Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Constitution Day - September 17, 2009

Our team decided that we would use the itouch devices in one classroom until the students become more comfortable accessing the apps and using the new technology. Mrs. Lewis volunteered to use her classtime to do this, beginning on Constitution Day. The itouches were loaded with USA free, which contains the actual image and written words of the Constitution. Mrs. Lewis devised a scavenger hunt asking the students to use the app to find facts about the Constitution.
The students were so excited to be able to finally use the itouch devices! The classes spent the first 30 minutes discussing the rules and expectations of using the itouch devices at school, and then had time to explore Safari to learn how to manipulate the different functions of the itouch. Then they were introduced to the USA free app and given time to use their research skills to find out about the Constitution. The next day the students were asking when the next time we would use itouch devices in class. They can not wait to try out more things and are such fast learners!

Slow start in September

After being trained, we set out to register our itouch carts as well as load one application, USA factbook, on each device so that on Constitution Day the students could perform a scavenger hunt to learn about the Constitution. We had several issues syncing the devices. The devices seemed to sync effortlessly with the first application, but later when we tried to add several other applications- Word Warp, Math drill lite, Discovery Channel and Numbrix- the application would appear to sync but then when we touched the icon to run the app the app would flash and then revert to the home screen. We worked on this for several days before finally calling Karen to come out and help us. With her help, we discovered the macbooks were assigning each user their own itune library. Therefore, we decided to just have one teacher log in and do all syncing. This however did not fix the problem of the syncing. After a call to Apple and a subsequent email we may have found the answer. All devices have to be turned off and then synced. We are not sure why this works but for now we will take it! We have successfully synced 40 itouches with four applications, and the syncing process is getting easier! We have decided however to designate certain days "sync days" due to the time commitment needed to make sure they work. We want to ensure student time is not wasted troubleshooting the devices!

iTeach room/ Lightbulb lab- Based on Kevin Henkes’ book- Lilly and the Plastic Purple Purse : We have set up a project room in an extra fifth grade classroom. We chose 5 fifth graders to help illustrate the book using iMovie to show to the younger grades. We used a Flip camera to take digital stills of the book and have been working for 2 weeks on coordinating the audio to go with the slides. It has been a challenge aligning the audio with the book slides. The other fifth graders have chosen books for their book clubs and we plan on letting this first group of fifth graders “teach” the others how to make a “movie” of their book using iMovie.

Mentoring aspect of grant- We are waiting on the cases before we begin moving the devices about the school. We will report on this later.

iTouch training - September 9, 2009

On September 8 we received the three macbooks and 81 itouch devices in 2 sync-carts. Tech services came and were very quick to set up the printers as well as get the macs up and running.

On September 9 the MWE fifth grade team members - Karyn Lewis, Carole Maniloff, Jenny Meyer, and Erika Wheeler- attended a workshop at Bunker Hill Elementary led by an Apple rep to teach us and other grant recipients, how to use the MacBooks and iTouch devices. This was a day long training in which we learned the basic layout of the Macbook as well as created a podcast on the itouch. Our team created a podcast that we planned to share with our parents at curriculum night. The training was beneficial. However we wished we would have had more time to play with the devices before (or during) the meeting with so that we could have generated more efficient questions.

At the end of the meeting, Karen Justl notified us of the district's plan to introduce google applications and student email accounts. We left feeling excited about our devices and ready to get started.

On September 22, MWE Curriculum Night, we shared the podcast we created from the training about our vision with the parents. We also let the parents “touch” the devices! It was exciting to see the parents playing with the the apps and seeing the educational possibilites of the itouch devices.