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.
Mrs. Gruzen's and Mrs. Husick's classes participated in the Monster Project this year (2013-14). The project helps the students to develop their reading and writing skills while integrating technology into the classroom. Each class is paired up with another participating class somewhere in the world. Students draw their own monsters, our students drew their monsters on the iPad using Pixie. The students then have to write a description of their monsters with as much detail as possible. The students from the partner class then try to draw the monsters using these descriptions. In the end everyone gets to see what the original monster looked like and students get to see what monsters their partners drew using the descriptions.
Here is a link to the Main Monster Project Wiki Page.
These are the links to the 2G page and their partner's page with their monsters, descriptions and what their partners drew.
These are the links to the 2H page and their partner's page with their monsters, descriptions and what their partners drew.
Below are the videos that 2G and 2H made to introduce themselves to their partner class. The movie was made using just the iPad and iMovie.
Back in November we held our second Parent Tech Meeting. The topic of discussion was how the parents could use their iPads to promote creativity and critical thinking in their children and not just as a device to plug them into to consume videos and play games.
We provided iPads for the parents and also encouraged parents to bring their own iPads to the meeting so we could introduce them to a number of different creativity and critical thinking Apps and give them time to play and experiment with the apps.
For Creativity we introduced Drawing Pad, Pic Collage, and Book Creator and for Design/Critical Thinking Apps we pointed them towards Bubble Ball, Cargo Bot, Hopscotch, and Minecraft.
Lots of good discussion and ideas were generated by parents surrounded by these apps. You could see the lightbulbs going off in their heads and smiles come to their faces as they realized how their iPads could be used to get their children to create and think critically as opposed to just consuming content.
Below is the handout presenting different creativity and critical thinking apps we use at ASW that would be useful to parents to have on their personal iPads. At the bottom you can click the link to download the document.
Our Grade 2 students are using VoiceThread to build Reading Portfolio and a Writing Portfolio to document their progress throughout the year. Students used the iPad to create and add to their Voicethread Portfolios. However, they could also use the laptops.
At the end of each writing unit the students prepare a final writing piece and draw a picture to represent the piece. Students then add a slide to the writing portfolio voicethread, take a picture of their drawing then add a voice comment to the slide where they narrate their writing piece. At the end of the year each student will have a nice portfolio of all their final writing pieces. The teachers have also embedded each student writing portfolio into their blog/weebly so parents can then view and listen to each of the writing pieces created by their child.
At the beginning of the year each student picked a book for the reading level at that time. They took a picture of the cover of the book and added it as a slide to their reading portfolio voicethread. The students then record a voice comment on the slide where they read the book or a sample from the book, usually about two minutes of reading. Whenever a student moves up a reading level they choose a book from the level they are leaving and creates a new slide on the reading portfolio once again taking a picture of the cover and recording a 2 min reading sample from the book. This is an excellent way to document the students reading progress and can be continued from one year to the next. The teachers have also embedded each student reading portfolio into their blog/weebly so parents can then listen to the progress their child has made from one reading level to the next and so on.
Below are samples of a writing and a reading portfolio.
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