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!

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

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!

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!

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).

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).