The Ultimate Guide to Using iPads in the Classroom

There is no doubt to anyone who has used an iPad or any tablet for that matter that they show a clear alternative to teaching learning in the classroom beyond laptops, screens and monitors.  The iPads simplicity of use and massive range of apps give it a great deal of appeal as a teaching and learning tool and the future looks bright for this trend to continue.  

Yes it does have a number of shortfalls in some areas - like any early technology so I am going to share some great resources with you that I have come across which highlight the benefits of iPads in the class room and hopefully they will be of use to you.

The DEECD located in Victoria Australia has some brilliant resources located at their iPads in the classroom trial website including.

The 21 Steps to iPad success which is a document created to assist schools to smoothly implementing their iPads in the classroom, and have provided each school with some support materials. The In Their Hands: iPads for Learning Trial; 21 Steps to 1-to-1 Success outlines four phases for successful implementation of 1-to-1 devices:

  1. Planning
  2. Preparing
  3. Implementing
  4. Evaluating

The Getting Started Guide can also be downloaded here and it has some great lesson suggestions and apps that you can use as both a teacher and a student.

More information about the DEECD trial can be found here

Here are some sample lessons that will give you an idea of not only how to integrate the iPad into your classroom but give you a great template for planning lessons that utilise a tablet.

Here are a nice collection of tips for teachers using iPads in education covering a very broad range of topics

Do you have a iPads in your school and need help putting together a user policy - download this one and see what GFW High School implement iPad use to teachers and students.

Here are some more useful resoruces on Ipads from Educause.  Generally quite broad again but worth a look.

Finally there are literally hundreds of educational app review sites popping up on the web but here is a great starting point for finding genuinely useful apps before you trawl the web.

Obviously there are loads of great iPad resources popping up on the web everyday.  If you think we have missed something important please leave a comment below and let us know.

The Ultimate Guide to Wordle for Educators

For the uninitiated Wordle is essentially a word cloud generator that creates word clouds from text you either manually enter or draw from websites, news feeds or utilise tags from a del.icio.us account to create a visually appealing word cloud which you can customise and stylize to suit your needs.

The beauty of Wordle is that there is no signup or login and the whole process can be completed in as little as a minute depending on how complex you wish to get.   Here is a Wordle I generated from my website at www.edgalaxy.com

Wordle is incredibly popular with teachers and students because of its simplicity and capacity to offer multiple open-ended opportunities across all curriculum areas.  So today I am going to share some of my knowledge of using Wordle and some Lesson ideas that will hopefully make Wordle your preferred option next time you do a class brainstorming session or you are looking for a tool to inspire some creativity in your lessons.

First off here are a few things you need to know about Wordle:

Wordle graphically emphasises words that have been repeated.  So if you are doing a class survey on your favourite sports teams always remember to enter terms that have been included, These emphasised terms appear larger and bolder on your finished word cloud depending upon the number of times entered.

Wordle does not understand multiple words such as Harry Potter.  This can be very annoying at times as Harry Potter will be recorded as two single words.  You can get around this by joining words.  Ie:  Harry-Potter, Harry~Potter, Harry_Potter or HarryPotter.

Managing Your Wordle

Your finished Wordle can be output in either three ways.  Printout, link to webpage to be viewed in a public Gallery or you have to manually screen capture it and create a digital image.  It is almost criminal that such a great program does not have a button to generate a Jpeg Image or something similar then and there but...  

You don’t have to stop with your customiisation just there as there are a few little tricks you can do to spice up your Wordle beyond randomizing colour schemes and fonts. Such as..

Overlaying Wordle on a background Image.  This can add some real impact to your Wordle.  Simply select an image to put in the background and then follow the instructions below.  The finished product looks like this.  This is Barack Obama's inaguration speech put over a soft White House Logo.

To do this : screen capture the Wordle and then open it in Paint Shop Pro (you can use any program) Import your background image as a new layer and moved it to layer 1.

Use the magic wand (the selection tool to erase all the excess white space on the Wordle. And lay it over the top of your Background Image.  Bingo!! You can also add effects such as drop shadows to your Wordle at this stage to further enhance.

 Importing and Cropping your Wordle.  There are numerous ways to do this depending upon the Platform and Software you are using but this video explains in detail how to do it in Microsoft Word.  It is a simple task in any language.

 

Turn your Wordle into a Coffee Mug or T-Shirt:  Why??? I am not really sure but it can actually look pretty cool and might be a great personalised gift.  Here are a couple of companies that will do it all for you online.  You just supply the image and the cash.

http://www.zazzle.com/

www.cafepress.com

www.spreadshirt.com

 

 Some Lesson Ideas:  The web is literally crawling with hundreds of brilliant ideas on how to use Wordle so consider the lesson ideas listed below as suggestions.  Take these ideas and alter them to suit your own needs.

  • Go to an online discussion forum – paste the URL into Wordle to gain an understanding of the key points.

  • Prior to a lesson go to a news website and create a Wordle from a topical news story or collection of headlines.  Put the contents of the story up for your class to see and get them to see if they can determine what the news event may be.

 

  • Break down the lyrics to a song or dissect a poem to see what are the key components.  Below is a Beatles Wordle, Can you guess the title?

  • Spice up a History lesson by finding a webpage outlining a historical event and create a word map from it.  What are the key factors of that event?  Below is a D-Day wordle.

 

  • Weekly spelling words – From a test type in the word that was most frequently spelled incorrectly as a group. Your hardest words will be the largest.

  • Convert a project into a Wordle and turn it into a Presentation.  All of your key points will right in front of you.

  • Study an Authors vocabulary in depth by entering a single page or segment from a book you are reading.

 

  • Class Rules and Expectations.  Remember to enter in the words you want to emphasise.
  • Classroom Polls and Surveys:  Simple classroom Polls can take a new look.  Once again remember to re-enter multiple votes.
  • Dissect a Famous Speech – Copy and Paste the entire Contents of a Speech into Wordle.  What points were trying to be emphasised.  Here is Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" Speech

  • Character Analysis Mind map

 

  • Create an all about me Poster sharing all the aspects that make up you.  The good, The bad and the Ugly.
  • Convert a simple Recipe using the quantities in correct ratios as words.  Keep it real simple such as a sandwich.

 

As stated earlier Wordle's capacity in the classroom is only limited by your imagination.  I hope this guide has helped you get your head around some fresh or different ideas for using Wordle and I would love to hear some of the great ideas you may done with it also.