Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The future of app education

Today, my second graders will be using an app that utilizes augmented reality technology (Fetch! Lunch Rush by PBS KIDS). I am excited about the future of augmented reality for educational purposes. It will allow words and images to LITERALLY come off the pages/tablets. So far, this technology has been mainly pc based but I have a feeling the great minds of appdom will be jumping on this more and more. I have a folder on my iPad labeled "augmented reality apps" and I occasionally search the App Store using this term because I see the benefits of 3d in the educational setting. I used augmented reality technology last year to show students a 3d heart pumping blood and we discussed the chambers.

I am also excited about taking my fifth graders on a QR CODE map quest today. This lesson will not only allow them to use a map to find certain points on campus, but once the points are found the students will scan QR CODES to learn more about maps at each location. At the end of the class, they will come to me with 3 facts they have learned typed into their notes page while on this quest. I am excited about today\\\'s adventures!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

apple configurator angst

I\\\'ve tried to be patient with apple configurator and not blog about it in the midst of a strife full moment (so it has taken a while to find a good time :p)...

The THEORY of Apple Configurator is awesome. A free software that runs on a Mac that allows you to update all your iPads at one time. The joy theory is that it saves you oodles of time because you don\\\'t have to do each individual iPad every time you want to make a change on all thirty iPads (in my case).

The FACT of Apple Configurator is that it is complex and quirky. I am hoping I am finally in a place where I\\\'ve worked (not twerked) out the quirks and I can feel comfortable and confident in using it each week.

Little weirdnesses that I\\\'ve experienced:

A) setting it up and configurating it each time with my apps takes approximately an hour...that has to be added into your work week planning. So far, I am having trust issues with it as well because of how it has treated me, so I\\\'m using about 3 hours to make sure everything works.

B) if you supervise your iPads (which we chose to do for security and control purposes), you have to unclick all the apps then choose the option to ALLOW APP INSTALL, then go back to apps and choose the ones you want to install for all the iPads you want to install them on. After they are installed, then you can go back to the supervise profile and click off ALLOW APP INSTALL.

C) I\\\'ve started just creating one iPad the way I want it to be, and backing up that iPad to Apple Configurator. I then connect all the other iPads and under PREPARE, I have all the iPads copy that backup. This seems to be a lot easier but sometimes Apple Configurator doesn\\\'t realize all the iPads are hooked up and plugged in (even though the cart recognizes them all)...this caused big headaches one day. Teaching technology classes without any technology is tricky!

D) Apple Configurator has quirks with recognizing the iPads plugged in. Always, always double check that all are being recognized by the software, not just the cart. This will save you big headaches the next morning when the app you want to use isn\\\'t there.

E) I have accepted that Apple Configurator with all it\\\'s quirks is still better than updating each iPad individually each week for lesson plans BUT I\\\'m hoping that it gets more user friendly as time goes on or that I begin to have a better understanding of its quirks.

F) The help manual for Apple Configurator is complex, hard to read, and not user friendly.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Classroom Management Tips for BYOD

The days of standing in the front of the class are over! In order to know what your students are looking at, you must move around your classroom. Classrooms can be set up to make this easier on you, but I will be honest there are a few things that are still a struggle...
  1. Small classrooms make it hard to walk around every desk to see if students are on task.
  2. Small mobile devices (such as phones and ipods) make it hard to actually SEE what is on the device.
  3. Classroom layouts sometimes makes it less feasible to wander the classroom while teaching.

What helps? Below are a few suggestions to help you monitor usage in the classroom.

Five Classroom Management Strategies for a "Bring Your Own Device" Environment:
  1. Think about changing classroom desk set up or changing it during usage of devices to match the landscape to the activity so that you can move around your classroom for conferencing with individual students and "eyeballing" technology usage.
  2. To make sure you can see what students are doing on their devices, require that they be kept flat or only slightly elevated. If students are at desks or tables, devices should not be placed in their laps. All phones can be required to be on desks during class and in "Airplane Mode."
  3. When you want your students\\\' complete attention, require them to place devices face down.
  4. Use consistent "key phrases" to control usage issues in the classroom. (i.e. - "face down," "hands on your heads/reach for the stars," "Shut down, 5 minute warning," "100% eyes")
  5. Admit to your students that this is a very fluid, evolving process and new to you as a teacher but that you are willing to accept and adapt technology usage as a tool in the classroom. Also let them know that because this is new, there may be new rules and usages brought into your classroom environment as the year progresses and they have a responsibility to follow the guidelines.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Tablet Generation

Yesterday, I taught my fifth graders using ipads for the very first time. The majority of these students have used a tablet device of some type before but many of them did not have a complete understanding of how the ipad worked before we sat down. THESE kids showed me that they are the tablet generation. My own kids (ages 13 and 16) are more of the laptop generation but are slowly becoming tablet-minded. Many of these fifth graders have solely used tablets as their means of technology usage. It is strange to see this happening before my own eyes. When I say technology curriculum is a fluid curriculum, THAT is an understatement.

I spent very little time explaining how an ipad works to these fifth graders yesterday, instead we went straight to business. I am sharing this with you to show how the excitement of technology evens the field of learning when you use technology.
My lesson plan went much like this:
1) go to an app on the iPad about Africa and find 3 facts about 3 African animals.
2) open the app called Popplet and place all three facts into your Popplet.
3) take a screen shot of your Popplet page and upload it into your google drive app into the correct folder.

Every single student, all of various ability, finished this project within 25 minutes. These kids stayed on task and helped each other with very little coaching from me.

I don\'t remember the last time I did any project with these students where everyone in the class finished it in one setting. Honestly, I did not rule out that this might take two 40 minute class settings to finish. They ALL finished within 25 minutes.

I am astounded by this...it excites me and makes me realize I must be on my toes while teaching with tablet technology!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

First Day Plans of The Wandering iPad Cart

Well, tomorrow the iPad cart makes it debut in the elementary school. Since all the apps I plan to use are not updated on the iPads yet, I am a weeeeeee (read big) bit nervous about tomorrow. I plan on heading in EARLY tomorrow to get all set up... Here is the plan keeping two things in mind:
 A) the iPads don't have cases yet so I don't want them moving in the hands of the students much yet.
 B) the headsets have not been delivered yet, so I am limited on noise level issues for this first week.

Fifth grade:
They will learn how to access previous files on Google Drive App to finish up a project. Secondly, they will do some research on African animals using a couple of free apps (see below) and then create a Popplet with the information they have learned. They will end the lesson by taking a screen shot of their Popplet page and uploading it as a photo into their Google drive. I'm interested to see how much time this actually takes.

Fourth grade and Second grade:
I will be letting them use Story Lines for Schools app. I'm pretty excited about this app because it allows the students to collaborate with each other, move around the room, use written and artistic skills to express themselves.

Third grade:
These students will start using the iPads to access information for their Egypt project. I had a hard time finding free apps that will give them the information they need so we will be accessing encyclopedia apps. I also found a kid safe web browser for iPads that I am going to try to use with this class. Third graders having Google access on an iPad with no filter scares me a bit. We will see how it works. I've also selected some Egypt themed games for them to play at the end of class time. I've worked with a third grade teacher and the media specialist to decide how best to start the process of teaching these students how to properly cite websites. In middle school, they will use NOODLEBIB to do this. We have decided to do a simplified version using the old fashion index cards so they can understand how NOODLEBIB "fits" later. I equate this to the idea of accountants learning ledger paper and pencil t-accounts before being set lose on a computerized accounting software.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Role of the Technology Teacher in a 1:1 Elementary Classroom

The role of a technology teacher in an elementary teacher has always been "vague." There has never been a elementary "license" for a technology teacher. My background is a Business Education license 8-12th grade. The vagueness of my job has actually allowed me to be very creative in what I teach to my elementary students.

 For the last nine years we have focused on keyboarding at every grade level that I teach, but I also have thrown in technology life skills that the students will use for the rest of their lives. Over the years, I have pushed teaching Microsoft Office to the older grades. I have also taught the students about being safe and smart on the Internet. They have learned how to do research on the Internet. We've played games that helped both their keyboarding skills and their language art/writing skills. We've worked on math facts. I've let them see the inside of a computer and had Mr. Ibach tell them how everything works. Over the years we've done many things to incorporate learning and technology. I've loved my job because it has been so flexible in what I can teach in order to meet the state standards for technology.

A new day is dawning here at school! Starting Monday, this teacher will have a rolling cart of 30 iPads. It's the closest thing to splendiferous that this teacher has felt about teaching. My opportunities are both exciting and scary. Stay tuned for more details as this teacher starts pushing a 3500 lb iPad cart across pea gravel in the playground to get to other buildings. I can't begin to imagine all the fun stories I am going to have...but if you see me coming, watch your toes!