Monday, June 4, 2012

Blogging in Science

My "Guest Blogger" today is K. Phillips @Phillipskerri, a Phy Ed Teacher and Science teacher who really took an interest in the iPads.  The following is her story:

I think that the biggest challenge was not knowing if my ideas would work on the classroom scale.  I found that I could try something on my iPad or laptop and it would work and then in the bustle of the classroom with 30 kids trying to produce something there were inevitable problems.  Essentially, the iPads are not meant to be a shared device, and we had many problems with students logging onto apps and not being able to log off.  Scary, when they are then shared with another class the next block, and there is someone's blogger or twitter account ready to be posted from.  Yikes.

We also had problems once the work was completed, not being able to access that work from outside the iPad since the students were not able to email or tweet their work to me.  We all started blogs and were able to post work to our blogs from the iPads (thanks to the open wireless at our school) even as drafts that could be published later.  We also had trouble posting video - and thanks to some help from the students, were able to upload video to our own YouTube channel.  Pretty cool.

I think that the biggest learning experience in this process was to trust the students.  They were very patient and helpful in troubleshooting and problem solving.  Even though not all grade 12 students are digital natives, we were given the opportunity and freedom to create solutions together - collaborating with each other, trying things, failing at things until we found ways to make it work.  It is hard as the teacher not being completely "in charge" of what is happening - things not going to plan, changing on the fly.  It makes it very easy to quit a project or assignment that is not turning out the way that you think that it should or taking way longer than you think that it should to complete.  But I don't think the failures should be a reason to quit - if we think like scientists, we learn from all of our experiences, and it brings us closer to finding something that will work.  If I had tried to work all the bugs out before implementing the iPads in the classroom, I would still be waiting.  
Okay - some of the apps that I would recommend:

SHOW ME - it was very cool - I have been using video as assessment, having students explain concepts with manipulatives, white boards etc., and this app takes that to the next level.  You record voice and writing on a white board simultaneously (like that guy with the brown marker).  You need to create an account and these are posted directly online - either public or private with a web address as a link that some students then posted to their blogs.  It was especially good for students who aren't as comfortable in front of the camera - this is just voice and drawing/labelling etc.  Lots of possibilities.

SKITCH - basically drawing/typing over a picture (either taken with iPad or downloaded).  Can also draw shapes and labels on white background (we did RNA/DNA with labels).  The jpeg is then saved to the camera roll of the iPad and we posted them to our blogs.

BLOGGER - a good app that allows students to sign in and out (and is free).  Simple to add posts or drafts and easy to post photos from the camera roll - students with iPhones can use the app and post pictures from labs and classroom activities with a short description really easily.  Students couldn't find a similar free app for android/blackberry.

I have lots to say about the use of blogging in Biology as well - just need to think about it a bit more first...

Ms. Phillips was my biggest blogger with students.  In another post we'll put up some of her student examplars.