We’re 1:1!

A few years ago, I was part of an iPad Scout as our school district made decisions about how best to implement a 1:1 initiative.  Since then, they decided to go with iPad Minis for everyone (well, except for K this year, who is utilizing the iPad 2s the teachers used to have), and now it’s finally first grade’s turn!!

Since we’re a little ahead in Rm. 202 technologically speaking (partly because of my scout experience), we were the first class to get our Minis!  Check out the faces here–they say it all!

CAM01515Ok, but I’m getting ahead of myself…there was much work that happened before we could take this picture.  Let me explain.

As a member of our district’s Technology Leadership Group, I have the opportunity to learn and grow with other tech-minded friends, and share resources for our tech-learning journey.  So as I got started with iPads in 1st grade (which is very different than getting started with them in 5th grade!), I was glad to have help from my friend Jen Bartin, who has had several years of experience with using them well in 2nd grade.  She shared her version of iPad Boot Camp, and it was just what we needed.

So before we even THOUGHT about unpacking the box of bright red goodies, we had to talk about the expectations.  More than anything else, these little friends of mine need to be on teh same page as me about why we have them, how we will use them and how we will be safe as we do that.  The first thing we did, then, was read and discuss the student iPad agreement:

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 12.35.26 PMThis conversation was a bit long, and probably one of the most boring things we’ve done in a long time, but SUPER IMPORTANT to our work.  They seemed to get it, and are dedicated to doing the right thing.  That last line seemed to weigh heavily on them.  They understand their choices and consequences are related. 🙂

We spent the rest of the day learning some logistical things, like turning the iPad on and off, using the lock button for the screen, creating shortcuts to some important places on the home screen, and turning off the clickety-click sounds the keyboard makes.  While it is really important to me not to be solely app-focused, there are some good ones that we will use often, like Raz-Kids, which we have been using already on our class iPads and laptops.  This was an easy one to get them going on and is a great way to build our reading skills.  We also learned how to use the Kidblog app (which is a little different than the way the website works) to work on a post related to our history study in Social Studies.  Dreambox–another app we use regularly–is also our iPads and we checked it out before we had choice time.  It’s not usual that we’re all doing the same thing at the same time, but hey, if we want to, now we can!


Kids checking out Raz-Kids on Thursday!

Yeah, but we weren’t finished there.  The last lesson of the day was how to put these little beauties away and how to charge them so they’re ready to use every morning.  We already had the cart (that our laptops used to go in), and just had to figure out how to best organize the iPads inside it.  I had seen a post this summer that used a dish drainer to hold devices and thought we’d give it a try.  I had one on my table (that I was using for something else), but threw it in the cart to see how it would work.  Empty, it looked like this:

CAM01517I know it looks like a big jumble, but the idea is that every cord (which are all already labeled for each kiddo) is in order and will be available for kiddos to pull out easily.  Right now (until I buy another tray) there are 13 on the top and 7 using the dividers that were already there.  It seemed like a great idea.

And then we started putting them away.  I took time to carefully and clearly show each kiddo (two or three at a time) which cord was theirs and where their iPad went in the tray.  It took about 10-15 minutes to get 20 in there, and it looked like this once we filled it all up:

CAM01518And now I’m not so sure.  Now all I see is a big jumble of cords.  It seems like unless I stand there every time with every kid, it will ALWAYS be a headache.  I’m thinking I’m going to scrap the dish drainer idea and install more of those plastic dividers.  Any suggestions, friends who are already doing this?  I want to have a system that is both functional and completely kid-sustainable.  Like with most everything else we do, I don’t want this to be something an adult has to do for them.  I want them to take the lead.  Thoughts?? 🙂

UPDATE:  After a suggestion from Jen Bartin (remember her smart ideas for iPad Boot Camp?) and a reflection on HOW LONG it took to put them away that first time, I decided to chuck the whole “dish drainer” idea and just use the dividers.  And it didn’t actually take as long as I was told to put them in.  It works better and boy is pretty!  What do you think?

CAM01558So much better, no?  This picture makes my heart happy for so many reasons!  It’s weird, but I think my favorite part is the stickers.  Functional and cute:


Rather than labeling with names, I just put numbers that correlate to our class numbers that we use for almost everything else.  This system works so. much. better! 🙂

EDUC 573: Week 7–WebQuests, BYOD and Educational Equity

Yes, all those things have something in common.  Mainly that I learned about all of them this week. 🙂

One of the big projects for this class I’m taking is a WebQuest.  While the idea of a WebQuest is not a new one (the concept was created by Bernie Dodge in 1995), it’s a new one to me.  Somehow, I’ve gotten through all of my education thus far–including the teaching part–without having done one, using one or creating one.

One thing I wanted to make sure of was that I made a WebQuest that was actually applicable to my classroom and my students; this is hopefully true of all assignments in grad school, after all!   Eventually I landed on making it applicable to a science unit on animals we were about to begin, since it could be self-paced and open-ended like most of the other projects I assign in science.

Outside of the content piece of the project, there was also the process of using Google Sites to create the website housing the actual WebQuest.  The funny part to me while I was working was how much I had ragged on Google last week, and then how the usefulness of so many Google Apps became clear; if only my students had their Google Drives up and running so that they could download and save their papers to use later, or how they could better collaborate if they could use a Google Doc to record their research–at school or at home.  The whole hangup I had with it last week was that I couldn’t see the necessity of it or how it would work with elementary and all it took was one project where I needed it for it to all make sense!  That was the connection I was looking for, right there in front of me.

Another topic this week was the article Left to Their Own Devices by Jeff Weinstock (2010).  While the article was all about the rationale for BYOD, as well as the difficulties districts face in trying to figure it all out, I was touched by a completely different topic than that of the technology involved.  Rather than focusing on the money, time, or infrastructure involved in having students bring their own devices, I zeroed in on the educational equity piece of it all.

The article began:

At Empire High School in Vail, AZ, every student has a laptop, a fully loaded MacBook supplied free of
charge—to the student, at least—courtesy of the Vail School District. “We provide the entire experience,” says
Vail CIO Matt Federoff.
The 1-to-1 program is a cornerstone of Vail’s Beyond Textbooks
initiative, whose goal is an all-digital curriculum. So facing the decision on whether to expand the program to
another of its high schools, Cienega, the district made the obvious choice: No way.

Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but to me it seems that one school got the whole package of a 1:1 roll out and the other got nothing. While I completely agree that the definition of fair is not “same,” the scenario seems a little unfair to me.  What if I can’t bring my own device to school?  What if I don’t have one?  What if my phone only makes phone calls and isn’t “smart?”   Should I not be allowed to access the curriculum?

I agree that the whole topic of technology in schools and BYOD and 1:1 is not that simple, it’s not a black/white thing with easy answers.  Perhaps the school district was making a good decision in going 1:1 in one place and not another, there could be more to the story that I don’t know.  But isn’t one reason for going 1:1 in the first place to level the playing field?  To give all students an equal chance?

Ok, now I’m rambling….so I’ll ask you: what connection to you see between BYOD, 1:1 initiatives and educational equity?  Tell me your stories and share your thoughts. 🙂