Friday, 27 May 2011

iPads 1:1 in Kindergarten - troubleshooting

Now that we are a few weeks into the iPads trial I need to catch up on my blogging ...
Initially the iPads were used in Kindergarten as an extension of the learning program. We used many Math applications such as Everyday Maths Monster Squeeze and Lobster Diver to allow students extra practice of their numeracy skills. This went fairly well but what I was keen to get happening was some student creation work where the kids made things to deepen their current learning.

Easier said than done!!

There are a lot of apps on the iTunes store, however trying to match an app with, the student's ability, needs and desired current learning outcomes is no easy feat. I have trialled a lot of Apps personally but I hadn't much experience in trying to match an app to sync in with the current learning. Many times I have found the app advanced too quickly for the level of the students - or to have too much text (not great for beginner readers) which made it less assessable.

I can see the need to create an app database at my school so that we can keep a record of what has been used and how it matched with the learning. This would normally go on the UOI planner but I think it needs to be put somewhere like a wiki so that it can be contributed to by different teachers.

Another issue this week has been with syncing. It is far better for the students to have email accounts so that screen grabs and other work can be easily transferred. I would also like to set up a Dropbox for Kindergarten in the future to make the transfer of student created work easier. Time is needed to develop these systems properly.

I wonder how other schools cope with these issues? I guess my challenge here is that the students that I am working with are very young and need to be working within a closed safe community.

More thoughts later ...

Thursday, 19 May 2011

iPhone 4 in the Classroom - Just in Time Learning

iPhone in the Classroom from Jane Ross on Vimeo.

I am so, so, so impressed about how the iPhone 4 has become such a handy tool to use in the classroom. Here is a film that I made about using the iPhone for filming, playback over a projector and projecting PDFs using a VGA iPod cable with a classroom projector.

Technology Integration - at its best :)

Yesterday I had a really good lesson in Grade 1. The focus was about force and motion. The students were given the task to carry out a simple experiment involving two balls - one heavy and hard and one light and soft. Here is the movie that was made by three teachers documenting the learning by filming the experiments with their iPhones. Each child was ask to predict what would happen and then reflect after the experiment about the outcome.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

School-Based Book Publishing Group

I have started a book publishing group at school. We have currently around 15 teachers in the group. So far we have met as a group a couple of times to work out some agreements like a title page template and a proof reading system. We have already produced several books. Here is a photo of our first big book. We are fortunate to have colour photocopier machines in the school. The teachers are able to print wirelessly from their Macbooks to these photocopiers. The hard binding is done outside the school at a local photocopy centre. An A4 book costs Rp30.000 ($3.50) to bind and an A3 costs Rp60.000.

Our system is a simple one:
All work must be original which includes all photographs and written work
All books must include a Preface and a title page
All books must be proof read twice by a language teacher from the language of the book before the book goes to the printing stage

We intend to develop an eLibrary of our SWA-Published books. I am currently looking into a few options. I want the books to be embedded as well as on virtual bookshelves.
Here is a copy of our Essential Agreements:


The number of pages must have a minimum of 15 sheets of paper. (for printing purposes due to hardback binding requirements, eBooks not limited to this)

All content must be original including text and pictures. Eg: photograph is taken by the SWA community (not downloaded from internet) children’s pictures or artwork may be scanned

Font and layout style must be consistent.

Fonts have to be easy to read.

Pictures should be clear (not too dark, not too bright, not blurry)

Parental permission need to be obtained, when the book would be published outside of the school

Language used in SWA books is according to the language guideline and is proofread by a proofreading process.

The topic can be vary in any subject or any grade level. (eg. picture book, non-fiction book)

The book should include preface

Here I am reading our first big book together with Grade 1. These kids co-wrote the book. They were very excited!!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Rethinking Technology Integration

A couple of days ago I tweeted about my misgivings about being a tech integrator. Don't get me wrong - there are parts of my job that I really enjoy. I do enjoy getting to see the big picture and being involved across the school. My problem is that I have been in this position for 3 years but the last 2 years I have been doing the Integration for 100% of my time. As you all know technology changes rapidly. I have had no class of students of my own so I never get a chance to do any real deep learning with technology. I do a lot of assisting, giving ideas and supporting of other teachers but I work in fragments. Most of it is small projects and a lot of quick solutions or problem solving.

I miss having a group of students with whom I can develop their digital literacy over a long period of time. I miss real teaching where I get to decide on what to do and then make it happen. I miss that connection with the students where I can see development over a longer period of time.

I'm a creative person and I have a lot of ideas - but I then have to persuade other teachers to allow me to act on these ideas. It doesn't happen very often so I am left thinking - Why am I in this job? I have to give up and compromise which leads to a much different outcome.

So where do I go from here?