would set the tone for my class. Today I rolled out the 1:1 iPads. Even though I taught 1:1 all last year, I was completely astounded by the immediate impact these devices had on instruction. Instantly, the noise level in the room was cut in half. Every student was suddenly on task and following every direction as we set up our network access. Collaboration also started immediately. Instead of asking me they started asking each other; a room full of experts. After a discussion about digital citizenship and the awesome responsibility they now possessed I turned them loose. The assignment was use the app Explain Everything and images found on google to create an "about you" presentation.
I still remember the first time I ever held an iPad. I was at a district math leaders meeting in 2010 and Jon Samuelson had just bought his first "tablet computer." I remember being skeptical. I thought this is a cool device but I have an iPhone and I really can't imagine lugging that thing around. ipadSammy would never accept that though. He and I would always sit at the back of these meetings or at various conferences and talk tech. He introduced me to edmodo, to twitter, to glogster, to every app in the whole world, to pretty much everything edTech. I would always ask him the same question, "How could I use this in a lesson." His answer was almost always the same. He would tell me to just hand it over to the kids and watch out.
That is what happened again today. These devices are so powerful. They transformed my classroom last year and they did the same thing again today.