May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Students Speak Out About Using iPads in the Classroom

Posted: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

by Prof. Jeff Bradbury, Cristina Flores, and Lily Shen

My original intent was to write an article about how useful iPads are in the chemistry classroom.  Last year my school (Cerritos College) purchased several classroom sets of the devices.  I thought the tools would be useful in helping my students create “digital lab reports” using apps like Explain Everything™ or Educreations™.  There are also some good apps specifically tailored to chemistry content, such as Mols Editor©.  I was going to write this article from my teacher perspective until my good friend Laura said, “Have the students write the article.”  So, I invited students Cristina Flores and Lily Shen to write about their experiences with iPads in their education. I am sure you will agree that students often have a very powerful voice.  (You might even finish reading the article!)

First we will hear from Cristina Flores:

Acquisition of knowledge or a skill may be done through study, practice, or experience. Others will gain comprehension of a trade via creation. Tools such as iPads or tablets will allow the users imagination and creativity to flourish. In my personal experience, my iPad along with the app Explain Everything™ permitted me to create video presentations of the concepts being taught in class. Such tools and opportunities have opened my eyes and completely changed how I study.

I come from a family of workers, a group of people who did not have the opportunity to go to school and choose the career they desired. Once I got to college I had no idea where to begin, so I took as many classes as I could while working 35 hours a week. My grades were not that great and my classes only got harder, so I left my job and focused on school. Yet while I felt I made the correct decision, I still had a lot to learn. My grades were still not what I wished them to be but I felt shy and embarrassed to talk to my teachers and peers about what to do because my grades were low and I felt that I was not as smart as everyone else. Until one day, my organic chemistry professor assigned a project that would change how I worked forever. The class was to create a video presentation explaining what was going on in the experiment we worked on that day. I went home and designed a creative and entertaining presentation (if I do say so myself) yet the information that I presented was incorrect. That was the most embarrassed I have ever felt in my life. I put so much effort into creating this video and making it entertaining and fun to watch, yet some of the information was wrong! Watching that video again completely changed my standpoint on my studies. That presentation embarrassed me so much I went to talk to my professors, and I talked to my peers, and I began to ask questions in class. I guess in a way, I figured I couldn’t have embarrassed myself any more so why not admit when I do not know something and ask someone for help. Luckily, my professor liked my video so he asked me to help others with theirs! Never did I think I would be so excited to go to school. Creating that one 5-minute video inspired me to not give up when I do not understand something and taught me that there will always be more to learn if you keep studying. All of this was done using Explain Everything™ and my iPad. I am now going to share with you some of the things I have learned about the app.  

Explain Everything™ is a very simple and easy to use app in which the user may create videos using slides, similar to a PowerPoint™ presentation, yet one may record themselves speaking while discussing the slides and using a an arrow or a laser to guide the audience in the production. There are so many possibilities with these apps: drawing, uploading and taking pictures or video, as well as typing. One of the downsides of the app is that the editing permitted is not as advanced as other apps. For example, if a mistake is made while recording, the app requires one to erase from the point where the error occurred and any speaking that had been recorded after the error is deleted.

Another issue I have encountered is importing a video into the presentation. This luckily had an easy fix, which is to post the video up on YouTube™. Since I could not directly post the video up from Explain Everything™ to YouTube™, I saved the video to my camera roll and from there posting was simple. Although this does take some time, it is the easiest and surest way.  I have created a video for my organic chemistry lab and it shows a few techniques or ideas that one may use. The app also includes clip art, which can make a presentation very fun to watch. Remember, apps such as these require patience and practice, after that the possibilities are endless.

The next student you will read from is Lily Shen:

“I was a senior in high school when I got my iPad. Before that, I had taken all my notes by hand. Don’t get me wrong, taking notes by hand isn’t bad, it’s just I had to carry so many notebooks – one for each class. Plus, I had to carry all my books too, so my backpack got pretty heavy (maybe this is why I’m so short). The iPad allowed me to cut back on the notebooks needed for taking notes, and sometimes even allowed me to leave some textbooks at school so I didn’t have to carry so much stuff home. Then college came along and that’s when I really saw how much the iPad could do for me. I started downloading the professors’ lectures onto my iPad and opening them using the Adobe Reader© app. This app has a lot of features that aid in note taking, either by writing with a stylus or typing texts onto the actual slides. With the iPad, I’m saving paper and carrying a lot less things on my back. Another awesome thing is picture taking. I take pictures of labs I do in biology so that I can review when I get home. Sometimes taking videos of the professor going over structures for dissections or details for exams also helps remind me what and how I should be studying.  

In chemistry class, my classmates and I have been using iPads to make videos on topics chosen by our professor. We make these videos as quizzes or just to practice the material we were learning in class. By speaking about the material and needing to explain the concepts learned in class, I learned more and was able to solidify key concepts. Although sometimes the information I gave in the videos wasn’t correct, after turning them in and getting feedback, I was able to learn even more and understand why I was wrong. Also, being able to create a whiteboard video on the Educreations™ app and explain why and how some chemistry concepts works in an easy way is very rewarding.

Using iPads for educational purposes isn’t a bad idea. I’ve been using mine for almost two years now and it’s treated me pretty well, so I would actually encourage their use in class. We are in the age of technology now, so why not use the available resources to our advantage?

Cristina and Lily said it better than I ever could have. iPads have begun to transform the learning experience and they’ve significantly changed my chemistry classroom.  It is a lot of work.  Things do go wrong at times.  But I must say that this journey has been very fulfilling to me as a teacher.  Lily and Cristina are so good working with their iPads that recently they were asked to teach the teachers here at Cerritos College about using iPads in the classroom.  As you can guess from their writing they exceeded our wildest expectations in teaching us how to use the new technology. Their love for learning is infectious!  If you would like to see how other students like Lily and Cristina are using iPads in the classroom you can visit my blog.

Jeff Bradbury is a Professor of Chemistry at Cerritos College and a CSTA member.
Christina Flores and Lily Shen are his students.

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.