Sowing new seeds: Dallas science teacher brings students closer to nature with iPad

posted Sep 2, 2020, 8:13 AM by Mason Mason

Apple Distinguished Educator and Coppell Middle School East science teacher Jodie Deinhammer (left) uses iPad to engage students in the school’s inaugural gardening class. Students can visit the garden on their own while class is held virtually.

Jodie Deinhammer is a problem solver. This fall, the Coppell Middle School East science teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator based in Dallas, Texas, is teaching the school’s first gardening elective to eighth graders who will help tend the school’s community garden. Never mind the fact that the class is being taught remotely and students can’t visit the garden during school hours just yet. Deinhammer has long embraced technology in the classroom, equipping her students with both a practical hands-on learning experience and critical thinking skills since the district went one-to-one with iPad in 2014.
“Students having access to iPad has changed the way learning looks in my classroom,” she says. “With iPad, each student can design their own learning path and use resources and accessibility features that cater to their individual needs. … They can create infographics, videos, or drawings, compose music, or write to show learning and growth over time. There’s a lot more of an individual component to education through technology.”
Deinhammer, who has taught with the Coppell Independent School District throughout her entire 25-year teaching career, believes technology can help students develop key problem-solving skills and the motivation to learn independently.

Apple Distinguished Educator Jodie Deinhammer, who has taught with the Coppell Independent School District throughout her entire 25-year career, believes learning must be relevant to each of her students to keep them engaged.

“With gardening, there’s a lot of problem solving that has to go into it,” Deinhammer says. “Our driving question for gardening is, How can we improve our garden space to make it more environmentally friendly and encourage more visitors, from more people in our community, to native animals and wildlife. I believe this challenges the students to think of the garden as a place to learn and a place to help others. We want our garden to be not only a place to learn how to protect the environment, but a place that’s inviting to all.”
Since the Coppell Middle School East’s sustainability club — co-led by Deinhammer — planted the initial garden last year, the school donates its harvest to a Metrocrest Services community center in Coppell, which helps families and surrounding communities in need. “The more we can harvest, the more help we provide to our community,” says Deinhammer.
Last year, inspired by the Everyone Can Create curriculum, Deinhammer developed and recently released the “Everyone Can Create in Science” book with fellow Apple Distinguished Educators. Many of those concepts are being applied to the gardening class, as Deinhammer believes creativity and flexible learning encourages students to grow. She uses iPad to design lessons and assignments for each of her students in a format — audio, visual, or written — that works best for them. Students capture their findings in a digital field guide created in Keynote, combining all of their work in a book to be shared with future gardening classes and the local community.

Coppell Middle School East eighth grader Stayton Slaughter uses the Measure app on iPad at the school’s community garden.

Coppell Middle School East students Annabeth Hook (left) and Stayton Slaughter spread compost over eggplant and cauliflower plants at the school’s community garden.

“The portability of the iPad allows us to work in the garden and use data collection sensors, the camera and magnifier, and the Seek app by iNaturalist to classify and identify garden weeds or bugs that we would otherwise not know,” she says. “iPad allows kids to see a world literally through a new lens, from magnified images to time-lapse videos. They can capture a world around them that they may not have noticed in the past. I want kids to notice and appreciate the small details that they may otherwise overlook.”
Stayton Slaughter, a student in the gardening class and a co-leader of the school’s sustainability club, which started the garden last year, is a fan of Deinhammer’s teaching style. “When I get to create my own final product, I can make something I’m truly proud of,” he says. “When I go to the garden, I can take pictures; I can make observations with my iPad or iPhone. Learning digitally as well as physically gives me the resources and tools to make my own decisions, my own observations, and my own creations for class. It’s a more enriching learning experience.”

"Learning digitally as well as physically gives me the resources and tools to make my own decisions, my own observations, and my own creations for class. It’s a more enriching learning experience."

For their first assignment, Stayton and his classmates submitted observations of two similar things in their environment in a format of their choosing. Stayton chose cacti and, using the Camera and Measure apps on iPad, captured his findings in an infographic drawn in Keynote. The class is currently examining sweet potatoes, the school’s next harvest. Students will explore everything from how to plant them to the ideal soil pH and moisture levels needed to grow them. The students are interviewing community farmers and master gardeners on iPad to record and share their knowledge, and visiting the garden outside school hours to examine their crops’ current conditions, track their growth, and turn over compost. 

Coppell Middle School East eighth grader Annabeth Hook completes her assignment on sweet potatoes using Keynote on iPad with Apple Pencil.

As Stayton describes it, his love for gardening was an accident. After starting a compost pile with some potatoes in his backyard, he noticed they started growing and didn’t know what to do with them. He now grows herbs, more potatoes, and sunflowers. “The environment is something that we need to protect,” he says. “Everything that we have — our clothes, our medicines, our materials, our iPads — is made from things from the environment. It’s important to make that connection to things in your everyday life, so you can make a better connection to your own actions.”
Another student, Annabeth Hook, signed up for the gardening class to understand why certain plants require different types of care. She also sees the value in learning about the environment from Deinhammer. “She’s a big advocate for climate change awareness and taking care of the environment,” Annabeth says. “We need to turn ourselves around, or at least try to, and take care of our environment ’cause it could mean the end of the world for us.”

Apple Distinguished Educator Jodie Deinhammer hopes her students will finish her gardening class with a new perspective on the world.

Both Stayton and Annabeth gravitated toward Deinhammer’s teaching approach. Deinhammer hopes that her student-centered curriculum will spark the curiosity needed for her students to create their own learning journeys for the school year and beyond.
“I want the kids to explore community needs,” Deinhammer says. “How can our garden help our community in more ways? What can we do to encourage future generations of gardeners in our schools? I hope by the end of the year, students are challenging themselves to see the world in a different way.”

How one teacher is preparing for a year like no other, with support from Apple

posted Aug 27, 2020, 8:22 AM by Mason Mason   [ updated Aug 27, 2020, 8:26 AM ]

Community Education Initiative helps with coding, creativity, and pivoting to a remote teaching environment

This article originally appeared in Newsroom

As with many educators, Portrice Warren will be teaching remotely this year. Warren, who is part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative, says she plans to use Apple tools and resources to enhance her students’ virtual experience.

As Birmingham City Schools fourth grade science and social studies teacher Portrice Warren gets ready to start her classes remotely, she is keenly aware of the challenges this year brings.
“Planning is going to be a key factor for me as an educator, but I know Apple resources are helping give me the roadmap I can take moving forward with my students,” says Warren. “I also know I have to keep myself balanced, because I’m going to have 64 students and 100-plus parents that I’m going to have to be a source of encouragement for.”
Warren is one of nearly 500 educators who participated in a massive virtual coding academy this summer as part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative (CEI), designed to bring coding, creativity, and workforce development opportunities to learners of all ages and to communities that are traditionally underrepresented in technology. Apple facilitates and supports CEI programming in 24 cities and regions across the US, 21 of which predominately serve majority Black and Brown students. As part of CEI, Apple also recently announced an expansion of its partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

As a part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative, Birmingham City Schools teacher Portrice Warren has access to ongoing professional learning opportunities and a community of educators to share best practices on remote learning.

The purpose of this year’s coding academy was not only to help educators learn the tools to code and teach coding, but to do so in an environment in which remote learning is considered the new norm. It’s just one of the many ways that Apple is using its CEI program to help teachers prepare for a school year unlike any other — hosting opportunities for them to see what learning remotely will be like for their students, and troubleshooting issues before classes begin.
Throughout the weeklong virtual coding academy, Warren and the other educators took on the role of student and worked together remotely using Apple tools, including the Everyone Can Code and Develop in Swift curricula, to design apps that solve real-world problems, an approach called challenge-based learning.
Warren believes challenge-based learning and the other Apple tools she used at the coding academy will be a game changer for her students and help her navigate the move to remote instruction.
“Especially now that we are transitioning to remote learning and students won’t be in the same physical classroom with their friends, challenge-based learning is going to be one of the tools that will take my students’ learning to the next level,” says Warren, who already incorporates Apple apps like Clips into her teaching. “I see this method as a motivational tool. I can use Keynote throughout my curriculum to give students the freedom to take what they know and to use their own giftedness, their own learning style, to recreate knowledge in their own way.”

"Ten years from now, I want my students to look back and see the powerful impact remote learning had on them, and that it was a positive transition."

Birmingham has been part of the CEI program for the past year and serves as a model for what is possible when a community comes together with a shared mission. Apple worked with the Birmingham City School System, the City of Birmingham, and other community and corporate partners to launch Ed Farm, a groundbreaking education initiative focused on bringing innovative learning strategies and coding opportunities to underserved communities across the city. It’s through Ed Farm that teachers like Warren have had the opportunity to dive deeper into Apple’s coding and creativity tools, and collaborate with other teachers to integrate those resources into their lesson plans.
Last year, Warren joined Ed Farm’s first cohort of Teacher Fellows — educators singled out because of their passion for creative learning techniques.
“The partnership with Ed Farm has given me that extra boost, that extra energy, to ignite my students’ learning in the classroom,” says Warren. “Since the pandemic started, they have been there every step of the way to help. I can reach back at any time and say, ‘Hey, I tried this and I learned this, but it’s not working. Can you give me some additional support?’ And I know they are alongside me.”
Tapping into the technology and resources supported by CEI and Ed Farm, Warren and her Teacher Fellow peer Karita Sullen partnered with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to start a program called Cultivate Change, which helps students navigate racial tensions and communicate their feelings in a world where they are facing both a public health pandemic and systemic racial injustice.
“We wanted to give students a safe space because you don’t just learn about history in textbooks,” says Warren. “If in the midst of face-to-face confrontation they can apply some of the strategies they’re learning through these courses to problem-solve and survive some challenging things in their communities, then I think it’s all been worthwhile.”

Throughout the summer, the teachers hosted weekly remote meetings where students could voice their feelings and find support. Warren saw a change in one student, who had struggled academically during the school year, almost immediately.
“He felt a sense of success and a sense of responsibility — he didn’t miss a single meeting — and I thought, technology played a huge part in that,” says Warren, who plans to restart Cultivate Change once the fall semester begins. “Because in person, he’s a little bit more reluctant, but I think this remote learning helped build his confidence to the point that he wanted to be a part of it.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple also launched the CEI Learning Series, whereby hundreds of teachers from around the country can meet virtually to share best practices on remote learning. Warren is already applying the tools and strategies she’s learned through Ed Farm and the CEI Coding Academy, and is looking forward to attending CEI Learning Series events scheduled for this fall. After more than 30 years of teaching, she recognizes the importance of this moment, and her mission.
“Ten years from now, I want my students to look back and see the powerful impact remote learning had on them, and that it was a positive transition,” says Warren. “There are going to be a lot of challenges, but I won’t let my students fall through the cracks. I know there is going to be a lot of hard work involved, but in the long run it will pay off. And that investment in their future is my purpose.”

This summer, Portrice Warren and another Birmingham City Schools teacher created an interactive curriculum to give their students the opportunity to talk about race and justice.

Apple’s WWDC20 Swift Student Challenge winners determined to shape the future

posted Jun 16, 2020, 7:17 AM by Mason Mason

This story originally appear on the Apple Newsroom
Palash Taneja, Devin Green, and Sofia Ongele are all WWDC20 Swift Student Challenge winners.

When the Apple 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off on June 22 in a new virtual format, a global community of 23 million developers will have the opportunity to join from around the world for free through the Apple Developer app and the Apple Developer website. Now in its 31st year, WWDC20 will bring together the largest group of innovators and entrepreneurs ever assembled to connect, share, and create.

Among them will be 350 Swift Student Challenge winners from 41 different countries and regions. The students were chosen based on their original Swift playground submission, part of Apple’s annual WWDC student challenge, which recognizes and celebrates the next generation of coders and creators.

They include Sofia Ongele, Palash Taneja, and Devin Green. These teens share a life goal best summed up by Ongele: “Make some tech and do a whole lot of good along the way.” All three view challenges in the world as opportunities to effect change. Every problem is a call to action — and they are answering, loud and clear.

Sofia Ongele hopes to one day be a judge or run for political office.

For Sofia Ongele, 19, who just finished her sophomore year at New York’s Fordham University, her focus for change lies at the intersection of tech and social justice. ReDawn, her first iOS app, is a powerful example. After one of her college friends was sexually assaulted during her freshman year, Ongele created ReDawn to help survivors access resources in a safe, easy, and sensitive way.

“I wanted to make something that makes this process less isolating,” says Ongele, who has been approached by organizations that want to partner with her on the app. But the most important feedback she has received came from the friend who was assaulted. “She thinks it has the potential to impact people, and that’s what matters most to me.”

Ongele was introduced to coding in 2016 when she attended a Kode With Klossy boot camp, a free coding course for girls ages 13 to 18. Ongele says that learning to code transformed her world.

“There was a 180-degree paradigm shift within my brain — I was like, this is what I want to do,” says Ongele, who went on to teach with the program. “I’m so passionate about passing on that knowledge to more women, and women of color, so that they wouldn’t feel that this is a field that’s too out of reach for them to pursue.”

Ongele counts Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as heroes, and is trying to decide between law school or politics — or both. Regardless of the path she chooses, she knows that her coding skills will be part of the journey: “At the end of the day, I just want to be able to use tech for social good.”

Sofia Ongele’s app ReDawn helps sexual assault survivors access resources.

Palash Taneja, 19, grew up in New Delhi, India. Four years ago, he contracted a severe case of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne virus that left him hospitalized.

“That whole experience of two to three months of suffering — I think that really inspired me to learn programming and to use it as a problem-solving tool,” says Taneja, who just finished his freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin.

Palash Taneja drew on his own experience with illness to help others.

He went on to create a web-based tool that uses machine learning to predict how mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever would spread. And for his Swift Student Challenge submission this year, created against the backdrop of COVID-19, Taneja designed a Swift playground that teaches coding while simulating how a pandemic moves through a population, showing how precautions such as social distancing and masks can help slow infection rates. He created it to help educate young people, after he saw others not taking warnings seriously.

Taneja is also passionate about education. In India, while still a teenager himself, he volunteered teaching English and math at a school for students whose families couldn’t afford to pay tuition. Before he left for college in the US, he created a program that translates popular online education videos into roughly 40 languages, so that children who don’t have physical access to quality education can learn on the web.

“I really enjoy working with children, and I think education is one of the things that can create the biggest impact in someone’s life,” says Taneja, “especially someone in a developing country.” 

Devin Green loves solving problems with technology and looks to his surroundings for inspiration. While finishing his senior year of high school at home due to COVID-19, he used his bedroom in Castro Valley, California, as a laboratory.

Devin Green’s apps and inventions are inspired by the world around him.

The 18-year-old, who will start his freshman year at Stanford in the fall, was having trouble waking up in the mornings, so he designed a program using a pressure mat under his bed. If weight is still on the mat after he’s supposed to be up, an alarm goes off and won’t stop until he uses his phone to scan a QR code.

“There are 12 different QR codes around my house, and it’s randomized every morning,” says Green. “So I never know exactly where I have to go to shut the alarm off.”

This same spirit of innovation permeates everything that Green creates. His winning Swift Student Challenge playground features an artificial-intelligence robot named Stanny that can recognize and respond to 63 different comments and questions.

Green also has two apps on the App Store, the first of which he built when he was 13. The second, called Slight Work, is a homework app that uses the Pomodoro Technique to maximize work time with structured breaks. He and his high-school classmates used it throughout their senior year, as did friends in college.

When Green thinks about the future, he hopes to use his problem-solving skills to effect change on a much larger scale.

“Social justice and politics are areas I really want to contribute to,” says Green. “Giving people access to the materials they need to stay educated about current social matters or access to voter registration or basic citizenship rights — solving those problems is really important to me.”

Devin Green’s app Slight Work helps students manage their time using a special formula.

Apple is proud to support and nurture the next generation of developers through its annual WWDC student program — and it’s just one of the many ways that WWDC20 is recognizing and celebrating coders and innovators of all ages and backgrounds. For the first time ever, there will be a special collection of curated sessions perfect for budding coders and designers, and daily Swift Playgrounds challenges that anyone can participate in and enjoy.

Students across Europe learn Swift to unlock new opportunities

posted Oct 3, 2019, 7:23 AM by Mason Mason

FEATURE October 2, 2019, on Apple Newsroom

This October, in classrooms across Europe celebrating EU Code Week, students of all ages are living proof that coding opens doors to opportunities never before possible. At Layton Primary School in Blackpool, England, coding principles are helping 5- and 6-year-olds track down a rogue dinosaur. And in Italy, at Milan’s Institute De Amicis, coding is the key that unlocked a life-changing career for 28-year-old Belinda Tagariello.

These schools are part of a growing number of European institutions relying on the power and versatility of iPad, Mac and Apple's Everyone Can Code and App Development with Swift curricula to teach coding to a new generation of students. Both schools say the programs have led to more engaged, innovative learning with proven results.

“There will be an output if they put in an input — they are more resourceful in terms of being able to tackle problems.”

Meet teachers Alice Nutt and Clare Scott. They were introduced to coding only two years ago, and now use Swift Playgrounds to incorporate coding principles into every subject they teach to their young pupils at Layton Primary School in Blackpool, England. The school, located in one of the most deprived areas of the country, has seen a remarkable change in its students since the program began.

“Children would sit there [before] and wait for things to happen,” says Scott, 45, who has been teaching for more than 20 years. “But children with a coding mentality know that if they do something, something will happen. There will be an output if they put in an input — they are more resourceful in terms of being able to tackle problems.”

That coding mentality has proliferated every area of the school, and students apply coding principles to all subjects, most often through Swift Playgrounds.

“We realized we’d already been using the skills of coding everywhere in the curriculum,” says Nutt, 28. “When we write, we go back and edit and improve it — we were debugging. We sequence stories, we sequence events and things that we do in our everyday lives. So it’s just making everyone at the school realize that coding really is all around you.”

In Scott’s classroom, her 5- and 6-year-old students practice coding skills in tasks both ordinary and extraordinary. She posed a problem to them: how do you get an escaped dinosaur back into the zoo? Her students decided they would make jam sandwiches and leave them out for the creature.

Scott brought in bread, butter and jam and asked her students to give her step-by-step instructions on how to construct the sandwich. The exercise introduced them to the individual commands required to execute a coding sequence.

“We then left the jam sandwich outside the classroom overnight,” says Scott. “And obviously the dinosaur came back and ate it — the next day there was just a crust.”

In Italy, Belinda Tagariello spent most of her 20s bouncing from one unfulfilling job to another. In 2017, she enrolled in a government-funded course that taught Swift, Apple’s powerful and easy-to-use programming language, to under- and unemployed young adults at the Institute De Amicis in Milan. As a first-time coder, Tagariello learned coding basics in Swift Playgrounds on iPad and quickly advanced to App Development with Swift on the Mac to start building something of her own.

Fast forward to today and Tagariello now teaches that same course, has one app already on the App Store, and is working on developing her second.

“When I started to develop the app, I started to feel free because I could do it myself,” says Tagariello. “When I found this, I found my way.”

Forty-one students have completed the course and collectively they have produced 14 apps in two short years. Sixteen of the graduates have found jobs in the tech industry, and five have decided to enroll in university.

This October, Tagariello will welcome the third cohort of 29 students, most of whom have no coding experience. But their teacher says they shouldn’t be dissuaded by that — and she speaks, of course, from experience.

“[When I started] I didn’t know anything about coding so they could take me as an example,” says Tagariello, who first introduces her students to coding through Apple’s fun and engaging Swift Playgrounds app for iPad and gradually progresses to App Development with Swift curriculum on Mac. “If they apply themselves to this course they could go very far, farther than me — they could find their way.”

Apple’s Everyone Can Code helps students from kindergarten to college and beyond learn coding to solve problems and prepare them for the workforce. With teacher guides and lessons, students learn the basics on iPad with Swift Playgrounds and App Development with Swift helps aspiring developers build their first iOS apps. Today more than 5,000 schools, community colleges and technical colleges worldwide are using Everyone Can Code curriculum. Find out more at

When words aren’t enough, teachers find a common language with iPad

posted Jun 18, 2019, 7:31 AM by Mason Mason   [ updated Jun 18, 2019, 7:32 AM ]

When words aren’t enough, teachers find a common language with iPad

This post first appeared in the Apple Newsroom

A single voice calls out “Sabah-ul-khair” and an eager chorus returns the greeting.
At the beginning of each language class at Wilhelm Ferdinand Schussler Day School in Dusseldorf, Germany, teacher Nick Kyriakidis asks a different student to say “good morning” in his or her native language. On this morning, as is the case most often now, that language is Arabic.
The diversity of this classroom is a reflection of the changing face of Germany and Europe. Over the last five years, the region has seen the largest influx of immigrants and refugees since World War II. Many have fled violence and war in the Middle East, which presents a unique set of challenges to educators, who are not only contending with different languages, but entirely different alphabets. In some cases, new arrivals have never stepped foot in a classroom before.

For Kyriakidis, 47, and his colleague Sinaan El Haq Hadjeri, 31, who alternate teaching the class on different days, one of the most powerful tools they have to bridge that language divide is iPad.
“Kids withdraw when they’re afraid of [making] mistakes,” says Kyriakidis. “If we try to reduce this fear, it’s much easier for them to work with us because they don’t have anything to lose.”
“With iPad … it’s different than when they write something [on paper] and I come in with my red pen and say ‘that’s wrong,’” says Hadjeri. “[With iPad] they learn for themselves.”
Of the school’s approximately 325 students who come from 39 different countries, about 20 percent are “Deutsch als Zweitsprache” (DAZ), which translates to “German as a Second Language.” Of the seven students in class today, four are from Syria, and the other three are from Afghanistan, Iraq and Kenya.

Since the school began the 1:1 iPad program, where every student has access to their own iPad, 100 percent of participants have graduated, an increase of more than 20 percent. And nowhere is the difference more transformative than with the DAZ students.
That includes Medina Ibrahim, 13, and her brother Mohammed, 16, who came to Germany with their parents and two younger siblings. Their journey from Aleppo, Syria, took them through Turkey before the family settled in Dusseldorf.
Medina says that when they arrived they were very lonely because they couldn’t speak a word of German and had trouble making friends.

Over the course of the last year, Medina, her brother and the other students in this class have worked with their iPads daily, including using a number of lessons that Kyriakidis created with Keynote. Today, Medina assembles a sentence into the correct word order, and uses Voice Record to say it in German into her iPad. It gives her and the other students the opportunity to sound out foreign words by themselves, without fear of embarrassment, and to work at their own pace.

Schools all across Europe are finding new ways to use Apple technology to help teachers and students connect and communicate.

“I want to be someone who loved them, taught them and inspired them. Someone who helped them arrive.”

At College Daniel Argote in Pau, France, students are sent home with a video lesson recorded by their teacher on their iPad, and the next day work through their “homework” in class. This way, students whose parents aren’t fluent in French are able to extend their learning both inside and outside the classroom.

At Stenkulaskolan School in Malmo, Sweden, where 98 percent of students speak Swedish as a second language, teachers have seen an 80 percent jump in math grades since they started sending home similar instructional videos, recorded by a teacher in Swedish.

And at St. Cyres School in Penarth, Wales, the 2018 senior class of English as an Additional Language students working with iPad increased their grades by an average of 3.8 points during the year — outperforming their peers who speak English or Welsh as their native language for the third year in a row.

In May, Apple announced that Malala Fund was joining its partnership with vocational school Simplon to teach the coding language of Swift to underserved groups in France, with a new focus on refugee and displaced young women. Apple’s Everyone Can Code curriculum will help them gain the practical skills needed for a career in software development. Apple will provide funding for teacher recruitment and training, as well as devices including iPad.

Kyriakidis and Hadjeri say they wish they had access to today’s technology and support when they were young. As children, both men came to Germany unable to speak the language, and know what it’s like to feel isolated in a new place. It’s also one of the reasons why the students are fiercely connected to both teachers — a feeling that goes both ways.
“They’re like my children,” says Hadjeri, who on numerous occasions arrived at school to find a student absent, only to learn the family had been deported. “I want to be someone who loved them, taught them and inspired them. Someone who helped them arrive — that’s what I always wanted but never had. Someone who tells you … don’t be discouraged, you’ll get there.”

Over the course of the last year, Medina and Mohammed have progressed so much that this will be their last semester of DAZ classes with Kyriakidis and Hadjeri. Medina recently gave a presentation on Napoleon to her history class, created in Keynote and delivered completely in German. She hopes to one day be an engineer, and her brother, a pharmacist.
Through a translator, Medina says that she was happy back in Syria, but now here in Germany, she isn’t just happy, she is safe.

Behind the Mac Creator Celebrates his Literary Icon

posted Feb 18, 2019, 10:42 AM by Mason Mason   [ updated Feb 18, 2019, 10:46 AM ]

Barry Jenkins on James Baldwin, Filming Black Skin and Filmmaking in the iPhone Era

This article first appeared on Apple Newsroom

Director Barry Jenkins discusses “If Beale Street Could Talk,” his third feature film, and the potential of today’s young filmmakers. 

Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins says he “stumbled into filmmaking,” attending Florida State University for some years before discovering its film school. “I went to film school right at the turn between old school cinema and new school cinema,” Jenkins says, “so we actually learned to edit films on these things called flat beds … you have to actually physically cut the film and tape it back together. So, doing that for a full year and then transitioning to what they call non-linear editing, it was shocking.

“But I took the lessons with me,” he continues. “Only make the cuts you absolutely have to make.”

In last year’s Behind the Mac campaign that celebrates creators using Mac in their work, Jenkins is seen holding his MacBook Pro while standing under an umbrella in the rain. The director was exporting the final cut of his 2017 Academy Award-winning feature film, “Moonlight.”

Trained in traditional and modern filmmaking, Jenkins blends his craft with digital equipment like his ARRI Alexa camera, MacBook Pro and even his new iPad Pro. “These Arri cameras and the Apple platform are the two things that have helped me become the maker that I am,” Jenkins says.

His latest film, adapted from James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk,” is a cautionary tale about black life in America in the 1970s, spotlighting the hardships a young couple face navigating a changing world around them. The novel was published in 1974, six years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, and a decade after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Barry Jenkins on set with actors Dave Franco, Stephan James and KiKi Layne. Photo courtesy of Tatum Mangus / Annapurna Pictures.

Baldwin’s literary tone is critical and unapologetic about his analysis of the state of the world around him. He crafts a delicate balance between the beauty and the brutality of America.

In Jenkins’s adaptation, that balance is achieved through portraits of moments shared between Tish (played by KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), from the streets of Harlem to the West Village, to the bulletproof glass at the Manhattan Detention Complex — or the Tombs.

“My job in making this film, from the craft standpoint, from the aesthetic standpoint, was about trying to translate interiority into sounds and images, and to do so with the words of James Baldwin.”

To translate Baldwin’s words into moving pictures, Tish narrates the events that led to her and Fonny’s current status: in love, expecting and fighting for Fonny’s freedom after his wrongful arrest.

“The movie is composed of memory streams and nightmares and so how does 19-year-old Tish, how does she view Harlem?” Jenkins continues. “How does she want to remember it? And once we hit on that, that’s when the whole world opened up for us.”

“If Beale Street Could Talk” is the first English-language adaptation of James Baldwin, a prominent author on race relations in the US during the Civil Rights Era. Photo courtesy of Tatum Mangus / Annapurna Pictures.

“If Beale Street Could Talk” is the first English-language fiction adaptation of Baldwin, a feat with its own set of unique challenges.

“Literature is a very interior medium, it’s all about the interior voice,” Jenkins says. “And cinema, it’s about externally acting out in a certain way. You know, sounds and images. You’re not necessarily allowed to be inside the character, and James Baldwin, the power of his writing is all about the interior voice. So my job in making this film, from the craft standpoint, from the aesthetic standpoint, was about trying to translate interiority into sounds and images, and to do so with the words of James Baldwin.”

Shot on an ARRI Alexa 65, “Beale Street” gives audiences a close, intimate look at black life. Jenkins is grateful for the ability to capture the intimacies of black family and love, dreamed up by his literary icon, in such a large format.

“The history of [cinema] is all tied to 35 mm emulsion,” Jenkins explains. “These cameras now are programmable computer chips so you can write the algorithms to dictate how they behave, how they perceive light. In the past, you were limited in some ways by how certain film stocks were created and what their dynamic range was. Now, whenever we set up to make a film, we can program the computer … from scratch. So right away, we’re building these cameras to prioritize darker colors, by which I mean darker skin tones. It’s very freeing.”

Filmmaker Barry Jenkins, featured in Apple’s Behind the Mac ad, exports the final cut of his Academy Award-winning film, “Moonlight.”

Beyond the new cameras, filmmaking still requires a bit of magic. Enter the editor.

Joi McMillon is a longtime Jenkins collaborator. One of the two Oscar-nominated editors on “Moonlight,” she “breathes” Avid on the Mac Pro. McMillon worked with Jenkins and cinematographer James Laxton to bring the film to life.

In one scene, Fonny and Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry) spend hours in Fonny’s apartment catching up, moving from small talk to something troubling for Daniel.

“It’s kind of like a scene within a scene, and they change up the lighting and the angle and so as an audience member, you’re not exhausted by being somewhere for that long,” McMillon explains. “There’s now new information in each section of that part of the film.”

Jenkins wanted the audience to feel the energy being transferred between Fonny and Daniel. A camera slides slowly between them, a progression deeper and deeper into Daniel’s mind and Fonny’s reaction.

From left: Fonny (played by Stephan James), Tish (KiKi Layne) and Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry) in Fonny’s apartment, moments before Daniel opens up about his incarceration in “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Photo courtesy of Tatum Mangus / Annapurna Pictures.

“There’s such warmth on Fonny and Daniel’s skin and yet what they’re talking about is so dark and scary and I just love the juxtaposition of that,” McMillon says. “The way it’s shot makes you feel like you’re sitting at the table with them.”

That immersion is now a Jenkins staple. Audiences sat at a similar table in a diner in “Moonlight,” and even floated in the ocean with those characters.

Today Jenkins, McMillon and the “Beale Street” family are once again on the awards circuit. The film is nominated for three Oscars: Best Supporting Actress (Regina King), Best Original Music Score (Nicholas Britell) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Jenkins).

“Even the old school cats that are embracing these new tools … they get down and dirty digitally.”

Up next: An Amazon series based on Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad.” Jenkins jokes this will round out his artistic bucket list: “Make a movie about where I was from, and that became ‘Moonlight.’ I also wanted to adapt my favorite author, and that’s ‘Beale Street.’ And the last was I wanted to make something about the condition of American slavery. And that’s ‘The Underground Railroad.’”

As Jenkins ticks off his list, he acknowledges a new class of filmmakers he says he’s sure will lap him soon. “Even the old school cats that are embracing these new tools … they get down and dirty digitally,” Jenkins says. “Steven Soderbergh has been working almost exclusively off the iPhone for the last few years.” (Soderbergh’s latest film, “High Flying Bird,” was shot entirely on an iPhone 8 and premiered on Netflix last month.)

“You can kind of make any damn thing right now, whether with your phone or with a DSLR,” he says. “The world is a young filmmaker’s oyster.”

Clips by Apple

posted Jan 8, 2019, 9:29 AM by Mason Mason   [ updated Jan 8, 2019, 10:06 AM ]

See how Apple Teachers are using Clips for student assignments.
This article first appeared on the Apple Teacher Learning Center

Video creates opportunities for students to explore their creative sides, allowing them to do things they never dreamed possible. Xochitl Lara and Sherri Fleischer have each shared two examples of how they’re using Clips, a free app for iOS, in their classrooms to introduce students to the art of expression.

Photo of Xochitl Lara
Xochitl Lara
Fifth-grade science teacher
Zavala Elementary
Harlingen, Texas

Alternative energy commercial
Xochitl had her students work in small groups to study alternative energy. Each group researched their favorite alternative energy source and devised a campaign to market it. In past years, groups made posters to demonstrate their learning. This year, students used Clips on iPad to fuel their creativity, producing a commercial to educate their classmates about the benefits of their energy source.

This year my students were able to take their learning deeper using Clips. They used the app’s built-in posters and labels to make their commercials pop.

Weather report
For this project, each student chose a geographic location and studied its climate. Using Clips, students unleashed their imaginations by becoming meteorologists and hosting their own local weather show.

Instead of writing a report, students created video forecasts of their region’s temperature, wind speed, and humidity like meteorologists do on TV. Clips allowed students to shine a light on their unique creativity. They added built-in stickers and filters to spice up their videos.

Photo of Sherri Fleischer
Sherri Fleischer
Third-grade teacher
Ann Parish Elementary
Los Lunas, New Mexico

Classroom vocabulary words
At the beginning of the school year, Sherri had her students work in groups with Clips to learn common classroom vocabulary words. Over the course of a class period, each group familiarized themselves with a term. They then flexed their creative muscle by making a Clips video about the term to help the rest of the class understand and remember it.

“This activity empowered students because they became the teachers and experts. The collection of videos became a great resource for students to refer back to over the course of the year.”

Mystery invention
In this assignment, students studied a notable invention. They gathered context clues and descriptive words, then created a Clips video explaining the invention without naming it until the end. This activity was particularly impactful for Sherri’s English-language learners because they were able to hear themselves talking and work on their enunciation, pronunciation, and vocabulary.

Having students listen to themselves speak and see the Live Titles has improved their ability to critique their own reading and speaking. Instead of breezing through text, they pay more attention to vocabulary words that are unfamiliar. Once they learn the word’s definition, their reading and speaking becomes more fluid and confident. Clips is a fun tool that keeps students engaged and motivated.

You can start integrating Clips into your class assignments today. Visit the Clips collection and learn how to use the app, explore more ideas for using it in your classroom, and watch Clips videos made by teachers.

How Augmented Reality with iPads is Changing the Classroom

posted Nov 9, 2018, 11:55 AM by Mason Mason

How Augmented Reality with iPads is Changing the Classroom

Kids today have more resources at their fingertips than ever before. Raised in the digital era, most children have traded outside playtime for iPads and other mobile devices for communication and entertainment. Today’s students are the first to grow up amidst such aggressive advancements in mobile technology, and in order to be smart communicators, educators need to adapt to the latest tech trends. Over the years, tech in the classroom has been met with mixed views. Usually deemed as a distraction, cellphones were banned in a lot of schools, according to an article by The Atlantic. But even back then, eliminating tech wasn’t the solution. Now, it’s safe to say that teachers have learned to embrace educational technology in the name of progress.

A previous post here on Teaching With iPad sheds light on the unique ways you can use iPad devices creatively in the classroom, one of which is via augmented reality (AR). In light of recent advancements, teachers are finding ways use AR in the classroom. Students are already using AR-powered apps like Pokémon Go or Snapchat for entertainment, which means that the challenge, then, is to help them learn using this technology. Here are some notable apps to check out for learning.


Image credit: Real Estate Magazine Canada

Instead of spending thousands on heavy textbooks for each student, iPads provide a more cost-effective solution. The device is able to deliver interactive content that can be used in the classroom or at home. It is also more portable, making it easier for students to carry and more cost-effective in the long run.

Even print materials can come to life on an iPad screen with Layar. This app can scan magazines, newspapers, and other materials, and turn them into rich digital experiences.

Visual learning

Image credit: Technabob

It is a known fact that different students have different styles of learning that call for personalized methods of teaching. Very Well Family states that students with visual-spatial intelligence learn best when taught using written, modelled, or diagrammed instructions and visual media. These students are less inclined towards auditory-sequential teaching methods such as lectures, recitations, drills, and repetition. AR allows visual learners to grasp concepts better than when delivered by a teacher in class lectures.

For chemistry students, Elements 4D puts a face on all the compounds and concepts. The app shows dynamic 4D representations of elements and chemical equations. Students can even combine elements to see the reaction as it occurs in nature.

Image credit: Curiscope

According to Forbes, Virtuali-Tee presents a cool new way to learn about human anatomy. By pointing a device at different parts of a student’s t-shirt that represents the human body, Virtuali-Tee (app link) breaks down human physiology and anatomy for easier learning.

Transporting Students Places

AR has the power to take students to places a school bus cannot. Blippar (iTunes link), for example, puts learners right at the center of the solar system as planets orbit around them. Learners have the option to select which planet they’d like to discover more through a single tap.

Image credit: Blippar

To travel back in history, kids can use Dino Park AR+ (iTunes link), which builds a virtual prehistoric world around their surroundings. Watch in awe as dinosaurs can be seen moving around the classroom.

Image credit: Apple World Today

Making learning more fun

It can sometimes be a challenge to make kids interested in mentally taxing topics like math or science. Often, they have to resort to memory, which has long been proven ineffective in retaining knowledge. Thankfully, AR can make the process worth remembering since it offers more immersive experiences.

Image credit: iTunes

Those learning English can practice their language chops with Our Discovery Island: Phonic Trickers (iTunes link). The game follows a group of “Tricksters” who escaped from Our Discovery Islands and are stealing letters from the English Bank of Phonemes. Players must chase these phonic Tricksters to “save the English language,” while improving their understanding of phonics along the way.

Image credit: Fete! Lunch Rush

Fete! Lunch Rush, on the other hand, is geared towards students looking to brush up on their math skills. The premise is simple: players must keep up with lunch orders by answering basic math problems and thinking on their feet.

Feature post especially for
Written by: Emma Pierce

How Does Technology Affect Sleep?

posted Sep 24, 2018, 6:43 AM by Mason Mason

How Does Technology Affect Sleep?

This post originally appeared at Tuck.

Amelia Willson 

We live in a world dominated by electronics. From smartphones to television, electronic devices keep us entertained, productive, and connected to our work, family, and friends. 

Our lives are so enmeshed with personal tech that we take it to bed with us – literally. According to a 2014 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 95 percent of people report using some sort of electronic device within an hour of bedtime, and nearly three-quarters of parents report that their children sleep with at least one electronic device.

Technology has fostered a resurgence of the mattress industry, enabling ever-constant design improvements, online availability, and more variety than ever before. It’s also made sleep products more affordable and accessible, leading to popular innovations such as personal sleep trackers and “smart beds” that react to the sleeper’s body temperature. Technology even helps you find articles like this one about how to get better sleep. 

But for all its benefits, technology seriously interferes with sleep. Regular use of electronic devices negatively impacts how much sleep you get at night, how restorative that sleep is, and how well you function the next day.

In this article we’ll explore the various ways technology truly impacts sleep, how it affects children versus adults, and finally, what you can do to power down and get a good night’s sleep (without sacrificing technology completely).

How do individual technologies impact sleep?

The biggest obstacle tech devices present to sleep is their level of blue light. Blue light is pervasive in modern technology, existing in smartphones, tablets, televisions, e-readers, computers, and even fluorescent lighting.

High concentration of blue light

Blue light is the strongest and brightest wavelength, which means it pierces the photoreceptors in our retinas the most intensely. When your brain senses blue light from an electronic device, it perceives it as sunlight. As a result, it assumes it’s still daytime, so it’s not yet time to kick off melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. It releases at night, inducing sleep.  The longer your brain delays melatonin release, the harder it is to fall asleep, and stay asleep.

Sound and other interference

Blue light isn’t the only problem with technology. Electronic devices introduce a wonderful cacophony of beeps, chimes, and sounds into your environment. From texts to calls to Facebook notifications, almost everyone can recall a time when a noise from their phone jolted them awake. Considering one-fifth of Americans go to sleep with their phone ringers on, it’s no surprise than 10% also report waking in the middle night a few times per week as well.

Even when a phone is on silent, studies have found that the electromagnetic cellular and wi-fi signals interfere with sleep quality.

Increased anxiety and cortisol levels

Certain types of technology deliver content that is stimulating in and of itself. Responding to stressful work emails late at night activates your body and mind. Likewise, watching a dramatic TV show or playing an intense video game before bed keeps your mind alert and triggers that “fight or flight” mode. Your body reacts physically to this kind of stress by increasing your cortisol levels, at the same time delaying or inhibiting melatonin production. All this combines to prevent you from the essential winddown that needs to happen for you to relax sufficiently and fall asleep. 

Studies have also documented our unhealthy relationship with our phones. A 2016 study of 700 college students separated participants from their phones. They felt so anxious about being apart from their phones, that both their smartphone usage and nighttime awakenings increased. This kind of separation anxiety results in using your phone right up to the moment you fall asleep, further delaying melatonin production and letting cortisol reign.

Passive vs. interactive activity

The duration, application, and type of device you use all affect how it interferes with your sleep. For example, interactive tech use, such as playing a video game or texting, has been shown to be more detrimental to sleep than passive use such as watching television. However, passive use is not something to brush aside: one study found that using an iPad for 2 hours at maximum brightness significantly delayed melatonin production.

Smartphones and tablets can be especially dangerous because we hold the screens much closer to our eyes than televisions and computers. For instance, a Harvard study found that people who use e-readers as opposed to paper books require an additional 10 minutes to fall asleep. That fact alone might not seem too concerning, but the fact they also released half the amount of melatonin and spent less time in REM sleep certainly is. 

Regardless of which device you use, one thing’s for sure: the longer you use it at night, the less amount of sleep you can expect to enjoy.

How technology affects sleepSource: BMJ Journals

Does technology affect children's sleep more than adults?

Using technology at night creates even worse sleep problems for children – and poses wide-ranging negative effects beyond that, from academic performance to general health and well-being.

Teenagers who report texting or emailing after bedtime – even once a week – also report significantly higher levels of daytime sleepiness, and enjoy a full 30 minutes less sleep than their peers who don’t leave their phones on. Similarly, teens with televisions in their bedrooms tend to have later bedtimes, shorter total sleep times, and a tougher time falling asleep.

When children don’t get enough sleep, they have difficulty focusing, processing and retaining information, and are at greater risk of poor health. The negative effects of technology on our children’s sleep are especially problematic because tech use is so normalized. They grew up with smartphones, and are used to living in a world of devices. 

It’s not uncommon for kids to unwind using technology, whether they’re engaging on social media, watching television, or playing a video game. This leads many children to view their smartphone as a sleep aid, rather than a hindrance. Children with this mindset have been shown to go to sleep later, sleepless, and report more daytime sleepiness than their counterparts.

Even if children weren’t already comfortable with technology, it’s forced on them anyway. The majority of homework assignments require computers to be completed, and since homework is done after school – in the late afternoon to late night – children are stuck sitting in front of bright electric light for hours on end. Worse, competing priorities from work, school, and extracurricular activities make it difficult to squeeze homework in earlier versus later. 

The infographic below, created by student bloggers at Rasmussen College, reveals the various ways technology affects the sleep of young people in particular.

There is good news, however. Here are several ideas for counteracting the negative effects of technology on your child’s sleep:

  1. Be a good sleep role model. From the day they’re born, your child looks to you for guidance in all walks of life, including sleep. So it’s important for you to practice good sleep habits yourself, to encourage your child to follow in your footsteps. The National Sleep Foundation found that if their parents don’t have an electronic device in their bedroom, their children are much less likely to, as well. More on this in the next section.
  2. Get your children in the habit of reading before bed. Children who read from an early age have better literacy rates and emotional intelligence. Plus, the cognitive benefits of bedtime reading continue through the pre-teen years. Creating a habit of reading before bed early on makes it easier for kids to keep up with it as they age – instead of replacing a book with their smartphone.
  3. Explain the effects of technology on sleep to your child. No one likes to be told what to do, and that’s especially the case for teenagers, as many parents will attest. Rather than telling your child to turn off the computer and go to sleep, educate them on how technology affects sleep. Then empower them to make their own decisions.
  4. Reorganize your child’s schedule to make more time for sleep. With increasing demands and fears of not doing enough to get into the best college, it’s easy for teens to get overbooked. Consider removing one or two activities from their schedule. Work with your child to find a way to get homework done earlier, so they can live with a bit less stress and a bit more sleep.

How should you power down to get a better night’s sleep?

Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is a serious problem. The issues caused by tech-related sleep deprivation pervade all aspects of life:

impact of sleep deprivation from technology

Source: Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine

So, what can you do to get a better night’s sleep? Here are our top recommendations.

  • Remove electronics from the bedroom. This is your best bet for saving yourself from technological disturbances during the night. Not only will you benefit from a peaceful lack of light or noise, but it will also help train your brain to view your bedroom as a place for sleep – not work, socializing, or surfing the internet.
  • Stop using blue-light devices (including phones, computers, TV, tablets, and e-readers) at least 30 to 60 minutes before bed. If you can’t possibly imagine what to do for an entire hour before bedtime, here are some ideas: practicing yoga or meditation; reading a book or magazine; listening to audiobooks, podcasts, or music; or talking to someone IRL in your house. 
  • During the day, practice not responding to emails, texts, or other notifications immediately. This helps you gradually lessen your cortisol response so you feel less dependent on your phone and can leave it in another room while you sleep.
  • Generally limit your electric use during the evening to less stimulating activities, such as using social media instead of playing a video game.
  • Turn off notifications with “Do Not Disturb” mode. Many phones now include a feature that prevents notifications, sounds, or vibrations from going off, except for items you specify (such as texts or calls from your spouse).
  • If you can’t help using technology late at night, at least use “night mode.”Most smartphones and e-readers now come with this feature installed. Turning it on changes your screen to use primarily red light instead of blue light, so it’s overall dimmer and less intense on your eyes. For older devices, invert the color setting at night so the background is black with white text. You can also download apps that will do this for you. Alternately, dim your device and keep it at least 14 inches away from your face.
  • Use tinted glasses when you’re working on the computer, especially at night. These are yellow or orange and reduce the amount of blue light you perceive, although they’re not as effective a filter as “night mode.”
  • Limit your exposure to light at night. Besides your devices, the light around your home can also keep you up at night. Use dimmers or softer light bulbs. Don’t shine light toward your eyes – opt for lamps over overhead lighting. If you live on a street with lots of light pollution, get blackout curtains for your bedroom. Then, when you wake in the morning, the bright light from the sun will help jolt your body awake even more. 
  • Set up a regular bedtime routine and practice good sleep hygiene. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and overly sugary, spicy, or fatty foods in the evening. Keep your bedroom cool, in the mid-60s.
  • Get a great mattress. The best way to motivate yourself to get to bed earlier is by turning your bedroom into a place you can’t wait to fall asleep in each night. Choose a top-quality mattress that supports your unique sleep style. We’ve made it easy – we’ve combed through over 95,000 customer reviews to find the best mattresses around. 

Research on technology and sleep

Fostering Mathematical Mindsets with iPads in the Classroom

posted Jun 18, 2018, 7:29 PM by Mason Mason   [ updated Jun 19, 2018, 8:08 AM ]

Fostering Mathematical Mindsets with iPads in the Classroom

This blog first appeared on EdTechTeacher.

All students can learn math. Better yet, all students can love math. And even more importantly, all students can excel at math. And when classrooms go one-to-one with iPads, this enhances opportunities to foster the mathematical mindsets of students in the classroom. Carol Dweck and Jo Boaler believe math is the subject most in need of a mindset makeover, and I think integrating technology helps with that transformation.

Math class no longer has to be a traumatic experience for so many students (and their parents and teachers). This blog post is rooted in Jo Boaler’s (2016) book Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students’ POTENTIAL Through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and INNOVATIVE TEACHING. In this post, I suggest five ways to foster mathematical mindsets using iPads in the classroom based on the thoughts, theories, and pedagogies recommended by Boaler.

1. Pictures

Help students make relevant connections to mathematical concepts by photographically capturing the world around them using the iPad’s camera. Teach students to document patterns and appreciate the aesthetics, creativity, and beauty of the art of math. For example, allow students to take pictures of the spirals in flowers, pine cones, or pineapples to explore the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio. When students see that math is all around them, they begin to understand the role it plays in their lives.

2. Videos

Capturing video using the iPad’s camera is another powerful, and often overlooked, way to document math in the real world. Using the Slo-mo and Time-lapse features, students have the ability to drastically slow down or speed up video recordings, allowing them to analyze, synthesize, and critique film to better see math in action. Imagine using Time-lapse to record a spider weaving a web, water rising to the boiling point, or snow accumulating on the ground. Or using the Slo-mo to slow down a basketball shot, an egg dropped to the ground, or a chemical reaction. When students see math in action, they are better able to understand rate, speed, time, velocity, and more.

3. Screen Recordings

In mathematics, metacognition and reasoning are critical to a student's mathematical mindset. Two tools used together on the iPad that can help enhance metacognition and reasoning are Drawing and Screen Recording. While using any of the three apps in Apple’s iWork suite - Pages, Keynote, and Numbers - students can insert a Drawing into their document to work out math problems (tap the Insert button, tap the Shape button, then tap Drawing). Simultaneously, while working out the problem, they can use Screen Recording to capture their thinking (learn how to Screen Record on the iPad HERE). Students can share their recordings, and they can critique the reasoning of others. These processes increase engagement and enliven the mathematics classroom.

4. Shapes

Boaler recommends conceptual mathematical activities to help students learn numbers and number facts, and the iPad offers a variety of ways for students to engage in those types of activities. In the Pages, Keynote, and Numbers apps, there are more than 500 shapes and objects students can use as digital manipulatives, allowing students to visualize math concepts. Using shapes will help them better understand basic math functions and will also increase their spatial reasoning as they start to make connections to math facts. Brain science shows that when students make connections using these strategies, performing mathematical tasks is more accessible.

5. Clips

Reflection is often a critical component missing in mathematics instruction. To foster a mathematical mindset using the iPad, teachers can help students see that math is about thinking, sense-making, big ideas, and connections, and not just memorizing facts and steps. Clips lets students reflect on their learning using pictures, videos, posters, filters, graphics, and more. Instead of assigning more problems for homework, consider assigning a reflection question for students to answer. This will help students think conceptually about big ideas and encourages self-reflection. More importantly, these Clips can be used by teachers as formative assessment that helps guide their instruction.


Math teachers often struggle with effectively integrating iPads into their math instruction. Hopefully, these strategies will not only help you begin to transform teaching and learning in your mathematics classroom but will also help foster a mathematical mindset in your students, leading to a greater appreciation of mathematics and higher levels of achievement. In what ways are you fostering a mathematical mindset in your classroom using iPads? I’d love to hear your stories and feedback on Twitter. You can connect with me at EdTechMason.

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