“Appy Lessons: Make Your Lessons Happy”

This was the goofy title I gave to my presentation to teachers on how they could use one iPad to enhance their lessons.  I’m still working on creative titles…

We are lucky enough to have a classroom set of iPads that can be shared between classes.  Not everybody takes advantage of them, and when they do, chance are it’s at the same time somebody else wants to use them.  So I got to thinking about how teachers could just use ONE of those iPads in their lessons.  The thought process is that if teachers can get more comfortable using one iPad throughout the course of their lesson, they could get more comfortable managing multiple iPads for their students, and would feel more comfortable in different activity scenarios.  In selecting the apps to demonstrate, I tried to choose apps that could be rolled together and connect somehow.

I started off with “Dropbox.”  If teachers want to prepare lessons, in order to get materials from their laptop to the iPad, Dropbox is the most logical choice for us.  I emphasized that putting your work into the cloud allowed it to be accessed from anywhere on any device.  I also had to make sure that teachers understood that when they were finished, they needed to unlink their iPads from Dropbox because students also use the same iPad.  Security is an issue with our iPads, because multiple students use each one.  The teachers are also allowed to use them, and this app/program can allow them to make it their own for the duration of its use.

“Stage” was the next app that I showed them.  Stage turns the iPad into a document camera/whiteboard.  You can annotate over what the camera is showing a la an overhead projector or ELMO.  An in-app purchase allows you to record your lesson for use later, to save to Dropbox, or to post on your website.

I showed the teachers, “Skitch,” but in all honesty, I don’t use it often enough.  I wanted to show them the option of annotating over pictures, which could be great for use in the P.E. class to show correct form.  It syncs well with Evernote, so if you needed to take a picture of an agenda and highlight it or take notes on it, you can do that through Skitch.

An app that has really taken off in our school is “Educreations.”  Educreations turns the iPad into a recordable whiteboard.  The students use this a lot in third grade, but I wanted to show teachers how they could demonstrate a lesson and record it for later use.  Our librarian attended this session and just yesterday used this app with the kindergarten students.  She would hold up a book and they would tell her if it was non-fiction or fiction.  It was an incredible leap outside of her comfortable box, and I couldn’t be more proud of her!

I showed the “Explain Everything,” using the analogy that it is like “Educreations on steroids,” because there is SO much you can do with this app.  It’s still one I’d like to continue to explore, but you can import just about anything, record almost anything, and export it almost anywhere.  It is probably the best, all-around app to help you teach a lesson.

“Socrative,” also has been a hit with some of the teachers in both buildings I teach at.  Socrative allows you to assess what the students know easily and quickly.  This is one that our librarian did use, and even though she jumped in and started explaining all of its cool features, I knew that I had a hit with somebody; her passion and drive surrounding this app is proof that even teachers who have been teaching the same way for years can find new and engaging ways to excite their students and enjoy something new.  As a follow up, I created a screencast using “Screencast-o-matic,” to demonstrate how to create and manage quizzes.

Even though only six teachers showed up, if I could connect with one of them, I know that I’m chipping away at motivating all teachers to incorporate something new into their lessons.  The topic of my next blog that I want to write talks about tech trends at our school and a reflection on how that presentation went.  During that presentation, I challenged the teachers on the technology team to start rethinking some of their lessons and figure out how they could incorporate any piece of technology into their future lessons.

Below, I’ve tried to use “Scribd” to embed the PDF of my presentation on apps.  If it doesn’t work, follow the link if you’re interested.

Appy Teaching by mrdeissler


About mrdeissler

I teach technology education to elementary students and work with teachers on integrating new technologies into their lessons at two different elementary schools. This blog serves as a place for me to reflect and share to help make me a better educator, as well as document my learning in the M.E.T. program at Boise State University Follow me on Twitter @mrdeissler
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