Monday, September 17, 2012

Homecoming Pep Rally Using iMovie

From the iPad of John Powers...

In Economics, my students used the “Show-Me” app on the iPad to do their presentation of a problem I assigned.  From the app, they e-mailed me their presentation.  They record not only their drawings but their voice as well.  This is one student’s preso.

From the iPad of Kelley Self...

I haven’t worked this hard since my first year teaching!  It’s a good hard, but I’ve definitely been challenged myself.  My students have also been challenged.  We started with one day for them to ‘play’ with the iPad and figure out how it works, get comfortable, even play some games if that is how they wanted to spend the time.  We then jumped in with meaningful work. 

Students were given a list of free apps that we would use in class.  They were told to get them prior to the first day they had their iPads….about half complied.  That is probably pretty typical for any task we give to students, so I wasn’t that surprised.  The students quickly found that the network is a little challenged when they are all on there, and so the download process when we wanted to get something new was quite slow.  The next lesson-related app I asked them to get got about 85% compliance on getting it ahead of time.  That is improvement.  I’m aiming for 100% on the next one!

I did not anticipate the learning curve on learning how to use the apps themselves.  I am now working that into my plan when we use something new, with the hope that by next semester, I will get kids who already know how to use some of these apps.  FYI:  I have not asked students to buy any app.  We have one that they really need, but it is a paid app.  We are working on making things work without it, but hope it ends up (soon) on a list of apps the school will buy for students.

It has been fascinating to gauge the comfort level of the students when working with technology.  Some are ready to dive off the high board; others will jump in from the side and paddle around and the water is fine.  Some are still sitting in the shallow end, while others are reluctant to leave the kiddie pool.  And there are still a few who are still looking for a parking place outside the pool.  J  The goal is that all will be comfortably and competently swimming in the deep end before they leave my class of course.  (Attribution of the high dive part of this analogy to Ms. Newell)

Some of the ways we have used the iPads so far in my lessons in my regular classes include:  teacher-controlled lessons using the Nearpod app; note-taking with a notes app; screen shots to capture a graphic in a lesson; creation of word clouds using a word cloud generator online; tweets which require the students to process information and reformulate it into a new thought using their past experience and application; use of an app which contains primary source documents; textbook reading online or through a reader program like iBooks or Adobe Reader, which allows for highlighting and cutting/pasting of text as needed; reading news and finding political cartoons through apps to complete a weekly current events assignment; collaboration and creation of a presentation for the class on a specific section of the text (interestingly, students were reluctant to try anything other than a “powerpoint” clone for this assignment, even when I gave them ideas of free presentation apps like Educreations, Show Me and Prezi); use of Moodle for getting and returning assignments (unfortunately we are challenged with this one – you can’t upload from the iPads without the $2.99 app – we are hobbling through some workaround solutions).

Students have also used them in class without a good purpose.  I just have to share my favorites of the 2 weeks:  1) Student (when asked to open Nearpod for a lesson):  Mrs. Self, my iPad isn’t charged.  Mrs. Self:  Why is that?  Student:  I’ve been downloading movies all day.  Mrs. Self:  Don’t do that again. ]  I laughed internally, and handed her my personal iPod touch so she could complete the lesson with the class.  She has been charged every other day.  2) My second favorite (while conducting a lesson in Nearpod):  Mrs. Self:  {Student name}, why aren’t you in the lesson?  Student:  I am.  Mrs. Self:  No, you aren’t.  The App shows me that you have left the App.  {General laughter in the classroom}.  Result:  Student re-entered the app and got on track.  These happened on different days, believe it or not!  J

These are just reflections from my regular classes.  In my AP class, we are flipping the class.  I have been working on recording my lectures and the students watch them as homework.  We then spend our class time working on simulations, games, research projects, collaboration and discussions of the material.  This has been great!  I have been killing myself trying to record everything, and have finally gotten wiser and spent some time with iTunesU finding lectures from college professors that provide the content we need to cover in an interesting and accurate way.  This has the students downloading a course from iTunesU this weekend, and it has a neat feature.  If you watch a video from a course on iTunesU, you can take notes right there in the app, and it marks where on the video you made the notes.  This will be an excellent tool for test preparation.  We have used Socrative for reading quizzes; I have recorded their participation using Pick Me!; almost all of that class has downloaded the paid student Moodle app – Mtouch+ - to make it easier to upload their work; we have taken screen shots; made and analyzed word clouds; used Twitter; used Nearpod; used primary source Apps; and created, analyzed and presented.  Their course textbook is read through the CourseSmart app.  We are busy, busy, busy!  That course has the best and fullest integration of the iPads into all they are doing as well.

My final thoughts at this point in our adventure:  Using this new tool has been fun and instructional for the students and me so far.  I am working hard on finding ways to engage them and keep them moving forward, especially the ones who would normally disengage.  I’m not using it perfectly at this point, but more and more of them are getting on board and I’m seeing more of them tuned in for longer periods of time with this personal device in their hands.  I’m so pleased with how these tools are helping reduce inequity in my classes.  Some of my students don’t have wifi at home, and have no computer in their household.  This is making it easier for them to complete assignments and connect to the world around them.  They might have to upload the work when they arrive at school in the morning, but all I have to do is make sure that I set due date/times to accommodate that need.  We have found a way to capture websites and text and save it for offline reading as well, again further reducing the gap between those who have more personal resources and those who don’t.  I am hopeful that we see quick feedback that this is also narrowing the gap in their learning.  That will probably take more than this school year to quantify, but I have high hopes for what this can do for all of our students.  Several students have already asked about buying their iPad at the end of the year – they are beginning to see this as an indispensable tool for their learning!

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