We finally found some good headphones!

we got headphones

The headphones we ordered from Zulily finally arrived yesterday. I couldn’t be more pleased! They fit all of the children nicely regardless of head size and are so much easier for them to use than the walkman style ones we were borrowing from the older grades. Having our own headphones that go on easily is such a time saver!

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The cord is actually covered with woven fabric rather than plastic. It’s plenty long and the headphones themselves seem sturdy.

The only downside is the exercise I’m missing out on by running up and down the stairs twice a day to borrow headphones from other classrooms!

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These headphones aren’t gonna be the ones.

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So today before we started centers I remembered that I’d seen some of our older students using headphones when they used laptops. Turns out the upper grades have a whole container of headphones that they use. They are what I call “Walkman style” and were all the rage in the 80’s when the Sony Walkman revolutionized the way we listen to music.  I  borrowed 3 pairs from third grade for our preschoolers to try out today with the ipads.

While good in theory, these headphones just weren’t a good fit for such young kids.  They struggled to get them on, and then struggled to get them to fit properly.   Adjusting each set of headphones for each student took away from learning time, and truth be told, a couple of the kids still found them uncomfortable and hard to wear even after we adjusted them. It was definitely better than last week when we had all 3 ipads “talking” at once,  but I think it’d be even better still if we we’re able to track down the kind of headphones that a lot of teachers use at listening centers.

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The kids were just happy to be using the ipads again and weren’t too concerned with the headphones. Engagement was as high as it had been before and boy, were these ipads a motivator!  Each child had to complete a short journal entry before they could use the ipad.  Children who had before taken 25 minutes to finish their work were completing high quality journal work in 15 minutes.

Today we tried out new headphones.

I’ll keep you posted on the headphones.  The yellow pair in the picture above belong to my son and I was able to find them for just a few dollars.  I’m hoping we might be able to find something similar for our classroom.

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Using the Kindle App for a Lesson: Put Me In The Zoo


Using the Kindle app ipad and document cameraPut Me in The Zoo Stacked Collage2

                                                                                                                             

My teaching partner is incredibly organized. She’s almost always planned and prepped at least two weeks out. It’s a rare day when we have to scramble to come up with an activity at the last minute.  For whatever reason (perhaps the holiday weekend threw us off) that happened this morning.  We’d seen this idea on Pinterest yesterday.

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When we clicked on the pin it took us to Kangarooboo.  (They give the detailed instructions for this project on the blog part of the website, but also have an online toy store. I haven’t shopped at their toy store.) We loved the idea of doing this lesson based on the book Put Me In The Zoo by Robert Lopshire and knew it would be the perfect activity to fill the empty spot in our schedule.  There was just one problem: We couldn’t find a copy of the book anywhere! We checked our school library and checked with all of the primary teachers in our school and no one had it!

That’s when we decided that we could solve this dilemma with our ipads. I’ll confess that I am not native to Apple products.  I was “raised” on PCs and my smartphones have always been Android based. So when I started looking for a way to put the book on our ipad, my first thought was to use the Kindle app. We could have gotten the book through itunes, but Kindle was easier because I knew the system, and we were in a hurry.

We quickly downloaded the app to one of our ipads and synced it with our existing Amazon account. We then purchased a Kindle version of Put Me In A Zoo.  We connected our ipad to our document camera with the ever versatile dongle, and we were ready to roll!

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The children settled in on the rug for the story.  We projected the book onto the big screen and the kids loved it. The pictures were far bigger than they would have been had we simply been sharing a traditional book. We were also able to double tap on the pictures to eliminate the text and make the pictures fill the screen.

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After the story, we did the activity in a traditional classroom manner. We provided each student with a tray of supplies.Talented teaching partner had quickly sketched up a template first thing in the morning. We were also incredibly lucky to have 2 high school volunteers in our class today who quickly punched out all of the colored spots for us with a paper punch. I’m not sure we could have pulled it off without them! We added eyes and a pom pom nose to each tray, along with brads for the legs, and the usual paste and scissors.

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We ended up with an adorable collection of animals.

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While I know many of you could sketch up your own pattern in a flash, I absolutely could not. For those of you like me,  talented teaching partner generously offered to let me upload her template.  You’re welcome to download it. I put it on Google Drive and shared it. Click here to see my post about how to share something with Google Drive and Click here to download your own template.

So what do you use to share digital books with your students? Kindle? Ipad? Something else? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for ideas!

I’m linking up to Technology Tailgate again. Lots of great techie posts over there.  Click the picture below to check them out.

Tech Tuesday

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We’re gonna need headphones.

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So here’s the thing about working with young children: you can’t depend on them being able to read directions to complete a task, even with a fancy schmancy device like an ipad. The majority of four and five year olds need verbal instruction to succeed. One of the things I’ve been looking for is an app that will offer that verbal guidance and instruction. Another of our hopes in using ipads in the classroom was that it would help us individualize our instruction so that we could better meet each students specific learning needs. We used an app today that I think will really help us meet both goals. Teach Me Toddler allows each kid to progress at their own pace, which is fantastic. Additionally, it is really good at giving verbal instruction to students, also fantastic. Where we ran into trouble was when we had 3 different ipads talking to three different students about three different tasks. No one could hear a thing. I turned around to find one student with both his hands over his ears. Another student had his eyes glued to his neighbor’s ipad, not his own. Unless we made some quick changes, the ipads were not going to be the engaging instructional tool that they had been yesterday.

As a quick fix for today, we moved one of the three students to an empty table across the room and moved the other two to opposite ends of the table. Honestly, they were still sometimes distracted, but they were better able to maintain their focus. As we move forward in this ipad project, we’re going to have to think about what kind of headphones will be most practical as well as whether we want kids to use headphones all of the time, or just some of the time.  Despite the fact that there were three ipads going at once, I was getting useful information from listening. I could tell when a student got off track and found his way to the app store and I could hear when another student was struggling with the content.

Using the ipad at Centers for the First Time

DSCN6909Today we officially used our ipads as a part of our Learning Centers. I chose two math apps that I thought would be challenging, but not too hard.  I picked Hungry Fish and Math Is Fun 4-5.  I had noticed that a lot of the apps were full of ads or opportunities to upgrade. These two seemed free of ads and the material seemed appropriate.  Math is Fun was perfect for my pre-k kids. I plan to review both apps in a later post.

I tried to think ahead a little in how I was going to manage the ipads. Last time we’d used them informally, I’d had a student ready to download Angry Birds from the app store within 30 seconds. He was just waiting for my password! I wanted to avoid that this time so I put the two apps I wanted to use into a separate folder and told the children that they could only use the apps that were in that folder. My Angry Birds fan still managed to find his way to the app store, but I think it was a function of pushing the home button too many times. (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt! 😉  ) I’m realizing that for children this young, I’m going to need to find a way to either limit their access to parts of the ipad, or teach them to only use certain parts of the device at certain times. I’m wondering if I can dedicate one of the home screens to apps we use in the classroom and keep the rest of the apps on another page to help simplify things a little.

We had two ipads in our center groups today.  Right now, we have 2-3 kids in each group so it was perfect for one group, but for the second group, a couple of children had to take turns. A 1:1 ipad ratio definitely works better.  The children who were working independently were able to get more practice time in. I had the children who were sharing an ipad take turns. One would play the game while the other watched.  After one “round” they would switch.  This really wasn’t ideal. The two boys working together had different skill levels, both in terms of math and technology. One boy was feeding math answers to the other. At the same time, the boy with the  technology skills (my angry bird fan) was able to help his friend navigate the app when it was time to change games. I am looking forward to next year when we’ll have one ipad for each child.

Over all, I think the ipads were a success. The was lots of individualized learning and the children were really motivated by the opportunity to work on the ipad.