Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Visit to the Collegiate School (NYC)

Monday I had the opportunity to visit the Collegiate School on the Upper West Side of New York City. I had contacted Alex Ragone, their Tech Director, about visiting and he put me in touch with Melanie Hutchinson who is the curriculum coordinator for their Lower School. Melanie and her teachers have had iPads to work with themselves, and a set of eight available to borrow for students. They have all been contributing to a lively blog about their discoveries, which is linked to my page in the blogs section. I learned a lot about their process from Melanie and Alex - particularly their sense of adventure about exploring freely and just seeing how the students respond.

Apps for Different Ages
Melanie explained that when they started, they used mostly drill-type apps for kids. They found that for first grade, there was a magnet board app, spelling blocks, and sight words that were useful. They have since added some drawing apps. When they decided to test it with Kindergarten, they put a few out in the learning center and let them explore. It was amazing how comfortable they were right away. They have used tangrams and patterning apps, along with drawing programs. The hardest part has been to find a good reason to use them for reading. It seems to me that with the younger children it would be best if they created the story and the artwork, then recorded the narrative and made it available in the listening center. Otherwise, just loading a book on an iPad instead of the reading the real thing seems unnecessary.

With older elementary students there have been many successes. The science teacher did an earthquake unit and used an excellent app showing earthquakes around the world. Rather than Google Earth, they find that the National Geographic Atlas is clearer and easier to access. Everyday Math has games that are for 2 players, which solves the sense of isolation caused by everyone focusing on their own device. They have also had a great fun with Strip Designer and Toontastic, one for creating comic strips using photos, and the other for short animations. I dropped in on fourth graders who were using the iPads to search for information for a river project.

Melanie's Five Tips
Melanie is presenting about her experience at the NYAIS this week. She has a great-looking PowerPoint ready to go, so she shared a few parts of it. At the end she has these five tips:

1. Play first - that means teachers AND students. Don't expect students to get right to work when they haven't had time to play and explore.
2. Build and explore your network - we didn't have time to talk about this one...
3. Find great apps! - this, I am discovering, takes time and the outlay of some money, since you can't play with an app until you own it.
4. Don't lose sight of your learning goals - a very wise reminder that we should never let the technology take over the learning.
5.Management is key - That includes who takes them and puts them back, how they get updated, and how they are stored. She has devised a simple system of two file holder-sized boxes with four iPads in each, and power strips along the side to charge them. So much less invasive than a cart!

Alex also suggested that when we loan them to teachers for the summer, we do so with the understanding that:
1.They can add apps for personal use through their own iTunes account, but they should use the "back up" function in iTunes before they return the iPads. That way the apps are saved and can be loaded on another device.
2. They must join the iPad User Group
3. They must agree to post to the iPad blog at least once a month.

With all this I have plenty to work on.  I have already sent an invitation to my iPad Users to join this blog!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Starting to Play - Volume Purchasing Voucher Challenges

I finally got the first six iPad2's - those designated for faculty. These are 64G and 3G enabled. My first challenge was to figure out how to manage the Volume Purchasing vouchers we bought. It was not a simple process to purchase an app (Brushes) and send it to my iPad.

Volume Purchasing Program
We included Volume Purchasing vouchers in the grant. To redeem them, you go to the Volume Purchasing site on and log in the number on a gift card that they sent us. This done, you must search for your app by name on this site. This required going back to the App Store and exploring the apps there to decide on what to buy. I knew I wanted to play with Brushes, so I chose to buy that.

Next, I was sent an Excel file, via email, with the link to the purchase, which would cause the app to upload to my iTunes. Here's the rub: I didn't have Excel on my iMac or, needless to say, on the iPad. So I could not get the link. I ended up going to my PC laptop, opening the Excel file, copying the link into an email, and sending it to myself. I could then open the link on the iMac and move on. There's got to be a better way!

Other than Brushes, I have stuck with setting up my iPad with free apps, including:
Dragon Dictation
Adobe Ideas
Google Earth
Kid Paint
Twitter - I was hoping for Tweetdeck, but it seems to be in development and not available right now. So I downloaded:
Hootsuite as my aggregator.

Monday I will visit Collegiate School in NYC and report on their iPads in the Lower School.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

iPad Grant Proposal - for the record

I thought it might be useful to share the proposal I wrote for the iPad grant for next year. Sometimes is helps to have language to work with if you are doing this yourself...

Enriching the Kindergarten Program with Technology – iPads as Educational Tools
Technology Innovation Grant

Description of Project

Use iPads to create collaborative small group activities in Kindergarten that engage three learning modalities: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

The learning styles and needs of young children require tactile, visual, and auditory experiences. Young children need practice and repetition with the many concepts that are part of pre-reading and early math learning. Kindergarteners gain from working together, guided by a teacher, and yet they also need the leeway to work at their own individual speed and developing skill level. Based on the experiences of educators in this country and around the world, we would like to implement iPads as a learning device that can provide unique and rich learning experiences for this age group.

Use seamless technology that is a manageable size and involves minimal distractions.

The intuitive quality of the iPad, with its manageable size and touch screen operation, makes it a tool that students learn to use quickly and easily. This allows teachers and students to focus on content and activities, rather than on the technology. An iPad starts up in approximately thirty seconds, has an eight hour battery life, and is lightweight enough for a small child to handle it. This makes it an easy tool to work with throughout the school day without frustration or failure.

Purchase a set of 10 student iPads and 6 teacher iPads for this pilot program.

We propose to purchase 16 iPads along with relevant educational applications. This will provide a set of ten iPads to share between the two Kindergarten classrooms for student use. Along with the ten iPads for classroom use, we are including one for Jenni Voorhees, the Lower School Technology Director, as Administrator of the project, and one for Merry Adelfio, the Lower School Math Coordinator, to use to develop math curricular activities throughout the school year, and one for each of the four Kindergarten Teachers.

Use the summer to train teachers and plan the integration of iPads in the current Kindergarten curriculum.

During the summer, the four Kindergarten teachers will work with Jenni Voorhees, the LS Technology Director, and Merry Adelfio, the LS Math Coordinator, to explore the applications currently made for this age group, learn from schools currently implementing iPads, and design a curriculum plan to integrate iPads for small group work beginning in the fall of 2011.

Curricular Context and Rationale

We propose to follow the lead of many schools in this country and around the world that are effectively using iPads as tools for learning in early elementary programs. Until now, SFS kindergarteners only have access to technology through their teacher’s use of digital cameras and the classroom SmartBoards. The iPad offers an opportunity to enhance our students’ learning with the direct and effective use of an easy to use and highly interactive technology tool. Although iPads are relatively new to schools, there are many examples of successful integration of iPads in elementary grades. Please see the list of resources below and at the end of this proposal.

The iPad as a Learning Tool

Students will be able to work in multiple modalities (tactile, visual, and auditory) that will motivate them to practice new concepts and enhance their ability to share their thinking and learning. The applications written for this age group include immediate feedback that motivates either correcting mistakes or moving forward to new challenges.

Here are just a few examples of ways in which the current curricular goals in Kindergarten can be individualized, met and enhanced with the use of the iPad.:

· Early literacy experiences with sound-symbol connections and recognition

· Shaping letters and numbers in the correct form:

· Voice recording capabilities to facilitate storytelling, creating class-made audio books in the reading corner, and sharing a student’s thinking about a project or drawing.

· Drawing programs with a wide range of tools that can be managed with a fingertip

· Early reading experiences with books or with phonics:

· Math concepts presented with immediate feedback, and appropriate expectations (This video provides an overview of a variety of appropriate applications)

In addition, teachers will be able to develop a digital portfolio of student work to share with parents, creating a clearer and more comprehensive view of the child and his/her progress in school.

The iPad as Age-Appropriate Technology

The iPad’s design enables collaborative group experiences because as a slate, it has a more open format than a laptop. It is also light and, with only one navigation button, it is less complicated for younger children to manage. The tactile experience of touching the screen directly with a finger is age appropriate for younger children and eliminates the confusion of using a mouse or a keyboard.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fifth Grade at University Child Development School

My first visit was to University Child Development School, Seattle

UCDS invested in iPads for all their 5th graders this year. The fifth grade has a service learning component and the iPads have been specifically implemented as journals for their service learning projects. In March they introduced reading on the iPad with a lesson about how to take notes, using the dictionary, highlight, and bookmark using iBooks.  Some of the comments from the fifth graders about their experience with iPads included:
  • No sore hands
  • On instantly
  • Apps are easy to find
  • Made me more responsible
  • We had to create rules about using them
  • It's okay for journals, but it would be just as easy to write.
The teachers said the apps they've been using include:

  • Adobe Ideas
  • Dragon Dictation
  • Google Earth
  • Photoshop
  • Photos
  • Keynote

Getting ready for iPads in Kindergarten.

We are preparing for a small experiment with iPads in Kindergarten next year. We ordered 16 iPad2's the day they became available. After some thought, we decided to get the teachers iPads with 64g and 3g network capability. The student iPads will be the simplest version with 16g of memory.

While we are waiting for them, I have started visiting schools to learn from them about their implementation. I have also been collecting resources and articles to help guide us in our implementation.

Now let's get those iPads! I'm ready!