Tuesday, February 22, 2011

iPod Touch/iPad Lesson Plan - Graphing Using Easy Chart and the Weather App

Apps Used:  Easy Chart - $ Free for iPod/iPhone $0.99 for iPad; Weather - $ Free

Subjects that can be taught using apps:  Math (Graphs and Data), Geography, Science (Weather)

Grade Levels: 4th-6th, could be adapted for younger grades.  This activity works well individually or in pairs.

Time:  60 minutes

Lesson:    Once students have the devices available, start in Easy Chart. I like to have the students familiar with how the app works before gathering the data. 
Once in the app have them go to the settings. Change the input from slider to keyboard. You can adjust the output size for the charts as well here. 
 Tap Save.

Once back in the app, scroll to the bottom of charts that have already been created. You will find a green plus sign. Tap that plus sign to start a new chart.

The chart opens with a Chart #, that can be changed by selecting the name and then tapping the x.

You will see two data points labeled one and two. You tap on the names to change those. Then you can tap on the numbers to change those. You can add more data points by tapping on the next line.

 With that instruction you should be ready to go into the Weather app and gather your data.  

Here is a city already set up in the Weather app. To set up a new city in the app, tap on the information ( i ) button in the lower left hand corner. 

This brings up the  screen to add and delete cities.  Ask the students not to delete any cities as there may be other groups using those.

Tap on the plus ( + ) sign to bring up the search screen.

Type in the name of the city you would like to add to the app. Be aware that many states and even countries may have cities with the same name, make sure you select the correct city to add. 

 After they have added the 3 cities, have students get out a piece of paper and pencil. Have them create a data table with the expected high temperature for the next 5 days for each city. 
Now they can go back into Easy Chart and enter the data for their chart. I have them build 2 charts to begin with. For the first chart I have them do a comparison of the highs in the 3 cities for one of the five days.  

Next I have them build a chart of the highs for all 5 days for one city. 

When the charts are built, have the students discuss whether the default chart (pie chart) is the best way to display this data. Have them tap the chart button in the lower left corner of the screen to cycle through the different chart options. Ask them to decide which chart best tells the story of the data. 

Now have them tap the button next to the chart button. This changes the color scheme for the chart. They can cycle through and choose the scheme they like best for any particular chart. 

I like discussing how different kinds of charts tell a different story with the data. 
For a final activity with this lesson I like to do some live data collection. I may choose favorite ice cream flavors or favorite candy bars, but I let students give me five choices. Then I ask all students to vote on one of the five and we graph that data. This helps to bring data collection and understanding data home to the students.

Monday, February 21, 2011

iPod Touch Lesson Plan/Review Stack the States

Apps Used:  Stack the States - $0.99 - Universal App (works on both iPad and iPod Touch/iPhone) No VPP discounts available

Subjects that can be taught using the app:  U.S. History, U.S. Geography, Geometry, Physics

Time:  30-60 minutes depending on how long you give them in the app.

Stack the States is a game that allows for a variety of activities. There are a total of 4 games available although you must reach certain milestones to unlock all but the beginning game. 

To begin you enter your name for a profile. There are slots for up to 7 separate profiles. Once you have selected your profile the game begins. The player is asked a question about a state. Questions include capitals, landmarks, bordering states, and abbreviations. If the player selects the correct state, he/she is presented with that state to drop onto a platform.

The goal is to stack the states above the checkerboard line on the screen. If you accomplish the task you are rewarded with a state. Not quite as easy as it might seem. The states are not all geometrically suited for stacking. Also, when you drop the states they tend to bounce and rock and roll. If a state falls off of the edge of the platform then you have to keep going. Touching the state brings up a white circle with dots around it. With the circle on-screen you can move the state by dragging it. You can rotate the state using the white dots. While not ultra-challenging it is a lot of fun. 

As you earn more states you can unlock 3 more bonus games. Having worked with 4th, 5th and 6th graders in this game, I can tell you that students really enjoy it, find some challenge and even learn things they didn't know about the states.

The school where I have taught this has a mobile cart of 30 iPod Touches. I have the students retrieve the iPods from the cart, taking note of the number of the iPod so they remember where to put it back after the activity. 

I begin the lesson by talking about relative size. One of the things that I really like about the app is that the states in correct proportional size to each other. Alaska is really big and Rhode Island is really small. 

Next we discuss the physics of the game. Gravity is in play as you drop the states, balance comes into play, as does the bouncy nature of the states. 

I use a document camera to demonstrate setting up the profiles and the basics of gameplay.  (This is probably not necessary as the kids have it figured out in seconds on the own, but just in case.)

At this point I lets the students start playing. I give them about 10 minutes to begin with, before stopping them. When I stop them we take a quick poll to see how who has gained the most states. This seems to be really motivational for the group. In each class that I have tried it, after polling the group, when they start playing again, they get quieter and more focused. I give them another 5-10 minutes to play then take another poll. I found that 2 to 3 rounds seems to be optimal. 

I love Stack the States, it is one of my favorite apps. I think students really enjoy it as well and learn quite a bit at the same time.