On Monday, 5H went to the Planetarium at Glenfield to enjoy Mr. Miller’s presentation. During these trips I always think the best part is that children who never or rarely have a chance to get out of the city zone get to see what a night sky without pollution or city lights looks like. They see a starry night the way it was before human beings overpopulated and obscured that view. However, as time has gone by since we began these yearly trips, our students have become less impressed by something they just view and I think they’ve come to expect more interactive technology.
What a surprise when we got back from the Planetarium and the class realized they would be playing with iPads! After a short talk from Dr. Putrino about how the iPads should be handled, we went right into a space app. I had found this application when I got the opportunity to play with the iPad over the weekend. It was more like obsession than play time, really, but when I realized I had to actually feed my son and take care of other basic human needs, I was able to have the iPad wrenched from my clenched fingers.
During my play time, I found an app that actually shows you the night sky in sections according to where you point the iPad. You wave it in a figure 8 and it coordinates itself to your hemispheric location. When you move it across a ceiling or the sky if your outside, it shows you the constellations in that particular location. It also shows you the planets if they are in that range. In addition, there are options to read about the different planets through a wiki-like window and you can turn the less brighter stars down to make it look like a city night sky - only showing the brightest stars. You can even zoom in with your fingers like an iPhone or iTouch.
I went on to show them a few more apps having to do with geography and how they can play games together. My favorite one being PenduGeo - a game of hangman with all the countries in the world that can also be played in a mode that allows you to make up your own words.
There is so much potential for the use of this new technology. I would love to use it as enrichment. They are also great for reinforcement of basic skills with flashcards that can be used for any subject. There are apps for dictation, writing, reading aloud, spelling and drawing. Research is easy with the Wiki apps and access to the internet. Another great thing about them is the incentive for good behavior. I’ve always found putting the carrot before the cart to be much more effective with classroom management or behavior issues. If any of you have any other ideas, please share!
Needless to say, the children had a wonderful time and were excited to know when we could use them again. So am I!
Science & Social Studies