Thursday, May 12, 2011

40 iPods

Who knew that iPods were for more than music???  Well, apparently a lot of people knew, but none of them ever told me, at least not until this past September.  The thing is, I’ve never much been into music.  I mean, I love listening to my niece, AJ, and my nephew, CS, play the cello and I love listening to my nieces and nephew singing, but really, other than that, music is a non-entity in my life.  If music is playing in the background, I find it distracting.  I just can’t think with the music going, and as a writer, I’m always thinking, plotting, creating scenes and scenarios in my head, so music is like my kryptonite.

Anyway, I entered a new classroom this year and found waiting for me, forty iPod Touches.  “iPods,” I thought.  “What on earth am I going to do with these?  How am I going to use music to teach my students English?  Well, actually, I do use music in the classroom to teach both English and skill concepts, but still.  Forty iPods?  How often does my district think that I use music??”

As it turns out, there are these nifty little things called apps that you can download to your iPod and those apps teach all kinds of amazing things!  WHO KNEW?  Well, like I said, apparently an awful lot of people, but not me!

In any case, I’ve been using the iPods for PWIMs.  That’s teacher-speak for Picture Word Inductive Model.  In other words, I upload photos of vocabulary we’re focused on in the classroom, children pull up the photo in Comic Touch and label the photos with target vocabulary words.  From there, we write paragraphs describing our work.  It’s really amazing, the work the kids have created.  I have some amazingly talented artists in my classroom as well.  In lieu of using the photos I provide, many students draw their own pictures in Doodle Buddy, then import those pictures into Comic Touch and label them.

Body Parts by Phul Maya

Two other apps my students love are Stack the States and Stack the Countries.  I don’t know why, but as a country, we don’t seem to put much emphasis on geography anymore — how many people in this country really know where Djibouti or Myanmar can be found?  My students are no exception — they really struggle with geography.  Many of them don’t even understand that Kansas is a state and the United States is a country.  They have no idea where Mexico is in relation to Kansas or where in the world Australia can be found.  These two apps have helped them to really develop their understanding of the world and our place within it.

In the end, I’m simply amazed.  iPods are so much more than just carriers of music.  They have become purveyors of knowledge and tools for teaching.  WHO KNEW??

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