Last week I had a very short technology class with 5th grade students in their classroom. I debated how much we could accomplish with new material in a grand total of 30 minutes on a day when students spent a tremendous amount of energy on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. Enter the iPad.
In the next few weeks these 5th grade students are going to be focusing on photography to accompany their writing with both their classroom teacher as well as with me during Technology. The remarkable thing about having only 30 minutes to introduce this very large topic with my students but doing so with iPads, is that all 29 5th graders are sitting on the rug in front of me with a camera, digital darkroom, and publishing suite resting on their laps!
I did not have to do much of an introduction for the camera function on the iPad since they have used it frequently throughout the year. However, there are a couple of keys to crisp photographs on any point-and-shoot camera, and I’m putting the iPad in that category.
The first key is making sure your image is in focus. To assure you have the desired focus using the iPad’s built-in camera app, all you need to do is touch the area on the camera screen that you want as your focal point. The iPad will then display a blue box around that area and attempt to focus on it.
The second key to crisp photographs is reducing camera shake. This is not an easy task with the iPad, which is rather large and awkward for photography when compared with a camera. The strategy I gave to the 5th graders, was to make sure to hold the iPad with two hands in opposite corners to reduce the amount of shake. Then make sure one hand is positioned so that your thumb can stretch over to the “take photo” button on the screen. The last part with the thumb will be somewhat alleviated when the iPads are updated to iOS 5, in which case you can use the “volume up” button on the side to snap a photo.
Now with the limited time we had, I gave students three minutes to move about the classroom and take at least three photographs where an inanimate object was the main focal point. I had them arrange their compositions so that none of their classmates appeared in the photos, as the inclusion of “each other” in the images ends up providing a large distraction when sharing.
Students completed their photo-snapping, and I then gave them an introduction to an app called Snapseed. Snapseed is a very easy-to-use image manipulation app with a lot of pre-loaded effects and corrections. The regular cost of the app is $4.99, but if you keep an eye on it (perhaps with AppShopper), you can download it for free when they temporarily put it on sale as we did. Students used Snapseed to manipulate one or two of their chosen photographs, and then saved them to their Camera Roll.
The last step in this 30-minute activity was sharing our favorite photograph with classmates. This “publishing” step is made possible by a recent update to the Edmodo app (updated February, 16th), where students can now share saved iPad photos directly from within the Edmodo app. (To read more about using Edmodo on the iPad, see this earlier post by Katie!) Amazingly, there were still a few minutes left of our short time for students to comment on and provide feedback to each other via Edmodo. Here are some sample photographs by students: