Monday, May 9, 2016

Technology? from Ms. Turner

I have gone from no computers to phones that have everything you could want on them.  I love my technology.  BUT…making it a big part of my teaching day was not in my lesson plans.  I used some every now and then but with 2 computers in most class rooms and until this year not any IPads, you had to make a trip to the second computer lab if you wanted to do something with the whole class and not take 2-3 weeks to finish.

Then came this new plan for our school this year and I thought I can do this.  I am still thinking I can do this.  Some days I wish I knew more because there are exciting things that are being done with our technology around our school.  Other days I wish I could give back anything that remotely looks like an IPad or computer. (Usually only on those days that the WIFI is not working.)

My big revelation is that technology is a big equalizer.  I am a Special Education teacher and that means working with students that struggle.  Put an IPad in their hands or give them a laptop and they no longer are the student that struggles, but they become the student expert on how to work your IPad.

They still struggle with the Math or ELA concept, but they know how to work that piece of technology.  I see students going to my students to help them work out a problem on logging on, getting in the app. or just knowing what they need to do.  I see the pride that my struggling students have when they can help others.  I see that student who never volunteers, volunteering to help that student who can’t get their IPad to work. Even I have taken tips from my students because they know their computers!
So no longer a question following technology, but a big yes.  If it can take a struggling student and give him/her a sense of pride in that they can do something another student can’t do, then I say yes.  I am still working to make it more a part of my students’ days, because it will be there for them long after they are no longer with me.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tech with a SPED perspective....Mrs. Boruk

Due to the nature of my position and my very limited face time with my students in resource I have not used as much technology as I would like to as a teacher. However, one app that I appreciate as a SPED teacher is Khan Academy. It has content for Math, Science, Economics and finance, Arts and humanities, Computing, Test prep, and Partner Content (including famous museums, companies and colleges). Khan Academy has “created math missions to help learners focus on the grade-level or subject-level of their choice.  Missions (only for math) are personalized math experiences in which students can learn at their own pace, master skills that are challenging and appropriate for their level, and use hints and videos to learn and review.  [They] believe that coaches are critical to student success.” Math is the only subject area that is broken down by grade level. It is the only subject my students use (obviously!). For my purposes I really love the way Khan Academy breaks down the student progress and skill progress.  For each skill it breaks down who is struggling, needs practice, is on their way to mastery or if it is mastered.

 “A coach can be a teacher, a parent, a mentor, or even a peer.  No matter who they are, coaches are there to support their students, celebrate their victories, and help them find lessons in defeat. Our goal is to empower students to take ownership of their own learning and to empower coaches to spend more time doing what they do best: personally interacting with every student, providing guidance and encouragement, and engaging students in collaborative activities.”

You are able to recommend a task to a student based on whether or not they need to practice that skill. Once the student completes the recommendations you have provided, their name moves to “practiced.” You are also able to view individual student progress. This shows how many skills they are struggling with, or have mastered, as well as the amount of time spent on the app and how many points they have earned.

When setting up each student you are able to put in a parent’s email address so that they also get reports on their student’s success. I am hoping that some parents will make this app part of their kid’s summer routine.
I really like the fact that “every Khan Academy account is both a “learner” account and a "coach" account, so all the features available to learners are also available to you as a coach.  The best way to familiarize yourself with our learner features is to experience them for yourself, so feel free to open the "Subjects" menu and start exploring!”
This app has been extremely user friendly and obviously the data is what is invaluable to me.

Lacey Boruk

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I'm lovin it!

I was very excited to hear that we were getting iPads in the classroom this year.  Last year I had two and it was very hard to do a lot with 22 kiddos all wanting a turn.  So adding 5 more has made life a lot better.  I am so amazed at how fast the students pick up new new things and their willingness to try new things.  We use iPads every single day in our classroom.  We started with the basics of how to turn them off and on, controlling the volume level, handling properly and even learning how to charge them if they have low battery. After practicing that we began using them in math & ela center time. Each having their own to use to get familiar with.  To make it easier for me & them I made a page of ela apps and a math app page.  That way they know what they can do when without having to ask me.  The center might have anything from playing a game to using a qr code scanner to complete a product.  Either one they are totally excited about and can't wait to be in that center!  It is so rewarding to see them get so excited to do class work.  As they got better with using the ipads we incorporated them into our writing, science and social studies weekly.  I am able to split them into groups of 3 to share an ipad.  At first ,YES it was challenging teaching 5 years olds to share them! It took time and practice.  We also have "2 o'clock tech time" weekly.  This is where students & groups share what they have created.  The kids beg for this!  I mean who doesn't like to share or brag about what they've done?!  They love to sharing and seeing each others work and getting new idea for there next products.  There are so many new things I want to learn and teach my students.  The next thing I would like to do is partner up with a first grade class and let them teach my students how to use some of the cool things they are doing.  Looking forward to getting new ideas to share with my students.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Technology, technology, technology!

Technology, technology, technology! What a great way to excite kiddos about learning and meeting them where they are at academically using iPads, computers, and Chrome books. I came from a district where we had access to “iPad Carts” that contained 30 iPads for your classroom. Now you shared your cart with the grade level, but 2 of teammates had their own carts because they were Dual Language. So I only had to share between 3 teachers. It was the life!  I say all of that to say, I thought I was use to using iPads in the classroom. However, I was presented with a new challenge this year, 6 iPads for my 20 kiddos. This experience has really allowed me to see that differentiation can be done with the iPads as a tool. Not everyone has to use them at the same time. Which was a difficult concept for me to grasp. Some of my kiddos may use the iPad for that particular activity and get to use for another activity. Parents are extremely supportive with BYOD. I have some kids that BYOD every day and that is awesome.

Some apps that I have used: Show Me, KidsDoodle (supplement to a white board), Chatter Pix, Pic Collage, Educreation, Haikudeck…
I absolutely love “Show Me”. We use it in math to explain verbally as they work out how to solve a problem. They are also able to listen to each-others explanation of problem solving.
Of course my kiddos take AR on them, but that’s not the only thing we are using them for. We are currently studying heroes in history. They are researching their chosen hero “based on our TEKS” and will create a Chatter Pix giving a quick blurb about their hero.  I have them working in partners so they will complete the assignment on different days. You may think it would get confusing, but they are great about keeping track of who hasn’t gone. Technology has been fun and challenging this year and I think that it is a wonderful way to get kids involved in their learning.

Brittany Brown

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Because it's best for kids

In order to grow professionally, one must become uncomfortable in what they are doing.  This is why many teachers change grades, add responsibilities to their work load or change positions in the district.  One way I am growing this year is by adding technology to my instruction.  I am not one to automatically think about using technology, and this year I have been challenged to think outside my normal way of doing things to enrich my students with the use of IPADs. 

I must admit, when I was first told about this IPAD initiative, I was a little skeptical.  Why fix something that isn’t broken?  And if the lessons and activities have been giving me the results I am wanting, why should I change?  And then it hit me…….”what’s best for kids.”  This is a motto I live by when I am teaching and it’s a motto I think we should consider when we are planning lessons for our students.   Whether we like it or not, technology is here to stay and our students are using some form of it every day.  It only makes sense to use technology for some of our instruction so that students will be interested and engaged in what I am trying to teach. 

Slowly but surely, I have begun to incorporate technology use into my classroom.  Students use a variety of apps daily for recalling and applying information.  We have a class Edmodo for classroom conversations.  I will post a question or two about their daily reading and the students respond weekly using correct punctuation, capitalization and grammar.  Kahoot is a favorite app that students get can involve and compete against each other.  I love seeing the excitement when they are engaged……and it’s because I am using technology.  Don’t get me wrong, I could use the same process with whiteboards and EXPO markers, but I doubt I will get the same energy. 

Because I have high expectations to live up to, I understand I cannot let go of everything I have done in the past to get good scores.  However, I realize that those good scores will only get higher with student motivation.  And what could be more motivating than allowing students to explore their learning through technology?  So, bring on the devices!!!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Moving Forward

My students love technology!  I am moving in that direction!   We use our I-pads daily during Math Stations and Reading Stations.   That works great!  BYOD will be happening  soon.  I am looking  forward to lessons and activities where we have at least 1 device for every 2 students.  It's amazing to see students excited about learning and practicing skills in a new way. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

So far, so good...

I had two questions before unleashing iPads in the classroom.

     1.  Will they understand how to use the apps/iPad without taking up too much valuable learning time?

   Sometimes I have gathered the class on the carpet to teach a new app.  Students follow along on their iPads as I guide them through the app.  Other times, I have shown a small group of students how to use an app.  They will then teach their peers what to do.   The students enjoy this way because they get to be the “teacher.”
So far, students have picked up on how to use the apps during the first lesson.  The main time they need guidance from me is when popups invade the screen.  Those popups are annoying!  If they hit the wrong button, I have to go into settings to allow access to the microphone, camera, etc.  Most of the time I have seen students being able to help or remind one another rather than come to me.  So I have found that teaching new apps has not taken up as much instructional time as I first feared.

 2.   Will kids stay on task when they are using the iPads?

  I have been pleasantly surprised that this has not been an issue.  The students stay where they have been directed.   The majority are very good about taking turns.  At the beginning of the year we modeled how every student needs to complete their part of the activity to come to the finished product.  Students are now good about deciding who goes first and who is going to hold the iPad to complete each step of the assignment.   

  My favorite way to use the iPads is Kahoot.  It’s like a game show in which students get to compete against one another to answer questions.  They love when I say it’s time for a Kahoot.  I love that I can go on the Kahoot website to search for pre-made Kahoots that are available for anyone to use.  I can usually find one that works or switch up a few things on one that is pre-made, but I have also made my own.  Recently, it took me about 20 minutes to make one for science.  It is a fun way to review previous lessons.  The enthusiasm is apparent in this video.

  I also like Popplet because it is a great way to get kids writing during math class.  In one lesson, I had students choose a number for the center bubble.  They then had to write and label it in standard form and expanded form.  Last, they had to write a sentence telling how many rods and how many ones it takes to build the number. 

  Overall, I have been impressed with how quickly my first graders have picked up on the use of the iPads.  Both of my initial concerns turned out to be a big worry about nothing.  This technology experience is definitely reminding me to keep an open mind about what my first grade babies can accomplish.