Category Archives: Apps
As mentioned in a previous post (Choosing the Next Device), we are moving forward with iPads in all K-12 grade levels but our new model will look and feel much different than the previous one. When we embarked on the 1:1 in 2011, there was really no systems designed to distribute and manage our devices. Workflow was an issue (we used email mostly). While we put restrictions on the devices in terms of age-appropriate app downloads, it was impossible to completely block all “non-instructional” apps without completely locking down the device.
With the release of iOS 9.3 and the subsequent update of our JAMF server, Apple has revamped classroom and technology support of iPads in education. Below are some of the newest features that Eanes ISD will be taking advantage of in order to optimize the use of these tools for learning.
1. Eanes App Store
Some of the feedback our Digital Learning Task Force received from teachers, students and parents was that non-instructional apps were a distraction when it came to learning. While we have restricted some of this usage over the years, we will now have the ability to completely remove Apple’s App Store from the device. Students will only have access to apps that we provision in the Self-Service app (examples below) which will act as a sort of “Eanes App Store”. (see infographic at the bottom of this post) We also now have additional flexibility to give some students, based on learning need and responsibility, access to the actual app store at some point.
Teachers and students will still have the ability to request apps which can be added to this new Eanes App Store. By doing this we’ll also be addressing another concern that was raised in that we have too many apps being used all over the district. This will allow us to better align both horizontally and vertically the apps that we are providing to our students throughout the district.
New Apple Management
The new iOS will allow for better management and deployment which will also help address another issue raised with the DLTF. Many students didn’t receive their iPads until a few weeks into the school year. Since most of our instructional materials are now digital, this caused quite an issue. With the new management software, we’ll be able to deploy devices much sooner, getting instructional materials and digital tools for learning at an earlier date than before.
Apple Classroom is a new tool that was just launched by Apple during its latest announcement on Monday, March 21. This new tool will act as a “Teacher’s Assistant” of sorts in that teachers can glance at all the screens of their students on their own screen to check for off-task behavior. Additionally, the teacher can reset passcodes, remote launch and lock apps on student devices, and select a student’s device to view on the big screen wirelessly.
In closing, we’ve come a long way since that initial deployment in 2011. We’ve seen many things NOT to do and many amazing projects and benefits as a result of having mobile technology in our classrooms. This next phase of our 1:1 will bring even deeper learning as we continue to focus our instructional use and make learning truly personal for all of our students.
Recently, it’s been reported that U.S. “Millennials” are not making the mark when it comes to technology proficiency and problem solving when compared to counterparts in other countries (19th out of 21). Say what you will about the assessment and measure of this, but I do think it gives us a chance to reflect on ideas for integrating problem solving strategies into the everyday classroom.
Last year, I wrote this post on 21 Things Every 21st-Century Teacher should do and it became an instant hit (with the help of Sean Junkin’s Infographic). As tech tools come and go, I felt the need to update and refresh it for this school year. However, I ran into a problem. When I got done with my updated list (removing a couple of ideas, adding several more) I was up to 36 different ideas. As luck would have it there are 36 weeks in a standard school calendar so this actually works out wonderfully. While these aren’t necessarily listed in the order you should do them, they are listed from least difficult (#1 – Selfies) to the most difficult (#36 – Creating an in-class incubator). The last few challenges are especially geared toward real-world problem solving and will hopefully make a dent in those “Tech Problem-solving” stats in the future.
36 Weeks of Innovation for the 2015-16 School Year:
1. All About Your Self(ie) Project
You know all those “getting to know you” activities that you start at the beginning of the year? Why not integrate selfies into those? You know kids (especially teens) have hundreds of these on their phones and it could be a creative way to tell the “their story” through selfies.
2. Have a class twitter account to post a tweet about the day’s learning
Just like a blog only smaller. Nominate a “guest tweeter” and have them summarize the day’s learning in 140 characters or less. Then ask parents to follow the account so they can also get a little insight into the happenings of the school day.
3. Create your own class hashtag
Tell your students and their parents about the hashtag and have them post ideas, photos, and questions to it. It’s a great way to get people from not only in your class but also around the world to contribute to your class conversation. You can also use this with your blog posts (#1) or classroom tweets (#2). Bonus points if you use something like VisibleTweets to display your posts in your class.
4. Create a Class Instagram Account
Spinning off of the twitter account you already created, why not have a photo-based summary of the learning in class as well? Have a daily student photographer who’s job is to post an example of something your class/students did that day. If you don’t want to mess with “do not publish” lists, you could ask that it be of an object or artifact, not a person. This would also be a good time to have a mini-digital citizenship lesson and talk about when and how to ask permission to take someone’s photo.
5. Create a comic of your class rules
Let’s face it, classroom rules are in need of a makeover. Do you still have that blown-up Word Doc with your 1995 clipart on it? Why not make your classroom rules into a graphic novel? Here’s just one example of classroom rules done up comic-style! BAM! BOP! BLAZAMO!
6. Periscope a “minute in the life” video
I wrote a few weeks ago about this newest social media trend called “digital broadcasting”. While that post went over some best practices for Periscope and Meerkat, I’ve since been exposed to a multitude of ideas from other ‘scopers. One idea is to capture a “minute in the life” video to post weekly. Whether this be a minute in the life of a 3rd grader or a Pre-Cal student, it opens up a window to parents and other educators to see what is happening in your class. I have a much longer post on this coming soon…but since we are early in the list, I’m keeping it simple.
7. Create a MEMEory –
I think meme’s are inherently evil. Some are so clever I almost get jealous, while others leave a lot to the imagination. With apps like Meme-Generator or an app like Skitch, you could have students make historical memes, favorite literary characters or even cats that like chemistry.
8. Brain Breaks
Kids (and adults) can really only sit and “work” for so long. The average adult can sit for about 20 minutes before their mind begins to wander. For kids, the younger they are the less than can sit still (just come watch me and my family at a restaurant for proof). Brain breaks should be a part of every class and every grade level. From Improv games to yoga to GoNoodle, make brain breaks a part of your classroom and watch their brains re-ignite!
9. Sketchnoting for reflection
I’ve been a big fan of sketchnoting before it was called that. Back in my day (now I sound like an old man) we called it doodling. However, the more I do it (either digitally or on an old school notebook) the more I realize that I actually remember what was said. Why not try this in a class? During a lecture or watching a short film, have students represent the talk in a sketchnote. Check out this massive sketchnote of my co-Keynote with Todd Nesloney at iPadpaloozaSouthTX.
10. Create a List.ly list to encourage democracy in your class.
It could be as simple as a list of choices for a project or something as grand as what is one thing you want to learn about this year? Whatever the choice, use List.ly to create a crowd-sourced voting list and let your students have some say in their learning! Let’s just hope they aren’t old enough to vote for Kanye in 2020.
11. Blog for reflection
Having introduced reflection with Sketchnoting (#9) you are now ready to have kids practice the art of not only reflection with words, but published words. Using sites like EduBlogs and Kidblog (no longer free) you can have your students reflect on their week of learning in a student blog. Crowd-source the topics for their writing from other classmates for those that are struggling with an idea.
12. Digital portfolio for projects and art
I’ve got a giant box full of art projects and my oldest is barely entering 1st grade. I can only imagine the size of the extra wing I’ll need to add to my house when all 3 of them are through school. While I love all their art, I would appreciate it even more if it was also digitized. Using a platform like Blub, have your students capture their best work and reflect on the process. For more advanced users, organize each into different categories, styles, or themes. Besides the student example here, check out Lisa Johnson’s (TechChef4U) multiple Bulb sites for staff and student iPad instructions.
13. Participate in a Mystery Hangout
This sounds a lot scarier than it is but essentially think of playing the game 20 questions with another classroom somewhere in the world. Here’s a link to a community page with more resources. It’s a great way to increase cultural and global awareness and you could event invite the other class to add to your Pinterest board (#10), vote on your List.ly (#8), comment on your blog (#1) or maybe co-collaborate on an eBook (#17).
14. Create a Fantasy league (where they keep track of the stats themselves)
It’s time to break the stereotypes of sports. What better way to do that than through fantasy sports and math? Have students “draft” a team in a particular sport and then track their stats manually to see who wins. For a more advanced challenge, create a “mega” league with multiple sports over the course of the year. Watch for heated trades taking place on the playground and Monday discussions livening up when football season starts!
15. Special Effects Science
With a ton of stop-motion apps and the new Slo-mo feature built into iOS, there are a ton of creative ways to watch a science experiment unfold. From the slow growth of a plant over a semester to the infamous erupting volcano experiment in super slo-mo, science really is part visual arts.
16. Infographic-ize your newsletter
Tired of sending home that same boring newsletter that nobody reads? Why not jazz it up with an infographic. Using a tool like Canva or even keynote (what I used to make mine for this post), you can create a visually pleasing and impactful message to your community. Just be sure to include links to your class Twitter(#2), Instagram (#4) and Periscope (#6) accounts!
17. Pinning for parents
In this new digital age, parents are always looking for some help when it comes to ways to help their kids manage it all and be successful for school. Rather than just send them tips here or there, why not have a Pinterest board for parents? Here’s one we did called “86-days of summer learning” for parents looking for learning ideas in the summer.
18. Green Screen a field trip to another land
Budget cuts mean no more field trip to the local zoo? Why not take a virtual one? Have you class research specific locations in our world (and even specific times in history) and then visit them via green screen technology. Students can discuss what they might see during their trip and reflect on challenges and discoveries they made (virtually of course).
19. Make a class weekly podcast
Busy parents mean no time to read a weekly newsletter or that note in the take home folder. One thing many parents due is subscribe to podcasts (remember the Serial craze last fall?!) so why not put your class highlights in their weekly feed? Have your students write and create segments for the weekly show and publish it to iTunes to make some instant memories and to let mom and dad listen to your week while working out.
20. Animated book reports
The video book report is so 2013. Why not ramp it up a notch and use some animation? Apps like Explain Everything, Puppet Pals, Tellagami, Toontastic, etc allow you to make your book reports a little more animated. Add in some green screen (#18) with some stop-motion (#15), throw in some legos, and your students could make their own Lego Movie as a book report! (as long as they don’t use that “Everything is Awesome” song as their soundtrack)
21. Instructables by Students
The Instructables DIY craze is a powerful one. From figuring out how to make your own bubble-machine to how to use chop sticks, these how-to guides for life hacks are quite handy. Since student’s learn best by teaching, why not flip the script and use a site like Bulb or Snapguide to have students make their own Instructable over the topic or subject area of their choice?
22. Let a kid take over
I know. This sounds dangerous. If you look at John Hattie’s research on visible learning, the number 1 way to help move the needle on student learning and retention is to let them drive their own learning and self-grade. While there are several different ways you can do this (Project Based Learning being the most widely accepted method), you could sprinkle in little bits of this in everyday curriculum. An app like Apollo allows the students to take over the teacher’s board and then send out their work to the entire class instantly! (bonus: check out the built-in random student picker for some extra fun)
23. Student-led Parent-teacher conference presentations
I first heard about this from Sandy Kleinman this past summer, but the concept is simple. Tell students on the first week of school that they will be collecting a portfolio of work and present what they have learned to their parents during parent-teacher conferences. This is a great way of having kids (even as young as kindergarten) own their learning (#22). This could be daunting if not planned well, but with built in reflection activities (#9, #11, #12) there are multiple ways to gather discoveries to share with mom and dad.
24. Augment an old Textbook
Textbooks are a way of life in education and though many are now digital, there are still tons of old adoptions laying around in classroom cabinets or school storage closets. Why not utilize these books to add a little Augmented reality to the classroom? Using an app like Aurasma or Daqri, create a special video message and “attach” it a picture in the textbook. So when the entire class turns to page 26 and holds their device over the image…they’ll get quite the surprise!
25. Go Paperless for a week (then track the data)
Depending on your grade level, this might be harder than you think. Even in a 1:1 district we still print or have need to print things from time to time. The idea behind this challenge is see if you can figure out ways to make things more digital. Maybe instead of a newsletter you print and send home, you write a blog (#11) or send an infographic (#16). Or instead of asking kids to write and peer-edit each other’s papers, you ask them to share a Google doc? If your students don’t have devices, then challenge yourself to try this personally for a month.
26. Google Cardboard
With Google’s release of “Expeditions” last May, students can now take a mobile phone or iPod and use Google Cardboard to take a virtual field trip anywhere around the world! This does take some prep, which is why it’s further down on the list, but the reactions of students experiencing the Great Wall of China is amazing!
27. No Tech Tuesday
Have your students not use any technology and live like it’s 1915. This is a great way to really investigate how much times have changed in the past decade and our reliance on technology. Of course when they are done, have them blog about their experience. (#11)
28. Cardboard Design challenges
Design challenges can be a great way to have students think differently and work together in teams. Whether it be creating a cardboard chair that can support your weight (like Mr. Lofgren did here with his middle school students) or creating your own arcade like Cane did, the only limits in these activities are supplies and your students’ imaginations. And sometimes, having limits like supplies and time can actually enhance the creativity of the teams. BONUS: Create an Instructable of your final project (#21)
29. Redesign your learning space
After having your class design their own cardboard chairs (#28), it’s time to look at your classroom space. How is it designed to facilitate learning? Have your students research what types of furniture work best for a diverse learning environment. From the color on the walls to the lighting, have students research the costs and practicality of a new classroom makeover. Need some inspiration? How about his “classroom diner” concept:
30. Make a class book
The ease with which you can publish books now is amazing. Using a tool like Book Creator or iBooks Author, you can publish to the iBooks store or Amazon. Don’t want to do something that intense? Keep it simple and make a book using Shutterfly and then have it printed as a keepsake.
31. Code a makey-makey Instrument
Music can be a great learning tool. Coding is like learning a second language. This challenge combines the two at a pretty inexpensive cost ($49 for a Makey-Makey, $2 for bananas). Have your students work in teams to create their own musical instruments using any classroom materials around them. Then when they are all done, have them put on a “Junkyard Musical” performance to wrap it up! (Which would be a great thing to Periscope (#6))
32. Appmazing Race
While the APPmazing Race got it’s humble beginnings from iPadpalooza 2014, it has since grown into a global phenomenon as a new strategy for delivering PD. Though built originally for adults, it’s perfect for students with mobile devices. Set up a series of challenges over a class period or a couple of weeks and have the kids team up and go to work! While the race itself doesn’t take a lot of work (except for reigning the kids back in), the prep before hand and the scoring afterwards will take quite a bit of time. Be sure to have a rubric to help students understand how they score on particular challenges and I would advise on using a tool like Padlet.com to curate all their finished discoveries. Here’s an example of one of the biggest races I’ve hosted using Thinglink and Padlet to curate.
33. LipDub to History
The ultimate form of flattery is imitation. The ultimate form of stardom is when Weird Al makes a parody of your song. Why not take that to another level and have students re-write lyrics to their favorite hit or a popular tune? The catch is they have to tie the lyrics into something historical like the video below. Who knows, maybe some student will remake “Chaka Khan” into “Genghis Khan”.
34. Design your own Rube Goldberg Machine
How great would it be to have teams of students design a Rube Goldberg machine? I once saw former 4th grade teacher Cody Spraberry facilitate a 2-week project where each group had a defined space in the classroom (marked by tape) and had to design, create, and test their Rube as well as record it. Not all the reactions were as priceless as this kid’s, but tying in reflection (#11), how-to instructions (#21) and some video effects (#15) can really make this a powerful lesson in teamwork, perseverance, problem-solving and organization.
35. Global Outreach GoFundMe
Teaching our students about generosity while giving them a wider perspective of world events can be powerful. Now with tools like GoFundMe, your class can strategize a way to help support a cause like this one for creating a School for the Deaf in Haiti. This is real, authentic, impactful learning that will make a difference in the lives of your students and those you are helping.
36. Create a start-up Incubator
To really tackle all of those “future-ready” skills, why not have teams of students create their own actual start-up company. Some high schools across the country have started this program (including our own Westlake High School) but it doesn’t have to be exclusive to high school. The key is to get business and industry leaders to work with the kids and talk about real world scenarios their companies will face. Kind of like “career day” on steroids. If you can get some local business or parents to participate with some funds, you can actually host a “Pitch night” to start the event and a “Shark tank” type activity to close it where students will get actual money to try and create their product. This is the most intensive of all the ideas on this list and can utilize parts of all the other 35 topics to make a team successful.
While I don’t expect any one classroom to do all of these ideas (I’d have to give them a prize if they did), I do think many of these are doable and possible on the cheap. I tried to design most of them without dependance on a particular type of technology, but having access to devices, even if not in a 1:1 environment, is helpful.
I hope you enjoy and be sure to give me some feedback below as to what you think. And to practice what I preach, I took Sean Junkin’s tutorial advice and created my own infographic out of Keynote for this post. See below:
There are some movies I just love watching over and over again. I consider these types of movies “classic”. When I say classic, I mean a movie published before inventing of the smartphone in 2007, so it doesn’t necessarily mean going back to some black & white film or “talkie” from back in the day. However, lately I’ve been amused while watching some of my favorite movies. I start to think about how different it would be if they just had the internet or a smartphone.
What follows are some of my all-time favorite movies and a particular important scene that could have been severely altered if it took place with today’s modern technology. But rather than stop there, I’ll also offer the “2.0” version that could retain some of the major plot points despite modern technology. This isn’t all for entertainment folks…stick around to the end to see some classroom ideas for getting your kids to reflect on this as well. [SPOILER ALERT – If you haven’t seen some of these films, I give away some major plot points]
This movie adaptation of a Steven King classic has many of the modern horror movie tropes: Damsel in distress, lack of resources, no one else around to hear, etc. A majority of the film takes place with the mother and child trapped by a large rabid St. Bernard in their Ford Pinto. Unable to escape, they are terrorized throughout before finally making a narrow escape at the movie’s end.
Cujo TODAY –
Discovering they are trapped in a non-working Pinto, Donna takes out her cell phone and asks Siri for help.
“How can I help you?”
“Contact a local dog catcher”
“Let me find that for you.”
Cujo 2.0 –
She’s trapped in the car, asks Siri for help only to hear repeatedly “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that” because of the growling dog in the background.
Silence of the Lambs –
In one of the more tense scenes, Agent Starling is trapped in a basement looking for Buffalo Bill. He kills the lights and dons a pair of night vision goggles adding to the tension.
Silence of the Lambs TODAY –
Agent Starling, shocked when the lights go out, calmly pulls out her phone and turns on her flashlight app, blinding Buffalo Bill and helping her save the day.
Silence of the Lambs 2.0 –
Her flashlight app requires an update to iOS8 that doesn’t work with the crappy wifi in the basement.
The Godfather –
When the family sets up the meeting between Michael and Sollozzo, a stressful sequence follows while the family tries to discover where the meeting will take place so that Michael can have a gun planted there. They discover the location right as Michael’s about to walk out the door and they are able to plant the gun in time.
Michael shares his Apple ID (KidCorleone@gmail.com) with his brother who uses iCloud and the Find My iPhone feature to locate where Michael is at. Michael doesn’t have to find a gun behind a toilet because now the gunman can just come in and mow everybody down.
The Godfather 2.0 –
Michael forgets to enable Find My iPhone…essentially keeping him off the grid. Luckily his brother discovers that Sollozzo is at Louis’ Restaurant when he inadvertently checks in on Foursquare and posts: “About to get my grub on (location: Louis’ Restaurant, Bronx)”
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner –
A great movie about early stereotypes and beliefs around interracial marriage, young Joey is excited to tell her parents all about her new fiance, John Prentice, only to be thrown into the turmoil around their prejudices when they discover the color of his skin.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner TODAY –
Joey’s parents may have still been shocked, but if she had created an Evite to the dinner invitation, they would at least have had a warning by seeing who was on the guest list.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner 2.0 –
Instead his face on Evite, John Prentice just uses the default avatar, thus hiding his identity.
In one of the most quoted lines of all time, Cole Sear reveals that he “sees dead people.” This unbelievable declaration drives through most of the film and really throws the viewer for a loop when the final plot twist is revealed.
The Sixth Sense TODAY –
Rather than tell people he sees dead people, Cole starts taking “Selfies with Dead People” to prove he’s not crazy. (or “Cray-cray” as the kids today say it)
The Sixth Sense 2.0 –
He’s unable to post the selfies to Instagram because he’s not 13+, thus rendering his evidence useless since we all know if it’s not on Instagram, it can’t be real.
Norman runs the Bates Motel, a place that seems to have perpetual sudden vacancies and an inn keeper that doesn’t seem to be all there.
Psycho TODAY –
A series of bad Yelp reviews about the blood stains and peep holes drive travelers away from the motel. One yelper reveals “I’ll never go back here again. The owner guy’s mother can be heard hollering at him day and night. #soannoying”
Psycho 2.0 –
Norman’s mother creates a bunch of fake Yelp accounts and sways the rating and feedback to be overwhelmingly positive. One such dummy review states that “long, hot showers are a must” in the spacious bathrooms with tear-away curtains.
Breakfast club –
From IMDB – Five high school students, all different stereotypes, meet in detention, where they pour their hearts out to each other, and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought. A major point of this movie is Mr. Vernon checking on them to make sure they are obeying and sitting quietly not talking to each other.
Breakfast club TODAY –
The kids happily agree not to talk to each other, because that can just be plain awkward anyway. Instead they friend each other on SnapChat and have loads of “private” conversations without Bender ever finding out.
Breakfast Club 2.0 –
Shermer High School has a strict policy banning any and all cell phone use. The kids are now faced with an uncomfortable decision of having actual conversations rather than burying their faces in their phones.
When Harry Met Sally –
This classic Rom-com shows the main characters (Harry & Sally [Spoiler]) continually running into each other throughout their lives. These cause amazingly funny and quaint scenes where they share anecdotes of their previous lives and eventually lead to their following in love with each other.
When Harry Met Sally NOW –
After college, Harry and Sally stay connected via Facebook. While this means they can always keep up with each other, it also means that those charming little anecdotes can’t happen because they can always respond with “Oh yeah, I saw you posted that on Facebook.” They stay friends, but never fall in love.
When Harry Met Sally 2.0 –
Sally doesn’t believe in social media and isn’t on Facebook. However, her friends convince her to get on Match.com and her profile keeps matching her with the same guy over and over again, who turns out to be….her old acquaintance Harry.
While this is fun to think about and ponder, how could we apply this to learning? What if a classic fairytale got a modern reboot? Or how about contemplating how a major historical event would have changed if we had modern technology? You could even reverse it and try to get the kids to imagine a recent event and what would have happened if the same event happened in the 1950’s. Lots of potential here….post your ideas in the comment section below.
As students fill the hallways of our schools on their first day back, there is a major change afoot for those kids under the age of 13. Students in the pre-teen realm have always had less options when it came to personalization and use of certain websites/social media. While some of those rules still apply when it comes to the web, Apple’s new system of allowing districts to issue Apple IDs for those students under the age of 13 (with parental consent) means that the days of every elementary students having the same standardized iPad are in the past. Combining that with the new deployment system and (in our case) an MDM like Casper, and we are finally starting to see some of the real powerful potential of the 1:1 iPad platform. While I know there will be some glitches (there always are in technology), I’m looking forward to the improvements listed here this year for our K-6 students.
For the past 2 years, our elementary students have been living in the 1:1 world when it comes to devices, but haven’t really gotten the full-fledged personalized experience of their older counter-parts when it comes to apps. Because we couldn’t have individual Apple IDs on each iPad, we used Apple Configurator to provision “images” to sets of iPads at every grade level. This was a painfully arduous process that entailed having a Support Tech go classroom to classroom with a Macbook and provision the images to each iPad. With the amount of time and man-power it took to accomplish this, we basically had time for one app-refresh cycle every year. Besides the inefficiency of this model, we also had several times when iPads would get “hung up” during app refresh and have to be completely wiped, losing important student work that hadn’t been backed up. Now that every student will have an Apple ID, we can “push” apps out to students over the air (OTA). If a classroom wants an app, they contact our MDM campus manager who loads the app and pushes it out to the class overnight. If it’s a free app, the kids can even download it themselves!
Since we basically had two groups (K-2 and 3-5), that meant front-loading the images with pretty much every app we would think to use for the school year. The resulting images were somewhat heavy (taking up over 6GB of the 16GB space) and many were unnecessary depending on your grade. Here’s our example list of apps for elementary last year. You could have 3rd graders looking at 5th grade apps that they didn’t even need. While we’ve really focused on productive apps vs. consumptive ones, we at least knew that all kids would have the tools they needed to create a finished product. Now that we can now push apps over the air, that means starting with a much leaner set of core apps to start (nearly all “productive” apps) and adding those content or grade-level based consumptive apps as needed. One drawback of not having a set image on them is that iPads are essentially naked to begin the year until the students have their Apple IDs set up. Enter the always clever Janet Couvillion. She’s an Ed Tech at one of our elementary campuses and she created this tremendous Thinglink about all things you can do on an iPad with only basic apps:
We utilize eBackpack as our web-based and app-based content distribution system. However, we’ve also found some successes using iTunesU at the upper grades when it comes to quickly creating courses for students. Now that our students under the age of 13 have Apple IDs, we can have them enroll in a class course at the beginning of the year that a teacher can use to push out content as it becomes relevant. We can also provision specific iBooks or class sets of iBooks to students based on their Apple IDs, something not possible in the past.
Time to Focus
Another potential bonus of all of this is the new Casper Focus feature we had a kindergarten teacher test for us last year. With all iPads in this new system and each student with an Apple ID, a teacher can now “control” or “lock-down” all the iPads in his/her class into a specific app. While I’m not a big fan of the lock-down control model when it comes to teaching and learning, I do know there is a time and place when this might need to happen from time to time. With state and national testing moving to an online platform, we’ll need to have this ability going forward. This year we’ll be pilot testing the ACT Aspire test on iPads for students in grades 4-9 and we’ll also be piloting using a Desmos Calculator app during our 8th Grade Algebra State assessment. None of this would be possible without this new system in place without individually going to each iPad and enabling Guided Access.
In order to make this system work, we have to really rely on parent support. They have to go through the online consent and Apple ID creation process for us to be able to utilize all the advantages listed above. As a parent, the advantages to this program versus making your own Apple ID are many (here’s a Parent Guide from Apple). They’ll be able see what apps their students are purchasing. With their students being in the Under 13 program they’ll have less advertisements and data mining to worry about. As a parent of a new kindergarten student, I was excited to not only set up her Apple ID because we can now mirror the apps she’s getting at school and put them on our devices at home to help with her learning. I’ve always been a believer in the concept of a village raising the child and in our ever-increasing online world, the lines between home and school are no longer clearly defined. This process gives us as a district another opportunity to communicate about the education of their child, which can in the end only be a good thing.
To help introduce parents to this process I made this somewhat silly 3.5 minute video (below) along with some instructions for them on their end.
The future is bright and no longer just for those born before 2001!
About a year ago, we decided after much input to open up YouTube Safe Search for students. While there can be a lot of mind-numbing videos about squirrels on jet-skis, there is also a large amount of instructional content on there. Want to learn how to do Photoshop? Or maybe just the right way to carve a turkey? It’s all on there.
Being a 1:1 iPad school district means that anything we enable on the filter side, pretty much goes out to all students since it’s all at their finger tips. It’s taken some time for teachers to adjust to this new student-centered focused on learning versus the teacher as “disseminator of all information” model. One thing we’ve noticed throughout this initiative is that a lecture-based, teacher at the front, method of instruction lends itself to more distraction and less educational use of the devices. As teachers have shifted the knowledge to the students, distraction has decreased and learning with iPads as tools has increased. This may seem like a simple enough switch, but we are asking some of the best and brightest teachers to change everything they have been doing the past 20-25 years successfully. Which brings me to last January and the opening of YouTube.
Ten full minutes after announcing that YouTube would be open for students, I received the following email: (Name omitted)
I knew the sender of this email very well and for the sake of this article we’ll just refer to him as Jim. Being a very accomplished teacher, I realized the worry that Jim had with all the distraction and possible off-task behavior. I had a list of apps that allow some sort of screen-sheltered management. Apps like Nearpod or “Focus” by JAMF allow some form of screen control and embedded lock-down. My gut reaction was to seek out one of these apps as a way to help this him with his teaching. Knowing Jim well though, I decided on a different approach and response:
I made sure to include the all important smiley face on my response so that Jim knew I was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek but also sincere when it came to thinking about shifting the pedagogical practice he was employing. I later regretted not adding the statement that you can also use your “iMouth” to enforce restrictions.
While this was done to spark thinking and hopefully garner a bit of a laugh, the overall message has had some affect, even outside of Jim’s classroom. I mentioned this to some colleagues shortly after this and word spread about the “2Eyes” app. Before I knew it, people were actually sending me messages asking what the 2 Eyes app was because they couldn’t find it in the app store. In fact, Jim even responded with “I know that Carl. In fact, any teacher worth their salt knows that. It’s just that…this is hard! Having all this distraction pulls their attention away from what I’m trying to teach them.”
We ended the email exchange and opted for a face to face conversation, at which point I offered some assistance. While I couldn’t ask him to change his entire pedagogical practice, I made him a promise to work with him on changing some of what he’s currently doing to a more student-centered approach. A month later, Jim invited me into the classroom to watch an interactive lesson using formative assessment and Socrative. While this wasn’t a complete shift to student-driven learning, it was a step in the right direction and helped solve two issues:
1. Students felt much more empowered and more engaged in the class and lesson. When I informally asked them what they thought of this new approach many mentioned it made learning fun again. Some said that normally (even without an iPad), they would just check out and day-dream while the teacher asked the kids questions. Now they felt like they needed to participate to be a part of the class.
2. The teacher also left feeling empowered. Jim was able to walk around the room and send out the questions via the app and watch and listen as kids responded. He was able to instantly show the class data on the screen and have discussion about which points the group did poorly on. He was able to focus his direct instruction on those weaker areas in future lessons.
The moral of this story is that changing in teaching practice doesn’t happen overnight. You can put new devices in the hands of kids, but without some adjustments by the instructors, they are little more than expensive eReaders. I applaud teachers like Jim who have the courage to reach out and admit that this is hard. His original email was a call for help and I could have taken the easy way out by just giving him some screen-controlling app and been on my merry way.
That would have benefitted me in terms of time and energy saved from having to work with him on those changes. It would have benefitted Jim because he could have had a quick fix for teaching the kids. There’s one group though that wouldn’t have benefitted, those students in Jim’s class. They are the reason we are all here and sometimes it means taking the more difficult road if it’s for the betterment of learning.
If you are a teacher or administrator reading this, you will experience this exact scenario if you haven’t already when it comes to a “mobile device initiative” or BYOD. While it may seem like that easiest answer is the best answer, take a moment to think to yourself and ask the question: Is this beneficial to student learning?
At the end of last school year I reflected on the 10 things NOT to do in an iPad 1:1 program. I was blown away with the amount of responses and views the post got from all over the world. It seems that it was at the right time, and right moment for districts out there planning on entering the Fall with a new 1:1 implementation. That said, it’s almost too late by that point to make real swift changes to your implementation.
I felt assured we had ferreted out all the little details that make things go astray during this process and hoped by providing a list of the 10 things, other districts could learn from our mistakes. Since that article, we have now collected the student iPads, re-distributed them, rented them out over the summer, distributed them to the rest of the high school, all the 8th graders, and now 2 grade levels at each elementary. Needless to say, we’ve learned a WHOLE lot more about both what to do and what NOT to do. Don’t get me wrong, the level of personal learning and shift in instructional focus, while slow at times, has been breath-taking to behold. I have no doubt in my mind that shift wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t take the “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach to putting these out there. That said, here are 10 MORE things I wouldn’t do again if we had to do it all over:
1. Do NOT pick them all up on one day –
Talk about a nightmare scenario. Imagine trying to collect and assess 1800 iPads from high school students in just one day with limited staff? Talks with the high school administration and the technology department determined that this would be the way to go, and it didn’t seem like a bad idea at the time. Knock the whole thing out in one day and rip off the bandaid. The only problem was, this was happening a few days before final exams and kids weren’t exactly thrilled to give them up. We actually started our rental program (“rent” your iPad over the summer for $30) because of the feedback from staff and students. I was lucky enough to be in one of the rooms collecting the iPads. We had a gallon zip-lock bag where they would write their name and iPad number and then put their charger, case and iPad in there. Not only did we end up with about 4 or 5 missing chargers per class period, we had to assess each iPad in the class during a 52-minute class period. Talk about stressful! This year we are planning to work with students well in advance and over several days as well as discussing the possibility of letting all high school kids take them home over the summer.
2. Do NOT try and build the “Charge/Sync Stations” by yourself at the beginning of the year
For the elementary classrooms, we knew 1:1 would look different. They wouldn’t be going home with students and they wouldn’t need to be stored in those $2700 Bretford carts since they were going to be stationary. We decided to build our own “Charge/Sync Stations” modeled after those wood letter-sorters we used to have at elementary school. Build the shelving, attach a 32-port Charge/Sync device on top (we used this one), attach it to a wall and voila! Done. Only problem was, there were 55 of these we had to build, and it was the beginning of the year. In retrospect, it would have been better to outsource this to parents, volunteers, hourly workers, rather than tie up our tech department’s time at a crucial point in the year.
3. Do NOT fall in love with a certain app too quickly
We’ve all had an app so cool, so inspiring, we just had to share with everyone else how great it is. As with anything in the tech world, change happens quickly. With apps, it is even faster. Here’s an example: We were trying to select a comic strip app to put on our elementary iPads back in July. We had a pretty good process for rating apps, but the only problem was, the apps selected in July weren’t installed until the end of October. In the course of that time we discovered Strip Designer and decided it was superior to the other, more expensive app that we had purchased back in July. This will happen from time to time, so I encourage everyone to try out apps in small doses before buying 2000 of them.
4. Do NOT forget to communicate with everyone ALL the time.
While it’s certainly possible to over-communicate, we are much more guilty in education and administration of under-communicating. Collection day for the iPads? Oh yeah, we sent out an email a couple weeks ago about that. Restrictions on the student iPads? We put that info on our single website for everything iPad. No matter what you are doing, 1:1 or otherwise, be prepared to communicate in multiple mediums with multiple distributions and repetitions. Spreading the word will help decrease confusion and frustration and increase trust and clarity.
5. Do NOT be surprised by parent concerns
One day I will write a book about both parent concerns I’ve heard over the years when it relates to technology and interesting ways in which teachers have broken their iPads. When you start a 1:1 program where students take the device home, realize that there is a real sentiment that the school is “invading” the parents’ home. While the intended purpose is to extend learning to the home environment, it adds a new dynamic to parenting and home life. “I have to use my iPad for my homework” can quickly turn into a 4-hour Minecraft session when the mom and dad aren’t monitoring. Think of the shift (in sound mostly) when a student brings home a musical instrument to practice. This is like that only it doesn’t make a lot of sound and can be highly distracting if proper frameworks and parenting techniques are employed. No matter how ludicrous the stories are, they are real and it should be our role to educate and listen to all, including parents.
6. Do NOT take all other technology away for months in advance
Getting rid of the old to replace with the new is a tried and true method every technology department spends the summer doing. However, I would never recommend taking the old (desktops in the backs of classrooms) and then waiting a few months before you put in the new (1:1 iPads in our case). While it will increase appreciation for technology, it’s not necessary and just adds stress to the beginning of the year. You want them thirsty, but not at the expense of crossing the desert to get water. Consider a transition time when both are in the classroom and remove the “old” only after the “new” are in.
7. Do NOT assume students know how to use them
Sure they can play Angry Birds and check Facebook, but can they create, edit and send a Pages doc? Kids can pick up technology must faster than adults, largely due to the programing in their brain, but don’t assume they know WHEN and WHY to use it even if they know the HOW.
8. Do NOT give elementary teachers iPads without some grade-level apps on them
Last year, we were able to give most teachers a few iPads or even a cart to share and experiment with on the elementary level. Teachers loved this extra access and converted many of the shared iPads into centers of sorts. Since these are meant to be personal devices, the idea of creating and keeping work on them wasn’t really emphasized in the shared environment. That all changes when they become 1:1. When we distributed the 1:1 iPads we put a “trunk image” of apps on there and encouraged teachers to suggest other apps to be installed that were more grade level specific. This meant that the 1:1 iPad classrooms only had 40 or so general apps on them and not the 120 or so shared apps they had in the previous model. Not having the grade-level apps they were familiar with to start made some teachers hesitate using the devices. I actually think it’s a good idea to start with just the core apps, but you need to make sure that is communicated to those teachers as well as expectations of early use in class. (See point #4)
9. Do NOT underestimate Middle School students ability to break your restrictions
With the high school, we left the iPad fairly open. We didn’t restrict app or music purchases with the thinking that teaching the students responsible use before they head off to college isn’t a bad idea. For middle school kids though, they aren’t quite ready to comprehend that level of power, so we placed some age appropriate restrictions on them. It took a couple of weeks, but soon a small group of students figured out how to remove them and the word spread. Luckily we have it written in their Responsible Use document that removing restrictions or jail-breaking is an offense and our MDM can detect who has done it. That said, it’s a good idea to make sure kids are aware of this when you distribute them, otherwise they will eventually be done in with pre-pubescent curiosity to try and break the system.
10. Do NOT short your count of iPads on distribution day
I had to put this last one on here, even though it’s pretty embarrassing. On the second of our high school distribution days we had pretty much accounted for everything, or so we thought. We changed the way distribution took place, centralizing it, rather than going room to room which was a great time-saver. However, in the course of handing kids back their iPad from the year before, rental iPads, or new iPads, our student count got lost in the shuffle. An order was placed (not naming names here) for what was thought to be the right amount, but in the end, it was about 200 short. As incredibly embarrassing as this is to share, it shows you that every minor detail can become major if not accounted for. I captured this video of our assistant principal telling the last class period of students that we had run out. Not a great moment, but on the bright side we had some put aside for elementary so with a little extra effort, we were able to repurpose those in a few days for those kids without. Lesson learned though, always triple-check your counts and allow for a few extras!