Week 2 of my focus on technology. "Chilly" in Vermont means starting each day with -20 temperatures. Head colds are circulating through the school and a surprise Lock Down drill happened right in the middle of a well planned lesson. No worries. My students huddled into a dark corner of my classroom during the lockdown with their iPads in absolute quiet. Each student was gaming or texting like crazy. I took a selfie and forwarded it to the principal.
Last week I introduced lessons to accommodate Luddites and iPad enthusiasts and this week was dedicated to keeping routines. I really need the transition towards technology to be smooth or learning will be set aside for entertainment value only. Notability is my go to workflow application for downloading and editing class notes. Each day, students followed the same work flow using various templates that I designed or chose- vocabulary organizers, CLOZE activities and reading comprehension charts. In Notability you can download the same template over and over to add to a note, building a word bank or a file on a particular subject. It was worthwhile to give students time for mastery, learning to utilize the text box, the text tool and the drawing tools. I try to increase student capabilities for blending text with illustration to increase text connections. Some students concentrated on adding details and colors to their sketches or finding images to copy/paste. There is more enthusiasm for sharing and presenting student work on what used to pass as mundane task.
Student pace varied quite a bit. Luckily I had a second classroom routine already set up. I put QR codes around the room, under tables, on windows and walls. Scanning a QR gives students static or interactive links to information. It is a timesaver. Never again do I have to spell out the letter combination of a a URL or tell students how to search the internet for a particular item. In this case, they all accessed the same historic map image. Students who were ahead could spend time downloading the QR reader app, students who were behind could have the colored map emailed from another student. The accompanying questions were based on the analysis, not the coloring. For my AP World History students, I tape a QR code to the classroom entrance and pen the date on the paper to keep track of itineraries for absentees. The daily itinerary and immediate access to class materials is a powerful motivator. Curiosity draws students towards the scan of this odd black/white code and the discovery of carefully selected activities effectively catches the attention of procrastinators. No one likes to be left behind.
Technology has added value to activities that used to be considered insignificant. I never could get away with worksheet activities because there used to be a reliance on me as the director of the task. Management of the 1:1 classroom takes a ton of planning but it releases students to work at their pace,relying on itineraries not teachers. Students naturally are quite excited to share and aid their peers. Conversations are richer. With this in mind I launched the use of agrrogrator applications, Feedly and Flipboard.
Aggregators present a selection of blogs, tags or searches or they allow you to personalize your choices. Instead of following the news presented by one source I require students to follow three sources. Flipboard allows students to follow stories and to flip them into a magazine, Feedly organizes the sources for easy access, eliminating the need for single searches. Students set their app up with a news category adding- al Jazeera and the BBC. They also added a news source of their own choice. Class time was used for perusing headlines and settling on a analyzing two different versions of a story. It was great to hear them share headlines out loud and then compare story details. Each student used my paper template to record their analysis to be reviewed later. The real understanding of the news comes from the conversations that fill the classroom
Time flew by.