Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 11.22.51 AMAfter an invigorating day with Kathy Cassidy, Monica and I attended another wonderful workshop on day 2 titled, “iPads for Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity,” led by Lainie Rowell, a former elementary educator who is now an independent professional developer and consultant who works closely with educators to find innovative ways to improve teaching and learning.

Lainie began the session with us accessing, so that when we had a thought or question, we could type it onto the screen and everyone could see it. This helped Lainie answer questions later and it helped us all brainstorm answers to each other’s questions. Kathy used a similar tool in her session as well called padlet. These two tools could assist your quietest of students to be able to let their voices be heard because they would not have to speak up as they could type the questions and answers onto the screen.

Lainie reminded us how students are growing up in a technological world. She showed us a great Dateline video where young students are given older technologies, such as a record, a rotary telephone, and more, and the kids are deciphering what it is and how to use it.

Lainie’s essential questions from the video were, “What do you do with a device when you do not know how to use it?” and “What do you want the students to do?” As educators, we are given devices with little training. When this occurs, we feel like these young students in the video, trying to figure out what the device is and how to use it. So, we need to begin with the question of what we want our students to learn and then find out if the tool to assist with this is technology.

When Lainie showed us a 1:1 classroom’s writing workshop, the teacher of the class stated to the children that they could use technology or they could use paper and pencil. Giving her students the choice is key. Some students flock to using technology because they are more comfortable with it. And some flock to using paper and pencil. However, our classrooms need to have that differentiation so that we can reach all of our students.

IMG_4329What does this differentiation look like in an elementary music classroom?

In my classroom, when students are creating music, we do this with every part of my classroom from creating a song to sing by rote, to creating new sections of a song by performing on instruments, to creating choreography to a song, to composing a song. When we compose, the students can use technology and they can also use paper an pencil. My younger students usually prefer the technology, but I have had some write a song using paper and pencil. You can see examples of this from my students in PreK/K when they attended a Saturday workshop in our Studio and they wrote the music that I was playing on my flute.

Lainie reminded us that technology can assist in ways that were not possible or affordable in the past. She showed us a beautiful video of an autistic boy who was quiet for the first nine years of his life and then by using an iPad app, he could now communicate with his parents and peers. In the music classroom, I have found that virtual instruments on the iPads assist students who are challenged when playing traditional instruments. When I open a virtual instrument app on the iPad and plug it into a decent pair of speakers, the student’s face lights up because he/she can now play what was a challenging and difficult instrument, very successfully. To see some of the virtual instrument apps I use or have used, please check out my website’s iPod/iPad page:

iPad Tips and Hints

Although I have used iPads for years, I was surprised to how many new and useful hints I learned from the session. Here are some that made me rethink of ways I could utilize these features so much better in my classroom:

  • Accents over letters: Holding down a letter on the keyboard to access accents that can be used over that letter. I.e. é.
  • Adding languages to your keyboard: This is a great tool for world language teachers as well as those students who feel comfortable typing in their native language. To add more languages, goto Settings>General>Keyboard>Keyboards>Add New Keyboard. Lainie pointed out that when you update your iOS system, may times new languages will be offered to add to your keyboard.
  • Guided Access: I have loved this feature for years. When you have a few iPads in your room and your students are not bringing the iPads with them to class, this is a great feature. Guided Access allows you to have the students only access one app on the screen. The students cannot click out of the app. If they try, it asks for the passcode. In Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 11.05.38 AMaddition, you can set up general access so that you can block certain items on the screen from being accessed. You can block ads that might be there or you could block certain pitches on a virtual xylophone app. You can set this up in Settings>General>Accessibility>Guided Access. Turn it on and set up the passcode. Now, when you are in an app and you triple click the home button, guided access will begin when you click “start” at the top right-hand corner of the screen. Before you do that, you can circle items on the screen that you would not want the students to touch. For example, in the Percussive app, you can circle the xylophone bars that you do not need for the song.
  • Sharing: If you have a newer iPad (iPad fourth generation and newer, iPad mini and iPod Touch fifth generation and newer) you have access to AirDrop. When you touch and push up on the bottom of the screen, a menu shows up where you will see “AirDrop: Contacts Only”. Click on this to change it to “Everyone.” Now you can AirDrop items from your iPad to your students iPad with one click. I now just keep AirDrop set to Everyone because you have to approve anything that is sent to your iPad. For example, if I want all of the students to have a book I made in book creator, I would AirDrop it to them and they would accept it. Their iPads would then ask them what app would work to open the book that was created in Book Creator. The iPad will show many options and you can tell them what app to click. AirDrop will save you a lot of time and hassle when sharing items with your students.
  • Safari Hints: I will be honest and tell you that I prefer Chrome. However, the hints she showed in Safari, I have not seen in Chrome and they are useful items for the classroom.
    • Searching for words on a webpage: When you are on a website and you would like to search for a term, like “music composition,” you can do this in Safari. Click into the url bar on the top of the page, type in your term that you are searching for, scroll all the way down to “on this page”, and click on that. You will see the term now highlighted on the page.
    • Read mode: When you would like to have students read an article on a website, click on the article. Once it has launched, click the four-line symbol in the url
      bar. This places the article in reading view and takes out all of the other busy items (ads, other headlines, etc) so that the students can focus on the article you assigned them to read.
    • Saving an article to read later without wifi: Want them to read an article later but they might not have internet access? One way is to add the article to Safari’s reading list by clicking the sharing button and adding to the reading list. That allows the students to access it later without internet access. Or you can do this before you get on a plane with no wifi.

Creativity in the Classroom:

Lainie finished the session by showing us some wonderfully, creative tools for the classroom.

  • Popplet for thinking maps, which can assist your students in processing and organizing their thoughts before they create.
  • for an online creative tool that will allow you to easily draw sketches and collaborate with others on drawings and sketches.
  • ePubs, like the ones created in Book Creator.
  • Presentations, like the ones created in Keynote.
  • Movies, like the ones created in iMovieNeed these for chrome, google play, or android, check out the first bullet in the resources below.
    • Lainie let us use whatever creative tool we wanted to create a short movie about a word. Monica and I chose BAG, so we could highlight the various bags/purses/food bags in the room, as well as showing BAG as written on a music staff.
    • Monica and I chose the iMovie app and used the Movie Trailer setup.
    • The Movie Trailer setup is one that many elementary students can use. It has the template set up for you so your students need to use their creative thinking tools to decide what pictures and words they would use to accentuate the word.
      • Monica and I first wrote up a storyboard.
      • We then took pictures of bags and I used the Explain Everything App to draw the staff with BAG on it.
      • We placed the pictures into iMovie.
      • We then added the captions.
      • We had limited timing, so it ended up being a work in progress.
      • However, Monica and I could see how this could be utilized in our classes:
        • Monica can emphasize Spanish words that the students are currently mastering. They can create a movie trailer about the word.
        • I could use this when the students study a composer. They could create a movie trailer about the composer. The only downside I saw with this setup was that you could not choose the music, which for music class, would be a nice option. However, the simplicity of the movie trailer setup is ideal for younger students.

Some amazing resources I gained from her session:

And to end this blog post, I ask you to reflect on these two questions that she posed in her session:

  1. If there is no real-world connection, should we be teaching it?
  2. Do we need to be educating others about it?



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