I have no premonitions that iPads will replace all pen/pencil activities in class. After all, there *IS* something to be said about the collaborative enjoyment of games in class.
I don’t plan on becoming a paperless classroom… But some paper practices can easily be converted to the electronic format, now that the class set of iPads are here.
Each of my students has now created a WordPress blog. I can have them work on theirs with an App in class (on a trial run with this week) or they can work from home (or finish from home) and I can read their work via RSS feed. A colleague of mine does this weekly with her English students in our computer lab. She (the instructor) shared her blog set-up process with me so I didn’t have to start from scratch. Her basic guidelines for student blogs included:
- Never use your last name
- Never post a picture of yourself
- Never name your school, town, etc
- Don’t use your name etc as part of your URL
Her students are also required to use our school district email (gmail) so she can help them if they lose their password etc.
I used her list of rules but several students wanted to use their own gmail accounts. I am okay with this. As long as they use a gmail account because we will use google drive to share PDFs, videos, audio recordings etc.
In the set-up process, some of my delightful students chose not to READ every step (happens in high school, ya know) and now their URL contains part of their real name. Some kids chose to delete this blog and others have kept it. I think I will have their parents sign a release or something that it is okay with them if this happens. Every family has different circumstances and internet safety parameters. I don’t need to cross those just.
So, for the last few days I gave them a pre-test in the form of a blog post. They are beginning a unit on clothing (Spanish2: reflexive verbs, irregular preterite, direct & indirect object pronouns). They took pictures of themselves, edit out their faces (off with their heads!), and began writing.
We used the app called of BlogPad Pro ($4.99). Each student logged in to the blog via BlogPad Pro and began writing. The format gave them immediate feedback (typos, spelling, etc) that actually forced some students to slow down and take note of what they were doing. I have given this assignment before but have never had them take it so seriously. It was fun to watch them jump in.
We had a few hurdles logging in to blogs throughout the day (all with WordPress) and a few kids didn’t realize that they had to not SAVED their work but that they also needed to PUBLISH it in order for it to be viewable online.
After getting a hang of all of that, the kids seem to think they are ready to rock-n-roll this electronic work submission. To make it even more exciting, I set up my RSS feed to play via FlipBoard and they were super excited to read their work run on the projector screen like that. It was fun to share their work out like that.
I posted a review of BlogPadPro in the US App Store and will write more about it in the future as the kids as getting a handle on using it. However, let me just say this, I have NEVER before received such stellar customer service. If it had not been for them, I have no idea how we (the school district IT Department and I) would have resolved our “too many login attempts” issue with WordPress.com. But with help from the App developers, we did. Some many great things to say about BlogPad Pro… It deserves a post on its own.
Below is a picture of my students using the free app Dragon Dictation. Oh! They were so frustrated trying to get it to type “what they said”. Cc in reality it WAS tricky but it was also typing exactly what it SOUNDED like they said in Spanish.
We only did this for s few minutes but I can see that this will be great from them to practice pronunciation with. Definitely tricky but they did stop and focus on their language skills for the first time. It was also much easier for I each student to get feedback quickly rather then me trying to talk with each kid and give feedback from 32+ students in 50 minutes.
At least the teacher isn’t the only one with a learning curve happening!
Until next time.