Monthly Archives: February 2014

The be all and end all?

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I set my students a task this week. They were required to present information about a certain country in any way they chose. 

I gave them the following list of options:

  • a booklet

  • a poster

  • a travel brochure

  • a Powerpoint Presentation

  • Popplet

  • Haiku Deck

  • Tellagami

  • iMovie

  • Photocard

  • another format – please check with your teacher

I was amazed at the variety of options that the students chose. While observing these incredibly independent and motivated Year 4’s, I noticed that there were three distinct groups of students for this task:

A) Those who were going to present using something they were very familiar with

B) Those who loved to show their creativity and talents

C) Those who wanted to use something they had never tried before

All three types of students relied on technology, some more than others. It made me think that sometimes we glorify technology as ‘the be all and end all’, but we don’t actually relate it back to what our students want and what they are comfortable with.

The students in Category A were using things like Microsoft Powerpoint because they had used it multiple times before and knew that it was a way for them to get their work done without any problems or concerns. There were also other students who were wary of using technology because they had to wait too long to use the printer, or couldn’t work out how to print on a certain size piece of paper, so were content with the ‘write it out and glue it on a poster’ method. 

The students who were part of Category B are the students who are always thinking outside of the box. Some of these students were making posters, with intricate drawings, whereas others were creating Powerpoint presentations with detailed transitions and animations. A few of the students who were making a Powerpoint presentation asked if they could print their slides off and make it into a book when they were finished? Sure! A combination of paper and technology, why not?

The Category C students were the ones who strive for excellence and have a deep sense of curiosity. From the list of the presentation options I gave them, I had one pair of girls sit down with an iPad for 40 minutes, opening up each iPad app and having a look at it’s tutorial. They experimented with the camera roll, inserting pictures, rotation text, add animations, voices and more, until they came to an agreement. One student created a Tellagami for his presentation but wanted it to go for longer. Once I suggested that he could insert it into iMovie, I barely saw him for the rest of the lesson! He had a book open, taking photos, looking up facts on the computer and scribbling down titles and names of things…and has produced a fabulous 8-minute iMovie about Brazil.

Even though I try to integrate a range of learning styles into my classroom, this week’s project has really opened my eyes at how important it really is. It doesn’t matter if somebody wants to present information using a poster, because chances are that some of the pictures that are glued on were found using technology and simply printed off. But sometimes asking everybody to use Microsoft Powerpoint doesn’t allow for the flexibility that our students seek out, like hand-written titles and diagrams.  Having technology doesn’t mean using it 24/7. It’s not the be all and end all. 

App of the Week #3: Evernote

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What is it?

Evernote is a note-taking app, with the ability to organise notes into notebooks and add tags to make your notes searchable for keywords.

Why should I download it?

Evernote allows you to create notes using editable text, as well as inserting photos,videos and audio files. Creating notebooks for each student allows you to keep anecdotal notes, as well as audio/visual evidence, all in one easy to find place. It is also a Web 2.0 program, able to be downloaded to your desktop for easy use. Syncing notes between your PC and iPad is easy.

What do I use it for?

Evernote can be used for anecdotal student notes, meeting notes, PD experiences and more. Evernote even has it’s own email system, meaning you can email notes to and from your notebooks. Taking a photo of a presenter’s presentation is far more efficient than trying to scribble everything down in a hurry. Adding a ‘tag’, or a category to each note makes it easy to locate certain topics in your notes.

How do I get it?

Click here to be directed to Evernote in the App Store.

This post is the third in a series, highlighting apps which can be helpful in the education ‘game’.

App of the Week #2: Twitter

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twitter

What is it?

Twitter is a social media platform, used for conveying thoughts, opinions, photos and links in only 140 characters (letters, numbers, punctuation & spaces).

Why should I download it?

From an educational perspective, Twitter is the perfect base for constructing an active PLN (Professional Learning Network). If you want to find out more about education, connect with like-educators and increase your knowledge and resources, don’t hesitate to download and sign up! It the the best form of free, instant Professional Development that an educator could ask for.

What do I use it for?

In the first few days of using Twitter, a lot of people are still finding their feet. There is the opportunity to just ‘lurk’; watching what others post without responding or being actively involved. As you come across information that you find useful, you can save it as a favourite, start to follow the user who ‘Tweeted’ it to see what other pieces of sage advice they have to offer, or respond to the ‘Tweeter’ to find out more.

How do I get it?

Click here to be directed to Twitter in the App Store.

This post is the second in a series, highlighting apps which can be helpful in the education ‘game’.

App of the Week #1: appsgonefree

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appsgonefree

What is it?

Appsgonefree is an app that is updated daily with a variety of paid apps that are free for a limited time only.

Why should I download it?

Although the featured apps are free for anybody browsing through the App Store, the advantage of having Appsgonefree is that you will be notified of which apps are featured each day, without having to search. The app icons within the app link directly to the App Store to be easily downloaded.

What do I use it for?

Appsgonefree simply keeps you up to date with apps that you may have seen but were reluctant to pay for. Simply scroll through the apps, click on the icon for a more detailed description and should you wish to download the app, click ‘Free’ and ‘Install’, like you normally would when downloading an app.

How do I get it?

Click on this link to be directed to Appsgonefree in the App Store.

This post is the first in a series, highlighting apps which can be helpful in the education ‘game’.