Starting an iPad 1:1 program

We started our iPad 1:1 program with our middle school students 4 years ago. If given the chance to reset and do it all over again, here are the top five things that I would make sure to do.

  1. Know why you are going 1:1 before you get to far into the process.

If you are going 1:1 to replace textbooks or as a direct substitute for existing educational technology tools, then you are wasting your time and money. iPads, and any 1:1 initiative, should transform your learning environment. It should also change the way teachers teach. Which leads me to #2.

  1.  Provide teachers planning, and professional development time.

When we first started, we gave our teachers about 5 months to prepare. It just wasn’t enough time. At that time, were one of the first schools to go with iPads in a 1:1 environment, so there were hardly any resources available. I would make sure to provide teachers with a good base of understanding of how the iPad works, with time for them to play and meet with each other on a semi-regular basis. I would introduce teachers to the SAMR model of technology integration. I would  have faculty meetings to brainstorm and rework curriculum based on using the SAMR model.  Send a few teachers to some conference or training that specifically covers iPad integration. There is so much more available to schools and teachers now.

  1. Establish a “program”.iPad program

Meaning, set up rules and guidelines that everyone adheres to. This should cover everything from etiquette to appropriate time for usage both in and out of the classroom.  The image to the right has our our current iPad policies. We review this at the end of every school year or sooner if needed. Establishing a program should also include a learning management system (LMS). An LMS will help you with consistent delivery of information to your students. We currently use Google Classroom, but there are a ton of great LMS options to choose from. Schoology, Haiku and Canvas are a few that we have tried.

  1.  Include parents and students in the process.

I am not suggesting that parents or students should make the decisions when it comes to implementing changes at your school. However, they are voices that need to be heard. If you can’t reasonably answer most of the parental concerns then you might want to rethink what your are doing. The student voice is also important, since they will be the ones carrying around these little powerhouse devices. They should be part of how the devices are going to be used at school. There is no better way to get student buy in than to have them be part of the process. Our student government plays a major role in establishing the policies that were created for our iPad program.

  1. Establish a Digital Literacy class for both teachers, students and parents.

Contrary to popular belief, young people are not digital natives. If they were, then they wouldn’t make so many mistakes in online spaces. This class will help you establish a baseline of skills that the teachers all know and can expect the students to be able to use in their classroom. The skills can range from how to manage the storage on your device to what is the best workflow for turning in work to digital citizenship.

I could go on for days. What do you think are vital and important for establishing a 1:1 program? What am I missing?

Tech Tool of Week – Notability

I would like to recommend an app that our middle school students use that improves productivity. The app that stands out for our students is Notability. Here are some reasons why they like using Notability:

“It is a good note taking app. You can draw diagrams, doodle, insert pictures.” -Kyla

“You can put worksheets into it and you can do your homework without printing.” -Kyla

“You can move information back and forth between Google Drive very easily, and then you can turn in work using Google Classroom.” -Cassandra and Cameron

“You can write on (annotate) worksheets and pictures that you insert.” -Cameron

“It has a left handed mode for writing.” -Cameron

“It’s really awesome. You have a lot of options, and it’s really simple. It has a bar at the top that has all of the things you can do and it’s really simple to navigate.”  -Middy

“You can control how you want to organize the information that you put into it.” -Cameron 

image1

Cameron’s organized Notability files

What are some other productivity and note taking apps that you like?

The Rochester Mini Maker Faire

Rochester_MMF_logos_GooglePlusI am excited to be a part of the upcoming Rochester Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, November 22nd at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. I will be showing off some Allendale Columbia student projects from the Makey Makey May Term class from last school year.  AC students will also be on-site to demonstrate how Makey Makey works. This is going to be a great event! Read below to find out more!

“Ever wonder what you could make with a 3D printer, how to build your own robot at home, or design your own game? Rochester is hosting it’s first Mini Maker Faire. Mini Maker Faires celebrate everyone who loves to make, create, craft, build and anything DIY. The inaugural Rochester event takes place on Saturday November 22nd, from 10am to 4pm at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The day will be filled with exciting exhibitions, demonstrations, and hands-on activities for all ages. In addition, there will be interesting presentations, speakers, live music, and visual and performing arts.”
-The text above is from The Rochester Mini Maker Faire press release.
For more information check out the links below:
Rochester Mini Maker Faire – rochesterfaireinfo@gmail.com

Connected Educator Month

October is Connected Educator Month. I have put together some resources about being a connected educator for teachers to explore. Click here for Connected Educator Resources.

Check out some older posts that I have written about being a Connected Educator.

Connected Educator Month Post 1 – Overview

Connected Educator Month Post 2 – Edutopia Connected Educator Resources

Connected Educator Month Post 3 – Connected Educators to follow

Connected Educator Month Post 4 – Twitter Chats

Tech Tool of The Week – New iOS 8 Camera features

Ok, sorry Android users, but I have been so happy with the updates iOS 8 has made to the camera on the iPhone that I have to share. (For a more comprehensive review of the iOS 8 Camera App update click here.)

First of all, I have an iPhone 6, so I have some features that older phones and iPads will not have. That being said, here are my favorites…

Time Lapse This will take a long video and shorten it up by taking out frames. So, if you shoot a 1 minute video, it will condense down to about 6 seconds. I used Time Lapse during our annual Blue/White Day (field day) to record students as they progressed across the field during an event, and it worked great.

Slo-Mo – This is a really cool way to capture students in action. Again, I experimented at Blue/White Day (see below) to capture a few events. I am super impressed with the video quality (240 frames per second).

Burst Mode – So, this has been the favorite of my favorites, although this feature doesn’t work on my iPad mini (1st Gen). You just hold down the button that takes pictures and you get 10 pictures in 1 second. The longer you hold your finger down, the more pictures you take. Seems simple. The reason this works so well is it groups the images into a set. You get to go into the set and decide which images are the best. So, think about how hard it is to capture someone jumping off a diving board. If you have any lag or you just don’t click at the right time, you will miss the picture. Instead, with Burst Mode, just click and hold. Then go and find the best images out of that burst. It works great!

Do you have any camera favorites or tips? Maybe a different camera app that you like better?

Tech Tool of The Week – Socrative

Socrative is an awesome formative (and summative) assessment tool for teachers. And, most importantly, it’s free and usable on any web-enabled device.

I have used Socrative in class with students and with parents at an open house. In a previous post I wrote about how great Socrative was, but recent updates have made it even better!  I really like the preset “Exit Ticket.” Socrative also gives you several ways to get the data out of the app.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 11.38.41 AM

It’s an app that is well worth your time to explore.

Let me know what you think. Do you use any other web based tools with your students for formative assessement?

Tech Tuesday 3.18.14 – Backing Up Your Photos

One of the most common questions I get from people is “What is the best way to backup my photos?” There are quite a few options that you can choose from. Not backing up, should not be one of them. Digital photos are great, but if they are only stored in one location, a hard drive failure can destroy years of awesome images and memories. Here are some options for you.

  1. Use an external hard drive. External drives have become cheap. All you have to do is plug in and drag the photos to the hard drive. Many hard drives come with software that will do automated backups, so all you have to do is set it up and plug it in. If you are an Apple user, you have an amazing backup system built into your operating system, it’s called Time Machine. After you set it up the first time, all you have do is plug in and it makes incremental backups of your entire hard drive. An external drive can also fail, but it’s better than keeping everything one place.
  2. Cloud storage. There are a ton of options to choose from. Dropbox, Box.com, Google Drive, OneDrive, Mozy, Carbonite…the list is extensive. The prices for all of these will vary but they are all pretty reasonable. A few of them like Dropbox and Google Drive will offer a limited amount of free storage. All of these options are accessible from any device or computer with internet access. The nice part about cloud storage is, you don’t have to worry about hard drive failure. They are safe.
  3. Photo sharing services. This is my favorite option and Flickr is my favorite choice. Flickr now gives all users 1 TB of storage for free! This is amazing. The iOS app also had a nice update that makes it even easier to upload images directly to Flickr. Photo sharing services give you options to upload pictures that can be public or private. Some even have some basic editing features. There are several options when it comes to photo sharing and storage services. This post by The Verge.com does a great job of breaking down the different providers in this category.

The bottom line, BACK UP your photos! I would highly recommend Flickr as a place to store and share your images. If you have any other ideas or suggestions about backing up, please share them in the comments below.

Tech Tuesday 2.11.14 – How to get the most out of Google Calendar

We are a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school, and we have been for about 4 years. As a school, we have not yet tapped into the power and convenience that GAFE provides. One of the most common untapped resources is the calendar. There is nothing more annoying than emailing 4 people and trying to find a common meeting time. You proceed to “reply all” to the email until choices are narrowed down. There is a much more simple and elegant solution to this problem. Use Google Calendar for everything. Enter your class schedule, enter your appointments, create potential appointments and meetings for others. We should also be using this with our students. Some classroom teachers do utilize Google Calendar and create a class homework/project calendar. Watch the short videos below for some ways to incorporate Google Calendar into your everyday workflow.





How can we utilize Google Calendar better with our students?

Tech Tuesday, I mean Wednesday – 1.29.14 – Backchannels

This post is co-authored by Allendale Columbia School Librarian Judy Van Alstyne. Make sure to check out her blog Data-Sifting and Bookgerms.

So, I missed Tech Tuesday. Report card writing took up all of my time the last few days, but now I’m back.

One problem we tried to address this year in our Digital Literacy class was how to improve the participation of students who don’t normally contribute verbally. How can we fairly give a student a grade for class participation when we only give them one way to engage in discussions?

What is the point of participation? Is it to check in with students to see what they understand? Is it to provide opportunities for students to voice their thoughts and opinions? Is it to provide fuel for discourse in order to deepen and broaden the class discussion? And then why grade a student’s level of participation? Does the grade work as an incentive? For those who dread speaking up in class, perhaps it is not a strong enough one. Ideally, the discussion topic would be interesting enough and the methods of participation non threatening enough that incentives aren’t even necessary. Certainly there are a number of issues surrounding this topic (please feel free to comment below).

So, we presented this problem to our 7th graders and they all agreed that the current method (raise your hand and speak out) isn’t a great way to get everyone involved in the class discussion. Since our class centers around the appropriate use of technology, we asked the students to try solving the problem using a technology tool (we have an iPad 1:1 program in our middle school). After a full period of research and brainstorming, the students were not making much headway. Judy (my co-teacher) and I decided to give them a few examples of what a backchannel might look like. Here is what we tried:

TodaysMeet – If you haven’t experienced TodaysMeet, it’s a simple tool that can be used in pretty much any environment when you want to encourage people to discuss in a chat format about a presentation as it is going on. It can be used to accompany movies, inspirational talks, class lectures and discussions, just to name a few (feel free to add other ways you have used TodaysMeet in the comments section). Some do find it challenging to follow both the presentation and the comment log concurrently. The kids definitely liked experimenting with TodaysMeet, although there were several off-topic comments. The comments weren’t inappropriate, but they were distracting, and they had the tendency to derail the discussion somewhat. For the most part, TodaysMeet was used as intended and the kids certainly enjoyed it.

Padlet – Padlet is simply a web-based private “wall” where invited participants can post comments in text boxes. When you create the Padlet “wall,” you can customize the look and simplify the url so students can type it in easily. Students can log in and have their names attached to their comments automatically or students can just comment while adding their names as they go. One disadvantage with using Padlet as a real-time discussion tool is the need to refresh the page often to see all the new posts. Also, if several are posted at once, or students don’t refresh often enough, the posts tend to get cluttered and overlap one another. Students again enjoyed trying a different tool and we had some similar issues with silly comments, but overall, they did enjoy using it.

Post-it Notes on the wall – Pretty self explanatory and not tech related. We spread Post-it notes and pencils on the tables and told students to get up and stick them on the wall in front of the classroom. We read them aloud as quickly as possible and tried to relate the discussion around the notes as they were posted. We had far fewer instances of silly comments with regular notes. The kids really loved this and participation was higher than either of the tech tools we tried. It was busy, messy and somewhat loud at times but engagement was very high. And no one could “impersonate” someone else, as they did with the tech tools, so that those silly comments would get attributed to the wrong student.

So we did have issues. Neither of the tech tools were seamless to integrate into the classroom. There were some minor technical glitches, most of it related to student error, which slowed down the process. While both TodaysMeet and Padlet do work on an iPad, they are web-based tools that can be glitchy in a small browser window like an iPad. Using them on a computer is much easier.

We did not find a definitive answer to the problem of how to engage all students in class discussions, but students do agree it is a problem worth solving. Throwing technology at it didn’t fix it. But with more experience, students would get better at using the tech tools more effectively, and once the novelty wore off, more appropriately. So, we wouldn’t abandon the use of tech altogether. And who is to say that the discussion need be limited to class time? Perhaps that is where tech can play the greater role. But without a doubt, finding more ways for students to respond in class discussions beyond the traditional, raise your hand method, is absolutely 100% necessary.