Thinking Inside Your Box: an iPad activity without an iPad

I ran across a blog post this morning from iPads at Burley called Photography with 5th Grade Students. The teachers shared an idea for using photos and their student iPad cameras as a learning tool during a short science lesson. At first I dismissed it thinking “eMINTS classrooms don’t have iPads or access to those kinds of Apps”. But then I started wondering how easy it might be to recreate this learning experience with the hardware and access to online software that eMINTS’ students do have.

The person writing the blog post has a classroom full of iPads with Apps that the students used to make this idea possible. But this can easily be done in an eMINTS classroom as well.

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All eMINTS classrooms have digital cameras and the i3 classrooms have student and teacher laptops with a webcam that is similar to the built in camera on the iPad. Students all also have access to websites, like iPiccy or PicMonkey, where they can upload their pictures, edit them, and then save them back to their computer just like the students did with the Snapseed App in about the same time. In fact iPiccy lets you take a picture directly from your web cam into their editing tool. Students can then share the images easily through email, a class blog or student blog (or classroom website), and even Edmodo just like the students in this blog post did using the Edmodo App.

It’s very easy to think something can’t be done just because you don’t have the exact same hardware or web access. But if you take the time to think about what you do have sometimes you can find a way.

What are some ways you have been using media literacy and technology tools to make engaging classroom lessons for your students?

By the way, I came across this and many other great ideas for using iPads in classrooms through the ScoopIt! iPads in Education curated by John Evans. On the same ScoopIt! I also found a PDF app that lets you make your own PDF file editable without converting it to other format and more.

Brooke Higgins is an aspiring photographer and instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read this post and more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

Eagle Watching With the World

The other night, I was reading through Facebook updates and ran across a link that two of my “friends” posted about the Bald Eagle UStream Cam in Iowa. Of course, I clicked on it and there was the 1 1/2 ton nest with an eagle roosting right in the middle of it.

Eagle Web CamAs I was telling my husband about how cool it was that I was, at that second, watching the female eagle re-adjust the 2 eaglets and 1 egg under her, he informed me that I was a bit behind; he had heard about it on public radio that morning. He told me that it was like the viral videos on YouTube but real time. I looked back down at the screen only to realize I was 1 in more than 177,000 people viewing the webcam at that moment and that the site has had more than 11 million views since beginning.

In a matter of minutes I learned that the pair of eagles have been together for almost 4 years in this area and have had hatched and fledged (got them to flight stage) 8 eagletsĀ  total. This is their second nest in the area and was built in 2007; the first they built blew down in a storm. The nest is 5-6 feet across and deep and figured out that it weighs around 1 1/2 tons (3000 pounds). I took a couple of minutes and looked up details like how much a ton is, what you call a baby eagle, and what fledged means to answer some lingering questions I had…. Just think of where you could take this in your classroom.

The next morning, I opened my email to see a message from the people at The Futures Channel telling me about science videos and lessons they offer on their site for teachers to use to teach concepts such as Algebra and one of the links was to their Saving the Bald Eagle video. I started putting two and two together and figured what an opportunity for teachers to engage and excite their students with the wonders of science and math all through something that is happening right now.

The challenge now…how can you weave this cool, exciting, interesting, neat, real-time event in nature and resources into your day? How can you incorporate this topic and these tools into lessons that will help your students understand how science and math affects them every day for all their days to come but will also prepare them for the state assessment tests that are coming just around the corner? I know it’s hard to find the time with all the test prep booklets, worksheets, tests, ect. that you are given to use during this time but as eMINTS teachers I know you are always up for the challenge.


Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.