Doing Things the Long Way

In many ways, technology can be time saving. Especially if you know the best way to use it!

Yesterday I attended and presented at the 2011 VITTA (Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association) Conference.

One of the sessions I attended was run by Andrew and Beverly from Mitcham Primary School. They gave a terrific presentation about using iPads in the junior primary classroom.

I learnt so much, but one of the simplest tips I took away was that you can sync more than one iPod/iPad at a time. The number of iDevices you can sync is simply limited to the number of USB ports you have.

This is the fourth year I have been using iPod Touches in the classroom and I can’t begin to imagine how many hours I have wasted by syncing the iPods one by one. At one stage I was in charge of updating eight iPod Touches which I did one at a time. I never thought to try to plug more than one in!

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Today I was thinking about how people can go on for a very long time doing things the long way with technology. It’s not until you either try to find an easier way or someone tells you that you realise how easy something could be!

I recently informed another teacher that they didn’t have to type in a URL every time they wanted to visit a site, they could simply save it to favourites/bookmarks. This simple tip which is obvious to most of us made this teacher’s day!

I think it is important that we create a culture of sharing not only with our staff but with our students. I like to explicitly teach my students ICT skills, but I also encourage them to share their tips and discoveries with their peers.

If we have a culture of sharing, perhaps we’ll save too many people from “doing things the long way”!

What is something that you used to do the long way until you realised there was a simpler way?

Image attribution: ‘Who Else Has A Bright Idea?’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/27954776@N04/3168683736

Using an iPod Touch in the Primary Classroom

2011 is the fourth year I’ve been using an iPod Touch in my classroom. My students enjoy using these hand held devices and they can be used to enhance student learning in many different areas.

In this post I will describe how we set up our iPod Touches and how we use them.

Funding

In 2008, I was successful in applying for a DEECD Emerging Technologies Trial Grant. We purchase 8 iPod Touches and some professional development time.

Since then, our school has budgeted to purchase a small number of iPod Touches.

We generally buy our iPod Touches from BigW and get the lowest memory model.

More than half of the classes at our large primary school now have an iPod Touch in their room.

Equipment

A headphone splitter was purchased for each iPod Touch which allow the device to be used by a group of five students at one time.

BellkinWe got the Belkin RockStar model which cost less than $20. Check out the ITmadeSimple website if you want to purchase some (currently on special for AUD$13.20).

For the first few years of using iPod Touches, I had sets of headphones for each device (not the in-ear style). I slipped each pair of headphones in a plastic pocket so we didn’t need to worry about tangled cords.

These were good but because we used them so regularly, they wore out very quickly.

This year, I asked all parents to provide their child with a set of headphones to keep in their locker tub at school. This has been a terrific solution and the students also use these headphones for our class netbooks.

Logistics

Kelly Jordan and I currently have 4 iPod Touches in our class of 43 students.

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We use our iPod Touches in our reading groups every day. We sometimes use them for small group  maths activities and sometimes allocate individual students time on the iPod Touches for a particular purpose.

We have found that a rotational approach to using iPod Touches works well when you only have one or a small number in your classroom.

While our headphone splitter works well to share one iPod between 5 students when they are listening to stories, podcast or videos, activities that involve apps are better in a 1:1 or 1:2 situation. We have found one way to get around this.

If a group of students were playing an app, they might take it in turns to have a go with the app while also engaged in another related activity. For example, students could be  taking it in turns to play the app Wurdle, while other students play the Boggle board game.

Apps

I usually find my apps by recommendations, searching and reviews.

Sample Apps

Tania Hunt is a teacher at Bellbridge Primary School. She has put together these screenshots of apps she uses on her 3rd gen iPod Touches with her primary students.

This is Tania’s website with links to some great literacy and numeracy resources for the junior primary classroom.

App Reviews

This website contains useful reviews of educational apps.

http://www.iear.org/

iear

Apple in Education

This page on the iTunes website features some apps that can be used in education. If you click on the links, you can see the collection of apps in the iTunes store for a range of different subject areas.

http://www.apple.com/education/apps/ipodtouch-iphone.html

apple

Sample Activities

As well as accessing the wireless internet on the iPod, our grade two students complete a range of activities on the iPod Touches. This is just a small sample.

  • Students listen to various stories.  There are many free story podcasts available from the iTunes store. Some good ones include Storynory and The Story Home. We often have students practise various reading strategies as they are listening such as visualising, tuning in to interesting words (and listing), coming up with questions etc.
  • How-to videos from the howcast site have been stored on the iPod and students have followed the instructions to complete a task (eg. making origami).
  • Students have listened to songs and sequenced cards containing the lyrics to the song.
  • Students listen to a recording of instructions which they must comprehend to draw something or complete a simple task. The recording can by made by a student to practise oral language skills or a teacher.
  • Students have watched short videos (downloaded off YouTube or made in the classroom) and completed various response and comprehension activities.
  • Student created videos and podcasts have been added to the iPod as a way of sharing student work with the rest of the class.

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Other Ideas

Tom Barrett and his readers have put together this slideshow with other ideas about using the iPod Touch in the classroom.


Click here
if you can’t see the presentation above.

Final Thoughts

The iPod allows students to learn at their own pace as stories and videos can be paused and replayed many times.

It is a great way to reinforce concepts and encourage independent as well as co-operative group learning.

I have also found the iPod Touch to be engaging for reluctant learners and helpful for students with learning difficulties.

How do you use the iPod Touch in the classroom?

Can you share any apps or activities?