The iPad Diaries: Volume 1

This year I was awarded a grant from the Saratoga Foundation for Innovative Learning for a set of 10 iPads to be shared among the department.   Needless to say, I have been very excited about using them, as have my students.  This past Thursday was the first day we used them, and everyone had a blast.  First, we used the Jot! whiteboard app (free) to practice verbs.  The prior two days we had read my SpongeBob story to introduce verb forms, and students had to complete cloze sentence with the correct word with sentences from the story.  Using the whiteboard app saves time over passing out the actual whiteboards, and it also saves ink (markers are expensive!).  Students worked in groups of three and passed the iPad back and forth, taking turns writing.  They can also save their "jots" for later use, which I plan to have them do in the future.

Next was Kahoot!  Kahoot! was a hit.  I read about Kahoot! on many of the language teacher blogs I read.  It's basically a multiple choice quiz, only so much more fun.  Students get points based on how quickly and accurately they answer questions, as dramatic music plays in the background.  My favorite part is that it shows how many students chose each possible answer.  I know whether to move on without explaining, and I know which things I need to reinforce more in future lessons.  This is not just a "day before the test" review, in my opinion.  I found it valuable for new material as well.  My questions were mostly cloze questions with verbs or pronouns missing (with picture prompts).  The leaderboard which shows the top 5 groups (and their often comical nicknames) gets everyone excited.  You have to try this to see how much fun it is!

The following day, we used the Jot app again for my Roll the Dice game.  In this game, students only need one whiteboard per group anyways, so it was great to save the time and ink, and the students were very happy to use the iPads again.  If you haven't read my article on the dice game, basically students roll two dice (one for pronoun, one for verb) and form a sentence based on the photos that corresponds to what they rolled.  What I did this time around to make it more communicative was give students an additional point who put an ending on the sentence (like the one below).  The ending of the sentence didn't have to be perfect, but I was looking for an effort to show the verb in context, beyond just "il regarde".  Because I have teacher's helpers for this activity, I have lots of time to interact with the students and make conversation with them about what they wrote or offer some assistance.

This is just the beginning of an exciting journey with this valuable technology.  The iPads won't be a daily fixture - for one thing, they are being shared among the department, and for another, I like to mix up the high tech and low tech!  But rest assured, we will be doing lots of exciting projects and activities with them for the remainder of this year and in subsequent years.  I'm looking forward to swapping ideas with my department and continuing to gather ideas from the many wonderful blogs I read.

To see more photos of the iPads in action, check out this post over on my classroom blog.

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