How do I teach a new app to the students?
Well, sort of…
Let me explain….
With productivity apps like iMovie, Keynote, Pages, iA Writer, and Show Me I give the students time to explore and ‘play’ with the app prior to a learning activity that I know is coming up that will be using a particular app. I begin the lesson by saying to the students that I would like them to have some fun with this new app. I just give a quick overview and show some things what the app can do and then I send the students off to experiment on their own.
While this exploration stage is going on I observe what the students are doing and listen to their conversations. It is amazing to observe these students apply their 21st Century thinking skills and direct their own learning through trial and error, problem solving and collaboration as they openly discuss what they are doing with their small group peers. These young wired brains are quite fearless and the notion of risk-taking is very natural to them when it comes to working with their iPad.
I also enjoying watching what experimental things they create as they explore the new app. For example, when I had my students familiarize themselves with the app Show Me, I had one student create a ‘Tic Tac Toe’ game and proceeded to find other students to play the game with. In a short period of time several students were into creating their own Show Me game boards. My initial reaction was to judge this choice as being evidence of poor quality use of learning time but I immediately changed my mind when I say what the students did with it. The app was relatively easy to learn so the focus became on the game. The students did not turn on the record button while they played the game but they did review it afterwards. What I marveled at was how they intuitively engaged in metacognitive thinking and reviewed the strategies they used with each turn. They were teaching themselves where to place the X or the O in order to win the game. That was a teachable moment that we teachers always look for and it reminded me of watch a ply back on a televised football game where the sports announcer goes over a play and the viewer can watch the drawn circles and arrows on the screen.
After the students have had their exploration and play time we use the Apple TV which I wrote about here for some of the students to show and share what they discovered about the app. They turn on mirroring on their iPad and teach the class some aspect of the app. The students then quickly check out what was shared on their iPad for a little practice time. The number of show and shares varies but I usually have from 5-10 students contribute something, depending on the complexity of the app.
With this system for teaching apps I have created an environment of a community of learners. Not only are my students engaged in self-directed discovery and learning, they are teaching each other and they are teaching me as their teacher. I do not have the time and nor do I want to spend hours becoming an expert on every single app. I prefer to have my focus be on the learner and the learning and how to effectively integrate the apps on the iPad to support a deeper understanding and high level of learning skills.
How I Teach a New App to the Students…. Lessons Learned… Lessons Shared