Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Notes from the Field- Technology Literacy and Art- Monique's Story

Monique and I go back a long time. She is one of my favorite teachers and one of the most thoughtful educators I have had the pleasure to work with. We have not worked together for quite a while but recently she sent me a short note on her work integrating technology so here it is in her own words (I took the liberty to make small changes for clarity).

Monique writes:
Earlier in the year I tried "tech buddies" -- a sixth-grade class & teacher graciously came to my room and worked with my students (I observed) in doing a little research, and each made a field-to-table Po
wer Point-type thing.   That was great, but a one-and-done experience because I only had access to the iPads for 40 minutes every other week. And I still had those mandatory tests/quizzes to work into my scheduled time!

My latest push of myself to use technology and use it a little more creatively started with a mask-making art project and the desire to get EL (and all kids) talking more in a purposeful way. I remembered that D. (1st grade ArtsLINC teacher) had her students successfully use a program/app called Chatterpix.  I had been introduced to Chatterpix by colleagues in the Nebraska Writing Project years ago,  but it had been shelved in my subconscious until this spring.   I had been talking with D. about iPad management (cart versus a few) and wondered how she did it. She told me how she has a small set of them in her classroom all the time (I  think 6) and teaches the kids how to manage and help one another.  She encouraged me that 'for sure' my second graders could make the masks talk with Chatterpix!  Then she told me how she had them post their work in an online journal called Seesaw.  She was making a believer out of me, but... I still felt like I needed a hand, a push or a kick --so --
I invited her over to our school site to provide an afterschool PD to our volunteer "Art PLC" to instruct us just in Chatterpix and Seesaw. (it was not a course in everything iPad, just two things!) Everyone was invited.  We had half-dozen teachers and our principal even came!    She not only walked us through using the apps but talked realistically about classroom management with young primary students.  She also made me realize I could probably do it with a few iPads and not a cart-full.  

So I checked out one (1) iPad from our principal and started in!   They photographed their mask.  They wrote a script for the speech that their mask would give.  (I had given them directions /ideas based on all the pre-learning before the Mask Making.). Then they recorded it using Chatterpix and uploaded it to their individual spot in our Classroom Journal I had set up on Seesaw.  They accessed Seesaw by using a QR code created by Seesaw when I signed up.  I taught two kids and then they managed the rest of the class!   When it was recording time they gave me a signal, then I just said "quiet on the set" and my class was immediately silent!  (they knew their turn was coming!)
The way Seesaw is set up, the teacher has to approve everything before it's posted, so that came after school.  Then -- my entry into integrating Art, Writing, Speaking, and Technology was successful!!

Seesaw also lets you invite parents to view just their child's portion of our class journal, so I did that and have several parents following their student's work now!  

Beyond this original project, I had kids use just Seesaw to take photos of their art and read what they wrote using the audio recording portion several times.  I video captured them reciting a poem of their choice.  They've given oral bi-weekly book recommendations (written first like a book report) all year, so I had them take a photo of their writing and accompanying art and audio-recorded their "speech."  In all cases, they could re-do if they reviewed-listened and weren't pleased.  

Student Masks (photo by Monique)
In the middle of our second "project", I invited the principal to come and see it in action-- with the kids doing it ALL!   I wanted to thank him for finding an iPad for me (my kids) to use and have available all day, every day.  He was as jazzed as I was.  He also saw that I was able to continue with MY passion of art and literacy integration (speaking, listening, reading, writing) and add technology and parent communication.     Within a few weeks, he asked if he could bring a group of principals into my room to see it in action.   THEN a week later he brought by a School Board member!   It was very affirming.   And even an old teacher like me can do it!
So next year, I'll be starting with Seesaw in the Fall to document & share most (if not all) of our ART & literacy (and social studies & science)  projects!    I'll still hang some on the classroom wall and in the office, but this will reach the parents much more quickly and is accessible to me in places other than my classroom!
Take care!


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