Monday, September 14, 2015

Who Can...

Each year when I go to teach or introduce a new app to my students, I am always looking for leaders in the classroom.  I ask the students to step up and become teachers.  As we learn about and use the new app, students are encouraged to find something new and then share with the class.  They will then "hop on" using my Apple TV and share their knowledge about the app with the rest of the class.  It is such an amazing opportunity for kids to shine. 

This year I am really pushing the question, "Who Can _____?"  I ask this question A LOT and students' hands shoot up all over the classroom.  They are eager to show that they are learning how to use the app.  This question, although simple, has been a powerful tool when teaching my students how to use a new app.  My students are paying close attention as to how each app works.

My most recent focus has been on the app, Stick Around.  I am teaching students how to create puzzles, which involves various steps depending on what type of puzzle we are creating.  Students need to create templates, answer keys, and backgrounds.  They also add text, pictures and voice recordings.  Students then need to remember how to save projects.

For each of these major aspects of the app, Stick Around, I will shout out, "Who Can" followed with a specific part of the app.  "Who can remember how to save a puzzle?" "Who can show the class how to add text?" "Who can remember how to add stickers?" Who can show the class how to delete a sticker?"  All of these questions are simple, yet the students are eager and ready to share their knowledge with the class.  It is almost as if my students are competing to answer the question, "Who Can...?"!  

"Who can" has become a powerful question in my classroom.  My students are becoming leaders that listen, learn, and share!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

No Time, No Problem!

This year was a year of firsts for me, even though I have been teaching for eight years!  This was my first year starting the year off with iPads.  My previous year, I received the iPads in January, so the kids were already using them with Sharae Geldes.  We were able to dive right in and start using the iPads (no pre-teaching required).  So it was quite a shock, but also great learning/teaching experience starting from scratch this year.

Not only did I start from scratch this year, but we received a new Reading, Language Arts, Writing, and Spelling curriculum.  As a team we decided to rotate and somewhat departmentalize, so my job was to teach all of the Reading.  Learning about the new Reading curriculum and finding time to introduce apps was very difficult.  I struggled with setting aside time to learn about, explore, and create with newly introduced apps and then being able to keep up with what I needed to teach each day.  That is when I reached out to Michelle Boyce, a fellow iPad Academy teacher. 

Michelle suggested that I set aside 15 minutes for the kids to explore in groups.  Hearing that it only took 15 minutes to introduce a new app intrigued me, so I gave it a shot!  I had the kids work with their table group and explained to them that they needed to explore iMovie.  By the end of 10 minutes, they needed to have a Point of Discovery (thank you Michelle for this phrase), which is something new they discovered and they could come to the group with a question they still had.  The teamwork I witnessed as well as the excitement was unbelievable.  When we came together as a class, the kids "hopped on" using the reflector app and shared their  Points of Discovery.  They also asked their questions during the last five minutes that we had.  I didn't even answer the questions, because the kids jumped in and answered for me! My students were the teachers during this entire process.

As teachers, we know that it is important for students to be given the opportunity to engage in hands on learning.  They learned way more by doing, than just listening and watching me explain the app to them.  I am excited to use this strategy as I continue to introduce new apps in the future.  If you are a teacher that is struggling with finding time to introduce new apps to your students, I hope that you find this strategy useful!  It is a quick, easy, and an engaging way for your students to learn about the new apps you will be using in your classroom!