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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Magic Pot and Screen Chomp

I've been working on addition and subtraction Math facts and thought I'd try a fun way to work on the doubles facts using the iPads.  I started out by reading the book "Two of Everything" by Lily Toy Hong to the kids.

It's a fun story about a magic pot that doubles whatever is put in it.  We've been working on our doubles facts so the kids already got this concept.  

I chose the "Screen Chomp" app for the kids to use in this project.  I wanted to try this app because I liked the way the whole screen could be used and the way the kids could record their voices either while they were drawing or after.  I also liked that I could save it in Safari window thereby enabling me to have a URL of the kids work.  This will be important later. 
I showed the kids how to draw a magic pot and told them that they needed to think of their favorite thing that they would put into the magic pot and to draw it.  I also told them that they had to use a number between 2 and 10, so if they liked pizza then they could draw 2 or up to 10 pizzas to put in the pot.  They were also told to label the drawing with the number and what went into the pot.

The next part was to make their recordings.  I showed them how to do it and then said they could work with a friend if needed but none of them chose to work this way.  They feel very confident and went right to work.  I said that I wanted the recording to say "I put ____ into my magic pot, how many came out?"  This was done and now I showed them how to save it into the "Screen Chomp" app.

Now, the rest of the work was mine. I am sure there is an easier way to do what I am about to tell you, but since I have no one to collaborate with, it's all up to me to figure this out.  This was the best I could do for now and hope to find an easier way soon. 

 I needed to go into each kids iPad Screen Chomp app and open up the work they did.  Once it was opened, I chose the button in the lower right corner that says "Open In Safari".  Once it was opened I took a screen shot.  It was this or write down the URL's but I was afraid that if I didn't write it down correctly I'd have to go back through all of this again, so better safe than sorry.  Once I had the screen shot, I went to my Evernote app.
I opened up the Evernote and put the photos from Screen Chomp into here.  Now I had all of the URL's for the kids work.

My next step: make QR codes using the kids work!  It would have been super easy if I could just cut and paste the URL's but that wouldn't work, so I had to write then all down and did make some mistakes along the way, so I'm glad they were saved in Evernote.

Here is a QR code from one of the kids work.

I made a packet that had 3 QR codes per sheet along with a box to draw the problem and a place for the equation.  I staggered the codes to help the kids scan easier.  It was so rewarding to hear their squeals of delight as they found their own and their friends codes. 

My takeaway from this adventure is that "Screen Chomp" is a very kids friendly app that has so much potential for future use.  I love that it has the safari option, I haven't found that in other apps that I have.  The kids were able to get to work right away with minumal instruction and saving was very easy.  I'm definitely using this one again!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Assigning iPads with QR Codes

I had the kids sit up on the floor with me as I projected on the screen how to take pictures using an iPad.  That had some experience with this the other day, but now I was having them work with their own iPad and take pictures of each other using the camera.  We also practiced using the button that changes the direction of the camera and taking pictures.  Taking pictures was actually hard for the kids because it's kind of an awkward setup.  The iPad is big and the protective case is hard to hold and can get in the way.  But we kept trying it and the kids soon figured out the best way to hold the iPad when taking pictures that was worked for them.  I worked in small groups doing this so that I could be more hands on. Again, it would be nice to have Apple TV!

Now we were ready to learn about QR codes.  These kids are around them all of the time and they all could tell me places they have seen them but they didn't know what they were used for.  We had a talk about them and then I explained how to read one.  The app that I like is the QR Reader for iPhone. 
It's simple to use and read after the code has been scanned plus it's free.  The graphics that it opens up looks like a yellow, lined pad of paper.  I find that this is easier for the kids to read.

I made several QR codes for the kids to practice scanning with that had fun messages like "Yes, you did it!" and a "Knock Knock" joke plus one that said show me the message for a treat.  They had a lot of fun with this. 
Now we were ready for our name hunt.  I had made each child's name into a QR code using "qurify"
There are several out there and I'm not saying any is better than the other, I just like this one.  You type the message, or put an URL into the blue box and hit "qurify" and it generates a QR code.
When you go to the print queue, all of the codes that you have made at that time appear with a number above it.  There is also a list of the codes and what they say.  Very handy feature.  

I cut out the codes and taped them in a random order on all of the tables.  I had the kids work in pairs and they were given a paper that had numbers 1 to 20.  They were to go to a QR code, scan it and write the child's name that appeared on the paper in the number that the code was.  They had so much fun scanning and finding all of the class names.

When everyone was finished and we had all of the names, I told the kids that this would be their number from now on.  I called out a child's name and asked them what number they had on the iPad they were using.  When the number was said we all looked on our papers to see who was that number.  Then I told the first child to deliver the iPad to that person. We continued around the room until everyone had "their" iPad.  Again the excitement level was sky high....their "own" iPads!!!!!!!!  

Now we are ready for our next adventure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

First Day With The Students

After I got all of the organization down (for now!), put some apps onto the iPads, it was time for the kids to begin using them.  They were so excited and many of them had experience using their parents iPads but I found that this was not really a benefit.  Let me explain.  These are first graders and they all want to show what they know and they want to show it now!  They are very impulsive and their listening ability shuts off.  Add to this that I have many kids that had never seen an iPad and they decided that their friends were the ones to listen to and not me. I didn't expect the chaos that resulted from this and knew I had to get them all focused or there could be dropped and broken iPads.

 I told them that we needed to go over a few safety rules that would help us protect ourselves and protect the iPads and they needed to close the iPads and look up at the big screen.  I have a dongle that allows me to project my iPad for the kids to watch and follow along.  I've read a bit about Apple TV and would LOVE!!!!! to have this in my room, but I'm happy with what I have.  At this point I decided to have them work in pairs on one iPad between the two.  This really did help cut down on the crazies I had earlier that day.  We talked about how to handle and walk with the iPads and then we practiced this.  I told them they needed to have the 2 hand hold and that I want to see their thumbs on the top of the iPad.  They also practiced how to put them gently down on the tables and how to open up the covers and close them.  The covers I have are pretty cool and when they close there is a clicking sound, so we practiced to make sure we heard the click.  So as you can see, I took them slowly, modeling all of the way each step in the handling of the iPads.

The other thing that I found from the kids that use their parents iPads is that they use them totally different than how I want to use them.  With their parents iPad, it's a toy and they play games all of the time.  I want them to be product oriented and I don't plan on having any games put on if possible. The good side was that they already knew about swiping and sliding and pinching.  I went through all of the iPad terminology with the kids and we practiced all of them taking turns in their pairs.

The final thing I wanted to go over and really emphasize with the kids was that the only iPad they can touch is their own.  No one can touch or swipe, etc any one else's iPad.  This has proven to be a hard one to learn.  Again, the impulsiveness of the age group.  This is a really important rule, especially when we are  working on a project, they need to respect each others work.

We then made iPad rules together and here is what we came up with so far.  We decided that the rules can change if we need to.

1. Make sure your hands are clean
2. Hold the iPad with 2 hands, thumbs up when getting it from a teacher
3. Walk slowly and carefully back to your seat
4. Place the iPad gently down on the table and away from the edge
5. Use gentle taps when opening up apps and using your iPad
6. Raise your hand for help
7. Do not walk around with your iPad
8. Only touch your own iPad, do not touch your friends iPads
9. Save your work, ask for help if needed
10. Tap the "Home Key" when finished and close the cover: listen for the click

This was an eye opening start for me, but it was a very fun time watching the excitement from the all of the kids.  Our next step is practicing taking pictures!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Getting Started

My iPads arrived and boy am I excited.  I need to say here that I do not have my own and have never used one before except to play Bejewled Blitz on my friend's iPad.  I've used iPods a lot last school year so I just thought these were bigger  and probably pretty much the same.  So, when the 20 arrived I took one home and started to "play" with it.  I set up an iTunes account under my own name and began downloading apps on to it.  It has been so much fun trying out apps and seeing which ones I could come up with valuable instructional activities to use them with.  This was hard only because my brain was going a mile a minute and I wasn't writing down all of my ideas.  I took a step back and decided that I needed to work out the organization of how the iPads were going to be housed and charged.  Part of my grant was for 2 sinking/charging trays but they have not arrived yet.  I let the iPads sit in the boxes for a week (bad idea) and then decided to work something out so they could get into the kids hands.  Below are pictures of the process I went thorough.  It's working out pretty well.  The only problem is that the iPads need to be charged during the school day and then that keeps them out of the kids hands. The reason I can't charge them at night is because they need to be housed in my closet so they can be locked up when I am not in the room.  They can't be charged in there, it just won't work.  Not a very good thing, but thank goodness the iPads hold a charge for pretty long.

The boxes of 20 new iPads!!!!

I decided that since we are a First Grade classroom, the iPads would need to be protected, so I bought 20 covers from Solidmate for about $8.00 apiece.  They are really good for the money and pretty solid without being too heavy.  Then I numbered each iPad both on the device itself and on the cover.  My intention is to have each kid use the same one each time so they can keep any of their work or projects housed on their "own" iPad.

I needed to figure out how to store them while I wait for the sinking trays to arrive.  The boxes that they were sent in from Apple had these slotted trays that each iPad fit in.  I took these trays, numbered them and then cleaned off my shelf in the classroom closet so they would fit.

The final thing to figure out was how to charge the iPads.  I couldn't charge them in the closet because there isn't any power in there and it would get really hot for them anyway.  I went out and found some power strips and bought a heavy duty extension cord.  I set up several stations that allowed space for the iPads to charge and not have them be in our way.

So, we are off and running!  The kids are very excited to see the iPads and can't wait to use them.  As soon as they are charged we will be ready to go.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Welcome to My Newest Blog!

Hello everyone, I hope you will enjoy the journey we are about to take.  Let me give you some background as to why I'm blogging about my classroom.  Last Fall, I wrote a grant and was awarded 20 iPads to use in my First Grade classroom.  I am so excited.  After a bit of a wait, I finally received them a week ago.  I've spent time looking at apps, watching YouTube reviews of apps and downloading many and I feel that I am now ready to start using several of them in the classroom.  My goal here is to not only show my students progress and learning with the iPads but to also talk about the different apps that I use with my First Graders.  I love to hear feedback from others and encourage you to leave comments whenever you feel like sharing any info with me and others. So, welcome aboard on our journey.  Let's start iPadding along.