Friday, October 18, 2013

WHS student Builds ASL Finger-Spelling app to fill an Educational Need

As we continue to dive into our 1:1 iPad implementation at the HS, we find more and more students using the iPad as a creation tool (see last post for more examples). While some students create content ON the iPad, others opt to create content FOR the iPad. And this is where our story begins...

ASL 2 WHS Student practices finger spelling with Michael's app

At the end of his Sophomore year, Michael found that there was no iOS friendly fingerspelling app that truly met the needs of a secondary student  (e.g. vocabulary, speed, age-appropraite graphics and feedback) and/or was reasonable in cost. So what does a High School Computer Science student taking American Sign Language classes do to fill the void? With a little help from fellow WHS students (hand model images from Maddie Bitting for each letter of the alphabet and background graphics from Akash Thaker), Michael went to work over the summer to code his first app using Objective C, ASL Finger-Spelling and released it October 3rd.

ASL Finger-Spelling app by WHS student Michael Bartmess

Rather than using a default batch of dictionary words, Michael's fingerspelling app uses over 5,000 of the most commonly used words. He also has plans to add ASL 1-4 lists of words in an upcoming release or upgrade. The current features of the app are listed below:

-Over 5,000 words built in
-Three adjustable speeds
-Control over the maximum length of words
-Keeps score of number missed and correct
-Replay button
-Easy to use interface

Multiple students currently enrolled in WHS's ASL classes truly appreciated Michael's lend-a-hand approach to filling a need for this resource and note that the app was "the only way we can practice and recognize finger-spelling (short of) standing in front of a mirror" and that the practice the app provides allows them to "catch up with someone that fingerspells really fast."

Mrs. Vinson's ASL classes are even providing valuable user feedback to Michael so he can polish the app for the next update.

WHS ASL class feedback for Michael

Stay tuned for info about future updates to this project. As we progress through this year, we will also continue to reflect upon the changes to classroom, pedagogy, and instruction throughout our 1:1 iPad implementation.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What Do Student Projects Look Like in a 1:1?

Over the past two weeks, students in Natalie Cannon's Latin 2 classes have been working on a Roman Bath Project. While one might think that being in a 1:1 ultimately dictates that every project will be completed on an iPad, many teachers are opting to design projects that offer differentiation and choice of media and allow students to showcase their creativity.

Student hand drawing scenes to be used in a stop-motion film

Students were provided with 5 options ranging from cartoon storyboards and multi-media publicity campaigns for the Aquae Sulis to travel brochures and building models of hypocaust systems and ancient Roman Bath complexes.

"If they weren't using it (the iPad) to create, they were using it to be able to create." - Natalie Cannon

While some students utilized the iPad for research and outlining, others opted to create their projects on the iPad using apps like Designs for Pages to compose a travel brochure, Strip Designer to create a multi-panel cartoon, or Minecraft to virtually model a Roman Bath complex.

Student creating a Roman Bath complex in Minecraft

Truly the project was not about the tool, but the ability to create something that thoughtfully represented and showcased a deeper understanding and analysis of the content. Completed projects poured in ranging from multiple modes of digital media to Roman Bath complexes built of cake and household items to poster boards of multi-paneled cartoons.

Student presents her hand built model of a hypocaust system
using her iPad so the class can see the detail.

A presentation piece was also added to the project. Natalie Cannon is piloting a Justand in her room and found the tool to be very useful for this portion of the assignment. Students could project their iPad and use the stand as a podium or tilt it to share their project using the video camera on their iPad.

Student presents his model of a Roman Bath complex created in Minecraft
Student presents her multi-panel hand-drawn cartoon storyboard detailing
how ancient Romans used the bath-house
Student presents her digital multi-panel cartoon storyboard detailing
how ancient Romans used the bath-house
Student used Google SketchUp on a computer to create his models
and then presented the images in a keynote off of his iPad

Prior to the submission date, students also conferenced with Mrs. Cannon to document their progress and receive formative feedback.

Student sharing his presentation for teacher review

While most projects were submitted digitally via eBackpack (our district's online classroom product that allows students to submit work via and iPad or computer), others were submitted by hand to the teacher. A few of the students even posted their projects on an online video server for ease of sharing.

As we progress through this year, we will continue to reflect upon the changes to classroom, pedagogy, and instruction throughout our 1:1 iPad implementation.