Another one of my famous, overly long titles there.
So, we are still a little ways off from launching a 1:1 iPad program at our school but I thought we could get the ball rolling with a smaller group of students, but really the ones that would benefit most, our New Arrivals students. These are students that are not only new to our school, but also the country (most come from Iraq, Syria, Turkey) and I can tell you know, they are some of the smartest and funniest students to work with (if you get the chance I highly recommend it!).
Our New Arrival students work together for the morning and afternoon (they are from Grade 2-5) and then go back into their classrooms for the afternoon. Now I am lucky enough to work with them every morning as part of my new 1:1 program. My goal is to not only find engaging ways to use agile technologies and tools to help in working in Australian Primary Schools (i.e.: English) but also empower them with new skills to take back with them when the rejoin their classmates in the afternoon. Hopefully making these students fill more included, and show their classroom teacher some things that will help them also (and they think it is pretty cool that they have an iPad)
A little bit of background before I talk bout our first, very successful, lesson.
- All students (11 in total) were given an iPad by the school, at this stage they will have them for the whole day and will be returned before they go home. After a few weeks of the program, we will extend that and allow students to take the iPad home with them (after some communication and permission with their parents).
- All students have also been setup with a Google Apps for Education account for their email, document creation and online storage.
- Finally, one important thing to note is the students in our New Arrival class have been given funding for 40 weeks, after that they are on their own, so that is my timeframe to work with them all (until a new group comes along in the following year)
In this lesson, I wanted students to get familiar with using the collaborative features of Google Docs, and also continue a lesson they were doing the other day – looking at words to use, a What, What Doing, Who activity.
I then adapted this in the form of a Google Doc (in this case a Google Spreadsheet – also be aware that the iPad versions of Google Apps have some restrictions when it comes to tables and images, so get familiar with those).
Now students were able to fill out their section, or work together if they needed help. They were also very excited by the prospect of being able to work together when they are at home (or as Stafro was happy to point out “eat food while working”), so we are definitely looking at the Augmentation stage of embedding technology into learning.
Using some simple features of the iPad we can now go even further. Students are still learning English and are all at different stages. I showed them some easy ways of helping them.
First, allowing the iPad to spell and define words. This way they can see if their English spelling is correct.
Then, using the free app, Google Translate, I showed students how they could easily use this to test their English. Google Translate let the students speak in Arabic and it would then speak the English translation. They could also type or hand write and it would do the same, and vice-versa. This they were very impressed with (but less impressed with my Arabic – see video below). We also talked about how this would be a big help when they returned to the normal classroom. They could, or get their teacher or classmates, to speak or write the word they were having issues with and see the Arabic translation instantly. The app also stores the list of words so they can practice these later.
And that was the lesson. Yes, very basic to begin with but the students had a lot of fun while also learning some very powerful collaborative working techniques along the way. In my next lesson I wan to take this technique a bit further and see if we can work on a narrative as a group using Google Docs. I want to introduce them to using Google Classroom soon, so it is very important to get these fundamentals working first.
Okay, now I did say you will see me getting beaten by a Grade 5 student….here you go, your moment of zen: