Talking Technology Tools

I am currently working with a team of teachers in my school, Tecumseh Elementary, on a Technology pilot project: PROFESSIONALS INVESTIGATING LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES WITH TECHNOLOGY. Our tools include 20 iPads for classroom use, 3 iPads for Resource teacher use, 5 desktop computers in the library and apple TV. Have we gotten over talking tools yet? No so much.

We are immersed in the grand quest to learn about logistics of the technology use- all of the possible Apps and a myriad of questions.   Although we are all familiar with iPhones, iPads, and/or Apple computers, the technology is not intuitive. We have all committed to attend the after school technology sessions where we are introduced to the educational possibilities and provided with tech support. The sessions are a challenge due to the significant range in background knowledge in technology of all of the groups and individuals attending.

All four of us involved in PILOT at Tecumseh agreed that we would start with teaching responsible use of the iPads to our students, who range in age from 5-12 years old. One of the teachers created an agreement to be signed by students and parents and posted on the iPad cart. What are really interesting are our various approaches after that point.

I assigned each student a number and an iPad and gave students the opportunity to explore. When one student had discovered something interesting, I stopped the group and showed them what a specific student had done and asked how many other kids knew how to do it. (Note to self – Figure out how to use the Apple TV so I can do a better job of this sharing with a group.) Students became the teachers/mentors for other students wanting to try. Lots of dialogue. Lots of engagement.

My first assignment started with a goal of focusing my Grade 3/4 students on observing the change of seasons and creating a book using Book Creator that included:

  • The ideas from the sense poetry we had just created by webbing in our “Thinking Books” (I see, I hear, I smell, I taste, I fell… Stems are used to collect ideas, create an image, remove stems for finished poem)
  • 6 of the 12 photographs taken with the iPad when we did our “Sensing Fall” walk around the school (art work) and playground (signs of fall)
  • Book cover with a title, author / poet and 6 pages minimum.

As I was handing out the iPads, several students went to Drawing Pad to record the Book title, their name and start to decorate the cover of their books. We decided as a group that this was a great idea and the criteria would also include the use of Drawing Page to create the book cover.

My Grade 4 students who came from Tecumseh Annex and Moberly Elementary used Book Creator last year, so as students needed help adding pages, pictures or audio-clips, they came to me or one of the “teachers”.  This way we avoided the wait time of line-ups or everyone stopping to step through the process at the same time.

One problem some students encountered was the fact that their initial writing had ideas that were not matched with the pictures they took on our sense walk. It became an option to download photos from Internet to match the text. The storage room in the classroom became the “sound room” to add the audio-clips.  Lots of time was spent reading and re-doing the clips to ensure the sound clips sounded “good” (  Good was defined as reading with expression).

Finished products emerged over the course of several sessions (3-6) with the iPad.   What was surprising was the huge difference in the books including:

  • Poetry books with one line of poetry per page and one picture
  • An entire poem per page with a picture
  • Several pictures on a page, text on another page
  • A sentence with an observation (using the original stems) on a page with a picture
  • A fact about the picture on the page
  • One book that had nothing to do with the change of seasons, our sense poetry or the pictures we took. (The student let me know that he erased that book because he wanted to write about something else and all of the illustrations were done in drawing pad.)

Assignment #1 and reflections on a whole bunch of new questions including but not limited to:

  • Naturally stimulating oral language in English Language Learners
  • Apps to develop fluency in writing
  • Vocabulary development
  • How to set up Showbie for saving work for viewing at home and on different tools
  • Commenting on work electronically with “electronic post it notes”
  • Creating book trailers
  • Using Keynote
  • note taking for research – pen and paper vs. online

This is what I love about education – Always so much to learn. Always someone who wants to have the conversation about the learning.

Advertisements

To New Year Resolution or Not to…

Everywhere you go these days, the shift has happened from Merry Christmas to the focus on New Year plans and best wishes. 2015 is nearly upon us and I will not be going to bed early. I am a grand believer in celebrating each new year. I’m also a grand believer in the New Year’s Resolution. Current wisdom dismisses this exercise as a futile waste of time. I disagree.

In my quest to get organized for the new year, I have been emptying inboxes and wading through my accumulation of paper. I came across New Years resolutions written by my Mom. I recently saw WILD (a must see movie with Reese Witherspoon) and have been reflecting on the nature of the mother-daughter relationship. What my Mom gave me was a “cup half full” view of life. Yes, every year, she wrote the same resolutions. Yes, she believed in the promise of new beginnings and the hope that things could in fact change for the better. So she signed up for yoga and french classes and did her leg lifts and joined the quest to be more and do more. Perhaps this is why she could whether the storms tossed in her direction and they were many. She wasn’t able to be optimistic because life was easy. She stayed optimistic because she was interested in life going on around her. She delighted in the birds at her window, driving with the top down, a good cup of tea, the chat, and being with her family.

When I reflect back on the year, I could bemoan the shingles, the strike stress, the hot water leak, the not being all things to all people and the dishwasher out of commission for Christmas dinner. However, in the big scheme of things, the good far outweighed the bad and I’m excited to get to my partying and resolutions. I have been told I’m naive. I prefer the label of “a diehard optimist”.

The book study group with colleagues: Guiding Readers. making the Most of the 18- minute Guided Reading Lesson (Lori Rog Jamison 2012) holds promise for my Gr. 3/4 ELL to get more time on text at their level. The iPad pilot is opening up new possibilities with use of Book Creator and Showbie and who knows what next. Professional involvement in Phi Delta Kappa and the International Reading Association holds promise of good conversation. And yes, I will exercise more, get better at skiing and boarding, try Vinyassa Power Flow, eat better, cook delectable meals and stop drinking diet coke. The possibilities are endless…

Happy New Year! Don’t forget the resolutions 🙂