Friday, August 17, 2012

Are We Going To Use The iPads?

Our final day of summer learning camp, and one of the fourth graders blurted out, "Are we going to use the iPads today?" I paused before I answered. I knew the answer would be YES, but I wanted to really think more about the question before I answered.

Working only with these students for 4 of their 10 camp days (2.5 hour each time), we had explored apps such as:
  • TypeDrawing
  • ScribblePress
  • DrawingPad
  • Math Drills
  • Pearl Diver
  • Tangrams
  • Popplet + Pages
We had created amazing books about ourselves through ScribblePress. Many students were receiving their printed books today. (They were high quality books and very quickly shipped!) Others had viewed their books at home with family.
We had written paragraphs about our favorite sports and games with Popplet and Pages. The color copies were proudly displayed in the hallway and ready to go home today. Many students chose to read their paragraphs aloud to the class.
And, we just had a blast with all the math apps! From working on number lines in Pearl Diver to basic facts in the game based MathDrills app, we loved it.
The list goes on!

So, could I really get annoyed for the blurted out question, "Are we going to use the iPads today?" No. We did have a lot of fun. We built up confidences as readers and writers. And, we enjoyed what normally could be a VERY boring way to end summer.

Here's what I was think about though...
My incoming 5th graders will have this same mode of thought for the first few weeks of school. They will walk in each day with the same look in their eyes. They will be anticipating class for that most important reason.

Will we use the iPads today?

The moment will come in the year when this question isn't asked any more. It will silently disappear. I won't notice it right away. The kids won't notice it either. The questions will change...

What are we learning about today?
Are we connecting with anyone on Skype?
Do you want me to send out the tweets today?
Do we have a science lab to explore today?
Did we get a response back from our friends in Georgia?
Can I show you this app we could use?
Can I post my Toontastic to Edmodo?

And, that is when it is exciting! The iPad is just an iPad. It is just a tool for learning, exploring science, showcasing our questions and learning, a way to connect, a way to create...Ok. An iPad is just an iPad.

There is a point when the focus is technology. I think it happens with all new tech. The amazing part is when the technology isn't the focus any more!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Popplet + Pages= Fun Writing!

Just a quick post on today's summer school activity...

Trying to encourage a group of 15 reluctant writers can be a struggle! I won't lie! (Especially, when I am the iPad lady.) So, how did I get my incoming 4th graders to write today?

I started with a topic they all enjoy...sports and games. I asked them to brainstorm their favorite game or sport. We chatted about why they enjoyed the sports and games. Then, using the Reflection Software mirroring my iPad screen to the projector, I used the Popplet app for creating a web of my favorite sport...running. I showed the central theme in the middle, details surrounding it, and even inserted fun pictures.

Time for the students to work...
and they did! They did a great job working and helping each other.

After their popplets were saved to the photo library, we were ready for a break! (snack and recess time)

Upon returning, we rocked it out by pulling those perfect, popplet, prewriting tool pictures into PAGES! (Tell me there is a writing teacher out there impressed with THAT sentence!) The students used these graphics (for the most part) to build a paragraph.

Then, to give these writers a hard copy of their hard work, I had them print from the iPads using the Printopia software loaded to my computer. (This software allows you to save to the computer or use the computer to share with a printer.)

So, that was our day...mixing in a couple of fun math apps for thoseneeding a break or for those working a little faster. FUN!

Here are a couple more samples:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer School as Tech Integration

This year in summer school, I have a pretty unique position (for me). I'm being utilized as a tech integration specialist for grades 4-6. It's a weird feeling being that secondary teacher. But, the two ladies that I am working with are AWESOME! They are not approaching me as an add-on to their summer school. They are looking to truly pull my talents and interests in to support the emerging math and language arts students. Very cool!

 Also, let's be honest...the teacher that walks into the room pushing a cart of iPads is going to get the love!

 Here's how we are approaching this condensed time with kids (and iPads).

 Assessing their current levels and need in math facts... Enter MathDrills


 The app name itself isn't entirely inspiring for being a fun way to use the iPad. But, it totally is! The app is game-based and operates in a fun way. The entire time kids are answering math questions, they are "racing" with pit stops, fun sounds and animations, and SUPPORT. The app has optional support features such as a number line, problem count, and ways to tailor the app to the child's need.


 The student is being tracked in speed and accuracy. AND, the app generates a nice certificate and report that can be emailed to various locations. (The kids were really ramped up with the certificate!) We had the students explore the app with the practice and game sections. Then, they completed a 30 question test that allowed for results to be emailed to the teachers. This can be repeated after the two week session to check for progress. Just a great app with many possibilities to customize for the students needs!

 Next...let's get them reading, writing, and creating!

 Enter, ScribblePress app.


 Another way to tailor the instruction towards the student's level. The app itself is geared towards book building. Books that can be shared at completion with iTunes or via a link. The app allows for scaffolding in a fill in the blank format for emerging readers/writers or a completely blank book format for more advanced story generating.


 We used the story skeleton, "All About Me" to have the kids introduce themselves to us and get familiar with the iPad features. They were off an running! We didn't have to TEACH them how to use the app. The features are really well laid out and common sense like. So, the students weren't frustrated with the basic creating. That left a lot of time and energy for proof reading and editing. Students were able to go back through and fix their capitalization and punctuation errors. They added and deleted to personalize. And, the most fun came with the drawings and pictures added! What fun! And, were are working with words... We will polish up those stories about themselves and engage in another writing activity in the Scribble Press app.

 And, from here... We are utilizing some other really cool apps!

 To read about my experiences last summer teaching summer school to 7-9th grade students, click below. You can check out how I utilized google apps, Skype, iBooks, and Edmodo!

Please, share what apps you will be piloting in a summer school program! Or, interested in setting up a quick Skype call between groups? Let me know!