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Archive for the ‘1:1’ Category

With and Without

This year we piloted our first ever 1:1 program with Chromebooks. We have two teams of four teachers who have enough Chromebooks for each student to use during the day, when needed. We are not using the term 1:1, as that often gets misconstrued. Our students do not take the Chromebooks home. When they move on to another team or class next year, they won’t take their Chromebook with them, but they will get one to use for that year in the new class.

learningWe have six more teams of teachers waiting in the wings for next year to see how this turns out. Having had great success on many levels, we are planning on moving forward and purchasing Chromebooks for 4 more teams for next year. Sadly, our budget doesn’t have room for all six of the remaining teams in this building. We are developing a whole new replacement cycle with these devices and the remaining two teams will use the existing laptops to serve the same purpose; they’ll have enough devices for each student to use, when needed. The plan is that they’ll get Chromebooks the following year. Hopefully.

Interestingly, at last week’s School Board meeting, when the Board heard about with our hopes and dreams for next year, they balked. Were they worried about budgets overall? We’re not asking for additional funding and intend to work within our budget. They want to know how having more access and more devices transforms teaching and learning. They think we’re doing great things with our current set-up. We are. Thanks to amazing teachers who are flexible and patient.

contractorsThere comes a time when our old structure, having a shared cart of 24 laptops for each team of 80-100 students sufficed. That’s no longer the case. School needs to mirror the real world. Would you ask an employee in a place of business to do their work, but they only have access to a computer for an hour a day? The cost of Chromebooks allows us to move forward in providing more access to learning and the world to our students. We’ve seen the change in students having access to devices when they needed them on these two initial teams. Students are so much more comfortable, fluent, and confident. The device fades into the background as they focus on ways to demonstrate their learning, participate in class, reflect, and grow.

The bottom line is this: it still all comes down to good teachers and great teaching. Teachers are the ones who create the experiences and the culture for success.

We are preparing an updated report for the School Board and for parents, with clear examples of the difference for those in our building with ample devices and without. I’ll share that soon, but would appreciate your thoughts. What can you and your students do if you have ample devices that you can’t do otherwise or if you have to share devices with a number of other classes? This is about the learning, but having the access is a part of it.

Feedback and insight are always welcome!

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Post 12 in the 30-Day Blogging Challenge: How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years?


 

I’m going to borrow a format from another blogger in the challenge.

5 years Ago:

I was just getting underway in my transition from classroom teacher to Technology Integration Specialist. We were adopting a new platform for our school website and about to move toward implementing our Google Apps for Education domain. I was adapting to not having my own class and instead, working with students and adults. We had not yet heard of iPads or Chromebooks.

Now:

I’ve definitely settled into this role! As a teacher, I enjoy working with students and adults, but have definitely been doing more with adults for professional development. I miss the classroom, but am constantly challenged by the frequent innovations with technology. We’re implementing our first 1:1 with Chromebooks. We’re connecting, collaborating, and sharing a lot with a broad audience.

In 5 years:

Because technology changes so quickly, it’s hard to predict what life in schools and in the ed tech realm will look like in 5 years. I hope to be teaching teachers, as I am now, but perhaps more online. Students will each have their own Personal Learning Plan, ePortfolio, and will be more involved in designing their academic programs, with guidance from educators and mentors. I envision future schools looking something like the what’s featured in the video below, which was a selection of the White House Film Festival for 2014.

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Post #5 from the 30-Day Blogging Challenge: “Post a picture of your classroom and describe what you see and what you don’t see that you’d like to.”


 

Since I’m not a classroom teacher, I can’t compose this post the same way that others might. I work in two computer labs, an office, a hub-closet that I use as an office, online, and in many classrooms. Rather than post a picture of my classroom, I’m going to post a picture of our new Chromebooks. Read on…

As I mentioned in this post, we are about to take off with our first 1:1 pilot with Chromebooks. Our amazing technical staff has come up with an ingenious way to store, charge, and secure the Chromebooks. The Chromebooks are not going home with students, thus the need to figure that out. Also, since this is a pilot, we didn’t want to invest in carts just yet.chromebooks

Take a look at what they came up with!

The Chromebooks will reside in dish racks. Each teacher has two dish racks filled with the devices.  They’ll come in each morning to their team office area and take the two dish racks out of the closets and into their classrooms for the day.

They plug in to power strips that have timers. We plan to have them charge for 2 hours during the wee hours of the night, at less peak power times. We can’t thank the technicians, network administrators, and maintenance staff enough for their hard work and perseverance.

What’s missing in this photo? The students! Students will get their Chromebooks early next week. Teachers are starting immediately with the Digital Passport site created by Common Sense Media. Digital Citizenship comes first.

This is all very exciting and there’s a lot of work ahead of us. My “classroom” has grown!

 

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The prompt for today’s blogging challenge is to write about a piece of technology I’m hoping to incorporate into my curriculum. I’m not a classroom teacher and don’t have a curriculum to follow, so I’m going to adapt this post.


planeThis year, we are venturing down the road toward our first 1:1 pilot, with Chromebooks. We had attempted a year and a half ago, to get funding for a 1:1 iPad initiative. That failed to pass muster and we learned a lot of lessons from the experience. Since then, we also learned about how challenging it is to share iPads!

A year passed and Chromebooks emerged on the horizon. We found a way to fund a pilot for this device with a small sampling of our school population. We determined that we could provide Chromebooks for two teams in our school. Our teams are made up of 4 teachers that work collaboratively, with 4 classes of students that move about within the space for various aspects of their day.

All teams in grades 3-8 were invited to submit a proposal, and then had to meet with myself and our administrator to defend why they should be the chosen ones. We had five teams apply and sadly could only pick two. One team selected is composed of third and fourth graders in multi-age classes, the other grades 5-8.

We’re almost ready to hand them out to students. Over the course of this year, we will be looking to see how having a device for each student impacts, enhances, and enriches learning. If access to technology when you need it is not an issue, how does that free up time and affect planning? How will transitioning full-speed ahead to using Google apps play out and transform what happens in these classrooms?

As the Chromebooks get distributed and students get underway with Digital Citizenship activities to begin their work, (thanks to Common Sense Media), we’ll be on our way. I’ll be sharing the ups and downs here on this blog.

 

Image: creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by Unhindered by Talent: http://flickr.com/photos/nicmcphee/573255385

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Last year we proposed to start a 1:1 iPad initiative with our 5th and 6th graders. That didn’t pass in our community. I wrote about it in this post.

So, back to the drawing board we went. We did get some iPads with funds we had available. Our preK-2 school already had 2 carts. This year we got 3 carts at our grades 3-8 school building. The challenge facing us – sharing iPads, which are ideally a personal device, among many students.

When I was at ISTE this summer, I was especially focused on finding sessions, resources, or people who were sharing iPads. That was not easy- almost everyone had some sort of a 1:1 setting. I didn’t find answers to my questions.

So, I thought I would share this post with some details about what systems and logistics we have put in place in our schools to help others in our situation.

1. Pledges and Promises: Leave the iPads ready for the next user.

  • Teachers and students must clean off photos and videos when they complete a project.
  • Teachers and students must remember to sign out of any accounts they’ve signed into.
  • We’re not printing from iPads. Period.

2. Signing Out iPads:

photo (2) We have carts with 30 iPads. Within that, the iPads are grouped in 5’s. Each group of 5 iPads has a different color case. And there’s a sticker on the back that has a letter. Therefore, if a student starts a project on the blue iPad with the letter C on it, they easily know which iPad to get when they resume their work.

Teachers use the Google calendars to sign out iPads. They can sign out as many groups of 5 iPads they need. Some sign out one group of 5 when using them as a small station or project with a small group. At other times, teachers sign out 4 or 5 groups of 5 iPads to have a whole-class set for a specific task or project.

Teachers view availability on the calendars before signing them out. They also commit to returning iPads promptly when finished so that they are present for someone else who signed them out just after their time slot. Students may help get and return iPads as long as there’s an appropriate number of students to the number of iPads for safe handling.

 

 

3. Workflow:

Here are some of the ways in which we’re working to share things created ON the iPads and/or get them OFF the iPads:

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 9.27.30 PM Email- we have email accounts set up specifically for the iPads. There’s not one per iPad, but rather for each of our grade spans – K-2, 3-4, 5-8. We can email photos or other projects from the iPad to teachers or student email account to access later.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 9.21.11 PM Dropbox – we have installed the Dropbox app. At this point, teachers can use their own Dropbox accounts. At some point, we may set up Dropbox accounts using the 3 email accounts above. We’re wondering who will manage those accounts and keep them relatively clean for others to use when getting close to the storage limit. This one isn’t fully developed yet!

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 9.23.20 PM PhotoSync– We installed PhotoSync on all iPads. This is already helping to solve issues we’ve had in the past. iMovie trailers created on iPads are generally too big to email. Sharing a collection of photos, rather than one at a time is challenging. PhotoSync allows us to share from one device to another (already helping some of our Special Educators) or to Drive or even to a computer via an IP address. So far, this is a very helpful app.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 9.25.44 PM Drive– teachers and students can use Drive to access their GAFE accounts to create documents, spreadsheets, etc. on the iPads and then can access them again later on a computer, if necessary.

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 9.24.44 PM YouTube – we set up 3 YouTube accounts using the email accounts for each grade span listed above. This way we can upload straight to a YouTube channel and have this channel as a showcase of student work produced on iPads or with other tools. We hope it will be a way to share with our larger community and demonstrate what we are creating with iPads.

 

 

 

We’re off to a great start and teachers are very open-minded and exciting about new opportunities ahead. I’d appreciate any more insight, ideas, and suggestions for systems and logistics that work for others.

 

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What’s Not to Like?

It’s been a very interesting few weeks. In an effort to educate and inform the community in which I work, we offered a many question/answer sessions and presentations about our proposed 1:1 initiative for iPads for our 5th/6th graders. We didn’t have a huge turnout, but there were great conversations. We also added a new section to the district’s website with information about everything related to the proposal, including a frequently asked questions page and a form to submit more questions.

Last Tuesday was Town Meeting Day in Vermont. The residents of the towns vote on town budgets as well as school budgets. Our school budget, like most in Vermont, was going up. The majority of the increase is due to things for which there is little control like salaries, health benefits, and costs to operate our school buildings. In the whole budget, the cost for the 1:1 was about half of a percent.

For some reason, the idea of providing an iPad for each 5th and 6th grader didn’t sit well in this town. The whole budget got voted down, by 27 votes. When exploring things further, we saw that only 15% of registered voters turned out that day.

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Image originally from Creative Commons/flickr by Sean MacEntee http://flic.kr/p/9EhzwC

 

We don’t know the next steps yet. The School Board and administration are faced with that task. The budget will likely be adjusted to better suit the voters. Will the iPad initiative be gone entirely? We don’t know yet.

One community member was heard to say, “Our town is not ready for this.” Why not this town, when others are fully in support? What are people frightened of? Loss of control of the digital culture in their homes? Fear that their children will know more than them? Obviously there’s not a clear understanding of how this tool can support, enhance, and transform learning for the better. How do we better educate and inform the adults in our greater community?

I’m still pondering the next steps and reeling with surprise from the tone of the vote. Do you have suggestions?

 

 

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So we did it. A group of teachers, administrators, and tech folks developed a proposal to move forward with this initiative and our administrators in the school and district got crafty and found a way to include it in the proposed overall school budget for next year. Here in Vermont, we have Town Meeting Day at the beginning of March. At that time, residents of each town vote on school budgets, municipal items (firetrucks, for example), the town’s budget, and other things directly impacting the town.

So now we wait. Well no, we don’t wait. Our School Board and the school needs to educate the community about the budget in the hopes that residents will vote for it on Town Meeting Day.

We’re starting our efforts to educate and inform the community about the 1:1 initiative. The iPad is the device chosen, but we all agree – it’s not about the device, it’s about the learning. We’re hearing some things from the parent perspective, which is helpful. Some have said that they see their children play games on the iPad, but they don’t have the visual of how iPads are used by students in schools. They have lots of questions, all valid. There’s a lot of planning going on, details being addressed, and questions getting answered. We’re being as transparent as possible. We’ve begun to put articles and resources on the school’s website. We’ll continue to add more, as well as examples and videos of iPads being used effectively for learning. (Feel free to share any you have with me!)

Do you have any suggestions for how we might best inform and educate our parent community about the value and importance of this endeavor for learning?

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