WISE, Twitter, and iPads

Wish I could go to the WISE conference in Doha this year, but it’s a little far away and there’s way too much going on this time of year. However, it’ll be nice to follow some of the speakers online and hear what they have to say. WISE stands for World Innovation Summit for Education.

Well, I’ve finally found something to use my twitter account for. I’ve signed up to follow this conference and hopefully, I will continue to find new ways to use the technology in a productive way. There are probably a few teacher blogs I should follow too, but I’m not always an early adopter with the gadgets (ok – usually by generation 2.o I’m in).

It takes a lot of scholastic points to get an ipad, but I’ve been saving up for almost 10 years now, and I got one yesterday for my classroom. Using it today, it was amazing to see the kids take to it like fish to water. It took me less than a minute to teach kids how to operate an app that had them solving spatial pentomino puzzles collaboratively in a group of 3. Swiping and dragging, clicking, and double clicking seemed so natural.  It makes for a great learning center. I also had a few of the winter songs for our production loaded on it, some spelling, and math fact games, a dictionary, a wikipedia app, I downloaded a few e-books for free, and was quite pleasantly surprised at how willing they were to share the device. I have a few hand-me-down desktops that have been in my classroom since the beginning of the year, but only one or two kids had every asked to use them. More than half the class seemed very interested in using the ipad today. It’s too bad I can’t get more. Here’s a story today about ipads in a kindergarten class.

There was a lot of filming going on in our school today and I was asked with little warning to teach a quick lesson using the new media lab which is full of desktops. They didn’t have any footage of kids in the lab. I haven’t really had the chance to use the lab yet, so the children hadn’t been taught how to sign in etc. Setting it up for all the kids, getting the computers all doing what you want them to do and then teaching can be quite a bit cumbersome. Even if it was a 10 minute lesson, there was no way I wasn’t going to try and make it meaningful for the kids, connect it to current curriculum, and ensure they were learning some useful skill. While the children were completely engaged in their assignment, I did not witness the same heightened engagement as those three kids on the ipad later in the afternoon. I think it was a good investment of my points, but now to find content that is meaningful and contributes to their learning – otherwise it’s just a toy.

 

Unboxing

I still do not own a Kindle or iPad, but after two days of unpacking boxes (I’m only about two thirds of the way – and that’s just unpacking) – I am starting to think that these are going to change things in a big way. I would have to say that about 75 % of what I unpacked were books for kids. How great it would be if each child had an ipad/kindle and when it came time for reading groups they could all pull out their ONE device and get going. I’d probably vote for the iPad as it’s multi functioning and with the color may have advantages for little kids. Apparently according to some reports, children with autisum are using apps that help them develop social/emotional recognition in others. Having the same device also be able to serve other functions like reference materials, etc. would be wonderful too. In the older grades – customized text books may be use. As I’ve mentioned, there will be nothing as wonderful as a beautifully illustrated children’s book. Or a shelf of them displayed well. But after unpacking a libraries worth of books, one has to wonder if the new technology is better.

It might make impulse shopping for readers a little too easy, but when reading is what you’re trying to teach – why not!