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. 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 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.