Trying to Provide Options

We have looked through a few student learning management systems and have decided upon Schoology. We have some high hopes for some opportunities to let students head out on their own and move ahead while having the opportunity for teachers to work one on one with students that need a little extra practice and guidance. 
We will have activities lined out for students to do in the order they want while being able to test when they think they have the concept down. If they do, they can work on a genius project or tutor those in need of help.
We will still teach whole ass lessons with the option of having students teach a few lessons. 
This is going to be an opportunity of learning for all of us as we try to give students more options. I am hoping that we can give students more options than this in the future.


IBeacon in the Classroom?

I have been reading a lot about Apple' iBeacon. I know it will be the next invasion of privacy issue we will need to address, but then I thought about what it could do for us in education. My school is 1:1 iPad 3-5 grades. I imagine that if their iPads can be recognized when they come in the classroom I can assign a topic or an agenda of things to do that day for each individual student. We rotate students into different classes and I see that this can give them topics and assignments as soon as they come into their classroom. I can see the opportunity for individual questions depending on how I differentiate and the activity. I can see the opportunity to use it in the classroom. I also see it as an incentive for students to remember their iPads. Our iPads to home for home learning (after a short presentation and signing a permission form).

I know I can do many of these things with other means, but having the information come right when they enter the classroom, no matter what classroom, is exciting. If students come to a classroom  museum, a presentation can share information, help, and give suggestions on what to do. How fun would it be to have different pictures or presentations come up depending where students are in the school? What about when a parent comes into the school. Information, directions to get to the right room for a class production or school activity. 

These are a few things I see that can be used with this new technology. I wonder how long before we can set up beacons using this technology?

A Few Articles
4 Uses for iBeacon - Wired.com
iBeacons Gaming- Macrumors.com
First Look: Using iBeacon Location Awareness - Appleinsider.com


Why Do I Teach?

I was reading though some tweets from my PLN last week and I came upon one by Karl Lindgren-Streicher(). He was quoting Jamie Casap () writing, "he doesn't ask kids what they want to be, he asks students what problem they want solve." I brought that question up to my students. They wrote about what problem they would solve. It was great to listen to some of the problems they want to solve.
A couple days later, I started to think about what problem I want to solve as a teacher. Why did I become a teacher? What do I want to do with my life? When I started in college I thought that all students can learn. When I started teaching I had other ideas, but after a few years I learned from the students that all students can learn. They can progress. Every student can progress. That is when I decided I wanted to change how students felt when they came into the classroom. I wanted more for them. I wanted to give students opportunities they might not get elsewhere. Over time I changed my teacher to try to accommodate different learning styles. When I learned about flipping the classroom, it gave me one more thing to give students to help them progress. Thinking about this question gave me the opportunity to reflect on why I do what I do. What problem did you want to solve when you started teaching?


Increasing iPad Usage in the Classroom

We are now a 1:1 iPad grade level. What an opportunity for our students to use iPads in school. Some students also have the opportunity to take them home for home learning, if their parents want that option. We have increased the use of iPads in each subject as we find ways to use them. And that brings me to the issue with 1:1 technology in the classroom.
We decided not to use the iPad as a GamePad for students. We want them to create, collaborate, and consume information with the iPad in as many subjects as possible. That is not an easy task. We looked for apps that made learning better and not as a way to keep students busy. They get the games at home, we need them to see technology as a way to learn and produce. I will say that we do have a few games on the iPads they can use on those days we would pull out board games anyway (rainy days, 100˚+ days, etc.). We try to get learning games that students like to play. There are some questions we needed to ask as we decided what to do, how to do it, and which apps we will use.
  • How do we make an activity/assignment better by using the iPad?
    • We did not want to make an activity harder or more time consuming for the teachers or the students.
  • Is the iPad the best tool to use in the activity/assignment?
    • Just because we have the iPad does not mean it is the best tool for the job. Sometimes a whiteboard is the better choice.
  • What is the learning outcome of the activity/assignment?
    • It is still about the learning.
  • Which app is best for the activity/assignment and will the app make it better?
There are activities that we changed because of the iPad. There are many we kept the same. We started writing a few books using iBooks Author for the students. We take some of the articles/assignments we use and put them into books for students to read. In iBooks students can look up words, highlight important information, and bookmark pages. That has kept our paper use down.
Our use of Google Drive is huge.  We wrote a ebook to help students as they start to use Google Drive. We started with writing stories, and now it has become our student portfolio. They share their stories with their teacher and other students for comments to help make the stories better. They also create a folder and share it with their teacher. Students can upload pictures of assignments, activities, objects for their portfolio. We use the spreadsheet for students to monitor their improvement. They keep track of their assessment scores to see their improvement and for writing goals on a document. The teachers created a shared folder for dropping pages in for students, short videos for students to watch, and a place for students to download books or files.
Another app we started using is Explain Everything. We use it as a white board to record how students are doing their work. We could use free app Educreations or Doceri for the same thing, but there is more to EE. We have students take a picture of a story we posted on the iPad Photo Stream and import it to EE. Students read and record the story then upload it as a movie to their Google Drive portfolio. This gives us a fluency assessment that they can review later to hear improvement in their reading. They can mark up the story to show words they missed, how many words they read in one minute, and listen to how they read. Spelling sorts are our activity of choice. So we started using EE for sorting. They can cut out the words right in EE and save a stack of words to sort. Students sort the words and then write it into their composition book. We post the words on Google Drive in the shared folder for students to take a picture of. We have just started to crack the surface of what we can do in this app.
We have come up with some great uses of the iPads to help with organization and implementation of assignments and activities. We are always looking for more ideas. If you have any ideas or suggestions of what else we can do, let me know.


Going 1:1

Going 1:1 has been quite a process. While researching insurance and apps for my students and brainstormed management issues, I found that my district was not prepared for this issue. Moving from a computer in the school, on a desk, connected to a wall to an unteathered electronic device in the classroom and at home has shown some holes in our plans. We suddenly became reactive technologically instead of proactive. Wifi has had issues as the amount of devices purchased doubles in each school. We are now on an approval plan for apps within the district. I can see the reasoning for this. If we don't want to manage the iPads in our classrooms, or we are unsure what to do with them, games become the norm and the problem. 
We really need to prepare for the coming of the unteathered learning coming to our schools. What problems do you have with this new influx of technology?

Teaching is Technology

I was showing he teachers at my school how to use Apple Configurator after school today. We talked about the iPads we have and what we need to do to get them ready for students to take them home. We talked about why we will be using Configurator and how it make it easier for teachers to control certain settings on be iPad. The. We discussed the apps we can use on be iPad and what they will be used for. Then came the question that many  teachers think when it comes to technology.
Who is going to manage the iPads and sync them in Configurator?
This is an interesting question. Who should manage the iPads? 
When I got into education I arrived in my first room and the first thought I. My head was, who is going to manage the textbooks? I managed the textbooks. Education is becoming so much more technology driven that we need to take more time with it. I took time getting to know my teachers editions when I started teaching. I should take the time to learn the iPad I hand to my students. This is the new teaching profession. 


Second Chances in School

A couple weeks ago I was in a class with pre-admin teachers and the topic turned to whether we should make students hold the line or give them chances. I know there are thoughts about this on both sides especially when talking elementary vs. high school, but we are in education and our job is to teach. So we teach about how important it is to hold to deadlines. In class we discuss why we have deadlines. Then we hand out deadlines for assignments and work with those that are not meeting them. In education there should second chances. If the student is progressing in class and they forget an assignment, second chance. If they forget more than once, the teacher should be working with the student, not complaining that the student doesn't turn anything in. It is our job to help them no matter the age.
I can see that there are times we need to hold them to a line after working with them through the year, but we are here to teach the students, to work with them, to prepare them. I hear the comment that one day they will be held to a deadline at a job, or that college professors will not budge and you will get a bad grade. I understand those points. They might run into those situations. The college professors I had would work with me if I talked with them about an assignment being late. Most jobs work with employees to a point. Students will also be older and, hopefully, feel the job is important enough to take it seriously.
I hope I don't offend you when I say that the homework assignment they forgot to bring back was not that important. I might have been. What we need to think about is what are we doing to make the assignments important enough for students to not forget them. Threatening them with a bad grade does not make it important, it makes it an obligation. Turning the assignment into a project that they will want to get in because it is important to helping find an answer to a problem, or it will move their group to the next step in their project. That is important.
Sometimes we need to rethink what we assign and what we expect of our students. We should not expect less, we should expect more from them. We should also understand that they are human. Sometimes I have to think of them as my child and what I would do for my child in this situation. It is a fine line what we do as teachers sometimes. High schools should hold students to a high level of responsibility, a lot more than we do in elementary, but we should never forget that they are still learning.
The question should not be, do I give them a second chance? It should be, should I stop giving second chances? What do you think about second chances in school?


Flipping School is Starting

School is starting up again and I m ready to get started. We have quite a few changes coming this year. We have a new principal starting her first year. I am excited to show her how a flipped classroom looks and works. We also are starting a new math program with a technology piece that I am interested in seeing how it works. The publisher assured us the tech piece would be ready for our iPads at the beginning of school. We also are testing a new language program that has a technology piece. Same company, same promise about the iPads. My team has a little work to do to get the new Math and Language information in place and decide how we are going to implement thoughts I read by Ramsey Musallam on Explore-Flip-Apply.
As I put together a two-day class about the flipped classroom this summer, I came across some great videos and information that helped me understand more about what I want to do in my classroom. Here is the presentation I put together. I learned was that the flipped classroom is an change of mindset. Changing the way I think about the class, the curriculum, the homework, the management, and the way the students learn.
I came across a few articles about whether we need teachers or not. A computer can teach the basic curriculum points. As a teacher I need to help students be more curious about our world. I need to help students explore problems and language and how they work, not just do drill-and-kill work and have students memorize stuff.
Another thought I kept thinking about this summer was one by Mrs. Ripp, "Would I like being a student in my classroom?" I have been thinking about what activities I want to present to my students. Figuring out how I want to present the new curriculum in a way the inspires curiosity in always a challenge, but seeing students get excited about learning and about being in school is an exciting part of being a teacher.
This is going to be an exciting year.


Flipping Class for Teachers

I have been asked to teach a two day class on flipping my classroom. I am very excited about telling other teachers in my district about flipping their  classroom and how it will make their classrooms more student-based. I have been thinking about it for about a month now and it is coming up. I have done presentations about flipping but not a two day class. So I started my search for be right videos of information I want them to know. I looked at articles I want them to read. Then I thought that this class should be run like a flipped class. I will lecture a little, question a lot, and have the teachers watch and make videos, and do it at their own pace. We will have discussions as a class at certain points in the class to check progress and answer questions. This will give them a good idea how a class can run.
Our district is trying to set up deals with Edmodo and Schoology for assignment management. I have worked with Schoology a little, but I am interested I. Using Edmodo a little more. I like it's layout and ability to post messages for everyone to read. I will show the teachers both so they can decide if either works for them. I have used wikispaces for years to manage assignments and I will still work with that platform until I see a way to move away from it. Are there other online programs that work for assignment management?
In the end this will be a great experience for me as a teacher and hopefully for the teachers coming to see how to help their students. 


What's on Your iPad?

I love using iPads in my classroom. My students use Google Docs for writing and presenting. We use Educreations to work on problems and to show how students worked out their math or language problem. I am taking a tech class from our district and the one thing I am finding is the disconnect between teachers in the different schools. Our district tech department has managed the the maintenance of technology, but we need a central point of contact to find out what each school is doing. I follow the Ipad Insight Blog. A series that comes up every once in a while is "What's on Your iPad?" I think I will start something like that article that shows what is on iPads in different schools in my district. This will help everyone know what teachers are using in their classrooms for their students. I will ask teachers to show what they use and then what they use on their student iPads. I think I will have to use the questions iPad Insight uses. They are great questions. These are the questions for the teacher iPad.
  1. Which iPad model do you use for yourself? (original, iPad 2, New iPad, Mini, storage size) Any particular reasons for choosing this model?
  2. Do you use any sort of case with the iPad? If so, which one/s and why? 
  3. What’s on your iPad dock currently? Do these apps pan out as your most frequently used? What are some of your other most-used apps / what’s on your first home screen? (and any reasons why you’d like to offer) 
  4. How do you arrange your home screens? Do you use folders at all / heavily? 
  5. What are some of your most used productivity apps on the iPad? Any that you use for work? 
  6. How much, if any, book reading do you do on the iPad? 
  7. Any favorite iPad games or fun time fillers? 
  8. Have you got a ‘hidden gem’ type iPad app that more people should know about? 
  9. Do you tend to pay much attention to your home or lock screen wallpaper? Change it up often?
These are the questions for the student iPads. 
  1. Which iPad model do you use for your students? (original, iPad 2, New iPad, Mini, storage size) Any particular reasons for choosing this model?
  2. Do you use any sort of case or covers for the student iPads? If so, which one/s and why? 
  3. What’s on your student iPad dock currently? Do these apps pan out as the most frequently used for students? What are some of your other most-used student apps / What’s on your first home screen? (and any reasons why you’d like to offer) 
  4. How do you arrange your home screens? Do you use folders at all / heavily? 
  5. What student Apps do you use consistently for Language? Math? Science? History?  
  6. Have you got a ‘hidden gem’ type iPad app that more people should know about? 
  7. Do you pay much attention to your student home or lock screen wallpaper? Change it up often?
I am going to start this Series on this blog. I hope to have a few people send me information so we can all learn what apps are being used in our classrooms and why. Are there other questions I should ask teachers about their iPads?