Sunday, October 9, 2011

Week 4, 5, 6, and 7 in Review

Wow ... time does fly when learning is happening.  Since my last post the kids have come such a long ways and the learning curve has simply gone beyond my initial expectations.  We have been downloading, keeping and discarding apps by the dozens and the kids have arrived at that point of self reflection in terms of choosing apps that meet their needs and goals.

As some of the videos show, we have accomplished a far amount of exploration as well as production including some fascinating uses of Keynote to make tessellations and children's books as well more traditional uses for a presentation of the 13 Colonies and some of the Founders of America.  The kids have become proficient at the use of Keynote in conjunction with Adobe Ideas, Drawing Box, Safari, and any other app from which they can take screen shots.

We also explored eBook Creator which allows screen shots to become pages of an ebook in which students can record their own voices reading the book.  While the app has a lot of potential, it is an iphone/itouch app which does limit some of what can be done.  We also noticed that it sometimes does not like large file sizes and are currently looking for a replacement.

Lunch, one of the times I have attempted to redeem academically for years, has now taken on a whole new feel as the kids use it to explore word games including Word Warp, Abacus, Worcle, and out newest find, WordBlast.  In all cases, the kids eat and explore words, spelling, and definitions and often times needed to be reminded that food is part of the equation as 30 minutes pass ever so quickly.

So what is next?  Well in order to answer that, I should explain my role in this mobile learning project.

First ... I am a facilitator and guide which is not always the picture of a traditional teacher.  My job really is to direct the flow of learning so that the learning becomes student driven and student initiated. Yes, I do keep curricular objectives in mind and yes, I do review adopted curriculum to ensure we are covering the material that has been adopted and approved by our local school board.  What differs is the process by which we reach that goal.  For example, our tessellation project was specifically found in our adopted math curriculum in terms of a discussion of tessellations but rather than using a ruler and geometry template, we opted to use Keynote which gave us complete control of polygonal shapes with the enhancement of color, altering shapes, and ultimately the ability to create dozens of shapes not present on our geometry template.  In previous years, the "book's" method allowed kids to produce one tessellation minus color and minus the individuality of the student.  Now the class produced dozens of examples of varying complexity and structure while discarding dozens of others and we were able to openly share them on a large screen for all to see.  And ... in one case, a 3 dimensional tessellating pattern using cubic forms took place without specific teaching ... just simple exploration.  My ultimate role ... about 10-15 minutes to teaching and demonstrating followed by 2 hours of student work, exploration and creation.

Do they understand tessellations now ... oh yes!

So future ideas ... found a new app ... Little Solver Figural Analogies from which we will begin exploring rotation, translation, and reflection of shapes (tessellations) ... directly based in our math curriculum ... connected to out supplemental use of ... which should create some higher learning platforms for student exploration.

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