Teaching Screenagers

Teaching Screenagers
My life in the fastlane

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fundamental Changes take time... but not as long as I thought

It is important to note that when I began this project I had little to no experience with iPods or apps or even downloading music. What I now know to be true is that it doesn't matter, our kids do.  This has been an incredible adventure. My students use these tools as if they had been in our classroom always. I continually find new ways to enhance instruction using these tools. For example, when we were reading an article on Ancient Egypt, students stopped, pulled up their iPods looked up areas of Egypt on Google maps. Suddenly, those pyramids of long ago were alive and well in the palm of our hands.
When students need to know the meaning of a word as they read, they pull out their iPods and use dictionary.com to look it up then and there. They are tools, not toys and enhance rather than replace what is going on in our instruction. I didn't realize they would be entrenched in our work so quickly.

As I sit here on a Sunday night to plan, my iPod sits beside me so I can test an app, look up something the way my students might, and plan differently, with the goal of bringing technology into the lessons. For example, this next week my honors students are writing for a debate. Tomorrow not only will they read articles and structure their support for cell phone use on campus, they will use the iPods to look up research both for and against cell phones on campus to enhance the work that has already been done in their outlines. It will be quick, and will lead to the next discussion, which is what is credible evidence and how do you know? One important discussion will have to be how to evaluate articles and "facts" we find on the web.

Another cool thing to note, we took our Chapter 6 test in English this past week, and all classes improved in reading comprehension yet again. My classes used to range from 20 percent to 75 percent in this area, and last week the the range went from 68 to 100 percent. I think we are beginning to gather the data that supports students recording themselves and listening and scoring their prosody on a rubric. It seems to be making a significant difference both in their confidence as readers and their comprehension.

Is everything wonderful in iPodland? That would be a "nope". We still have difficulty downloading the student voices, a few students have discovered the camera and have saved pictures that need to be deleted and we still can't get videos on the iPods without some serious tech support intervention, but I am confident by the end of February that will be solved.

Looking forward to creating Egypt mini reports using Storybooklite and to continue to record our voices reading text, this time with a focus on non-fiction. Stay tuned to what will happen next!!

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