Friday, November 18, 2011

Stars

A cart full of iPads arrived at our school about a month ago, and yours truly was the first teacher to sign it out for student/classroom use. I believe this has made me the coolest teacher in my school for the 4 day period of this lesson, even though that's not why I'm teaching with iPads, though it's a nice perk.

We started a poetry unit about a week ago, and my students are now using the iPads to search for a "favorite poem" to share with American soldiers serving our country overseas. I found two free apps, one called "Poetry" by the Poetry Foundation, and one called "Poetry Everywhere" by WGBH that features poetry reading videos (and audio introductions by Garrison Keillor). I require students to browse through one or both of these two apps before opening Safari browser to search for poems. We discussed what poems may interest soldiers, what may be appropriate, how to search for funny poems, nature poems, poems about courage, etc.

Next class students will type a short note to explain why they chose these poems, what literary elements they identify in the poems, and express appreciation for the soldiers' service to our country. (We can't print from these iPads yet, so we'll type on computers in the Library Media Center.) I gathered some holiday card stock paper on which students will cut and paste the poetry and notes, and I'll send everything out the first week of December, using soldier addresses supplied by students and several from anysoldier.com.

You can probably imagine the students' excitement about the iPads! Most students have not used an iPad before, though many are familiar with the iPod touch. Strict enforcement of procedural rules, zero tolerance of goofiness, and restricted use of the web browser (limited to poetry search only for this lesson) were critical management strategies!

Stars are a a good symbol to describe us right now, rare indeed in my middle school remedial English course. Students were star-struck, they felt like stars, and yes, I felt like a rock star.

2 comments:

Kathryn from Schoolmarm Style said...

That sounds wonderful. I have a cart of Macbook laptops in my room for NaNoWriMo and I'm now wondering how in the world we will work without them there every day.

sammann276 said...

You're lucky! My husband is a teacher in Australia, no such resource available to him yet. My mum visited recently and showed my 3-yr-old how to use her iPad- wish I could get one so he could keep learning to use it. And on the poetry note, as a sister of an ex-Australian Army serviceman, what a great way for your kids to study poetry and to reach out to your soldiers.
Very touching, I'd love to read more about how your project goes...