Day 2 – Can Talking Tom help us learn?

Talking Tom - Free app

Talking Tom - Free app

We returned to school the next day after unboxing and the students had lots to share. Some had downloaded many apps and proudly showed the others.

I made sure there was another email waiting for them and intend to do so for the next week. They haven’t been very good at checking email on their netbooks as they had to go on the internet and use webmail.  Webmail is quite clunky and tends to time out while you are writing sometimes. Also logging in to the email site was a hassle for a handful of students. So I’ll be watching to see how many students reply using the mail app that we configured yesterday.

It was a busy day with trips to the gym, aths practice and concert practice. However we managed to get some discussion going about the iPads and sharing what some had done the night before.   Apps were downloaded and music of course.

Jan the class teacher initiated the students recording evidence of learning with technology. This was a great start and we’ll be working on how we can share this with the world. Again the focus was on learning and not the toy advantage.

Later in the day we had a photo session and then discussed one of the apps, Talking Tom that one of the students had downloaded. Of course it was a great hit and there was lots of laughter. Talking Tom is a Tom cat who can say what you say and even purr when you pat him. So I asked how could this app help your learning? As I had seen the record button I immediately thought of students reading to Talking Tom and having their writing read back to them so they can assess their writing for further editing or listening ot their reading for fluency and expression.  Also I suggested they could record their tables they were learning and then listen to Tom saying them. Another idea I thought of was using Tom for their persuasive text that they would soon be writing. Can Tom help their cause?

This was a good example of how some apps that appear to be just good for party tricks actually can be used to enhance learning. It reminded me of the magic wallet app for iPhone that we have used with the Preps for money recognition.

IMG_0241I had some parents come in and sign the contracts today and organise an iTunes account for their children. We have about 6 students who will be syncing and downloading at school. One boy stayed behind until 4:50pm downloading and syncing. This was after he had sent 2 or three emails to his mother trying to reset the iTunes passwords.  This was great communication practice and gave authentic use of reading and writing.  Something that usually wasn’t a favorite of this student.  When he began to download we found a strange thing happened every time we selected download, an error 2096 appeared but then when we pressed buy again it downloaded.

I have set up individual accounts on the MacBook pro for these students so their iTunes accounts will be separate. Its seems so strange to be downloading the apps 6 times on the same computer so each has a copy when all iPads could be synced from the same iTunes account. It does give them some control over their account though and lets them select their own.

The weight of the school bags was drawn to my attention. I had been wondering about how a netbook and an iPad would fit in their bags. This one boy had a very heavy bag that didn’t get much lighter when the netbook or iPad was taken out. A pencil case with 4 books was heavy but still the bag was heavy. On further checking the many pockets I found a hidden pocket that contained 6 bananas that weighed over a kilogram. (thought I could smell bananas and having three boys myself I had previous experience of school bag discoveries)  So now the bag is lighter but tomorrow we are going to weigh the netbook and the iPad to see the difference and the books to see their weight.

An ibook will be the next thing to download and we’ll test how they are to read.  Planning for further evidence of learning on the iPads will be discussed and perhaps a Google doc or presentation could be started.

The wireless networks keep us on our toes and seem  a bit sluggish at times.  Luckily I have my wonderful technician coming tomorrow so we’ll see what he can do to tweak the wireless network and the iTunes store as downloading on the iPads at school hasn’t been very successful.  We get a waiting message under a grey icon for the app but it never downloads.  This could be bandwidth of firewall issues.  However downloading on the MacBook pro worked with wireless but it was after school.  So perhaps its a Netspace problem with traffic.

The students enjoyed looking and reading in the newspaper about our unboxing event.

Finally here are some of the students’ responses I received today-  No I didn’t stay up until 12:00 I went to bed earlier than normal.  I need help with my home internet access.   I haven’t had any problems yet, can the iPads short circuit in thunder storms?  The thing I like about the iPads is that you can use it like an iPod