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?


Where Do I Start Flipping?

After wrapping up my UCET2013 Flipped Presentation this question was tweeted, emailed, and asked of me, "where do I start flipping my classroom?" As I thought about my presentation, I told about why I flip and how I flip and even what to do if they wanted to flip, but I really didn't explain how to start. Many of the people that asked this question were unable to attend my presentation. So this is my suggestion. This is not the gospel of flipping. There are many other flippers that might have other ideas and plans to use. Researching this topic will also help finding different ideas and suggestions on flipping the classroom.
The first thing you need to do is think about what you do in your classroom. My idea of the flipped classroom is changing the way I run my classroom so I make it student-based and not teacher-based. As I change how my classroom is, what will I be doing? So the question I ask is "What is the best use of class time with my students?" Then start with one activity that can be modified. If the activity needs a video to be made for students to watch at home or during class, make it. Pick a topic or an activity that takes up a lot of time in class. I started with a vocabulary activity that took a lot of student time writing in class. I made a short video with the information the students needed to have for their assignment and sent it home. That freed up 30 minutes a day of language time. Now came the great part, I found 30 more minutes a day I was able to spend more time working with my students in small groups. Make it something small to get a feel for it and add other things a piece at a time.
Give it time to work out. Any change will be tough, but keep it going for a while. Students and parents will need time to learn the new system and so will you. Make small changes as they a needed. Once it becomes more comfortable in the schedule changing it up, then comes the time to add or change other subjects or activities. As an elementary school teacher, I have a lot of subjects I teach throughout the week. I use video for three subjects only. I think that more than a couple videos a night can be too much for anyone. There are times when I have a vocabulary video, spelling video, and math video on the same night, but I try to keep it to two on a given night. Most nights there is only one and some nights I don't assign any. Whatever is needed is what is assigned.
After I started flipping my class I started reading a book called "Ready, Set, Science" and it helped me define what my core concept was that I wanted the students to know each day in math and spelling(Chapter 4). I also learned more about how to have better discussions in my classroom(Chapter 5).
Let me know how this helps you as you start changing your classroom. If you have any other suggestions, leave a comment.

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Flip Support from Administration

I just wrapped up a presentation about Flipping the Classroom at UCET2013. I did a similar presentation at Suecon in October and there were about 15 teacher in that presentation. This time I did two presentations and they were each filled with teachers sitting on the floor. I went over the basics of what a traditional flipped classroom looks like and then we talked about changing the traditional classroom paradigm of lecture to student centered discussion and investigation of concepts. As I talked and showed how I run my classroom, the teachers were very receptive. In the end I told them that my flipped classroom is an example of what it can look like. It has its problems like most classrooms. But the one thing I want them to take away is to think about how they want their classroom to look like. I posed this question, "What is the best use of your classroom time with your students?"
The one problem that I heard over and over during and after the presentation was about getting administrator help. I have not had much problem with this new use my principal is very supportive in what we do. She wished that more teachers in our school would give it a good look. I say wished because my present principal is retiring. I know the new principal and I am hoping for the best that she will be as supportive in our ideas. So what do you do to get support from your principal? What suggestions do you have to offer these beginning flippers?


Puttering around the Classroom

I was talking with my neighbor about putting in a garden. He has a large farm behind my house and gives me a lot of tips on what and when to grow vegetables. He has a garden that is twice the size of my house and yet he gives away most of his harvest because his children are all gone. As we discussed this fact, he told me that he gardens because it gives him time to relax and putter around in the yard. I wonder if the kids today have something to putter around with when they need to relax? Do video games have the same puttering ability as a garden? Do we as teachers need to provide an opportunity for students to putter around in the classroom? How would we teach them to find their putter activity?

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Waiting for Scripting?

My students use the iPads throughout the day and I get questions about what apps I use. But the question I get the most is how to use the iPad in the classroom. I see a few teachers that want the technology but are unsure how to use it. Then I see teachers that want the technology and are not willing to learn to use it. We complain about having a scripted language or math program to teach, but are we waiting for a scripted iPad program to come along so we can teach our class or subject?


Time to Forgive and Move On

At school on Friday I got the message that one of my good friends passed away. We had known each other for about 10 years and even though he was double my age he was a great friend that taught me many things. He will be missed by many, but especially by me.
As I thought about some of the things he and I talked about over the years, the one thing that I think about is a problem he caused with some of his family. He made some poor choices in his life that really affected his children. He was an angry young man and made some choices that drove some of his children to never speak to him again. When I met him he was in the process of trying to meet with all of his children one at a time to apologize and try to make things right with them. We talked for hours about his travels to their homes and how some of them would talk with him and others wouldn't even open their doors to let him talk. He sent letters, he made phone calls, he tried every thing he could think of to apologize.
This brings me to the students in my class. I have to think about how I react and work the students in my class when they make poor choices. Do I make them relive that moment over and over or am I able to move on from that situation and give them an opportunity to grow? Do I talk about how I cannot wait for this year to be over so I can get rid of this student, or do I tell them if they need a little help in school, or just to talk, come visit me? I guess what I am saying is that we all need a break. We all need a second, or third, chance in life. We need someone to say that we made a mistake, learn from it and move on. And then both of us move on. Students are still learning these lessons. I like to teach students about not burning bridges with their friends or with people in general. Sometimes I want to burn a bridge at the end of the year with a student that has been a challenge. But that wouldn't help them or me. Everyone needs guidance. If I forgave more students and let them move on, that might make situations better my class. As I remember the mission statements all teachers write in their first years in college, all students can learn. All students need the chance to learn. All students need opportunities. I, as a teacher, need to make that happen. This is the least I can do for my friend.
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