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

Unboxing and parent evening

Learning is our focus

Learning is our focus

Finally we had our unboxing of the iPads today with the students. We invited officials from our Region, Ron Lake, (Regional Director) Anne Baird, (ultranet project manager) Marc Blanks, (ultranet coach) and Anne Cunniff (Regional Network Leader). Also the local paper came and took photos and asked questions.

We also had 8 techsperts from the grade 1/2 class come and help us learn new skills and they took us for our licence tests. Yes we got our iPad licences and can now drive the iPads very well.

It was certainly an exciting time and the time went so fast. There weren’t many apps on the ipads but our iPadlicence work required us to do lots on the iPad. So it was good to not have distractions of apps at this stage.

A slide to learn cake was cut and served and eagerly eaten by all the children as a celebration of the day.

We all configured our email accounts to the mail app which was a bit of a job. Keen kids don’t always put the dots in the right place but all was worked out in the end. I could see the students liked email better in the mail app as it was so easy to read and of course I sent a welcome email with a couple of questions as teachers always have to ask.

The parent evening was very well attended and the students eagerly showed their parents their new learning tool. We showed a presentation from the department and I showed the Bringing up digital kids video that I mentioned on a previous post.

We gave out the list of apps (21st Century booklist) to the students and requested 6 apps to be downloaded first.  Pages, keynote, sonic pics, sound paper,  one music and one drawing app.

The acceptable use contracts were signed and most iPads were taken home.

There were some interesting scenarios that I hadn’t thought about.  One family has 2 children in the program so do they need to download the apps twice?  They have one iTunes account and can only download the apps once.

Some parents didn’t have email addresses to use so gmail accounts were being organised for them.  I wanted the parents to have the email address that is used in the iTunes account so they can keep a watch on the apps that were bought by their children.

All in all it was a great day and I’m almost ready to crash.  Here is the final comment that I received in an email today from the iPads.

“The iPads rock! I like them, they are easy to use, the mail is set out great and  I am glad I got one. I can’t wait to learn more.”

Engagement plus, learning curve up.

Engagement plus, learning curve up.

Peer coaching and iPad licence testing

Peer coaching and iPad licence testing

A gr 2 student coaching  teacher and a gr 5/6 student.  Cross age tutoring.

A gr 2 student coaching a teacher and a gr 5/6 student. Cross age tutoring.

iPad Trial PD day

So we got up early and went to Melbourne on the 6:30 am train. Our Pd session enabled us to meet all the other teachers involved in the trial. I would have liked to have more conversations with many of the other schools. Luckily I did meet up with Adam Brice from Ringwood North Primary School and hope to be able to share and compare as we enter the trial with the iPads.

Marco Torres had so many good messages for us about being learners and problem solvers. What evidence do we have that we are learners and problem solvers? As I listened to Marco I was tweeting and had responses from around the globe that I was so lucky to be in Marco’s company. I enjoyed sharing Marco’s messages to the world and at the end of the day I could search for my hashtags and find all my tweets which have become my notes. The best part about learning is sharing your learning. Just like children who want to share what they can do, ‘Look at me….this…etc” Sharing is going to be something I’d like to see the iPads helping us do better.
Marco posed many questions for us to ponder upon. Like-
How do we showcase good learning? (marketing)
How do we know who our good learners are?
He also made some great statements like-
We want to see evidence of learning, not if you know something or not.
Children should be asking questions and problem solving not just looking for answers.

I like the way Marco makes you think and takes your thinking to a higher level. We didn’t just talk apps we were talking learning which is the focus of the iPad trial.

We also looked at visual mind mapping as a way of showing evidence of thinking. I hadn’t thought about mindmapping as showing evidence of thinking before. We can use corkulous, ibrainstorm, poplet and many other mindmapping apps.

Lynne Davie challenged us to think about the focus questions for the trial –
How will iPads make my students smarter?
How will my classroom practice change when I have access to iPads in the classroom?
What will my students find useful about the iPad?
How will the iPads make my students happier?

We had lots to think about and contemplate after our day in Melbourne. Unboxing and a parent evening are the next items on our agenda for the iPad trial.

News Flash: Epsom PS one of 8 schools in the iPad Trial

Yes it’s now official that Epsom Primary School is one of the eight schools across Victoria who have been chosen to trial the iPads.  We are very excited about this and are looking forward to the start of the program in August.

Each child in grade 5&6 will receive an iPad for their use 24/7.  We will be asking some questions such as follows:

How will the iPads assist the students to learn?  How will the students use the iPads along side the interactive whiteboard and the netbooks?  What will be easier to do on an iPad?  How will the iPads use change the learning activities/organisation in the classroom?

Watch this space for updates on our trial.