Mini app lesson plans will help your students become more productive. This is an important concept for BYOD or BYOT teachers. You can do this lesson in 5 short minutes. I realized that teachers might like a peek inside how I teach this app to my students after @melissadenuzzo asked me to on Twitter. So, Melissa, here’s to you and all the other teachers out there – ask and you shall receive!
Why should we have an app of the week as a mini lesson plan?
I want my students to be productive geniuses. They are a human being not a human doing but they carry around a full blown secretary in their pockets, if they’ll learn how to hire it. If you are a BYOD school, you should do everything in your power to help students really “Bring it” using their mobile device and an app of the week is just one way to do it.
App of the Week
Each week I have an “app of the week” which is something that is free or low cost to make their lives better. I like to pick apps available on computer and most mobile platforms.
Link to the apps from Dragon: Nuance Mobile Apps –Mobile Assistant & Text Input Apps – Nuance
This page gives you a link to all of the mobile apps from Dragon, the maker of Dragon Dictation, but just look for it in the store for your mobile device.
What does Dragon Dictation do?
This free app takes dictation, like it says. Learn to talk into the app and you can dictate papers and more. It is a must share because students who are more verbal often prefer to dictate papers rather than type them. IF they are a slow typist, typically they are a faster talker. You can’t dictate in the app and will need to paste it into another one.
How to teach students about Dragon Dictation
Set up Dragon Dictation on your screen:
I plug in my ipad to my projector so students can see on the screen. You could demo on your iphone but I like having extra screenspace for my demos. Have Dragon up on the screen
1) Open the app and dictate without stopping to add punctuation
When I demo this app, first I open it and dictate things – saying funny things about the class and they see the words.
I’ll just see who is in my field of vision.
“Molly looks beautiful today in her blue shirt. Zachary told me an awesome joke this morning. Nick is going to dunk tonight at the basketball game.” (I always like to say positive, encouraging, or funny things.)
2) Press stop. (Circle button)
At this point, I point out that when the buffer is full that it will stop on its own, but I prefer to stop it. All of the text will go into the app. If students don’t practice, they can talk for minutes and then realize that Dragon stopped after 1. (Remember that when you press record again it picks up where you left off.
3) Look at the text
I have them look at the text and ask them what is missing. (See Figure 2 below. Punctuation) They’ll also point out that some of the words need to be fixed (see Nick’s name and the word dunk in the example below.) And I’ll show them how to fix it.
4) Press the record button again.
Now, I’ll say, “OK, so let’s try this and take it up a level.” Then, I’ll say something like this:
“New paragraph. Lauren is so amazing that her genius makes my eyes hurt. Period. Judy laughed so hard she fell off the chair. period. New Paragraph. Johnny ran out of the room saying quote There are zombies in here exclamation point end quote new paragraph.”
(Note, test this first — there are some words I never say into Dragon in front of kids — bench is one of them. Try it when you’re alone. It rarely transcribes the word bench.)
5) Examine the text and teach students how to copy it into another app
Press the button in the top right corner (Figure 4) to access the features you’ll need including copy. I teach students to copy this and then go into Pages to paste and edit the text.
6) Talk about organizing apps for driving
I also mention to students an important productivity tip. If they have Siri or voice recognition, they should practice launching the app with their voice. If they don’t, I recommend having a folder called “Driving” to put all apps that you use while driving and open that folder as you get in the car before you crank it. I have one of these with Audible, Dragon, and everything else.
I also emphasize to WAIT to copy and paste until they are no longer driving. Dragon will save separate notes in there and they can do this.
How to help kids take the next step
I’ll ask students to list how many ways this could be used. I also often give students a way to earn an extra “100” by using the app. Because not all of my students have smartphones, ipads, or devices, this is how I word it.
“Now, this is our app of the week. Some of you might need an extra 100 in the gradebook, so if you download and install it and show me how it works, I’ll give you that extra hundred. If you don’t have a device that you can get this app, see me, and I’ll let you practice with my ipad or iphone and give you credit for showing me you can speak into my app and copy out of it into pages. You can also do this on a friend’s device if they let you”
I give the whole week and I give them access. Everyone should have the same chance to try out dictation.
Why do you offer an incentive?
Here’s the problem. Kids who really need this app won’t install it. Kids who learn differently don’t like to draw attention to themselves. They don’t want to feel “different.” So, often, the person who needs something the most won’t use the app or trick I teach. So, I have to make it something that they all want to do. I offer bonus, then… I elicit parent support.
I’ll also follow up and email parents to tell them about the app and what it does, and I’ll reinforce the types of students who will benefit from the app. I’ll mention that the parents might want to use it as well and that their child is capable of teaching them how. (Many parents love these tips and it also reinforces what I’ve taught by having parents try the app. I have parents who comment that they like some of the things I send like this.)
A Question for you
So, I have two questions for you:
- Do you want me to share more “app of the week” lesson plans with you?
- Do you have any candidates for “app of the week” that should be taught?
Please leave a message in the comments. I want to be as helpful as possible to as many teachers as possible.