iPad Party

This evening, it was pizza and iPads at Tiki’s place.  Mrs. Kile, a 4th grade teacher in my building, “won” a writing contest granting her the use of 5 District purchased iPads for the remainder of the school year.  (Check out her iPad blog.)  Lucky us!  We ordered pizza, downloaded apps, talked blogging, shared websites, and bemoaned the lack of Flash support in the iPad.

Although I love the ‘wow’ factor in the iPad- and there are some apps that really amaze me- the bottom line is that I think the iPod Touch has better educational application at the elementary level… at 1/3 of the cost.  It was very frustrating to see that many Web 2.0 tools- like Glogster, Scribblar, and may others- can’t be used on the iPad.  And compared to the iPod Touch App base, there were few Apps that took advantage of all that extra real estate.  I’m sure that will change over the coming months, but for now, I’m withholding judgment.

Wins:

  • Large screen viewing of websites
  • Drawing/notepad applications
  • Size/weight/portability

Fails:

  • Lack of Flash support
  • Keyboard remained hidden on some websites that need it
  • Lack of Flash support
  • Limited number of apps
  • Mac apps like iWork not bundled
  • Oh, did I mention the lack of Flash support?

(And by the way, my children loved the Labyrinth and RollerCoaster apps…. and were generally enthralled with the iPad.)

Huge thanks to Mrs. Kile for sharing with us!

Balancing Work Life

I’ve been trying to balance my work life lately. Since my position is 50% Technology Facilitator and 50% Faculty Assistant, the balancing act is even more crucial. I could easily spend 200% of my time on technology projects. Not exactly feasible. Some reflection is required about what I am doing, what I’m not doing, what I’d like to be doing, and what I’d do in a perfect world.

Projects on deck:

  • Overall school website/blog creation
  • Computer lab website/blog update
  • Screencasts for Elem Lab FAQ’s
  • Lesson planning with focus on classroom content integration
  • Desktop wallpaper creation with kid-friendly shortcuts & tips
  • Sharing Discovery Education knowledge with grade level teams
  • Creating “Teaching with Primary Sources” project

All of these things fall into the “Important, but not Urgent” category as presented by Steven Covey.  I like to spend as much time as possible in that quadrant, rather than fighting fires in Quadrant I.  However, I am finding that Quadrant II activities are even more of a time drain than some of the others!  All in due time, I guess.

Blabberize the Blubber

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Recently, I have been attempting to incorporate the 2nd grade’s study of arctic animals into computer lab time.  The first attempt was helping the students find images of their assigned animal- polar bear, wolverine, lemming, orca, artic fox, etc. and I quickly found myself drowning in the rather deep waters of fair use and copyright law.   A huge part of digital citizenship is learning to use online content appropriately, so we took a detour into the land of fair use- hopefully coming out more educated about appropriate use of images from the web.  (I know I now have a rather nebulous understanding of fair use as it relates to educators and students.)  Our original photo hunt evolved into a Powerpoint presentation with an image, facts, a Blabberize video clip, and a teacher-generated Works Cited slide.  I am thankful for the opportunity to teach and model digital citizenship with these young ones.

The video clip above was created by a 2nd grade student (who also happens to be my son 🙂 ) and embedded into the Powerpoint presentation below.  (I cannot find a way to export the .ppt as a movie in a way that allows the embedded .mpg to play- if you know a work-around, please share!)  The image was created with TuxPaint and then uploaded to Blabberize.  A major shout-out to the creators of Blabberize!  That is one cool web 2.0 tool!!!

This child is a very reluctant writer, but was ecstatic about the idea of recording his own voice and sharing the knowledge he has gained about killer whales, or orcas.  He happily wrote a full page of dialogue, and then confidently recorded it.  I’m very proud of his work, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the 2nd graders as a whole complete these.  They are embedding these in a Powerpoint slideshow, which creates a pretty impressive product- especially for an 8 year-old. (Granted, I’ll be giving them the 4 slide template… but still cool, nonetheless!)