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Evaluating iPad Apps

I wanted to take a closer look at the iPad Evaluation I previously blogged about in Evaluating Apps with Transformative Use in Mind. The section of Content and Components deserved a closer look and explanation.

You can  download the PDF file of the iPad App Evaluation for the Classroom with the following sections of evaluation included:

  • Considerations
  • Content & Components
  • Logistics
  • Fluency
  • Substitution vs Transformation Model (based on SAMR model of Ruben Puentedura and Alan November‘s work)
  • Evidence of Learning (based on conversation with Stephen Wilmarth)

After looking at iPad apps through the lens of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, November’s Digital Learning Farm, 21st century Upgrades, let’s take a closer look at the content and components of these apps.

ipad-components-content

It is important to remind ourselves that shiny visuals and audio not automatically translate into pedagogical value of the program. It is our job, as educators, to assure that by using specific apps, the learning goal for our students is supported. A selection, combination and variation of the above six characteristics should be evaluated in the assessment process for learning. In addition, as you are strategically evaluating the content particular apps provide, these components will serve as critical support consideration as they are being brought up to your school, district or decision makers for potential app purchases. These considerations will also provide a wealth of support in speaking with parents or other stakeholders to articulate the value of iPads as a tool for learning.

bookcreator-icon

After each component consideration, I am going to put the Book Creator app (By RedJumper Studio- ) through the test, as an example, to see how it stacks up against the evaluation of its content and components.

Curriculum Connections
Using an app for the thrill of the bells and whistles any particular app under the educational umbrella promises, is not a good enough reason for adding it to your app library. Careful examination is in order if the app supports or practices skills and literacies that are strongly connected to your curriculum content, standards and your individual student ‘s needs.
Start out by looking at your standards, lesson/unit goals and objectives. Where do your students need to be supported and given time to investigate new content, analyze, apply what they have learned or give evidence of their knowledge and understanding? Can a product created by your students with a particular app be used as an assessment of curricular objectives?
While there are apps that are geared to be replacement for textbooks or worksheets and bring in a myriad of multimedia support of a specific subject or topic, does the amount of content they provide justify the cost or use of the app? Is the content static in nature or does the app allow dynamic information flow (via RSS feed for example)? Is there an option of adding your own content? Is the app flexible enough for you to find, import, insert, tweak or create your own curriculum related content?

bookcreator-icon

The BookCreator app does not come with a pre-loaded content geared towards a specific grade level, subject area or proficiency level. It is an app that allows for complete freedom to create an eBook about any subject, topic, genre, level, etc. Any standards, from research skills to content knowledge (history, science, math, language arts, foreign language, etc.), writing for an audience, multi- and transmedia skills, design elements and more can be addressed. The app molds to any content requirement you are in need of.

Authenticity:
Too many times, students do not know why they are filling out this worksheet or completing that assignment. “Why do I have to do that?” and “I will never use this again” are sentiments we are hearing too often in our schools.
Be aware of apps that are specifically designed for the educational arena. Ask yourself, would someone outside of school use this app? Is there a genuine purpose for this app outside a school environment?
Strategically chosen apps can help students not only learn and practice skills in case they will need them one day, but are targeting skills that are practiced in an authentic format and are part of just- in- time solutions. The app is not a simulation of a process, but allows students to get hands on time to do real world work like creating products with tools that are used  outside of school, gaining important digital literacy skills in the process.

bookcreator-icon

The BookCreator app is not designed for a school environment only. The ability of creating your own eBook and publish the book for others to download and read fulfills an authentic need for the world outside of the classroom as well. The era when book publishing was in firm hands of publishing companies, editors and agents are gone. The skills to be able to produce and publish our own content is real, relevant and desirable.

Personalization
We live in a time when customization is king in business and our personal lives. We all are used to, including our students, to be treated as individuals. From the special laté we order at Starbucks to the movies we watch on Netflix, the personalized T-shirts or shoes we order, the targeted ads on Google or the customized recommendation list we receive from Amazon, based on our previous browsing and purchasing history and yes, also the way we outfit our smartphones with apps and customized covers. We are individuals and don’t want to settle for “one size fits all”.
In order for an app to earn high marks in the personalization department, it should be able to offer options to import our own images or videos to personalize the content. Personalization can mean, the app supports streaming content of our own choosing, allowing RSS feeds from a variety of sources. The app also contributes to organization and curation of the user’s learning and facilitates personalized workflow, by connecting easily or automatically to photo gallery, research, content and preferred input or dissemination channels.

bookcreator-icon

The BookCreator app allows for an easy and complete personalized experience. Users create eBooks with their own content, images, audio and/or video. Formatting options for background, colors, fonts and size are left to be customized for the user. Organization of the content and easy access to personal content are present.

Differentiation

According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differentiated_instruction ) , differentiation in education is defined as

“a framework or philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing different students with different avenues to learning (often in the same classroom) in terms of: acquiring content; processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and developing teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability.”

Comparing differentiation with the other component of personalization, differentiation deals with the teaching component, while personalization is closely related to the learning aspect.

Applying the above definition of differentiation to the context of apps, the app should offer flexibility to alter the settings to meet individual students’ needs. “One size does not fit all”, applies to both sides. An app that does support differentiation does not impose any limits to grow skills and to create. It seamlessly allows each individual learner to be challenged their strengths and support their weaknesses.

bookcreator-icon

The BookCreator app gives ample flexibility for customization of differentiated expected results of the final product for each student. It also has the capability to address and accomodate preferred learning styles to give evidence of knowledge and learning.

Personal Learning

Personalized learning is about using our own content, such as text, images, video or audio, while personal learning is about the learners’ interests and passions. An app that supports personal learning supports the flow of receiving, organizing, annotating, adding value to, remixing, creating and connecting to these areas of interests and passions. The app could allow users to add feeds that filter information by their personal chosen requirements and is set up in the “just perfect” way to make the learn flow of the individual learner smooth and fluent.
An iPad, as a personal learning device, contains specific apps, that together support the individual’s pursuit of the just right amount of desired information, delivered in the preferred media of choice, capable of allowing the user to use, add, remix, create and disseminate.

bookcreator-icon

The BookCreator app encourages the creation of eBooks to publish and share with others about any desired topic. Users could use the app to become the expert and author of a book about their chosen interest or passion.

Publishing

The learning environment in and outside of schools has and is continuing to drastically change. While learners once were only passive recipients of knowledge, learners have now become active participants and creators of knowledge, collaborating and contributing to a worldwide network of learners. The boundaries of experts and learners are blurring more and more and the transparency of sharing one’s work with the world is possible and is becoming the norm for the new generation.
The ability of an app to support the publishing and dissemination process of created content is an important component to consider. Be aware of the degree of ease to export or embed the product in a variety of formats and directly to various platforms (Ex. blog, wiki, Facebook, twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.)

bookcreator-icon

The BookCreator app allows for export as a ePub file, by sending the file via email to a recipient. It can be directly sent to iTunes, be opened up in a variety of other apps, that support the ePub file extension or it also give the user the choice to print the book on paper. I

Visible Thinking in Math- Part 1

The conversation about visible thinking in Math started with one of our teachers at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, Adam Hancock, wanting to know how he could incorporate having students’ use their blogfolios in Math class. It seemed natural to have students write for Humanities (Language Arts and Social Studies), but writing did not seem part of what Middle School Math was about.

How could “blogging” go beyond taking a digital image of a Math problem on paper or a quiz and writing about  ”how the student felt about solving the problem or passing the test?”or ask themselves what they could have done better?

One of the first steps was to bring more “language” into the Math classroom. In a Skype call with Heidi Hayes Jacobs, she said that Math should be taught more like a foreign language.

photo 2

Students need to know vocabulary words and become fluent in “speaking Math”, in order to be able to communicate their thoughts and ideas.

photo 1

Videos and screencasts are great tools to articulate, visualize and then share ones’ thinking when working to solve a Math problem. Below is a video of Adam, modeling solving a mathematical equation.

Google Glass- Math Equation from langwitches on Vimeo.

Making Mathematical Thinking visible had the following purpose for Adam in his classes:

1. give students a truly differentiated math experience and expose them to a wide variety of math concepts.

2. encourage self directed learning and allow them to demonstrate their understanding in a way of their choosing.

3. make their learning process visible and allow students to reflect on their growth and learning in the process of solving the problem, by using the KWHL routine (What do I know? What do I want to know? How will I find out? What have I learned?)

KWHLAQ2

KWHL-Mary

KWHL by Mary

Prezi by Isabella

More student blog posts:

The process of making mathematical thinking visible, as well as the artifacts’ quality, was hopeful, awkward, “messy” and challenging…

Adam and my observations:

  • Students were working in different areas of math, and most of them had to learn something new, and tie it to what they already know in order to explain their problem.
  • It is not a natural skill for students to be able to “speak” Math. There is a need to expose and encourage students to use mathematical language to communicate.
  • The ability of being able to articulate and make a thinking process visible is a skill we need to support our students in becoming fluent in. It was challenging for students to think about and articulate their learning value instead the production value of their artifact.
  • Some students focused in their reflection on documenting the steps of what they did as they were solving the problem, not on the necessary thinking that was involved. Some students don’t/didn’t see the reason why they should be reflecting on their learning in Math.
  • It seemed unnatural to ask students to write a reflective blog post tagged on the end. It seems artificial and one more thing to do as an add-on, versus reflection as part of the learning process. Option of breaking the reflection process into different blog posts along the way, which later on can be linked to each other to demonstrate the process path.
  • When students are given a lot of freedom to demonstrate their understanding, a lot of them need structure and some clear guidelines or else the product does not turn out very well. This may improve with practice and more opportunities for them to work independently.
  •  Many students didn’t fully follow the KWHL routine, and only posted an explanation to their problem.  In some cases the explanations were wrong. In many cases, they didn’t actually post the KWHL page, and so they lost sight of “the point”.  Maybe because this was a new process, a lot of students produced “the bare minimum “. Generally speaking, students who are conscientious and engaged did well and produced meaningful blog posts. If they did the KWHL process correctly, they documented what they didn’t know before they began researching their problem, and then demonstrated what they learned in the process.
  • There is a sense among many students that this is actually ‘more work’ than just taking a test, and therefore it is harder.

These observations are helping us continue to strive for meaningful activities and strategies that support student learning. I am often reminded of Vicki Davis’ blog post, Fail Foward, Move Foward. The word “fail” has a connotation in education, that has to change, along the paradigm shift of how we learn best and differently. In the spirit of Failure is Mandatory in the Culture of Innovation, we are celebrating these “failures” and seeing them as challenges to continue to talk, think, rethink, repeat, throw out, tweak and re-imagine…

fail

Quote seen in Tweet during #asbunplugged

I am excited to see how we will continue to make thinking visible in Math and help students write /blog about their thinking strategies in order to become fluent in the language of Math. A big thank you goes out to Adam for  learning along side!
Stay tuned for Part 2 in Visible Thinking in Math…

Self- Directed Course: iPads in the Classroom

plb-logo

Professional Learning Board just released a Self-study  iPads in the Classroom course I wrote. It is a  self-directed course to take in your own time and at your own speed.

image2-lens-of-pedagogy

“You have an iPad in your classroom, now what?”

The iPad helps us prepare today’s student for today’s world in more ways than we could ever do using traditional teaching strategies. However to achieve heights in teaching and learning, teachers need to understand much more than just how to use an iPad.

This course has been specially designed for teachers who are just beginning to use iPads or those who are considering using them. Rather than a focus on learning to operate an iPad, this course will help teachers gain knowledge about different ways by which the iPad can be integrated into the process of learning. In addition to practical learning activites and ideas, it helps the teacher prepare the classroom environment and schedule for the introduction of iPads. It helps teachers to plan and organize iPad use, so that it is efficient and smooth.

At the end of this course teachers will be able to:

  • Learn to use an Ipad
  • Find and use apps for teaching
  • Organize iPad activities in the classroom
  • Set up the classroom environment to encourage efficient iPad us
  • Manage technical tasks related to iPad maintenance including charging, updating and storing.
  • Use iPads to teach and practice 21st century skills including communicating, collaborating, connecting, creating and critical thinking.

And so much more!

If you are interested, I have a few promotional codes.  I will send a code for 50% off the course (regularly $39) to the first few readers who contact me . First come first serve.

 

 

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Want to Learn More About iPads in the Classroom?

Professional Learning Board just released a Self-study iPads in the Classroom course I wrote. It is a self-directed course to take in your own time and at your own speed.

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Guest Posts

Augmented Reality that’s “Real” and Focused on Learning

aurasma1

cross posted with permission from Dr. Silvana Meneghini,’s On The Edge Blog. Silvana, the High School Technology Coordinator at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, shared a How-To post to connect augmented reality to student reflection by adding a layer of learning (not technology for technology sake). I highly …

(2 Comments)

Upgrading Our Recipes for Learning: Digital Learning Strategies

digital-learning-stragegies

In an attempt to bring  new additions to your Blog reader, I am starting to feature  guest posts on Langwitches. Be assured that these guest posts are from educational bloggers, I highly value and their voices contribute significantly to my own learning. Today I am sharing a blog post and …

(No Comments)

Is Technology shoving Pedagogy to the center stage? TPACK Reviewed

TPCK

Guest post by Silvana Meneghini, Academic Technology Coordinator, Graded- American School of São Paulo. Originally posted on her blog On the Edge. Pedagogical ideas like student centered learning, collaboration, and critical thinking have been around for a long time and are slowly making the way into the classroom. When technology …

(3 Comments)

Professional Development

How to Create a Backchannel Exit Ticket for Class, Presentation or Workshop?

Creating_a_BackChannel_or_Exit_Ticket_on_Google_Docs_on_Vimeo

This screencast below will show you how to use Google Docs as a backchannel or exit ticket during a presentation, lesson or workshop. Creating a BackChannel or Exit Ticket on Google Docs from langwitches on Vimeo.

(1 Comment)

Redefining My Learning

story

Silvana Meneghini and I  work as Academic Technology Coordinators at Graded, the American School of São Paulo. ” A flashlight in the fog of technology integration“, initially the title of a conference workshop proposal, quickly developed into the desire of creating a framework to guide and coach teachers based on …

(1 Comment)

SAMR Exercise Google Hangout: Mark Your Calendars

SAMR-exercise

Silvana Meneghini and I  have created a template for technology, learning and literacy coaches. In an effort to create a depository of examples and scenarios for lessons and activities and how an upgrade movement through the stages of the SAMR model actually looks like in the classroom, we are shared …

(6 Comments)

Download

21st Century Learning

Visible Thinking in Math- Part 1

fail

The conversation about visible thinking in Math started with one of our teachers at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, Adam Hancock, wanting to know how he could incorporate having students’ use their blogfolios in Math class. It seemed natural to have students write for Humanities (Language Arts and …

(2 Comments)

Redefining My Learning

story

Silvana Meneghini and I  work as Academic Technology Coordinators at Graded, the American School of São Paulo. ” A flashlight in the fog of technology integration“, initially the title of a conference workshop proposal, quickly developed into the desire of creating a framework to guide and coach teachers based on …

(1 Comment)

Reflection in the Learning Process, Not As An Add On

Reflection

Is it personality? Are some people born with it? Can it be learned? I am talking about REFLECTION. At the beginning of the week, I had the opportunity to be part of a workshop during our pre-service ( we just returned from our summer break here in the Southern Hemisphere) …

(6 Comments)

The Digital Learning Farm in Action

Student Tutorials- MineCraft, How to Ride a Horse, iMovie and more

minecraft-tutorial

It is no secret, that I am a big fan of Alan November‘s Digital Learning Farm concept. I especially believe in Teaching is the Highest Form of Understanding and the power of motivation and demonstration of evidence of student learning via the Tutorial Designer role. See a myriad of blog …

(3 Comments)

3 Need-Scenarios to Engage Students with Authentic Tasks

core-value-icons-tibet

Alan November’s concept of the Digital Learning Farm, asks schools and teachers to empower students by giving them relevant responsibilities that allow them to contribute in  meaningful ways to their learning community (class/school/etc.). How can we give students the opportunity to CONTRIBUTE versus completing projects that end up in the …

(4 Comments)

Blogging as the Official Scribe of the Classroom

official-scribe-poster

Alan November elevated the “Official Scribe” as one of the roles that empower student learners. I see the role of the scribe as follows: The official scribe plays an important role in the classroom community. Their work is essential for students who were absent from class or need a review …

(10 Comments)

Global Education

NASA’s Global Selfie Crowdsourced on Earth Day

GlobalSelfieLogo_verticalstack

Today, April 22, 2014, NASA is crowdsourcing Global Selfies. NASA astronauts brought home the first ever images of the whole planet from space. Now NASA satellites capture new images of Earth every second. For Earth Day we are trying to create an image of Earth from the ground up while …

(No Comments)

Selfies Around the World

selfies

  On the heels of The Cultural Phenomena of Selfies and  iPhoneography: Photo Challenges, Ideas & Literacy, students from the American School of São Paulo, Brazil want to know more about Selfies around the world. If you and your students would like to CONTRIBUTE with actual images for an in- school and online exhibition …

(2 Comments)

Julie Lindsay: Designing Engaging Curriculum for Global Collaboration in the Classroom

Following the post:  Note- Taking Learnflow of a Conference Workshop, here is the second story of my curated tweets from a session with Julie Lindsay. My favorite take away from her well run workshop was her quote “Flat learning is a pedagogy”. Amplifying our classroom, allowing students to reach out …

(No Comments)

Blogging With your Classroom

You Have 1 Second to Hook a Potential Reader

hook

If you are blogging with your students, you have been exposed to them. You have been exposed to hundreds of unimaginative, cloned, generic and uninspiring BLOG TITLES. When opening your RSS reader that contains the latest blog posts of your students,  you are confronted with a list, similar to the …

(1 Comment)

Student Led Conferences: Sick and Tired of Blogs & Reflection?

SLC

Our students just finished a second round of Student Led Conferences (SLC) this school year (one in Semester 1 and another in Semester 2). SLCs are a formal opportunity for students to present to their parents about the state of their learning. The students’ advisor (a teacher responsible for a …

(1 Comment)

Visible Thinking in Math- Part 1

fail

The conversation about visible thinking in Math started with one of our teachers at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, Adam Hancock, wanting to know how he could incorporate having students’ use their blogfolios in Math class. It seemed natural to have students write for Humanities (Language Arts and …

(2 Comments)

iPads

Evaluating iPad Apps

ipad-components-content

I wanted to take a closer look at the iPad Evaluation I previously blogged about in Evaluating Apps with Transformative Use in Mind. The section of Content and Components deserved a closer look and explanation. You can  download the PDF file of the iPad App Evaluation for the Classroom with …

(No Comments)

Visible Thinking in Math- Part 1

fail

The conversation about visible thinking in Math started with one of our teachers at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, Adam Hancock, wanting to know how he could incorporate having students’ use their blogfolios in Math class. It seemed natural to have students write for Humanities (Language Arts and …

(2 Comments)

Self- Directed Course: iPads in the Classroom

image2-lens-of-pedagogy

Professional Learning Board just released a Self-study  iPads in the Classroom course I wrote. It is a  self-directed course to take in your own time and at your own speed. “You have an iPad in your classroom, now what?” The iPad helps us prepare today’s student for today’s world in …

(10 Comments)

Digital Storytelling

Poetry on Record

Slide1

Inspired by Poetry, Performance & Taylor Mali and Beyond…, 8th grade Humanities teacher Shannon Hancock coached her students to create their own original “Mali Poem”and record a visual and vocal performance. I joined the class to give a brief overview of presentation design. I used selected slides from my slidedeck below to …

(No Comments)

Workflow & Learnflow of an Animation Story

pedro

After teaching a 1:1 Toolkit class for incoming Middle Schoolers tothe 1:1 laptop environment this past quarter, I am currently teaching a Media Basics course for sixth graders. I am using a school blog to document the class (among others), showcase student work, share resources and give written step-by-step directions …

(No Comments)

My StoryTelling App Folder(s)

storytelling-app

Matt Gomez shared a post today with a screenshot of his storytelling iPad app folder. I wanted to reciprocate and share mine. Storytelling I Folder StoryBuddy StoryBuilder StoryPagesHD Toontastic Tappy Memories StoryBoards Premium StoryMaker HD StoryPatch In a World … Drama Build a Story PhotoPuppets HD Epic Citadel Sock Puppets …

(24 Comments)