Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Make Your Own Children Your Tech Guinea Pigs!

So, it's October 21st already.  I last wrote a month ago.  I had planned on blogging last week after attending the GAFE conference in Louisville, CO last weekend, but that didn't happen.  I am home for a few more days on fall break, however I'm home with a six month old.  We don't accomplish much!

New learning
Use your own kids as guinea pigs. Recently I had my students creating book reports for a gallery style presentation day.  They could use three apps on their iPads.  They could use either Adobe Voice, Explain Everything, or iMovie.  It's so funny how we stay in our comfort zones, even our students do.  I had so many who just simply wanted to use Keynote and make a powerpoint presentation.  I told them they could do that with Explain Everything, but I wanted to challenge them to get out of their comfort zone.  Hey, if I am trying to use new technology to improve their learning, they can branch out too!  The thing is, I was taught to always have an example or a model for the students.   Yet, every time I've done my own example video or presentation I suddenly have 25 turned in that look exactly like mine with no creativity added in whatsoever.  So, I found a new way to showcase the ease of the technology and point out that "It's so easy, even a six year old can do it!" I simply have my six year old do it.

Adobe Voice
I was introduced to this app last year when my daughter used it at school in Kindergarten.  I loved it so much and saw the possibilities for the middle school classroom.  We downloaded the program at home, and I let her tell stories all summer on my iPad. One of her first stories that I use as an example to show my students the ease of the app is her Lions story.  If you want to try an easy app for storytelling this is it!  The student speaks his or her line(s) adds a picture and moves to the next page or slide.  There are tons of icons within the program that students can use, or they can use their own images from the googlemachine or even from their camera roll.  The downfall that my 7th graders found with the program is that the layouts are very limited. I had students who wanted to adjust or rotate the images, this program does not allow for that.

Explain Everything
I am still so new to this app.  I don't even know the full capabilities of it.  I just knew that it was already loaded onto the student iPads and I needed to offer options.  The students have been required to use this app for presentations before, so it wasn't new to most of them.  I opened the app played around with it enough to know the basic functions then showed it to my daughter.  One day while her baby brother was sleeping she asked if she could make a story.  Wanting to see what she could do, I said sure and handed the iPad over!  This is her story "The Three Friends."  (She's six, don't mind the spelling, I have years to work on that!) My students could see that they could illustrate, animate, and do voice overs with this app.  Those who wanted the very basic elements of Keynote or PowerPoint could use it that way as well, but soon they were making objects spin and move as they recorded. The downfalls to this app were sometimes it crashes and does not save.  It has a save button.  This is one of the few apps that doesn't automatically save, and that hurts when the student just clicks the iPad off when class is over.  The cool thing is that you can save it like I did to a mp4 file as a movie instead of just keeping it in the app.

I haven't given Aeva iMovie yet.  Those students who knew the app rolled with it and those who didn't chose one of the other two.  If you are like me and really want to have an example, don't be a perfectionist.  Instead use your own children as guinea pigs and let them figure something new out and in the process teach you.  If you don't have children, use a friend's.

What I'm learning is that we as teachers always feel like we have to have the answers. However, sometimes our answer to the question, "how do I use this app?" needs to be, "you tell me."  I knew and shared with my students the requirements for their presentations. We created the rubric together so they understood their learning objective.  The technology was the vehicle for the presentations.

For the presentations themselves I use gallery walk presentations.   I like this style of presentations because I think it's important to teach my students that there's more than just our class.  The students have a chance to present more than once and build their confidence speaking to an audience.  I invite other classes, teachers, and administrators in to see these presentations and grade them.  What I learned this time around was our classroom is too small for this. Next time we will take over the library. I can give more info. on this another day.

Thanks for reading!
English Middle School Mania

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