Best Grandparent’s Day Ever!

Decided to stick with a tried and true grandparent’s day hit: have students and their grandparents use their mapping skills to plan a vacation together (or remember a trip they have already taken). We’ve been doing some mapping in class and this has always been a good lesson for students practice creating keys and legends. The iPad was an awesome addition to this lesson. Students and grandparents went on the National Geographic Atlas app and were able to zoom in and see exactly where they wanted to go. Many of them went to Google Images to see what they would see on their trip and add diagrams to each of the locations on the map. It was really cool to see the kids’ comfort level with the technology and watch as they shared their expertise with their grandparents.


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iMovie and bio-poems

After learning about iMovie during the iPad training at Denver Academy this summer, I was really excited to find a way to incorporate iMovie with poetry.  Visual imagery can be extraordinarily powerful when coupled with poetry.  In the past, I’ve had students add clip art pictures to poems that they have typed up.  Or I have had students add sketches to handwritten poetry.  iMovie allows for visual images and music to be tied into the poetry to bring across poetry in a movie format.  While iMovie on the iPad is not a true movie experience, but more of a fancy slide show, it’s perfect for fifth graders to fuse poetry and technology together to create something more impacting than just a poem on paper.

The lessons began by looking at a paper version on the bio-poems.  After reading through a pair of examples and then discussing the content of each line, the class wrote a model of a bio-poem in a shared writing exercise.  Next they were ready to investigate and create a bio-poem independently.  Once through the writing process, students shared and edited their poems in pairs.  After working through paper practice of the bio-poems, students were introduced to a model of a bio-poem on iMovie and they participated in a discussion about the movie versus the poem.

Students were then given time to begin exploring iMovie and creating their bio-poem iMovies.  Movies will likely take 2-3 days.  Students have asked to work on the movies this coming weekend, which demonstrates they are motivated to keep exploring.  The question for me is are they motivated because they like the activity or the exploring of the iPad app?  I like to think it’s both which is a positive thing.


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Math class

Introducing kids to math/logic games such as ken ken, sudoku, 9gaps, motion math. Have also used adobe ideas to have kids do lots of problems for estimating division. kids seem to be more engaged on the iPad than with pencil and paper. To practice math facts, using an app called math drills. So far, so good.


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Who Knew?

I wouldn’t have guessed that highlighting could be so fun.  Students downloaded The Wizard of Oz so they could take a look at Dorothy’s heroic journey.  Free on iBooks!  They then learned to highlight, taught me how to navigate through the text faster, and we added notes to the text (some students even color coded the notes so correspond with each section of the journey).  It was amazing to see them get so fired up about something so simple.


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Uses of the iPad in English class so far

It’s fascinating seeing how students use the iPad in class as well as to come up with new and different ways to integrate technology into English class beyond your basic word processing.  In the first three weeks, students have used the iPad to:

  • help with spelling challenging words-this is in the Word XL app.  Students type in what they think is the spelling and then have to figure out what is the correct spelling from the suggested list of words.
  • locate images to use as a spring board for writing activities.  Looking at a picture of a beach to develop descriptive language for a memoir story.  Finding an image to add meaning to poem which has been typed on Pages.
  • create vocabulary flash cards using visual images to help bring more understanding to the meanings of words.  This was done in the Keynote app.
  • searching Safari for biographical information for an assignment having to do with their summer reading.

Although we don’t use the iPad every day in English class, students are learning that it is a great reference resource.  In the future we’ll be exploring:

  • bio poems on iMovie
  • creating blogs as a reading reflection journal
  • developing Keynote presentations to convey memoirs in a different format.
  • reading class novels in eBooks


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First three weeks…

It has been a whirlwind start to the school year with 71 new eager and energetic students, a thrilling trip to La Foret last week, getting used to a new schedule, and most importantly the iPads to start learning the ins and outs with.  This blog is going to be the place where the MESH team shares our highlights and low lights with the pilot, ideas and apps we found useful or ineffective in the classroom, and our general thoughts on this once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in an IT pilot.

With our stop light system in place within the MESH classrooms and soon to be in the specials classrooms, managing the iPads has been relatively simply. Students now expect to come into our classrooms and to listen to a message from the teachers or see a message on the board as to whether the iPads are stowed (red light), placed on desks but in a closed position (yellow), or open and ready to be used at the start of class (green).  With these expectations in place, the students have demonstrated responsibility with and respect for these tools which Graland has chosen to give them for the 2011-2012 school year.

Stay tuned to this blog for thoughts and reflections, news ideas and apps to consider using or avoiding in the future.


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