Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Symptom: We’ve made booklets, we’ve used VoiceThread, what else is there?

The first grade team at my school does a research project each spring on animals. This lesson is led solely by the teachers, and is after a few other research units that I've co-taught in the mid-fall and early winter. By this time, the students are comfortable researching (with multiple sources for verification and making basic citations, thank you very much!) and are ready to create an independent project. But imagine, if you are teaching the same unit year after year, it gets boring, right? And if you’re bored, most likely your students will be too. The first grade team was bored, so they came to me with the question – “What else is there? Is there something on the iPads we can use?”

Prescription: Why yes, yes there is! It’s a free app called Pic Collage.

Pic Collage has actually been around for a while, but it was only in the past month or so that I used it myself. I immediately fell in love and started thinking of all the cool things that I could do for lessons (and for personal use too!).  The night before this question was posed to me, my daughter had used Pic Collage to complete an assignment for her school’s technology club.  On the spot I replied, “What about Pic Collage?” which led to a confused look from the teachers. I explained that it was the modern version of cutting out pictures and making a collage based on a topic. “Ah…” they understood and were hooked.

We scheduled two lessons; the first I would either come to the classroom or they would come to the media center so I could do a demonstration. The second lesson I would be available to assist students as they created their own Pic Collage. During the first lessons, I showed them how to add photos for their topic using the “photos from web” option and how to add text for their title and name (with font options). I then showed them how to change the border on the photo frames and how to match the photo border with the text (so we could easily tell which words went with each photo). Basically, I demonstrated and they watched – about 12 minutes time for my part. Then I let them go at it and practice. The students LOVED this! They remembered all the steps and even went on to explore changing the backgrounds and adding formats.

Not all of the teachers signed up for the second lesson. Was it because my lesson was terrible? No – it was because the app was so easy to use that their students didn't need any additional assistance! Truly – it’s that easy to use – even for first graders! Here's a poster I made for one of the teachers: 

If you haven’t tried Pic Collage yet – run - don’t walk to your iPad! Don’t have an iPad? It’s okay, you can get Pic Collage as an Android app too!

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