Sr. Connor breaks out the Ipads!

If you were to walk into an average language class at Groton, you would probably see around ten kids sitting in a semicircle, facing a chalkboard, with their textbooks out. The teacher would be going over the homework step by step in whatever language they taught, and the clock would, of course be constantly reminding everyone about the waning minutes left in class. That’s what it’s like in many classrooms, but in Señor Connor’s Spanish 1 and 3 classes, something very different and exciting is happening. There are still students, still an amazing teacher, and still a quaint chalkboard, but in the students hands there are now iPads. Yes. iPads. Cool, right?

But this new technology that has been created by a dedicated team from all over the world, led by our very own Señor Connor, is much more than “cool” It’s innovative, modern, practical, and simply more conducive to effective study than your average textbook. Every one of the thirty-four students piloting this program has been provided with a brand new iPad for the year. Each of these iPads is loaded with a hot off the (electronic) press, interactive textbook. It contains all of the easy to understand lessons and exercises that we recognize from the Breaking the Barrier textbook series, but in a more intuitive format. Packed with over 2200 stunning full color pictures( some of which were provided by the amazing Mrs. Beams) this three part Spanish eText is truly state of the art technology. Equipped with embedded videos, vocabulary flashcards, and a Spanish dictionary, the book is the definition of what a textbook should be.

“A book should explain how to do something and then let kids immediately find out if they get it”, says Señor Connor. This idea is exemplified in the homework sections, where answers are provided so that less class time is used going over homework and more time spent conversing, studying literature, and further enriching the curriculum. The interactive exercises are also a great tool for exam review as “sometimes kids before tests would erase their answers so they could do them again, and now you don’t need to do that”, says Señor. The format makes it easier to clear your previous answers while not losing access to the correct ones once you are done reviewing.

Beautifully designed culture articles are also included, one featuring our very own Mrs. Viacava. One of my favorite features of the eText is what Señor Connor refers to as the “language lab”. This feature allows students to practice their oral comprehension and speaking skills without a teacher present. A native Spanish speaker has been recorded asking questions about everything from the weather to native dance routines. Anybody who has taken a language know that, according to Señor, you need audio when you’re learning a new language, and this “language lab” is the next best thing to having your teacher right there with you.

Students currently using the iPads agree that the system is “convenient and easy to use” as well as “pretty cool”. Some of the ‘fan favorites’, so to speak, are the talking vocab and easy to use flashcards. The tablet is much lighter, of course, than the approximately two pound textbook that the students would otherwise carry around. The built in electronic ‘sticky notes’ also eliminate the need for a notebook outside of the book.

This cutting edge book is one of the first of its kind, but Señor Connor has hopes that the idea of eTexts will spread to other departments saying that, “this technology makes a lot of things possible… I feel that it’s going to be very widely used”. A French version of the book will be available next year, and an independent school in the Pacific Palisades has already purchased the curriculum, which is sold in the iTunes Bookstore.

All in all, I feel that Groton owes great gratitude for Señor Connor and his team for developing and initiating this amazing program in just 5 months, working all around the world through all hours of the night to make our Spanish learning experience more intuitive and fun. Thank you Señor!


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