Wednesday, February 26, 2014

week 5/6 1:1 iPad rollout- To differentiate

Living in Vermont means making amends for educational productivity when a perfect snowstorm blankets the state. Students and teachers embrace the cold powder while it lasts. We ski, we snowboard, we play hard. No wonder that 16 Olympians are from Vermont.  At school we gained one actual snow day and then a week of residual effects as smiling, exhausted populations loped through the doors. Now we are on our winter break. Week 5 merged into week 6 of my experience with a 1:1 iPad rollout but not without sound accomplishment.

Smart Technology- Students no longer groan when I request their weekly download of additional apps. I offhandedly created a metaphor to explain I need them to access a variety of apps.  Imagine the iPad as a "dumb" robot. Each application that we add to it gives it a function like a brain. We are the masters building the brain of this device. Instead of playing games, we need to control the games, control the applications. We make it a "smart" technology.

The Roll of Master-  A roll students seem to accept the roll through experimentation with apps like Stencyl, Scratch and GamePress. I am out of my comfort zone so I turn lessons over to my husband/ tech integrationist.  He assured me opportunities for game design during winter break directing me to a webpage he had ready to guide beginners through the gaming process.  Content wise, my world history students are studying philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. We use the basis of 18th century theories to examine contemporary issues that students are already urgent to discuss and explore.  After the winter break we will use a conversation rubric to prepare a variety of Salon style conversations performed for peers. Blending visionary philosophies of Voltaire, Locke and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin with game theorists like Jane McGonigal and James Paul Gee has immediate appeal for gamers. Students are so used to gaming that being in charge of designing a game is quite new to them. I never thought that I would be the first to suggest this to them. 

Immediate Response lends to better discourse- Quizzes are posted through our Haiku platform which student take multiple times, on their own time, with only highest scores recorded. This week I introduced the app, Socrative. I preloaded a multiple choice questionnaire meant to separate student responses relative to their political affinities: radical, liberal, conservative, reactionary.  Students click on the app and enter the room number assigned to my account, and begin answering questions at the start of class. It is so easy to process results and present them as a spreadsheet for examination. I present political ideologies as a spectrum and project the results along the spectrum. I take time to answer or engage each student's opinion regarding the outcomes. Cognizant of classroom management with a need to break away from the iPad, we close them down, engage in physical activity, then a reading from a tangible text. Over reliance on one technology just as over reliance on one textbook is not conducive to differentiated learning. The class comes full circle back to discourse comparing political platforms to ideology. Feeling impulsive I type up one Socrative exit ticket- What idea is worth fighting for? Students were spurred to answer and view results. The gambit of "love, freedom, guns, ur mom"... ended class on a happy note.  

I have underestimated the appeal of game shows.  My husband urged me to check out the gamified assessment tool through getkahoot.com. The site allows me to access publicly shared quizzes or create my own.  Set up for my own current news quiz took 30 minutes. I downloaded images and hit launch. Instructions cued me to display the game room number and offer lobby music while students prepared for game play.  iPads become instant response systems once they entered Kahoot.it through their browser and choose their displayed nickname. Students opted to compete individually or as teams. The surface of the iPad displays brightly colored multiple choice buttons. My screen displays the countdown timer, the leader board for quickest, correct response and of course, the lobby music.  Students had so much fun racing each other to get onto the leader board shrieking and yelling loud enough to draw a perturbed math teacher into the room with a request to keep it down. While I am in the experimental stage with Kahoot it is possible to download the quiz data and track team/ individual results over time. I can't wait to explore the shared quizzes and share my own. 


Notability- I sing its praise weekly but Storyme adds that je ne sais quoi.  I have changed assignment structures to depend on review and synthesis of notes. Ideally we spiral back to our notes throughout the year affirming or changing how we think. It was especially useful to return to notability and collected images when I asked students to illustrate comparative studies of world leadership. I introduced Storyme as a perfect app for illustrating a point in a storyboard. It turns photos into comic book sketches. It allows for  simple, short captions and bubbles for dialogue. I had to share this app with a few teachers who responded by sending me Storyme emails instead of the usual typed text.  It has been awhile since I have enjoyed playful banter with colleagues.  Take a selfie, add a message and end with a bubble(dramatic), " noooooo! Swoon! Not another faculty meeting!"

An educational shift is taking place in the 1:1 iPad classroom. Students arrive each day for the most part with notebooks open, writing utensils ready. The notebook is their iPad, the utensil. A finger or stylus. Total homework completion is on the rise, not one student has lost a single assignment and I'm working with various students individually or collaboratively by choice. And here's a real thriller for high school teachers...I'm observing students reading. The access to choice readings based on thematic research has led to students spending class time reading deliberately. And they pause to summarize for me their readings.  One student, absorbed in the biography of Che Guevara, was unaware that class had ended.  His final assessment piece was handed in later than other students but I couldn't penalize him with a late work grade in good faith.  I had to give him more time. Guess what? He wasn't reading from wikipedia.  I give students the option to default to wikipedia if the video links, trusted sites and academic databases supplied are too difficult or lacking in intrigue. The librarians have helped create accessible pathways to academic databases. We routinely model use of databases comparative to search engines. Choice and ease of access is compelling. My nonchalance and persistent expectation for comparative review of more than one source edges students towards exploration of the myriad of perspectives on the internet.  While I am happy to have vacation time to enjoy the last days of Vermont winter I must admit, I can not wait to get back to the classroom.




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