I am currently working with a team of teachers in my school, Tecumseh Elementary, on a Technology pilot project: PROFESSIONALS INVESTIGATING LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES WITH TECHNOLOGY. Our tools include 20 iPads for classroom use, 3 iPads for Resource teacher use, 5 desktop computers in the library and apple TV. Have we gotten over talking tools yet? No so much.
We are immersed in the grand quest to learn about logistics of the technology use- all of the possible Apps and a myriad of questions. Although we are all familiar with iPhones, iPads, and/or Apple computers, the technology is not intuitive. We have all committed to attend the after school technology sessions where we are introduced to the educational possibilities and provided with tech support. The sessions are a challenge due to the significant range in background knowledge in technology of all of the groups and individuals attending.
All four of us involved in PILOT at Tecumseh agreed that we would start with teaching responsible use of the iPads to our students, who range in age from 5-12 years old. One of the teachers created an agreement to be signed by students and parents and posted on the iPad cart. What are really interesting are our various approaches after that point.
I assigned each student a number and an iPad and gave students the opportunity to explore. When one student had discovered something interesting, I stopped the group and showed them what a specific student had done and asked how many other kids knew how to do it. (Note to self – Figure out how to use the Apple TV so I can do a better job of this sharing with a group.) Students became the teachers/mentors for other students wanting to try. Lots of dialogue. Lots of engagement.
My first assignment started with a goal of focusing my Grade 3/4 students on observing the change of seasons and creating a book using Book Creator that included:
- The ideas from the sense poetry we had just created by webbing in our “Thinking Books” (I see, I hear, I smell, I taste, I fell… Stems are used to collect ideas, create an image, remove stems for finished poem)
- 6 of the 12 photographs taken with the iPad when we did our “Sensing Fall” walk around the school (art work) and playground (signs of fall)
- Book cover with a title, author / poet and 6 pages minimum.
As I was handing out the iPads, several students went to Drawing Pad to record the Book title, their name and start to decorate the cover of their books. We decided as a group that this was a great idea and the criteria would also include the use of Drawing Page to create the book cover.
My Grade 4 students who came from Tecumseh Annex and Moberly Elementary used Book Creator last year, so as students needed help adding pages, pictures or audio-clips, they came to me or one of the “teachers”. This way we avoided the wait time of line-ups or everyone stopping to step through the process at the same time.
One problem some students encountered was the fact that their initial writing had ideas that were not matched with the pictures they took on our sense walk. It became an option to download photos from Internet to match the text. The storage room in the classroom became the “sound room” to add the audio-clips. Lots of time was spent reading and re-doing the clips to ensure the sound clips sounded “good” ( Good was defined as reading with expression).
Finished products emerged over the course of several sessions (3-6) with the iPad. What was surprising was the huge difference in the books including:
- Poetry books with one line of poetry per page and one picture
- An entire poem per page with a picture
- Several pictures on a page, text on another page
- A sentence with an observation (using the original stems) on a page with a picture
- A fact about the picture on the page
- One book that had nothing to do with the change of seasons, our sense poetry or the pictures we took. (The student let me know that he erased that book because he wanted to write about something else and all of the illustrations were done in drawing pad.)
Assignment #1 and reflections on a whole bunch of new questions including but not limited to:
- Naturally stimulating oral language in English Language Learners
- Apps to develop fluency in writing
- Vocabulary development
- How to set up Showbie for saving work for viewing at home and on different tools
- Commenting on work electronically with “electronic post it notes”
- Creating book trailers
- Using Keynote
- note taking for research – pen and paper vs. online
This is what I love about education – Always so much to learn. Always someone who wants to have the conversation about the learning.