I’m sitting on the floor. Actually, I am sitting on a small red chair, but it is only about 8 inches above the floor. The classroom teacher is sitting beside me but she seems quite comfortable. It seems this chair was designed for little people, like the five year olds that are gathered in a circle on the mat in front of me. There’s a boy playing with his shoelaces but all the other students are doing their utmost to sit up straight and show they are ready to start. These students know that they need to show that they are good listeners before their class teacher will allow them to have a turn on the iPad. Today we will be using a puppet app on the iPad to interview each other, and practise our skills at posing questions, listening to our classmates, and creating a short story we can present to the class.
Excitement and hilarity ensue. Some students don’t quite grasp the concept of making a puppet move on screen while talking, but all students are very proud of their finished video, and the page of their workbook that served as their “script”. One boy tells me his favourite animal is a dog, but he can’t draw dogs very well, so he decorated his script with a shark instead.
I am in a year 4 class. The students in this class have been using a combination of print and web based resources to research the history of Australian Aborigines. Each pair of students is looking at a different aspect of Aboriginal history, which they identified and chose themselves. We have spent a great deal of time finding useful information, saving and collating it, all the while sharpening our research and referencing skills. Students have been using iPads to help in the research process. The Camera Roll is loaded with interesting images that will help tell their story, and the Notes app is full of links to websites they have found useful throughout their research. Their Language workbooks have now been witness to multiple drafts of the script they will eventually narrate and overlay with their documentary style video.
We all want to make a video like the David Attenborough one we just watched. We are beginning to realise that the most captivating thing about those videos is way the images are coupled with real stories, not just a string of facts we could find on Wikipedia. Even though we won’t be using our own video footage, we know we can make great videos if our story is captivating, and our pictures are well chosen.
The videos we make in the iMovie app on the iPad will be shown at the assembly on NAIDOC day. Some may even end up being featured on the school’s website, or made available as a download for parents to see what their students have been working so hard at.
I smile at the realisation that, in the whole time we have been using the iPad to access the internet, I haven’t had a single student ask about Temple Run, or go to youtube to watch a One Direction video. I assume they were too busy enjoying the task they were challenged with.
When I was studying to be a mathematics teacher, I had no idea this is where I would end up. Perhaps I thought I would need to know about scientific calculators and CAS calculators, perhaps some spreadsheeting software for programming and data analysis. I am not even sure if my current job existed when I was at Uni.