Apple TV is a little black box that can work miracles in a classroom. Built largely for entertaining purposes by Apple, Apple TV is used increasingly in the classroom by educators who primarily want to take advantage of the mirroring capabilities of the device. For those who are not familiar with the term “mirroring”, simply put, a key feature in Apple devices called “AirPlay” can literally mirror or project your device’s screen (iPod/iPad/iPhone), via an LCD projector that is connected to the Apple TV. All you need aside from an Apple TV is an iPad 2 or newer, an LCD projector, and then, the sky is the limit.
Providing visual access to iBooks for all students with just one iPad in the classroom is, by itself, a reason for a teacher to buy an Apple TV. Apple has done an incredible job in offering digitized versions of children’s books. The size of its catalog is impressive and it is growing constantly.
Cost-conscious teachers may kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. For instance, they may opt to buy the digital books, as these books cost only a fraction of the printed version, and be rewarded with the bonus of implementing read aloud lessons in an intuitive way. With Apple TV the teacher is no longer “tied up” in front of the document viewer. The teacher can navigate between pages with a swipe of his/her finger, and while using the digital book, he/she can, for instance, address a behavior problem using proximity to students.
More importantly, the teacher can move around the classroom and share the iPad and the read aloud experience with the students by having students add their own comments on the pages of the book, and even handing the iPad to a student while the teacher creates a visual organizer of the story. All of this, while the whole class has constant visual access to the book.
In addition, iBooks offers a great deal of options such as highlighting, adding post it notes, searching definitions of words, as well as inserting information to pictures and captions. All these add a touch of augmented reality to the books, thus, transforming a simple read aloud activity into a truly fascinating and highly engaging experience.
Reading is not the only subject that can benefit from an Apple TV in the classroom. Due to the fact that I am a math and science teacher, I am quite familiar with several math and science apps, many of which I use in my classroom on a daily basis. There are many free or paid apps that support STEM Education and are aligned with the Common Core Standards. All of these apps are capable of offering students a unique learning experience, quite distinct from the experiences a book or a website can offer. A teacher can choose to build a whole lesson based solely on one app. Alternately, he/she can choose to use an app to create a mini lesson, or simply use an app as a means to complement a lesson and add a touch of pizzazz.
In either case, an Apple TV can be used to ensure visual access to the material by all learners at all times. Even more importantly, an Apple TV paired with an iPad offers an opportunity for the students to interact with the lesson collectively, and share these interactions in real time with each other. The implications of this can be staggering. In a culture where team effort is highly encouraged, and simultaneous stimulus input by multiple users is promoted by all the major productivity platforms, MS Office, Google Drive, Dropbox, to name a few, Apple TV offers students the ability to learn to be successful in this model from a very young age, thus, arming them with the best experiences and skills before they enter the work force.
Gradually, more and more educators realize that the Apple TV provides spaces for a teacher to create highly engaging lessons that captivate the students’ attention. In doing so, Apple TV fosters collaborative learning, sponsors creativity, and cultivates a set of skills and talents that can help young learners become successful. If the rumor that support for iBooks may be coming to Apple TV is true, the little black box will cement its place in the classroom, as the options for educators at all levels who choose to use Apple TV in the classroom will be increased exponentially. However, regardless if this will ever happen, Apple TV is something worth using in the classroom for its innovative pedagogical potential.
What do you think? How do/would you use the Apple TV in your classroom to teach reading, math, and science?
Nikolaos Chatzopoulos currently teaches 4th grade Math and Science at Plato Academy, in Clearwater, Florida. He is a technology enthusiast, and enjoys discovering ways to incorporate technology in the classroom in meaningful ways, in order to provide opportunities for authentic learning experiences. Nikolaos has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education, and he has been teaching elementary Math and Science since 2005.
Nikolaos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org