Friday, December 30, 2011

More than one way to skin a cat

While perusing the twitter feed this evening, I stumbled on a tweet from @brasst for "Awesome Apps for Science Experiments, Storytelling, Coding, and More". I will be honest in saying that I don't usually give too much attention to these lists because in the past year I have come to realize that we all have our Top 10 (or whatever) apps that we find success in using. But, I looked into this tweet and was pleasantly surprised. I found a nifty little (free) app called Scribble Press.



Before I start singing the praises of Scribble Press, I want to back up. :)


In the past, I have given out my top apps list, but it is with great stress that I do that. (Seriously, I'm never really comfortable with this.) I have prefaced all my recommendations with the idea that it works for me, in my room, with my kids, at that moment, for that task. (Pretty good disclaimer, right?) But, it is impossible to give advice on that perfect app that will work flawlessly with any students all the time.


From the beginning of using iPads, I have been on the hunt (like everyone else) for the apps that are the best of the best. They need to:

-Be user-friendly for my 5th graders. I shouldn't have to TEACH the app. (Maybe some explore time to gain familiarity, but NO time wasted teaching the app. I don't mind my students doing a little problem solving, but frustration is not OK.)
-Be cost effective. (Enough said)
-Allow for easy sharing and displaying student work. I look for a way to email, post on twitter, save to iPhoto, upload to Dropbox, or combination. Nothing is more frustrating than spending the time on the work, to have it trapped on the iPad.
-Be multi-purpose. I'd like to use it over and over...student familiarity in apps really highlights content comprehension.


That's where my thought, "More than one way to skin a cat" comes in...



This is a screen shot of a couple apps that I have grouped together.

The top line highlights possible book building apps.
Pages- Most people know of the awesome potential with Pages. Student book creations here may be an idea.
StoryKit- I started the first year of iPads with this app. I liked it because of the ease of use and the portability of the finished product. You can get a link to an on-line version. Great for sharing with home. This isn't the most polished looking app, but it is fundamentally strong!
CreativeBookBuilder- This is the book building app that I am now investing the most time in. I like the ability to include various media in the book (from pics to movies to audio clips). Very versatile, but not easy to share with home. :(
Scribble Press- After testing it out (on my own and with my 9 yr old daughter), I can say that I will most definitely be offering it to my 5th graders as a project option. While it doesn't have the choices in media, it is very easy to share, and it is a bit more polished than StoryKit.
Composer- This is an app for building a more interactive book. While I love the idea of students creating books that have tap and motion going on, I think the app is geared more at design, and I want the focus to be on content. Plus, how to share? I think you have to publish. So, really not an option for my students (maybe me at some point).

Now, beyond that I have a couple of concept mapping apps (Popplet and Idea Sketch), cartoon making apps (StripDesign-cartoon strip and Toontastic-moving cartoon), and a couple of drawing apps (Doodle Buddy and DrawingPad).

See my point!

I think what it comes down to is this...

We now have a flood of apps available to us. This is good and bad. We want to have options, but my goodness! Sometimes it is like finding a needle in a haystack.

So, start with your content and purpose. What do you want your students to show you? Then, definitely check out a Top 10 now and then. But, don't panic! There is more than one way to skin a cat..find the app that works for you, your students, your budget, your time, and your goals.

Now...back to testing apps. ;)


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Can Science Be Any Cooler!

Just wanted to post a quick blog...

The last few weeks have been SO wicked cool in science. We have had such opportunities and resources. From NASA Lunar and Meteorite samples (that came in the WORLD'S COOLEST CASES):



















to Skyping with Phil Plait, @BadAstronomer:



(Click picture for link.)

After watching Phil's TED talk in class, I sent a request via email for a quick skype with very enthusiastic 5th graders! His acceptance threw us into overdrive creating questions, voting on the ten best, and getting our band room ready for many eager kids. My awesome principal, Mark Doughty (@woodlandsprin) helped with equipment and location.

Our Skype lasted just a bit over a half hour, and the kids were amazed. The connection he made with them through humor and relating the concepts to their lives were phenomenal!

What an experience! (I was SO nervous and excited). But, it was AWESOME!



to Skyping with friends all over the country to share our NASA samples...

it has been amazing!

It makes me feel so fortunate to have such opportunities and connections!

This isn't even counting in our other resources...



Marcus Chown's Solar System app,



Moon phase rap,

Brain pop videos,

Edmodo,

And more!

Wow! What an awesome beginning to Earth and Space Science!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

While we are exploring our planet, solar system, and more, my students are showing such unbridled enthusiasm. I LOVE it!

Today was especially cool!

To introduce how we learn about our solar system, galaxy, and beyond, we are checking out meteorites. Let me set the stage...

1. Students warmed up by viewing and discussing a couple of the better ShowMe videos (they created on Friday with the ShowMe app on the iPad) for vocabulary terms telescope, inertia, and gravity.

2. Then, we jumped on to edmodo to share what we know already about asteroids, meteors, and meteorites. Students had a basic understanding that they are typically found in space, can hit earth, and that's about it!

3. So, we multi-tasked...

We watched a TED talk: Phil Plait: How to defend Earth from asteroids.




We back-channeled on edmodo what we were hearing, surprised by, wondering next, and TERRIFIED about.

This was WHILE we were making initial observations about the NASA meteorite samples that I checked out. Student recorded what they noticed with using a hand lens on edmodo.




Well, needless to say...it was really cool! The students comments and questions on edmodo were both very intuitive, but also really clarifying for me! Their comments gave me a window into their thinking, ideas and misconceptions.

BUT, the ultimate comment during the day came from 2 of my students right in the middle of the lesson...
One boy looked up from typing to say, "Wow! Now I know why Math and Science are SO important!"
Even better, one of the young ladies looked up and said, "Now you know why I'm going to be a scientist! I'm not leaving this up to just ANYONE!"

Awesome! They got it. :)


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Quote(s) of the Day

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Earth/Space Science Unit Ready to Blast Off!

With each new unit and topic, the kids ask me, "Is this your favorite topic?" and, I most sincerely say, "YES" each time! But, as I review my content, double check my materials, and get ready for this unit, I am REALLY excited.

These are a few tricks in the bag...

Oldies, but goodies:
1. Marcus Chown's Solar System app- love, love, love the science content and manipulation of app.
2. Pocket Earth app- Great to add to lesson using models and flashlights for a deeper understanding of day/night cycles.
3. NASA app- Do I need to say more...it's NASA!
4. Recycled robots project- This project is designed to give students a week in class with various recycled containers, motors, lights, gears, and every other gadget you can imagine to build a robot. It is crazy fun, and it is the way to bridge earth and space science to physical science. So, it is towards the end.
5. Solar System walk outside to see spacing of our planets and other bodies from sun.
6. Solar System in a cup- Objects represent planets.
7. Cool Brain Pops, TED talks, They Might Be Giants, and more!
8. Pages project for order of the planets.

New this year:
1. Edmodo badges to award at each concept check. Giving the unit a game like feel (thanks for the link T.J.), we will build from Earth Cycle Experts to Lunar Landers to Planetary Explorers to Solar/Galactic Guides to Futurists.



2. NASA Lunar and Meteorite samples will be delivered to our school in December because THAT IS AWESOME!
3. Participation in the GRAIL project with Sally Ride Science. Students will be in control of photographing the moon! Wicked cool!
4. Students will be creating Planet Postcards with the LifeCards app.
5. We will be assembling and using NASA robotic arms to simulate real use of robotic technology. Imagine students moving Legos and various materials in a sand box with these robotic arms...better yet, doing it remotely (another classroom) by using an iPad 2 dialed into our smart board with Skype! Two Skype accounts will be utilized to "call ourselves" to work remotely. Hope that is clear...it is in my mind, and I'm SO excited!
6. Design your own moon/planet base or space probe with Legos, Blocks app and Keynote to present.

And more!


So, yeah! This is my favorite unit. ;)





- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Biomes, iPads, and FUN

To view a video of this...



As culmination for our Life Science unit, students chose a biome from around our AWESOME planet to research and create a project to present to the class. We used our learning from the first quarter and our resources to get great info.

Our resources included:
-Our textbook (homework to gather information)
-Class animal card set (donated by a great student)
-Our iPads Internet resources (Including http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/ and http://www.mbgnet.net/)

Students grouped together based on biome interests to create a representation of their learning. They were able to chose to create:
-iMovie
-Keynote presentation
-Electronic postcards with LifeCards app
-Mini-display board (reused iPad boxes)
-Pages poster
-Toontastic cartoon

*Students will have an opportunity to create a project with the media that didn't explore this time later. ;)

Some observations-
-Students are great problem solvers, but not great with quality checking their work. They will figure out a way to draw a picture on one iPad, drop it into Dropbox, and pull it up on another ipad to add to an iMovie. Wow...right? BUT...do they think to adjust volume, check the picture after inserted? Nope.
-Students were SUPER proud of their work, and they loved using Edmodo for feedback! They gave each other great praise and support. It was really cool to read their comments.






To view some student projects, please visit our website at www.bit.ly/huronlacrosse and go to Student Projects. There are 5 class periods to surf through under that. You can send feedback to our class twitter account @lacrossescience

Remember, the students have been using the iPads since September. They are not iMovie experts (I'm not either.). So, be kind. ;)

Now...onto Earth and Space Science which started with a blast! Seriously...volcano lab!
Check it out.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, October 24, 2011

106 Heads Are Better Than One!

Setting up the week on Monday's always brings such fun questions from my 5th graders, like:

"Are we going to Skype this week?"
"Can I work on my claymation video during study hall?"
"Did you create the app team?"
"Did you create the iMovie team for Stone Lab?"
"What are learning about?"
"Did you know (random fact about iPad)?"

Ha! But, it is cool to start the week off with such excitement!

In any case, in presenting my students with our week's learning goals...THE ALWAYS PRESENT WATER CYCLE...the chatter instantly went to what iPads apps/projects we could use to demonstrate learning.

"We could use DrawingPad to draw a diagram."
"Could we use iMovie while we are making our clay diagram?"
"I know...ShowMeApp, right?"
"Wait...we haven't tried StripDesigner yet."
"Hey, we could use Pages and make another poster."
"I think Toontastic would work...!"




And, so on...
It was standard in the classes, that they started brainstorming how to use our iPads as learning tools. Wicked cool...right! This comes with TIME, OWNERSHIP, and FREEDOM to learn/fail/succeed/explore. It also comes with being a learning partner with the students. And, I know I've said that before...but, yeah...it's important!

So, 106 heads are better than one. Twitter is great for collaboration. I learn so much from other educators. But, sometimes, my best teaching partners have conversations with me in over 140 characters...and, they LOVE muppets, superheroes, and Ninja Turtles too!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Field Trip, Edmodo, Standardized Tests???

My HUGE field trip to Stone Lab has come to an end. After a week filled of splashing across Alligator Bar for inverts, hiking across the island for the ornithology lesson, peering into the microscopes to find the MONSTERS (plankton) in the water, and studying fish anatomy hands-on, our outdoor learning at Gibralter Island is at the end...or is it?

If you followed our class twitter feed (@lacrossescience), (which not many do yet :) )we posted pictures of the invertebrate walk, plankton study, and more! Each time I took pictures, I was just grinning from ear to ear! The instructors were working with my kids as scientists. They were putting the learning in their hands, and treating them with the upmost respect. This is one of the major reason why I DON'T have discipline problems on this trip. The kids are SO engaged, and they are treated like scientists.

Now I have to follow that up in my classroom! It would be insulting to give that type of control in learning to my students and then take away come Monday.

So, how do I do that? How do I carry on those conversations...continue the ownership in learning...and show my scientists that THEY have the power to question?

It points directly to Inquiry/Problem/Project Based learning. If you see your students THRIVE in this environment, I have to offer it in every situation possible. And, I have to be able to connect these high interest experiences to the LESS interesting realities...our 5th grade Standardized test for science.

What's the bridge? How do I connect this gap?

I'm looking at an experience that points a student towards critical thinking, hands-on learning...
but, the final assessment of the year for them is a test which has only some components of that. The test does attempt to gauge problem solving abilities in various questions...but...yeah.

So, here is my first direction. Take those high interest activities and internalized material and carry on the conversation through EDMODO. Let's blog/write about your experience. Let's draw record of what we learned on the iPad drawing apps. Let's reflect on the tools used as scientists.
We need to share our ideas...clearly, with purpose.

Next, show them how scientists DO keep record, DO design research investigations, and DO share. Our studies must include many opportunities to design, test, fail, and retry...that's the only way to learn!

But, on all levels, I must walk the fine line of keeping it student inquiry based, but pointing back to those key standards and methods (multiple choice, short and extended response) that they will be assessed on by the state. I have to give them the experiences to do the best they can on the test...without taking the momentum that we have away.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Getting Them Questioning

The weekend before our huge Stone Lab Science field trip and I'm reviewing all my lessons up to this point in the year. I know that I can't prepare them for every bit of learning that will occur. I wish I could front load it ALL so that the experience will be even that much better. But, after a long run today, I am confident that I have these students primed for a phenomenal experience.

I may not have had the time to get all the content in front of them...but, I have got them ready to question!

This video is from earlier this year. But, it highlights the importance in giving students exeriences that allow for questions. Giving them an opportunity to observe, wonder, and test out is a powerful way to learn. I Wonder statements can be generated without all the content being there...and that's the power of inquiry learning!

With these experiences, I think we are ready to get into the hands-on learning at Stone Lab!


Asking Questions from Leah LaCrosse on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

DS, Science, and a Student Teaching my Class!

This first quarter has been all about Life Science in our classroom. Studying our butterfly garden, creating photosynthesis dances (with flash mobs), creating iPad drawings and videos, plant experiments, Brain Pops for food chains/webs, and Skypes all over to our partner classes. It has been a whirlwind! We are building up to our Stone Lab trip next week, and the conversation in class is phenomenal!

So, I didn't think it could get much cooler...BUT IT DID! (All because of a conversation...)

I have a girl in my homeroom that I have just started to connect with. We started chatting about her DS and a game that connects to our current study of ecosystems, Animal Sims.




She explained the general premise of the game...building a healthy ecosystem with plants and animals. Then, she started talking plant needs (space, water, pollination) and animal needs with food habitat...and on! That's been our class direction. So, I asked her if she would be allowed to bring the game and system in for me to check out.

And...she did!

What a super cool class we had! This young lady totally rose to the occasion. Using an iPad camera connecting to our smart board, she did a great demo of the game! She talked the science behind everything, too! I was floored...my quiet, shy homeroom student TOTALLY became the science teacher. And, she did a PHENOMENAL job. She was answering my questions, along with other students.







YouTube Video

I am so proud of my student! And, I'm very excited that I gave her the stage, let her teach, and show the other students that they are valued!


*In the video clip, my student is finishing up and I am reviewing with her.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Flash Mobs for Science

So, the fact that I couldn't sleep the night before the fifth grade flash mob might seem a little dramatic. But, it's true. I was so excited for my kids. They were ready to surprise the cafeteria staff with the photosynthesis dance. We had been creating the moves for the dance because even with:

-students creating drawings on the iPad diagramming the process
-watching BrainPop video for photosynthesis
-student created videos in ShowMe app

We needed a little more to get the Big Idea of plants bringing energy into ecosystems.

This is a link to the class video of the flash mob.

https://sites.google.com/a/huron-city.k12.oh.us/lacrosse-science/class-events/photosynthesisflashmob

Unfortunately, I am not a video diva. :)

But, the kids were buzzing about it all day after that...high fives going around for how GREAT they were. And, you know what? Fifth graders are great! I love their enthusiasm for anything...even flash mobs.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Knowing When THEY Aren't Knowing

Test Friday...Last minute check for understanding with ShowMe app...Boy, did it 'ShowMe' how NOT ready my students are for this coming test.

And, that's ok. ;). Time to stop, rewind, and evaluate.

We know that a student can truly show understanding when they can teach someone else the concept. And, when they struggle, you know they need more. This struggle is what I heard most of the day today.

Given various topics, the students were given a quick tutorial with the ShowMe app (which is super cool and easy to use, transfer, and share files). Then, they were asked to create a short 1-3 minute lesson that could be used for review with everyone on the smart board.

I watched my students make great effort with this assignment. They were truly good sports with this. They searched through study guides, the book, and sites previously used in class. But, you could see the struggle. They didn't know how to restate the information into their own words. They didn't know how to teach the concepts, because they didn't really get it themselves. So, the activity that I had planned on being great review became more about reteaching.

Oh my!

But, the silver lining...I have the opportunity to see my errors in teaching for a better tomorrow. The kids got a first shot at the ShowMe app. And...today technology helped me see how hard working my students can be, even when they aren't getting it! ;)


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Unexpected Benefits With iPad Today

The lesson plan for today included a review or photosynthesis. My 5th graders have been introduced to the concept in 4th grade with their Life Science study of plants. So, the prior knowledge is there...the teachers in that grade do an excellent job!

My work with the kids today included a variety of activities including:
-a photosynthesis dance that we have been working on and contemplating flash mob performance in the cafeteria
-a sort of materials in a diagram of photosynthesis on the smart board
-a Brain Pop video of photosynthesis
-listening to some corny photosynthesis music

And...What the kids were most pumped about...a drawing on the iPad in DrawingPad app of photosynthesis.

So, the kids get working...some really great pics created...and, my students start dropping their work into our community DropBox. This involved some teaching each other and working together.

As my students are dropping the files, we start seeing them 'arrive' on the smart board dropbox screen. And, this is where some of the coolest parts happen. As the projects are showing up, the students start the conversations all over again. I listen to them praise each others work, critique the organization and layout of the drawing, and compare their work. Some students went back to their iPads, worked with others, and improved their work. Talk about awesome peer editing and feedback!

Why? Just because I happened to be checking the files as they dropped in. A window open on my Mac mini, showing the project file as picture form. Not supposed to be a big part of the lesson. But, wow. How cool it was to hear the CONVERSATIONS!

Some examples of their wicked cool pics:















Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ramping it up with some...CREATION!

After spending the past month getting students to be master iPad users (mwah ha ha), I am ready to really get them into the creation mode. This week, my students will be embarking on activities to use the iPad for the best use...creation!



Drawing original diagrams for photosynthesis on Drawing Pad.




Using the camera to capture images of plants in our butterfly garden. Pull these images into LifeCards app to create postcard to me discussing the plant adaptations evident in the picture.



Use ShowMe app to create mini-lessons to review plant structure/function, photosynthesis, and adaptations of plants.




Use iTalk app and Edmodo app during a quiz to record some of their quiz answers.


And, that is one week. Will every student work flawlessly with each activity? Probably not. But, with continued support and having already laid the ground work, we should be ready to ramp it up with even more student CREATION to show content understanding.



And, can we talk about how awesome Words With Friends is? I am all over that app and connecting some classrooms for some friendly word competition! ;)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Laying the Foundation with iPads

This 2nd year with the iPads, I have dedicated time at the beginning to allow students to become familiar with the iPads. I want to give them the opportunity to get "good" at using the apps in smaller projects and activities. In the future, I am predicting that they will be smoother with the app use and integration. So, how did I do this without loosing ground on content and opening activities?


iPad activities

(Days are looking at days iPad used. We use the iPad ALMOST everyday...but, not quite.)


Day One-

  • Overview of storage, charging, iPad names and assignments.
  • Reviewed handling (2 hands at all times).
  • Practiced removing from cart.
  • Completed an app hunt. During the app hunt, I asked students to find the apps by using the iPad search screen. Not complicated, but I was able to help them establish a routine for finding the apps that I wanted to use. Also, I introduced them to the heavy hitters! (Keynote, Pages, Safari, ect.)
  • Learned how to "Kill apps", check for wi-fi, and basic maintanence.
  • Finally, the students learned my phrase, "Flip your lids." That is my command that I use to get students to quickly close covers and give me their attention.

We used this opener day to sign up for edmodo accounts, check out the class page, and learn to use safari.


Day Two-

  • Used socratic.com site for building our Mystery Skype clues. This site is an easy way to poll, question, and assess students. The teacher secures a "room", and the students join the room to receive the questions.
  • Students also used edmodo to respond to a National Geographic article.

Day Three-

  • Students used a drawing app called "DrawingPad" to create designs of boats that they were going to test in an investigation. This led to us learning how to save to our iPhoto library and how these pictures can be emailed. (I am setting them up for later emailing of work to their google accounts for their electronic portfolio.)

Day Four/Five-

  • iPads were used extensively during our Mystery Skypes. Students were using apps such as: the map app, edmodo, safari, ChirpUSA. Just navigating back and forth through the apps was great practice. And, I was really impressed how students made solid decisions about where to look for clues.

Skype Beginnings from Leah LaCrosse on Vimeo.

Day Six-

  • Edmodo app used to "back channel" during a viewing of TED talk about bioluminescent creatures by Edith Widder.

Day Seven-

  • Camera app and iMovie used to document our boat lab. Only 4 groups completed the lab and movies. Links of completed videos soon...

Science Onvestigations from Leah LaCrosse on Vimeo.




The entire direction that these first weeks have taken is one of viewing the iPad as a resource...not a toy. Using for our research, sharing of ideas, and creation is key. Letting students explore in down time is important as well. Allowing some freedom to check out the fun apps (like World of Goo, Frog Dissection, and more) isn't a negative. Total restriction/direction will not benefit our room in the long run. Get it out of the system, I say!



Upcoming weeks use...

  • Vocabulary review with Mental Case app. I made the first set of cards with my voice, pictures, and words. They get to create the next!
  • Continue use of Edmodo for class discussions, polls, and resource links.
  • Document next investigation (leaf blower and Bernoulli principal) and possibly make class video with iMovie.


The key here (I think) is to let them explore the iPad THROUGH the content. You don't need to go app by app. Go content activity by activity. But, give the time at the beginning to explore.



Friday, August 26, 2011

Questioning Students with iPad

I'm always looking for the best way to question my students. I think most educators do. We look for ways to question to check student understanding, plant a seed to promote further thought, and help direct our classroom learning. We try to vary the levels of questions...who hasn't used Bloom's Taxonomy here and there to guide their levels of questions?

So, knowing that the conversation is really important in the lesson, I try to find the best questioning methods and techniques. This leads me to the iPad and how I utilize it in the classroom for questioning.

I may find more apps and methods in the future that help me with this goal, but I'm going to explore my use of three questioning methods and the reasons behind them. (This is a journey, and I'm sure I'll find even more ideas out there to try in the future.)





Method One: Google Docs

I can link a google form to my class webpage and use it for gathering student responses.

Benefit: Keeps my student responses for long term review. Able to grade and use for numerical grade data. Variety of questions can be asked. Super easy to create, link, and have students access. Free!



Method Two: eClicker and eClicker Host

I can use the combination of the free eClicker app and the $9.99 eClicker Host app to push questions to my students iPads. I am the Host, and they are the receivers. (Seriously, that JUST sounds cool!)

Benefit: I can use a variety of questions, including ones with pictures and drawings. The students can see the spread in answers with a graph. I can store and email results for later review, print, and use. This is cool for pushing a couple questions at a time for a quick check.

Downside...I have experienced some trouble with the iPads all trying to communicate with the host at the same time.





Method Three: Socrative System

This is a really slick way that I explored today in class. This runs through the web. The teacher sets up a free account at t.socrative.com and gets a 'room number'. Students then jump onto the web and go to m.socrative.com and enter that 'room number'. (Note...no www used at beginning of web address.)

(Also, we used the iPad function of safari to make a shortcut of the site so that students can easily jump to this site each time.)

From here, I can ask students a variety of questions including short answer, T/F, multiple choice, and more. There is a game feature with this site. And, I set my iPad up with the projector so they could see answers as they fed in. Fun way to intro the app! They loved checking the results spread.

We used it to decide clues for our Mystery Skype calls next week.

Benefits: Really easy way to access student ideas. Really reliable (for the first time using.) There seems to be even more possibility in this method than I explored today. FREE!

What it really boils down to is what method works best for your task/goal? Using different apps and methods is all a part of the game of the evolving classroom. What was needed today may not be needed tomorrow, or may be needed even more! What works in my room may or may not work in yours. But, it sure is fun trying this out, learning, growing, and sharing!

(If you have an app or method that you use, I would love for you to share!)


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to School app

First day of school...how exciting! The faces of 115+ fifth graders are my future scientists, ready to meet me! This is exciting, but a bit overwhelming at times for me.


So, this year I decided to use an app to help organize my classes a bit. The app is TeacherPal. I started off with setting up my 5 science classes and one homeroom. Then, as the students gathered books, created book covers, and we got to know each other, I captured their pictures with the iPad2 camera for the app. This gave me a semi-private moment with each student to talk a bit. I was able to comment on the new shoes, the great smile, the family resemblences, etc. I was able to show the student the seating chart and have them drag their picture into the correct spot.


The beginning moments with the app were great!


This app offers even more...

  • I can enter data for each student including attendance, notes, behavior, grades, and personal information.
  • I will be able to email directly from this app. So, my observations during a lab (great team work, awesome responses). That can be sent directly to parents! This makes communication with home that much easier!
  • Very easy to switch seating chart around quickly for labs and group work...project to smart board and students can jump quickly into groups.

So, a new app for the new school year. I enjoyed using TeacherPal, and I can see it paying off in the long run!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Skype an Author? Edmodo? In the Summer?


Absolutely!  I have to admit that I am still on cloud nine over our Summer Learning Camp Skype with author, Neal Shusterman.  My kids were excited.  I was excited, and I think this was a wonderful way to connect my students to the text!

A little background...
If you have read my previous posts, you know that I am in the process of working with 7-9th graders for two weeks on Language Arts review.  We call it Summer Learning Camp, and it is meant to give the kids a jump start into the school year.  My part being Language Arts has been focused on reviewing some of the most common areas of struggle for students in writing and reviewing how good readers attack text and make meaning of it.

To do this, I have used a combination of read aloud with Mr. Shusterman's book, Dread Locks, discussion and activities based on the book, and review of grammar and writing.  This review has been a mix of google docs and smart board lessons for editing work.  I have also used the iPads for students drawing pictures of the book events and characters, reading the book Dread Locks with iBooks, and testing out the Edmodo platform...AND I REALLY LIKE IT!  I love the way I can ask students to brainstorm questions for Mr. Shusterman and then vote for the best.  I like how they can make predictions about the story plot.  I like how they can draw pictures and upload to the site for everyone.  I like how files like videos and docs can be uploaded for everyone.  I like how we can edit comments together, digitally.  And so on...

I like this community of readers that we have developed.  We all invested in this story, and we are all making meaning within the text. 

So, today at 10:30, Mr. Shusterman called us on Skype to answer a couple of quick questions.  These were the questions we brainstormed together, practiced this morning, and were VERY excited to ask.  We did a practice run with @seankaiser to check equipment at 9:30 (THANK YOU, SEAN!).  We were a little giggly and nervous before the Skype!  So, we watched a couple of YouTube videos of Mr. Shusterman discussing his books and writing process. 



But, once we started talking and listening to Mr. Shusterman, it was amazing to see my students intense attention.  Here was a REAL author, talking to US about his book and being an author.  We had 5 questions that referred specifically to the book and being an author.

My absolute favorite moment during the call was when we asked, "What made you want to be an author?"  Mr. Shusterman talked about how it wasn't something he necessarily chose...it was more of a calling.  He couldn't imagine doing anything else.  It was such a part of him.  The feeling that he conveyed in his voice was NOT something we could capture for reading about him, or even viewing a video.  I really think my students understood that feeling.

Many of my students showed their excitement after the call ended with comments like, "Wow!  That was awesome!" or "That was the coolest thing ever!"  So, what a huge payoff.  Summer Learning Camp bumped up a notch with a real connection.  I mean, how many times can you talk to the guy that wrote the book you've been reading for the last couple weeks!

With two days left in Summer Learning Camp, what are my plans?:
  1. Gotta finish this book.  We are right on the edge!
  2. Create a new INTERACTIVE book cover for Dread Locks using the iPads and an app called Composer (beta app that I will be testing out this school year).
  3. Include an original music score (embedded in the interactive book cover) by a couple of my kids that have been testing out GarageBand app on the iPad.
Will we finish?  If only I have 2-3 more days with them!  Hmmmm, maybe I can convince them to come back Monday and Tuesday.  :)



Thursday, August 4, 2011

Making Summer School Fun!










We are coming to the end of our first of two weeks of Summer Learning Camp. And, I have to say it has been going really well! I do think that it helps having some pretty cool tools to use...iPads! I mentioned in my last post some of the ways I was utilizing the iPads to make Language Arts review a little more exciting for my 7-9th graders.

So, here is a bit of an update...

Grammar and Language Skills w/Google Docs-
Yep...still using that for a quick review/assessment of those FUN skills that we all love. But, honestly, the kids do not complain a bit. Even though they are directly from the workbook, the kids act like it's no big deal. Getting the necessary review in, one google form at a time. ;)










Edmodo-
FUN! FUN! FUN!
With this format, I have these students do some great writing and editing! We created a paragraph response to a question about character development and author's purpose. As each student submitted, we all helped them better their post by editing it with them in real time. They loved it! They students were so helpful to each other. One of my boys actually said to me, "I liked my paragraph so much more when we edited it together. It looked good!". So, that's pretty cool.











Also, I figured out how to award badges in edmodo. So far, students have earned First Day badges, Participation badges, and Excellent Writer badges. They love checking their status to see what badges they have earned. This is a really cool way of reinforcing students! I love it! I am definitely going to use these badges for SCIENCE!

Tomorrow, we will try our hand at back channeling during the read aloud. Back channeling is when students post comments about a given topic while the event is occurring. So, my students will be discussing the book with each other online WHILE I'm reading. Risky, right? Here's when I give my students control of their learning. What will they discuss? Will they stay on topic? Will they make connections? Giving them the power to lead in the learning process with this lesson will empower them.








Popplet app-
Students enjoyed using the Popplet app for creating a character web for one of the two main characters in our read aloud book, Dread Locks. The app was super easy for them to use. They enjoyed using colors, pictures, and short phrases to describe the characters. Really great tool on the iPad!

AND...IF YOU MADE IT THIS FAR....VERY COOL NEWS!
The author of Dread Locks, Neal Shusterman, tentatively agreed to connect with us in a quick Skype this next week! It will be a quick Q and A session, but we will be ready with questions and comments about the book! What a great way to show these students that reading has many levels, many possibilities. This will be an excellent way to wrap up our summer learning together! I will be posting pictures of that! ;)


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Monday, August 1, 2011

iPads & Summer Learning Camp

Imagine this...you are three weeks to the end of your summer break. You might be bored, having a blast, or somewhere in between. But, you are pretty sure that one of the LAST things you want to do is spend two and a half hours each day for the next two weeks reviewing parts of speech with your former 5th grade Science teacher...

Yep. It could be that bad. BUT, it's not.

Seriously, I promise!

Because, even though I am the 5th grade science teacher, I also have a masters degree in literacy...

Better? No? Really, you don't think that is impressive to a 7, 8, or 9th grader?

Ok. You're right. That really doesn't make the situation that much better.
I do think that our district does a great job with the learning camp...keeping it fun, light, and a great review...
But, still!

In any case, I decided to avoid passing out the workbooks and go with an ALL tech/iPad edition of summer school. (I'm still giving the students a refresher on reading, writing, listening, and speaking. We are still working!)

This is how I'm doing it:




Edmodo-
In just the first day, my students set up their accounts, browsed around, and changed their profile picture. (within the first 5 minutes...seriously that easy!). We did this all with the edmodo app on the iPad.

I used this setting to get to 'know' my former students by asking them to practice posting by introducing themselves and telling about their summer so far. To be truthful, they didn't write too much here...surprised? Ha! Hey, they were writing and reading each other's post.



Then, we used some time to google the read-aloud book, Dread Locks by Neal Shusterman. To preview the book and get background, my students were sharing book reviews on Amazon, book trailer videos, and other sites. They seemed to be pretty interested in the book. So, we dove right in with my reading out loud the first two chapters while they followed along.


iBook-
The book was already loaded on to their iPads, so we did a quick iBooks tutorial. We practiced highlighting key words, checking word meaning in dictionary, adding notes to the side, and adjusting font/color. Can you see where I'm heading with this?

Using the iBook features I totally rocked out the reading/thinking strategies that I was going through as I read. I modeled what good readers do t make meaning of text as I read. We talked as a group and made connections with the text.

Back to edmodo....
We jumped back into edmodo to make predictions about the book.

Then, to gauge student interest in projects to complete with Dread Locks, I had a survey posted in edmodo. I asked them to select between:



You can see the spread in votes. Which is totally awesome! Variety is the best way to go! We will start working on these after we get a couple more chapters read.





On to GOOGLE DOCS...
So, after introducing ourselves, working with our read aloud book, and gauging student interest in projects, it was time to throw some good old grammar and writing skills at them. Mwah ha ha!

Kidding, but not really.

I took questions from the workbooks that we were given to use regarding sentence fragments, parts of speech, and types of fragments. I put these questions into a google form which I linked to our edmodo site. The kids worked in partners to answer them. Tomorrow, we will review the answers, and I found out that you can award students badges on edmodo...WICKED COOL!

Finally, I linked a site and PDF of possible summer reads to the edmodo page for them to check out tonight for homework, which I hope they do! (I actually had a student message me on edmodo about one of the characters in our read aloud already tonight! How about that!)


From here....
Continue using edmodo for our class discussions, links, and home base.
Rock out the google docs w/forms and review slides in google presentations.
Utilize iBooks for reading/thinking aloud strategies w/Dread Locks.
Projects on iPads...oh yeah!

And, possible author skype? Hmmmmmmm?


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Own Personal IEP

While reading through various educators blogs, my attention was caught by a particularly interesting post by Morgan Kolis (@Room5Friends). Her blog address is http://mlkolis.blogspot.com/.

First, I always like reading Morgan's posts because she is a Special Ed teacher that shows her true feelings and love for her students in every post, tweet, and email. She keeps me reminded of the reasons that I love the classroom, my students. She is also pretty great at using technology in the classroom. ;)

Her recent post that caught my attention was regarding her reflections of this past school year. She had made a personal IEP for herself in her goals, and the post described her accomplishments along with the areas she still needed to grow. I like that! I like that she wrote out her ideas, did her best to meet her challenges, and she reflected on them honestly with careful thought. Awesome!

Now, I had some ideas jotted down in a notebook that remind me of Morgan's IEP. My ideas are scribbled out, unorganized, and not likely to be implemented anytime soon...UNLESS!!!! I snag Morgan's ideas. I am going to outline my own IEP for this next school year. And, being the low tech (at heart) person that I can sometimes be, I will be printing out a hardcopy of this to post in my classroom.

Overall theme: BALANCE

Goals:

1. Provide parents with a steady amount of feedback. This will include our daily classroom progress and event and individual student comments.

To accomplish this goal, I will use:
-Class webpage with embedded google calendar of lessons, announcements, and assessments. Student projects and class blog posts.
-Parent postcards (3-5 weekly).
-Daily emails through TeacherPal app (1-3 daily).
-Student twitter feed for class events

2. Provide balance in instructional techniques. (I tend to go all tech at times and forget my students other interests!)

To accomplish this goal, I will use:
-Lesson plan format that indicates the 5E levels for science instruction.
-Lesson plan format that embeds the various methods of instruction that I employ including, but not limited to...tech, text, lab, roundtable discussions, art, literature, journaling, projects, problems.
-Lesson plan format that includes connections with other classrooms via skype, twitter, and edmodo.

3. Provide balance in instructional materials. This is really similar to goal #2.

To accomplish this goal, I will use:
-More interactive smart board lessons in CONJUNCTION with iPads.
-Real world science stories through National Geographic articles, TED talk, and NASA emails.
-More access to greater variety of lab materials.


4. Provide balance in my own Personal Learning.

To accomplish this goal, I will use:
-The network that I have developed on twitter.
-The grade level partners that are excited to work together...forget the rest.
-My Conversations blog to brainstorm ideas and my google iPad site to continue recording my iPad implementation process.


These will be my top four goals with the overall theme of balance. I am fortunate that I have so much available to my students and myself for learning. I just need to pick and choose the best ways for our classroom to blossom. I'm excited for all the possibilities this next school year brings.

Thanks, Morgan for being so reflective and honest. You can see a common thread in my IEP. ;)





- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 15, 2011

How Do You Keep Them From Playing?

I've had the incredible opportunity to work with a plethora of people this summer regarding the use of the iPad and other technology in the classroom. From twitter connections to district admins to teaching partners, my airwaves are full of conversations! There are many different levels and perspectives. Ideas that I would have never thought of are being shared all the time...thank you! I'm learning so much. Awesome!

I recently worked with a teaching partner on her use of the iPad in the upcoming school year. She will have the opportunity to use a class set of iPads that will be shared amongst her team. Ugggg...shared cart? Right? I know. I am NOT a fan of a cart system between a grade level. But, in this economy, I think we have to thank our lucky stars for anything! In any case, it is some tech and the students that she will be working with are all my former students...I like to think of them as muppet masters (ipad personalities as muppets...get it? Funny! Ok.). So, they will definitely help with the learning process IF the teachers are willing to become partners with them.

So, in the brainstorming session with this teacher, we are talking everything from grammar apps to keynote presentations to recording students answers with DragonDictation and proofreading to google app possibilities. Really good stuff. She has great questions, and i have some options for her to consider. And, I recognize the developmental level of this teacher...she is ME a year ago. Really! Just looking for ideas, scribbling them down like mad, pausing with some confused moments, and then back on track. Now, I recognize this level, and my philosophy here is to allow the learning coaster to begin. Recognize the full plate moment. Allow any mistakes that need to be made. Support. Don't push! Because really, the use of the iPad or any other revolutionary technology is a learning coaster. There will be ups where the use is just rocketing the level of your class. And, there will be other moments that you see/feel/cringe at the failure. It happens in spurts (like most growth). Also, you will learn the most when answers are NOT given to you. There is something to be said for the process.

In the course of our conversation, my partner teacher asks me the golden question that I have heard before, "How do you get students to stay focused and not PLAY with the iPad?". Hmmmmmmm? What is your first reaction? Think about it before you read on...


Well, in MY learning coaster I did have to go through that. I had to learn...what did I do? I went through a process that helped me identify some key ideas:

1. There are some craptastic apps out there that encourage a student to PLAY (and not in a productive way). There is money in app creation, and apparently a lot of people wanted to capitalize on that...ha! I had an early learning ride on the coaster where I had to figure out what my students needed in the ipad use. So, it went from asking my students to work with encyclopedia type apps that had too high of a reading level to unlocking the potential of apps like StripDesign or Keynote. Apps that are geared towards just pushing information aren't going to be the most engaging for very long...especially of they are poorly created. Also, important, there can be some craptastic ways of implementing apps.

2. Time...my students needed time. They needed to get good at just moving around the iPad, basic navigation. They needed to get good at working with a specific app like StripDesign. They needed to have time to work through the creative process. There is much to be said for this time, patience. It will be frustrating for you and your students if you try to do too much, too fast. Give them the time, and look away when they are still zooming in and out on everything...haha.

3. Conversations...this is where become learning partners is really important! Students needed to have the floor some of the time. They needed to share their observations, stumbling points, and AH HA moments. They were ON the coaster with me, so I had to give it up sometimes for their ideas, conversations, and critiques!

And, most importantly, how do you get students to stay focused and not play on the iPad?

4. Design an authentic lesson/lab/learning experience that will keep them rolling, focused. This goes back to inquiry based, problem based learning. If you have designed a truly authentic learning experience, the 'play' will take care of itself. Students get so engaged in their work, you don't see 'play'. (Although, I would argue that the fun they are having with learning with the ipad is pretty close to 'play'.) But, I did see a transition in my teaching over the year. I went from being worried about students playing, finding all the best apps, and I did not really address the issue...how ENGAGED were my students in the content? How INVESTED were they in the science? The lessons didn't reflect THEIR questions, ideas, and problems. So, consequently, they didn't buy into it. Shocking? Not really. Once I started being honest with myself, I had some serious conversations with my students and got them on board as partners, and we really evaluated the classroom.


So, to wrap up another LONGGGGG post, I didn't give my partner all these ideas. I think there is value in making your own path, learning your own lessons, and having those conversations with yourself, your students, and colleagues. I hope the transformation I felt in teaching is what she and other educators feel in utilizing technology.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Final Word on Apps...I promise

When I talk to other teachers, students, or admin about apps for the iPad, you can hear the excitement in my voice...for certain apps. The apps that really get me talking are those that I feel showcase the true power of the iPad...the creation apps. These are the apps that students would use to showcase their learning and/or questions. These apps provide a platform for students to make, create, showcase.

I'm talking about:
-iMovie
-GarageBand
-Toontastic
-StripDesign
-Keynote
-Pages
And so on...


I do recognize the importance of those OTHER apps. The apps that allow us to make the teaching process easier, smoother, more effective are important. I get that. They are important, even if I don't rave about them. My favorites (today) are:
-TeacherPal
-Agendas
-eClicker and eClicker Host
-DragonDictation, iTalk, MoesNotes
And so on...

Finally, there are those apps that are JUST STUPID...in my view. They promote the lowest use of the iPad. They allow unproductive teaching methods to be EVEN easier to use. I don't think I'm the only one to see the flaws in this app:




Here's the thing, each teacher will have his or her favorite apps that allow students to really rock out the learning process. What works for me in my room, may or may not work well for you and your students. I may have an app that I LOVE, RAVE ABOUT, and you may find that it falls flat with your students. And, that's OK. Being reflective, watching your students and having conversations with them...that's the key!

My method of choosing apps (and I am the first to admit that I have been known to purchase some craptastic apps and get too app slappy):

1. Search with purpose. Just going to iTunes Teacher section and choosing from their list...not a great plan. So, search with purpose. What are you looking for in the app? What requirements and needs must it meet to warrant a look?
2. Ask others...tweet, email, check w/other teachers. I will sometimes just throw an app question out there on twitter and get a ton of feedback.
3. Check the app developers website and support. Ask them about their app...if they never respond, that tells you something!
4. Try the lite/free versions with your students. They will be the best judge of how it works with them.
5. Follow some of the best...I follow the iPad pioneers (@SamGliksman and @iPodsibilities are two of my favorites).
6. Get a couple of good sites that showcase apps like http://www.iear.org/

But, bottom line...
Use the apps that work for you and your students to enhance your best teaching practices. There is no set list of apps that is the magic combination...it's not about the app, it's about the teaching method behind it! AND, just because an app is highlighted in the teaching section of iTunes, that does NOT make it an automatic winner!

Ok...the end...no more.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Boy Who Lived in The World of Goo

Meet Andrew...




Andrew is ALMOST 10 (Did you hear him shouting that? Very excited about the double digits!)

Like most kids (people in general), Andrew has his own little quirks. He laughs really loud at odd times. He snorts, grunts, whistles, and moans through many conversations. He rotates through a variety of facial tics that would stop anyone in mid-sentence. He's the kid in the outfield looking in the wrong direction and singing Lady Gaga songs. (However, when he get's up to bat, he rarely hits anything less than a double!). He's frequently arguing with anyone telling him what to do because we ALL are SO illogical! And, my goodness, look at the chocolate on his face. If it's not that, it'll be something like spaghetti.

But, he's ALMOST 10!

That is the number that means the most right now. Not, the Ohio Achievement Assessment scores I recently saw. Andrew missed passing both math and reading by 3-4 points. Bummer, right? Not really because this year Andrew was most proud that he didn't run out of the room mid-way through testing, as he did the previous year. So, we have improvement, right.

Well, anyone that knows me is aware that I've developed into a Very different educator than when I started teaching. I've grown by watching my students learn, and I have come to the conclusion that many others have in education: Test scores will not be a valid measure of true student learning due to the very nature of the test. It is a flawed system at best, and not one that I am going to base my conclusions on.

That being said...back to ALMOST 10 Andrew. Where does that leave him? His parents are super proud that he stayed in the room the entire time during the test, did his best to regulate his vocal and bodily tics, and is ALMOST 10!

What I haven't told you yet is that Andrew is a whiz while playing an app called The World of Goo.



This app was one that I originally talked about being a good science app...wrong! After watching students and listening to their conversations, I revised that idea. World of Goo is a THINKING app. It encourages critical thinking and SOME building design. Andrew is a bad ass at this game. While he is playing, he will frequently chirp, sing, and talk about the structure of the goo towers. He will sweet talk the goo balls into stable systems. He isn't using all the perfect terminology, but watching the kid work is a visual preview of what kind of thinking skills are locked up in that chocolate covered head! He was rocking it out so much at a doctors office that a gentleman had to scoot over and watch him work. (The gentleman never interrupted, just mouthed a WOW.)











So, long blog post wrapping up with these thoughts:

Will we ever develop a test that allows us to see how Andrew thrives in the World of Goo? Probably not.

Should ALMOST 10 be as important as the Math and Reading ALMOST passing? Definitely.

Can future teachers, employers, friends, neighbors, and the world in general see how special the boy that thrives in The World of Goo really is? As his mom, I really hope so!

As a teacher of 115+ students every year, I remember...they all have their World of Goo.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Using New Tools To Obtain Deeper Understanding

Taking the Toughest...Let's Work Together

In fifth grade science, one of my toughest concepts to explore with my students is the Earth/Space Science concepts of day/night and seasonal cycles. I understand their dilemma. These concepts are really hard to visualize. I mean, seriously, we are ON the giant ball that is rotating, revolving, and tilting as it dances it's merry way along space. So, for a 9-10 year old, I can understand the difficulty.

In the past, I have gone from just reading about the cycles and filling in diagrams and multiple choice questions to stepping it up with models and students acting out motions. We've used claymation movie making. We've colored posters. I've started to incorporate the PocketEarth app for even more opportunities to visualize the process. And, so on. (To be honest, my methods have changed through the years as I have gained more of an understanding of the topics themselves and how my students learn best.)

So, this year I'm looking at another approach...using Twitter, Edmodo, Skype and the iPad2 to facilitate a deeper understanding of the topic. And, I'm hoping to partner with some dynamite classes out there!

Long term strategy-
Ss take picture of sunrise each morning from same spot at school at same time with iPad2. These images will then get uploaded into a google presentation for an accumulated set of photos. Setting the play mode to a short duration, Ss should observe that the position of the sun changes as the seasons continue. This same activity will be done by partner class in southern hemisphere. Comparing the position of the sun should help students see the difference in planet's position. (While this photo taking activity is being conducted, another goal of long term investigations will be highlighted. BONUS!)
Ss will also track the amount of hours of daylight and darkness for each day to see the transition.
Edmodo, Twitter, and Skype will allow us to continue the conversations and observations made in class. Utilizing these medium, will allow us to make the connections around the world. Ss will not be limited to just imagining the changing seasons, cycle of day/night, and shifts around the globe, they will have FRIENDS to connect with and share observations.
With all other data, our google presentation will be shared with the partner class.

Will I continue to use my models, posters, iPad app, and Ss actions...probably! But, now, I can add to the understanding by connecting them to other students.

And, HOPEFULLY, this project will lead to other partnerships including an ecosystem/estuary project, a physical science activity exploring how light, sound, heat, and electricity work in various objects, and more!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Combining Apps For Creativity, Problem Solving, and Authentic Learning

Many teachers using iPads in the classroom have discovered some very good drill apps to help support the classroom learning. The apps that I'm thinking of would be those apps that do not encourage much more than the lower levels of thinking...basic comprehension, recall. I have found apps such as MathNinja and PearlDiver to fall in this category.






While they aren't really high on the learning levels, they still fill an important role in the classroom. They are helping our students to review information that is definitely needed to be successful at higher levels. And, they are accomplishing it in a rather fun manner.

However, if we are only using this level of apps in the classroom, we are truly missing out on the power of the iPad. I've previously discussed those creation type apps that give our students a forum for expression, synthesis of information, and creation of new knowledge. These apps include everything from Keynote to DrawingPad to Toontastic, and so many in between!







Ok...so, next step. How do we encourage students to use combination of apps to truly ramp up the use of the iPad? Well, I say 'encourage' very loosely because I found this level of use almost by accident in my room this year. It was a very cool side effect from my students using the iPads, and I didn't have too much to do with it!

By combination of apps, I mean this...

A student creating a keynote presentation to share a lab experiment and results uses:
-drawing pad to draw lab work area and pull in from photos
-dictionary and thesaurus apps for writing presentation
-idea sketch app to create a concept web to pull in from photos
-strip design app to create a cartoon to pull into presentation

Another student using toontastic app to create cartoon of their project uses:
-garage band to create a new sound track for their cartoon (created on one iPad and recorded into toontastic on another through microphone...choppy method, I know.)

And, so on. By not limiting their use of apps, I found my students naturally pulling in a variety of apps to accomplish goals as they went! PROBLEM SOLVING! The discussions between students and with me included the phrase, "I want to do this, so I'm going to try this.". And, isn't that were we want our students operating? Solving problems as they go!

Also, another phenomenon occurred. My students were creating even more personal works. They were always jumping straight to google to grab pics for their projects (like I did in the pics above). They were drawing their own pictures, or they were grabbing the class camera and pulling them in to work with. I didn't see as many clipart pictures with labels over them...obviously just taking someone else's work. This was giving their projects a more original feel. The original music created for the toontastic project that was recorded by just setting one iPad next to another...not the best music track I've ever heard. But, wow...that kid was PROUD!

And, finally...authentic learning. I think most educators can recognize the value in students creating the foundation for their own learning. Students will remember what they have MADE, what they are involved in. The student that created the keynote presentation about metal corroding will remember her results, her conclusions, and her ideas for future study much longer than a multiple choice or short answer test would have instilled.

How did the students get this good? How did they know to use this app or that with their projects?

By allowing my students time, access to various apps, and control of their learning, I found they naturally will problem solve, be creative, and develop products that promote authentic learning. Let go. Become learning partners. And, watch. It is amazing!



(This picture is just added for effect. This kid is a cutie!)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad