Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tech tools

I have found a great tool to teach flash cards...without the flash cards.

With the new IPhone 2 release, Apple has added a ton of applications available to both IPhone and ITouch users. We have an ITouch.

One of those Apps is called "Study Cards". You can make your own flash cards (with a handy batch-upload feature) or use pre-made ones.

I used my lists of sight words to create a number of different sets of flash cards. I have one for each of the Dolch groups, then I also tried making one huge compiled set which includes the Dolch and Fry words--that turned out to be too many, so I took off 2-letter words (so, an, by, etc [when teaching me/my or be/by, use this: "me with an e, my with a y"]) as well as some of the easiest of the 3-letter words. That left me with 303 words.

I also made up a list of 2 x 12 multiplication for the 8-year-old, and I intend to make a (2 through 6) x (2 through 12) addition for the 6-year-old.

If you don't have an ITouch, there are on-line versions of the same sort of thing. I tried just one of them out: Flash Card Exchange, and it seemed to work.

What I didn't know before I started using this app, was there are different ways to use flash cards. One is called the "Leitner Method". This would be nearly impossible to do manually, but with computerized cards it's a snap. It goes like this:

You have 5 boxes. You start with all the cards in the middle box. If you get them right, you promote them to the fourth box, if wrong, they move to the second. You then do the second box again (the ones you got wrong last time). If you get them wrong again they fall into the first box, if right, they go back to the third. You keep doing the harder boxes more often, only occasionally checking back on the easier boxes. Slowly, everything starts to move towards the "correct" boxes and you get them all.

I did the set of State Capitols this way. When I started I had a pathetic 13 of them correct. Within an hour, I had them all right--still have trouble remembering Kentucky = Frankfurt, though.

Like I said, this would be a really hard way to work with real physical cards, but online, or on an ITouch/Phone it is a snap. I'm working on getting the 6 year old through the first time sort of the 303 sight word list. After that, we can work on the harder or easier words as we choose. Hopefully, in a couple weeks he'll have them all!

Back to the ITouch:

I've also downloaded cool games just for fun. There are a number of extremely stupid apps on the store. For example, one is called something like "Beer". It displays a picture of beer on the ITouch, when you tip it--pretend to drink it--it tips just like it would in a real glass. Even stupider is the same sort of thing with a light saber. As you wave your ITouch around the saber moves, and if you have an IPhone, it makes the Star Wars noises. The thing I keep shaking my head about over these, is that someone must have sat down and programmed these things. (Although, my guess is that the beer one has had a ton of downloads and made a lot of money.)

Yesterday I downloaded a crossword puzzle game and a sudoku one. One of the coolest is like those little wooden maze puzzles with a ball bearing in them--the goal to get the bearing into the final hole without falling into another along the way. The ITouch version works perfectly. That's how sensitive they've made the tilt-monitor on the things. It's really impressive.

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