Thursday, October 29, 2009

Case issues

We are so glad to have the cases (red and blue iSkins) on the itouch devices for the students, but it has not come without some hang-ups. First of all was the un-earth-friendly packaging the cases came in! It took an assmbly line of four of us working for 30 minutes just to get them out of the package! Then we spent the next 30 minutes putting the cases on the itouches themselves! (We all had sore fingers by the end of it all.) The worst was trying to plug the itouches into the sync cart with the case on. The cord would not fit all the way into the slot, so most of the cases had to be taken off at one end in order to charge and sync the devices. One teacher has the same case for her phone and says once the case stretches out it should be easier, but until then we will have to have the students remove the bottom of the cases when we need to sync or charge them.

Here we go!

The protective cases for the itouches came in on Tuesday, so students spent Wednesday setting up their assigned itouch. They browsed the loaded apps and determined categories to sort them into. Most students set up pages for spelling/word games, math apps, science and social studies apps, mentoring apps for use with the younger grades, and a brain game page. After that the students practiced their cursive handwriting on the ABC Cursive app to reinforce the handwriting practice we have started this week. The students also cleaned the screen, put on a screen protector, and refit the case onto their itouch. The students are looking forward to using the itouch in Language Arts as a resource for their learning!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ready to jump, but...

We are still waiting to assign the itouch devices to the students on an individual basis. The only hang-up is that the cases have yet to be delivered to us! We do not want the students to have the device unprotected and slick on their desktops for classroom use, but the waiting is keeping us from moving forward. We are ready for the "novelty" to wear off, and for the students to see how this can be a tool they use seamlessly while reading, writing, and learning their fifth grade content. We know there will be temptation to use it for play, but we are going to be very straight-forward about our expectations. We may even set up the itouch screens to be sorted by subject area so that we can tell them that during this time they should only be using apps from screen ___(1,2 3, etc). We hope this will teach them the appropriate times to use the apps we have selected.

iTouch edit

We have experimented with using the Thumbtack microphones. Mrs. Lewis had the students record their compositions about an interesting event in their life using the Voice Memo app on the itouch and the Thumbtack microphone. After making their recording, they used the itouch to listen to their story, revise, and edit their composition. Many students said how much they enjoyed recording their story so they could hear what it was they wanted to say. Many resource and ESL students who did not have a good start to their written story, found that recording the story first was very helpful. Plus, since "voice" is an important part of personal narrative, it was a valuable use of the app for the other students as well.

Tracking our progress

We have set up a planning board where we are keeping track of student’s technology proficiencies. We plan on having a flip crew. These students will be used to go into classrooms and train teachers as well as their students on how to use the camera and then make a movie/burn a DVD. Two fifth graders have already made a DVD from footage taken by a third grade teacher on a field trip. The two students used flip software and created a movie and then presented it to the class. They were so excited about their accomplishment!

We have also set up a bulletin board where we can track the applications that have been used in the classroom setting. We have created a flag to represent USA Factbook and have written the Scavenger hunt questions on cards to create a web. We plan on having a select amount of fifth teach fourth grade about the Constitution using the app and the visual.

We are on our way to making this technology a part of our classrooms!

Mentoring begins

We decided that our fifth graders needed some training on the many things available for them to use in their lab, so we have devised a plan. We plan to open the lab on Monday, October 26 to offer tech trainings to the students during their lunch/recess time. We will allow students to sign up for things such as: flip cameras, imovie, photo story, windows movie maker, imovie, garageband and other applications. Fifth grade teachers will take turns teaching these applications that they have become proficient using.

Mentor program- We started the process with two teach teams. 6 Fifth graders on Mondays and Wednesdays and 6 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Each fifth grader has been assigned a PK/K student. The time frame is 12-12:15 two times a week and the location is in the PK/K building hallway. Since the fifth graders are so anxious to participate we are only having the 12 fifth graders teach for one week until we cycle all of the fifth graders through. As soon as they have all had a chance, we will interview or choose mentors based on interest.

"Lightbulb Lab" begins slowly

A group of fifth grade students created a movie using the flip camera and imovie about Lilly and the Plastic Purple Purse by Kevin Henkes. Students burned it onto a DVD and we are in the process of sending the movie around from class to class with a toy mouse and purple purse with the following letter.

Dear Meadow Wood,

Our fifth graders have been busy creating our own “Lightbulb lab”, based on Kevin Henkes’ book- Lilly and the Plastic Purple Purse. In Lilly’s classroom there is a place where the students can go and create! We have made a classroom just for this purpose! Pretty soon you and your class will be invited to join the fifth graders in this lab where ideas are not only imagined but created! Enjoy this movie created by fifth grade and produced in the lab about Lilly and the Plastic Purple Purse. This is just the first of many exciting ideas that will be created in the Lightbulb Lab! We can’t wait for you to join us! We will have an official opening soon!!!

Prep of devices taking more time

Teachers are still having difficulty logging onto the MacBooks from home. We can not access home internet as an admin password is required. However, we have been able to upgrade itunes to version 9 successfully on all three macs.

We have set some restrictions on the student itouch devices so that the following applications/programs are not accessible to the students:
App store
You Tube
This was very time consuming as we had to go into each device and set the passcode and desired restrictions. Setting up 81 itouches to be ready to use has been quite and undertaking!

We are still trying to perfect syncing with the cart. Some applications do not sync correctly, so we have had to download directly to the itouch device one at a time over the wireless connection or by connecting directly to the MacBook. We have decided to allow the itouches to sync all when connected to the MacBook for syncing instead of selecting certain apps to sync one at a time. This has cut down on the time it takes immensely.

When the itouches arrived we had to so many updates to perfom, as well as register each one individually, that it has inhibited us from moving forward faster with our plan implementation. This has proven very frustrating to us as well as the students.

iTouch student survey

Also on September 17th we gave the fifth grade students a survey to find out how much they knew about using the itouch. Mrs. Meyer then analyzed the results to compare to end of the year survey.

Fifth Grade itouch Awareness Survey (Fall 2009)
1) Do you, or anyone in your family, own an itouch or iphone? Have you used an itouch or iphone before?
2) How do you turn on an itouch?
3) How do you select an app on the itouch?
4) Why do you think it is called an itouch?
5) Do all apps use the internet? Why or why not?
6) How do you move from “page” to “page” on an itouch?
7) Why do you think your teacher wants to use an itouch in her classroom?
8) Why do you want to use an itouch in your classroom?

74 students took the survey. The questions were analyzed very simply. The students’ answers were checked to see if they did in fact understand how to perform the action stated in the question. Yes or no as well as responses were recorded. This survey will be given again at the end of the year paying particular attention to question 7 and also posing new questions as to the student’s opinion on the effectiveness of the device used in the classroom setting.