September 30, 2012

Simple Apps Are Best

I did not have my students use their iPads a lot last week. It's not like I totally gave up...but I was gung-ho on teaching my research unit, which I always believe to be something that should be reviewed at the beginning of the year, but with connectivity issues, my colleague, Mrs. E. and I decided to go ahead with the novel we would normally do about this time of year. Research will be pushed back a bit.

We had school-based testing to complete this week, and I showed the students Discovery Education's The Clone Age to scaffold for The House of the Scorpion, so we just did not break iPads out much.

I did try to use Socrative to do the pre-reading anticipation guide. I thought it would be a fun way to start some discussion when we could see a chart of everyone's responses. Of course, we had wi-fi issues, and our district's Internet, in general, was sluggish for a few days, so it was not as much fun as I thought it would be. I tried to get students to discuss a bit despite the technology fail, but everyone really wanted to try to the program to work so they could answer the questions, so many were distracted. Yeah. I caused that distraction.  Oy!

On a happier note, Mrs. E. and thought that we might be able to incorporate more vocabulary this year with the vocabulary text we have. It tends to consume so much of our class, and we don't have enough books to send home (and have them come back so we can use them for year to year), so it's tough when it takes them a whole class period--and maybe more to copy down their words to they can study--that's not even the time to work with the exercises! With the shortage of paper, it wasn't like I was going to make copies either. PLUS, I always thought that it was best to have them create notecards so they could practice at home. So, anyway, we found that Quizlet  already had the vocabulary from out text loaded. Furthermore, Quizlet had a few other games/activities that student could play, including one where the definition is presented to them, and students have to type the word. Yeah! Spelling practice, too!

Okay, so seriously. It's not that big of deal, right? Well, we had a bunch of students saying how much it helped them--they would just come up to us out of the blue to tell us, too! The proof is in the pudding. I took a little poll where I asked who used it and who thought it helped them prepare for the quiz we took on Friday. Nearly all hands shot up. After the quiz, I asked a few students who had bombed the quiz if they used Quizlet, and NOT ONE OF THEM had. Except for those fools, the students did really well on the quiz, and they were quite proud of themselves.

I know I'm hardly tapping into any higher thinking skills here, but you know, the iPad is a tool, and we found some use with it last week. Maybe it's going to be baby steps for me.


Anonymous said...

I haven't found anything that works as well as quizlet for getting my kids to learn the words-they have fun with the games, get competitive,and learn at the same time. They all love it.

Melissa B. said...

Hey there, Happy. Looks like you've fallen woefully behind on your blogging, too. I hope to get my act together in the New Year. Take care!