Saturday, December 7, 2013

iPads in Grade 4: Using Aurasma

My 2nd Week Reflection, Part 1
My school lent my classroom five iPads two weeks ago to see if I could find things to do with them. If I can then they might make them more widely available for other upper elementary classrooms. My class gets to use them for three weeks and then I have to give them up. In the meantime I've been asked to make weekly reports on how I used them. 

This is what I'll talk about for Week 2:
1) Using Aurasma to Recommend Books
2) Finalizing our Book Trailers (continued from Week 1)
3) Extending our Math Tutorial Playlist (continued from Week 1)
4) Recording our Thinking For Assessments

Because I have a small history with Aurasma that extended beyond this past week, I'm going to use this post to talk solely about this. The other three topics will be covered in the next post. 

1) Using Aurasma to Recommend Books
I love the potential of Aurasma. If only every adult and child would have it installed on their smart device, and then subscribed to our class channel, and somehow have that device soldered into their brain stem, Aurasma would be the coolest thing ever.
This rainbow screams, "Hook me into your medulla oblongata."

But there's no easy way to plug this app into your body, and that's a shame because unfortunately to understand the next section, you'll have to go through these steps to understand what the heck I'm talking about.

      1) Download Aurasma on either iOS or Android.

      2) Subscribe to my Aurasma channel: In the Aurasma app, you can search for channels. Our classroom channel is called ISP Grade 4-R

      3) With the app open, hover your device over selective pictures and text in this section.
      I'll give you a few seconds to do that. In the meantime, I'll entertain myself with a logo that I wish Aurasma would have used as their own:
This rainbow screams, "Hook me into your medulla oblongata."

      Done? Great. Now, back to Aurasma. 
      There are dozens of ways to use this app in the classroom. I have an iPad, so I wanted to do something for Open House this year. One of our first "Get to know each other" activities in the class was to do a small writing project based on the photo book, The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald. 

For our open house, I published the photos with the children's writing around the room. Then I videoed them reading their writing. The idea was that parents could try to guess their children based on a black and white photo of close-up body parts, then use Aurasma to see if they were right. You can try it with the photo below: 

The best part of me is my left eye because its like a black moon. 
It never shines so it never gives me away when I am hiding.

But I haven't really been able to use the app to benefit the kids, because we didn't have any that were readily available in the classroom. So what else would I use the app for? Here are a couple of ideas that I really like:

A) Extending the meaning of a Word Wall
During our "Rights and Responsibilities" unit, we were trying to increase are vocabulary so that we could better describe and identify intangibles that we value. To do this, I had the kids choose a word that they previously didn't know, and create a 10 second pantomime to demonstrate that word. I eventually wanted to create a word wall with each word attached to its own silent video of the students demonstrating what that word meant. Because of the one iPad restriction, I never ended up setting up that wall. But here is what it would look like. Point your device at each of the big words below to see the attached videos:



Making an Aurasma Book Basket
This past week I wanted to start collecting book reviews from classroom books, and attaching those reviews to the books using Aurasma. The idea was that if someone was trying to figure out what book they wanted to read, they could grab an iPad mini, and peruse the Aurasma book basket to see what other kids thought about the books. 
I first had the children treat their book reviews like I have them design their reading response letters: A summary followed by what they think about the book. Here is an example of book talk that was well put together, but probably doesn't fulfill its intended purpose because of the format that I asked him to follow:

Although the reviews were informative, they really didn't fit the purpose. If someone wanted to know what the book was about, they could just read the back cover. What we needed in these reviews was less of a summary and more opinion. We needed a hook, and we needed the reviews to be much shorter.
Later in the week I developed this template to hopefully help us achieve those goals:

      A)   The Question:
Start with a question that connects the listener to the book. I got this idea from watching tons of movie trailers. I've often incorporated the criteria in our book trailers. It only makes sense to also use it in our book reviews. 
      B)    The Bridge: Connect the question to the book your talking about. If you have a summary, make it as short as possible.*
      C)   The CritiqueWhat are three good and/or not-so-good things about this book?
D) The Example: Give a specific example on your last like/dislike.
E) The Recommendation: Do you recommend this book and why? What rating do you give  it?
We went through this process as a class with a read aloud book we finished a couple of weeks ago: No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis:
Then I had the kids make their own. What I didn't do but will need to do, is show how all the pieces can fit together. The ingredients are there, but the kids still need to learn how to mix them so it sounds more fluid. Anyway, here is an example of the book reviews the kids did yesterday:

It's not too wordy, the audience doesn't get lost in a long summary, and there are a lot of opinions. I really think it's a beginning to producing actual reviews that are useful to more than just the student who wrote it and the teacher who assesses it. 

*I was just on the Netflix homepage and it reminded me of the beginning of Arrested Development: "And now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together." Perhaps most book summaries could be told with a similar format:
"The story of (adjective) (noun) who (participle phrase), and the (noun) who had no choice but to (participle phrase)."

Here are a couple of attempts to do this:
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

"The story of a black family who was threatened in the 1930s South, and a little girl who had no choice but to grow up faster than she wanted.

No Talking by Andrew Clements
"The story of a 5th grade class who loved to talk, and the precocious boy who made them silent for 48 hours."

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
"The story of a birthday that kept repeating day after day, and the desperate girl who was trapped in it."

Okay... maybe the template is not quite as intuitive as I initially thought.

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