Anchors away

Schools are back and I have a few weeks now of supporting the schools with the loan kits to get under way. Two primaries in two days, an iPod per child, one is a Year3 class, one is Year 4.

For those of you starting off with kit for the first time, I’ll just run through how I approached it in terms of supporting the teachers:

Before I give the children any kit I ask them to focus on why they would want to use an iPod/iPad, how will it help them learn? I think starting from this point of via helps them to focus on class use effectively. I also explain to them how the device acts as a data hoover and then becomes their second brain (see previous posts). This approach seems to strike a chord with the classes I have been working with and several have referred to activities that we did in those terms, during the ensuing sessions.

I then let the children “play” with them for about ten minutes with two rules in place:

1. They find out as many things as possible
2. They whisper their findings to children on their table

I do this to get some of the “fiddling” out of the way and it does sam to work quite well. I also establish that when I am talking, unless I says otherwise, I won’t see an iPod in a hand or turned on. This takes some time to get right but pays off over time. I actually make this “deal” in the terms, “I’ll talk less and let you do more if you be very attentive when I do have to stop you”.

I also try to establish that if you have a question about how to do something on an app, the teacher is the LAST person to ask. This works very well and allows the teacher to focus on teaching.

So with loan kit I show the children Doodle Buddy, give them all a number and they draw that number on the screen, save to camera roll, go to the camera roll and set the number as home and lock screen. Today I used a visualised to demonstrate (which was great because when I said “click here” they could all see my big finger hovering over the button) and yesterday I used a direct feed to the projector form the iPad I was using (Apple TV works just as well). I simply had to go over to the board constantly to point to what I was clicking on the pad.

This activity has two roles.
The first is to make sure that is you pick up a pod in that class and turn it on you can immediately see which number it is (where children own their own I get them to write their name). Stickers are also useful but can make the devices look a bit messy (especially after several loans in different schools).
The second is to get the children used to doing something where you use one app to do something in another app. This is really important further down the line where you want to combine graphics, drawings, notes and suchlike in different ways.

I then introduce an app that will help with the hoovering.

Mental Note (see previous posts) is my weapon of choice as a digital notepad. I refuse to tell children how to use it but set them a task that means they have to figure out how to type info, insert pictures from the camera and use a freehand “pen”. Again, this encourages the children to share expertise on what to press – don’t ask me. Of course I quickly review this at the end of their task to ensure they are all up to speed. Today’s class also sent their notes as pdfs to me via email (though we were hampered with the problems that BT are having getting the broadband to work properly in schools). This really is the next step. Yesterday I didn’t get that far with the children but showed the teacher after the session how that worked and how they could create a contact group to send a resource to all the children at once.

The last task I did in both classes was to introduce Strip Design (as your second brain’s way of presenting your hoovering). I do this by showing them how to make a page, add a photo and a speech bubble – all in one go really fast at the front. I then ask them to do one. They never fail. What immediately becomes apparent is the enthusiasm they all have to write something and the wandering about that they all do to share what they are doing and learn more…sound like how you want your classroom to be?

So that is it, about an hour and a half. I will be back in both classes in a couple of weeks to look at what they want next but between now and then I have simply asked them (and the children) to focus on how the device helps them take in, store/retrieve information and repurpose it.

I’ll keep this as a separate category to continue the story as I support them each time.

Additional:
Just received this from the teacher I worked with yesterday:
“The kids loved using the iPods today, squeebles is already a big favourite…I’ve never seen them so enthusiastic about doing their times tables!”.

Wow, this might catch on…

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