Saturday, June 18, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes!

It was exactly one year ago today that we completed our first iPod training with the iAchieve project teachers. We started the year with 20 teachers and grew to 24 as schools added additional PowerSync carts and iPods.

During our first training, the teachers unpacked each of their iPods, numbered them and the slots in the carts, synced them to the laptops, and set some very basic restrictions for the students. Since many of them had never even held an iPod touch before, they had the opportunity for some hands on learning and practice with various apps and procedures.

A couple of weeks into school we introduced the iPods to the students. They of course took to them immediately, often showing their teachers how to use certain apps or perform a specific task. It was the students teaching the teachers!

We have grown so much this year. We started out with a good assortment of apps to use with our students but have added to the list throughout the year as we found resources that aligned with our district adopted curriculum. iTunesU has become a great resource for video tutorials to support instruction in math and language arts along with other video resources.

Early in the year we created sets of high frequency sight word flashcards based upon the words identified by the district reading/language arts specialist. They provided a great way for students to become fluent with the words but we knew we needed something else to support many of our students. We decided to create narrated high frequency word videos on the iPods using the SonicPics app and have the students create them.

A group of students at one school began working on the project. When they felt comfortable with the process and using the app, they trained students at another school in the procedures for creating the videos – all without leaving their home school. The students used Skype to communicate with each other. Students teaching other students!

We have had students completing Voice Memo recordings for reading fluency, creating graphs and mind maps using apps, practicing both math and language arts skills. They created their own books in StoryKit and various video projects in SonicPics.

We ended the year with some additional teacher training during our Summer Technology Academy. The focus on the iPod track of the academy was to make sure our teachers were comfortable with adding additional resources and syncing the iPods. Why do they need to know how to add additional resources you ask? Because we also shared how they can locate and create free resources that can be used with the iPods. We created sets of flashcards using PowerPoint slides converted to pictures, converted movie files into iPod/iPad format, and learned ways to locate and create free ePub books that can be read using iBooks.

Can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in our second year!

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