Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ipad, Do You?

 I am fortunate enough to teach in a district that has embraced ipad technology and I have been given one for the upcoming year.  In June, each teacher got one and was told "make it your own" and play with it over the summer to figure everything out.  They probably didn't mean that I was supposed to take pictures of my fabulous abs, but whatever.    I'm busy "making it my own".

A while back, I hijacked my mother's ipad for a trip to my sister's and I found that the ipad and I were not bosom buddies and I couldn't wait to give it back to her.   Over the summer, I have learned to like my ipad and I got over the fact that I can't use it to write post on my blog.  I can do pretty much everything else I want to do with it, I just have to steer clear of blogging.

We were offered a one week graduate course in effectively using ipads in the classroom, so I took the class last week and learned a lot.  That's why I had such stellar blog posts last week.  I was on a device from 8am-3pm every day, so I promised myself that I would remain device free each afternoon so I could regain control of my brain.  And my eyeballs.  Looking at that screen makes me a little nutty by 3pm.

Most everything we did was very classroom oriented, so the normal person owning an ipad probably wouldn't use most of what I am about to show you.  There are tons of apps that really make presentations amazing and there are lots that allow students to do work right on the ipad and send it paperlessly.

All week, I would see something new and then remember that I'm not in middle school this year, so a lot of it is not really pertinent to me.  That made me a little sad because there is some stuff that would have made my middle school teaching MUCH easier.

4th and 5th grade students will each have an ipad but it won't go home.  It will remain in the classroom and each day, the students will take their numbered ipad and use it in school but then return it to a cart before they leave.   In middle school, they will get to take them home, so all of the things that would allow for discussion and contributions outside of school would happen.   In my case, they probably won't use them outside of my room unless they have indoor recess or something, so I won't be able to say "now, before I see you next week, please comment on xyz."

It's all a "we'll see" kind of thing.  I will use it a lot, I think, but how much I will have them use it remains to be seen.

Anyway, on to some of the cool stuff I did.  I didn't have a lot in my photostream that was related to teaching French, so some of what I used was from my collection of pictures I've taken this summer.  At one point, I did go to a computer to get some pictures from the cloud and send them to myself so that I would have a couple of French things made for when school really starts.

The first day, we used an app called Sketch Guru.  It's a photo editing app that lets you do fun stuff like this.  I took both of these pictures which were color pictures, and made the first one a pencil sketch and the Eiffel Tower is another type of pencil sketch.  I thought they looked pretty cool.

What's nice about this is that both pictures were kind of dull and hard to see.  In the picture of my niece, we had flipped the camera to the front side and it was grainy and dark.  The detail that came out in the sketch is awesome.

In the Eiffel Tower one, there is a giant cloud behind the tower and it was just about dusk, so the picture isn't amazing.  Again, the sketch picked up some neat details.

This pretty one was also done with Sketch Guru.  I used this material during my nightgown  making  phase.  I made such a big sewing booboo that I refuse to show my work.  I wear it and love the colors but it looks silly. It's a gauze but not see through and if I could master the technique of making a nightgown like I wish I could, I'd make 40 of these and wear them all day, every day.  In this color only.

This was the fabric which I love so much, I'd like to paper all of my walls with it.  The fabric was wrinkled when I took the picture.  I selected the gouache technique when I was in Sketch Guru and this is what came up.  Almost watercolor like but not quite.  In fact, the watercolor options were pretty ugly.

I could lick it, I love it sooooo much.  I made it the wallpaper of my ipad since k-ster would probably frown on this as wallpaper in my house.

I think this was using Instacollage, another app we used the first day. It's possible it was PhotoEditor but I am leaning toward Instacollage.   I took a quilt and made a mirror image of it and blended them together.  Cool, but not something I would probably see using in the classroom.  I don't know that anyone needs to make mirror images of the Eiffel Tower for a grade.  It wouldn't impress me.

I'm such a hardass.

This was another thing I did in Instacollage.  This is absolutely something I'd use in the classroom, especially because it would be a quick way for students to show a little something about culture. This could easily be done in a class period and we could print them if we wanted to and make an awesome bulletin board.

We used an app called Pages which lets you make fliers and posters with ease.  This was a template that I found and I just put in my own stuff very quickly to see how it worked.  This is something I would totally use for personal reasons, like invitations or fliers to events and stuff.  It's sooooo easy to manipulate the pictures and text just the way you want it.

The best part of the ipad is how easy it is to use and how portable it is.  I quickly got used to touching, tapping and swiping and while I first kept reaching for a mouse or my touchpad, I got over it.

Now, I keep reaching to touch my laptop screen like it's the ipad!  I'm not alone.  The teacher was projecting her ipad on the smartboard and she kept forgetting that the smartboard isn't what was controlling the presentation and she would tap it and then realize that she needed to tap her ipad.

If you don't know what a smartboard is, it's an interactive board that is connected to a computer and a projector.  The board becomes "live" and you can touch it as though it were a touch screen and you can write on it with special things that don't actually write with ink but look like it.  It's the modern day chalkboard and has lots of plusses and a few minuses.  I will not bore you with more talk of this, but I suppose many people who are not in education have NO IDEA what a smartboard is all about.

And speaking of smartboard, we learned that there is an awesome application that you buy and download to the computer that controls the smartboard.  Then, as long as you have a wireless network for the ipads, everyone in the room has the ability to select a toggle on their ipad that allows their ipad to be projected onto the screen.  You can put several of them up at once so you could compare like 4 students' work at the same time.  It's a way that they can present something they made on their ipad from their seat, without a cable.  It allows the teacher to be wandering around the room with her ipad while projecting it on the screen so she can control it from anywhere.

Sometimes, I wonder about this modern world in which we live!  We're speaking a whole language that my grandmother, for example, would never have understood.  She barely understood email and, not having a computer, never had the experience of receiving or sending an email.  I can't imagine what she would think of ipads.

I often wonder, when we introduce each other to something new we have found for the computer/ipad, if the introduction of the telephone or the battery operated calculator was anything like this.  Did they have to do training for the masses to help the understand how to make a phone call?  Did people sit in wonder that this little calculator in their hand could do computation far faster than any slide rule and a pencil could ever do?

Do you every wonder stuff like that when you're holding 4 pieces of technology at once and not one of them will do what you want right that minute?  Earlier this year, I was literally walking around the school with a flip camera, a digital camera and an ipad in my hands.  I needed to get video off of each and was having a mental block and I was like "look at this, I have 3 pieces of equipment in  my hands and I need each of them to work with the other and I can't make it happen" 

Sorry, that was a little side trip, but technology does make me wonder, sometimes.

K-ster was surprised we were meeting in an actual classroom.  Like he said, we could have met in  a lounge with couches and spent the week being comfortable while using these magic devices!  It seems so weird to sit at a desk with a tablet when we could recline in a hammock, or sit in front of the TV or stand up while using it.

The district is trying to move us to using less paper.  While I love the environmental aspect of that, I am not ready to say that I am done with paper.  We found that some things really do still need to be printed.  I don't really love reading a screen, so there are things that I still want written or typed on actual paper.  Many of the things we tried will be awesome instead of boring writing and drawing on paper and I'm excited to see where this ipad thing will go.

Do you have an ipad or tablet?  Do you use it for fun or for work?  What do you do with it?  I'm always curious what people are doing with their devices!

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  1. I sat in a staff meeting this week about twitter. We learned all about how to use it with classes and parents. They all talked about several years ago sitting in a meeting to learn Facebook. I can only assume there was a calculators meeting at some point too.

  2. Makes me really glad I do preschool - we don't need to be so technical, although we do have a few ipads for the kiddo's. I'm also glad we don't start until the last week of August!


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