Meaningful Connections: iPads and Buddies

A few weeks ago, my friend Lindsay (her guest post is here) and I got our classes together for a buddy afternoon. We started talking about getting our classes together as soon as I got my job, since our schools are within walking distance. Before Spring Break we started planning what we would do together and since we both have been incorporating technology through iPads into our classrooms we decided to have our students use iMovie together to create a video.

I had a small group of my students create an example video on “How to be a middle school student” that we showed at the beginning of our afternoon together. Then, with a buddy they had to make a four shot iMovie under the “How to…” model. We gave them about 45 minutes to create their videos outside and then we came back inside and watched them.

Some video topics:

  • How to make a daisy chain
  • How to play tag
  • How to score a goal (soccer)

What went well?

IMG_3516I absolutely loved watching my students work with the younger students to create their videos. It is always so interesting to watch them in a leadership role and to see who takes charge or not. Leaving the instructions broad allowed for a lot of creativity and it became a good conversation starter between the students – “What do you like to do?” etc. Some of the videos turned out really well and the different experiences both classes have had with iMovie really allowed for some teachable moments to happen between the grades.

What would I change?

Initially we had paired them in groups of two, many students joined together to make a bigger group. I think I would just pair them in groups of 4-5 students from the beginning because it really seemed to help them with the ideas and the filming as well. Another thing I would change is the example video that we showed didn’t really end up being a great example and I think it led students off in a bit of a different direction. Now that we have some good examples to show I think this part will work better next time.

Where to next?

After our buddy day, Lindsay let me know that her students were now doing “How to” videos for their Social Studies projects and I thought I would incorporate that as well. My class ended up making “How to be an Ancient Greek” videos for their final projects on our Ancient Greece unit. They turned out really well and it was interesting to see how they turned their research into videos in a similar format to what they had worked on with their buddies.

In the long run the iPad is just a tool and what we need to do is make meaningful, engaging experiences for our students with this tool. The communication skills and leadership that were needed with the buddies was a great experience for all of my students! And the skills to make the “How to” video helped them to summarize their knowledge in a content area later on.

Do you have buddy classes at your school?

How do you use technology to enhance your lessons?


Learning in the Last Weeks

Whew! I can’t believe how close I am to the end of my first year of teaching!

Things have been pretty crazy these past couple of weeks from behaviours to finishing projects to marking and report cards! There has been so much to do and often the stress of it all has made me feel less like myself and more like a drill sergeant. Some afternoons it’s all I can do to keep them relatively on task for about 50% of the time…

But then they produce projects that still blow me away! Like  our “French Storybooks” we just finished this past week.

Le Monstre Sous Mon Lit

Le Monstre Sous Mon Lit

We have been working on writing, editing, and illustrating these books in class for about 3 weeks now and the last ones were handed in on Monday. Then, on Tuesday afternoon, we walked down to a nearby elementary school to share our books with a French Immersion Kindergarten class. This is the second time I’ve done Kindergarten French buddies with a middle school FSL group and I really love it each time! This visit was especially cool because the kids were so excited to share their books that they had worked so hard on.

Students reading together

Students reading together

One of my favourite parts of this day is watching how the older kids react to being around the little ones. There are some that light up just as you expected – the ones who are caring and nurturing on a daily basis. I like seeing them in their element looking after a little buddy but the students that I really love to watch are the ones who are disruptive in class or often being disciplined for their words or actions. Sometimes these kids are the ones who connect the most with their little buddy. Seeing one of my most difficult students reading with his buddy and then being a positive role model for the rest of the afternoon just melted my heart!

Each student read their story to two or three little buddies and then we went outside to play a game together. It was a great experience for my students to be in a French Immersion environment and see that they know more French than they think they do! When we were playing a counting game outside (similar to “Je passe”) it was so fun to watch my students interacting with the little ones and trying to be good role models.

After school I drove home with the biggest smile on my face because even on these long (and boy can they be long!) June days of school, I still am able to find such complete happiness in my job. My only wish is that I would have done more buddy days this year – we all had such a good time!

I hope you have some wonderful end of the year stories in your classroom! Please share them with us 🙂