IPAD:Tuesday Session 1

The IPAD information session was not very helpful today. We encountered several technical issues that prevented us from having much time to work with the tool. I do think that the IPAD has a lot of potential for effective and motivating classroom use however. There are so many terrific apps that students can use if the technology is available to them. One caveat however, is that some of the ideas presented to us benefit from having an IPAD2, and many schools have IPAD1's, which do not have cameras.

I could/would use the IPAD frequently in the classroom because of it's ease of use for quick, informal activities, assuming no technical issues and that students are familiar with the tool. One fun idea that I've had is to use the internet to have students locate photos of famous landmarks or geographic features, and have their classmates identify it and it's location. This could be narrowed to a particular area of the world if that has been studied, and used as a test review game. Or it could be a whole world activity to spur interest in various regions that students could then choose to complete more in depth research on.

XTRANORMAL and VOKI: Tuesday Session 2

This session was fun and showed some easy to use and student friendly tools. I do have a bit of a hard time with the audio distracting from the content, but other teachers shared that students do not have a problem with that so I can only conclude that it is an issue of user age :) Students love anything that allows them to use technology so a small motivator like creating a voki (which takes 5-10 minutes if the prepwork is done) can really get them excited about new learning.

I would use Voki in the classroom as a way of having students explore characterization. They would create a voki of a character from a novel that is being read in class, and use the features to convey important information about that character. I would probably have students share in small groups, or use it while they are in literature circles so that the class does not have 5 or 6 of the same character voki to listen to. Each lit. circle could have a wiki page that we could embed their character vokis in.

Flipping the Classroom: Wednesday Session 1

This session offered an interesting idea of videotaping various parts of the school day, routines, and even mini-lessons. I like the general concept, but our session was cut quite short due to technical problems and we didn't get any concrete classroom examples. I think that it could be useful if I made several short videos covering classroom rules, procedures, etc, and posted them on a class website for students and parents to share at home in the beginning of the year. Keep in mind that I have taught kindergarten through second grade so learning to be part of a classroom is the first hurdle. As the year progresses, videos could be added that relate to ongoing projects and expectations for student work. We could also record students talking about books that they have enjoyed and post them on the class site- a la Reading Rainbow from the 80's :) .

Free Google Tools: Wednesday Session 2

Discussion centered on how to use free Google Sites, and Google Custom Search in the classroom. We were walked through the process of creating each of those, and how to use the two free tools in conjunction with classroom assignments. The Google Sites are best used for presenting information to a class, rather than as an evolving classroom product which is more suited to a wiki. The custom search feature seems awesome, but could be time consuming to populate the list of sites. I would love to use this to conduct a webquest for students, in addition to adding a custom search to the webquest resources page rather than simply pasting all the links directly into the site.

Prezi: Thursday Session 1

This session was a good intro to using Prezi, especially in lieu of Powerpoint. Right now, it is a much more engaging technology, and hopefully it won't end up as overused and abused as Powerpoint. Since I have typically taught primary grades, I don't know that I would have the students create products using it. I would use it to introduce new content to students, and help put things in perspective. It can show relationships between content and hierarchies if they exist. I think that it would be awesome to use it while teaching word families in primary word study lessons. I found it VERY user friendly and wish I had tried it out sooner because I found the direct instruction on using it rather unnecessary.

Wii: Thursday Session 2

This session was fun for everyone because we all got to play video games :) Turns out the ten year old helping us was rather surprised when I actually beat the "impossible" part of the game. Ha! The supplementary activities provided were all good suggestions ( building with legos, storyboarding, cause and effect) but nobody actually did them because we were having too much fun watching the games. We had a very productive post discussion on these things however. Nobody could really see a practical application for the Wii in the classroom today, but see a lot of potential for future use provided the gaming companies or school material companies (like Pearson Ed.) get on board and make some games that target the educational sector. I know that the Wii Fit has been used with some success in Health and PE classes, but that's all I've heard. We were all in agreement that the supplementary activities would need to be more structured because of the highly absorbing nature of Wii games. The teacher would probably need to set a timer and have all students stop the games/pause at set times and work on their storyboards (or whatever activity) to ensure that all students are completing the assignments. I could see a lot of potential for the system as a lunchtime club or afterschool club however, that would utilize the more engaging and popular games, but have supplementary educational activities (such as paralleling the games to books that they are based on). I think that most parents will resist the use of the Wii during the school day on the basis that their children spend enough time playing games outside of school. I can certainly see the merit to that, and in the wrong hands the Wii could be nothing more than playtime.