January – a new year
A time to reflect
Change is invigorating. As I look back and forward that is what I see – A very positive change. It has not even been a year since class set of iPads entered my life. Yet , it has changed my thinking, my manner of looking at my students & work , & how I design and share lessons. I love being able to watch and listen to my student’s thinking and learning process as many times as I need. Hearing them demonstrate their learning through Educreations is so uplifting and helpful. This also gives me time NOW during the lesson to teach , guide and enjoy their learning process. It allows me to SLOW DOWN and take more time with each student. Such a gift getting more individual time with a student.
I felt I was always very good at differentiating due to my experience teaching a multi-grade classroom all these years. The iPad is such a unique device and lends it self naturally towards differentiating. I am thrilled with this aspect of the iPad. But the biggest change is the level of engagement I see whenever this tool is brought out by the kids. My students typically struggle with attending, processing and learning in a typical fashion. They need visuals , interesting repeated practice and hands on engagement in a meaningful manner to stay on task & learn. The iPad has provided the means for my students to stay engaged, learn and show me and their peers what they know. Their pride and self confidence is truly inspiring . The iPads have given my students a voice we can all see and hear now.
Guiding and Facilitating Choice
The time has come where my students have learned 3 Apps well and understand their unique applications. So, I gave them a choice to complete their final draft letters of advice to Rudolf using Scribble Press, Educreations or Puppet Pals. It was very interesting and rewarding to observe them all so engaged and independently working with a high degree of competence & skill . I was able to walk around and participate , guide, enjoy, and learn. I look forward to many more of these opportunities.
Took the plunge ! My students went to the Edmodo walled ‘garden’. Edmodo is a protected secure educational place to connect, comment, collaborate and share content. One must be invited to participate and a teacher moderates all posts (at least I do for now). Edmodo is similar to a facebook design.
Today, my students learned how to respond in complete sentences to a question that my clever Roger the pirate character asked them about the weather. They each responded. When they saw their posts pop up on the big Apple TV screen after they hit reply there were shouts of excitement. It was wonderful for me to see a ‘first’ for these kids. They each earned their first Edmodo badge today!
Finally an Easier Way!!! Chirp it!
Chirp lets you send images & PDFs to any nearby device with Chirp installed and running. This means I can send photos or charts to all my student iPads thus by – passing syncing, emailing etc. Today I chirped several pictures to my class all at once. Amazing!
Fun Game to learn the basic keyboard – They love Typing Tuesday & so do I ! No more shout outs like “Ms. Rice where is the B?”
A few student iTyper tutorials 😉
Pumpkins, Popplets and Email
I finally braved letting the kids use the Gmail+1 account I had created to email me their Popplets. Worked seamlessly ! It was their first time sending an email and they were so excited! So was I.
Puppet Pal Social Stories
In Pirate Club ( our push-in SLP service to focus on Social Thinking skills ) I started using Puppet Pals to create Social Stories. The children had a planning sheet to sequence and plan their story before making their puppet stories. Once the planning was completed, they eagerly created their social stories using a variety of puppets and background photos they created with a variety of drawing Apps or photographed . This is a fabulous use of this powerful App. I can see it growing into a class favorite soon!
Data and tracking just got easier! This is a simple yet flexible App which allows a teacher to easily track and keep data on student ( or students) behavior, IEP goals/obj , track a specific reading or writing benchmark on the iPAD. Pre Dojo, I used weekly pen & paper checklists with my aides which we marked for our ‘Power Beads”. This powerful App simplified all this & I can easily keep & generate PDF reports, its paperless & it is visually appealing to children. It can be shared if desired. VERY easy to set up & use. An App that simplified my day!
Reading the ebook Flat Stanley on the iPAD was an amazing experience for me. The kids loved using the dictionary option and making predictions using the post it function! I found projecting the ebook via Apple TV a powerful whole group teaching tool. For example, I could highlight commas, parts of speech etc. for emphasis & focus to reinforce the reading strategies I have been teaching. The dictionary is a wonderful addition (although it is for adults so I found myself explaining the definitions themselves sometimes ;-). I LOVE the stickie option- we make smart guesses ( predictions), comments or typed in a question which stays there for later review before we read on – they loved this! The bookmark is nice too. I especially liked the 100% engagement for a whole class shared reading experience – amazing! I hope to ask parents to help me buy more ibooks.
August – Sept 2012-2013
Scribble Press Books!
The students started their 1st digital book If I Was a Pirateusing the Scribble Press App. This is a nice way to introduce digital book making, typing, illustrating and parts of a book. The App has a guided structured format which helps the students be successful in their first attempt at making a book which I find appealing. It includes book features that are familiar to students & they can incorporate these features ( front and back covers, title, dedication page etc.) into their own book. Their books can be saved into iBooks for all to enjoy. Once they have mastered the guided books the App also allows kids to start a blank book on their own with all the same book features mentioned.
We made our first book report using Scribble Press as well.
Parts of a Sentence – Angry Verbs!
My Language arts unit is wrapping up with ‘Angry Verbs’ using the Angry Birds App. Playing Angry Birds took on new meaning in my class. The students played the game looking for and listing VERBS. After we played the game we made an Angry Verb Poster. Each child made a bird or pig , wrote a sentence on their animal using an interesting underlined verb.
Angry Birds App was FUN! and Educational.
Welcome Back to School
The first week back to school we learned the iPAD basics, classroom iPad rules & earned our personal iPAD license by passing a series of tests . I started the year focussing on character traits and personal adjectives. The 2nd week the students used the camera and Mad Lips App. This is an amazingly educational App. For my class, one of the greatest areas of of need is to look & attend to the speaker. So, this is an amazingly fun and effective way for the children look at each other’s faces and lips. The children completed their handwritten GO chart with their 8-10 adjectives describing themselves and then added their own voice and lips speaking these attributes using I statements into their own picture. The laughter, engagement, sharing and task completion was 100%. Great day!
Each child can take AR quizzes on their own iPAD
A New Way To Teach May 2012
1:1 IPADS in a 3-5 SDClass
I was awarded a class set of iPADS in April of 2012. Swiftly, these iPADS became powerful teaching and learning tools in my classroom to deepen and broaden student learning, differentiate instruction, provide a variety of methods for students to demonstrate what they are learning & provide more interesting ways to receive the needed practice of basic skill. These tools allowed my students to access the curriculum and information in an engaging and personal manner. The iPad allowed my students & myself to read, write, annotate, draw, narrate, take pictures and videos, record sounds, communicate, collaborate, manipulate data, and access a world of resources. And, when not needed, they were easily put away to be retrieved at a later time.
Since the iPADS have been used in my classroom significant changes in student ( & teacher) performance was observed. My teaching changed dramatically as I learned alongside my students (who often were more knowledgable and comfortable with this new technology. ) I felt more energized and excited and met very interesting people. I had to become more flexible and comfortable with glitches and not being able to plan as deeply as I was used to since I was learning as well. I was able to innovate, be creative & spontaneous. I enjoyed the challenge and learning some thing new. In addition, I now have a flexible and wonderful Assessment Tool as well. The iPADS have even taken me to the cloud !
Changes I observed in my students were equally dramatic-
It took me very little time to realize this was a game changer for me and my students! I also realized I could was now closer to my goal of going paperless.
I have been teaching over 20 years. I have made small tweeks here and there which made a difference but iPADS are clearly a different animal.
The iPADS also opened up a world I had been ignoring & now I have a web page and use the clouds. If it can do this for me think of what will happen for the children!
Helpful Bytes & Student Tips I have Learned
Take the Plunge
iPads are more than their Apps
Learning to use the iPad effectively and efficiently doesn’t happen immediately nor for some ( like me) easily. I have found it takes a certain type of curiosity, flexibility, research, failing & learning, planning and a LOT of humor. You can take it out of the box and start using an App right away for the most part BUT the power of the iPad is more than its Apps. This was something I hadn’t realized initially. There are many cool tricks and tips to make it a wonderful teaching tool. It is my hope my journey and what I learned helps others who find themselves with an iPad in their laps scratching their heads. Have fun!
Helpful Bytes & Student Tips I have Learned
1) Because 1:1 iPADS in a classroom setting is still somewhat new and novel get ready to step out of your comfort zone a bit . There will be a lot of trial and error , glitches and spontaneous learning. There are few mentors, fewer guide books but a lot of opinions and people willing to share their experiences. I have discovered so many willing to share their success and failures. So, It is exciting but at times frustrating and lonely. Especially if like me, your are the only teacher at your school with iPads in the classroom.
2) Prepare your self for the occasional misconceptions and sadly negativity. I experienced this more than once. The root cause is a bit unclear- fear of change, jealousy, thinking it is just another fad, different technology priorities, too expensive, thinking iPads should replace computers, etc.. But know you are making a difference while having the courage to change inside a system that rewards conformity, lock step teaching, assumes children all learn the same way and at the same rate. Also, the current fad to standardize everything even our children coupled with the believe that state mandated tests are indicators of real learning conflict with this tool. iPads don’t lend themselves well to standardization- they invite innovation, creativity and thinking. iPads are a personal tool not meant to be a shared laptop/computer.
3) Give yourself permission to experiment, fail , innovate and grow. Remember making mistakes are chances to grow and learn. Really !
4) Have FUN and enjoy this incredible opportunity and journey . Be curious, explore and play…then get planning.
5) Balance- find ways to integrate hands on learning the old fashion way with this powerful tool. The iPAD should not replace good teaching nor be the sole teaching tool. It should help us THINK about, analyze, demonstrate knowledge etc. but not simply absorb material.
6) Get to know your IT folk! But also familiarize yourself with the techie side of the iPads, Wifi, Syncing and a host of other techie information and tasks as needed. I found I had to learn a great deal more than I had anticipated. Still learning by the way.
7) Understand how apps are purchased and how a .99 App can get very pricey when put on every iPad. Search out those fabulous free Apps! Test drive an app 1st.
8) Find like minded people to share and collaborate with if possible!
9) The Jiggle- You can organize your apps easily into folders. This was such a big hooray for me! I love to be organized. Just tap & hold on an app until it starts to jiggle. Drag one app at a time onto another app to create a folder you can then name. Name or rename folders into categories to keep it all organized. I like using folders for the children and have have created many math, language arts, book making, story telling, choice, typing etc… I have also created a DO NOT TAP folder…so far it is working 😉 I can place folders on the DOCK as well. This increases how many commonly used apps are very easy to get to.
10) Double tapping the home button opens up the multi-tasking dock along the bottom of the screen. This lets you see recently used apps & you can toggle between them. While in this multi-task dock, if you hold the apps down so they are jiggling, you will get a red bar on each app. Clicking this closes down the app totally, which can be useful if the app has frozen or needs restarting. BUT it does NOT delete the App.
11) Take a screen shot by holding down the power button and home button simultaneously quickly. You should hear the camera click & the screen shot is now in your camera roll.Wonderful.
12) SET up your own free DROPBOX account- You get up to 2GB free. Needed for many apps and a nice way to get photos, documents etc to all the iPads.
1) Children learn quickly and fearlessly when it comes to technology. Enjoy and relax your control. Trust in their learning process it is awesome to watch.
2) BACK UP plans! Be prepared for glitches- wifi down, batteries low, updates installing, missing apps etc. It happens.
3) Let the students explore and get comfortable with the iPAD before using it with lessons. It motivates them and gets that excitement a little bit out of their system.
4) Talk & use the same language, vocabulary and terms. For example, everyone calls the home button the “home button” sounds silly but if everyone uses the same vocabulary giving and following directions is much easier! I say ” Home button, power button , apples down, hands and eyes.” works well.
5) Content VS Creativity. To use the iPAD as an electronic work sheet is not taping into its full power.
6) EMAIL- I created a gmail+1 account for each iPad ( thus each child) which also sends a copy of any email from that iPad to my main gmail account. I made the password for all of us the same thinking of simplicity here. Each iPAD also generates an email signature the children cannot change that reads ‘from iPadRice1’ ( or iPadRice2 etc.) so now I have that piece of helpful information – no matter who they email I will know.
7) Listen to the kids- they pick up things so quickly and easily. They have taught me and I have been open to it. They love to be an expert and teach the teacher and with the curiosity of a 9 year old they adapt and learn rapidly. Oh to be 9 again ! I am learning to be flexible and release my control and trust the learning process. It is amazing. I know this was also my #1 but it was and is an important reminder. It was a shift for me.
8) Think seriously about online security for kids. Great links below to start teaching and having this discussion with your students.
Protect Kids Online