“iPhone/Touch App” shared Doc has a new sibling: iPad Only

The Google Spreadsheet for iPhone/Touch Apps by subject area we (over 60 contributors) have been building since November 2009 has been extremely popular. How do I know? Well, the Apple rep said she has been sharing it with all of the other Apple reps and they have requested an iPad only version as well. I actually had that in the works, but I just never got to sharing it out. So, I’m doing that now.

iPad Only Apps spreadsheet is now ready for contributions. I shared it with the same crew who has been editing the iPhone/Touch apps sheet. Hopefully, this one will grow as plentiful and popular as the other. I have a few listed already, but I know there are tons more ready to be added.  Yes, I do realize the iPhone and Touch apps will work on the iPad, but there are some just for the iPad that will not roll backwards and are worthy of attention. Now is the chance for that to happen.

Leave me a comment below or shoot me a message on Twitter (@woscholar) if you want to be added as a contributor on either/both of these. I just need your Google Docs email address.

Acer Aspire One and the ESL student

Acer Aspire One Unboxing 3 by wstryder
Photo Credit: wstryder

Most schools in our neck of the woods are trying out iPods with their ESL students. We started to do the same. Our teachers worked through the process of learning what they needed to know about them and how to utilize them with kids. Then, the Acer Aspire One came on the scene. We bought a few to try out for our elementary students thinking they might be a nice low cost alternative for our small handed friends in K-5.

While reviewing one of them, I noticed it had an SD card slot on both sides of the machine. Hmmm. Then I noticed one was a card reader and the other a storage bay. Double Hmmmmmm. I got to thinking about how we use Deep Freeze to protect our machines from viruses and vandalism in general and how a USB flash drive can be cumbersome for a kid to carry and pop in and out all the time when changing classes. So, we slid a 4GB SD card into the storage bay, redirected My Documents to the card (which in turn moved the iTunes preferred storage folders with it), and loaded our software of choice (OpenOffice, Skype, Firefox, all of the required web plug-ins, and Deep Freeze), and we had a nice little machine.

The big advantage of the SD card is that if we have a hardware malfunction with the Acer, we pop out the SD card, give the students a new machine, and they are back in business.

One thing we did specific for our ESL students was to use the web based version of Rosetta Stone. We have open wireless throughout our school district (read that as no active directory or other log in needed), so they now have the chance to work independently anytime throughout the school day with the given USB headsets. We are also waiting on Higher Ground’s new case for the 9″ laptops so we can begin sending the machines home with the kids. We know the family will begin to use it which will only serve to improve their fluency as well. It seems to be a win-win.

So as it stands, our secondary ESL students have a netbook to use freely throughout the day to do the following:

  • notes in the wordprocessor
  • presentations if asked using either OpenOffice or web-based tools
  • podcasts in iTunes
  • Rosetta Stone
  • online language translators for communication
  • calculator
  • Skype/video conferences
  • MovieMaker with built-in webcam & mic to record notes, lectures, or whatever
  • Firefox with Scribefire for blogging (when they get to that)
  • Firefox for email with Gaggle (with built-in translator)
  • Firefox for Internet-based research and web 2.0 tools

Something I still want to find out is how the Deep Freeze and/or swapping of SD cards will effect the subscribed podcasts. There is probably a workaround in backing up the account to the card, but we will know more as we move into the project a bit. I am not concerned about the rest of the project. The kids jumped right into OpenOffice and have not even asked how to do a thing with it. It is just intuitive, which backs up our belief that we do NOT have to have Microsoft Office for them anymore. They just need the productivity suite practice regardless of flavor. We really like OpenOffice 3, and the price is right.

I am sure I am leaving off some of the things they do with that great little computer. It is actually my Windows machine of choice (if there is such a thing). Now I just need to get me an MSI Wind so I can convert it into a Hackintosh to make my life semi-tech complete (for now). 😉

Oh Wiki You’re So Fine…

Having used wikis with my middle school students, I can say the transition is not a difficult one. They enjoy the opportunity to use technology, but they really appreciate the opportunity to work on a document from anywhere with the help of others regardless of being together or separate.

I remember a recent project. I specifically told this curious bunch of students I had in certain class that I was subscribed to the wiki via RSS and received all updates and changes. Furthermore, the wiki would tell me who changed what and when and also allow me to revert to previous versions. Anyone caught defacing others pages would be using School 1.0 to get his or her project finished. I had not seen any issues with the wiki through the first week, so I thought I was home free and the world was a happy place (my world anyway).

Then late Saturday night happened. I started getting notifications hand over fist about edits occurring on one certain site. Instead of looking at the changes in the feed window, I quickly navigated over to the wiki to shut down access to whatever terrible thing was taking apart one of my group’s hard work. I knew the offender had logged in with a student ID, and I was sure to confront him/her about it on Monday. So, I get to the wiki and start looking around the pages being reported as edited. Nothing. They looked fine to me. I could not see the difference from what I would have expected at this point.

So I went into the history to see what the kid was up to. And then it hit me. Editing. He was editing. This ESL, only in the country three years, never talks in class, speaks broken English kid was editing the work of his peers (one of which was one of my top students). He cared enough about his group’s work and its appearance to the public that he wanted it right. Were all of his corrections accurate? No. But most were, and he was doing English VOLUNTARILY on a SATURDAY night. That is what wikis and collaborative work is all about. I shut my machine down to go to bed knowing that my work had been a success. Even if he was the only one who chose to go the extra mile, he CHOSE to do it. That made it all worth it.

My students used the wiki to aide each other in weak areas. They found missing parts in their own work and asked others to help them by adding to it. Some took the initiative, others did not. But they all favored the Web 2.0 version over the School 1.0.

Online collaborative word processing sites (wikis, Google Docs, etc) allow people to share and mold and create and recreate information and ideas. It is an awesome opportunity. These people may never meet, but their ideas will. Their intellect will collide and combine in a virtual environment that will change the real world. This is powerful. Our students deserve to at least learn how to harness this power on a local basis, because after high school they will run into it on a global basis.

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If I taught ESL….

I was perusing some links posted to Del.icio.us by Wes Fryer, who is in my network. He posted some really cool children’s literature links where one can read the books online without paying. I like this method because it gives ESL students plenty of practice with literature they might not have already come across, that have diverse themes, come in both fiction and non-fiction, and are available with any internet connection without having to go to the children’s section in the public or school library.

Now, I don’t teach ESL, but I really think this would make good practice for the students. It can be self-paced and allows students to use personal choice in their own learning. That has to be a good thing for students working hard to adjust into a country that probably already scares them.

The book above is from Lookybook. The link below is from Big Universe. Big Universe also lets you create your own book.

More Free Media Resources for Educators

I found a neat collection of free videos that are online for streaming right to your PC/Mac for many purposes. Take a look at the following topics.

  • Teaching Reading 3-5 Workshop- This video workshop will show intermediate elementary teachers how to help their students transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Supplemental classroom programs provide further exploration of each topic.
  • Teaching Reading K-2 Workshop- This video workshop addresses critical topics in teaching reading for K-2 teachers.
  • Teaching Reading K-2: A Library of Classroom Practices- This video library shows the teaching practices of K-2 teachers across the country as they introduce their students to reading through a variety of methodologies.
  • Teaching The Children of Willesden Lane- This set of video and Web resources with curriculum guide helps middle and high school teachers teach the Holocaust-survival book The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek.
  • Write in the Middle: A Workshop for Middle School Teachers- This video workshop helps middle school teachers learn effective practices and strategies for writing instruction.

Teaching Multicultural Literature: A Workshop for the Middle Grades- This video workshop introduces middle school teachers to ethnically diverse American writers and offers dynamic instructional strategies and resources to make works meaningful for students.

Annenberg Media

These are just a very few of the listed topics. They range from administrators creating great campuses to science(tons) to math (tons) to pedagogy to many literacy-based videos. The registration is free. Don’t miss out on this. There is a lot of great information provided here by Annenberg Media whose goal is:

Advancing Excellent Teaching in American Schools Annenberg Media uses media and telecommunications to advance excellent teaching in American schools. This mandate is carried out chiefly by the funding and broad distribution of educational video programs with coordinated Web and print materials for the professional development of K-12 teachers. It is part of The Annenberg Foundation and advances the Foundation’s goal of encouraging the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge.Annenberg Media’s multimedia resources help teachers increase theirexpertise in their fields and assist them in improving their teachingmethods. Many programs are also intended for students in the classroomand viewers at home. All Annenberg Media videos exemplify excellentteaching.

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Podcasting in the Classroom

Tim Wilson, a technology integration specialist from Minnesota, hosted a session at NECC last year (NECC will be in San Antonio June 2008). The audience put together a list of classroom uses for podcasting. Tim blogged about it and offers this list:

Collect field notes during a science field trip
Living museum, researching characters
“Radio shows”
Creating audio guides for local museums
Teacher powerpoints
Early language learners, (rhyming, etc.)
Staff development
Language learners recording assessments
Discovery Education videos
Science reports
Art projects
Digital portfolios
Weekly classroom news
Serial storytelling
Reflective journals
Summaries of school events
Broadcast school sporting events
Roving reporters
Capturing oral histories (family history)
Podcast vocab words and spelling lists
Flashcard practice with iFlash
Musical compositions
Soundseeing tours

Since podcasting is new to many in our school district, I thought I would offer this list up and see if anyone was interested in trying it out.  If you are, give me a call.  We have the equipment available for our staff to try these things out.

Any other ways to use podcasting that you can think of?

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Nonfiction Writing in the Primary Grades

Fellow edublogger and San Antonio ISD Director of Instructional Technology Miguel Guhlin wrote today about Tony Stead‘s presentation in his district concerning the literacy needs of primary age students.  Having been a primary teacher in my early years, I know the struggles educators encounter in this arena. 

Tony’s book, Is That a Fact?: Teaching Nonfiction Writing K-3, seems to be a wonderful step in the right direction to overcoming those struggles.  Tomie dePaoloa says in the foreword that Snead’s books is the “first, middle, and maybe even the last word on nonfiction writing for young, young children.”  Wow!  Strong words from a respected author.

Miguel points to several interesting statistics from Stead’s presentation.  The one that jumped out at me was that in K-2 classrooms, 95% of writing experiences were with personal narrative and story.  Now I love the fact that these two writing styles are covered.  There is nothing easier for a child to write about then what they know best: him/herself.  And at this point we are all well aware of how important story is for the development of right-brain-engaged students.  But I see Stead’s point here.  What type of writing do you do most now?  Me?  Persuasive passages/narratives (grants), blog posts to inform others, blog posts as a brain dump for reference personally, and last but not least, emails.  Nonfiction writing is at the forefront for me because I need to present facts in everything I write in my professional setting.  Even grants, filled with dreams and hopes, are based on facts as we know them and predicted outcomes based on research.  While I can include a personal narrative about my learning experience, it would mean little to nothing to a grant reader.

His research showed that 96% of all read alouds were with shared fiction.  Yet how many kids incessantly about their vast knowledge of dinosaurs, bugs, alligators, etc?  Should we not share more of these types of nonfiction books with them at the earliest stages?  The library generally is loaded with them, so why not take advantage of them?  Then load up Google Earth and show the kids where the animals originated or currently are found (remember Google Earth is on those flash drives we gave out during inservice).  Stead even has a modified KWL-ish chart in his book for these types of read alouds. He gives students manila folders to keep track of their own learning. Linda McKinney and Peggy Rains taught me something similar when I began teaching.  They used a spiral and the kids self-selected topics to read about and learn from. Personal Research on Basically Everything (PROBE) Journals is what they called them.  The great thing about Stead’s approach with his chart being used in this manner is that the students share their thoughts and new knowledge and can cross check facts in a group discussion. 

You can read Miguel’s notes of the presentation here.  Or you can listen to the podcast of Stead’s talk here.  He was gracious enough to record himself for Miguel. 

Thanks for posting this, Miguel.  And thanks to Tony for allowing it to be shared.  You know sharing knowledge like this is what makes our virtual community better and our classrooms stronger.

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Podcasts anyone?

I recently came across several really neat podcasts that you might be interested in:

60-Second Science – from Scientific American comes the latest science news each weekday

Learn Spanish Survival Guide – self-explanatory

Travel with Rick Steves – 30 years of globetrotting for PBS has helped create this content

Language Arts
Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing – one of the top podcasts regularly, great for everyone not just ELA teachers

To take advantage of these podcasts, do the following:
1. Open iTunes
2. Go to the iTunes Store (menu on the left side of screen)
3. Click on Podcasts in menu of iTunes Store
4. Click on Power Search in the right hand side of screen
5. Copy and paste the titles that are in bold print above into the Description box on the power search screen
6. Click the name of the podcast, and then click subscribe
7. If all else fails, call me to come help you out 😉

If you find any great podcasts you want to share here, email them to me or leave the information about them in the comment field and I will make a post about it.

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