Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Amazing iPad App Saves Teacher!
Last spring when we first purchased the iPads and were able to buy educational apps for them, I was delighted to find one called Puzzling Plates. Even though I had already taught the 6th graders about plate tectonics by the spring, I had them try out the Puzzling Plates app anyway to test drive it. They loved it but they already had all the knowledge! How could I tell if this was a good app? So, this week, I have begun my favorite unit of all--Plate Tectonics--and I introduced the Puzzling Plates app as a way to introduce where the plates are and how they move. The app is very tactile and allows for the students to make geographical connections of plate boundaries as well as the connections between plates and earthquakes and volcanoes. Instead of my "normal" way of teaching this by having students "crash" graham crackers as converging plates, etc., I watched as they followed a textbook map of the plates, to place them correctly as pieces on their iPad. They also were able to experience creating mountain formations like the Himalayas. The graphics are so well done that it's like look at satellite maps. I have never seen students so intent on looking at maps! The app is so multi-layered and tactile and was engaging for every learner. The use of the app has probably saved me three instructional days of having to explain the seemingly ethereal concept of deep ocean ridges, divergent boundaries and how the Hawaiian volcanoes were formed. This is a case where my gut instinct about using technology to enhance my instruction paid off better than I could have expected. So the next time you have a unit that has a concept that is difficult to teach, consider using the iPads. You never know what you will find! Trust your gut! (I'll probably still use graham crackers, too! I already bought them!)