I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a number of lessons at Adel Elementary (which are the subjects of observations #5 – #8), the first of which was an observation of Christal Tilley’s 2nd Grade class. The lesson that I sat in on was a focused on equation balancing.
The equipment present in Ms. Tilley’s room included a MimioTeach interactive whiteboard device, a MimioView document camera, a mounted short-throw projector and speakers, a set of iPads (3), a MacBook Air laptop, and a MacBook Pro laptop.
This lesson was to begin just after lunch, so students did not all return to the classroom at the same time. Rather than having non-instructional time until all students had arrived, Ms. Tilley projected an iPad with the math game Chicken Run, which served as an introduction to the equation balancing lesson. One of the difficulties with iPad games when a full class set of iPads is not available is management of the game; in this case, Ms. Tilley had the iPad running the game in a student-accessible area in front of the room, and students would be called on to come to the front to solve a problem. All of the students present were excited about working on a problem.
Once all of the students had arrived, Ms. Tilley switched to the Educreations iPad app, which – at a fundamental level – is a screencasting app that allows for creation of a video of what the user is writing on an iPad screen, along with the corresponding audio. Students had used this app before to create addition problems, and record the process required for solving them. To see this in action, check out the video below.
I thought that this approach for using an iPad in class was outstanding. Not only were the students excited to go to the front to work through a problem, but the result also gave them a finished product – in this case, a video of their process with the audio of their explanation of the process – that they could share with others. In this case, after a student completed working through a problem, Ms. Tilley emailed the video to a parent. Further, this was a good example of how a technology-heavy lesson doesn’t have to be focused on the technology. The focus was clearly on the students’ ability to solve this type of problem, and the easily-accessible setup at the front of the room and the use of a simple application allowed for accentuation of that focus. Further, Ms. Tilley frequently asked students to turn to another student and talk through a question or problem, or to explain a process to the class, allowing for opportunities for students to engage the material more frequently than if they were simply waiting their turn to work at the front.
Thanks to Ms. Tilley and her students for inviting me into their classroom!