Friday, July 1, 2011

My Tablet Based Curriculum Lessons #TGTE

I would need tablets that have a camera, word processing apps and other content creating and sharing apps. I would also like a tablet that could be easily connected to projectors.

For each unit, I will detail how I would do it without tablets and how I would do it with the tablets. Not every lesson in each unit will detailed, just the big ones.

Essay writing refresher

Without Tablet (WOT)
We would spend time in class going over the writing format and students would take notes and work on their topics in their notebook. I would need to schedule lab time once the students were ready to work on their essays. (Important note: No class may use more than 3 computer lab days in a row due to the lack of available labs) Students will work on their essays in theblab and move from seat to seat to peer edit and provide feedback. Once students are ready, they will submit their essays to to be graded and reviewed by the teacher.

With Tablets (WT)
I would review the format of the essay and students would start to work on their rough drafts on the tablets. Students would trade tablets with their peers to edit and critique their work. Students would have more time to work on the writing and have more feedback from the teacher in the pre-writing phase. Student examples can be quickly shown by connecting the tablet to the projector. Students can cut and paste their completed essay to submit it to No lab space would be needed allowing other classes to use computers.

Declaration of Independence and the Student Declaration

We cover the Dec of Ind in class. I love spending time with the it and really looking close at the language.

(WOT) Like all texts we use in class, students are not allowed to make notes in the book. If I want students to do a close reading and annotate , I would need to make many copies.

For this unit, we would read the Dec together and the students would take notes while I annotated the text on the Smartboard.

After discussing the text, students are broken into groups and they work to create a list of student grievances based on my classroom rules and the school rules. Groups would narrow down their issues and create a Student Dec on a poster board to present to class.

(WT) Every student would have a copy of the Dec. It could be uploaded as a PDF file or they could have access to it in App form. By connecting the tablet to the projector, students could see the annotations I made and make then on their tablet. Students could work in groups and then explain their annotations to the class using the projector.

Using Google Docs or corkboard apps, students could create a master list of grievances for everyone to view. These grievances could be divided up amongst groups and students could create various multimedia projects to convince me to change classroom rules. With a camera, students could record video Declarations and share them with the class. With the tablet, the students will have more options for presenting their Decs without needing the computer lab.

The Crucible

(WOT)I would pass out the play and the students would read aloud in class and answer discussion questions posted on Class discussions would center specific scenes and lines from the play. Students would write an essay on the different conflicts in the play.

(WT) I would still do most of the same stuff with tablets, but I would not have to pass out the plays. Students would be able to annotate their texts and share their ideas using corkboard apps or a class wiki. Students would be able to access the discussion boards in class.

In the past, I used to have students write an update of the play and set it in high school. I used to have more time to let the kids create, but the curriculum got full. With tablets, I'm going to have more time to tackle this project.

Breaking up the class into groups, I can have kids update the script and record the re-enacted scenes using the tablets camera. Completed scenes can be uploaded and shared with others.

The Gothic Lit Unit

Students are going to read selections from Poe, Hawthorn, Irving and others.

(WOT) Students will find the stories in their 10 pound text book. The students will read the stories and answer discussion questions. Various assignments include writing an updated Faust legend, creating diary entries for "A Rose for Emily", creating an ad for an Elixir of Youth for "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment". These assignments are completed at home and turned in to the teacher.

(WT) Students would have access to all of the stories on their tablet and will be able to annotate and take notes. These notes and annotations are easily shared with other students.

Instead of traditional print ads, students could create full infomercials for the elixir of life and even infomercials "selling" the themes and symbols of the stories.

Students would also be writing essays and could write on their tablets and pass them around for peer editing.


(WOT) Students will read selections of Walden in their text book and create a poster board that matches pictures and significant quotes from Walden. Posters are presented in class.

(WT) Students would have access to the complete text of Walden on the tablet. Students could annotate on their tablet and share notes and ideas on a corkboard app or class wiki. Students could also connect their tablet to the projector and share their annotations with the class.

With the camera feature, students could create a complete multimedia presentation using various apps. These presentations could be shared with the class and uploaded to a class site for others to see.

Huck Finn

(WOT) Students will receive copies of the book. They will read and answer discussion questions online. Students will take notes and write an essay on Twain's use of satire and his view of slavery and racism.

(WT) Students will have access to the book on their tablet and will be able to annotate it as it is discussed in class.

The big project for the semester will be a mock trial. Huck Finn has been in the news recently for having it's language changed to make it less offensive. Some argue the book is racist and should not be taught in schools. In my courtroom, Twain is going to be charged with writing a racist book meant to inflame the masses. There will be a prosecution and defense team made up of students in class. Each side will be able to call witnesses to testify. Using tablets, students will be able to collaborate on their cases. The trial can be skyped or u-streamed to the public who can act as the jury. Students could use their tablets to Skype with Twain experts and submit testimony without having to leave the classroom.

I would no longer be constrained with the computer lab time limit and students would be able to collaborate all class period.

With tablets, students would be able to dive deep into the text and meaning behind Twain's classic work. This project will end the first semester.

Semester exam

(WOT) Students would sit and take notes to review for the final. We could play a game or two to help with the review.

(WT) Students could create review apps and collaborate in large groups to prepare for the final. With access to all of their annotated  notes in the stories, students will be able to review more in depth.


Students would need to carry around multiple books, notebooks, folders and assignments.

(WT) Students could download multiple apps that will enhance what they are learning in class. Their backpacks will not be as cluttered and heavy. Students will be able to create and work on other projects in various content areas. Tablets will allow them the opportunity to collaborate outside of the classroom.

2nd Semester will include The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, Death of a Salesman, Women's Lit and the Harlem Renaissance. A tablet could work wonders on all of these units.

I would love to have two sets for both sections or American Literature I would be teaching. Certain tablets start off at 400-500 dollars. Just getting the tablets could cost as much as $33,000. Adding various apps could cost another 400-500 dollars.

My goal is to find companies that are willing to sponsor this tablet experiment. If I can show my district that there are people willing to chip in, I think I can get them to chip in for the cost. If I can find companies willing to cover 15-20 thousand, I think my district, and parent groups in the district, could fund the rest.

I'm excited to get started and will be contacting tablet makers to see if I can get bulk pricing to lower the costs.

How can you help?

1. If you are connected to a company that might be willing to sponsor this experiment, please contact me at

2. If you have contacts with tablet makers that would be willing to work with me on this project, please connect us.

3. Spread the word of my tablet experiment. Your tweet or blog post might reach someone who knows someone who knows a guy etc.

I appreciate all of the love and support I have received over the years and I can't wait to share this crazy adventure with all of you.

Have a great weekend everyone!

- Nick


  1. Good Luck with your experiment. I think tablets are the way to go. I just got a Dell Streak 7" tablet, these would work well in a class.
    For the writing project, instead of changing tablets for peer editing, I have used a wiki. Each child has their own pages. The usernames were randomly generated by wikispaces, so the peer editing could be done anonymously through the chat feature. It worked well for 5th grade. I added a spell check and thesaurus to the wiki.



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