iPad Project – Week 2

The second week with iPads has ended with my students and I think everything has gone well.

I enjoyed seeing the absorption in tasks – everyone has their heads down and is working on task – this is great to see.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the engagement with students.  What I mean by that is reaching out to me and telling me how much they’re enjoying themselves:

Arantxa iPad


And their social media photos:

Finally! iPads

I’m also impressed that the iPads are not ruling the classroom.  I try to go half and half, but sometimes, especially when annotating or peer editing, students are opting to use pen and paper, and others are interested in using inote for annotation, but then deciding to go the pen/paper route. Not sure if it’s the adult aspect, but we are definitely selecting the appropriate tool for the task, and not choosing tech for the task.

The activity that went very well was my New York Times lesson on plagiarism in a digital age. Even though the activity is meant for teachers as a lesson plan, I thought it would be beneficial for the students to address the text from the perspective of: who is the intended audience, what is the message, who are the authors, and why did they write this. It’s a task we do with all our reading texts. After the activity, many commented on the fact that they enjoyed seeing how lesson plans are developed for teachers and how teachers approach topics for classroom content. I want to devote tomorrow’s blog post to the whole activity.

The NYT plagiarism activity was a success for me as a teacher, and an even larger success for the students. I polled them informally about the process and asked them what worked/didn’t work. One interesting, recurring comment was the annoyance a group member might have toward another member because he/she didn’t do her part. “I was relying on that information, it’s not fair that it wasn’t included,” she stated. Accountability for an unassessed in-class activity, and I’m not the one making the point. I couldn’t ask for more.

Another positive comment from the students: “I didn’t think I would spend this much time reading and preparing for the next day; I know people would rely on me, and I was interested in the types of research I found.” Perhaps the technology was the reason for the motivation amongst students. I’m interested in exploring this notion more in the coming weeks.

All in all, an excellent two weeks. I am looking forward to our vocabulary apps and collaborative space in Edmodo for our next task of comparison essay writing. Tomorrow, I’ll post about the New York Times plagiarism activity.


Creative Problem Solving: What’s the Point?

“Barriers” 1st day warm up activity Photo credit: Anna Bartosik, 2015

The new year brings resolutions, or at least the intent to make them. In January, gyms are full, people are chewing gum furiously at their desks, a proliferation of kale salads permeates the formerly brassica-free work place, and everyone is still on target.

What we never achieve, however, is changing how we approach our resolutions.

How many of us were at this very same place this time last year, resolving to quit the various habits we wished to break? And how many of us were successful?

Sorry to be a downer.

That attitude is what limits us. The “what is the point” approach to our work situations. “What can you do? Nothing.” is the question/answer I grew up hearing. Accepting limits because we’ve never been able to move past them is the most paralyzing attitude anyone can have. It is often not the real barriers, but the perceived ones, which prevent us from progressing.

At this time last year, I was in the process of conducting information interviews to help me focus on a direction. I approached many individuals, but I made sure to only ask for 10 minutes and limit the meeting to 5 questions. These answers stayed with me:

  1. Assume you can do it until someone tells you that you can’t. At least then you’ll know where the real barriers are.
  2. Look for passive opportunities. They are everywhere, but no one is taking advantage of them.
  3. I only accepted this meeting because I have been waiting for a faculty member to approach me with this type of request, and you’re the first one who’s done it.

These pieces of advice helped shape 2015 for me. To begin 2016, I enrolled in a creative problem solving workshop. It was 3 days out of my down time before classes begin this week. Precious time wasted, someone observed. Why would you go back to work before you have to?


  • It was the first time this workshop was open to part-time faculty
  • I needed to ease myself back into work without actually “working”
  • I like networking with individuals from other disciplines at the college; we don’t have these opportunities often
  • The school slogan is “Get Creative”
  • I thought this workshop would provide a different perspective
  • It will look good on my CV

All honest reasons, but the last one is the most honest. I wasn’t prepared for the results, however. This is what I got out of it:

  • New connections at the college
  • A better understanding of how I approach problems and where my strengths lie
  • I don’t like being pigeon-holed so I work extra hard to demonstrate different abilities
  • I don’t agree with how others perceive me, and this was a common theme amongst many at the workshop
  • My problems are the same as everyone else’s
  • Perceived barriers are just that
  • Vulnerability is not a bad thing; it’s real
  • The language we use creates barriers as well

And the unexpected benefits:

  • A possible opportunity to make use of my skills
  • A “real” chance to work a client through the creative problem solving process less than 48 hours after I completed the workshop
  • The generation of ideas for one of my own problems
  • A determination to plan for 2016 on paper, so I can see it and refer to it

Creative problem solving. There is no point to it. There are many.