Have you noticed that Saturdays seem to be my blogging day? I just can't seem to find time to get a blog post done during the week, but I promise you - I was definitely THINKING about what to blog about during this week. And I decided it would be nice to share a little technology post with you.
I have always been the "queen" of technology in my building - the first one to have a smartboard, the one people go to for tech questions, etc. I have made it clear though, that I can help with how to USE the technology in your classroom, but not necessarily FIX the technology. Fortunately, other teachers in my building now have also begun to embrace technology and we learn so much from each other.
I have ONE ipad in my classroom... yes, just one... I am always so jealous of those of you with 3 or 4 or a whole fleet of them! I may be adding one more ipad soon, but for now it's just 18 kiddos and one very popular ipad. My ipad is being used CONSTANTLY throughout the day. Here's a little peek at how I make use of one ipad in my classroom:
Morning Mission: Each day I have a new "helper of the day." I stopped using a job chart long ago and now just rotate through my class list to have each student be my helper each day. One of the perks of being the helper is being able to do a "mission" on the ipad before we start morning meeting. I make these missions quick and easy, and they're usually (but not always!) related to something we're doing in class. I have a small whiteboard I use to write down the task and I make sure the app or website needed is easily accessible. When my "helper" comes into the room and finishes getting things ready for the day, she or he checks the "Morning Mission" card to see what to do.
This week we added recording the temperature to our morning meeting, so the helper's job was to find the temperature using The Weather Channel website. (I had modeled this whole class last week.)
We've also been doing A LOT of nonfiction reading, so when we were reading about bugs, I asked students to choose a partner and listen to/read this National Geographic issue about bugs and be ready to share one interesting fact with the class during morning meeting. National Geographic Young Explorer has a TON of great issues online. Be sure to check them out. I kept this same "Mission" for a week so quite a few students had a chance to read the informational piece.
The next opportunity my students have to use the ipad is during our reading time. I do Daily 5 during my reading block, so the first half hour is a whole group time, and the next hour is small groups. When students are not working in a small group, they are doing one of the Daily 5 rotations. The ipad is part of "Listen to Reading."
Without a doubt, the best online storybook app I have found is Storia from Scholastic. It is free to sign up and you get 5 free e-books to start your library. I use my bonus points to purchase other books. Some of the books have "read to me" capability, and some of them have interactive pieces like comprehension questions, videos and fast facts. I choose 2 or 3 books for the week and 2 students at a time use the ipad to listen to or read the story.
I also like to use the Tumblebooks website, which has a great selection of books perfectly formatted for the ipad. Tumblebooks is actually a paid site, but many public libraries have the link on their webpages for free. If you google "tumblebooks and library" you can find the links. The Tumblebooks library is filled with popular children's books, as well as some less familiar stories. Books can be read on an "automatic" setting, where the pages turn on their own, or on a "manual" setting so students can read and enjoy at their own pace.
My students have two opportunities to practice spelling - during word work as a Daily 5 rotation, and during our spelling time. I will sometimes switch students from using the ipad for Listen to Reading during Daily 5, to using it for Word Work. Or, as the rest of the class is doing a spelling activity, a pair of students is using one of the apps below to practice their spelling:
Rocket Speller is a fun way to practice spelling. You can choose from a variety of levels and spelling skills. Students are given a picture and must use the letters to spell the word. There are helpful hints and as the levels increase, the words get harder and have less help.
ABC Magnetic Alphabet Lite is a simple way for students to practice spelling words. It's just like those fun magnetic letters for the fridge, only there's nothing to clean up when you're done! I have students work in pairs with a variety of spelling lists (on index cards), depending on student needs. One student takes a card and reads it to the other to spell with the letters on the ipad. The other student checks the word and they switch roles. Easy peasy - but they love it!
Ok, moving on to math.... I run my math block very much like my reading block - half hour of whole class, then an hour of groups, with students working on "Math Daily 5" rotations if they are not in a group. One rotation is Math Technology, which is using the Smartboard or the ipad. (I'm going to just share a few of my favorite ipad apps in this post. I'm planning on a bigger Smartboard post soon!) We have been working hard on applying our addition strategies, so these apps help students practice their addition facts.
This is a paid app now.... I think I got it for half price a while ago, but it is worth it. In Top It, students deal cards and add them together to find the sum - the one with highest sum wins the round. The app gives you clear directions for the first few rounds, then students play on their own. I believe there is also a Top It for subtraction. This is part of the Everyday Mathematics series by McGraw Hill, so if you're familiar with that you'll know more of the games from this publisher.
Math BINGO is also a paid app (.99, I think)... this is my students favorite math app right now. There are different levels of addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. Students are given an equation to solve and when they find the answer, they click on the correct number on the BINGO board. Little bugs come up and when they get BINGO they win. Fun!
Whew! That one ipad gets A LOT of use... and it's not quite done yet! I also have students working on the ipad at then end of the day when they are waiting for buses to be called. This time the apps are more "fun" - logic games, strategy games, visual motor... etc. Right now we're using "Pick Up Sticks" as a great way to improve eye-hand coordination. This fun little app allows you to choose what the sticks look like - the vegetables and the Christmas decorations are the first choices for us!
Wow.... now you can see why I need more than on ipad! I'll be back another time with a post about more apps I like - including those I use for tracking student progress and for SRBI (RTI) interventions. What is your favorite app? Leave a comment and let me know!