Timeline Creation App for iPad

28 Mar

Last week I was walking down the hall and saw a group of students working on a timeline for their Biology class.  They had a large white sheet of paper (about 6 feet long) and they were measuring out a distance of time on it and adding significant events.  As I got back to my desk I thought to myself “there has to be a great iPad app out there that can do this in a more meaningful way.”  After searching for just a short time I discovered a great App: 3DTimeline.  Although this App is $9.99 it is well worth it for the ease of use and the professional looking product that gets created when you are finished.  Because students can add images and video to their timelines it can be used as a standalone project or as part of a larger presentation.  (In the end it almost has a Prezi feel to it)

Major Features:

Easy to edit:  As you can see in the image below, the ability to add new events and information about that event is very intuitive.

3D timeline

 

Timeline creates a beautiful finished product that can be viewed in either 3D within the app or sent our of the App as a PDF.

See result of a timeline below at the end of this overview video.

 

 

 

The little and unexpected positive uses of an iPad

27 Mar

I was having a conversation with a physics teacher at my school last week and he pointed out a few interesting and unexpected advantages he has found about using iPads in his class that I thought I would share.

 

Size of a piece of paper doesn’t matter anymore:

In the past I have always used the default paper size of 81/2 x 11 piece of paper because that is what we can print at school.  With the introduction of the iPad and PDF annotating apps like UPAD, Notability and my favorite PDF Expert 5, the size of the paper no longer matters.  This allows teachers to actually put more information on one page limiting the number of times kids have to flip from one page to the next.  By setting the default page size to something bigger like 11×17 teachers can place notes, text and graphs all on a single page.

 

Color Matters

In any class the use of different colored text, color images and color graphs can make classroom discussions a lot easier.  When discussing a particular line on a graph or diagraming sentence structure it is really nice to be able to reference different items by color.  A simple yet very effective way to enhance discussions.

 

 

Flipboard for PLN

1 Mar

If you have not used Flipboard, or another app like it, to curate all of your incoming information from RSS feeds, Twitter and other websites you are missing out.  I found myself checking three or four different blogs a week, several news sources and monitoring a number of twitter hashtags in my effort to keep up with educational technology.  Flipboard is a great iPad app that curates all of this information into one place and displays it in a layout, similar to a magazine.  Now I just have to spend a few minutes a day “flipping” through my different magazines (or boards)  on Flipboard.

In addition to reading articles, twitter feeds and blog posts, you can create your own boards  to curate information you are interested in.  Several teachers at our school are using this to compile articles for their students to read.  The teachers create boards centered around topics their students are researching and the student subscribe to their teacher’s boards.    These boards immediately update on the student’s Flipboard App giving them the most up to date articles to read.

See the  short video demo below:

Stop Motion Animation

28 Feb

Stop motion animation can be a great way to get students to create short videos around different topics.  Students can use stop motion to create short animated films or to demonstrate knowledge of a particular process.  In my class we have used it to help student learn processes like Glycolysis and Mitosis/Meiosis, but I have seen it used in English and Social Studies to tell stories as well.

See the student examples below that were made with iMotion HD

This is an easy app that is FREE and allows students to create wonderful stop motion videos.

Meiosis Student Examples 

Glycolysis Student Examples 

Student Authoring of Content using iBook Author

9 Oct

Even though iBook Author is not available on the iPad and my class is 1:1 with iPad I still think it is very relevant to a 1:1 iPad class.  (All you need is a Mac computer lab or access to a few Macs for students to share)   First, the content the students make using iBook author, is an iBook, meaning the finished product is designed to be viewed on an iPad and secondly the multitouch digital textbooks that students are able to create are awesome!

Click here to see the assignment:  Histology Project Overview

In my anatomy and physiology class I had each student create a single chapter within iBook Author on a specific type of tissue found in the body.  To take advantage of their iPads I had them complete all of their research ahead of time using internet and book research in class.  (I had the library deliver a cart of books on tissues)  In addition to the research they had to take several pictures of their assigned tissue using their iPad cameras and our normal compound microscopes in the class.

After they finished their research and picture taking the student spent two days in the computer lab working on their actual chapter.  I had the student use the same template so when I compiled all the chapters together it would flow into one book.  It only took me about 15 minutes to compile all 20+ chapters.

Once I compiled the book I published it to our Learning Management Systen Canvas so they could download it and use it during out lab portion of the unit.  (Student have to ID unknown tissue samples)

Click here to download the iBook my class made:  New Trier Histology

Here are a few images from the book:

Using Student Created Animation to Increase Understanding

8 Oct

Animations can be used as both a learning tool and as a way for students to demonstrate mastery of content.  In my anatomy and physiology classroom students are faced with learning a number of challenging physiology processes that involve multiple moving parts, steps, molecules, ions, and cells.  With a traditional lecture style approach, these processes can be difficult for students to fully understand. Teacher whiteboards and student note sheets become a jumble of cell parts, proteins, ions, and other molecules with no discernible beginning or end making it difficult for students to learn.  When students get home and begin reviewing their notes, they are often confused by what they wrote down in class.  As a result, they simply put their notes away and wait for class the next day.

The teaching method I describe in this post provides an opportunity for students to engage and re-engage with material in ways never possible before the introduction of the iPad and Animation Creator HD.  Take a moment to explore the  image below.  This is a picture of the whiteboard after a typical muscle contraction lecture.  As you can see the board is a mess with ions, proteins, a number of arrows, plus signs, minus signs and a number of different labels.  Even with color coding, it can be difficult to decipher the image.  Imagine a student hearing this concept for the first time and then trying to make sense of their notes once they arrive home!

Muscle Lecture

When students create their own animations using the App Animation Creator HD, they understand the material more quickly  and at a much higher level.  How do I know this?  Before I began using animation, students record their notes in a traditional paper and pencil manner based on my drawings from the whiteboard at the front of the room.  Students struggle because these processes involve dozens of moving molecules, numerous cells, and many cyclical processes that have to reset themselves before occurring again and again.  The introduction of animation changes the way students learn processes such as neuron action potential, muscle contraction, the immune response and the generation of ATP.  By allowing students to create animated notes, they can see biological processes occur as a series of events.  They are creating notes that allow science to unfold before their eyes on their iPad.

These animated notes are much more powerful than any they can watch on YouTube for several reasons.  First, the act of creating the animations jump starts the process of understanding because students get introduced to pertinent vocabulary as well as the structures and sequence of events.  This familiarity with vocabulary is based on my requirement that my students overlay an audio explanation to their animations for homework.  This final step might be one of the most powerful parts of this project.  Requiring my students to add audio to their project forces them to re-engage with the material at home.  During the process of recording audio, many students will spend a great amount of time rerecording sections in attempt to get it “perfect.” This added auditory practice, combined with the repeated viewing of their animations has led to a much quicker and deeper understanding of the material.

The final part of this project involves viewing the animations the next day as a whole class.  I have noticed that students that are typically reluctant to share in class find this project a comfortable medium to highlight their understanding of the content.  Students, in general, were eager to share their animations with me and the class.  Reviewing the animations together as a class provided a collaborative and safe forum for peer editing.  Students helped each other by pointing out inaccuracies that were sometimes being made in their animations.  For example, during our study of the biochemistry behind muscle contraction, students were able to point out places in their peer’s animations where they had switched ions, used the wrong neurotransmitters, or incorrectly named the protein channels. Before using this learning process, I would expect this level of understanding at the end of the unit, not on the second day.

Student Examples:

Tutorial Videos

 

ASCD Presentation: iPads in Education

18 Mar

Here is our Keynote presentation that we given at the ASCD conference in Chicago on March 16th.  The presentation examined the ways in which a teacher lead, ground up, proposal based approach to a 1:1 iPad initiative has changed teaching and learning at New Trier High School.

Session Description”New Trier High School is in the second year of an iPad pilot program. More than 600 students in 15 different courses received iPads this year. In this session, the presenters will share examples of how teaching and learning were transformed, explain their process of developing this pilot program and creating buy-in with the school community, detail evaluation plans, and describe plans for the future.”

Here is a link to our slides:

New Trier Mobile Learning Initiative ASCD Final Slides

There were a number of videos embedded in the slides.  The links are below:

Introduction Video:  The student perspective

Video #1:  Students Demonstrating Knowledge

Video #2:  Student Collaboration

Video #3:  eBooks

Video #4: iPads in Science, ESL and American Studies

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