Benefiting Elementary Classrooms
Another of our beta testers teaches first grade, and she notes several ways the Engage Pointmaker system has enhanced the learning experience for both teacher and students.
Allows easy switching between video sources – “With Engage Pointmaker,” she says, “I’m able to quickly switch between the document camera, the computer or a video with a simple click. The children get their iPads out, quickly log in, then I’m able to share the document with them on their iPads and we are able to work on it as a whole class.”
Helps students distinguish between key ideas — “What’s so exciting about Engage Pointmaker is that we can use highlighters and different colors to write over the documents we share over the iPads and/or the display,” she says. “This helps the students distinguish between key ideas, key points, quickly and easily by switching between the different colors.” In both the Engage Teacher and Engage Student iPad apps, users just tap on the pencil icon at the bottom toolbar and choose a highlighter or marker color.
Excites students about demonstrating subject mastery — “Students love to share their work and see it up on the screen for everyone to see,” she says. They enjoy coming up in front of the class to the display (connected to Engage Pointmaker), and write on the image using different colors or line thicknesses. And if they make a mistake, they just tap on the Undo icon, or tap the corner of the touch screen monitor to clear. There is no fuss at making mistakes in front of the class, because it’s instantly gone and the presentation moves along, whereas long erasures from a white board take up class time and might seem more embarrassing.
Also, after students share their work to the class, she can send that student a positive reinforcement message from her iPad, such as “GREAT JOB!!” They love getting that message on their iPads, she says.
Easily re-sizes documents or images for special needs — Any document or image the teacher brings into the Engage Teacher app can be re-sized before sending to students. “Sometimes, the document needs to be bigger for the little ones to write over it,” she says. For example, If the reading text is too small, or the fill-in blanks too narrow for writing, she can size the image larger and send it to the students, then re-size down again and show the full document on the HD display at the front of the room.
Another example where sizing comes in handy is when she has a document showing both a graph and a series of questions for the students to answer. She can size the document in Engage Pointmaker until only the questions show, send them to the student iPads for working on, and then re-size the document so only the graph shows and show this on the HD display. “The students were able to look at the screen to answer the questions on their iPads,” she says.
Enhances differentiated instruction — Since each student has their own iPad and Engage Student app, the teacher is able to share work that students can work on individually or in small groups. “When you are teaching a lesson,” she says, “sometimes they need to go in different directions according to the student interest or need for enrichment — or to students with disabilities or those who need something a little easier.” For example, when a student wants more information about a specific topic, or something easier during a lesson, she can immediately browse the internet from within the Engage Teacher app for additional work sheets or pictures and share them with the student.
Students can be ability-grouped from within the app, working on something different than other groups in the class. For example, the teacher can allow Blue Group share work-sheet writing with other members of that group, or to work individually on their iPad, while Red Group members are working on something different.
“Or another teacher may have a student who needs a more quiet, separate area a to complete their work,” she says, “but because they can take their iPad and join a group, they don’t miss anything that is happening during that lesson.”
Lastly, when a teacher has a fast worker, she can send them another activity while waiting for the rest of the students to finish. “All students are engaged,” she says, “and no one has any wait time.”
Saves teacher time, supplies, and messes — “As a teacher,” she says, “it can be overwhelming to get worksheets copied.” But, she says, with the Engage Pointmaker system you can just pull in the document, the Keynote presentation or scan the worksheet, put it in Dropbox and open it from within Engage the Teacher iPad app. Next, she sends it to her student’s iPads simply by tapping the Share button. No paper copies needed. She can also display it on her large HD monitor that is connected to the Engage Pointmaker server. “Quick and easy,” she says.
When a document camera is handy (and connected to the Engage Pointmaker server), she places the original work sheet over the glass and brings up that image on her iPad and her students’ iPads so they can write on the work sheet image individually or as a group as discussion takes place. “You don’t have to worry about messy white board markers or having to buy more markers,” she says. “And you don’t have to wait for the board
Allows other teachers or admins to join a lesson — Teachers can collaborate with other teachers on campus and share the lesson or activity you are teaching, says our first grade teacher. The administrator can do the same thing from his office,” she says. “If he would like to see what I’m doing on my student iPads with my class, he can be sitting in his office and join our session.”
Gives teachers easy check-ins on student progress — Whether working on the project individually or in a group, she says, “the teacher is able to check on individual student work from his or her iPad to make sure they are on task and understanding the concept.”
The teacher can also write on an individual student’s iPad letting them know they are on the right track or to keep up the good work.
Gives a private way for shy students to ask for help — Students can ask for help by simply tapping the Help button from within the Engage Student app. This sends a message to the Engage Teacher app that the student needs assistance. She can then go to the student and privately help him/her. If she’s busy, she can send the student a message alerting them that she will be over to help soon — or she can quickly check on the student’s work from where she is anc send an appropriate message. “This helps students who don’t want to raise their hand in front of everyone,” she says. “Or they might be embarrassed because they don’t understand what’s being taught and don’t want to be noticed.”