Friday, April 27, 2012

Sharing the Cart

I've been talking with people in other districts with iPad carts about the best way to check out the iPads to classroom teachers.  Some teachers are thinking about checking them out when they can't get into the computer lab to use them for Internet research.  That is such a limited way of using a great resource.
One school district is checking out their carts on a monthly basis, having teachers fill out a one page proposal about how they'll use the iPads with their classes.  I'm hoping to check out our cart on a weekly basis offering support to help teachers explore apps they could use for projects.  There are so many free apps, but we also still have a bit of money to purchase some apps if needed.  One math teacher here checked out the cart, but before he did, he found about ten free math apps he wanted to use with his classes.  That worked really well, and the students were thrilled to use the iPads to work on math skills.  One caveat:  I tell all teachers to keep a list of which students are using which iPads so that we can identify the student if there's a problem.
I really think it's important to be able to offer professional development to staff if we want them to use the iPads as a productive tool with students, not just as a substitute for a laptop.  Last week I presented a one hour workshop for staff on iPad Tips and Tricks and got a really good response; they wanted more.  The great thing about the iPads are they are simple to use, but with some professional development, you can unlock more of their potential.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Batch Geo is a Blast!

Students will be able to share their personal experiences by answering questions.

It's been a while since I wrote because we had spring vacation, and the lessons I've been doing haven't been using the iPad, but I think they've been interesting so I thought I'd share.  I created a form in Google Docs for the students to access through their Google Apps accounts.  They filled in the form answering these questions:

1. What is your name (first name only)?
2. What city and country did your family come from?
3. Why did your family come to the U.S.?
4.  How did your family travel to the U.S.?
5.  How many years ago did your family come to the U.S.?
6.  If you moved to the U.S., how did you feel when you arrived here? 

As they filled out the form, I received the info on a Google spreadsheet.  I copied all the gathered data and pasted it into a page at

It automatically creates a Google Map for you with push pins for each student's city and country.  I shared the map with the students projecting it with the LCD- they were so excited to see their own info on a Google map.  I shared with them how they could mouse over the push pin to see more info and even click on the little man on the left to access street view.  What was especially good about this was that it inspired the students to make sure they had the right info and edit it properly.  If they misspelled their city or country, they didn't appear on the map and they all wanted to appear on the map!  Here's a link to their first try before the edits:
The next class day they were still excited as they were asked to take their written responses to the above questions and put their answers in paragraph form. 

The following week I shared a document with students called "My Story Part 2".  They answered these questions:
1.  Was it easier for you or your parents to adjust to living in the U.S.? Why?
2.  What is different about living in the U.S.?
3.  What do you like about living in the U.S.?
4.  What festivals or special traditions does your community have?
5.  What are some popular foods in your community?
6.  What is a family tradition that you love?
7.  What languages are spoken in your home?

Since then the students have been working with Ms.Sigler, their ELL teacher, on developing their answers into full paragraphs with details and correct grammar and punctuation.  It has been challenging, but they're working hard and doing well.

We will be using their written work along with photos, audio, and maybe video to create their digital books in the coming weeks. I can't wait to see their finished product!