Just so you know. Best NCSS conference in a long time. It’s been a great week – meeting new people, learning new things, talking about new ideas.

And the Sandra Day O’Connor & Gerda Weissman Klein panel / US naturalization ceremony on Saturday was simply amazing. That session made the trip.

So good luck, Tom Daccord of EdTechTeacher / Teaching History with Technology fame. You’ve got big shoes to fill early on a Sunday morning on the last day of the conference.

Though I’m not really that worried. Tom’s stuff is pretty amazing and this morning’s session is on iPads. So this is probably the best place to finish off what has already been a great four days.

Here’s the problem that Tom sees in education today:

Schools have bought a gazillion iPads and have no idea what to do with them.

It’s not about the apps, it’s about how we can use iPads to encourage social studies thinking skills and practices. I agree. Most social studies apps seem to be drill and kill sorts of things.

So your approach should not focus on subject specific apps but instead focus on using apps and strategies that support actual learning.

The idea supports what we’ve been telling teachers struggling with integrating the Common Core. Your instructional design should fit into a simple structure:


So the tools you use may change depending on whether you’re in a paperless classroom with iPads or a “traditional” classroom but the process remains the same.

Tom worked through a sample lesson using a variety of apps:

Notice that there are no social studies specific apps here. Of course, you could use a social studies app as part of the instructional flow but the focus is on the learning, not on what app you can find that is specific to your unit.

Get Tom’s presentation here. Go to his page that lists apps by what your kids need to do. And get fellow EdTechTeacher Greg Kulowiec‘s preso on a paperless classroom here.

A great way to end a great conference.