iPods in the Classroom: The rest of my Seniors

Yesterday, I rolled out the iPods to my other class of Seniors.  I am teacher of record for them, but I do not work with them due to my duties as the district’s Technology Integrator.  The ground rules for the iPod cart were that for the iPods to be used I had to be in the class with them.  That negated the use of iPods with several of my classes.

I felt bad about the students not having access to the iPods, and I looked for a way around the issue.  I also decided, maybe incorrectly, that allowing the students to use them once every month would be worse than not using them at all.  Due to my schedule between the buildings, that would be about all the time they would get.

The Seniors were a bit offended when I first started showing them what to do, a comment was made about, “What? you don’t think we have seen iPods before?” To which I responded, ” Have you ever used them for school?”

They knew the basics of the iPods, moving about, zooming and unzooming the screen.  I showed them the apps we use and how to work with them.  They caught on very quickly and ran with the technology.  My sub and I co-taught the class, facilitating the flow of information and helping students with technology issues that would arise.  One of the students who was previously offended at our attitude commented, “This is really weird, learning about iPods from an old person. No offense Sal.”  I just laughed.  I reiterated the fact that they don’t use them for school, but that they were quick studies.

Overall, the class was a success.  The students caught on and moved away from just listening to information and maybe commenting, to jumping in and presenting their own ideas from what they found on the iPods.  The class ran similar to my other classes, the students took ownership of the class and were fully participating.  I hope to roll them out with the sophomores later this week.

Hidden Gems

This post originated in May 2009, and was lost in the shuffle of life.  It is now seeing the light of day.

I love music, listening mostly, I can not play an instrument well to save my life, except for a few blues riffs on harmonica. Growing up in the vinyl era I loved listening to both sides of an LP and finding the songs that were great, but did not make the radio playlists. I found many songs far off the beaten path that I enjoyed more than the mainstream hits. I found one on a CD the other day driving to work, “Midwest Midnight”  on Right Back at Ya, a compilation CD from the Michael Stanley Band. I never listened to the CD beginning to end before, I do not know why either…The song is great, as is the CD.

Anyway, the episode reminded me of how we often find favorite things when we are not expecting to, or when we dig a little deeper beyond the shallow surface. This year has brought me many such experiences. As the Classrooms for the Future Coach for New Brighton I have been to many, many trainings and conferences. The goals of these events are similar, to facilitate the integration of technology efficiently into the classroom. What I picked up were many hidden gems along the way. My “Personal Learning Network” (PLN) has grown exponentially, they have supplied me with a vast amount of knowledge that will takes years to fully process. I have made many new friends and acquaintances through this network, which I hope will continue even when the funding for my position runs out.

These ideas that have been shared are making me a better teacher and hopefully making my students better learners.

iPods and Three Year Olds

Last week, my three year old daughter was grounded from watching “Dragon Tales” on television for several days.  She did a few actions repeatedly and intentionally…even after warnings.  When I told the story of how she earned this punishment, a friend and colleague said, “It reminds me of the ‘Breakfast Club’.”  Once more I felt foolish for acting like a caricature, but it happens on occasion.

By the end of the first night, Sunday, of not watching “Dragon Tales”, my daughter started to turn on the charm and try and work her way out of her punishment.

Questions and negotiations began, “If I eat all of my dinner can I watch ‘Dragon Tales’?” she asked.

“You are not allowed to watch it until Wednesday, remember?” I replied.

“Mommy, if I eat all my dinner, can I watch ‘Dragon Tales’?” she asked again, this time talking past me.

My wife held the adult line, “No, remember what you did?”

My daughter was persistent, she never acknowledged her wrongdoing, although she knew what we were talking about.  She hates to admit when she does something wrong.  She ran down the litany of getting her way, “I love you.”  Hugs and kisses were given out, but we held strong.

Then out of nowhere, we were trumped.  “Daddy, since I cannot watch ‘Dragon Tales’ on TV, can I watch it on my iPod?” she asked in her nicest voice accompanied by puppy-dog eyes. Game.  Set.  Match.

I looked at my wife, who was trying not to laugh too hard.  I had no answer except the obvious.  “You got me little girl…tomorrow you may watch ‘Dragon Tales’ on your iPod.”

She was correct, I was specific in banning the show from TV, but never mentioned the iPod.  She often watches shows from YouTube.  We screen them for content, since you never know what you will find.  That is why YouTube SpongeBob is banned in our house, for some reason that is a favorite for people to edit with inappropriate language.

In an earleir incident, when my wife was singing songs with her in the car from PBS Sprout, my daughter replied, “Mommy, stop.  I do not know that song.  I did not download from the Internet onto my iPod.”  My wife asked her to repeat what she said, not believing her ears.  The quote was the same the second time around.

When we got home I did check her iPod to make sure she has not downloaded anything onto it.  She hasn’t…yet.  Who says iPods are too complex for three year olds.

iPod Presentation at PETE & C

Jill Machemer and I co-presented at the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference a few weeks ago.  We discussed how we were incorporating iPod Touches into the classroom setting for instructional purposes.  During the presentation it was brought to my attention that I was violating copyright rules or laws.  I was committing the violation by pushing music playlists out to more than five iPods at a time.

I understand the concept of copyright, but this did not seem like a big issue.  The students do not have the ability to transfer the music from the iPods.  As I explained to the attendee who questioned me, “It’s pretty much as if I just blasted the music over my class speaker system for all to hear.”  The attendee who questioned me did not agree, and she was right.  However, I was a bit stubborn and held my position, until a friend of mine, whom I’ll just call “Cheryl C.” redirected me back onto topic.  I believe her comment was to the point of, “Let’s just pretend he has the same songs on only sets of five iPods.”  The whole conversation lasted about one minute, if that.

I understand the rule and concept.  I understand that I was being stubborn.  I guess I was mad at myself for overlooking that detail in the grand scheme of things.  After all, I have railed over and over about copyright on many soapboxes only to turn around and violate copyright myself…

Anyway, I came home from Hershey, site of the conference and addressed the issue.  I split the playlist into five separate playlists and pushed them out to the iPods.  The playlists will be rotated every couple of weeks to keep the music fresh for students who would like to listen to it.  The process also keeps the music within copyright legality, the lists are only on five iPods at a time.  I will add a few more playlists to increase the variety of music for the students and rotate it more often, but that project is for the future.