I will be the first to admit, that I did not start out using my classroom set of iPods as 21st Century Learning devices. The learning curve was not steep, but getting everyone, including myself, to full speed took some time. To paraphrase the drill instructor-like driving instructor who had a one episode cameo in SpongeBob Squarepants, ” Before you can run, you must learn to walk. Before you can walk, you must learn to crawl.” We started at a crawl, and quickly moved to a walk. I am now in the process of getting up to full speed with the iPods. I am attempting to make my lessons more interactive and have a true conversation with the students while getting them to learn.
In the past, getting information out to them was a chore. If I made a PowerPoint the way they are supposed to be, there was not enough information for them on the screen. They did not listen to what I was saying, and they struggled. If I put all the info on the slides, they wrote to there fingers bled, still didn’t listen, and thought you needed to embed a Word Doc to make a good PowerPoint. Neither option was acceptable, I had to practice, “Do as I say, not as I do,” when I assigned PowerPoints as projects.
I have a Polyvision Interactive Whiteboard in my room now, with a working copy of RM Easiteach, which I did not have last year. I now import my PowerPoints into RM Easiteach, either with “Glass Mode” or “Merge” .JPG files into each page of a file. I then make a bare bones outline page in between each PowerPoint slide page. The bare bones contain a few critical questions I want the students to know.
I then flip through the Easiteach presentation, I state the topic, and pose a few questions. The students are encouraged to brainstorm ideas. I still need to remind them, “each of you has a computer in front of you, (iPod Touch), use it.” They are getting better. They search for answers, some on the mark, some not, but that is okay, we are learning. We put the brainstormed and “Googled” ideas up on the board and sift through the information. The critical thinking process is modeled and worked through as a class. We discuss the points and see which is correct and which may not be. The reasoning as to why each is correct or not on topic is discussed.
Once we answer these questions and narrow the focus to the correct topic, questions usually pop up to further the conversation. If this does not happen, I ask a few more questions and the process is repeated. Students still need prompted and I still need to circulate through the room, but they are working, they are thinking, and they are active.
Once we have a good bit of information, I pull the board into “Split Screen” and we compare the facts the students found to what I had on my PowerPoint. Sometimes, the information I have is a few years old and out of date, we correct the information and move on. At the end of the period, I “Save” the file for that class and reopen a scaled down mater file for the next period.
The following class repeats the process, but does not always find the same results. This is another lesson unto itself and we do work through the divergent information to see if one is correct and one not, or they are both correct, just different. Students learn from the process. They learn how to find information, how to discriminate and choose the correct information, and they learn the curriculum.
I can copy and paste the slides into grouped information, then upload it into my Edmodo classroom. The students can use the free Easiteach reader download to view the files from home. I also create a podcast for each file, nothing spectacular, just an audio of the focus points of the file. I push the podcasts out to my Podbean.com account and iTunes. In an unabashed act of egocentricity, I subscribe to my own podcast on iTunes and push it out on the iPods. Now my students have access to the material even if they are not in class, or if they need to review information.
I know I name dropped some specific brand names, but we are a Polyvision school. I am pretty sure I could do similar style lessons with other brands of Interactive Whiteboards. The concept is what is important, getting the students to participate in learning and thinking, not just sitting there…passively.