Exploring Technology through Guided Inquiry, iOS, Kuwait, Professional Development

Inquiring into Technology

In the fall two grade 3 teachers asked my colleague and I to introduce iPad apps to their classes. After some coaching, we decided to start with introducing the big ideas behind presenting information before the apps. We’ve done that (post coming soon) and now the classes are ready to go further with some practical application of Contrast, Alignment, Repetition and Proximity. But because I like to think big (and make more work for myself), I wondered what a learning experience would look like for introducing any app to students.

Could we create a learning experience that could be adapted by teachers/instructional coaches for any creation app/program (and would not be boring or repetitive for students)?

After doing some brainstorming with Andria based on Kath Murdoch‘s Inquiry Cycle, I drafted the learning experience below. Anyone with the link is able to comment…looking forward to your warm and cool feedback!

Collaboration, Kuwait

Genuinely integrating technology – An email to #AISQ8 grade 1

Good evening grade 1 team!

Michelle emailed me with a request for some ideas about how to genuinely integrate technology (especially when not all students have iPads). We should probably start with tuning in. I recommend taking inventory of what your students already have. If they have apps that they have already paid for (like iMovie or Explain Everything), let’s get them using those. Other students might then want to use them and ask their parents (you aren’t asking!).

Talk to students about appropriate use of the iPad at home vs at school. Have them create folders for apps – allow them to choose which apps go into the school folder and which ones into the home folder (they could also choose what to call their folders). If they have specific apps that they know are appropriate for school, they will be able to make better choices when given ‘free’ time or choice in how to express themselves.

In the past we have had Explain Everything (a paid app) which allows students to add voice, text and drawings to pictures. Educreations is a good alternative. This might be a great starting point for your students – allow them to take pictures of their work (or other classroom items) and reflect on them. At the beginning of the year it may be difficult to express themselves only in writing and this could be an alternative to start with.

I still have some people to talk to, but I did some finding out for you. Hopefully the resources below aren’t overwhelming and allow you to do some sorting out. With all of this, I’d be more than happy to brainstorm with you further, be in your classroom to support the students while they work, work with small groups of students, co-teach or lead a small lesson. Enjoy and let me know what I can do to best coach you in the quest to meaningfully integrate technology 🙂

iPads & technology resources Wiki (lots of information from beginners to specific subjects)

Using an iPad in a grade 1 classroom

An update to post above (both may be a little outdated but a place to start!)

All iPad posts from Karen

Apps to add voice to pictures (& other resources)

All iPad posts from Leka (including one linked to Common Core)

Where these resources came from:

Leka & her blog

Karen & her blog

iOS, Kuwait

Garage Band & IB DP Oral Exams

A couple weeks ago our Language B department contacted me to train them on how to use Garage Band for their oral exams. I had only minimal experience from last year, so I contacted Christina (our curriculum coordinator) for the details. After a brief chat and checking out her blog post from her experience a couple years ago, I was ready.

The mini-training for our teachers was successful however they were a little nervous about remembering the exact right steps on the day of (they didn’t want their students to do amazing work to then realize that it didn’t record). In order to make it the simplest possible for the teachers, I created a tutorial with screen shots and a checklist they could use for each student. I got good feedback from it and thought I’d share it for any other DP teachers who need to submit oral exams to the IB. Feel free to share it and adapt as necessary!

1:1, iOS, Kuwait

Shared Vision – Input Appreciated!

Our school is currently using the ISTE Essential Conditions to evaluate our 1:1 iPad program and move it forward. We are currently working towards coming up with a shared vision. I’m excited about where the future lies!

I would love any input on our two draft visions! Feel free to comment here or add a comment to the google doc. Please share about your experiences or any advice! Thank you! 🙂

iOS, Kuwait

Community walk

In November, I participated in a Community Walk with one of our Grade 2 classes as part of their ‘Where We Are in Place and Time’ unit of inquiry. Their teacher, Ms. Kira, is currently working on her International Teaching Certificate and IB level 1 award and this was part of her course requirements.

In groups of 2 (each with an adult supervisor), students walked around the community near our school for 30 minutes. The majority of our students do not live near the school so this was a new experience for them. Their goal was to take pictures of the community and interview someone in order to learn about life in the community. Shahad and Lulwa were ready to go with their interview questions (2 pages!) and iPad.

They wandered around a bit before finding a man working at a bakala (convenience store) who agreed to answer their questions.

They had two full pages of questions that were…quite interesting and definitely detailed! Although I did have to help focus them, it was really fun to see them interact with a local community member in both Arabic and English.

They took pictures and videos using their school iPads during their walk in order to create a presentation for their classmates and parents. Afterwards, they ended up creating a 6 minute long Explain Everything…it was a struggle to watch. The heart was there but it was a time when the technology seemed to inhibit the demonstration of their learning. Explain Everything just has a few too many tools for 2nd graders. But I was also impressed that they did the video all by themselves (I had my suspicions about some of the other groups).

Overall I really enjoyed being a part of this experience and hope I can be more involved next year! Kira asked me to reflect further on the experience:

Explain how you believe the Community contributed to the cultural life of your school and how it contributed to the local community.

  • Most of our students don’t live in the community of the school. Being forced to actually go out and explore this community helped the students understand what life is like here. The saw the stark differences from what they’re used to seeing where they live. Walking around the community was not a normal part of their everyday lives and took courage on behalf of the students (and adults!). The walk helped our students become more open-minded and reflective. It also benefited the community – our school and the community are kept almost completely separate  99% of the time. This was a fantastic opportunity for the community to see and interact with the students at our school. It created a better understanding, both on the part of the school and the community, about what is on the other side of the walls. Our students took a risk to be communicators with adults in the community and were rewarded when those adults treated them with respect. Everyone learned something!

How did the Community Walk change your perception of the local community?

  • I enjoy interacting with the local businesses around our school (while still being conscious of my surroundings). Although I live in the community, our walk took us to streets that I do not often traverse. I enjoyed seeing the new businesses and how the employees interacted with the students. It was definitely a positive experience!
Kuwait, Professional Development

Visual interpretation in the language B classroom

Yesterday I attended the MS/HS language B department meeting. We have both MYP & DP Language B offered in Arabic and French. One of their criterion is Visual Interpretation. The teachers wanted to learn about a few ways they could create posters (etc) for summative tasks for their students. After doing a little research, I decided to highlight 4 tools: PS Touch, Glogster, ThingLink and Tumblr. Below is the follow-up email I sent out this morning. I would love to hear about how you and your students create visual interpretation tasks & summatives in your MYP or DP language B classes! 

My reflection: First – why not use authentic realia for visual interpretation tasks? The power of language B is that it is alive and real in the world. Second – as a language B teacher and technology integration lover, my mind goes to what can my students create. The tools I presented can simply be used by staff to create tasks for the students but the real power comes when the tasks can be transformative.

  • Students create their own media (or find Creative Commons licensed media).
  • Pictures are edited using Photoshop (Instagram?) and videos could be uploaded to YouTube.
  • This media is then be used to create Glogs and/or ThingLinks.
  • The next step (towards redefinition) would be to compile the media into a Tumblr blog where students could document the journey of their visual, reflect on their visual and others’ and get input from the teacher, classmates and people around the world.

Good morning!

Thanks for letting me stop by your department meeting yesterday. I hope the tech tools you saw gave you a few ideas for visual interpretation in your classrooms. When I chose them I thought that they could be used by teachers or students to create visuals. These tools range from augmentation (PS Touch) to the possibility for redefinition (Tumbr). If you’ve found other tools, please don’t hesitate to share! Let me know if you have any questions. 🙂

Creative Commons Search – a great place to start to find media (photos, videos, audio, etc) that you are allowed to use (not copyrighted).

PS Touch (school iPad app)

  • No account needed.
  • Can create visuals with text from basic to advanced.
  • Tutorials built into app.
  • Students can email photo and/or print (or export to use in one of the options below).

Glogster (create & view on computer, view only on iPad)

  • You must create an account.
  • There is a free version that includes a 31-day premium trial.
  • Students should use Glogster.com to create accounts.
  • Great for students or teachers to create.
  • Choose your editable template. Add text, graphics, images, audio and video. Save & share the link. Can be printed.
  • CAN view on iPad (with free app) but cannot create.

ThingLink (also a free app)

  • You must create an account.
  • Great for students or teachers to create.
  • Can create and view on both computer & iPad.
  • Add an image. Then add ‘tags’ to insert text, photos, web links, music or videos. Share & save the link. Not ideal for printing.
  • Cool example

Tumblr (also a free app)

  • You must create an account.
  • You can have multiple ‘blogs’ per account.
  • Best for students to create on-going visuals throughout a unit.
  • Add text, photos, quotes, web links, chats, audio & video.
  • Students can share the link to their Tumblr blog with teachers. Not ideal for printing.
  • Has potential for redefinition (SAMR).
COETAIL, Collaboration, iOS, Professional Development

I watched #COETAILCast 11

And really enjoyed it! Definitely worth an hour of your time. But if you don’t have that much time, here are the highlights (according to me):

COETAILers on Twitter
After the workshop I gave at PEAK on Saturday, I found value in the conversation re: Twitter. Becoming a connected educator can do so much for you and for the education community.

COETAILers on Blogging 
A great discussion about making the time to blog and what to blog about. Hopefully something we can use during our KIEC workshops in January. Two highlights for me: “If you’re in a tech integration job, part of your job is to blog, to reflect” (Jeff Utecht) & “Write for yourself” (Chrissy).

Dana Watts on iPads in education
Dana summed up everything I believed in the perfect way. I’m not going to try to paraphrase. Just go watch it (only a minute or two).

1:1, Collaboration, iOS, Kuwait

Language B Final Exam Review

When I brainstormed with the Language B department (Arabic & French) about how they could meaningfully integrate technology (SAMR prof development), they were eager to talk about the (quickly approaching) end of the year. Reviewing with students can be frustrating for both students and teachers. They wanted a way to put the responsibility of the review on their students while also engaging them. Although we came up with several ideas, they were most intrigued by Popplet (some of them had already seen it) and two of our French teachers (MYP & DP) gave it a try.

The teachers signed up for free Popplet accounts. For homework, the students signed up for accounts. Amel, the DP French teacher, created a popplet for each unit. She then created popples for grammar, vocabulary, and sub-topics. Once the structure was set, she invited students to the popplet. It was the students’ responsibility to fill in the popplet with grammer concepts, vocabulary words and sub-topics.
Tronc commun  Relations sociales

The middle school MYP teacher also used Popplet in a similar way with her students.
FRENCH REVIEW GRADE7

It was fun to hear the oohs and aahs from the students when I added a popple from the desktop and it showed up on their screens. The teachers liked that their students could collaborate and that each popple automatically included the creator’s name. Although only the creator can edit a popple, the teachers liked the comment function to help guide students. The ease of adding students to popplets was beneficial for the teachers. The ability to share links to popplets (on their class Edmodo pages) and create images was incredibly useful. The biggest negative? We’re an iPad school – the fully functional free website is flash-based and the app (with ability to collaborate) costs money. Also, you can only create a limited number of popplets (easily solved by saving the image when done and deleting the popplet).

Although this isn’t a “redefined” use of technology, the ability to simultaneously collaborate on a brainstorm with students gives it more oomph than “substitution.” It was a little taster for our teachers and hopefully they’ll be able to build on their experiences next year.

Google, iOS, Kuwait

Google Earth in lower elementary

Last weekend at the Middle East GAFE Summit, I had the pleasure of meeting John Bailey and attending one of his sessions on Google Earth. The man knows his stuff! While I was at his session, I was finally inspired to share an idea I had for the KG2 teachers recently. I’m sure John could embellish it and make it much better (as he found out he was selected to attend the next Google Teacher’s Academy while we were there..congrats John!) but I do what I can. 😉

During the 3-hour planning meeting for the IB PYP KG2 unit, it was mentioned that in the past students have looked at their food wrappers to see where their food comes from. I thought this would be a great way to incorporate Google Earth!

After students find out where their food is from, the teacher could create a placemark for each student/food item. Instead of just creating simple placemarks, I went one step further  and inserted pictures. I took a picture of the food item using my iPad. I then created a secret board on Pinterest (using the iPad app). On my computer, I copied the image URL of the picture on Pinterest. In the placemark, I clicked ‘add image’ and pasted the URL. You could also put the pictures on your website…you just need to be able to get the image URL. If you want to get really awesome, you could mess around with Tours and create a video of all the placemarks.

Although you cannot create placemarks on the iPad (that I’ve found…let me know if you figure it out!), you can open your Trip on the iPad. I emailed myself the Google Earth attachment (you can also upload it to your Google Drive) and was able to open and view it on the iPad. Students can now actually SEE where their food came from! Pretty cool, huh?

(I couldn’t get the embed gadget to work for the Google Earth file. Feel free to open it in Google Earth! Merci to Jeff for his modeling skills 🙂

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Just my honest opinion & experience.

iOS, Kuwait, Professional Development

A Reflection on Tech Integration – SAMR

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with this whole technology integration initiative that is sweeping the world. Yesterday Jeff and I went into a 1st grade classroom to help them create word-webs and stories using their iPads. It didn’t go as smoothly as one would hope and by the end we were wondering if the technology made the project better.

This morning we were truly challenged as Technology Coaches – two elementary teachers are starting their final project for COETAIL and need to integrate technology into a unit plan. Unlike many teachers that we come into contact with they know about SAMR and want to attain the Redefinition level.
This is what our job is supposed to be…right? Integrating technology in a way that redefines education? I honestly can’t say we’ve done a ton of that this year. I often wonder how many technology coaches (or whatever you’d like to call us) are truly helping teachers CHANGE education through the use of technology. I’m not naive enough to think that it can happen for every task that a student completes…but how about once a unit? Once a month? I’d take once a year! So many people (me included) are quick to make suggestions for integrating technology (in our case iPads) – make movies, use Explain Everything, write blogs, etc. How often do we stop to think…and ask ourselves “Is technology making my lessons better?” and “Where am I on the continuum?” I’ve sat around tables with teachers who truly believe that they are redefining & transforming education when they are simply at the substitution stage. I am just as guilty of this too! There are thousands of education blogs out there boasting about the latest and greatest way technology is “changing” their classroom. But is it really?

So where do we (me, my school, you, your school, educators around the world) go with this? How do we ensure that technology isn’t just a band-aid? I’ve had this discussion with Jeff countless times. But how do we have this discussion with other teachers without stepping on toes and hurting feelings? We haven’t introduced the SAMR or TPACK models to staff yet because we think they’d be a little overwhelmed (have you read Nicholas Provenzano‘s rant?). We are also in limbo waiting to hear what our iPad initiative will look like next year. Do we introduce these models? If so, when?

Quality technology integration isn’t easy. It’s takes time, patience and lots of brain power. It takes CHANGING the way we teach. Are we ready for that?

Get started redefining…
Exploring the SAMR model (ECISD Technology)
Brief Intro to TPCK & SAMR (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
Technology in Education: A Brief Video Intro (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
More on SAMR (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
Elementary example of SAMR
TPACK
TPACK Explained

This is in no way a complete list…please feel free to share more!