Archive for iPad Learning

Today I had one of those experiences which blows you away by the nature of it’s unexpected success. We used Twitter to connect and bring two oil riggers, each on opposite sides of the world, live into our classroom.

To back track slightly – as part of our Diamond Decades topic, this week we are learning about the 70s. On Monday we watched a video about the 1970s and amongst the strikes, 3 day week, no electricity etc we watched an oil rig being installed in the North Sea. The children were fascinated and following some discussion, beyond knowing somehow it got oil and thought it would be like a cruise liner inside – they didn’t really know much more.

That evening thought it might be an idea to follow up this child-led interest and see if some ‘experts’ could answer a few questions. I tweeted the following.

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 19.07.16

Thanks to all the people who retweeted – we got a good few offers of help. These included current riggers, an ex-rigger who lived and worked on a North Sea rig in the 1970s, as well as a Year 5 class in Norwich, many of whose parents currently work on the rigs. We set up a Linoit, children posted questions as one of their first morning activities, published them and people have started to answer our questions there. We were collaborating and using real experiences to enhance our learning.

In addition to this, I had two offers of help from riggers who were also on Twitter, Craig Johnson in Western Hebrides, off Scotland and Mr McKinley, currently on a rig off the coast of China. We sorted out the time differences arranged a time for my class to ‘chat’ live on twitter.

My class have an account and we use it in fits and starts. I do use a Tweeter of the Day (if I remember) but a lot of the time it is additional information for our blog, so therefore for parents. But as a result children do have the Twitter App on their iPads. This Tweetchat was upping the anti for us somewhat!

As I sat down to start, I suddenly realised I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to pan out. I know I am capable of having a chat with a couple of people on Twitter simultaneously whilst following various conversation threads, but could I navigate a class though this and retain their interest? Could our riggers keep up with the questions if too many posted at once? How would we be able to display all the different answers? Suddenly Skype seems a more appealing option!

My intention was to start with one iPad per table linked to our Twitter account which children would post questions from and everyone else would view the @ connect feed on the IWB. I would facilitate it from my teacher account and somehow everyone would still feel involved. We did a quick e-safety chat and started.
We ran into issues almost immediately – the iPads were quicker than my network connected PC linked to the The @connected feed wouldn’t show conversations, so as more questions were posted, and answers came with photos attached, the children with iPads were viewing these excitedly whilst the rest were waiting for me to flick between them on the board. Children with iPads were wanting to ask more questions before the rest of the class had had a chance to digest (or even see) the original answer. At the same time I was trying to take some photos of the activity for our class blog!

In the end I let go. The IWB got ignored. Children buddied up in pairs, logged on to Twitter with one iPad between them and asked their own questions, viewed the threads they wanted to follow and asked their own follow up questions. This meant I had 30 children totally engaged, navigating their own pathways through the responses, choosing what interested them and then excitedly bringing me photos and facts they’d learnt. I watched the learning happen.

I have to at this stage to give utmost credit to @craig294 and @ABMckinley for their patience, speed, informative answers and for attaching captivating pictures to their tweets. The children made their learning but these two guys made it come alive!

To have brought experts from two different sides of the world live into our classroom was an exciting experience in itself. To have experienced the children taking control and creating their own meaningful learning from the opportunity was more incredible.

Success has opened up ideas and other possibilities. One account with many children hooked in having their own experience. Simple. What if you could connect to a fictional character related to your topic (I know some on Twitter have already done this), but live in a classroom situation? What if you used another class, using another single Twitter username as the ‘expert’

Feb
04

Played with a new app today. Ubersense. It is a trainer app for fitness coaches but used in a PE lesson could be really powerful. I used it in gymnastics and when combined with our large all screen and airplay it really showed lots of potential. The ability to quickly video children doing something, and replay it back in slow motion gave them a good understanding of the skill they were

iPads in class often put children in the driving ‘expert’ seat. My attitude to new apps is generally not to understand them inside out first. I find that constricts my idea of an outcome and tends to waste valuable time trying to ‘teach’ them how to use it. So I tend to have a general idea of how it might work and let children explore and teach me. It has happened often in the last 4 weeks.

However today it wasn’t the functionality of the app that made the children the ‘experts’ today – but knowledge of a deeper level. We use Dictionary.com a lot. Not just as a dictionary, but also as a thesaurus to extend vocabulary. It has worked well with our Pie Corbet models of teaching/learning and shown improvements in the language used in even a short space of time.

Today we were exploring how writers use character descriptions to tell us not only what characters look like, but to give us clues about their personalities as well. The more able children were asked to take the text we had been looking at as a class and change the character by only changing the adjectives in the text. As part of the task explanation I admitted to the children I was struggling to find the word that meant other words with ‘opposite’ meanings. Immediately several hands shot up. They all said the word I needed was ‘antonym‘. Rather surprised (embarrassing admission, but I don’t think I’ve ever used the word!)… I asked how they knew. They all said that when they have been using the app Dictionary.com looking for synonyms, that at the bottom of the selection were a list of words with opposite meanings and that they had a heading of antonyms! Independently they had worked out what this had meant but until that point, and my admission, had not had the opportunity to show or share their knowledge. Guaranteed that that would not have happened by using the standard issue of thesaurus we have in school.

I was really proud of them and hope there are many more moments when such ‘expert’ knowledge occurs. I envisage when they start to go home, enabling children to have more ‘experimental’ time, that their ability to use them more expertly will very quickly supersede my own level of skill! I guess my role as a fascilitator will have to be more finely honed to guide their skills to extend and deepen their knowledge.

 

Apps can be costly. Even 69p x a few add up. Multiply that by 160 and it adds up more alarmingly. Many developers don’t release a LITE version, so it is difficult to evaluate or try before you buy. (A longer rant due on this – publishers (both traditional and software) will almost always let educational establishments try products on approval for 30 days, imperative when looking at a

Penultimate vs Explain Everything
Today I asked children to do something in Penultimate (they have Writing notebooks, and I had asked them to start a Science notebook) Several children asked whether they could use Explain Everything instead. I said I had no objection except they needed to explain WHY they preferred this. If they could persuade me then they could use Explain Everything instead. What ensued was a short lively debate about the merits of both. Primary preference was the ability in EE to be able to type as well as handwrite. My less able children said they liked how they could record what they thought. I appreciated their evaluations so I gave children the choice.
However it is re-raising my concerns about handwriting.

I must have written million posts in my head over the last 3 weeks. Life with iPads is a roller coaster – highs of children learning independently and lows of them being dropped! As well as the overwhelming desire to make the most of them, but not enough hours in the day to try stuff out!

However the total highlight of the trial so far has been the 21 I bought and gave to staff. Staff have been enthusiastic, engaged, trying things out and teaching us more seasoned tech users all a thing or two. For those who ever followed my previous teaching blog, you may remember blogging and my school didn’t really get on – they are now blogging from within classrooms, direct from the iPad within lessons! To watch our school NewsBlog grow – fills me with pleasure and pride.