Friday, June 1, 2012

Tool #9: Incorporation of Devices into Classroom

It is important to tie the tech to the objective because the objective is the whole point of teaching. If students have fun in your classroom but miss the objective (content), then they haven't learned what they need to. Sure, they may have learned how to tell a story via some cool video creation app or program, but is that the skill we're trying to teach? Or are we aiming to teach them that you can manipulate story elements (such as nonlinear plot development) and visual elements (such as clothing choices or music) to create completely different effects upon the reader/viewer?

Accountability must happen within these centers or stations because our kids are squirrelly and won't see the value of technology. Without accountability, they will most likely miss the objective- they will consider the tech as an "add-on" or a "cool thing" that Ms. Hunt brought into the classroom instead of a means to learning.

A couple websites that I have either seen other teachers use or have read about is English Grammar 101 (Mr. Hesse used this with his kids last year and was very complimentary of the site!) and English Grammar 101 targets students' weakest grammar areas and allows them to work through their own separate modules (time-efficient and a bit more student-friendly than Ms. Hunt standing at the front of the classroom reminding them again about comma usage). It might be better to use this program 2nd semester once students have been taught/re-taught mini-grammar lessons throughout the 1st semester. Utilizing this at the start of the 2nd semester will also allow students to refine their skills in time for the STAAR in early April. I hadn't heard of before, but it looks to be a perfect fit with any time of brainstorming or prewriting activity.

I found a journaling iPad app called Taposé that allows students to journal using dozens of different tools and capabilities. The app allows for quite a bit of multitasking, so students could be writing but pause to search the internet for supporting images and/or videos to drag and drop directly into their journal. Sharing and collaborating is also quite easy. I'll be interested to converse with other teachers about possibly incorporating these into Book Clubs. Instead of having a messy stack of papers to collect from all my Book Club groups after they meet in class, they could journal during their meeting time and then just simply share their group's journal with me via the app's share tool. Oh, and it's $2.99 (not bad).

Another app that could be quite useful would be any of the comic-creation or storybook creation apps: FlipBook, StoryPages, StoryKit, etc.  These can be useful when students are writing stories and desire to publish or produce something a bit more unique. 

In general, we can always use the iPads for reading and research. Also for quick grammar or citation references. I'm looking forward to having all of those resources in one place for my students; when I receive a "What does this mean?" or "How do you spell _____?" or "Who was _____?" and I respond with a "Look it up," my students probably won't roll their eyes quite as much. Using the iPads will certainly change the feel of my classroom. I'm excited!

Tool #8: Devices

iPod touch & iPad 2 
Because I have an iPhone and a Mac at home and have been using both for years, I am already quite familiar with these Apple devices (its general tools and how to navigate my way through the apps). The tutorial certainly clarified a few things and reminded me of a couple navigation tools, so I suppose it was helpful to view. It has been actually quite helpful (and I really am thankful) that I use a Mac at home but have a PC school computer- my ability to switch back and forth between the two has been really useful.

In terms of device management, I am considering have a station at which these devices will be stored and/or charged. I will certainly need to establish specific procedures for how my students will handle these devices and when they can be used or accessed during general class work. In terms of storage ideas for keeping track of all those charging cords and devices, here are a few ideas:
I will be playing quite a bit with the different iPad apps over the summer and will likely have more to say and more thoughts surrounding management of these devices once I actually have an idea of how I will be specifically implementing them within lessons and/or units. I do not think it will be difficult to manage these devices- despite the fact that I will not have a class set. My kids do a lot of group work, and they will always have a very specific task which they will be expected to complete in a specific amount of time. It's basically the same as managing stations or book clubs, so I don't foresee it being a challenge.