Sunday, April 20, 2014

What Do 1:1 iPads Look Like in Week 3 of iLearn?

Students use Toontastic to show how they visualize the setting from a piece of fiction they've been reading in class. 
This last week marks the third week that students have had 1:1 iPads in their classrooms.  Our fearless and innovative 4th grade teachers have been using the iPads daily.   Already, teachers are using the iPads to gain more regular feedback from their students and to allow for more creativity in student work.

Mr. Williams, Ms. Payton, Mr. Sakellaris, and Mrs. Sakellaris have been very gracious with inviting me into their classrooms and allowing me to see firsthand how they've been using the iPads.

So, what apps have the teachers been using this past week and how are these apps changing what is possible in the classroom?


Nearpod is an interactive app that allows teachers to share PowerPoint presentations directly on the student devices.  In the midst of presenting knowledge, a teacher can take quick snapshots of student learning.  For example, a teacher can ask students to answer a multiple choice question to find how how much the students learned from the lesson so far.  Or, a teacher can ask students to answer true/false questions showing what they already know about a subject before they even get started on the lesson.  Having the opportunity to hear responses from all students in the middle of a lesson allows teacher to "take the pulse" of the class and make changes to the lesson based on real-time student understanding.


Mrs. Sak's class just started using the app Toontastic to show what they've understood about a book they are reading.  Toontastic allows student to create settings, characters, and scenes.  They can move characters around the different settings and record their own voices to act out events and scenes in books and stories.  This past week, Mrs. Sak's students used Toontastic to create a setting for the book they were reading in class.  While learning how to use the technical aspects of the app, students were also incorporating literacy skills, such as visualizing the text.

Explain Everything

In iPad Bootcamp, the first app that students learned to use was Explain Everything.  This app is very open-ended.  Students can add text, photos (from online or taken from their device), and drawings.  They can also add voice recordings or home-made videos.  Students can even add new pages to their presentation.

Mr. Williams has transformed a poetry project from a pencil-paper assignment to an Explain Everything assignment. Students are creating different pieces of poetry in differing poetic styles (acrostic, free verse, etc) and publishing them in Explain Everything.  Each page of a student's Explain Everything poetry project contains a different poem.  Students add images and change font based on the imagery they want to convey. After creating each poem, students can share their work with the class by mirroring their iPads on the classroom Apple TV.


One feature of the iPad that teachers and students experimented with this week is Siri.  Students can ask Siri to help them spell or define a tricky word. Students who talk faster than they type/write can use Siri to dictate their writing.

In Mr. Sak's classroom, students started using Siri to help them check their spelling pre-assessments.  In Ms. Payton's classroom, students experimented with using Siri as a research assistant.  They asked Siri questions like, "What is the weather in Oak Park," and, "Who invented the car?"

Students have been using other apps, like Popplet and Edmodo as well.

So far, student engagement has been high across the board; the fourth graders will stop me in the hallways to let me know what they've been doing in their iPads. Kudos to our awesome 4th grade teachers and our amazing students!

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