In the final weeks of our project, staff and students have been working hard to put the finishing touches on the podcast. Student narrators have been recording their lines; lots of outtakes and laughter.
Last Friday, our school hosted a ‘Gallery of Learning”. The project music group demonstrated the iPads to parents and guests at the event. Several students read their poems “This is my home because …” and the student photographers took pictures and videos of the event. This was a wonderful way for our class to connect with the school and neighbourhood community.
On Tuesday, we hosted our iPad Celebration Lunch for students, parents and guests. Students showed their Family Tree Booklets to their parents and grandparents. Nick gave an overview of the project and played clips of the podcast for the guests. Parents contributed a favourited dish from their culture. Everyone enjoyed sampling the various foods and sharing stories. It was the perfect way to wrap up our project!
Here are some examples of the student work in their booklets.
Our project assembly was last Friday. Nick welcomed students, staff and parents. After giving some background about the project, the students took centre stage. The first presentation, a powerpoint describing the project, was created and narrated by four students. The slides were projected on the smartboard. I’ve included a link for the powerpoint.
The next group of students shared their family trees and maps.
SET BC student showing a tactile map
Students who are in the music group played their songs. One student spontaneously wrote and performed a rap song, which we recorded on the ipad and then changed his voice to demonstrate some of the features of Garage Band. There was lots of laughter as his voice was transformed to a chipmunk!We then had an interactive activity – song writing. The iPad was connected to the Smartboard so the group could see the Garage Band screens. Everyone was asked to vote for their favourite instruments and rhythms as we created a song. This was well received and lots of fun for everyone.
It was then Nick’s turn to set the recond straight about the persistent rumour in the school that his Dad was on the Titanic! Since his Dad’s interview in February, students have been approaching him asking if it’s true that his Dad was on the Titanic. Nick’s Dad’s artifact was a picture of a very large cargo ship that he worked on in the 1950′s. So, the confusion is understandable; ”it’s a very big ship and he’s older”. Here is a picture of the artifact.
Actual ship - Nick's Dad's artifact
This week we have been working on our family tree booklets. Students are finishing their reflective writing, poems and flags. Staff and the editing crew have started putting together the podcast.
Hard at work editing!
All the interviews have been downloaded to our class Mac over the past few weeks. The last few interviews were added. We had a few tense moments as we discovered that two of the most recent interviews had been lost. It seems that they had been inadvertently recorded over when the students were working on the iPads. After a moment of panic, we came up with a way to record the ‘lost’ interviews without asking the parents to come in again. We used the best cell phone speaker and held it up to the ipad to record. We have some interesting sound quality! We realized that we should have designated one iPad for recording and ensured that we downloaded daily.
Next week, our focus will be on finishing everything: the podcast, the student booklets and the displays for the “How Did We Get Here” lunch for students, staff and parents on June 12.
‘A flurry of activity’ best describes our classroom over the past few weeks. Students have been finishing their individual project work, preparing for the assembly, photographing artifacts and recording the last interviews.
The following pictures show students using laptops and iPads to reseach their parents home towns. Many parents are from very small towns or villages so this created some challenges in finding information. For these students, their research was expanded o the nearest large centre or the country.
Research on iPads
Research on class computer
One of our staff recently discovered a free app for creating panorama photos. It’s the perfect app for showing all the students at work!
Class researching parent's home town
The last few interviews were completed this week. Our SET BC student prepared and read her interview questions on her computerized braille device. This worked very well; no difficulties finding the correct line or losing her place etc.
Reading interview questions on the Braillenote
In preparation for the assembly, several students worked together on creating a powerpoint about the project. We think they did a great job! It will be included in the next blog with a report of the assembly.
In our staff discussions this week, it was noted how comfortable the students have become using technology. When we started the project, students were tentative with the iPads. Now, there is a sense of confidence in using the apps and being able to ‘figure things out’. Although it feels that everything is coming together at the last minute, the work students are doing wouldn’t have been possible a few months ago.
Students have been working on their family tree, maps, research and community connections this past few weeks. Our Grade 2 teacher brought in her daughter’s family tree project, which she shared with our class. The project booklet had a family tree, as well as, an interview and short history. This was a wonderful way for students to conceptualize this aspect of the project, which doesn’t involve technology. They took home draft family trees to obtain information from their parents. They have been so engaged in creating their family tree that we realized the template we downloaded was not going to work! So, we started drawing individualized trees on the computer. One of our students showed us a faster way of doing this and volunteered to do personalized templates for all the students! He then organized all the files into a folder on the desktop for easy editing. I’ve included photos of the Family Tree Booklet.
Contents Family Tree Project
Also, this week, our student crews of photographers and bloggers have been busy. The photographers set out with iPads, under the supervision of our Youth and Family Worker, to make a visual tableau of their neighbourhood. A few factors emerged from the activity: first, the ease of using the iPad camera enabled all students to take excellent quality photos; secondly, students really demonstrated their creativity in composition and ability to capture the uniqueness of the neighbourhood, thirdly, the student’s enthusiasim in relating personal experiences to the images and lastly, how welcoming the business community was to the students. One student, who was viewing the pictures with me, had comments such as, “Oh, that’s were I bought my watch and “We go there to buy our vegetables”
Church near the school
Inside jewelry shop
Produce market and shopkeeper
In our informal conversations, the staff have noted how this project has helped us better understand our students and parents. Through our teaching, we interact daily with families but never really learn about their journey, their decision making process to leave their homes, their motivation to come to Canada etc. It’s through these personal stories that we can begin to understand the impact of leaving a homeland and settling in a completely new culture
The student bloggers joined me earlier in the week and contributed the following comments:
“It feels neat to be using ipads for this project.” “We learned more about our family history and I liked learning about the ancestors.” “It was new to me learning about my Dad and the village where he lived.” “I like that we are allowed to write on the ipad.” “I’m excited to hear our voices on the podcast.” ”I’m looking forward to the assembly where we are presenting our project to the school.”
Next week, they will be getting feedback from their classmates to include in the blog.
Also this week, information about our project was included in the school newletter. The class will be giving a short presentation about the project to the staff, students and parents at an assembly. Students are looking forward to showing the iPads, playing some of their original music and sharing their family trees and pictures.
- Recent School Newletter
Our music crew of 6 students, including our SET BC student, have been working daily with creating tracks and sharing their music with the class. The students are exploring different instruments and how to combine sounds and rhythms to create multi – track recordings. These tracks will be used as the ‘bed’ or background and transitions between the interviews on the podcast. Students are very excited about writing music and are looking forward to hearing their original songs on the podcast. Here is a short audio of one student’s original music and a picture of the track and Garage Band screens.
Garage Band has been an easy app for students to learn. It offers very good visual contrast and large icons for selecting instruments. This app has been perfect for our SET BC student, who is a primarily a tactile learner with some residual vision. To our surprise, she has been able to use her vision to create music in Garage Band rather than using the voice over, which was proving difficult to master. By navigating from the edge of the screen, she is able to locate the command buttons and then select intruments with good contrast, such as the piano (black and white) and the guitar. Here is a short video of her demonstrating a song on the piano. The class learned this song on the recorder. She memorized the notes and then transferred this to playing piano and guitar on the ipad independently! Here is a short video of her working on Garage Band.
Uploading the music was a challenge! We finally figured out how to get the song off the ipad and into the iTunes account and then onto our computer! This is good practice for when we compile and edit the interviews and music for the podcast.
We have been busy this past week working on parent interviews. Students have completed the writing process and are interviewing their parents. Students who are interviewing at school are using audio record on Garage Band. Some parents are not able to come to the school for the interview so their children are scribing the answers and then will read parts, using Garage Band, as a narration on the podcast. Parents have brought interesting and diverse artifacts and have really put a lot of thought into their selection. I’ve included a photo of one of the artifacts.
In class,all the students have been working on various aspects of the project; one group writing music for the transitions, one group photographing, one group contributing student persectives for the blogs, one group learning how to do the narration and one group helping with editing the podcast. Here is a photo of our class organization chart for the project.
As parents come to the school for their interviews, there is a sense of excitement in the class and pride in each student as their parent shares stories from their past. Staff have been talking about how rewarding this project has been in terms of building our community. We have been learning so much about the cultures and experiences of the parents in the class.
As mentioned in my last blog, our students are writing, writing and writing on the iPads using Typ – O! The word prediction has been so helpful for the reluctant writers. One of the photos shows the amount of written work that is being accomplished in a short time.
Our SET BC student is becoming more profecient with keyboarding; we’re practicing everyday on a laptop. There are so many factors to attend to when using voice over on the iPad that being able to touch type is a bonus. She loves using Garage Band and has memorized the location of the icons that she needs to use. She will be joining the music group for the project.
After numerous interuptions, our project is back on track! We are in the process of organizing the parent interviews. Students are bringing in artifacts and working with the iPads for writing.
All the students have had an opportunity to write on the iPad using Typ-o, which is an app with word prediction. Although this was their first experience with word predication, they all loved it and found it very easy to edit their work. Our most reluctant writers were so motivated that they wrote more than with paper and pencil and were asking to use the iPad for all their writing.
Our SET BC student has been using the external keyboard and voice over withTyp-O. This is going to take more practice. She has been keyboarding since September and is very accurate when using a talking typing program. However, when she has to write, she uses a few fingers to search for the braille labels on the keys. So, the process is very slow. One strategy we are trying is to have her compose and braille the passage first and then dictate it to her so she can focus on inputting and editing. Currently, there are too many factors to remember: location of keys, paying attention to the voice, the specific iPad commands and the process of composition. She is; however, very motivated! This is an excellent opportunity to help her establish the skills she will need to become a very competent user of technology.
In the past 2 weeks, I have been working with my SET BC student on learning to use Voice Over. The student really enjoyed the ‘practice’ page, which gives voice prompts for the commands. The touch screen is slightly different in Voice Over; single tap selects, double tap opens and three fingers are required to scroll. We joked about how smart the iPad is – it knows if you aren’t using three fingers to scroll! It doesn’t respond!
The commands worked well in Garage Band; however, the student was frustrated with the drag and drop movements, which require a double tap, hold and drag. It didn’t seem like a natural movement since we usually double tap and release. This will take more practice.
The student also found the selected voice “annoying”; however, this was not a reference to the actual voice but to the constant speaking each instruction over and over. I’m not sure if we can do the selected action before the voice is finished but will try it this week. Since this is a first introduction of adapted voice technology for this student, it’s understandable to be somewhat impatient with having to be constantly listening to the same information over and over.
We briefly explored Typ-O HD but didn’t input any of our interview questions. Next week we will introduce the keyboard for the iPad.
Interviewing is a big part of our project so Nick interviewed his Dad in front of the class. To prepare for the interview, the students wrote “thick and thin” questions in their language arts period. The interview started with NIck asking his Dad about his past. We learned about many of his jobs, including working as a shoeshine boy on Hastings when he was 12, working as a signal man in a logging camp at 14 and travelling the world on cargo ships from 15 to 25 years old. His stops included Japan, N.Z. U. K and Africa. During the interview, we used the Smart Board to show pictures of a shoeshine stand from the 1940′s, Vancouver streets in the 1930′s, ships he worked on and his route on the world map. He shared his artifacts, a Rolex watch purchased in Cape Town in 1952 and a painting of the first ship he sailed on. He retold personal experiences that illustrated how the world has changed. His observations about apartheid in South Africa stimulated discussion and connections to the class’ recent study of the underground railway and the treatment of Chinese railyway workers in Canada.
Partway through the interview, students went back to their tables and wrote four more thick and thin questions based on the presentation. We gathered on the carpet after about 10 minutes and the students asked their questions. The interview lasted about an hour and the students were completely engaged throughout! They wrote thank you letters the following day, which included more questions and their favourite parts of the stories.
It also gave us a chance to try out the software on the iPad in an interview situation. We found that the recording was limited to about 10 minutes and then we had to start a new file. We assume there is a setting for continuous recording which we will explore. We used the iPad to take some pictures of Nick’s Dad’s articfacts to incorporate into our artifact photo album.
It’s been almost 3 weeks now that the students were introduced to the iPads and how they relate to their learning in Social Studies. As expected, there was a lot of excitment in the class when the “big reveal” happened! The students understand that the iPads are one part of a much bigger project. They have been exploring the features of Garage Band and becoming familiar with how to record and edit in preparation for the interviews. The students have also been learning how to write and record music in Garage Band for the transitions and themes for the podcast.
Tomorrow we will be moving on to the interview stages of the project. Nick’s father will be visiting the class. He will be bringing an artifact that is meaningful to his family history. Nick will be interviewing and recording this session, which will be an example for the students. His focus will be to ask his Dad specific and open ended questions. The students will then be given a chance to ask both types of questions to Nick’s Dad.
The raw footage will be on the iPad and Nick will demonstrate how to edit the material for the podcast. The students will then decide on a family member to interview and start writing their questions.
We have been very encouraged by the students’ response to this project. They have embraced the concept of learning about their personal history and those of their classmates. They have had ‘no fear’ in using technology and seem to naturally know how to explore the iPads and Garage Band. Our SET BC student, who uses accessibility features, such as voice over to access computers, was able to navigate the home screen and create her own music on Garage Band.
Linda, Nick and Randi