Tuesday, February 11, 2014

iPads in the Self-Contained Classroom

I am in a self contained classroom at a public separate school. My class consists of eight students with varying levels of academic and physical functioning.  In our classroom we have two sets of iPads.  We have been using the iPads for a variety of classroom activities.  The main thing that they enjoy using them for is free time activities.  We help them navigate to educational apps to learn about math, reading, and science.  We have more involved students that enjoy going on the iPads to watch videos regarding science.  One student uses the iPad as a motivational tool to increase his range of motion.  He has a cause and effect app that he enjoys but in order to make it work he has to reach to touch the screen.  This in turn increases his range of motion because he has to reach to where we place it to access it.  They ask for the iPads every morning when they come in the room.  It has been a joy to watch them increase their knowledge about how to navigate around and find the apps that they are looking for.  Through the use of the iPads several of my students have increased their sight word vocabulary and their communication skills.  Number identification has dramatically improved for another one of my students.  The students also enjoy having the ability to participate in group activities that we are doing on the whiteboard through the use of the Splashtop app on the iPad.  The ability to control a part of their own learning has helped them to not only enjoy school more but also increased their knowledge.

The Ross Bunch

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Using Less Paper with a Few iPads

Often teachers struggle with how to use iPads in the classroom daily. This year I am using a small group of iPads (7) during my reading workstations which helps to eliminate making the many copies that I have made in the past. It also has helped to enhance my students' excitement for learning and has provided access to a wider range of knowledge which is provided through the internet.

My students are using the iPads to complete their reading workstations for the week. I have two google accounts which one is my personal school account and the other is for the students to use and access.  I create reading workstations on my personal school account and copy it to my student account.  I do not want my students to be able to access my original copy.  I currently have four heterogeneous groups in my classroom which are called by the following names: Yummy Yellow, Radiant Red, Brilliant Blue, and Outstanding Orange.  When I copy my workstations to my student account, I make four copies of workstations and make a title with their group names in them.  When the students access the account, they look under their groups names and fill in what is asked of them for that week.  I found that the Google app does not work well on the iPad 1s.  For some reason, they cannot edit the Google documents. The students login through Safari and are able to edit their documents with this method. I no longer have to make copies for each students and each station.  It not only helps me out, but it also helps the students.  There are some students who struggle with keeping up with their weekly workstations papers.  By using the iPads, their group work is saved on the iPad through the Google documents and their do not even have to press save.  This way of doing things helps me and the students. 

Our grade level integrates our Social Studies curriculum into our reading stations.  The students use the iPads to watch videos and answer questions.  They also use the iPads when working on research projects.  We recently started researching some of the battles that took place in North Carolina which led up the American Revolution.  The students have been given safe websites and videos to find information on each battle.  They are also encouraged to use their Social Studies book.  By researching this way, they are having to use higher order thinking skills in formulating their own ideas on the topic and use different types of media to do so. The students are also learning how to work together and collaborate with different types of personalities. By using this technology in the classroom, it has not only enhanced my students learning, but it has cut down on the amount of paper I have to use.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Small Set of iPads and a World Language Classroom

There are many blog posts and articles out there about having one iPad in the classroom and how to make it work. There are also many posts and articles about having a class set of iPads. I have read many posts and articles of both kinds. However, I find myself in a rather unique position. I have a small group of iPads, 6 to be exact. It is more than one and less than a class set, so how do I work with them?
That is the question that stumped me for a while. I have found 3 great ways to use them to enhance my teaching.
Being a Spanish teacher, I am often asked how to say a word. If I’m not asked how to say a word or sentence, then I often find them using Google Translate. I don’t want to be their personal dictionary and Google Translate doesn’t help them decide which word is correct. So I use my projector to introduce them to a website that will help them. In case you are curious, it is http://wordreference.com. This website is a dictionary. It will give them various options for a word, so they need to make the decision which one to use.
Having 6 iPads has made it much easier to tell them, look it up. When we are doing a project and several students need to find various words, I hand out the iPads and they can share them in small groups. Each child can find what they need and pass it along to another one who is looking for information. When students need to look up little bits of information, a small set of iPads are immensely helpful.

2.       Collaboration
Another feature of a world language classroom is that students need to speak together often in order to practice the language. As such, the iPads are a great tool to encourage them to work together and speak. Without the iPads, they fall into the habit of one student doing most of the work, the others copying, and trying to stutter out a few words. With the iPad, they all want to contribute. Instead of assigning 3 activities to be written by hand, I can assign them to be completed with Haiku Deck or VoiceThread or Blackboard. Writing a sentence or filling in the blank is much more engaging when done on Blackboard. Asking a classmate a question and recording their answer is much more interesting using VoiceThread. A review assignment becomes more memorable when done on Haiku Deck.  A ‘boring’ assignment with a partner or a group can be more engaging, interesting, and memorable when technology is added.

3.       Cultural Explorations
Studying cultures are a vital part of any world language program. There is only so much talking a person can do and expect the student to be interested. It is much more helpful to talk about something and show them photos or videos. However, even better is when they can do the talking and showing. They can work in groups to study various aspects of a country or the different ways a topic is approached in different countries.
Of course they will be students for one reason or another cannot participate in a cultural activity. In those cases, the iPad is a wonderful way for them to explore another cultural topic and demonstrate what they had learned. Culture can be a fun part of the world language classroom and iPads make it come to life for these students.

The world language classroom takes a different approach than most other classrooms. However a few iPads can make a difference in a world language classroom and in your classroom too!