Monday, September 13, 2010

How are iPods and volcanoes alike?

I love volcanoes and have always loved teaching my 3rd and 4th grade students about them. Learning about types of volcanoes, such as cinder cone or shield, or the different types of lava like a’a (ah-ah) and pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy). Both of these are Hawaiian words. My favorite is ah-ah. This is the type of lava that is sharp and rough. So, of course, I always tell students they can remember its name because they will say “ah-ah” if they walk across it. They usually just roll their eyes!!

But, I am really here to talk about using iPods in our classrooms.

We’ve really worked hard the past few weeks getting everything configured and ready to go. It is so invigorating going into classrooms and working with the teachers and students as they begin the process of integrating the iPods into their learning.

It is really fun watching the students as their digital native personalities come out. You put the iPod in their hands and they just begin exploring and figuring out the apps. What a joy to hear the sounds of their amazement as they learn how to do something different. Even watching the screen slip from vertical to horizontal amazes them!

The teachers aren’t much different. They have all been interested, curious, and ready to take on the challenge. Although some have been more reluctant than others.  Several had never held an iPod in their hands before. I sat down with a couple of teachers one day to complete the configuration on a couple of iPods from each of their carts. I walked them through the process and you could see the discomfort levels dropping. Then I started introducing some of the apps. They were getting ready to study place value and money in math so I showed them the “Counting Bills and Coins” app we had just synced to the iPods. They loved it and I could hardly tear them away. They are still not ready to do everything themselves but are anxious to continue scheduling times for me to come in and show them and the students different apps and how they can use them.

I met with a couple of other teachers on Friday and one shared an exciting experience in her classroom. They were studying volcanoes (thus my introduction) and another adult in the classroom mentioned that there is an inactive volcano in Arizona – Sunset Crater. This started some good conversation and the students were anxious to learn more. Out came the iPods and the Internet search instantly began. The students were able to see pictures and videos and read about a volcano right in their own state that they could easily go visit. This is learning that is timely, relevant, and student centered. What a great way to utilize the capabilities of the iPods.

So, how are iPods and volcanoes alike? The iPod allows learning to flow like a lava trail. It’s explosive and erupting. And the learning sticks and stays around for a long time.  Just watch out for the a’a!


  1. Nice post, your voice is coming out. I'll give you a 5 in voice. 6 in all other traits :) Let me know how PA is doing.

  2. Not nearly as creative a writer as you though!