Monthly Archives: November 2014

iPad Workshop: A Session of Exploring

Beginner iPad Day: November 10, 2014

Facilitating A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to provide a session of exploration and learning on our school ipads to a group of my co-workers. It was an informal setting. I wasn’t really sure how this day would proceed. My staff ranges from beginner iPad users to folks who can do quite a bit. They each had a different comfort level, but all of them told me that they wanted some time to explore these machines.

I don’t want to go through every detail of what we did.  This started out as some of my staff agreeing to help me out with a “teacherless” session for my course. We had a facilitator (me), but we mostly played with programs available to the kids and ones that we could use in our instruction. The teachers informed me that they were looking for help with writing, and how to use the darn iPads with kids.  So we focused on a few different apps that I thought were good ones for kids. My favs for little people, Starfall Learning, BOB Books, My Journal, Felt Board Story, and Toontastic were the big ones for kids to explore. I showed the basics of Explain Everything (an app I am still discovering), Book Creator, Popplet, and Pic Collage.

DSCN2106 DSCN2105 DSCN2103 Exploring

What I really noticed on this day was that we, as adults, still need time to explore. Teachers are often given many programs to teach, books to read, and new technologies to use but we are never given any TIME to explore them. It’s a quick 2 hour in-service, and we are expected to be masters at iPads or a new curricular program. But we just aren’t wired that way. We are not that different from the students that we teach. We need to be given the opportunity to play with the new stuff, to make mistakes and to experience it. We need time to sit in a room so that we can work together and talk about what we are doing or discovering. We get this pressure to attend a workshop on some bright, shiny new idea and then feel we need to implement it. I believe, for me, that my next few PD days will be for me to explore and discuss. I hope to sit with these teachers again so that we can continue to discover and brainstorm how to use these tools to help our kids.

Thanks, folks!

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The Wonders of a Plan

Today I tried something new. We usually get all dressed to go outside and play in the field, but today, I tried something new. It wasn’t a big change. It wasn’t awe inspiring or even all that brilliant.  However, I tried this new thing, and it had results. You may think these results are not huge, but in my mind, they are BIG.

You see, we get dressed into our wellies and slickers, or our winter coats and our mitts (depending on the weather, and we go outside. We try to stop at “our” tree and look to see what it’s doing to get ready for winter (I’ll talk about those observations later). But today, we started at the carpet in our classroom and I asked a very basic question to these 4 and 5 year olds. I asked, “What’s your plan for outside?”

Instantly, hands shot up. (Yes, they have figured that out on their own) “I’m going to look for bugs and see if they are underground!” C said. “Ooh, lets see if they are getting ready to hibernate!”  O mentioned. (Guess what we are exploring about for science).  “Leaves! I want to find more leaves!” Y remarked excitedly.

Some of the munchkins just wanted to roll down the hills and that was just fine. That was their plan. Roll and run and see how rolling works. One wanted to hunt for earthworms, because he loves earthworms and wants to show his friends. A rallying cry of “Freeze Tag!” was called by a gaggle of boys.

I realized in that moment that I had underestimated these small geniuses again.  We hadn’t ever verbalized our ideas for outside explorations, yet they were teeming with ideas of what to do and look for. They were thinking. Really thinking and figuring it out in their heads with their prior knowledge of our outdoor space. Imagine if I asked that before “centers” time or when they came inside every day. Oh, the possibilities in the planning mind of a 4 or 5 year old.

For the first time since we started going outside, these people didn’t wrestle and rough house. They could have. It’s the time they are allowed to. But today, they searched. We found dry sap on a tree, discovered a tree had been cut down and looked at the rings in the trunk. We used the trunk as a stage to sing our new favourite song, Oh Canada. Icy chunks of dirt were discovered by an area we have never explored before, and we looked at the layers in these “mudsicles”. Geese flying overhead had us looking at the shapes they created and the circles they flew in while they started to land. Spiders were disturbed in their nooks and crannies as we hunted for bugs and earthworms. Grass stains were numerous and muddy hands became the norm during our time. R even climbed the highest she ever had in the fork tree.  The leaves on our tree have all fallen off and there was great concern that it had died, until NMR remembered the word “dormant” and convinced others the tree was just getting ready for a long winter sleep.

I learned today that these kids of mine have plans. Plans that I can help them with if I simply ask.  I need to ask. I need to put the day plan aside more often and just ask these kids, “what’s your plan?”

As an aside, you may be wondering how this relates to my Technology Project. I am focusing on helping other teachers in urban areas access nature in the concrete jungle. This will tie in when we start using our iPads and Cameras to document what we are observing, doing some scavenger hunts while online and more. It will all tie together.

Trust me. I have a plan.

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