Saturday, December 4, 2010

Beginnings of iPod Touch Integration

With the blessings of my administrators and a willing team of sixth grade teachers I ordered six iPod Touch devices. I have been compiling information on using the devices in the classroom and I am excited to begin using them. My plan right now is to use these first six devices to get the teachers accustomed to using the technology and brainstorming ways that they can be used in their classes. There are three reasons why I began with just six.

1. That was all I could afford at this moment.

2. I want the teachers to have time to learn the technology and adjust their lessons before the devices are thrown at them.

3. Six is enough to use them in class with group activities or as a station.

The funds for this purchase came from a combination of a Student Council fundraiser that was donated to the library and book fair profits. We ordered them from Office Depot because they are an approved school vendor and we received a small discount. I also ordered a six pack of cases from Amazon seller, BargainCell.

Choosing a team of teachers to involve in this project was a difficult choice. I wanted to choose one team. Our school is grouped in teams with one math, science, ELA, and social studies teacher working together teaching the same students. Some of our teams are groups of three and they each have one block of social studies. I did not want a three person team because I wanted each teacher to be able to focus on integrating the iPod touch into their main subject. I did not want to burden a first year teacher with this additional work so that eliminated some teams. And let's face it, there are some teachers that you know will be more open to trying new things and approaching change with a positive attitude. After serious thought and discussion with administrators we decided on a team to include. I met with these teachers and explained the idea. All but one of them had an iPod of their own, but they were only familiar with its use as a MP3 player.

I made a list of links for them to explore that includes webinars on iPods, blog posts, websites, and app reviews. Today I spent a few hours creating an iTunes account for the school, finding a few apps to start with in each subject, syncing all of the iPods, enabling restrictions, and creating and loading a Gmail account for each device. See the Learning in Hand site and the Apple iPod Touch in Education"Getting Started" document for tips on how to complete these set up procedures.
The apps I added for now are:
Goodreads, Evernote, Google Earth, Google, History Tools, Read It Later, Animoto, AudioBoo, Multiply Free, CivilizationRevolution Lite, NASA, QRReader, The Settlers Free, Space Images, The Weather Channel, TimesTablesFree, StoryKit, Find iPhone, Dictionary, FreeGrammar, GreekGods, Gods Trivia, HistoryMaps, Ruler, StudyFlash, WxGenius, 3D Cell, Science Glossary, Blanks, jIdioms, Mad Libs, iThesaurus, Lexify Lite, WordLite, Fraction Factory and PearlDiver.
All of these are free apps. Some of them have paid versions that we may purchase if the teacher feels they will be used. I thought this would be a great start.
There are a few unknowns that I am concerned about. The iTunes Store is blocked at school so I have to sync them at home right now. That is fine with just six, but if we are able to purchase more it will not be a reasonable option. The second major concern is that the newly installed WiFi at our school is not open to us yet. I do not know if they will allow the iPods to get online at school. My hope is that when they see the positive impact of these devices on student learning they will allow us to get on the network. I also hope to earn more funds to buy a classroom set and work our way to one for each student.
I will update on our progress as the teachers begin to play with the devices and use them with their students.

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