Friday, February 28, 2014

Life in 1st Grade - iPods - Making Use of What You Have

The months of December and January were spent in a 1st grade and 3rd grade classroom. I was in 1st grade in the morning and 3rd grade in the afternoon. The 1st grade classroom is a co-taught class with 2 young teachers who are very willing to be reflective and improve their teaching practice. They were ready for new ideas.

After meeting with the team we decided that they needed help with math centers, and they wanted to use their iPods more. They had approx 13 iPods sitting in a cart that they were not using. The iPods were 4th gen. iPod Touches, and could only be updated to iOS 6.1.5. I started by updating the iOS and investigating what apps would be compatible. I used APPitic. There are quite a few app review sites, but this has become my favorite. The site was especially useful because it tells you what device(s) will support the particular app. Next I double checked the iTunes description just to make sure. I picked a mix of free and paid apps. I loaded approx 8 apps onto the iPod Touches.
Next I suggested using QR codes because they wanted something that their students could do independently during math centers. I loaded a free QR code reader app. I grabbed a free QR code addition packet from Teacher Pay Teachers. It was created by one of my co-workers, Amanda Zanchelli (Learning to the Core blog). I was able to show the 1st grade team how easy it was, and how much the kiddos liked doing it. QR codes are great because you can give kids the ability to move around the room if you like. Next, I made a scavenger hunt of my own, and showed them how to do it. They picked it up right away, and the next time I came to the room the kids were working on a QR code math scavenger hunt made by their teachers.  I provided the teachers with some resources and off they went. I was so happy to see that. They have really expanded on the idea by making QR code Valentine's movies . They posted these on their class webpage and the kids are able to listen to them during center time using QR codes. The students really like listening to each other on the iPods! These teachers also shared their new found expertise with the rest of the members of the 1st grade team.
This link will provide you with more info on how to use QR codes in the classroom, this blog post will walk you through how to set up a QR code lesson for book trailers.

Using QR codes in math centers
QR Valentine messages from all 1st graders
The next thing they wanted to accomplish was something to improve their reading centers, and another way to utilize the iPod Touches. I suggested that we do a project that would be Above the Line. Thanks to Shannon Soger (iTeach Above the Line Blog) for the inspiration on this project. In the end students read books at their reading level, and shared them with their classmates on the iPod Touches. First, the teachers allowed the children to pick books on their level. We call those "just right books". They practiced reading their books at home and to a partner, so that they would know them well. Next each child used Photobooth to take a picture of their cover and all the pages. I taught them to go to Edit - Auto Flip New Items when taking pictures of the illustrations in the books. This way the pictures won't be backwards. Then they read their book into iMovie. They did not have to look at the camera because we dropped the pictures over the words in the form of a cutaway, in iMovie. Each student got to design their own introduction by choosing a background, writing their book title and their name and finally adding music. I exported to movies to the desktop, and then saved them on my flash drive. Next I put the movies into iTunes on my computer. Finally, I sync'ed the iTunes with the iPod Touches. Now the students can click on video on the iPod touches and listen to each other read their books. Click on this link to watch a screencast of the process. 
Taking pictures of our books
Recording our words in iMovie