The iPad Diaries: Volume 2

Recently my department was given a set of 10 iPads thanks to a grant from the Saratoga Foundation for Innovative Learning.  I previously blogged about the first couple of days we used the new iPads in my classroom.  Today I am blogging about the second round of activities we have been doing.

I was interested to try an activity with Padlet.  Padlet is a virtual noticeboard where users can add text and photos.  I wanted my students to draw pictures in the Jot app and then upload them and write a caption.  The problem was that Padlet does not work very well on the iPad when trying to upload photos (there's no app, and the site does not seem to be optimized for tablet use).  So after browsing through other similar sites and apps, I settled on Lino.  Lino actually has an app, so it is fully functional on the iPad.

In groups of two or three, students thought up a French sentence, drew a picture of it in Jot, uploaded it to Lino, and then wrote a caption for another group.  It was cool to see the board get updated on the SMART Board in real time.  That made it easy for me to see if groups were on task and address any major errors (although I was circling around the room, too, but the students zoom in on the board when they write the caption).  My only issue with Lino was that a lot of the posts kept appearing on top of each other, and I would have to go over and organize them on my computer.  Not really a big deal, but if I can find an app that organizes them more easily, I'll use that next time.

About halfway through the day, we ran out of space on the board (I didn't think it was necessary to use a different board for each class), so we ended up making a second board.  Above, a screen shot of one of the boards.  You can see the actual boards here.

Students who finish tasks early are allowed to play on the DuoLingo app.  I love the app, but because the iPads are shared and students are not logging in, they aren't able to make as much progress as they would at home.  I'm searching for other options for early finishers.  Having the iPads at their disposal gives us so many ways to use that leftover time more productively and keep them engaged in the language.

Finally, I also used the iPads for stations in a quiz review (pictured above).  I had never done stations before, but I think I'm hooked!  This was the first opportunity for students to have one on one time with the iPads.  At one station, students were writing descriptions on white boards of what was going on in a photo, and a "mini-prof" would go over the possible answers with them (the mini-profs were very enthusiastic!).  At another station, students looked at a paper with about 16 different images on it.  In pairs, one partner described what was going on in the picture, and the other pointed to the one they were talking about.  At the iPad station, students played games that worked with mechanics and grammar, most of them cloze type activities.  Some students really enjoyed them, while others felt they could have been more interactive.  I liked them because students got instant feedback on whether or not their answers were correct, without the teacher hovering over them the whole time.  That being said, I'm on the lookout for apps that are a little more engaging and allow me design a quiz where I can provide information on why an answer is incorrect as well.

The SAMR model, explained above by Jonathan Brubaker, complete with a coffee analogy, helps teachers determine how useful a certain technology is in conjunction with a certain task.  Click on the above graphic to visit Jonathan's blog and read his thoughts on the SAMR model.  I first shared this image on my post about the value of low-tech in a high-tech world, but I think it bears mentioning again.  Another iPad-loving French teacher who has blogged about the SAMR model is Mme Mallette.  She is further along in her iPad journey than I am, so be sure to read her blog for excellent ideas.

The SAMR model is always in my mind when conceiving tasks with the iPad.  That doesn't mean all my tasks meet the "redefinition" criterion though (hardly!).  In this first year of using the devices, it's natural that more of the tasks will fall under "substitution" or "augmentation," and that's not a bad thing, I've learned.  Sometimes, it's necessary to start there and see how the activities and projects play out before building up to "modification" and "redefinition" tasks.  Having the SAMR model in my mind, though, helps me stay mindful of trying to harness the most potential from technology.

Stay tuned for my next installment of the iPad diaries, where I'll share a creative project my students recently completed!

As always, if you use iPads in your classroom and have app suggestions (especially on the topics I mentioned in the post) or comments, please feel free to add them!

Introducing French Students to Impressionism

Musée d'Orsay, Paris, home to many Impressionist paintings.

I hardly consider myself an expert in art history, but I do like to introduce my students to the world of Impressionism, an art form so closely associated with French painters.  Through reading The Private Lives of the Impressionists and a biography about Claude Monet, I became more knowledgeable about this form of art and the artists who created and developed it.

The Japanese bridge at Monet's Giverny residence.

Towards the end of the year, I do a two-day introductory lesson on Impressionism where I focus in on Monet, Renoir, and Degas in particular.  Here are some of my favorite resources and activities for teaching Impressionism:

These videos about Monet, Renoir, and Degas, respectively:

This video gives a nice introduction to Monet but also explains a little bit about how Impressionism as an art form came to be.

This video on Degas is a little on the short side (it's a preview for a 22-minute special), and it's obviously intended for a younger audience than my seventh graders, but I found it to be the most concise of any other Degas biography I could find.

The third video I show is an excerpt from "Discovering the Arts:  Impressionism & Beyond," which has a brief biography on Renoir in the section entitled "Styles of Renoir and Monet."  I don't show the Monet part because I like the Biography Channel video better for that.  Access to this video requires a Discovery Education account.  If your school doesn't subscribe to Discovery Education, I'm sure a suitable substitute can be found, but I just happen to really like this one.  If you have an account, you can find the video by logging in and searching for "Styles of Renoir and Monet."  The first minute and a half or so has the biography on Renoir.

Tourists admiring Impressionist paintings at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

This presentation created by Bonnie Rafferty and uploaded to TES Connect does a nice job of briefly explaining the concept of Impressionism in French and showing examples of famous works.  To download the presentation, you just need to sign up for a free TES account.  When I used it, I simplified the language to make it more comprehensible for seventh grade and added sections on Renoir and Degas.  I used to have students transfer some of the information into guided notes as we read it together, but now that we have iPads, I'm thinking of turning this into a group activity.

Clockwise from top left:  "Le bassin aux nymphéas" (Monet), "Nymphéas" (Monet), "La balançoire" (Renoir), "Répétition d'un ballet sur la scène" (Degas); all public domain works.

After showing students some works by Monet, Renoir, and Degas, and asking them about the light and colors that they see (en français, bien sûr !), I project nine or ten works on the SMART Board at once.  Students, in small groups, choose one work, and prepare three sentences about it in French:  who the artist is, what colors are present in the painting, who is in the painting or what the weather is.  They then present these sentences to the class, and the class guesses which painting they are talking about.

After students have learned a little bit about the Impressionists, I like to take them to Paris...virtually that is...and walk them through the Musée d'Orsay and the Musée de l'Orangerie.  As I take them by various works, I ask students to identify the colors they see and try and figure out who the artist is.  By this point, the students know enough about the differences between Monet, Renoir, and Degas, that they are usually pretty successful at this.  The easiest way to navigate these two museums is through the Google Cultural Institute.  It allows you to click on a work and it will transport you there in the museum.  Click on either of the museum screen shots above to visit them via the Google Cultural Institute.

View L'impressionnisme in a larger map

Finally, when time permits, I have in the past showed my students this Google Map of Impressionist work around the world.  It gives me an opportunity to show how Impressionism extends beyond France itself and just another way to tie in geography.

How do you introduce your students to art from the Francophone world?

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