Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ipod Integration Update

We have had a little over two months with our iPods and there are several updates. The teachers are still learning, some faster and more eager than others, but we're getting there. We have used the iPods with the students several times now. One teacher has used the Memo app to record herself reading tests aloud. Several of our students have this accommodation in their IEP (Individual Education Plan). Our resource teachers will read the Math and English tests to those students, but do not have time for the other subjects. Recording the tests allows the teachers to provide the students with what they need in an efficient way. The teacher only has to take time to record the test one time and it can be reused with all of the students that need it. The students benefit because they can stay in class and take it discreetly with the iPod and earbuds. They are no longer singled out because of their learning needs. The student can also rewind and listen to a question as many times as needed.
That same teacher used the Greek Gods app for a research project. Students used the app to choose a god or goddess and then created a small poster describing their god or goddess. We were hoping to use the Juxio app to create the final product, but we are not able to get the iPods on our Wifi network to access pictures for the project. Beyond the Wifi limitation we did have one student choose Dionysus and one of the descriptions was more mature than we would have preferred for sixth grade. Luckily the student did not even know what it meant, but unfortunately this is a reality when the app is not created specific to a certain age group.
One of the special education teachers used the multiplication app with her students for their math lesson. I popped in for that lesson and they absolutely loved using them to quiz each other on their times tables. She told me later that I gained rock star status for bringing them to her classroom.
Last week we used the iPods to allow students to research. This was a great motivator because they had to complete several other steps in order to get permission to use the device.
Since my last post on iPods we have purchased 12 additional iPods for a total of 18. This was at the request of the teachers because they wanted enough for three classes to use six at a time. Our school co plans, which means teachers within the same grade and subject level teach the same lesson at the same time as much as possible. Having 18 iPods will let all three teachers use six at a time with group activities or as a station. There are other teachers that are working on getting more to keep in their classroom next year.
Not everything has been a positive. Some of the challenges include:
1. No Wifi access: Some apps will not work without being online and it limits the ways that the iPods can used with our students. I am hoping that as our bandwidth increases we will be allowed to get on Wifi with our iPods.
2. Charging and syncing: iTunes is blocked at my school so right now I have to bring the iPods home to sync them which is not ideal. Charging has also been troublesome because I do not have a charging cart due to cost. I have a fishbone USB hub that allows me to charge four at a time. It usually takes me most of the school day to charge all 18 with constant checking and changing.
3. Teacher opinions: There have definitely been some that are open to using the iPods and excited, but others do not show any interest. Of course, I can't force it on them, nor would I want to, but I feel that I need to do a better job of showing them the possibilities and supporting them in using the devices.
I would love to hear from other teachers using iPods.

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