Our fifth grade Sunday school class has been using the Grapple curriculum from Group Publishing this year. I have been pretty pleased with the curriculum topics and activities. Generally when I have taught a lesson (we have several co-teachers so we rotate the lesson leadership periodically) I’ve brought in a projector and speakers so I could show videos, use Google Earth, and sometimes share a slideshow. This morning it would have been nice to have the projector and computer to use, but I didn’t want to take the time required to get everything setup. I did, however, need a copy of my lesson plan to bring with me and use, which is in PDF format, but I didn’t want to print out a hard copy or bring my laptop to church.
To bring my lesson plan with me, I turned to readdle, a website developed for the iPhone offering free and commercial hosted services for mobile document access on the iPhone. In less than ten minutes, I setup a free account on readdle, downloaded my lesson plan PDF file from the Grapple website, uploaded the lesson plan to my readdle site, and was able to login and pull up my lesson plan on my iPhone. I was thrilled! No need to print out the lesson plan… I was able to refer to it prior to and during my lesson without any problem. Our classroom is on the ground floor of our church and for some reason the cellular network coverage there is very poor. WiFi is not available, but this was not a problem, since I loaded up the document using readdle in the iPhone’s Safari web browser earlier. Because I didn’t close Safari, the document remained open and accessible even though I did not have access to an EDGE network connection or WiFi connection in my classroom. My free account on readdle permits me to upload up to 50 MB of documents, which is very generous, and if documents are not needed I can delete them to free up more webspace. The website let me create an organizational folder for my Sunday School documents. I’m looking forward to using this website to “bring other documents” with me to other meetings in other contexts of my life.
Thematically I have been very pleased with Grapple this year, but I have found the online interactive potential of the website to be very wanting. The interactive elements are basically limited to a text-based bulletin board (I think they use phpBB) and our students have not been able to really practice much Internet safety in creating a website with a profile, like social networking sites permit. My thought for next year (I am going to co-teach 5th grade again) is to setup a Moodle course that we can use for discussions and interactions in between our classes, and invite students to setup accounts on Imbee.com to have fun, learn about safe social networking, and extend our conversations beyond class times. I’ve wanted to utilize Imbee with students for several years now but have not had an opportunity– I think next year we’ll use it and learn together about how Imbee can help learners of all ages practice via experiences safe online social networking.