Saturday, March 21, 2015

Technology APPreciation

Last Christmas it seems a large number of my students got some sort of technology as a gift.  Whether it was a new iPhone, tablet, or a hand-me-down from one of their parents, my students were getting more access to the internet and hand held devices.  In my lessons teaching about digital safety and citizenship, there were conversations about various apps and websites, many of which I did not know.  So what do you do if you want to know what’s cool and "happening" with the kids?  You ask them that’s what!  So ask I did.  My idea was for students to share in class with me and their classmates their favorite app, website, or game.  The enthusiasm was overwhelming and the students did a great job presenting to their classmates!

 Before the lesson:  Know your cords!
For Apple phones 4s and earlier and iPads 3 and earlier .
The biggest prep for this lesson was experimenting beforehand.  In order to have a successful lesson using technology you must, of course, have the right cords.  I used my iPhone 4s and my iPad Air. Each requires a different VGA cord.  Please see the photos below and be sure you have the right cord for your device.  VGA cords can be bought on-line or at places like Best Buy and Wal-Mart and cost around $40.00.  If you have the VGA cord version that goes to the older Apple phones and iPads and a sales person tries to sell you the adapter to convert your old VGA to the Lightening VGA say, "No thank you!"  I bought one of those little babies for 20 bucks only to learn it does not support video so nothing from the app or games sites would come through the device.

The Lightening VGA adapter is needed for the iPhone 5 and iPad 4 and higher.

Plug the cable to your LCD projector into the other end of this VGA cord.

The Lesson 
Two weeks before our class meeting I passed out TechnologyAPPreciation forms for students interested in presenting to the class.  My only requirement was I had to have their forms back by the day before our class so I could preview their choice.  In some cases, I needed to download the game or app to my iPhone or iPad so we could view it from the LCD projector.  Lots of kids took the forms but only a handful in each class returned them, but that was okay because we had more than enough to share in one 45 minute class period. 

I used a VGA cable to connect my Apple device (it can be a phone or tablet) to the cable to my LCD projector and the students were able to view it all on the big screen.  Students got up in front of the class and talked about their app, game, or website and did a demonstration of how it was used.  Afterwards, there were questions and answers and, of course, comments.    The best and most surprising thing to come out of this activity was not just my knowledge of what the kids thought was cool, but to see my students, even the very shy ones who never volunteer an answer in class, get up in front of their entire class and share with confidence something about which they were passionate!  In addition, I learned about several games all the kids were excited about like Subway Surfer and Dragonvale. I got some tutoring on Minecraft,  learned about a texting app called Kik, a website for making the most complicated of rubber band bracelets from the Rainbow Loom people, and a kid’s app for free books.  This class activity along with one of the digital safety lessons from Common Sense Media opened a dialogue about all things digital with my students on a more personal level.  We had several awesome and very honest class discussions about their personal experiences on the internet.  Later, I had four different private conversations concerning things my students had experienced on-line that had obviously troubled them but they had not shared before.   What a great opportunity to encourage students to talk to adults they trust about uncomfortable on-line experiences and reinforce the safety strategies we had learned in class lessons.

So if you are looking for an easy lesson with high yield on student participation and enthusiasm, one that initiates open and honest conversations about on-line behavior,  is “counselor cool,” and covers ASCA Behavior Standards for Social Skills try my Technology APPreciation lesson.  

Let me hear what's popular with your students on-line and how you and your students like this lesson!

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