Sunday, May 11, 2014

My first round of iPad use is now done, and many lessons have been learned!, Janice Wellborn, Hernandez Middle School

First, a little atmosphere.  My building is a 6-8th grade building.  We are all currently doing high stakes testing and have been doing so for the last two weeks and will continue to do so for the next two weeks.  The first struggle I have been dealing with is just getting permission to use iPads and other technology during the testing period.  To make a long story short, I was able to use iPads and computers last week, but won’t be able to continue until testing ends.

Since my school operates on a block schedule of five weeks, I decided to introduce the iPads during my final week with my kids.  So far this rotation they have already been taught how to use computers to create artifacts using Glogster, Bitstrips, and Animoto.  For their final project I let kids decide which technology they wanted to use for their final project--either any of the three technologies already introduced, or they could choose to largely teach themselves and work with iPads using the Educreations app. Three to eight students in each class decided they wanted to try working with iPads.  Did I tell you I offered this as 10 extra credits points?

While the majority of students worked independently on their projects, the small group of iPadders went at their task with gusto, and more than a few questions. What we found out together is that Educreations is pretty simple to use.  They “saved” pictures onto their camera rolls, selected those pictures for use in their projects, figured out that they had to record their voices to save their projects, and then figured out that once saved, a project could not be edited.  Kind of a bummer, but at least we know now that this is best as a final project rather than an ongoing effort. Since the app was so easy to use, though, we were able to recreate and add to the projects as we went along.  In other words, having to start all over in order to create one perfect product was really not a big deal at all.

While I would not recommend this approach to teaching, since I do like having all the answers if possible, introducing this new app and iPad use was fruitful and not totally frustrating for any of us.  I let the kids know at the outset that I had very little familiarity with the app and that we would be learning together.  I asked them to inform me and each other whenever they discovered something new, and they did!  All in all, it was actually a fun way to teach and learn.

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