Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Food Chain Movies with iPod Touches

We took the tech to the wild....
Ipods and iPads are not just for classroom activities.  We recently spent time at Outdoor School (ODS) for a few of our school districts and found that with the right apps and fully charged batteries a field study session about the food chain can become a fun collaborative project. 

In the past we have done field study sessions with geocaching, photography and geolocations, panoramas, and mapping skills but as field study leaders we wanted to change it up a bit.  One of the best things about being in the "wild", we have nature to draw from, covering consumers, producers, and decomposers for our region of Oregon.  In the past, students had done paper/pencil scavenger hunts looking for the evidence of parts of the food chain.  We wanted to modify this project and require that the students process this information collaboratively in more than one way.  Our task for the students was to create a short food chain video which was to include a consumer, producer, decomposer, title, and credit photo.

Here's how it went.  After a brief group discussion (less than 10 minutes) on a review of the food chain, we set off in groups of 2 or 3 students with one iPod Touch  to take photos of evidence of each of the three parts of the food chain.  In 15 minutes we returned with photos of consumers, producers, and decomposers that can be found at camp, as well as a nice scenery shot for our title slide and a group shot for the credit slide. 

Once we returned to the lodge we had about 25 minutes leftGroups worked together to label their photos with Phonto and pull them in to 30 Hands to create and narrate their movie.    These were both brand new apps for the students.  In less than an hour, we had finished products, simple 10 to 20 second videos about the food chain at camp.  These were fun to upload and share with their teachers once we returned to the office.  I heard one classroom held a viewing party!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Teacher iPad/iPod Maintenence

Is your teacher iPad reaching it's limit of app space?  You have many photos of what's happened in your class this past year and you want to save those photos.  This post will walk you through some summer maintenance you can consider tending to on your teacher iPad.

Recover memory and clear off your photos.  We suggest transferring all your photos you want saved off the iPad onto your computer.  I put them in a folder by the year, so I can always go back and find a picture taken during a particular year.  Once all your photos are safe on your computer, delete them off the iPad.  Except maybe the few favorites you use to share with others or as you background.  Key word there is few.

I would delete all apps that are classroom curriculum related, then put back (apps store purchased area) the ones you know you'll use in the fall.  How many apps on the teacher iPad are in the "I'm trying it out mode" but you really don't use them often?  Don't put those apps back. This actually might be a better task to complete in mid-August after you've inundated your iPad with additional trial apps throughout June and July.

You may be thinking "but then I have to jump through all the hoops to start apps I use often again and I have it just the way I want".  I find that is a good thing, because most of your kids will be jumping through those hoops in the fall, so this keeps your experiences sharp and ready to share with your class.

Next, clear out browsing data that has accumulated over the year.  To do this go into Settings - Safari - and Clear History along with Cookies and Data.  Note, if you clear cookies your passwords will need to be re-entered.  Which as a good thing will cause you to revisit and remember them.

A tip to speed up your iPad is spotlight searching.  Go into Settings - General - Spotlight Search and turn off all items you don't want to search through when using Spotlight Search.  Since I typically use spotlight search to find an app, I have all other searches turned off so finding an app becomes much quicker.

Finally, don't forget to take an iPad with you as a teacher for the summer.  Keep connected with your PLN finding new ideas from Pinterest, Twitter, or Flipboard.  Is there a better way to familiarize yourself with story telling apps on an iPad than to take photos of your vacation experiences and create digital stories? 

Summer iPad/iPod Center Maintenence

In our region school is dismissing for summer break leaving teachers with about 7-8 weeks of time to relax then re-energize. What does this mean for iDevice centers?

After using an iPod or iPad center for a year, many apps have retained data you will want to clear out and begin anew for next fall.  Examples include math practice apps which keep a record of which level you have reached as you play, apps associated with student logins to cloud services, or digital story telling apps with dozens of student authored experiences.

Larger districts have mobile device management (MDM) systems that work well, but if you are a small rural district with one or two centers, using the iPad reset and rebuild doesn't take up that much additional time and effort.

Here is how we go about our summer maintenance of iDevice centers.

  1. We back up any stories and photos we want saved off an iDevice to a cloud service, like Dropbox or Google Drive.
  2. Reset the iPad to "new" by going into Settings - General - Reset - Erase All Content and Settings
  3. If you have a base restore image, you can restore to that image, other wise just restore as a brand new iDevice.  
  4. Enable auto download of apps and the use of Find my iPad/iPhone; along with other settings you find necessary for your iDevice Center
  5. From the Apps purchased, select apps you want back on the iDevice.
As you put apps back on the iDevice for the fall, remember a great strategy is to NOT put on all the apps to start the year.  We recommend creating a list of must have apps, then a list of apps to gradually bring back throughout the year aligned with your curriculum.  Every so often students will notice a new app, and instinctively begin exploring the ins and outs of this new find.

If you enjoy working with digital storytelling, there are so many great apps to support that activity that you can begin the fall with 1-3 apps, then bring back a couple of new ones throughout the year.  This mixed in with new apps you find will always provide motivating learning experiences for your kids.