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?

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

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 8.12.14 – Teaching with Tech? Learn about SAMR

This post was co-written by Judy Van Alstyne.

Image from Jonathan Brubaker’s blog Tech Tips for Education

What does SAMR stand for?

Substitution • Augmentation • Modification • Redefinition

What is SAMR?

A model, by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D., which shows four levels of how technology is used in the classroom from the simple exchange of tools (Substitution) to the sophisticated development of new tasks conceived and created in novel ways (Redefinition).

Example:

Notetaking

S: taking notes with a word processing application

A: taking notes with a word processing application and using built in dictionary and thesaurus tools

M: students create shared notes that allows them to collaborate with peers to create the ultimate study guide

R: study guide is shared with the teacher, peers in another school and/or other experts for feedback and revision to create a presentation (for example, an American Revolution study guide is exchanged with one created by a class in Great Britain)

Why SAMR?

to help educators integrate technology into teaching and learning… to enable teachers to design, develop, and integrate digital learning experiences that utilize technology to transform learning experiences to lead to high levels of achievement for students.”
(Quote from: http://msad75summertechnologyinstitute.wordpress.com/beyond-substitution/)

Does this mean I have to completely redesign every lesson plan to achieve the most sophisticated use of technology?

No! Understanding the SAMR model allows you to choose effectively which lessons are worth redefinition, which lessons work fine with simple augmentation, or which are simple substitutions that might even be better without technology at all.

Where do I start?

Check out Kathy Schrock’s site for a wealth of resources. Our favorite from her site: A flow chart for deciding where a given lesson falls within the SAMR model.

If you work at AC, come to the library after school on Tuesday, March 18th at 3:30 for a special SAMR workshop. Be prepared with lessons or tasks to share, analyze, and potentially redefine!

Tech Tuesday 5.13.14 – Protecing Digital Learners

Too often, Internet safety is presented to kids in a way that only shows the negative side. Kids are told what not to do, and often they don’t understand why. There is a positive side to the web, and learning to navigate it safely is easy. This is so critical, as the term “digital native” is thrown around too often as we assume our young people will innately understand the ins and outs of their online footprint. This assumption causes frustration for educators and students alike. We, as teachers and parents, need to be role models for our children. There is great power in the Internet and with that power comes great responsibility. There is more truth to this now than ever before. We all have a great resource, the Internet, and like any super power, some people don’t know how to wield it. We must be taught. Our children DO NOT possess this ability just by being born. If anything, children and adolescents need more guidance than ever. Scaring kids into believing that the Internet is a bad place where bad things happen is not going to teach them anything. We need to be proactive and teach responsibility. Being safe online is really no different than being safe in your neighborhood.

Below is a link to some excellent resources collected in a post published on the website Educators Technology and Mobile Learning. If you end up using any of the information from this post or if you have any other great ideas or resources, please share in the comments sections. I would love to know what people are trying and how they are using these tools in the classroom or at home with your families.

Tools to Protect and Raise Digital Learners ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

Tech Tuesday 4.8.14 – What Do You Want Kids to Do With Technology?

I stumbled upon the following image on Twitter the other day and I was impressed with its simplicity. Too often, technology use is viewed as a learning outcome, when it is really just a means to an end, a tool. Technology can be transformative for learning and engagement, but don’t lose sight of your curricular objectives.

So, ask yourself… what do you want kids to do with technology? If your ideas are only on the left hand side of the image below, you need to rethink how you are utilizing technology in your curriculum.

This image was created and shared by William Ferriter.

Essential iPad skills in our Middle School iPad 1:1 (according to the 7th grade)

IMG_4640After a semester of co-teaching our middle school students in a new class, Digital Literacy, I decided to get some information from the 7th graders. The question: what are essential iPad skills that you need on a daily basis at school? Here is the list.

  • How to use more than app at a time
    • Shortcuts, multitasking gestures
  • Navigating homescreen
    • Organizing apps into folders
  • Typing on a touchscreen device

  • Copy/paste

  • Force shutdown or reset of iPad

  • How to use note taking apps

  • Shutting down iPad

  • iCloud backup/management

  • Taking pictures

  • Screen shots

  • Communication
    • Email
    • Contacts
    • Messages app
  • Settings App – manage settings
    • Set passcode
    • Brightness
    • Screen orientation lock
    • Do Not Disturb
  • Password management

  • Closing apps

  • Using GarageBand
    • Create original music
  • Using Pages
    • Word processing
  • Using Keynote
    • Create presentations
  • Using the Calendar

  • Navigate App store
    • Downloading apps, music & books
    • Update apps
  • Control Center in IOS 7 (slide up)

What other skills do you think are essential? How many of these skills have you mastetered?

How do you use your iPad?

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.

Essential iPad Apps in our Middle School iPad 1:1 (according to the 7th grade)

After a semester of co-teaching our middle school students in a new class, Digital Literacy, I decided to get some information from the 7th graders. The question: what apps are essential to your life and education at school? Here is the list.

IMG_4648

Annonymous 7th graders in action, supervised by Ms. Van Alstyne.

Notability – digital note taking app. (price $2.99)*

Box – access to Box.net cloud storage. (free)

Pages – word processing/publishing software for iOS. (free with iOS 7)

iMovie – movie editing software. (free with iOS 7)

Gmail – access to student email accounts via Google app. (free)

Google Drive – access to Google Drive cloud storage for editing, collaborating and sharing work. (free)

Keynote – presentation creation software. (free with iOS 7)

Destiny Quest – our library catalog and book reservations. (free)

QR Reader – for scanning QR codes. (free)

Canvas – access to learning management system by Instructure.Canvas (we are currently piloting this LMS in middle school). (free)

Safari – web browsing and research. (free, built into iOS)

GarageBand – music creation and editing. (free with iOS 7)

Blio – book reading app. (free)

Meraki MDM – our mobile device management app, let’s manage the iPads and distribute apps. (free)

Educreations – a simple white board and screen recording presentation app. (free)

Adobe Ideas – for drawing, mind mapping, note taking, annotating pdfs and doodling. (free)

Free Graphing Calculator – self explanatory. (free)

Facetime – video conference and chatting service. (free, built into iOS)

iBooks – book reading app. (free)

Messages formerly iMessage – instant messaging service built into iOS. (free, built into iOS)

App Store – the place where all of the apps come from. 🙂 (free, built into iOS)

The next question I asked: what are essential iPad skills that you need on a daily basis at school? Check back for the answers.

*Many paid apps are eligible for a discount through Apple’s Volume Purchase Program.

I wrote this post originally for the Allendale Columbia School blog – ACSRochester.org.

12 Days of App-mas Review

In the spirit of the holidays we will bring you 12 Days of App-mas. Each day we will offer an app for education. We will  offer suggestions for how the app can be used in a class. Comment with ways you have used these apps.

Here is a review of all the Apps presented during the 12 Days of App-mas.

Reflector

Notability

Baiboard

Google Drive

Duolingo

CK-12 Study Now

Padlet

Raising Modern Learners

Explain Everything

TeacherKit