iTouches Curriculum Fit: Cynthia Alaniz
Position: 4th Grade Teacher, Team Leader,
Location: Denton Creek Elem. School, Coppell ISD, Coppell, Tx
Number of students in district/school: 10,000/507
Product: Apple iPod Touch (8GB, 4th generation)
Reviewer’s Notes: With the cooperation of our PTO, our school purchased sets of Apple iPod Touches (each with their own Parasync tray). The sets rotate among grade levels. When my opportunity came to use them, I stayed up one night trying to figure out the best way to do so. I had one of my own, and I mainly did four things with it: listen to music, play Angry Birds very poorly, take notes, and occasionally surf Safari. I knew there had to be more.
Technology integration isn’t about the tool; it’s about how students use the tools to learn. I was looking at how to make the curriculum fit the iTouches, but I really needed to make the iTouches fit the curriculum.
How I Use It:
1. I routinely begin our Readers’ Workshop with a novel read-aloud. When students are absent, or must leave class for appointments, they miss out on a chapter, unless they have the time to pick up the book themselves later when they return.
Solution: Using Voice Memo, a student recorded my reading, and then passed the iTouch to anyone who missed it. (Even students who’d been there wanted to listen to it again!)
2. We began studying a new genre: graphic novels. I wanted my students to create graphic organizers to reflect their analysis of the genre.
Solution: Students used IdeaSketch to make colorful, digital visuals representing their understanding. Though they had never seen this app before, my students figured out—in no time—how to use it, and became skilled enough to teach others.
3. I assigned a writing project in which the students had to create an original song that represented their opinions/responses to our read-aloud: The City of Ember. As a class, we had already written the lyrics, but we needed a tune.
Solution: Two piano-playing students took the Virtuoso app and composed a tune in less than 10 minutes. Another aspiring drummer took the Jam Session app and added effects. Within the walls of our upstairs classroom, we experienced a concert, and we weren’t even in the music room!
4. My students love to give book talks, but we needed a new way to present them.
Solution: We used the iTouch’s video feature. Two students walked around the classroom and recorded their classmates giving book talks, and we enjoyed them in class together. Spontaneous lessons of media literacy erupted as students discussed camera angles and visual effects.
We also used the Notes and Dictionary.com Apps in the usual ways, but the students enjoyed them because they weren’t using paper. Also, having instant access to these apps provided “anywhere, anytime” learning.
Reviewer’s Notes: Great apps are available, and our tech specialist has downloaded many already. To try them out, I put an iTouch in a student’s hands, and watch what they do. (Ten year-olds offer instant and honest reviews.)
The creative features are the best parts of the iTouches. It’s easy to upload pictures and record quick videos, and the students are skilled at doing both. There are also many free word game apps (which work well when played with a partner). Also, having the ability to easily look up a web page on Safari makes group projects flow quickly.
Reviewer’s Notes: Make sure iTouches are always charged. Also, having a pair of ear-buds for each student is also a good idea (especially when listening to books or playing games).
After having access to these devices, I am determined to write a grant for my very own set so that I never have to give them up! (I also dream of having my own iPad in class to facilitate the learning even more!) I am utterly fascinated by mobile learning devices and their power to connect with learners. What a privilege it has been to watch my students completely engage in content and tinker with technology so effortlessly!