I must confess, when I first attended my iPad workshop to learn about all of the various Apps that I would be using in workstations I wasn't too impressed with one App in specific. The App in question involved the students making a simple postcard. As we explored the possibilities of this App I did not become immediately excited as I did with the previous Apps we reviewed. I just didn't get it...there were no quirky sound effects, silly animation, or games to play. However, as I thought more about this App and it's possible functions in my classroom I realized it was a perfect example of not judging a book by its cover!
Photocard eventually, and completely won me over because of two amazing teachers that opened my eyes to it's possibilities! If you don't have any kind of system where the students experience letter writing (star student, penpal, bucket filler, etc.) then this is the perfect thing for you. Of course this school year flew by like our last Shuttle Launch (T-Minus ten seconds is what it felt like!) so our class didn't practice letter writing as much as I had planned.
Since the County gave our classroom four iPads I was still pretty indecisive about where and how many I wanted in each literacy workstation. I usually only have two students per workstation because I have found that it promotes teamwork, good classroom morale, and reduces further problems that may take them off task. Needless to say, last week I had one of those "Aha!" moments as I realized how perfect it would be to use two iPads in an "iPad Workstation," and the remaining two in the "Writing Workstation."
Photocard allows the student to choose their background, stamp, and stickers. The App even inserts speech bubbles where the child can record an audio message! I set each iPad up with a class Gmail account "Patterson's Partners" (of course!) specifically for their postcard mail. This makes the process a lot less complicated when the child is ready to send off their creative letter as they simply click the send button and off it goes into technology outer space! The App even makes a rocket sound when the letter has successfully delivered!
Debbie Diller's book about Literacy Workstations states that you should take 5-10 minutes at the end of the rotations to randomly call on a student to share what they did in their station. This plan is absolutely genius as it holds the children accountable and relieves the teacher of grading every product. During this share time I open up our class mailbox on the smartboard and the students gasp with excitement at opening their new mail.
The students love Photocard; I love Photocard. Will you?! Check it out!