This thirteenth, and final, featured post in A Series of Classroom Connections comes to us from the Social Studies classroom of former Parcells Middle School teacher, now Brownell Middle School principal, Rodger Hunwick.
Resourcefulness is key in the educational technology worlds of yesteryear and today. Educators have always made the most of the resources that they have available to them and continue to do so. My classroom has been no exception. With technology resources available to my classroom, we make things work with what we have.
Pulling a “MacGyver” is code for putting together parts found from your surroundings to create or hook up a device. Finding old, unused speakers and connecting them provides my class with surround sound. An adapter hook-up to my personal iPhone is my make-shift Apple TV and a 32″ High Definition TV, won at the Grosse Pointe Crisis Club Fund Raiser, acts as my computer monitor.
Technology tools are not easy to acquire during these financially strapped times in education spending. My students and I are fortunate to have the support of the Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education (GPFPE.)
This group provided me and my students a Smart Board a couple years ago, which has been incredible for our learning. Today we’re basking in the glory of technology once again because of the generosity of the GPFPE.
Recently my students and I were granted an iPad Mini and Apple TV — no more “MacGyvering” needed, it’s the Real McCoy. To say that these two devices have enhanced learning is a tremendous understatement.
While we’re not a 1:1 iPad:student classroom; being a 1:34 classroom with an Apple TV is a great change. It has opened the door even further to 21st Century learning for all of us — students and teacher alike.
Access to a classroom iPad and Apple TV provides an instructional opportunity that integrates itself well with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) formatted classroom, where students can use their own personal computing device to interact in class.
Learning opportunities in our BYOD environment are limitless, and now enhanced by the addition of this grant technology.
As the lead learner in class, I’m able to use the Apple TV AirPlay feature to project an on-screen image of the class iPad or an iPhone/iPod Touch.
Through this vehicle, the iPad can be used to demonstrate and tech the use of mobile apps to students all at once, because the AirPlay feature allows the teacher to present to the entire class all at once; in the past, using an iPad to demonstrate or teach mobile app use was limited to the number of students who would crowd around the iPad in a small space.
From this advancement in digital instruction, students are able to then take their new knowledge of the mobile app and use their own device to create, collaborate, research and develop a topic in a critical thinking manner then teach or present their findings to peers using that app.
This entire process is referred to as project-based learning (PBL,) where the learning takes place through the steps of student-created projects that integrate digital tools to support collaboration, communication, and creativity.
Learning comes to life in a BYOD – PBL classroom. Perhaps the best example of coupling these two modes is when students use screen capture apps. Allowing students to use their own technology to create a screencast presentation on a project takes student engagement and learning to the highest level.
Tech Smith’s ScreenChomp, Educreations, MorrisCooke’s ExplainEverything and Doceri by SP Controls are apps that allow students to create high quality screen-cast presentations. Utilization of apps such these provide learners an avenue to think critically about topics using prior knowledge, communicate their thoughts, collaborate and interface with devices in a career-ready format.
How we’ve used the grant with a BYOD-PBL instructional model in eighth grade United States History class:
- Students collaborated together to create commercials to “sell” one of the thirteen original colonies from the1600-1700s.
- Their commercials could be in the style of the Pure Michigan ads:
- or Mini Abe Illinois state promotional campaigns:
- Following these overarching, yet broad, guidelines students were able to research, develop and create their commercials using their personal devices with apps that we learned about in class using the iPad and Apple TV.
- The parameters for the commercials to “sell” a colony included the following:
- Economic Attractiveness
- Religious Attributes
- Housing and Educational Lure
- City vs. Rural Life — Mapping & Geography
- History: important people, places & events
- Upon completion of the project, students did not need to exchange any paper to turn in their work; with theBYOD setup, it’s a paperless turn-in process.
- The work can be posted to YouTube, emailed to the teacher, or streamed directly to the Apple TV from the student’s device to show the finished product in class.
- Students introduced their commercials to their peers for viewing and presented it using Apple TV AirPlay on the SMART Board.
PBL activities such as this incorporate higher-level learning as well as all seven of the traits of 21st Century learning (as seen on the illustrations provided). The entire process is enhanced by the use of a classroom iPad and Apple TV, because the teacher can model the use of apps for digital creation and allow students to engage with the class wirelessly using their own device and the Apple TV.
Lastly, and most importantly, infusing 21st Century Learning with APPs available from technological tools such as iPads and Apple TV takes student’s learning to the highest of levels because they’re hAPPy and engaged learners.
Here are 2 examples of what students created:
Colony of New York
Colony of North Carolina
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