I start with me- I am the I. I was given my own ipad a year ago- I then introduced a set of eight to be used in our Lower School. I oversaw their use, the purchase of apps, and was responsible for professional development with the teachers. I presented about our work at a conference. My goal, of course, was that the I should fade and it should become them (the classroom teachers). I began by suggesting which apps could be used for certain projects. I made sure plenty of apps were installed regularly onto the devices. I created a list of all the apps that was readily available. I worked closely with the assistant teachers so they could take the lead in the classroom. I showcased successful projects. I used ipads in faculty meetings, giving them time to play and explore. As the last couple of months approached, hiring ate away a lot of my time, so I stepped back- a good test to see if I had taken out the “I.” I will give myself 5 out of 10. While some wonderful things were still happening, the sign up sheet had more blanks in it and requests for apps fizzled. On reflection for the majority of time I had been the one suggesting uses and while we all found it an easy tool, most of my teachers weren’t yet understanding its potential or the need for integrating technology into the classroom. I have to steer some away from seeing it as a “fun thing for the kids to play on when they are finished” to “this can really improve learning and tap into the creativity of my boys.”
Practicalities. High scores here for ease of use, storage, charging, reliability, connectivity, durability, sign up, app management. Our laptop cart paled in contrast. But the practical problem we deal with is the fact a large number of students are using a small number of ipads. The result is all sorts of work and photos are saved- or not, and some of our projects are limited. We also can’t print and while we can work around that using email, it is not always ideal. Overall score: 8.
A is for Applications. Being a lower school, we are definitely using the ipad for apps. I searched high and low for good apps, reading many wonderful blogs and my twitter feed. We have quite a collection listed here. While a number of apps are skill driven (the more effective ones often being math), we have also had success with some that tap into the boys’ creativity. For example all of the boys in the entire lower school used doodle buddy to write a page of a book about river animals. The work in music class and in my after school photography class (documented in earlier posts) was great. Frequently we were reminded how easy it is for our students to navigate the apps and produce wonderful work. Toontastic and Strip Designer are still two of my personal favorites. So for apps, I would have to give ourselves a 9.
Finally D. Y0u have to be determined to lead the way and integrate a new tool. Now I am determined that with the addition of 25 new ipads for 1-4th grades to share, and our original 8 moving permanently to Kindergarten, that I will continue to focus on fostering independence in the teachers and of the development of worthwhile projects. This will require working closely with our new tech teacher, planning some pd, and building on the aha moments that I know will be happening. I remember walking into fourth grade as they were working collaboratively, writing brochures about rivers using books, maps, and ipad for content, while writing on a laptop. It wasn’t about the thrill of the ipad- it was about the learning. Determination: 8/10
I started writing this to evaluate the ipad but it quickly turned into an evaluation of our school’s success. I loved working with the boys and the teachers as we traveled this journey. Overall score: