Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Web Tools 2.0

I am a tech junkie. I can't help myself. I LOVE finding new and exciting ways to use technology in my classroom. I am cautious to not use technology just because it's cool, but really try to find ways to enhance my curriculum with technology.

Click the image for other great web tools.
That being said...in my room I have a SMART board, SMART Response clickers, an Elmo, an iPad, 5 iPods, access to a classroom set of netbooks. I am SO lucky to have all of this technology available to me. I would love it if my students each had their own iPad, but instead my district is in the process right now of getting a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program up and running. It is being tested with our Seniors right now, and will eventually trickle down to my 6th graders - hopefully by next year.

I wanted to talk today about my newest adventure into the tech world...

My current unit focuses on the geologic time scale. In previous years, I have placed students into small groups of 3 and allowed each group to choose one period of time from the geologic time scale to research. The groups focused on either the land, plants, or animals from that time period. The land group created a large picture of the landscape on butcher paper, and prepared a speech to explain their research. Both the plant and animal groups also prepared a speech to present their information, but also created to-scale cutout drawings of their plants and animals. During their speech, those plants and animals were placed onto the land poster, so that when finished the butcher paper looked like a picture taken during that time period (showing land, plants, and animals).

With the addition of the iPods in my classroom (and the five extra iPods that I can loan from our library) I decided to change up this lesson and enhance it with technology. Instead of having students present their speeches to the class, I had them make a video using the iPods. Groups could do a speech, an interview, a skit ,or any other creative type of video. The purpose of the video was simply to teach their classmates what they learned through their research.

After groups finished recording themselves, they used the app "Splice" to edit their videos. This app easily allowed them to add text, transitions, and sound, as well as edit the clips of video. Once finished, I uploaded their videos to YouTube for Teachers, and used the url's to create QR codes using goqr.me. I then printed the land group, plant group,and animal group's qr code and posted them next to the poster for that period.

On the final day of the unit, pairs of students rotated around using a qr code reader app on the iPods to scan each qr code, watch each video, and look at each poster.  While students did this, they also completed a "test sheet" in which they had to 1) answer questions to show that they watched the videos and looked at the posters, 2) answer questions to show that they understand the organization of the geologic time scale as a whole, and 3) analyze their video and poster compared to their peers' videos and posters.

I am ABSOLUTELY amazed with how well my students completed this project! They FAR exceeded my expectations with their creativity and understanding of the new technology.

BIG POINT COMING.... (as Coach B. says...)
What TRULY amazed me, more than anything else,was how the strategies of WBT that we have worked on all year shined through during this project without any prompting from me. Examples...

1. While the students were working with their group researching and preparing for their videos, I heard countless groups reciting the rules to each other! Students helped to keep their group in line with project deadlines by urging each other to "follow directions quickly". Most groups even used the gesture! Other groups kept their group members on task by telling each other to "keep our dear teacher happy". A-ma-zing!

2. When I needed to give quick directions in the middle of group work time, I was able to simply say "class" and get complete silence in less than one second. In previous years my classes were good about quieting down when I needed them to, but it took 5-10 seconds to get everyone's attention. Not with WBT! Literally ONE second to go from extreme engagement in cooperative group work to absolute silence and attention.

3. The best example yet...in several videos, students used WBT strategies on their own! One group pretended to be a class with a teacher and several students all learning about their time period. The "teacher" used Class-yes and the scoreboard as part of their video! Many groups used the "because clapper" and the "example popper" to help explain their research. I did not give them any sentence frames, or any reminders to use these great tools...they did it on their own! WOW!
With both whole brain teaching strategies and technology, I turned this good lesson into an absolutely amazing lesson.  I am SO proud of my students for all that they have achieved!!

I will post pictures soon of the finished products!

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