Summer Fun and Draw Something

A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.  –Robert Orben

I live 10 minutes from this beach.  It serves as both an inspiration and a distraction depending on your frame of mind.  After a long school year, it is a soothing medication to frayed nerves.  The wind and waves are hypnotic.  On this day, soaking up the warm sun, I find I must confess something…

I am addicted to the Draw Something app on my iPad.

Draw Something is a free social drawing game you play with others.  You can find friends through email or Facebook.  Once you create a game with someone, you are given 3 words of varying difficulty to choose from.  You choose the word and draw.  When finished, it goes to the other person who watches your drawing being created on their screen.  They are given a tray of letters at the bottom they must choose from and re-arrange to guess the word.  Once they guess, it is their turn to draw and you must guess.  Coins are earned for the varying difficulty of the pictures drawn and they may be exchanged for additional colors. It is similar to the game Pictionary.  I find that using a stylus is much easier for drawing than using my finger.  It is fun and I think I mentioned…addictive. 

While this app isn’t appropriate for my students, the concept is appropriate. Initially, I could introduce the game on my iPad with the Whiteboard app.  I could draw something they would be familiar with and have a few letters at the bottom for them to unscramble to guess the word.  Showing this on my Smart Board would allow all to see and participate.  Once they have the concept of the game, they could then partner play on their own.  This would build spelling skills, vocabulary and fine motor skills.

Of course, I will spend this summer in *ahem* Research and Development to perfect any “kinks” to make it easier for my students…after all, it is about them right? Um, gotta run…it’s my turn and I need to figure out how to draw Lady Gaga.

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iPads in the Classroom: A Parent’s Perspective

School is officially out for summer. Today’s post was written by Angie Mizzell. Her son Dillon was in my class this year.

“Mom, how many trees are in the world?” my son asked a few weeks ago, as we were driving to school down a two-lane, tree-lined road.

“That’s a really good question. I don’t know. Billions? Trillions? A lot.” And then I remembered a blog post Kristi had written. “I wonder if there’s a way to find out?”

He responded quickly, as if he’d come to the conclusion on his own. “I could type on my iPad, ‘How many trees are there.'”

When my son started school last August, he was still learning letter sounds. Today, as an official kindergarten grad, he’s reading on a first grade level and doing Google searches to find out how many trees exist in the world. (Turns out I’m a good guesser.)

Did the iPad contribute to that? That’s a question for people who collect data. I’m a mom, and I tend to operate under this philosophy: Seeing is believing. And what I’ve seen is a teacher who uses iPads to meet her students where they are and take them as far as they can go.

I visited the classroom earlier in the year, and it felt familiar to me—a mix of what I recall about kindergarten and first grade combined: Students writing on primary ruled paper, breaking up into smaller, focused reading groups and playing in centers (think blocks and housekeeping). And of course, the children were oozing with cuteness.

I watched a child at the SMART Board, building words by dragging letters from the bottom of the screen. I was intrigued by how engaged my son appeared while working on his iPad.

It’s the natural evolution of things. Today, when my child walks around with a notebook and a pencil (his journal, he says) recording thoughts, I realize the “old” and the “new” can coexist.

My son represents the future, and I’m encouraged by what I see.