iPad Pilot

I have been a part of an iPad pilot in my district for the 2012-2013 school year.  Now that phase one of the pilot has ended, it is time to request continuation into phase two.  Originally I was going to email this proposal directly to the pilot coordinator, but then I realized that this could be helpful to others in similar situations.  Therefore, here it is.  The nuts and bolts.  My brain on technology.  A little laughter.  A lot of editing, and a ton of hope.... I mean, with all that the Thinkers accomplished with only four iPads in the classroom this past year, imagine what could happen if we can get enough for a 1:1 room?!

Marnie Diem
June 11, 2013

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Being a part of part one of this iPad pilot has drastically impacted me.  In a big way.  Like, a really, really, big way. Being a part of the pilot gave me the opportunity to share my passion for technology with my students in more organic ways, and more than that, it has helped me become more confident in sharing my technology-smarts (which I think should be the tenth multiple intelligence!) with my colleagues.

Through the iPad pilot, I've discovered more apps than I can count, and have used a variety of methods to determine which ones are worthy of sharing and which ones would be more useful outside of the education realm. Some apps I tested myself. Some, my students tested.  Some, my students suggested and then I tested.  I found countless apps through the twitter and Pinterest networks that this pilot has helped me build.  These have been shared these with colleagues in and out of the pilot, so they could then pass their experiences around.

Sharing has been the key to this pilot.  Beginning last summer, I spent many days on my colleagues porches, helping them work through setting up their iPads for the school year.  Once school began, it was not unusual to see me rapidly rushing down the hall in the morning, or during lunch, or recess, eager to share a new app or activity with my peers in the pilot. More than that, though, as my class  worked through different activities, we found organic ways to connect our project or learning experience to other classes and grades.  That led to spontaneous hallway conversations with colleagues not in the pilot, opening the door for future collaboration that we are very excited about.

I was given the opportunity to attend several conferences this school year, including Macul, two edCamps, and several Galileo workshops. Aside from Macul, I spontaneously presented at all other events, sharing ways the iPads have enhanced the learning experience in my classroom. As far as Macul goes, I am hoping to present at the 2014 conference!

Additionally, I am presenting two sessions at the Galileo Learning Summit in August; one session on organic integration of technology into the classroom, and one session specifically on iPads in the classroom.  Going back to the idea of sharing, overall, the iPad experience has helped me become more confident in my ability to not only educate students using technology, but also offer assistance to my peers in and out of district, to help them become more confident in using technology with their students, too.

I've become more confident as a teacher and have developed teacher leadership skills thanks to this newfound confidence.  I've always been a tech-junkie, but often hid behind that part of my teaching, afraid to share it with my peers for fear of overwhelming them. Now, thanks to this pilot experience, my confidence and comfort in sharing has grown, as has my ability to share in a less overwhelming way.  

I really enjoyed building a professional learning network with iPads as the impetus. For example, I have a twitter handle for myself as a teacher, but the network has been tiny. Through the pilot, my twitter network has grown to nearly 200 followers, and I now have a twitter handle for my students, who tweet daily on the class iPads, with over 50 followers.  

Pinterest has also expanded my network, as I have "met" hundreds of educators, sharing apps, websites, and projects that increased my resources, and let me say... I need about 8 more weeks of the school year to do half of what I want to try!  Finally, I have a classroom blog that has been shared world-wide, showcasing my students' learning experiences throughout the year.  This has been a great tool for communicating with my students families and other educators. (And giving the students an organic audience has spurred their writing on even more! Bonus!)

My original proposal was rather uninformed. I wish I asked for more iPads from the start!  I was unaware of the possibilities the pilot held, I just knew that I wanted to get my hands on as many iPads as I could, because I knew they would create magic in the classroom.  With the four that I had for year one of the pilot, more magic happened than I could have imagined!  What could happen with a class set?  It's overwhelmingly exciting to think about that!

Next year, I would like to have iPads in my students’ hands from day one. Using Google forms to collect beginning of the year data would streamline the process, and since working on the iPads encourages lengthier written responses, the information I collect will be more thorough, and therefore more useful. I'd also like to use the iPads from the first week to collect active examples of where the kids are in areas that are more challenging to show growth the traditional way- for example, have them make an instructional video using explain everything, do a reading sample, give an oral description of a specific task (i.e. writing sample.).

One way I used the iPads this year was to have the kids create a digital portfolio presentation for their spring conferences.  This was a very lengthy, but extremely worthwhile process.  I’d love to have the iPads in place from the start, so they can begin building their portfolios as the year moves on, instead of compiling everything at once.

Additionally, I am very interested in using the iPads as a math journal.  Everyday Math now offers an iPad version of the student math journals, and I would really like to try that, as it will help me work toward my goal of being nearly completely paperless.  Oh, yeah, going almost paperless is definitely a goal that the iPads would help with next year!  Kindle would be a huge help with that, too, as I created many presentations and loaded them onto Kindle, so the kids could follow along, and interact with the material differently.  Having a very limited number of iPads (borrowed several from my colleagues) made this helpful, but not a daily occurrence due to the scheduling of borrowing.

I loved the app Scribble Press, but with the limited number of iPads, it made full use of the features difficult.  Ideally, if I had enough iPads, nearly all of writer’s workshop would take place using the iPads, and publishing would mean kids would be creating eBooks, or an eBook collection, that could then be “published” using Scribble Press to build an eBook library for the classroom.  Parents could also order printed books of their students’ work.  Another new app genre that I had limited interaction with is the programming/coding apps.  I have downloaded several (thanks to my twitter network!) and would like to have the kids explore those as problem solving tools, as well as real-world application opportunities.

Finally, there are two apps that I only recently worked with, NearPod and Aurasma.  I’ve already had my students creating auras for their writing, and it spurred them to do the best writing they’ve done all year.  I mean, I was blown away by the quality of their writing, and how motivated they were to make it the best writing possible so that they could “animate” it using Aurasma.  I want to make augmented reality a regular part of the classroom.  With NearPod, I envision it similar to how I’ve used Kindle, but much more useful!  I envision NearPod pretty much replacing the antiquated, but VERY useful (used daily) ActiVotes I have in my classroom.

Wow.  What would I do the same?  This is gonna be a long list, but when you think about what I would do differently, well…. Change is good, but sometimes, building from what worked is even better! 

I definitely plan to use the iPads as presentation tools – the digital portfolios, working on projects similar to the Economic Cartoon project we did with a 3rd grade class (featured at the Board Meeting on the iPad Pilot), creating iMovies, using Skqueak, my gradebook would be the on the iPad, Evernote for, well, everything; iTunes for listening to books, class dojo (more full usage of,) pages for word processing, proctoring NWEA, Explain Everything, taking pictures, uploading said pictures to class website, twitter, tweeting pictures, researching, blogger, writing blog articles, iMessage for homework help, ToonCamera for “safe” and “anonymous” blog and twitter pictures and videos, vine…. That’s a good start, right?!

The thing that I think is most enticing about the iPads is how motivating it is to students.  Whether it’s testing out a new math game, practicing their spelling words, or writing their memoirs, everything is more fun on an iPad.  This makes assessing learning more fun, too!  That, and the fact that if Google forms is the only tool used to gather data, track progress, show growth…. Well, that’s a lot!  Imagine the spreadsheets and charts that can be created with the most basic knowledge of this tool, and how simply students will be able to see their results to quizzes, open ended responses, surveys, and to watch their learning skyrocket!

I would REALLY love the opportunity to work with a 1:1 classroom, and therefore would need 25 iPads.  The goal would be to nearly eliminate paper, and encourage continuous active engagement in ALL learning experiences.  The possibilities are LIMITLESS and make my heart race just thinking of all we could do in a 1:1 classroom!  I’d be ok with iPad minis, too…. Small hands, small device!
A 1:1 classroom would be a dream come true.  It would save the district, or at least Conant a little money in the sense that we could pilot the Everyday Math Journals, which I believe, cost less for the e-version than the print version.  With all the free kindle books available, and kindle sharing, I could have kids reading and annotating in their assigned book, and see their notes as they work.  For kids that struggle with reading, they could actually listen to the books, or parts where they were stuck, without feeling like they stick out from the crowd.  Math wise, assessments?  Hello?  Ah-may-zing.  Quicker than and more efficient than using the ActiVotes as the information via NearPod would make math workshop even more successful, targeting even more detailed areas of “more practice needed” as well as offering multiple opportunities for enriching those needing a little extra challenge.

What else might be helpful for this proposal, you ask?  Hmm….. got a few weeks?  I could talk your ear off!  Anyway…. with a class set, I would really like to have the indestructible cases I have for my student iPads currently.  App wise, I’d like each of the iPads to have Pages, Explain Everything, and iMovie.  For the most part, I really try to use free apps.  Most of the apps that I’ve used have been free, and if they aren’t, I’d probably request them for a limited number (full version of ToonTastic, full version of Stack the States/Countries, etc.)  There may be additional math apps that would be useful, but I won’t know what would best meet the needs of my students until I meet them in the fall.  My goal is to use free apps for everything possible, and request paid apps as a last resort, if none of the free apps serve the necessary purpose.

It would be quite an exciting experience to have the chance to be a 1:1 classroom for phase two of the pilot.  To do this, approximately 25 student iPads (total numbers to be verified through student enrollment in August) and cases would be required.  It could be a great experience for all!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds cool. Did you get enough iPads for everyone with the 2nd proposal?