Thursday, November 29, 2012

Choice and Research with the iPad

 For the past four years, I have had third grade students create Ohio wildlife animals out of clay.  They also create habitats where playing with materials is encouraged.  Tissue paper turns into a pond and pom poms become rocks.  We even had a nest built in a paper tree for a bald eagle one year!

Each year I have difficulty getting the students to understand what exactly a wildlife animal is and is not.  There is always someone who wants to do a dog or horse.  It takes an inspirational talk for them to understand a stray dog is not exactly what we are going for (although I adopted my own daschund!)

This year, with the power of the iPad and wireless newly installed in my classroom, the students were able to do their own research.  I sent them to the Department of Natural Resources website for Ohio where there was an A-Z species guide.  Students choose their own animal and saved the picture to photo library.  They just touch the picture, and a SAVE IMAGE button appears.  Couldn't be easier!  Each student picked their own animal and wrote down the name.  Then students used a search engine to find more photos for different angles and a close up on the head.
Images were then downloaded into the Dropbox app and immediately appeared onto my computer.  Dropbox has been working extremely well for the transfer of pictures and documents from the iPads to my computer.  I printed them out (I'm lucky to have a colored printer) and laminated them.  I can already tell the results of our project are going to be the best yet, and we will have a greater variety of animals represented instead of the same ten I would have printed off for them.  Students have more information to create with and have a sense of ownership by doing their own research.  To watch our progress on this projects and others visit our school blog!    
I'm excited to see how the painting improves from having their own resources to look at!
Every student assumes they know what a turtle looks like, until they can really see it in photographs! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Diving In

The iPads are finally here and we dove right in and are working out all the logistics together. The tech crew spent hours (no seriously, hours!) on the phone with Apple. They finally got me set up to I can purchase my own apps through the Apple's Education Store. You must buy a volume lease for each app on each iPad, but all the apps I have bought so far had a considerable discount and didn't break the bank too bad. I ended up buying 20 licenses because it was the same price as 10. One can only hope that the future is bringing more iPads my way! I wrote $200 into my grant for apps. My tech guru set me up with two $100 dollar vouchers. This is the smallest increment when buying the vouchers from Apple so take note when writing a grant! I do have to say just one my shout out to the tech crew, Omar, Drew, and Scott! They spent so much time putting the cases on, figuring out Apple's system for education, and then personally delivery them to my art room and syncing them up! The iPads automatically sync when I download an app to my iTunes account on my classroom computer, so I don't have to individually manage all ten! We named the iPads color names, red, yellow, green, etc to coordinate with how my tables are labeled. The green table then always uses the green iPad. Hopefully this will help me keep track of projects and possible problems!