I’m sitting on my deck this morning enjoying the beautiful sunrise with my dog and my thoughts can’t help but stray to our upcoming school year which begins in six weeks. Some people would call me a workaholic, but others would say that I really just love my job and have a keen interest in bettering myself as a teacher and in turn, the learning environment for my students. I am definitely the kind of teacher who likes to keep things current and interesting in the classroom and technology, in my opinion, is the way to go with our 21st century learners.

I have started reading a blog by Rob de Lorenzo (an Ontario educator) called “Mobile Learning” which discusses using cell phones and iPods in the classroom and I have been really impressed. I’m a Mac girl myself and so naturally I was excited when I read a post praising some of Mac’s top selling products, but it also has me thinking of my next year’s classroom. In first semester I have grade nine applied English (for those of you not familiar with the teaching system in Ontario, applied is the stream we would consider to be going to college or straight into the workplace), the grade twelve Ontario Literacy Course (for the students who have failed the grade ten Literacy Test), and a grade eleven combined university/college level Social Sciences class. Our school board has a set of fifteen iTouches that can be signed out and here is what I’m thinking for my classes:

Grade Nine Applied – look into apps that help with grammar and spelling skills, look for an app that discusses wilderness survival (we read a novel on that topic), a current events/news app (a new unit currently in production) and finally, consider how to record themselves onto the iTouch so that they can create a podcast

Ontario Literacy Course – these guys are tricky as they are very reluctant learners and most are not familiar with technology so some thoughts are: the Driver’s Ed app (we do a couple short articles about driving and getting your license so this might be an engaging way to have them involved in the class work as well as prepare them for the possible issues they might encounter while driving), an app about traveling the world (we talk at great deal about real life and for most of these students, they would like to travel, but don’t get the opportunity so this would be something interesting for them) and finally, a sports app (this class is typically predominantly male so we always end up discussing sports at great length so they would find an app on this topic quite interesting.)

Grade Eleven Social Science – This is my first year teaching this course and it is very much based on the philosophies of Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology. I think the iTouches could very much have a place here in terms of allowing the students to find podcasts on these in iTunes, having them listen then synthesize what they have learned through the podcasts with what we have been discussing in class and finally have them apply it to a current event in the real world (which they could also find through using Safari on the iTouch).

I’m getting excited just thinking about the possibilities! This is really just some preliminary brainstorming and I would love to hear what you tech savvy educators have to say or suggest about how I might adapt these to help customize the learning of my students!

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15 thoughts on “Planning for the 09-10 School Year

  1. Jamie,
    While I am definitely not an Apple expert I can say how awesome is it that you have this awesome resource available to you. I believe the place you will have the most impact is with the Literacy Course. While these learners may be reluctant to traditional teaching techniques, they may embrace the use of the iPod in their learning and shine. Great ideas and a great project! Keep us updated!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Steven. I agree with you that I think my literacy students will really get a lot of use and confidence even in their technological skills from this venture 🙂

  3. I like the planning for engagement of the student’s interest and needs. That’s always a good hook for any teaching endeavor.
    Knowing how difficult it can be to “get” the shared equipment, I wonder if you have a backup plan. We have 3 COWs (computers on wheels) at our school. One PC COW is pretty well dedicated to a gr 6 teacher who has 4 (gr 6) classes to work with on writing each day but he sometimes shares it with grade 5 and 6 teachers as well. He is avid about using tech and the students present work through it every week. He is also quite tech savvy and maintains the equipment and peripherals/accessories in tiptop condition. The grade 5 and 6 teachers also sign out the other two COWs from time to time as even they get frustrated with the lack of tech resources for students. Another COW is fairly dedicated to the 3rd and 4th grade wing but those PCs always seem to have problems without a resident expert to fix them. The third COW is a Mac and is signed out a lot. That’s the one I vie for but when an Art teacher or librarian signs it out all morning for weeks at a time, there are few times when Pre-K through gr 2 can get their hands on it. The librarian and Art teachers are not using the computers with Pre-K through gr 2 so these kids are left without much exposure.
    Apart from my bad news story about limited availability, I can appreciate how exciting it is for you to plan ahead and look forward to hearing about your success. The students would love it!

  4. I think you have brought up one of the biggest difficulties we as educators encounter when using technology. I’m pretty lucky because I generally have a set of 15 HP laptops available to me on a regular basis (I would prefer Macs but I’m not complaining!) so that’s lucky. Also, I am on very good terms with our Principal of Information and Technology for our board so signing out the iTouches for a month shouldn’t be too much of an issue. I wish you good luck though with your endeavors!

  5. I have quickly disovered how amazing the iPod is as an instructional tool after I had purchased a mobile iPod lab for my teachers. After bringing in Apple for some PD, my teachers began using them in a variety of ways. One of which is crfeating their own podcast on the current economic crisis. This was possible with the use of individual recording devices that I purchased to go with the iPods. In Biology, one teacher created an authentic-based project where the students conducted reasearch on plant growth and then made video podcasts using Mac Books and iPods to present their findings. In the foreign languages, my teachers are having the students speak in the target language using the iPods and then critiquing it later. In summary the iPod itself engages the students and when utilized effetively in an educational setting meaningful learning occurs.

  6. Jamie,
    There are so many educational applications for the iTouch. If they are 2nd Gen – with the 3.0 iPhone software ($9.95) they practically have an iPhone- so recording for the podcasts will be easy. I applaud you using these in the classroom. You might follow @iear on Twitter – his whole platform is using iTouch & iPhones in the classroom. I’m trying out the teacher app Educate for him. It’s a lesson planner, gradebook, attendance, moodle, and so much more!
    Good luck this year!!

  7. Jamie,

    Wonderful post and am very excited for you and the opportunity to use such great resources from Apple. I like the idea of using the current events approach with the Grade Nine Applied. The AP Mobile App is wonderful, free source of current events that you can tailor to your area or find world news. Students could glean an article from this site, read it and then use the voice recorder app to take notes. Have them produce a script for their podcast based of their voice notes and then record the podcast using Audacity. Once they have their podcast finished you should then set up a forum – wiki might work best – where kids could access the podcast and download them on to their iTouch.

    I think this is a great venture and would love to hear what you decide on! A good friend of mine has a site called The Digital Lifestyle and they review a lot of Apps and filter through the APP store and provide the best for several categories. Their blog is at http://thedigitallifestyle.tv/ and I think it would be a great asset to your endeavor. All the best!

  8. Jamie,
    iPods for ELL have resulted in some fantastic progress from some of our students. As well in our Primary and Junior grades they have helped our students with oral fluency and writing. We are now looking at delivering some of our teacher PD content on the iPods this summer in the area of DI. iTunesU is a fantastic source for content right now. I will be doing a workshop on this at the ABEL Summer Institute in August , as well you can visit http://ipodliteracy.com where we are adding classroom resources and applications daily. I would love to include your experiences this fall with your secondary classes.

  9. Love your ideas. I think for the Literacy Group, after choosing an app of interest to them as you have, I’d use an app like ShoZu or WordPress to type in a blog post on a class blog. Students could use Recorder to record their thoughts, go to the link created by the iTouch and upload that to the blog. Or use Voice Memo (easier) to email the recording. I’d suggest TED Talks videos– lots of discussion and literacy could evolve from them — and blog their ideas.Giving them a voice motivates them. Check out youthvoices.net for a blogging area with other students on also. Enjoy your new learning literacy!

  10. Hi Jaime,

    Using today’s digital tools is definitely exciting and a draw for both students and teachers. However, the reason, I think, that mobile devices are so enticing to use is because they allow a form of immersion into learning and allow people to communicate and interact in ways that are difficult or impossible without them. I am a firm believer that everyone, all children and adults, want to learn. It’s just that they want to learn in ways that are exciting, interesting, and enticing and resist when they are bored. Case in point: have you ever been in a PD session with teachers who aren’t engaged? If so, have you noticed that they react in ways that are the same, if not worse, than students who aren’t engaged? Mobile technology, whether its iPods, cell phones, PDA’s or others, allow kids to engage in learning in ways that are different and outside the box.

    Good luck with your attempts at including mobile technology into your teaching. Your students will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

  11. First, I don’t know how I hadn’t seen your blog before. I’ll add it to my own blogroll and feed. Maybe reading your’s will encourage me to write in my blog again.

    One thing I was thinking is that you could have them set up Twitter applications on their phones and tweet literary responses or even grammar sentence corrections, etc. I think Twitter can assist some with critical thinking skills as it makes us think closely at what we want to say since we have so few characters to say it in. A good analogy for me is similar to that of writing poetry. Poetry requires the poet to say what they want in fewer but more descriptive language; Twitter can serve that same function.

    I’m curious how teaching jobs are in Ottawa area these days? Is it like L.A. where there are few and the jobs that are available get a gazillion applicants?

  12. Such amazing ideas and suggestions from all you wonderful educators!!! I’m overwhelmed and excited by all these amazing ideas!!! Thank you for all your input and I will definitely keep blogging about this adventure 🙂

  13. I love how you have not only set professional goals but you have started outlining a way to meet them. I hope you will continue to blog about this new learning adventure for you and your students. I am also interested in bringing iPod Touches into my classroom and have been collecting resources at http://thefilecabinet.pbworks.com under the iPod link.

  14. Hi,
    You’re my comment for today for the One Comment a Day project. I’m also very interested in all things Web 2.0 in the classroom. I wish all my students had an iPhone or iTouch. How cool would that be!

    Looking forward to reading up on your take on these tools. I write about them quite a bit on my blog, The Writer in Me – Writing, Teaching, Living. I especially love integrating all that Google has to offer, so if you’re interested, check out those tags.

    Jeannie

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