Using Hand Held Technologies at School (Ipod touch and Ipad)

This year at North Fitzroy Primary School, myself and Andrew Williamson (joint ICT Coordinator) decided to trial the use of hand held devises in the classroom primarily for the use of numeracy and literacy.The recent Horizon Report put the use of mobiles as a technology that will be common place in the classroom within the next three years. I believe that one of the responsibilities of an ICT coordinator is to drive curriculum and one of the effective ways of doing this is to hand responsibility for new technologies over to people other than yourself. To often the ICT coordinator is the holder of all knowledge and hasn’t developed the ability to inspire other staff members or empower them with a sense of ownership in regards to ICT curriculum. If we are wanting ICT to move seamlessly into all parts of the curriculum this has to be a key responsibility of the ICT coordinators role.
We choose two of our staff members who were already on the ICT SIT (Strategic Implementation Team) team.
Kristen Swenson and Khamal Sarkis.
They both already had a good understanding of technology and were excited by new developments. We then gave them 5 ipod touches each and told them to play around with them and see what they could come up with. With all new technologies time has to be given for experimentation and play before an effective system can be put into place. However the ipod touches are so intuitive that it wasn’t to long before apps had been downloaded and they were quickly established as part of the rotation cycle used in both literacy and numeracy groups.
The almost instant effect that the touches had in areas of student engagement has lead to a huge amount of interest from many other staff members and we decided to purchase a class set for all the grade 1s and 2s. Interest was also generated by deciding to run a PD session with staff members to demonstrate what Khamal and Kristen had been doing. We also decided to purchase IPads for the teachers as these were more effective for the teacher to model lessons on due to there larger size. Interestingly the teachers who work in a support capacity (working with children with difficulties) were very excited about the prospect of using them. Another group which has shown great interest is the group of staff members who might not be so taken by technology because of whatever reason. Once again it is the intuitiveness and relative ease of use of the touches which has gotten them interested and it is a great way to begin to introduce new technologies to that sector of your staff.
If you go down this road as a school you will have to figure out how you are going to build your touches and ipads into your existing network system. They can link seemlesly into your wireless but you will have to devise a way to purchase the apps. Itunes will let you link 5 different ipods to each program
I have included a couple of powerpoint demonstrations that Kristen and Khamal gave at our ARM as well as some of their brief notes to further demonstrate what were doing
Kristen Swenson’s Presentation
https://docs.google.com/present/embed?id=ddt4s8d2_1757c8pvfp
Kristens notes:

The Grade two classes are now in the process of setting up the Itouches and working collaboratively to plan some great activities. Each teacher is able to work off the same account and share many of the terrific apps we have found. In literacy we can use the Ipod touches to support the development of foundational skills such as handwriting, grammar, vocabulary and spelling. Teachers can also record guided reading sessions and students can developed their comprehension skills by reading and listening to audio books and podcasts. The Ipod touches can also be used to support creativity and record reflections and thoughts. Some of the new apps we have been enjoying are:

  • Maths Bingo
  • inumberplay
  • Flash Maths
  • Extinct Eggs
  • Crack the Code
  • SentenceSpin
  • Rory’s Story Cube
  • Dinomixer
  • Comic Touch
  • I Write Words
  • JumbleLine
  • Whiteboard
  • Word Bubble

Ipod touches transform the classroom from a teacher-centred classroom to a students-centred classroom. They are extremely easy to manipulate and are very intuitive and visual, which is particularly essential for children who are beginner readers. The touches are fast and allow students to access the Internet in two touches. There is no our messing about with logins, loading and heavy texts. They really enhance our teaching and learning program and are not just a gimmicky add on! They change the dynamics of the classroom and allow the children to bring technology into their world and programs – not they other way around! And most importantly the children are extremely enthusiastic and motivated to use them.
Khamal’s Presentation
https://docs.google.com/present/embed?id=ddt4s8d2_57c8m9zqcr

Khamal’s notes

Slide 1

  • new learning tool
  • provides an interactive domain for learning and engagement
  • an alternative form of discourse between student and teacher
  • examples

slide 2-

  • Early years- number recognition using a wide variety of teaching formats and mediums to cater to different learning abilities and preferences.
  • Itouch can be used to count and model numbers using outlines that must be traced with fingers.
  • The interactive nature of the tool creates the impression in the student that all we’re doing is playing a game.
  • Recognizing numbers in their different forms.

Slide 3

  • A number of counting programs
  • Very open ended including negatives and decimals
  • A wide variety of visual examples and activities to keep the activities interesting and fresh
  • Can eventually create own counting activities and patterns

Slide 4-

  • Multiple choice option allows students to answer confidently and also helps teachers to keep track of student capabilities.
  • Further creates the impression of a ‘game’ being played with the use of sound effects and graphics.

Slide 5-

  • Memory testing
  • Memorising sequences and patterns using different methods and processes
  • Open ended – increases in difficulty and can use diffenent images and even sounds
  • Location skills

Slide 6-

  • identifying shapes
  • creating shapes
  • using shapes to create images
  • manipulating shapes (flip, slide and turn)

Slide 7-

  • interactive tool
  • effective communications skills
  • collaborative
  • very engaging

Slide 8-

  • time zones
  • identifying analogue and digital
  • using both types simultaneously
  • interactive games in teams (draw an analogue time, another fill s in the digital)

Slide 9-

  • able to set level of difficulty
  • flexible and broad range of skills that may be required if selected
  • open ended
  • gives an indication of how the student is going
  • uses different learning and teaching skills, for eg, aural, visual and physically involving
  • uses colour- kids respond and distinguish better with colour

Slide 10

  • Weather
  • Time
  • Map reading
  • Addresses
  • Calculators
  • Maths dictionaries
  • Note taking
  • Drawing
  • Recording
  • Photography
  • Work presentation
  • Publication

Slide 11

  • Engagement- a tool that kids respond to beyond paper and pencil

Composing with Grade 5 and 6 children

As I have mentioned previously composition is at the heart of my philosophy when it comes to music education. It is also what starts to make your music classes exciting and moves them beyond the some times mundane experience of teaching skills or singing songs.

With the grade 5 and 6 students this term we are focusing on a number of compositional styles.

These include

1. Composing with Melodic Instruments

2. Minimalism

3. Chance compositions

4. Composing soundtracks

5. Composoing with Text

5. Composing Machine Compsitions

These are all styles that are very accessible to children and there are lots of great examples on you tube of composers using these ideas as the basis for their own music. Composers like John Cage and the concepts he introduced always fascinate children.

The first four weeks were spent on Composing With Melody and to do this we used our diatonic instruments. Initially to children almost everything sounds good when composing with diatonic instruments so it gets things rolling quickly and gives you a chance to help them refine their ideas.

I always get them to write four parts into this composition. A bass line a melody line a chordal accompanyment and a percussion part and initially explain the roles of each of those parts. I then get them to add a B section which we decide to be something different to the A section and something short. A chance to provide a point of difference in the music. At the end of each week I film the children and one quick viewing at the start of the next week is all that is required for them to remember where they were up to. Depending on your philosophy regarding notation you could get them to notate but I find that childrens ears are generally pretty good and notation merely slows the composition process at this stage.

In the following weeks I will blog about how I go about teaching the other musical styles and upload some video.

But here is a video of a couple of completed Melodic Pieces