Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Responsibility Rap

Audioboo for iPhone

Here's an example of a rap created by our Grade 7 class around the Character Education Trait: Responsibility. Each class prepares for an assembly around a different trait and the Sevens decided to create a short movie and rap. This was before we had purchased iMovie unfortunately, so technical difficulties limited the quality during final presentation somewhat. :(

They recorded the rap on the iPad but using an iPhone app called "Audioboo" (not to be confused with the iPad app of exactly the same name that does NOT allow for recording audio but only listening). It has an option to post directly to this blog, apparently, because I was surprised to see it posted here! LOL

This is what the iPad version app icon looks like (less the title)
We have yet to discover how to pull the "boo" off the program for an offline copy. However, it appear Audioboo has released a version 2 which supports downloading. The new iPhone version's icon is IDENTICAL which is annoying when I have iPads with both apps installed. It also appears that the user account with the boos from version 1 does not grandfather in to version 2 (although it accepts the same Twitter login, which is convenient, no record of the recorded boos are listed that I can see, at least).

Record screen from Version 1

Record screen from Version 2
I discovered this app when I observed Mrs.Wideen using it to improve oral reading fluency during Literacy stations with her Grade 1/2s. We are in the process of incorporating it into Library Literacy stations as well. I'm finding I need to train one or two "Station Masters" who can then train others when it is their turn to visit the station for the first time. Finding leveled books in the Library for an independent reading "just right" fit seems to be a bigger challenge for the primaries than first expected, so we are working with the homeroom teacher to solve this issue as well.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Learning to Share with ShowMe

Our Grade 3 science class is learning about forces. With the arrival of our iPads they are more excited than ever to share what they know (and suddenly realize what they don't know). I introduced them to the app called ShowMe (follow @showmeapp) or visit online.

ShowMe is one among a host of interactive whiteboard apps that I'm really excited to explore. I have heard Explain Everything is the leader in this field and when we are able to download it our Grade 3s will compare and report back! But for now, they love ShowMe. ShowMe records whatever is drawn on the screen, provides a variety of colours, and allows images to be imported and annotated in real or paused time. It allows voice recording at the same time as drawing and can pause voice recording to update drawing pages as needed. It is extremely simple to use and easy to share creations. The students' imaginations were sparked about how many things they could create to share with and teach others using a ShowMe.

As a demo, I created a sample ShowMe with them about a force we'd already talked about.

We started this before our school's iPads arrived with only the single iPad we'd received for the exceptional work by our EcoTeam (Go, Panthers!). I let two pairs of students have a turn creating a ShowMe about a mini-experiment we had just completed for either magnetic force or static electric force. Next class, we viewed their ShowMe's and talked about what made them effective and what we should avoid next time. We created an anchor chart to help us.

Then our iPads arrived so the students were very excited not to have to wait several classes before their turn.  After we had reviewed and discussed our very important iPad Norms they went to work. We created and viewed a few more in that week and decided we needed to back up one step and make sure we had really thought about what we wanted to show the world. 

Here's what I've learned so far from using this app with our students:
  • Letting the ShowMe be a finished product motivates students to talk and write about their learning in order to plan what they will record. Create a plan first!
  • Creating a template for their planning allows all students to include good communication basics in their presentations. 
  • Viewing "examples in progress" is much more effective at transferring an understanding of what works in a ShowMe than trying to explain it any other way.
  • Students love that their creations are immediately uploaded to our class twitter feed!
  • The online site has an option for student accounts to be created within a teacher account but so far I haven't discovered how to actually access those accounts so the kids can put their personal ShowMe's in a separate spot than my main folder...? If you know how to do this on the iPad I'd love t hear from you!

In addition to finding out about the above question, I plan to discover what "creating a stack" means and also show the students how to embed their creations on their own blogs. We want more traffic! ;)

Disaster Strikes

So after two days of reviewing the iPad Norms with the primary classes our final class got to use them briefly today (we were exploring the @ShowMeApp). All went well and we shut things down and lined up to place them gently back in their cart...

Our school's having a cereal drive for the needy and the Learning Commons has become home to stacks on stacks on stacks of cereal boxes. They WERE in a neat fort but someone else decided towers o' cereal were preferred... meh. The cereal box stalagmites are on the carpet beside the iPad cart...

One little girl is found not in line with her iPad but standing distractedly amongst the cereal. I help her find her place in line and resume the returns. When she hands me her iPad I am confused. Is that a streak? Not a scratch, surely, they know not to touch it with anything other than their fingers. Look closer: OMG THE SCREEN IS CRACKED!!!!!

It's the SECOND DAY of dedicated iPad use! We have reviewed the iPad Norms, read them together, demonstrated and sternly warned over and over and over. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??? Well, first it has much to do with the fact that there are no cases, yes yes, I know. But they are not ours (yet) they are on loan and came without any cases. It's not among the expectations that the school provide cases for 10 iPads. You'd think, like I did, that putting the fear of God into them about how expensive they are and how careful they must be would be enough. Not for this little angel, I guess.

Cereal is too distracting apparently. So she stepped out of line to examine the boxes and unseen by all, the iPad fell onto the carpet. Then she lies about it and I have to call in the cloud of witnesses to get to the bottom of things. GRRRRR!

I want to cry.

Photo Credit: Brufsup via Compfight cc

Introducing Popplet to Grade 1

I was introduced to a wonderful app called Popplet (follow @poppletny). It has an online version and an app for our iPads. I'm told if you start online you cannot transfer to iPad and vice versa. Right now, we are using the lite app until our administrator is prepared to purchase it (after March Break, I'm told) #fingerscrossed! We began using it in my Grade 1 and 1/2 Science classes in our Energy unit. We have been learning about the most important source of energy for the earth, our sun.

I adapted an excellent organizer I saw Mrs. Wideen using when I visited her school. She was using an ARE CAN HAS chart for her student's nonfiction books about animals.

She modeled everything using the SmartBoard for one animal with her students and they created each part of the nonfiction book together first. After creating the organizer together, they wrote onto their own sheet, selecting three items from each column. After that, they transferred their learning into a popplet. I thought this was a brilliant idea.

After all of THIS, students also selected their OWN animals and went through the process again on paper for that animal. Culminating task will be to take their paper book and use it to create a digital book using the Book Creator app (another one I hope we will be able to buy soon!).

I know great teaching when I see it, so of course I began making plans about how I could incorporate these ideas into my classes right away! ;) We introduced the organizer about the sun using the verbs IS CAN MAKES and generated a lot of discussion about it, creating a class chart. This became the springboard to introducing them to the popplet app. It's a work in progress, taking quite awhile, as it should because we first have to create and review iPad Norms and teach the basic working of an iPad. After that we can introduce Popplet, but without an Apple TV or VGA solution there are challenges at keeping attention around a small screen on the carpet.

Nevertheless the children were excited to be able to use the technology. Some of them were confused and asked if they would get to touch it when they were in an older grade and were so pleased to discover that we were trusting them to learn with and care for them RIGHT NOW. They even seemed enthusiastic about the organizer. One student came to school today with a paper chart where she had recreated her own IS CAN MAKES organizer from memory with what she knew about the sun! When student's are choosing to do homework all on their own, I must have found something right! ;)

Doing homework just for fun!
PS - It's Hawaiian vacation day in Social Studies,
that explains the grass skirts and lays.

After a couple Science classes (plus a usurped Library period) here's what I've learned about Popplet Lite so far:

  1. There doesn't appear to be a way to open works in progress to edit, therefore children must complete the popplet within one sitting.
  2. Popplets can be exported in three formats - pdf, emailed jpeg, or saved jpeg. jpegs save to camera roll so they can be shared or annotated with available apps.
  3. Because of the time limits and the newness of the app I am tweaking the following things:
  • Students only need to create one sentence finisher for IS CAN and MAKES instead of three for each.
  • To help the students understand about breaking the sentence into its parts (The Sun) (verb) (sentence finisher), change the colour of the frames to highlight the different parts needed. Then I can say, "Ok, I see you have your orange sun, but I only see two red verb popples, what do you still need? This red popple is missing a yellow finish, can you use the chart to find something to type?")
  • Modeling how to navigate Popplet itself needs more time for some. Perhaps I will have students show me in a quick conference how they know how to do things and those that are good to go can begin independent work while I work with some Guided Tech groups to be ready to show their learning independently.
  • Some students need to refer directly to the class chart to help them type the proper letters into their popples.
  • They love being able to sit anywhere in the Learning Commons to do this and I have never seen them more engaged!

Wish List Reflections

A small, relatively uncluttered prep area.
Since I've embraced technology in my teaching, I have discovered one indisputable fact: I need a bigger desk. My prep time now consists of the standard supplies: My daybook, the various teacher guides and student books that we are accessing (sorted over two subjects and seven grades), the mentor texts or library books that we are modelling with. Now in addition to all that strewn about for easy access are: A netbook, an iPad (the school's) or two (the students'), and my phone (for those things that I know are worthwhile but the Board filter has failed to understand). ;)

Thank God for Google Drive so I can begin to save things in one easy-to-access space without having to remember the flash drive I carried around at the beginning of the year! I am finding a need to schedule my time to ensure I can keep up with all the things I want to learn and do: Check professional email, visit new school Team Site to check school-wide posts, pop by the Teacher-Librarian Team Site and email site, read new articles on worthwhile blogs and check in with the incredible community I've found on Twitter, research how particular apps work and create samples of what I hope students will do before letting them loose, record what I've learned so I don't forget it (ici!), plan how technology will be integrated into previous and new units, plus the standard stuff of daybook completion, unit planning, and assessment (working on bringing that into the digital age too). After I get a bigger desk, can I get a longer day???

But the best part of all this is that I don't feel overwhelmed or exhausted - I feel energized! Continually learning and challenging myself to be more and do more with our students is an excellent motivator.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A Place for Everything...

My love of technology has been building, albeit slowly, over the past few years but recently an assignment change and new access opportunities have caused it to become a dedicated focus rather than just a passing interest.  

I am at that interesting place where I know just enough to be dangerous, I suppose; that place of "conscious incompetence" actively striving to become "conscious competent." A few very creative and techie people have crossed my path and their modelling of authentic technology integration has given me the courage to leap into the waters myself. Some of them even have amazing blogs and mine will be nothing like that for awhile I'm sure but what it WILL be is a place to chronicle the journey of one fairly ignorant educator entering the digital age.

Suggestions and comments are always welcome! Help me speed up the learning curve - my students will thank you!