The real power of interactive technologies is that they let us learn in ways that aren’t otherwise possible or practical. – David Lassner
Wow…where did the school year go? We have only 24 days remaining! At school, we have been busy going about the business of learning, and in the evenings, I have been busy going about the business of dissertation writing. The end for both is in sight!
I was recently asked for some lesson plan examples from someone looking for ideas to integrate the iPad into instruction. I felt badly, as I had none to send. I love sharing with others (thus, the purpose of this blog), but I don’t write lesson plans around the use of our iPad devices. My lesson plans reflect the content and the standards, but not the tools. My students have the choice to use the iPad or other tools in our classroom to demonstrate their learning, including paper and pencil. I don’t write lesson plans around the pencil, so I don’t write them around the iPad either.
That being said, the quote above concerning interactive technologies is spot on. Using and combining apps to synthesize concepts is only possible with the use of interactive technology. The best part is we don’t have to wait until children are older to utilize these technologies for learning. In my classroom, students choose apps to demonstrate their learning. Here are a few examples where students used the Drawing Pad app to illustrate and then used the Skitch app to annotate.
As my students use labeling like scientists, they are learning that labeling gives more information about a picture. From here, the kids went on to write about their learning.
Using a variety of creation apps, students have the ability to create and express themselves in a digital way that they otherwise can’t in an analog way. By focusing on the content, the importance is placed on the learning and not the tool.
Tell your story…do epic stuff!
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. -Albert Einstein
The blank stare…You know, the one that either says, “I have no earthly idea what you are talking about.” or “Why are you telling me this? I already know it.” I suppose there is one other possibility. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?… Utter and complete boredom. Misconceptions and lack of engagement can both derail the learning process.
One of the apps we use really gets to the heart of both of those concerns. I’ve written about Explain Everything before. It really is a robust app. The best part is that it is easy enough for my 5 year olds, yet just as relevant and engaging for older students. I’ve even seen a few adults having a great time creating a screen cast in this app. We used this app weekly last spring. This past week was the first time we used it this school year. We’ve been learning about Spiders in science. My students all drew a detailed spider picture in our Drawing Pad app and saved it to the camera roll. Then they uploaded it to Explain Everything. We’ve been working on labeling like a scientist in our Writing Workshop so they labeled their drawings and then they recorded themselves telling about their work. As I was showing this app to a small group, their eyes widened and they were immediately interested in doing their own. They were very excited and had great conversations amongst themselves as they discussed the length/width of the arrows used to point to their objects. Should it point this way or that? What if they moved this over there? Noticeably absent were questions directed at ME. Even though this was their first time using this app, they were busy figuring things out themselves and working through ideas, thoughts and questions with their peers.
This first time with Explain Everything was very successful. After completing their assignment, they uploaded it to Showbie where I could then see and listen to each one. As the year progresses, Explain Everything will always be one of their go-to apps to share with me what they have learned. As we work on unpacking standards and demonstrating learning, my students have voice and choice in how they want to document what they know.
While iPads are often thought of as a consumptive device, through the use of creation apps, students are able to create their own content. Explain Everything allows students to create both simple and complex presentations in an engaging way in any subject. Our first product this week is more simple but they will become more complex as the year goes on. This is Caitlyn’s Explain Everything:
Want to lose the blank stares? Engage students, get to the heart of what they know and don’t know, and stimulate their minds and their conversations. Any takers? Anyone? Anyone?
Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!