So, outside the students marched, armed with tape measures and meter sticks, determined to get the job done. However, the peacock was not so motivated to cooperate, nor was he reassured by their pleas of “We don’t want to hurt you; we just want to measure you!” The students soon realized they would have to go back to the drawing board, or in this case, the iPad, to solve this problem.
Remembering work they had done with Lindsay Velazco in science class using the iPad application Explain Everything, the students set out to build a peacock model using online research and the measurements they were able to gather. They set the model inside a corner of the classroom and, using the app, were able to duplicate it from different angles to determine the surface area of the floor in “peacock units.” They soon recognized the limitations of the iPad app in fully calculating the volume of the room—an important conceptual lesson and building block in their math education. Learning the formula and concept of volume developed naturally through this exploration, as the students recognized they had to account for the “layers” or three-dimensional space in a volume measure. I love this story, not just for the charm of picturing our 9- and 10-yearolds doggedly pursuing a peacock, but for the example of them using technology as a tool and a means to solve problems, rather than as the driver of instruction. Our students’ creativity and ability to understand sophisticated concepts is enriched by the use of technology. Our teaching is also enhanced, as technology allows us to gain even deeper insight into children’s thinking and how they approach all aspects of their learning process. A first grader traces a Mandarin Chinese character on his iPad.
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