Teaching English using iPads – Day 1 by @InstTechTalk

This is the first post in what will be a series of posts pertaining to how I am teaching Summer School English using 1:1 iPads.

Some background info:

Our iPad program is in the beginning of its second year. We are still in a pilot program, but it has expanded with the start of our 2nd year to include more schools in the district.

I am our Instructional Technology Director, but originally taught English. I am teaching summer school English to test my hand at teaching 1:1 with iPads.

The majority of the students are in the class for Senior English, there are a couple students in the class for Junior English.

My goal for the course:

I want to use the iPads as tools to help students learn the material in an interesting and modern way. Using the iPad to complete various tasks and assignments allow us to not only teach the English curriculum but also modern web and technology tools.

My goal for these posts:

To chronicle the daily activities of my class (4 hours a day, 4 days a week, 3 weeks, 2 sessions) in a way that is brief, but also informative. Certain concepts will likely get shared in supplemental posts as well. Let me know if there are any you come across that you would like more information about!

What we did Day 1:

1. Syllabus – projected and distributed (my only copies for the day).

2. Discussed Digital Citizenship using resources from Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org). There are great handouts and talking points already prepared for teachers and really do apply to all the grades denoted on their website. I used some of the lessons from this section of their site: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/lesson/my-online-code-9-12

3. Distribution of iPads – the iPads I configured for this course were done via Apple Configurator with a profile that restricts use of the App Store. I preloaded some of my favorite apps (Notability, Flashcards, Nostalgio, Dropbox, Tumblr (iPhone app), join.me). If I decide we need other apps for the course, it is as simple as plugging in the cart and installing in all the iPads at once – 5 minutes max.

4. Introductions to the iPad and the Students using the app Nostalgio – in order to get a little more comfortable with the iPad (and the students using them) we did an introductory activity using pictures and an app called Nostalgio. I first showed them how to save pictures from websites using the iPad (tap and hold, click save image). Then, I showed them the app, which lets you create 4-up photo frames using the camera or photos saved on the device. I instructed them to find 4 images that represent who they are as individuals and arrange them into the collage on Nostalgio. When they were finished, they each came up and presented their collage using my VGA adapter into a SMART Board. The kids loved it and it was a whole new way to do those intro activities that the students usually dread. Note: you should do one to start it off – I did and it was fun!

5. Create necessary accounts. I had students create tumblr accounts, Dropbox accounts, enable their Google Apps for Education account, and optionally follow my Twitter account if they wanted to. I will be using the tumblr account as my main course hub (posting daily outlines, discussion questions, updates, links, etc). I haven’t used tumblr much, but was intrigued by the seemingly simplistic approach to getting things done. I will be using Dropbox to house student work that they don’t want to share via tumblr. I have setup individual folders and shared them with the appropriate student. Only the student and I have access to their own folder. There is also one folder that all students have access to that is my distribution folder.

6. Polls for Student Learning background. I used Poll Everywhere to get some needed information about what texts students have read in their previous classes and get an idea of what they are expecting from the course itself. It worked fantastically. I had them go to my Poll Everywhere link (pollev.com/jherb) and as I displayed new polls, they automatically showed on their iPad. It was awesome. The kids loved that it auto updated on their device and that the stats changed as more people answered. Highly recommended.

7. Introduce their Personal Narrative Project. This wasn’t technologically amazing, but then again it didn’t need to be. The file was simply made available to them using Dropbox.

8. Introduced their Independent reading project and got their novels. Once they read for about 20 minutes silently, I had them post on tumblr a quick update as to who the characters were that they encountered, and a quick idea of what was happening in the novel (just a quick check to see if they read). In the future, they will have a specific question to answer using the content from their particular novel.

9. Collect the iPads in the cart to charge them overnight. Keep them in order so the kids get back the ones they have already synced with their various accounts.

That was basically it for Day 1. Day 2 brings a whole new set of fun – using some of the same tools and some new ones. Stay tuned and feel free to ask questions here or onhttp://ask.instructionaltechtalk.com!

 See what we did on Day 2 here.

About @InstTechTalk

@InstTechTalk Jeff Herb is the Director of Academic Support at Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville, Illinois. While his job entails supporting many things that supplement the classroom, the focus has definitely shifted towards instructional technology.


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