I have already addressed the important fact that the teacher will have total control over what happens with the tablet during lessons. The use of the tablet camera is so easy to block or unblock on the LearnPad. With just one sweep from the teacher’s tablet the camera can be made ready for learners’ use or removed in order for the learners to remain on task as directed by the teacher. Three major benefits of using the camera in the classroom come to mind and these include:
- using one’s own photos ensures that the subject is current and localised while avoiding copyright issues;
- the camera extends the quantity of resources for all learners and can address individual learning needs;
- empowering learners with a medium that can stimulate great creativity and enthusiasm for learning.
The camera has a number of classroom applications and I am sure that as a creative class teacher you will undoubtedly add to the following list:
- The camera can support literacy by ceating an e-porfolio of pupils’ work that can be presented to parents either at the end of the year or during the parents’ days or the school’s open days;
- Learners can create a personalised book which would be particularly helpful to learners with individual learning needs;
- As a teacher you can keep a record of class work either to use as a lesson starter for the following year or as a benchmark, and in the meantime you can ask your learners to describe their creations and explain the process in making a particular artefact.
- Learners can observe the weather over a period of time and keep a diary of their observations. Again you can introduce particular vocabulary so the learner can use descriptive language and write detailed accounts in either Maltese or English;
- Taking pictures of objects in the classroom or school with names and descriptive words that the learners can compile into a book which they can read. A weekly competition can be set up with mystery objects that each learner can bring from home and thus adding to the vocabulary and items that can be used at a later date;
- Learners can create an illustrated autobiography that includes photos of home, pets and friends;
- Making a village/town book where learners take pictures of different places around their community while describing who works and what happens in different venues.
- Learners’ photographs can be used in the schools’ newsletter;
- As a teacher you can take photos of learners carrying out different activities in the classroom, display them on the IWB and use them for discussions, asking questions like, “Who is in the picture? What is she doing? Why is she doing this?” and so on;
- Then for number work, learners can go on a shape hunt to find different shapes that are later compiled into a “shapes book”.
- As a teacher you can create a maths trail. There are some fine examples in http://primarymaths.skola.edu.mt/resources/maths-trails but of course you can add to these using the tablet’s camera.
- A spot the difference exercise can be created easily. Take a photo one day of a particular area in the classroom that has x number of objects. Remove some of them and take another photo. The problem sum becomes, “What is the difference between photo A and photo B?” How would that be written numerically? Increase the complexity as you repeat the activity.
- Similarly you create a photo representation of a mathematical problem and the learners have to write the word problem associated with it? In how many different ways can the problem be written?
- Learners can take a photo and write a description of it, including where and when it was taken and its significance.
- As a teacher you can distribute a sequence of digital photographs and ask the learners to construct a story.
I am sure you can continue to add to this list and a good source for further ideas can be found at: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/100-ways-use-digital-cameras.
My final comment is about digital literacy. Digital literacy plays an important role in picture reading (and “writing”). We all know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” A picture can communicate a tremendous amount of information although it can also be manipulated in a way to misinform or refocus our attention. Framing, for example, is a technique used to leave out certain information that the photographer does not want you to see. It is a technique which can transform the meaning of the reality that was happening when the shot was taken. So reading photographs or “writing” a photograph presents a unique set of challenges. Are your learners too young to start reading and writing with images? There is always a first step that can be taken. Let us take these steps together as this area is one of my favourite topics and a subject for another blog. We will see together that a tablet’s camera is not just a nuisance to be blocked but an eye opener and an artistic and creative tool that we can capitalise on and exploit as educators.
Image: labeled for non-commercial reuse.