Sunday, May 23, 2010

Looking back on this year

I teach- I learn served 76 fifth graders directly, however indirectly the grant impacted all of the students at Meadow Wood. The fifth graders grew more proficient with the technology- itouches, Mac books and flip cameras- over the course of the year. As their confidence grew, they were sent out to assist teachers as well as students on technology projects. For example, the third graders went on a field trip to a play and they filmed their experience. The fifth graders then took their video footage and used imovie to create a movie for the class. In this way, and many more like it, the grant influenced more than what was originally anticipated.

Our grant impacted our students tremendously. With the itouch being easily accessible to them, they were able to be more independent. Mrs. Lewis had them practice using the application during a lesson to help build their vocabulary while reading. After becoming familiar with the application, the students then readily accessed the site whenever they came across a vocabulary word they were unfamiliar with. Mrs. Lewis also introduced students to many word game apps such as Word Warp and Scramble at the start of each class for their warm-up activity. Ms. Maniloff had the students use a Math Facts application for increasing their accuracy. Mrs. Wheeler was doing a science lesson on the human heart, and the students used the itouch to access the internet to get a diagram of the heart instantly. Having a diagram of the heart, in their hand, allowed them to individually choose the diagram they wanted to use for their project. The students began to view the itouch as an invaluable resource. As far as special education, once we became familiar with imovie- we were able to video the teachers teaching more complicated lessons and then sync them to the student’s itouch devices for them to refer to later. This was wonderful for our special education students who needed the lesson multiple times. It allowed the students to claim ownership of their learning as well as manage their own comprehension. The itouch device allowed us to “support from afar”.

Another area that was successful was in the mentoring aspect of the grant. Fifth graders worked with many grade levels throughout the year. During October, fifth graders helped kindergarteners learn ABCs, farm animals, and sight words using several apps. Before the Thanksgiving break, fifth graders visited first grade classrooms to play TurkeyTrot for a fun break and a test of their memory. When third graders were researching a planet, the fifth graders used the application planetFacts to help them find facts about their planet. The students worked side by side and the conversations overheard by the teachers were fantastic! The third grade students initiated questions and the fifth graders would utilize the itouch to find the answers if they didn’t already know them. Not only did the fifth graders mentor, they also experienced being mentored. One of our second grade classes had been working with the Mac books and imovie creating Mother’s Day videos. Since they had become experts on editing and creating transitions, we took several of our fifth graders to be taught. Then those fifth graders shared their learning with the rest of their classmates to help create our MWE video.

Our final project with the grant was a History of MWE video. This project was a culminating project which incorporated many different skills that the students had learned throughout the year. Some of the technologies used were: scanners, digital cameras, flip cameras and Mac books. Parental support was instrumental in this project. Parents helped run the “lab” where the students worked on researching our school as well as transferring pictures onto the server where they could be accessed by multiple devices.

Our plan for next year is multi-faceted. The fifth graders will continue to have an itouch at their disposal. Our vision is still to have the itouch as an integral part of a fifth grader’s day. The teachers and students will continue to find apps and podcasts to supplement and support the learning in the classroom. Mrs. Meyer will utilize the Resource room to create projects with the special education students and they will serve as the mentors to the others. The Power to Learn grant allowed us to meet our goals as well as create new ones! It was instrumental in creating a leveled playing field for our special education students. We had several successful experiences with the students and the recognition they gained from the classmates was invaluable! As our expertise grew so did our ideas. We used the technology in ways we had never even thought of! The possibilities keep growing as we learn more about what it can help us do for our students.

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