Thursday, April 15, 2010

spring and technology

Lucky me! I took today off as a personal day so that I could organize the spring party in my daughter's third grade class. Three other parents and I will each run a station: mine is "Happy National Poetry Month - write an acrostic name poem!", and the others are "Plant a salad garden", Tic Tac Toe Trivia, and cookie icing.

But the party is mid-day, only an hour long, and it's going to be 70 degrees outside! So.... Lucky Me!!! Tomorrow is our last day of school before spring break week. We're going to be in New York City for a few days, carefully arranged so that my husband and I will attend all 3 of the Sabres home playoff games, first series vs. Boston, starting tonight. Did I say yet? LUCKY ME!

iPad alert! Our school district technology coordinator solicits teacher tech request "wish list" every year, and last year every "wish" of mine was granted, including SmartBoard, document reader, and Flip video camera. Quite the bountiful year this was! So yesterday I submitted my request for a class set of iPads to be used by the English Language Arts department for the following intended uses:
  • writing, notetaking, and journaling in class
  • electronic books (iBooks is gorgeous AND useful, easy access to word definitions, highlight/bookmark passages)
  • reference sources (dictionary, thesaurus apps)
  • news apps for information reading/writing units, current events
  • history apps for cross-curricular reading/writing, multicultural literature study (ex. This Day in History app is free and useful, National Geographic app is inexpensive and looks promising)
  • voice recording apps, for podcasting of book talks, poetry readings
I know economic times are tough, in particular for schools, but a wish list is a wish list, and you just never know. Random technology grants do appear magically sometimes, even as districts cut staff and programs. So I listed the above not just to show off my iPad knowledge but in case you wonder how iPads may be useful in your classroom. I haven't even mentioned the many uses for any other content area: social studies, science, math, music, art, and so on. I find new and interesting apps every day - last night I found a free Alice in Wonderland app, abridged story, with lovely illustrations, and moving objects on many pages (such as a pocket watch, swinging like a pendulum).


Saturday, April 3, 2010

April is more excellent!

Day 2 - Broadway Market, crazy busy with Easter business!

Day 3 - Apple store, crazy busy with geeks! Above pic taken in my local mall where Apple store lives. Many Canadians were in line with me because we're so close to the US/Canada border and the iPad is not available there yet. (Left line, where I was, was for pre-order. This was the line at 8:20 am when I first arrived. The lines doubled by 9am.)  Here's a video of staff rushing out of the store at about 8:45, cheering and hollering.

Oh yeah, the iPad is AMAZING!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April is excellent!

Day 1 in Two Acts:

Act One - My morning announcement debut at school was poetry reading "Introduction to Poetry" by Billy Collins. Happy National Poetry Month!!!

Act Two - After many hours of puzzlement and pondering (because trickery is really not my nature), I told one class (one of 2 remedial/AIS courses) that today was their last class with me, and they would go back to study hall next week because I have a new group of students to help pass the state assessment. Then I said, as a treat because this is your last class, I'm showing the "Mountains" DVD of the Discovery Channel Planet Earth series. This group of students never did want to be in my class at all (well, how would YOU feel if you had to take your least favorite class TWICE a day, every other day?) and more than a few cheered the announcement loudly.  I'm terrible at keeping secrets, and the next half hour was really tough to keep my poker face during the video (excellent series, btw), but I did it! And when I announced APRIL FOOL, wow, they were really surprised and chagrined! One girl who is just the most cooperative student in the class (quite unlike the others) sounded really put out, and I felt guilty for tricking her, but only her!

Day 2 - No school! I've planned a visit with friends to the Broadway Market, local favorite holiday market in Buffalo that should be PACKED on Good Friday.