“Candy apps”, or how to have fun and still learn anyway
During a five minute reflection, if a student is given one minute to find a picture and mark the mouth, then he or she still has four minutes to try to come up with something interesting to reflect about. So this is four minutes more than they may have spent if they were asked to just write, or required to use a tool that they weren’t that interested in.
I want to send a shout out to all the Vermont teachers with whom I work who are psyched, committed, and more-than-willing to give their precious and oh-so-limited learning time to experimenting with creative ways to make learning (and by that I mean thinking / reflecting) visible with apps.
One tool we’ve used to reflect on our learning this summer is Chatterpix.
This iPad app has fit the bill as an easy-to-use tool, one that within the first few seconds of use, elicits a sense of unbridled fun in both adults and kids.
Select a photo, swipe with your finger to make a mouth, and then record your voice so the image speaks your words.
Here is Peoples Academy Middle Level science teacher Susan Ludington using Chatterpix to share her team’s accomplishments from the day:
And now the heavy lifting
I spent many days of my summer asking busy teachers to question their assumptions about the power of reflection. I’ve challenged them to grapple with the idea that deep learning requires a certain level of reflection. I’ve pushed them to think, if they agree reflection is crucial to understanding, how important it is that thinking needs to be articulated by learners and made visible to teachers.
Here is the Vermont Agency of Education’s PLP Conceptual Framework:
Students should have an opportunity to review their progress and reflect on the overall experience… It is important that students reflect and gain feedback at least once a year in a formal way. Informally, schools may create a process where students stop and reflect on their progress and the experience at any time throughout the year – with or without the support of their team. Reflections can come in various forms and may include a journal entry, a dialogue, a presentation, a video, or a format that the student and school staff find suitable.
Enter Chatterpix as a tool to support informal audio/visual reflections of learning.
Check out Jacie Kendrew, a math teacher from Lamoille Union Middle School, as she as she reflects on her team’s collaborative efforts at the Middle Grades Institute this summer:
But…we’re still learning, right?
I was discussing the use of Chatterpix as a reflection tool, with my colleague here at the Tarrant Institute, Life LeGeros. He shared this exchange from his own use of Chatterpix for PD with teachers:
One teacher asked “How is Chatterpix not just candy?”
It was a great question. This is a teacher who strongly connects with students and is known as having a fun and engaging classroom. But he wanted to interrogate the idea that doing something “just for fun” is not enough.
My response was that:
(1) a tool like Chatterpix can act as a “hook” to help students buy in to reflection. During a five minute reflection, if a student is given one minute to find a picture and mark the mouth, then he or she still has four minutes to try to come up with something interesting to reflect about. So this is four minutes more than they may have spent if they were asked to just write, or required to use a tool that they weren’t that interested in.
(2) a tool like Chatterpix can lead directly to more sophisticated yet similar tools, such as Soundslides or Narrable. It also just starts to shift the culture to one where students have a choice of ways to express themselves (and eventually to access and engage), and teachers let go of control enough to respect their choices, even when we don’t fully understand them.
I couldn’t agree more! Chatterpix is the perfect example of how to have fun and still learn anyway.
Click here to see Literary Fusions’ instructions with screenshots to build a Chatterpix and some good classroom tips as well.