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 Pinterest as an Educator

How to Use Pinterest as an Educator
What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is the social networking site that has swept the nation, quickly rising in rank to stand alongside long time players Twitter and Facebook. People, particularly women, are drawn to the very visual interface.

How does Pinterest work?

Pinterest is a collection of ideas. It can be used to store and organize your own ideas, or it can be used to find new ideas. The ideas are represented initially in picture form, but the pictures often link to information on a website about how to implement the idea. A Pinterest user will have a collection of bulletin boards that are organized by category. The user can then “pin” any ideas they encounter on the internet to a board of their choice. Users can also browse other users’ boards and re-pin any pins that they find interesting. Pinterest is similar to Twitter in that one user is “followed” by another user. A follower sees anything that the user “pins.” A follower can then “re-pin” anything they see that strikes their fancy.

What do you do with Pinterest?

I have a personal Pinterest account where I follow any of my Facebook friends that have Pinterest accounts. Most of my friends pin things like recipes, craft ideas, decorating ideas, and fashion ideas. We pin & re-pin one another’s ideas. If I want to branch out, I can click on “Everything” at the top of the Pinterest page and see things that other people besides my friends are pinning. I’ve tried countless recipes, and more than a few decorating ideas that I first discovered on Pinterest.

How do you use Pinterest as an Educator?

I also have a professional Pinterest account. This is where I pin all of my teaching ideas. All of my “boards” are like file folders you might have in your drawers. I have one board for every subject and theme we teach in our class.

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When I find something that fits a category, I “pin it” to a board. I made a special effort on my teaching account to only follow other teachers. In fact, I know very few of the people I follow on this account in real life. Often, I simply stumbled across their posts when I was browsing Pinterest using the “Everything” button and liked what I saw. I then visited their Pinterest page so that I could “follow” their boards about teaching. The other way I’ve found people to follow on my teaching Pinterest board is by reading teaching blogs. I follow close to 30 teaching blogs on my “Reader.” (More on how to use a blog reader in another post.) I follow many of the bloggers from my Blog Reader on Pinterest. Following all of these other early childhood educators ensures that whenever I open my professional Pinterest account I will see lots of posts relevant to my field and that there will be lots of things I want to pin.

In addition to simply browsing Pinterest for ideas, my teaching partner and I also use the “search” function a great deal. For example, when we were studying “spiders” in the fall and needed spider related activities, we simply entered “spiders” or perhaps more specifically “spider activities” in the search bar and pinned anything that looked interesting. As a result, we now have 23 spider craft ideas on our “Spiders” board. We’ll be able to refer to our spider board next October when our spider unit comes around again and we want to change things up a bit.

The third way I use Pinterest is when I’m browsing the internet, or reading teaching blogs. Pinterest has a “Pin It” button that you can add to your computer. When you find something on the internet that you would like to add to one of your pinterest boards, you can click the “pin it” button and choose a picture to represent your pin. Then you’ll be able to find that same idea on the internet again just by looking on your Pinterest board. I interact with Pinterest in this way least often. In fact, I know there are many Pinterest users who never pin anything from the internet. They simply repin things that are already on Pinterest.

Implications

In all honesty, I’m surprised by how much Pinterest has revolutionized our teaching and planning. Finding new teaching and learning activities that are relevant to our themes and age group has never been simpler. Current ideas and best practices are flowing into our Pinterest feed and we’re discovering things we might have overlooked before. Have you discovered Pinterest yet? Are you using it for your teaching?

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.