Spaceteam app probably wasn’t created to help kids learn to decode rapidly, but it just might be the best method available. Spaceteam requires 2-4 players who all work on their own device to collaboratively solve meaningless problems. Each player is given a dashboard of gadgets with novel labels. Players see commands pop up on their screen. The only thing is each command is to be executed not by the player herself, but by one of the other Spaceteam members; therefore, the player who receives the command must quickly shout it out for another player to execute.
The game requires speed, collaboration, multitasking, and most of all, quick reading skills. For students in grades 2 through 6, they play without even realizing they are working on reading skills, and that’s the beauty of it. The game is so engaging and fun, they will beg for more and more, and before you know it, will have fluency that is out of this world! Here are my own kids (mostly grown ups) playing:
Spaceteam is free with upgrades available for $4.99. It is currently available for both iOS and Android devices.
Scott and I had a great discussion with Kyle Pace about effective professional development and Google Apps. Kyle is on the cutting edge of EdTech and trains teachers throughout the United States. This is one episode you won’t want to miss!
Summary: iPad is still the king of creation tools. Chromebooks are great replacements for laptops due to cloud computing.
I just bought a Chromebook this week so I would know if it was a viable alternative for the iPad in my BYOD classroom. Here are my initial thoughts.
Light weight: Weighs less than my Griffin encased iPad.
Inexpensive: I paid $199 at Wal-Mart. iPad minis run $329 at time of posting.
Simple to use: Open it up, connect to a wireless, sign in to your Google Account, and your off and running. No Windows OS to make things complicated. Nothing to set up.
Quick on: open it up and it’s on!
Keyboard: feels right.
Track pad: two finger scrolling, decent size
No case needed: I may change my mind on this, but doesn’t seem as fragile as the iPad.
External ports: 3 USB, Ethernet, and VGA for external monitor or projector. iPad has that dongle thing for connecting to projectors but it pops out super easily.
Can create/edit using Google Apps. You may only work on Docs and Spreadsheets when using an iPad.
A ton of free apps available through the Chrome Store.
Can play Flash.
WAY more educational apps: Games, student response apps, utilities, etc.
Two Cameras: Front facing and back side. Chromebook only has the front facing.
Creativity: Video, photography, stop motion, etc. The only way I can see to do this on Chromebook is to use the front facing camera, which would be super tricky.
Drawing: Use a stylus and draw on the screen, or even use your finger. Chromebooks are track pad or mouse controlled, not touch screen. Drawing would be very hard.
Digital portfolios: I use Three Ring a lot. iPads are perfect for capturing student work samples using the camera and mic.
Stronger speakers: As weak as the speaker is on an iPad, it’s better than a Chromebook. I can barely hear the speakers on the Chromebook.
Display: Greater visibility.
Parental Control: Parents can control a lot through the restriction settings. I don’t see a way to do this with the Chromebook.
I will be recommending devices to families in my BYOD class this next year in the following order of preference:
Latest full-size iPad
Latest mini iPad
If families can only afford a Chromebook, then it is definitely better than nothing. I do NOT see a Chromebook as a replacement for an iPad, but I do think it’s a great replacement for a laptop. I am using my Chromebook right now to write this post. It’s so simple for getting online and keyboard input. It’s not something I see as a creative tool for student projects, other than the fact that students can work on Google Presentations using a Chromebook. I love the fact that the computer is just ON right away, and for those who understand cloud computing, there’s really no reason these days to buy a full-blown computer with a large hard drive. I value your input so please leave a comment.
Teacher Rebecca Wildman and her principal Fred Sitkins are changing the face of education through their use of iTunes U for elementary students in Michigan and around the world. Watch as they explain the endless possibilities of this eduawesome platform.
iPad PD Rebecca and Fred’s website where they house their iTunes U courses and a whole lot more!
Last week, Jordan, one of my fifth grade girls, was caught doing something without permission! AND I LOVED IT!
Jordan’s classmate, Koral, was on a trip out of town to attend a funeral. During our book clubs (literature circles), I noticed that Jordan had propped her iPad up in front of her and was talking to Koral on FaceTime. Jordan knew that our class was a safe place to try something new. She also knew that I would approve of anything she did that enriched her education or that of a classmate. So here is Jordan reading Chomp to Koral, separated by a measly 1000 miles.
In this 2-minute video, I show how I am currently using Google Drive with my 4th/5th grade class to enhance my writing instruction. My learning environment is BYOD with iPads. I set up an account through Google Apps for Education. I gave each student an account (and one for me.) The students work in groups with a shared document. They also share the document with me. This allows me to monitor each group’s progress right from my iPad. We use the Google Drive App on our iPads.
I have been assigning slide presentations to my elementary students for many years. I found myself repeating the same critiques to group after group. Now, I don’t leave “PowerPoint” style to chance. Here are a few of the tips I give my students.
Use VERY small amount of text. A few words that give the main idea for each slide is good. The big NO-NO: Reading your slides to your audience.
Choose one font style for the main points and one for the sub-points. Use these styles throughout your entire presentation. This includes font name, color, and size.
Be careful with overlap. Text that is barely touching a photo is awkward. Text that sits right next to the edge of the slide is awkward.
Dark text on light background or light text on dark background. Contrast! Make it POP!
No bullet points. Duplicate your slides and put your sub-points on separate slides.
Try to fill your slide with one large image.
Faces are better. We all like to see closeups of the human face.
Be careful not to distort your pictures. Grab the photo in the corner, not the edge, to change the size.
Be careful with image size. If you use a small image and resize it to make it large, the image gets very blurry.
Photos are better than clipart. Better yet, make your own pictures by taking photos or drawing pictures.
Cite your source. Always give credit for the images you use.
Overall Design Tips
Avoid using templates. They are cheesy and show little creativity.
Avoid slide transitions. You want your audience focused on the slides, not the switching between slides. NO transition is wonderful!
Simple! Keep your slides clutter free. A nice big clear picture with 3 words to focus the audience is great!
Avoid creating a “The End” slide. If you have a conclusion, great. Otherwise, just make a main topic slide as your last slide. Don’t make a slide that says, “Thanks for watching,” or something similar.
Advanced Tip: Use the rule of thirds. Draw a tic-tac-toe board on your slide. Place items where the lines cross. It’s a bit more complicated than this, but the main thing: try to avoid centering things on the slide.
Note: These tips definitely limit creativity, but my purpose is to teach my students to first create a good clean slide show. Once that is accomplished, then I encourage the students to break the rules…with purpose. It’s similar to learning a new instrument. We first need to learn our scales and copy the masters. Later, we develop our own style and can artfully break the rules.
Screencast Instructional Video: 12 PowerPoint Tips for Kids
If you’re like me, you love creating QR codes but find it very frustrating to keep track of them because all your QR codes look basically the same. One solution is to use the iPad app PhotoString. The app is designed for making photo montages with text, but I’m using it to label my QR codes. Of course, sometimes you want your QR codes to remain a mystery before they are scanned, but when you don’t, here’s how to label them.
I use Google forms to help guide my 4th and 5th graders through the writing peer critique process. I have created tailor-made forms for Response to Literature, Summaries and more.
My students bring their own iPads to school. The few that do not own one borrow a class iPad. Students sit in pairs around the room with their iPad and recent writing assignment in hand. Each student is given about 15 minutes to critique their partner’s paper. I set a timer for this.
When the form has been completed, students use their iPad thesaurus to help the author enrich vocabulary.
I train the students to do this independently. It takes several times running through things with a lot of modeling and reflection to get the students able to work independently and effectively at peer critique.