Fort Herriman Middle School


Questions about the iPod Touch
October 23, 2008, 10:22 pm
Filed under: guided reading, ipods, technology

In the last post, Lynda asked a bunch of questions about the iPods. I want to answer them here, because it will help me reflect more.

1) How many students are sharing these 3 iPods?
The students are arranged into guided reading groups of 5 or 6. They rotate to different stations around the room, and they use the iPods and share them during that station. So, two people share an iPod.

2) What apps are loaded on the ipods?
eReader – an e-book reader app.
Stanza – another e-book reader app.
Wurdle – A Yatzhee-type of word game.
Word Whirl – You get seven letters and you have to make words that are from 3 to 7 letter long.
World Wiki – A wiki for every country in the world.
American Heritage Desk Dictionary – Apparently a pretty popular dictionary. Who knew?
Declaration and Constitution – Some historical documents that most people feel are pretty important.
iFlipr Lite – Flashcard app.
Flashcards – A good flashcard app that allows you to add pictures and photos to the flashcards. Very much worth the $2.99
Kid Book Envi – This is a cool app that allows you to read kids’ books. Very cool.
There are a lot of great apps and I will probably buy more, because there are so many neat things.

3) How long is an ipod “session”?
They get 10 minutes at each station, so 10 minutes on the iPods.

4) How do you decide who uses the ipod? Is there a schedule? Is it time-based, or project-based?
That is, does a slower student get more time than a quicker student?
This is a good question, and I think that the students feel the best about the situation when they all get equal time on the iPods. One of the apps on there is a book reading app, and I may use that more in the future with the guided reading.

5) Is time on the ipod used as a perk or reward?
This is a touchy area of using technology. Technology is a privilege, not a right. I really want to use technology, and it is easier and more enjoyable for me, and so I try to not take it away. Well, these guided reading groups are not really easier, but they are worth it. I have had to take away the reading groups from one class, and I made that the punishment, not taking away the iPods.

6) What is the ideal ratio of students per iPod?
Ideally, I would want to have 1 student per iPod, but I don’t think that is the best way to do it. I think having 2 kids on each iPod is good because they keep each other on task.

7) Does the student do work on the iPod? On a computer? On paper?
They do work on all three. Most of the work on the iPods have been watching instructional videos, where I am teaching something that I recorded previously and loaded onto the iPod.

8) Do you download podcasts from the iTunes store?
I have downloaded a movies from iTunesU that relate to the book that we are reading, Freak the Mighty. There are a lot of useful things from the iTunesU K-12 section that I will use, I am sure.

9) Are the students creating their own podcasts? If so, are they audio only? Video?
They eventually will create some sort of podcast, but that probably won’t be done on the iPods unless I can get some microphones that work.

I hope these answers are satisfactory for you. If anybody has any ideas, feel free to let me know.

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iPod Touch in the Classroom
October 21, 2008, 7:42 pm
Filed under: ipods, technology

Due to a grant by our PTSA, I was able to purchase 3 iPod Touches for use in my classroom. I was going to do some unboxing pics, but I was too busy watching Heroes last night to worry about totally geeking out. But, I did get a chance to snap a picture of the three iPods.

Last school year, I talked about my dream of having these in the classroom. I still think it is a good idea, and I think that it will be beneficial for my students.

I bought a bunch of applications, though most of them were free. I have a few that I have been thinking of writing myself (shh, don’t tell my wife, she thinks I have too much on my plate already) but I probably won’t ever get to it, because it takes so much time to learn something so new to me.

The cool thing is that the kids love it. They would do any assignment I asked of them, just because it is on an iPod. So, where does that leave me?

Here is my philosophy: I don’t know what it is yet.

I am bouncing around a few things.

  1. Students should use technology to do things that they would do anyways. For example, my students do a quickwrite every so often. Today, they entered their quickwrites in a form on our wiki and all their stories are in a spreadsheet on Google Docs.
  2. Students should use technology to do new things that they haven’t done before. In other words, this should change the way I teach and the way they learn. For example, I made a video and put it on the iTouches for them to watch, and they received instruction by watching a video so that they could perform their next task.
  3. Students should use technology so that they are engaged and that is the only reason why.

I am amazed at how my students have reacted to the technology in our classroom. They love it. They are much more willing to do what I ask when they get to use technology.

I enjoy their enthusiasm for the technology, because it is something I share, also.

Will you help me clarify my philosophy about technology?

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iPod Touch Update
February 23, 2008, 9:36 pm
Filed under: ipods, technology

As I sit here typing this blog on my wife’s iPod Touch, I am rethinking the idea that I had about iPods in the classroom. It would be pretty hard to convince some people to invest in a whole classroom set of iPods. So what I am thinking is that if I can get five or six (still less than two grand) then I can do something else that I am interested in doing. What I really want to do is have some learning areas where they can have some self-directed learning experiences. I would like to set it up so that they can go to the different stations and do different things. I would like to have a station for reading, one for writing, one for web stuff. There are a lot of possibilities that we could do but it would be really neat to have them work on some things all by themselves. So I am going to focus on getting a few for the classroom and that is it. The district has mini-grants available, and our PTA is doing some grants for teachers, so I think that I might be able to get some money to buy them. Then we could use them two or three times per week, and that would be really near. Plus, we could see how well it actually works before investing in a classroom set.

By the way, this takes a bit longer to type on the Touch, but I don’t think it’s that bad. The software does a great job of correcting my typos. There are a few times where it gets it wrong, but it is very accurate.

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