Our grade three and four students are learning to use an iPad app called Explain Everything to use in a variety of subjects this year. This app is a great way for our students to make their learning visible by explaining what they are learning and what they know across the content areas. One important skill for our young learners to understand is how to learn a new app or software application, so we turned this lesson into a guided exploration time with the Explain Everything app. The students were given the iPads and a list of skills they would need to know to use the app in their learning and were left to explore and figure out how to accomplish the skills they will need. We talked about ways we learn new skills: YouTube videos, asking others, searching the Internet - and we also talked about what we do when we take a look at a new app on the iPad: look at the buttons and menus, try different things out, tap on parts of the screen and just see what happens when we "play". The students then spent the next 45 minutes teaching themselves (and sometimes their classmates) how to use the Explain Everything app. The level of conversation and excitement in the room was palpable as some students entered a learning situation that was new and uncomfortable. Many students wanted to be told what to do or be shown how to accomplish the tasks on the list, but after a bit of time all of the students embraced the opportunity to explore and take charge of their learning. At the end of the lesson, the students had a better understanding of the app than they would have if the teachers had demonstrated the skills they needed to know and we are hoping this knowledge will transfer as they begin to use this app to make their learning visible across the content areas.
Students in grades three, four and five have received the Responsible Use Policy for the ASW elementary school. The tech coaches have introduced the policy to each of the classrooms and reviewed the contents and the meaning. Students should have taken this document home to review with their parents and then it needs to be signed and returned to school so the students can begin to use the equipment in the classroom.
In addition to reviewing our RUP, the students were also introduced to their new laptop and procedures for using the laptop in the classroom. Students set up a folder to save their work and created a dropbox account so they can learn to backup their work. Backing is part of being a responsible user of technology.
To kick off a Mystery unit in literacy and to reinforce the searching skills the kids have been learning, the third grade participated in a Mystery Skype with another class in the world. Each class started by preparing a list of questions they would ask the other class to try to find out what city in the world they are located in. They then came up with a list of clues they could provide about Warsaw that would help the other class locate us. After all of the clues and questions were created, the kids divided into two teams -- the questioning team and the answering team. The questioning team was in charge of asking the questions to the other class and then selecting the best next question based on the answer that they received. The answering team was in charge of listening to the question the other class asked and coming up with the correct answer. Within each team, the students selected the roles that each team member would hold. The roles included lead researcher, map researcher, questioner, answerer, greeter, closer, key word researcher, and information recorders. Overall, our first Mystery Skype experience went very well and the students had a great time learning about another city. Our mystery city was Prague, Czech Republic!
Click here to learn more about Mystery Skype.
Watch the video below to watch our third graders in action.
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