The iPads take a road trip to Medfield's Elementary Schools

Photo courtesy of Mr. Heim
While the 8th Graders were off to visit NYC/Washington DC, their iPads stayed behind and took a little trip themselves. Some of the elementary school teachers have been asking if they could experience teaching with the iPads too.  And...what better timing than to have a set of 25 iPads head over to Mrs. Lowerre's and Mrs. Cowell's fifth grade classrooms for a 1:1 experience at Dale Street School and a small set of 6 iPads to Mrs. Colatoni's and Mrs. Ravinski's first grade classrooms at Memorial and  Mr. Kuehl's third grade classroom at Wheelock.

Planning for iPad Integration
In each of those classrooms, the plan was to identify a curriculum project where  technology could offer a twist in enhancing or redefining the task. After determining the project, the discussion evolved into answering the question: What do we want student to be able to do?  Students should be able to show and talk about their work through illustrations, incorporate audio or video recordings, and type text and to share the presentation through their classroom's blog or website. We decided that the combination of a drawing and screencasting app would result in just that--a new, creative way for students to demonstrate their learning by adding the components animation, narration, and annotation to their illustrations!  Lastly, we scheduled blocks of time throughout the week as the project was broken down into two parts: drawing and animating/publishing to include classroom support.  

Check out their projects:

Mrs. Lowerre's 5th graders blast off into an animated Voyage of the Planets!

Designed on Tactilize (view online)

Mrs. Cowell's 5th graders developed into fabulous Poets 
using the TypeDrawing App, Sketchbook Express and Explain Everything.

Designed on Tactilize (view online)

Designed on Tactilize (view online)

Mr. Kuehl's 3rd graders presented a variety of food chains across different habitats.

Mrs. Ravinski's 1st graders created a BUZZ in sharing their Honey Bee expertise.

Mrs. Colatoni's 1st graders celebrated the American Patriotic Symbols!

By the end of the week, the teachers and support staff reflected on the process and product.

Some Key Take-Aways
  • Throughout the entire process, the teachers were impressed with the level of sustained engagement, problem-solving, and creativity during those times- by all students especially those students who typically struggle academically or with work perseverance.
  •  Students, particularly first graders quickly learned and understood the multiple steps to create the animations and the navigation of the iPad. Unbelievably!
  • The planning process of story boarding their slides for illustrations and written script and rehearsing their scripts as homework for fluency and expression made a significant difference in how students approached their projects and the amount of time to complete.
  • In the past, elementary teachers, primarily K-3 would send their students to the computer lab for technology projects. However, even without WiFi, the iPads enabled students a chance to remain in their classrooms, at their desks or move around to a more conducive workplace to record their project. 
  • The real challenges were on in finding apps that did not require an internet connection, but more around figuring out the best workflow for organizing & merging projects into one presentation, exporting as a movie and uploading into a shared dropbox, and identifying the best Web 2.0 tools for hosting/showcasing the students' work (ie. Flickr, Tactilize, Vimeo, Youtube) were the bigger challenge. This was more on the teacher end of it. However, maybe next time integrating these challenges for fifth graders to learn how to problem-solve using a variety of tools. 
Overall, as this was a first experience for both teachers, students and myself, the iPad as a portable, creativity-publishing tool truly pushed students' higher-order thinking and not to mention, increased their own personal technology skills and their enjoyment in the entire learning process. Since then, students have been asking, "When can you bring the iPads back to my classroom?"  Hopefully, soon!



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