19 May

One

This post is some short guidance for those teacher who have been given iPads to use in the classroom.

I created a rough guide to the apps that I find useful, and how I use them, as well as a Haiku which I have tried to embed below… If it’s not working the link should take you there.

http://www.haikudeck.com/p/QDpZ54eond

The key apps I use are here:

One iPad in the classroom?

It’s key to remember that the iPad is a tool and before you even think about apps you have a video camera, a microphone and access to the internet, word processing in one handy tool.

Connect to your whiteboard and you can share work and display photos, then begin to use apps and it soon becomes a key classroom tool.

I have split this into 6 key areas :
Share – which includes the vga adapter and using Airserver. Other apps, such as Reflector also work well for this. Apple TV is a slightly more expensive option.

Sharing is also about the using the iPad to share your pupils’ work – and it can be done very quickly by taking a photo and sharing it to the whiteboard. I create private You Tube accounts for schools so that video can be briefly stored there rather than on the school server.

This leads me on the next category Record – apps such as Notability and 2 Simple Early Years allow the teacher or the Teaching Assistant to take photographs and to annotate them. Many teachers use the camera very effectively and then a file organising app such as Dropbox or Evernote to keep, collate and possibly even print evidence.

Personalise learning is where the iPad can really come into it’s own though, and by this I mean adapting learning so as to appeal, enthuse and engage your pupils. Besides the content that is available from the web, there are some apps that really support giving your pupils a personal perspective on learning. You will be able to record their achievements, ask them to record their achievements, a TA can record your lessons or their explanations and it can then be shared with the rest of the class.

Share work and model editing using Explain Everything.

Share work and model editing using Explain Everything.

Organise is the next key areas – integrating email, calendar and a note taking system such as Evernote has been a brilliant time saver. Dropbox is also a huge help, and if the school has a Dropbox account can means the pupils can access resources that you have prepared at home.

Connect
Updating class blogs, and sharing good practice has never been easier! Most blogs have an app that updates both words and pictures easily. I have introduced Skype into the classroom using my iPad and Airserver – and the school now has a twitter account which can be used by teachers.

Finally I would say explore! – I began by using my iPad for sharing presentations – now when teaching I often let the pupils use it to record their evaluations of the lesson. Or a Teaching Assistant to support a group (Explain Everything works amazingly for Maths.) I some lessons I choose a ‘chief researcher’ who has the challenge of both creating and answering questions around our lessons.

 

One last thing to think about as well is how the settings on the iPad can be used in the classroom – You can make the iPad ‘Speak’ text on the screen, or make the visuals high contrast. You are able to make the text larger, or to change the language that it speaks in. ‘Guided Access’ is a useful feature for allowing the user access to one app only.  Other accessibility features can be seen here.

Thanks for reading this – it is a whistle-stop tour, but I hope you have found it useful!

19 May

Skype – Reflecting on the Adventure!

We have now had four successful skype sessions in our school, and a couple of not so successful sessions. I thought it would be useful to share  our experiences and to reflect on the usefulness of the session in the classroom. 

The Background
I initially wanted to use Skype for a topic one class was doing about their local area – I thought the chance to discuss their local environment with peers from around the world would be very powerful. I was also looking for something with a bit of a ‘wow’ factor to get our children engaged in their learning. As many of the children I work with speak English as an additional language or are very new to the country I thought they would enjoy the chance to chat with their peers from around the world.

I began by looking at the excellent website – Skype in the Classroom – and created a post for a World Book Day event (which didn’t happen – I was being a optimistic about what I could achieve!) However that didn’t matter as it meant that I began to make contacts with other teachers from around the world who were interested in these sessions. I also put it to my contacts in Twitter, and got a few teachers interested that way! The first session I examined here…

Now we have children chatting about their Skype session at lunch time, Digital Leaders who blog about it and teachers building a session into their planning. It really has taken off!

Firstly the successful sessions:

They have been led with a purpose in mind, and one teacher will create the question, or a theme will be discussed. One class have now met twice, and there is no doubt that the second time the children were much calmer and knew what to expect. 

The theme of ‘getting to know you’ is much better if key questions have been shared and discussed first.  A big thank you to one teacher Ana for guiding us in this way

One of our groups shared a book over Skype – the perfect example of purpose, and a curriculum link. This has proven popular with the teachers who wish to talk again as soon as they have finished their current book. Thanks to @PEandMe for this brilliant idea.

Other children and teachers have been involved in the successful sessions, I have included our Digital Leaders as recorders of events, and asked teachers to choose if they wish to take part. Eventually the organising of sessions will be left to teachers. 

The unsuccessful sessions:

Are plagued by technical issues or bad timing – you do need to give the sessions some time, and due to the nature of the technology some leeway if things don’t work. No point planning a session for fifteen minutes with another lesson straight away.

Your internet connection, whilst important does not need to be perfect, camera and microphone are important. Try out your equipment, can you hear the children? Are the children used to seeing themselves? Valuable time can be lost with waving and giggling into the camera!!

The least successful sessions are done at the last minute with little prep – the children are going to be curious and will want to get involved  – give them time to prepare with some questions, ideas about the country or the children or the topic to discuss. 

What we’ve learnt:

Try out your connection first – and think about what equipment you use. We find it works fine with iPads, but the Airserver link to the whiteboard created a delay that confused the children. 

Prep the pupils – point out the country discuss their experiences and make the links with the curriculum like any other subject.

Speaking and listening are important! As a result of this work we are going to begin September with a big push on these skills – ‘conversation’ if you like! Skype chats have shown that our younger children can struggle to formulate questions, and often don’t answer in full sentences, this can have a big impact in EAL learners, and the children we are chatting with!

Next steps

Now we are beginning to see smooth running sessions, I am investigating projects and ideas which would bring authors, experts or interested guests into the classroom. Such as discussed by Kate Messner in this article. Skype Splash

I am definitely getting more teachers involved as well, and as our class teachers get their own mobile device, connecting with Skype will be even easier!

Referenced from links in the article :

http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ922983&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ922983 – Article

Awesome blog and experience from a very valued contact! http://cegarvirtualclassroom.weebly.com/15/post/2013/05/ii-3-meets-their-peers-from-turkey-and-uk.html

The School Digital Leaders Blog : http://debeauvoirdl.blogspot.co.uk/