Sunday, December 23, 2012

Apple TV

Happy holidays. 100% of the 4th/5th grade floor is now equipped with Apple TV and the changes are instantly noticeable. We all know that the device is immediately transformative but for the longest time I did not see one in action. My room was the only one with Apple TV. Now, with three more, I can see how other teachers are using this simple but powerful tool. I have noticed a more collaborative atmosphere as students and teachers engage with the information on the screen. The classroom appears to be a more “natural” space. Teachers are sitting with their students and having conversations. The teacher’s body language is that of community exploration and discussion rather than information dissemination. Lessons appear to be more fluid as notes and apps can be organized ahead of time and stored “behind the scenes.” Lastly, the tool has added instant depth to conversation because the power of the iPads is at our fingertips and clearly visible to all. Our challenge will be to reflect on how we implement this device and how we can use it to transform the way we teach and how students learn but I think we are on our way. It will take a great deal of tinkering, trial and error, and a great deal of reflection. We are at a pivotal point in education and can begin to redefine how learing and teaching happens in classrooms. I think positive change will start to occur only when the teachers see themselves as learners. Here is an opinion on that matter.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Math 7 iPad Project

It is Monday, and my Math 7 students began a project today on the iPads. This is my first venture in using the iPads in the classroom. Using Explain Everything, I have asked them to create a teaching video (in groups of 2) about solving equations containing integers. Not daunting at all because I have been using the app to create my own videos for the few times I have flipped the classroom. So, I got a chance to learn it through using it before asking my students to dive in. Their audience is another 7th grade student who knows how to work with integers, but not how to solve equations with integers. I have given them some structure, but the rest is up to them. For example: 1) they need to teach all four equation types, 2) they need to narrate each slide, 3) they need to create a rough draft of each slide before getting on the iPads, 4) and I have encouraged them to include an original song/rap about solving equations. In my head, I think we can be done with the project in 4 days. After today, I am not so sure. It took some groups 30 minutes just to get the intro slide the way they liked it. :) Nonetheless, once they become more familiar with the app, I think they will fly through the set up. I can't wait to see how they narrate their slides! It is fun to watch them switch into teacher mode, something I think they are all capable of doing. I think this is a project that is accessible to all students. I am choosing to do this project for two reasons. It is different that our normal routine, and I think adding a little spice to the classroom is a wonderful way to keep students engaged. Secondly, when students are asked to explain something, it further embeds the idea in their brains. Being able to communicate their math ideas, strategies, and reasoning is important to me, and this skill is a cornerstone of my curriculum.

In terms of assessing this project, I did not create a rubric. In our TLC2 meeting last week, Sarah mentioned that she didn't give her students a rubric for a recent iMovie project in her English 7 class. Instead, she put more emphasis on a self-reflection/assessment sheet they did at the end of the project. This got me thinking. I put pressure on myself to have a checklist/rubric for every project I introduce, and that can be hard. I like the idea of giving them an open ended project and letting them end up where they end up. At this point, I am planning on assessing them on their effort, completion of the project, and a reflection sheet at the end. And perhaps there doesn't need to be a grade at all-- who says something has to be entered in my grade book? Interesting how this project has brought up the idea of assessment for me. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012


My turn! So I now have solid footing on the Notability train. Woo Woo. I have been using it for my class notes and it seems to be working nicely. The best part is now I can organize my notes with ease and access documents right into my notes. I usually save them as PDF files and then import them so that I can write on them. I have emailed the notes to students that are not in class which I could do before from my tablet but now it is just that much easier. I also have downloaded an ap on my iPhone that acts like a scanner. I can take photos of documents and then upload them as PDF files. The jury is still out as to if this is a worth while ap. What I do like about it is I don't have to go over to the copy room to scan. I can do it from my desk here in HURD. Please let me know if you want to chat more about these aps. Love to hear more info on them too if you have any. Happy Monday!