Although I continue to see additional iOS devices, iPods and iPads, in the hands of students in the elementary grades, one of the most popular technology devices continues to be the Nintendo DS and DSi. In fact, all Nintendo DS models combined have made it the best selling handheld game console. These handhelds are often a child’s first foray into personal technology, and they can be utilized effectively as learning tools within the BYOT classroom. To learn more about these devices, I asked the experts – a group of fourth grade students!
There are relatively few educational games for the Nintendo DS and DSi compared to the overall inventory of available games. However, the real benefits of the Nintendo DS and DSi are the free applications within these handheld devices. The major difference between the Nintendo DS and DSi is that the DSi has the capability to access the Internet, but even without accessing the Internet, the Nintendo DSi offers some applications that can be used by creative teachers and students to facilitate learning.
1. Pictochat – With Pictochat, students can communicate with 15 other users over a distance of about 65 feet by sending each other pictures or words over a wireless connection. Students can ask each other questions about concepts they are studying, such as math problems and possible solutions, and practice writing complete sentences and spelling words. This communication could be the beginning of understanding appropriate netiquette within the safety of the classroom learning community.
2. Clock – With the clock tool, students could monitor how long they work on tasks in the classroom and set an alarm when they need to move on to the next activity. This practice could help them develop more self-regulation as they monitor their classwork.
3. FlipNote Studio – FlipNote Studio is used to design animations. Some classroom activities could be to animate simple machines, steps in a process, or mathematical problem-solving. Students can add sounds to their animations including recording their voices. Another feature of FlipNote Studio is called Light Box, an onion skin effect that is included with the animations so students can perfect their illustrations. There is also a Copy tool so that students don’t have to keep drawing the same picture. Students’ animations can then be saved as animated gifs onto an SD card or shared wirelessly with other students’ DSis.
4. DSi Camera – All DSis have a camera tool, which has several uses within the classroom. The photos that students take can be saved to the device’s internal memory or to an SD card. One fourth grade student took weekly photographs with her DSi of caterpillars that she had at home to document their metamorphosis into butterflies. She uploaded these photos from the SD card into a class blog and wrote a description of each stage to share with the class. Since the DSi’s are able to connect to each other, students are able to share their photos with each other without the use of email.
There are different lens tools that students can use to edit their photos. With the Graffiti Lens, students can draw on their pictures. So, in the classroom, students could take pictures of a plant and label all of the parts. With the Mirror Lens, students can learn about symmetry by copying and duplicating aspects of their photos.
Other types of effects can be added to faces in students’ photos. This can be used for inspiring characters for creative writing. Students can also add frames to their photos with an area for adding text. These photos could be saved to an SD card and loaded onto a computer for class projects.
5. DSi Sound – Students can record up to 10 seconds of sound on a DSi. First, they can record their voices and sound waves illustrate the pitch of their voices so students can understand how sound travels in waves. Students can record themselves reading and can slow down and speed up their tempo. They can test their ability to read with expression or to answer questions in a recording. Then they can edit these sounds with different effects. They can even record their own sound effects to add to their Flipnote Studio animations.
A final note…The ultimate goal in the BYOT classroom is to transform learning experiences for students. Students are empowered when they use their personal technology devices in new ways to support their learning. As you encourage the use of Nintendo DSis in your classroom to promote collaboration and a sense of community, remember that many parents have not seen their children using their devices in the ways listed above. Be willing to learn alongside your students to discover potential uses for the DSis in instruction. After all, they are the experts!