Friday, August 30, 2013

5 Ways I'm Using Apps in the Classroom

As I'm wrapping up week #2 teaching language arts in a 4/5 1:1 iPad environment, I thought I would try a "5 ways..." type of post. One of my many goals this year is to be a better sharer, so I am pushing myself to blog each week and to try different styles of writing. Let me know what you think, please!

1. Apps for Student Blogging

We have experimented, thus far, with three apps for student blogging: WordpressChrome and Safari. All of them have great features, as well as limitations. One thing we've learned the hard way is not to use the camera from within the blog post. It is best to take the photos from outside of the blogging app and then import from camera roll. 

I'm amazed at how quickly the students are beginning to fluently use multiple apps to achieve a task. When 5th graders, for instance, wanted to add "Choose Kind" badgesas sidebar widgets, they quickly discovered that it made sense to use the Wordpress app to upload the image, but it required switching to one of the browser apps to add the code to a text widget. 

Note: Our student bloggers would love to connect with other student bloggers, and we would welcome readers and comments. 

2. Apps for Classroom Management

After carefully reviewing the features of Class Dojo, I decided against using it for behavior management. Many teachers are thrilled with it, though, so it might be worth a try. So what apps am I using? I am enjoying plugging my iPad into speakers (necessary to hear the sound) and using the free app, Tibetan Bowls, as a lovely chime to get students' attention.  I've also been experimenting with using mellow music via Pandora, as thinking music while students are writing. Sometimes the music adds a nice element of calm to the room, although some students find it distracting. 

3. The camera!

The camera is a no-brainer.  Of course, we  use the camera constantly to document and capture. But here is a fun Pinterest-inspired way I've used the camera to practice our "Give Appreciations" norm and to create something for students who are celebrating birthdays. I simply email the photo to the student (and his or her parent) to save and enjoy.

4. Words With Friends

I put Words With Friends on our app list, thinking that we would use it as part of Daily 5 word work. I haven't even started introducing Daily 5 yet, but students have discovered and are loving WWF. In fact, it's become a class wide obsession. 
I quickly made three rules: no using the chat feature during school, no logging in with Facebook (as 4th and 5th graders should not have Facebook anyway) and no choosing "random opponent." I love that they are so focused on playing around with the ways letters combine to form words. Fun stuff.

5. Apps for Creative Assessment

What are students actually learning? How well do they understand the concepts? Assessment will be one of the most central ways I envision using iPad apps this year. When students create, I get excellent feedback on how well they actually understood a concept. This week, as part of our school's implementation of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we learned Habit 1: Be Proactive. After our readings and discussions, I wanted to understand how well students had integrated this concept into their own schemata. 4th graders used Pixie and 5th graders used Comic Maker to demonstrate their understanding of the concept of being proactive. 


Kristie Bell said...

Hello, my name is Kristie Bell and I just wanted to introduce myself and explain why I will be commenting on your blog post each week. I am a college student and majoring in secondary education. I am currently enrolled in a micro-computing class called EDM 310. Here is a link to my blog and our class blog as well Each student is assigned a teacher and we must keep up with their posts weekly. I just wanted to inform you that I will be summarizing my visits to your blog with a post every two weeks. My first summary will be due next Sunday and I hope that you will pleased with the outcome. Also, I can be reached at my twitter address which is @kristiebell92. Now that I have told you a little about myself I would love to get started on talking about your blog. First off, I have to say I really love that you let your students work with ipads in the classroom. We live in a world where technology is rapidly advancing and giving these children an early start is a great way for them to use it to their advantage. This prepares students for a successful future and they can benefit greatly from sharpening their skills so young.I really like that you use educational applications as well, such as words with friends. These are such great learning games for students and they really captivate their interest, but most importantly it enhances their vocabulary skills. The fact that you implement guidelines shows that you do not just let the students play around on the ipad, unless it is for educational purposes. I generally like the concept of what you are doing with your students on a a day to day basis. Also, I wanted to mention that I really enjoyed reading about how you let your kids listen to soothing music while they work. This reminded me of a few of my past teachers who would do the same and I always loved it. Well overall, your post was very interesting to read and I hope to be able to have a similar environment for my future students some day.

Andrea said...

Hi Kristie,
Thank you for your comment, and I look forward to reading your blog post summary and future comments.

Michael at QuizBean said...

Hi Andrea,

Appreciate the overview of the apps you're using in your classroom this year. What apps do you use to instantly assess if your students are understanding a concept?