First try with Appsmashing

I don’t like textbooks very much, I must admit it.

And the moments I like them the least is when they present some passages about topics which seem to come out from nowhere and with words or references to topics that students cannot possibly know. So I have to invent some activities that  have to motivate students to read and have therefore to be engaging, but that have also to give them the knowledge they need to fully understand the text.

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a Twitter hashtag which  led me to learn about appsmashing – #appsmash –  and since I was trying to find out a way to introduce a passage about Scotland, I used it at once.

Appsmashing is the combination of more apps in order to obtain a single product.

I thought it was the right solution for my problems and so I started using it on my iPad.

As I said, the passage we will read is about some aspects of Scotland. It mentions haggis, porridge and tartan without explaining what they exactly are and I am sure my students don’t know any of them.

scotland

 

So I thought of preparing a video for the students to use in a flipped classroom activity.

First I prepared a word cloud, using the first app of the process: Word Clouds

word cloudThen I used Google and Google Earth for images and next I started thinking about how to organize the video. I didn’t want just a video. I wanted a special one 🙂

I therefore used Tellagami in order to create a speaking avatar on a green background. The avatar had the task to explain the difficult terms. Next I used iMovie in order to create a video with all the images I had previously downloaded. Finally I used DoInk Green Screen to edit the video and put the avatar in the right background.

apps

 

 

And here is the result!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-_94mjKfJM

 

I know, I know, it is not perfect but I think it will be helpful anyway. And what’s more I think of the incredible potentialities of appsmashing above all when I ask the students to create their own presentations or videos! Can’t wait to see them!

 

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A lesson with tablets

Next year one of my classes will be using tablets. I am thrilled at the idea of experimenting what I have learnt so far and am now planning because I know that planning is essential if you want your work to be successful. 

In addition I really don’t want to focus on the technology itself, but I am interested in considering how tools and apps can really help my students get knowledge and above all the skills that they will need in the future.

I have just read an interesting article Learning is not about the Technology and I think this exactly is the point.

At the moment I have created a sort of warming-up activity for the first days at school.  Next I am going to create other lessons but above all to study the right way to integrate technology in my daily routine at school.

In my first lessons what I intend to do is:

Make the students work in groups so to foster their team-working skills;

Make the students get familiar with some tools they will use throughout the school year and which hopefully will allow them to express their creativity but also skills related to analysis and synthesis;

Make the students practise reading skills and language analysis 

I have chosen a funny story from the ones presented here 

I have cut the story into short paragraphs/sentences and with the words I have created some word clouds, using Wordle. 

Image

Students are divided into groups of four and are now asked to reconstruct the paragraphs. I have used Wordle because it has the right layout, it uses all the words I need and the most used ones are made bigger.

In order to rebuild the paragraphs, they are expected to read all the words carefully and find out the right way to join them, taking into account capital letters, their function in the sentence, and anything else that might link words together.

When they have finished, they have to upload their paragraph to Edmodo in order to share and see what the other groups have found out.

All the paragraphs are of course in a jumble order and they have now to put them together correctly and rebuild the whole story. Here too they have to analyse all the sentences carefully and decide together on their right order.

Finally they have to suggest an appropriate title for the story; a poll is now created on Edmodo and they use it to choose the best one. 

Since this is class of students who already know how to use Animoto, Vimeo, Toondoo, Audioboo, EduCreations, as a follow up activity, they can now choose to

write a story of their own; 

illustrate the story using comics or a video; 

create an image which presents the story;

dramatise the story;

rewrite the story but set it in another country and consider what should be changed;

create an audio version of the story.

They can prepare such activity as homework working together in groups using Edmodo while in the next classes they can work together to improve and complete it.

A class will be devoted to their performances or presentations, which could be filmed to be shown also to parents, for example.

Is this an activity which could be made even without tablets? 

 Image

Let’s see. I should print all the wordles, ask the students to write their paragraphs, photocopy all their paragraphs or write them all on the blackboard in order to give them the possibility to reconstruct the story, ask them to write their suggestions for the title, read them and ask them to vote, maybe raising their hands, and then ….comics, audiorecordings, videos… well, no , I don’t think I could do it; you can of course create content even without tablets but not this way and not so easily.

I don’t know if this is the right way to integrate technology in the classroom, but I think it is an honest attempt.