Monday, November 5, 2012

iPads: Stop motion, Vernier Probes, and Google Maps

Any integration of new technology is bound to have its ups and downs, bumps, bruises and maybe even broken bones. Fortunately, in this story, these painstaking steps are experienced by a staff dedicated to progress and the belief that a little pain now, will result in long term gains for the students and an ever improving process for the staff. This is the summary of the experiences shared by a small pre-k to 8 school in central Massachusetts, during a typical faculty meeting in which they discussed not-so-typical practices.

As a participant in this meeting, I was able to share about my role in the classes, and I was able to hear the feedback, questions, and concerns of the faculty as they plan to continue their pilot. What I came away with were two key points:
  • Integrating iPads with AppleTV units, various apps, scientific probes, and projectors was a frequently frustrating and time consuming task for the teachers
  • The level of student engagement and success in reaching and perhaps exceeding classroom expectations was evident in every situation where the iPads were implemented

3 Case Studies

Stop Motion

An art teacher shared about her experience of putting together stop-motion videos. What she took away from the process was not only fun, artistic videos made by students, but also an opportunity to help students learn about and better understand sequencing. This is a critical skill that is frequently employed in math, writing, and science. Through the simple app, iMotionHD, she helped students experience sequencing in a non-threatening, highly engaging environment.

Vernier Probes

An elementary teacher shared about how she took several weeks to figure out how to integrate Vernier Probes with the iPad. She was dedicated to this task, and by the end of the unit, found it all worth her time. Each probe, when connected to the portable Vernier device would send its data to any iPad accessing the data on the network. The results were that students could be on the go, around the school, outside, or in the classroom, and all reading the same data on multiple devices. Students could create multiple graphs, compare and contrast data, and draw scientifically based conclusions on what they were observing. 

Scientific Cataloguing

Another science teacher at the 7 and 8th grade level, utilized the iPads,, and Google Maps to create a unit around having students identify different trees on the school campus. Using an app called LeafSnap, students took pictures of leaves, uploaded them to the app and then used a little deductive reasoning to determine which trees they were identifying. Students kept a scientific journal through Edmodo and posted photos of their findings here as well. Finally, the teacher was able to take all of the student data, including lattitude and longitude of the tree locations and enter it all into a personalized Google Maps. The end result was a Google Map, that not only located individual trees around campus, but also provided a description of and photo of the trees. 


These three teachers all experienced tech troubles. From files that wouldn't upload, to lost photos, to hours on tech support calls with various companies. The key was in their dedication to making a richer, more engaging experience for their students. Each teacher concluded their sharing by indicating just how engaged their students were in the entire process. They also spoke about being able to create a learning environment in which students could complete tasks that would not have been possible in a more traditional setting. The use of the iPad was in most cases something the students handled with ease. In many situations, the students gained more knowledge and were more comfortable with the technology than the teachers, and these teachers were happy to roll with this role reversal.
*This post will be updated soon with more links and media!

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