Friday, July 6, 2012

Tool #9: Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning

1.            Why do you think it is important to tie the technology to the objective? 
The objective of a lesson is what you want a student to know or what the student will be able to do at the end with the knowledge gained from the lesson.  The technology used within a lesson should be congruent with what is being taught, learned, or practiced, otherwise there is a disconnect.  Students should have a direct link for the technology being used with what they are learning so that there are connections being made.  There is a debate about using technology for technology sake.  Some teachers use these devices as babysitting tools (and granted, and itouch and headphones do make for some quiet students!), or they do fun projects that kids really enjoy, but don’t develop any new skills or learning, and there are other teachers that use these tools to get students excited and more engaged with their learning. 

2.            Why should we hold students accountable for the stations/centers?
A simple answer—students know that you care about them when you hold them accountable for their actions.  When students know that you are checking in with them and making sure they are learning or understanding something, they have a higher work ethic because they don’t want to disappoint.  They want to know that they are doing activities that are meaningful, and if a teacher isn’t holding a student accountable for an assignment, then the student will wonder what the point is in doing it, then often becomes off-task.  It reminds me of a teacher I had in elementary school that gave us worksheets to do frequently, but she didn’t grade them.  There were two of us that often wrote nonsense answers just to see if we would ever get caught.  (I only remember getting a sheet back to re-do one time!) 

3.            Visit 2 of the applicable links to interactive websites for your content/grade level. Which sites did you like. How could you use them as stations? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?
 I liked Tutpup—I just tried out a few games, I did not create an account.  I liked that there wasn’t any ads!  Most of the games are math related, with one spelling (they call the word, you type it.  The proper English accent could be tricky, and homophones need a sentence, for example, tin and ten).  This is a beta version, so I would assume to see more things get added as they build the site.  One way to hold the students accountable would be for them to use the print screen key.  They could paste it into a google doc and send it to me.  I could see the kinds of math problems they were doing, and how well they were doing them.  Also, winning games will automatically post to their wall.  I would need to check that this site can be accessed with the itouches and iPads!

Another site that I liked is Thinkfinity.  I came across this site a few semesters ago while working on a graduate class.  It gathers activities from other educational sites that Verizon partners with.  You can find many different activities that fit a wide variety of TEKS that need to be met each year.  As for holding students accountable, it really depends on the activity you choose for them to complete.  Some things can be produced online and saved in an electronic folder (either the student’s personal folder, or you could create a folder for the specific purpose). 

4.            List two to three apps you found for the iPod Touch/iPad that you can use in your classroom. What do you see that station looking like? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?
 I like any of the ABA flashcard apps to use with my ESOL students, especially the ones that I get that are brand new to the states.  My students have been using itouches to access these apps, and there is another app on there that is a “whiteboard” where they can draw or write.  I have had them pick 4 or 5 words that they practiced that day and find the whiteboard to write a sentence.  They took a picture of their sentence (using the screen shot abilities of the itouch), then wrote the next one.  When they were done, they showed me the photos of their sentences.  If there was time, I would help them with changing the subject of the sentence, or helped them with the verb tense. 

Another app that my students have liked in the past is the American Presidents 2 in 1 app.  When we are doing our Social Studies Unit “All American Kid”, they learn about the mayor, governor, and president.  When using this app, they tap around and find a president that has a fact that they find interesting.  From there they access some of the informational books about presidents that I have in the classroom and make a mini-biography poster about the president.  They especially like to add what pets the president may have had while living in the white house.  Later in the year we use the biography posters to practice putting events on a timeline.  I can not currently find it on the itunes list, though.  :(

Another Social Studies app is the State Capitals Study Buddy.  The students enjoyed quizzing themselves and others on the states and their capitals.  Often they would sit by the door where I had a US map hung and look for the location of the state.  There were a few kids that made it into a racing game as to who could put their finger on the state first.    

5.            What about other ways to use the iPod Touch/iPad? Share another way you can see your students using the device as a station.
 I like the app for italk.  I have a thumbtack microphone that fits into the jack where you plug in the headphones, and the students can record their voices.  I have used this to record their reading for running record purposes, have played the recordings for parents at parent conferences, and we have used this app for making podcasts.  Students have used the memo or notes icon to type in a reading response and then they email that to me. 
In iTunes U, there are some great lessons that can be uploaded onto the itouches and iPads.  The Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX) has some that I have used.  There is one my students last year enjoyed, where some fourth graders teach how to write a haiku.  In the same set of podcasts there is a fun one about cause and effect.  The kids enjoyed watching this podcast several times!  It led to a great discussion about cause and effect in the stories they were reading in small group as well as the stories they were reading on their own.  If you get an attachment called a rockstar, it enables several students to plug their headphones into one device, then they can have a small group discussion when they finish watching a podcast.

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