Monday, February 28, 2011

iTouch and the Industrial Revolution

For the past two days my classes have been involved in a project over the Industrial Revolution.  We are doing some of the usuals such as discussion, notes, and even a foldable over the major inventions.  However, this year, I've added a new element to the mix.  The students are using our iTouch lab and an app for Audioboo to create "boo's".  Boo's are simply a recording that the students make using the iTouch.

Check out this short video on Audioboo.

The process is so stinkin' simple!  We had already downloaded the free app on each iTouch.  I also made sure that every teacher in my department had created an Audioboo account.  The students then pull up the app in class, make sure they are logged into my account on Audioboo, and simply record their thoughts.  They next publish, title, and upload their "Boo".

That's it!

I had a prepared set of questions that students answered on their iTouch.  For example: "How did the cotton gin actually lead to an increase in slavery?" or "How was the telegraph significant to American life?".

I had a student ask, "why don't we just stand up and tell the class our answers"?  There are several answers that I gave him.  For one, I wanted the students to practice using the iTouch for a future major project.  I also told the students that I would play their responses to other classes.  So it was like they had a partner helping them from every class.  Plus it was just a nice way to get all students to answer questions rather than those same three kids that always raise their hands.

I would highly recommend getting whoever controls your technology budget to look into buying at least a few iTouches.  There are so many apps out there, and it is a way to bring the computer lab to you.

Thanks for taking the time to read over my ramblings.  If you enjoyed this post please consider joining my PLN on Twitter @HistoryandTech or following this blog.

Oh yeah, and apologies for any punctuation errors in this post.  I can't ever remember if the question mark goes inside or outside of the quotation marks. 

Take care,


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Digital Frame Reflection

Today in class we did a Black History Month gallery walk using digital frames (for more details please see previous post).  I thought I'd offer up a few reflections in case anyone is thinking about doing this in the future.

Overall, the lesson was a success.  The students were highly engaged.  This was due to factors such as use of technology, they were on the move throughout, and higher level questions. 

I will change a few things for next year.  First off, if you use digital frames, make sure all your fonts are at least 16 or larger.  Anything less is difficult to read on the smaller screen.  We ran into this on a couple of frames so I had to print off the slide for them to read.  The second major adjustment would be to upload darker pictures to the frames.  A few of them didn't transfer over well and were too light to see on the digital frame screen.

For all new teachers and yes, even those of us that have been doing this for a while, it is always good to reflect.  Blogging is a nice way to put it into words. 

Well, that's it for now.  I would love to hear your suggestions or comments.  If you like this blog please consider joining my PLN on Twitter or subscribing to this blog.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Let's Start the Right Way

A big welcome to everyone to my first blog post.  I really don't know exactly what direction to take this blog.  I got great advice from @gregkulowiec  (a must follow on Twitter by the way) who basically said just write what inspires you. I figured what better way to start than just diving into what I love and talk about a lesson that I'm doing this week.

For Black History Month, we used to do the boring old routine of either watching a video or doing basic research.  I began thinking, "how can I incorporate technology into this lesson"?  I also know that our students are weak in primary sources and DBQ's (document based questions).  So here is what I came up with.

The students will do a gallery walk looking at primary sources that encompass a timeline through Black History in 18th and 19th century America.  The part that got me excited was that the gallery walk will be done using DIGITAL FRAMES!  The students are in groups of 3-4 and will rotate from frame to frame analyzing each frame with higher level questions.
It was very easy to create once I decided what primary sources to use.  I went through several great primary source websites such as Docsteach, Docs in a Box, and Slave Voyages. I just created a quick 3 slide power point presentation for each document and our tech. facilitator converted for use on the frames.

If your technology faciliator has thought of using digital frames in the classroom, I would highly recommend bringing it up in a professional discussion.  They are fairly inexpensive and all you really need are 6-10 for the entire school.  We simply reserve them like we would reserve a computer lab.

Well, that's it for post number one.  I hope it sparked an idea or two for something that you are thinking about creating.

If you enjoyed this, please consider joining my PLN (professional learning network) on Twitter.  I am at @HistoryandTech. You could also subscribe to this blog.