Thursday, February 14, 2013

The fist whisperer and other tales of iPad integration

Yesterday I was challenged by one of the elementary schools that I work with to help model iPad integration by using iPads 1:1 with students during direct instruction and then transition into a 1:1 iPad independent activity. I developed four different lessons targeted at K-1, 2-3, 4th and 5th grade. The lessons ranged from reading comprehension and academic vocabulary to comparative adjectives and research skills (at the teachers' request). Needless to say I was pretty pooped by the end :-)

Interestingly enough, one of the most popular strategies I used to facilitate my lessons was not tech related at all. I'm sure this strategy has a real name, but let's call it a modified think, pair, share. Whenever I asked questions, I asked students to whisper their answer into their closed fist first, then whisper share with a partner and then alternated between choral response or picking a random student depending on the nature of the question. The students seemed to really enjoy this and I had nearly 100% participation through out the lesson.

For my mini-lesson I wanted to minimize the number of apps we would use and ensure a high level of engagement during my presentation, so I selected Nearpod as my platform. I was pleased with the way that the app helped hold the student's attention while I moved through the slides and interspersed my presentation with interactive formative tools. The problem is setting up my Nearpod presentations took a bit of tech ninja skills to get the results I wanted. And after talking with several teachers I learned that many were most attracted to the whiteboard feature in Nearpod after seeing my demonstrations.

As luck would have it, later that night I learned about Infuse Learning from the #miched chat that occurs every Wednesday at 8pm. It has many similar features to the classroom response app Socrative, but with the additional feature of a whiteboard responder and (drum roll please!) text-to-speech. I have only had a brief time to test Infuse Learning but my feeling is that it this web app has great potential and a lower learning curve than Nearpod.

I'm still really pleased with what I was able to do with Nearpod especially because I was seeking a way to move seemlessly between the slides I created in Haiku Deck and the formative classroom response tools I wanted.

I loved the challenge of creating these lessons and wish I would have had even more time to develop the underlying lessons. The best part though was working with so many great students. What Fun!

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