Tag Archive for iPads

Book Review: Teaching with Tablets

In addition to the many great books that ASCD publishes, they have now started coming out with ASCD Arias Publications ; shorter books in print or ebook. The value of the aria is that they are each short enough to read in one sitting, yet filled with great information on the topic you want to know more about.

teaching with tabletsI recently read Teaching with Tablets: How do I integrate tablets with effective instruction? by Nancy Frey, Doug Fisher, and Alex Gonzalez. In each chapter, beginning with A Transformation in Education, the authors paint a visual picture for you of what happens in a classroom with tablets. They mention the apps that are used for various purposes to give educators ideas of ways to integrate tablets into learning.  This book is not a how-to; once you read an idea that you want to try out in your classroom you will have to turn to google or youtube to find out how to use the app.

The authors point out that it can be easy for educators to get too excited by all that the tablets can do and surrender their own knowledge of sound teaching and learning practices to the tablet.  They shared the story of one teacher that realized her tablet-using students were basically completing battery-operated worksheets and not collaborating with each other.  The authors emphasize that this is what can happen if you are not mindful of the teaching part of teaching with tablets.  If battery-operated worksheets are a concern for you, then the aria book Teaching with Tablets is a must read!

Starting the Year with a 1:1 iPad Initiative

In the current NAESP Principal Communicator online edition, you can find my article “Starting the Year with a 1:1 iPad Initiative” HERE.

I’m Not a Tech Expert -from the Monday Musings Post

Just sharing with you this week’s “Monday Musings” post to my staff from my memo blog:



Image from Venosdale

I’ve always felt pretty tech savvy…I love learning about what new web 2.0 tools or iPad apps are out and I catch on pretty quickly.  I feel like that all changed when I got my new laptop a few weeks ago…it was only 5 minutes after Brad brought me my new device that I called his office to ask “how do I scroll?” Yes, you heard that right, I couldn’t even scroll down on a webpage.  Go ahead and laugh (I know I did).  You were all witness to my lack of skills with this MacBook Pro in our first staff meeting when I couldn’t get anything to work right.  After a couple of weeks with it now, I am getting used to it, but still turning to google, youtube or “phone a friend” almost daily to learn how to do things that are different than on a PC.  I am also learning really neat features that I could never do before.

Why do I share this with you? Because I know that, for some of you, going 1:1 with iPads might feel the same way.  I know that it’s hard to say “don’t worry,” but I do encourage you to not be afraid of them and model your learning for your students.  As teachers, we don’t have to be the experts of everything that gets imparted to our students.  When we show students that we don’t always know how to do something, but learn until we figure it out, we are modeling for them exactly what lifelong skill we want them to have.
I know I’ve said this in a previous Monday Musings post, but want to share it again:
We do not have to be experts at the tools…we have to be experts at learning and show students what it is like in real life to not know the answer or not know how to do something. To be successful in life you need to know how to find it out. Or as Will Richardson says we have to be able to “learn, unlearn and relearn.”
Image from Venosdale

How to Support My Teachers with our 1:1 Initiative?

Image from teach.com post

In my last post I shared that we are going 1:1 with iPads in all of our preschool through 5th grade classrooms in our building. Now, my question is how can I lead/support my teachers to use them in meaningful ways to transform learning? We are fortunate to have an Instructional Media Specialist that is extremely helpful in supporting teachers to try a new tool. We also will be investing in training from Certified Apple Trainers. But what can I do?

This past year I did go into a few different classrooms with the iPad cart to “borrow a class of guinea pigs” to try out new apps that I had learned about from my Twitter PLN. I had read about how the app was used in the classroom and wanted to try it in the classroom, while also exposing the teacher to it. I have always felt it has been important for me to not just be in classrooms observing, but to teach and support teachers as well. My goal in this was to also model for teachers to take risks, try new things and reflect/share with colleagues on what worked/what didn’t work.

In my Friday Focus post each week I have also included a section called “Blogs, Pins & Tweets…Oh My!” where I often include ideas on using the iPads.

Over the summer I hope to continue to learn and answer this question: What else can I do to encourage, support and lead teachers with the iPads? Here are some of my current ideas, but I hope some of my PLN (Professional Learning Network) will share ideas with me as well:

  • Start a wikispace this summer to start adding resources/ideas to. I would also give teachers access so they can add to this as well. I just need to figure out how to organize the wiki (i.e. blogs, apps, grade level?)
  • Continue to find app ideas for teachers to use themselves on their iPads. My iPad has become an extension of my arm in terms of how useful it is to me everyday. I’d like to continue to share how it can be a beneficial tool for them.  How can teachers that work with just a few students at a time on specific skills use theirs? For example, our reading interventionists that follows a very prescriptive intervention program will likely not be using the iPads with students, but I’m sure there are productivity apps they would personally benefit from.
  • Always incorporate teacher iPads in our staff meetings somehow. I’d like to plan ahead and create a google doc for each month’s staff meeting agenda, post it on my staff blog and have a part of the agenda be for a staff member to share an app or iPad use from their classroom.
Where will I keep finding my ideas to share with teachers?

Please share if you have any ideas to help me!

We’re Going 1:1 with iPads!!!

Image from Ergatron.com

Can you hear my excitement already? You read that right…we are going 1:1 with iPads in all of our preschool through 5th grade classrooms in our elementary school.

Since I have learned from so many other blogs about integrating technology I plan to share our learning here, but also hope to get input from others on questions that we have.

Here’s what led up to this 1:1 decision:
We are a small district with preK-12 all in one building, which allows us to share technology even though we still function as separate schools in our three separated wings. Over the years we have continued to add technology: each building level has a computer lab and every classroom has a SMARTBoard. This past year we added several carts of devices: Lenovo laptops, netbook minis, Macbook Airs and iPads. This allowed classrooms the opportunity to try out different devices and explore with what device was preferred if we should go 1:1.

Our District Tech Team put in a lot of work this year exploring schools that have gone 1:1 to see what works, what didn’t, etc. They surveyed all staff and all students K-12, using the results to determine that in our district, the best place to start implementing 1:1 would be in our elementary (we did find other districts that started with the high school). This team developed a 3 year plan that ends with our district being 1:1 in every grade. The tech team presented to the school board a couple of different times to build their understanding of this initiative, which led to a unanimous vote for the purchase of the iPads for the elementary next year. Right after this decision was made, we began sharing information on our website for our parents/community to see, which can be found HERE.

So, now that the decision was made, what’s next? Well, our tech people have been working like mad to get this large iPad order ready, along with the admin team planning when to bring in the Apple certified trainers. With any new initiative, the support must be there so we have decided to budget for training from Apple. We also had a logistical meeting with the elementary teachers to discuss how apps will be loaded, how ipads will be stored, etc. Here are some of those logistical details:

  • Each classroom will have an Ergatron charging case.
  • Each iPad will have Otterbox cases
  • iPads will initially be set up with apps by grade level as requested by the grade level team
  • Teachers will have full access to make their teacher iPad their own (this year they had department ipads all with the same apple account so they couldn’t individualize them)
  • As additional apps are requested they will be added to what will basically be our school App Store, which will be created using Casper Software.
  • Additional wifi access points are being put into every classroom so that we have enough bandwidth for all of the additional devices.
  • Every classroom will have an Apple TV to be able to project from any iPad to the SMARTBoard.

I think that’s it for logistics. My next post will be on how can I support my teachers to transform instruction with these new iPads?

If your school or classroom has gone 1:1 are there any logistical issues that you encountered that we should know about? Please share if you do!

Edited to add:
Someone on Twitter asked me if students will be taking the iPads home with them? We have decided that at least for the beginning of this 3 year initiative students will not be bringing them home. A major reason for this is that our K-12 students all ride the same buses home so we were concerned about middle/high school students knowing that our students had iPads in their backpacks and if this could potentially cause theft issues. 

Using the Educreations app

Today I taught a class of 5th graders how to use the app Educreations for their “Math Talk” time.  We have just implemented Math Expressions in our elementary school and love how our students are really benefiting from the “Math Talk” time in which they explain how they would solve problems with a partner.  After seeing the Educreations app I thought it would be a perfect use in math.

I went into the class after I had played with it for a bit, asked others on twitter how they used it, and even asked direction questions of @Educreations and was amazed by their super fast responses to help me (THANK YOU!).

First I showed students an example from the Educreations gallery, so they could see what a finished product looks like.  I then hooked up an iPad to the SMARTBoard and walked them through the process of finding the app, getting started, how to login (with my account) and how to make a new lesson.  Students were told to start thinking about what math problem they wanted to show/explain while iPads were being passed out.  Once they got their iPads and got to the app, I walked them through the login process to have them login to my account. I was told this was ok and that their creations would then show up in my account.  Unfortunately, this did not work to have everyone login at the same time.  You can still work in educreations without an account, so those that didn’t make it in were just told to cancel and go back to the beginning.

I let everyone spread out around the room (since they would all be talking into their iPads) and told them to just take a few minutes to just play with the app–record something just learning each of the features on it.  I had only shown students how to add text and use the colors, but was amazed by how fast several of them discovered how to take pictures (although they wished they could crop/edit the picture within the app) and add new pages when they ran out of space.  Once they got the hang of it they had to start explaining their math problems. I know there are many that think the iPad is just a toy, but guess what these kids did for 30 minutes straight?  Solve and explain math problems on their iPads!  I could hardly get them to stop!!

I was a ping pong ball around the room helping show students how to save them (while trying to get some to login to my account then), delete them, start over, etc.  They were SO into what they were doing that we ran out of time to have them swap with a partner to share or to share any in front of the whole class (which I had planned).  As we finished up I did ask students how this helped them with math and what could we do differently next time.  Here were their answers:

  • I got to show my work in a different way and it was fun.
  • When I listened to myself talk about my math problem I realized a mistake I made and started it over.
  • I’m totally downloading this at home tonight to try!
  • Can we PLEASE stay in at recess and keep doing our math on the iPad like this!!?? (I was on recess duty so I had to say no.)
  • We have to talk quieter, because I could hear others when I listened to my creation again.  Could you say “pause” before you say something to the whole class, because your next directions were in my creation? (That was for me when I started talking to the whole class)
  • We could use our earbuds to make it easier to hear ourselves when we are reviewing them.
Just from using this one app in the classroom, I can easily see how having an iPad cart to share is not enough. If I were in the classroom, I would be totally hooked and want the iPads all the time to continue finding ways to use them!
I’m going to be sharing this app with staff next week. Before I do, I’m hoping to get some feedback from others on some of the issues we encountered….
  • Did we have the login issue, because everyone was trying to login at once? Any suggestions on how to deal with this?
  • I had everyone logout at the end (for those that were logged in) and when they were in the app it still showed the videos they made so whoever uses the iPad next will see them.  Why is that? If students from different classes use them and login with a different teacher’s account and then logout will all the videos still be on that iPad?
  • Once you start recording, is there a way to rewind or back up? We only found that you had to just start over completely.
  • When I login to my account on my iPad, I only see the videos I’ve created and not the ones students published while logged into my account on other iPads. When I login to my account on the browser/desktop, I do see their videos. Why aren’t they showing up in my iPad app?
I’d love to hear how others have used Educreations in the classroom, no matter the grade level or subject. If you come across this post and know of another on using it, please share a link in the comments.