Posts Tagged ‘iPads’

So, I’ve been thinking about student blogging and what to do differently this year. Last year I used Edublogs and each student had his or her own blog on a topic of his or her choosing. The students liked the “Blogger’s Cafe” idea and wrote some good posts. But, we never really got much in the swing of commenting or getting a wider audience for our writing, which was the point.

This year I again showed some blogs and talked about how a blog is different from a read-only web page. Students made webs of writing ideas using iThoughts on the iPads. Then, I opened the foodless cafe again.

Some students got really into the whole thing. They set themselves up with their web plans and then a laptop to write. A little over the top in the tech department, but it made people feel cool, no one else was using the iPads at the time, and people got a lot done. Works for me.

Here are a few photos.

  

This year though, we are starting our blogs on paper in the hallway. Everyone has a bright piece of paper as a background and will put up posts there. I have set out paper, pencils, and tape for students and teachers to leave comments. I have emailed all the teachers to encourage them to come by with their classes or independently to read and comment. The plan is to have students try out writing in public at school and then earn a digital blog as they write and comment consistently.

One student already has 2 posts up.

(Once again, I can’t seem to get the text and photos to go exactly where I want. But, enough time has been spent. Moving on.)

So, I’ve been thinking about our ePortfolios, again. Working on them on the iPads is a little tricky. The eporfolios are wikis which, while easy to view on the iPad, are a pain to edit. You see all the formatting coding and it’s hard to do a lot more than insert text. But, I love that because the iPads and keyboards are small, students can easily sit in their favorite position, spread out the work for the unit, and really see what it looks like.

While students are getting the hang of the pattern we are using to review work, it’s not exactly becoming a habit. It’s too long between units. So, I’m working on some ideas to tackle that.

coursework to mark
In the mean time, we had conferences coming up. In the fall, I showed parents their child’s eportfolio. This time I did something different. We spent time in advance getting the work up to date. I did a lot of attaching files, since I am the organizer of each wiki, I can attach a lot easily from the school’s network folders. Then each student did individual reflecting. That’s been our pattern. However, this time I assigned this item for homework before the conference: take your parent(s) on a tour of your wiki.

Of course not every student did that. However, most did. And, those parents who did get a tour came to the conference with a better sense of their child’s work and with more of an understanding of where our conversation would and should go. For many it was much more of a conversation between similarly informed parties.

I’ll definitely be giving that assignment again.

(Photo by Andrea Rota used under Creative Commons license)

So, I’m still thinking about iPads and my 1-1 iPad experiment. Here’s how I might summarize it in as few words as possible:

  1. Are the iPads everything I could ever want? NO
  2. Is being a 1-1 (of some sort of technology) classroom what I want? YES
  3. Would I like laptops sometimes? YES
  4. Has anyone offered to get me laptops? NO
  5. Do I want to keep those iPads? Absolutely YES

There you have it. I still head to the computer lab or the Mac-based music lab with my class sometimes; we are not totally self-sufficient. But, I can’t imagine going back to just 2 computers in the room. I know a good thing when I have one.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of planning for the next weeks and new year and it’s seeming like this year is going to be a big change. I know, it’s after winter break and I’m a little late to be noticing this key fact. (Since I started this post ages ago, it’s really been a lot of thinking.)

Here’s the thing though, sometimes you don’t realize the little changes you are making are about to push you right on over the edge to (feel free to use that overly dramatic, announcer voice as you read the next words) Change or Transformation until they start to pile up. I make changes every year as I teach, even if there haven’t been any big book changes or curricular changes made. I do this only partly to keep myself interested. Mostly I make changes because I can’t help it. I think that a classroom is a living, breathing place that changes with who is there. So, even if I tried to do everything the same way, it would be different because the students are different each year. I am different each year too.

Over the past few years I’ve made changes that range from books coming and going, to blogs becoming a major part of the experience, and now I’m, as of a few weeks ago, a 1-1 iPad classroom. Sometimes it turns out that the changes you’ve made are great, and yet they haven’t changed the game you’re playing. And then sometimes you make either enough little changes or a radical enough single change and all of a sudden–new game.

I think this year I might be end up playing a new game.

iPads Appear in my Closet, Update

Posted: November 30, 2010 in Uncategorized
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So, I’ve been thinking about iPads. As my regular readers, all 3 of them, know, I am now the proud teacher of a class with 1 iPad per student. This post is a little overdue, but with all the excitement and then all the holiday cooking and eating, I got behind on a number of things.

The first day I got them out them out of the closet, it was near the end of the day. The kids could barely contain themselves. Actually they really couldn’t. We got as far as using the DoodleBuddy app to make a home screen pictures with a number on it so the kids could recognize their iPad. I had a plan for a real lesson, but that was clearly not going to happen.

New plan: play with something, figure it out, and be ready to tell the rest of the class something about it next time. Much better plan.

Here’s what I saw:

  • A bunch of students playing with a tangrams app.
  • A bunch of students trying to play the Game of Ur app.
  • Only 1 of them actually read the directions and had any idea what she was doing.
  • Some students drawing with the chalkboard app.
  • Everyone being excited.

Here’s what else I noticed:

  • Students were asking each other questions about how to do things.
  • Students were eager to share what they had discovered.
  • The fact that I could only be at 1 place at a time was fine.
  • There are going to have to be a lot of experts in the room, and not all of them are going to be named Ms. Eiteljorg.

Since then we have used the iPads for real stuff, not just play.
In our first week, here’s what we’ve worked on using the iPads:

  • Used the chalkboard app to have everyone respond to questions in class (I know this is just an expensive white board without the smelly markers and paper towels)
  • Searched for information for individual blog posts using sweetsearch
  • Some students used ithoughts app to make an outline for their post
  • 1 student found the myscratchwork app, started using it and discovered that it lets you see a web page and take notes at the same time by giving you a split screen
  • Used twiducate’s mobile version to have both a face to face and virtual chat conversation simultaneously.
  • Used smart weather to find the weather in a number of cities in Iraq (we are studying Mesopotamia)
  • Written blog posts using pages
  • Pasted posts into edublogs
  • Bookmarked sites we’ll be using frequently (sweetsearch, twiducate, our class blog, edublog’s sign-in page)
  • Copied a comment (students’s choice) from our blog, pasted it into pages, edited it to be an example of “best work” to be assessed and then posted on our blog again
  • Investigated Iraq’s geography using google earth

Phew.

Next up, what does it all mean? Are they just cool, or are they a real teaching and learning tool, in my opinion.

Is anyone else trying out a new device or strategy in his or her classroom?

My Happy Closet

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Uncategorized
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So, here’s what I found in my classroom closet yesterday morning.

16 iPads all in rows

So, I’ve been thinking and thinking about iPads recently. Someone I know, maybe her name is Ms. Eiteljorg, is getting a set of iPads for her classroom. I’m super excited; my students are giddy.

And, I’m also a little nervous. I want this to be a good experiment. You know the kind where everyone learns a lot, the money has been well-spent, and everyone is happy.

Here’s how it all happened. I went in over the summer to meet with my new (to us) division head. I wanted to tell her about some of my big ideas. (At that point, she didn’t maybe realize that she would get to hear so much about them.) I’d been talking with our former division head all last year about a couple of my grand schemes and we’d really hammered out some good plans, I thought. But, of course that was then. So, we meet, we discussed the plans. Good, good. Then, she asks how is all this going to work with the 2 computers in my room. Well, I’d talked about that too last year. I told her about my plans to use lots of creative scheduling with Library and Computer class to do some 1/2 groups, etc.

I swear it was her idea to see if she could get some other computers in my room. I of course said I would love that.

So, the year began and I got an email meeting invitation (don’t you wish they were invites to parties or lunch or vacation get-aways?) for a meeting with me, my division head, and 2 technology directors. Before you know it one of them is saying what about trying some iPads, I’ll pay for them out of my budget. Let me get you one to try out, he says. I, once again, say I would be fine with that. I am nothing if not agreeable.

I have to admit, I have gone back and forth about whether this is the right tool for me and my classroom projects. I’ve spent a lot of time weighing this and that. There are parts of my big plans that don’t work with the iPad. And, I’m really excited to give it a try. They can’t do everything I want to do, but I can’t do everything I want to do either, so welcome to the club my new iPads.

This whole thing is definitely a case of making your own good luck, I think.

I think luck and excitement is contagious. Here’s to passing it on.