Creating E-Books with Kindergarteners

Creating E-Books with Kindergarteners

OK….I’ll admit over the past couple of months I’ve been hard on primary teachers on this blog. I have talked about my struggles with using technology with the younger students and how I felt we should be limiting their screen time to really good uses of technology. Uses that don’t include iPads as flashcard and game replacement devices.  cover of Monkey and cat What I was struggling with was finding a project that I felt was worth the time away from exploring, running around, building, and imagining things in favor of sitting with a digital device. I still struggle with this actually. If all that iPads and technology can be used for in the younger years is games, flashcard replacement, and a handful of other replacement type tasks then I’m not sure we’re getting the bang for our buck with technology. I want it to do more, I want it to redefine the classroom and that’s hard when I believe kids should be spending time playing together, interacting, and imagining. Also knowing that outside of school many of them are getting plenty of screen time at home. So what I really am looking for is a project where I can say…that is a good use of technology with Kindergardeners.  And I found it…. Ben Sheridan is a recently graduate of the COETAIL program. For his final project he talked about the way he was using technology to connect his students to other Kindergarten classrooms. His class has a blog, they tweet, they Skype, they use the SmartBoard…and the best part is they think this is all just normal Kindergarden stuff.  Out of these connections came an opportunity when Ben connected his class with Zoe Page’s class, a Kindergarten teacher in Japan and current COETAILer. Their students set up a Skype call and introduced themselves to each other. They then decided that they wanted to write a book together for the iPad.  That book can now be downloaded free in the iBook Store here.  Ben outlines the project and how they completed it in a series of blog posts on his blog. If you are an early childhood/primary teacher Ben and Zoe are two blogs worth following.  These are the kind of projects that get me excited about using technology with younger kids. Let’s stop arguing over how many iPads a class needs, or what device is right for the primary grades and lets find...

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Why I still want MS and HS to have a Laptop

Why I still want MS and HS to have a Laptop

I received a tweet a couple days ago asking why I still believed laptops, in this case MacBooks, are the right choice for middle school and high school students. @jutecht Why did you select iPads for the primary and MacBook Pros for Middle and Hi? I’d love to hear your strategy! @cindybrock — Bradford G. Saron (@bradfordgs) January 26, 2012 Now before I begin, let me state that I firmly believe a 1:1 (one computer per student) program no matter what the connected device (device connected to the Internet) is better than no 1:1 program at all. If a school can only afford an iPad for ever student then that’s the best choice. However, many schools, especially here internationally and private schools in the states, have the option to buy either an iPad or a MacBook and for them I am recommending MacBooks for Middle School and High School 1:1 programs. Consumption vs Creation by umpcportal.com At the end of the day the iPad is designed for the consumption of information. This is not the shift I’m looking for in education. Yes…you can create some things on the iPad but it doesn’t take long to max out the iPad’s creative potential. I am not talking creating music, or taking a video. I’m talking the mashup of videos from different sources, the creation of music from different sources as well as the programs and apps I want students to be creating today. Apple sees the iPad as a consumption device, and it does a really really good job of it, giving the consumer a beautiful interface to consume through. Apple’s latest announcement where they unveiled iBook Author I think just makes this point stronger. You create the textbook, or any book for that matter, on the computer and you consume the information on the iPad. As much as I want digital textbooks, what I really want is students to create their own books. For middle school and high school students I want them creating sophisticated projects, I want them collaborating, like I’m doing today on a Google Doc using the built in chat feature. I want them making apps, videos, and music…not the kind that get a couple views, but the kind that go viral. If you want to plan for the future by torres21 Now if you really want to plan for the future, and by that I mean...

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COETAIL, Softball, and Apps

(My first post from my new iPad2. I start the WordPress app and it asks if it can use my location…sure….now where is it going to say that this was written? 32,000 feet over the south china sea…cause that would be kind of cool!) The last couple of weeks have been just a whirlwind and I have about two weeks to go before life slows down again. I’ve talked before about finding balance and right now I’m way out of balance. To much work and not enough down time isn’t good for anyone. The explosion of the COETAIL program is mostly to blame (along with my inability to say No). I’m excited to see so many teachers excited and changing their classroom practices because of this program. Just when I think the stress of reading some 200 blog posts isn’t worth it I go in and observe a 5th grade teacher using a chat-room to enhance the face to face discussion in the classroom. A fantastic lesson where the lesson and the tool were well matched and created an engaging learning opportunity for both teacher and students. I also decided this year that all this wasn’t enough and was the assistant coach to our boys softball team. Part of the reason….other than I love this sport no matter the size of the ball….was to force myself to spend time off the computer. That worked until I found an app that allowed me to not only score our games but to scout the competition at the same time. Next thing I know my two loves (other than my wife) are combined. A big thank you to EARCOS who bought me an iPad2 for my contributions to the Learning 2.0 conferences the past four years…the timing of the scoring app, softball and my iPad arriving made for a great week of softball in Jakarta at our tournament. There is a lot I’ve been thinking about lately and hopefully in a couple weeks after I find some balance again I’ll be in the right mind to get my thoughts out here. But for now this will have to do for my first blog post from the iPad as the landing gear just went down as we make our decent into Taipei for another great day of learning here with teachers from Taipei American School in the COETAIL...

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A 5 country brain dump

I find myself sitting here in Kota Kinabaul, Malaysisa reflecting on what has been a 5 country, I don’t know how many presentation, month. From Bahrain to Iowa with Asia and Australia in between, it’s been an amazing month of travel and I find myself thinking and reflecting on all I’ve been talking about and learning along the way. So here’s my brain dump of themes that keep emerging for me: The future is mobile Whether in the heartland of America, or the deserts of the Middle East and Africa, moble phones are the future of connectivity. We’re also seeing this with Apple’s iPad and the ability to connect to a 3G connection. My guess….every mobile device in 3 years will have the built in ability to connect via a celluar network. We’re already doing this, but it will just become part of the hardware of every mobile device. What this will do to/for places like Africa and a large part of the developing word I can only imagine…….but it excites me. Society expects us to be connected I’ve been preaching this everywhere this month as it came out of the TED Talk I did back in September. i think we need to stop making excuses for all of us spending to much time connected and just realize this is now the world we live in. Once we own this fact then we can start having some deep discussions around how do we teach in this new society, how do we communicate, and how do we live in a world that is constantly connected? We continue to have conversations about being “balanced” and I agree that we need to find ways to get off the computer and get reconnected with nature. But balance in the term of 50/50 is not going to happen and it hasn’t been that way for a long time. TVs are in our homes, gaming systems have been around now for 30 years, and we all have a cell phone or soon will. We are now in a time where being connected is the norm and being disconnected is not. We need to make this shift in our thinking. We need to consiously think about disconnecting, taking trips with no connective devices, which goes again societies rules right now and that’s what makes it difficult. A goal of every family should be to take 1...

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Proper typing out, thumb typing in

Just as I’m having conversations again around why we should or shouldn’t teach typing in our schools technology has once again moved us into another typing realm. The thumb typing. I’ve watched more videos than I care to count about the iPad (my thoughts here) and in a recent survey to our students here at ISB revealed that almost 70% of middle school and high school students have either a Blackberry or iPhone. Second hand iPhones are being sold on the cheap at the moment at our school, as high school students trade them in for Blackberries and the unlimited texting between devices available here. But make no mistake the future is in the thumbs. Records and competition (Wikipedia) Wikinews has related news: Singapore student is world’s fastest text messenger The Guinness Book of World Records has a world record for text message, currently held by Sonja Kristiansen of Norway. Ms. Kristiansen keyed in the official text message, as established by Guinness, in 37.28 seconds.[78] The message is, “The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality, they seldom attack a human.”[79] In 2005, the record was held by a 24-year-old Scottish man, Craig Crosbie, who completed the same message in 48 seconds, beating the previous time by 19 seconds.[80] The Book of Alternative Records lists Chris Young of Salem, Oregon as the world record holder for the fastest 160 character text message where the contents of the message are not provided ahead of time. His record of 62.3 seconds was set on May 23, 2007.[81] Elliot Nicholls of Dunedin, New Zealand currently holds the World Record for the fastest blindfolded text messaging. A record of a 160 letter text in 45 seconds while blindfolded was set on the 17th of November 2007, beating the old record of 1 minute 26 seconds set by an Italian during September 2006.[82] In January 2010, LG Electronics sponsored an international competition, the LG Mobile World Cup to determine that fastest pair of texters. The winners were a team from South Korea, Ha Mok-min and Bae Yeong-ho [83]. And you thought you were fast at typing. As touch screen devices seem to be the future, or at least the near future as companies continue to roll out touch and multitouch devices, do we need to rethink typing in our schools? Or do...

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