Monthly Archives: September 2011

More iPads

We just got the green light to purchase a few more sets of iPads to use in classrooms across campus. I think we will be buying classroom packs of 15 or 16 for each the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools.  I asked the members of TLC for input on the apps we should load on them: PuppetPals, Pages, Syncpad, GoogleEarth, etc.  I’ll continue to logged the apps as they come.

I am also trying to determine what kind of storage to put them in (and where).  I am looking at a few solutions:

From Bretford:

This one from Uptime Business

And this rig sent to me from @mrtalmadge – his own “home-grown” model:

So many choices….are there other ones out there that I am missing?

On another note, we all (except one!) managed to meet together for a quick photo this morning – what a group!

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TLC – Day 2 & 3

We hit the ground running on day 2 – I think we had some good momentum coming out of Day 1.  After we got our fill of fruit, muffins, and coffee we got right to work.  I began by showing them a demo of Syncpad:

Cool, right?  Then we all installed both Syncpad and Pages for the iPad.  I bought licenses through Apple’s Volume Purchasing Program – which seems to work pretty well.

After that, we dove into the Google Calendar – syncing it with the iPad and using it for our classes.  We can bring in our Faculty calendar (from our website) right to Google – a nice feature for all.  It took some time to get everyone synced up – especially those with personal Google accounts – but we did it.

We then took an electronics break and went outside for another discussion.  For homework, we watched the PBS video –

Digital Media – New Learners Of The 21st Century

http://www-tc.pbs.org/video/media/swf/PBSPlayer.swf

Watch the full episode. See more Digital Media – New Learners Of The 21st Century.

We had a good conversation ranging from

– how do we assess this type of learning?

– how do we get the kids/parents to learn that process is more important than the goal?

– how do we incorporate project-based learning, gaming, constructive learning in a “college-prep” school where parents want their kids to get into good colleges?

– needing to become more a facilitator of learning, rather than the “leader”

The conversation was a refreshing – we all struggle with similar thoughts about adopting new pedagogies in class in a school where many teachers and parents still embrace traditional learning.  I think it is a theme we will come back to again and again but it’s good that we know we can struggle through this tension together rather than alone in our classrooms.

After a yummy lunch of leftovers, we returned to Google and worked with GoogleDocs and Google Sites.  Again, it was good to give everyone a baseline knowledge of Google Docs and its sharing capabilities.  We worked through spreadsheets and Google Forms – which was really good for those math teachers in the room.  Google Sites emerged as a good website for class pages – we have class pages on our website but they are fairly static and boring.  Google sites allows for more customization and its ability to pull together all things Google is unbeatable.

Day 3

We had covered a lot of details and tools in Day 2 and so we all came into Day 3 a little tired and a little maxed out.  I started the morning of with a TED talk from Sir Ken Robinson – Bring on the Learning Revolution:

More good conversation followed including much around “how do we get there from here”?  A great question to ask in this group because we are trying to adopt an attitude/pedagogy/curriculum which conflicts with the norm – we still have 50 minute class periods, we still have kids taking college board tests, we work on a team where other members may not be ready to move forward with us – there are all sorts of hurdle (or obstacles).  What are the small steps that we need to take in order to get us closer to our goals?  I think that is a question we hope to answer as we go this year.

The rest of Day 3 we devoted to individual/group work time.  We took some time-outs to play with Polleverywhere.com and Voicethread.  For the most part our brains were full and we just needed time to sort through the tools, experiment with website, and talk to others about the year and its possibilities.

It was a satisfying three days.  We became a good working group, got to know each other, and had a good handle on what each person brought to the group.   In order to facilitate continued communication and sharing as we moved into the school year, I set up a “dashboard” – http://www.netvibes.com/privatepage/1#TLC-Dashboard. The dashboard includes a twitter feed – we agreed on the hashtag #wayntlc.  We have a Diigo group and that feed in on the dashboard.  I also set up a group blog –http://waynfletetlc.blogspot.com/ – a place where we could share resources and share thoughts and experiences and we try new things.  One member decided to begin her own blog –http://techforayear.wordpress.com/ – with a goal of posting (almost) every day.

It will be a challenge finding times for the group to meet face-to-face throughout the year but we will do that as well as use our technology to fill the gaps.  I am really looking forward to growing with this group this year – they are terrific colleagues with a passion for teaching and learning.

What a Start: Day 1, TLC

(I thought I published this weeks ago, but found it in my drafts!)

Whew. I just finished three intense days with the new Technology & Learning Cohort – a group 10 really smart, fun, and insightful colleagues of mine brought together by our interest in and pursuit of good teaching practice. The teachers are from a variety of grade levels from Early Childhood to 12th grade. There are four math teachers from Upper and Middle School, a spanish teacher (upper/middle), science teacher We spent the three days learning tools, discussing pedagogy, watching TED talks, discussing tools, and collaborating on projects.

To prepare for our year together, each member received an iPad to play with over the summer and we all read, The New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, which served as a backdrop to our conversations over the the three days. In addition, seven of us went to EdCampKeene in August and that help get our ideas bubbling.

On our first meeting day, we began with some iPad app sharing. Lots of good interesting apps came out of it, Puppet Pals, sync pad, iChirp, owl pellets, and many, many more. We came to the conclusion that Syncpad would be a good app to invest in to help create interactive whiteboard functionality with the ipad.  So much potential for kids to interact with each other and the teacher.  Another app we decided to invest in is Pages.  We were still drawn to a document creating app and that one seem to work the best in our desktop/laptop world.

That sharing lasted for at least an hour so we decided to put down the electronics and move outside to have a discussion about the book, A New Culture of Learning and what we hoped to get out of our year together.  There was a lot of talk about being given some dedicated time for experimenting with technology, thoughtfully planning for technology, and having support through adopting technology.  The other theme that popped up in this conversation and in a few that followed, was the tension of changing your curriculum to be more project-based, group-oriented, etc. while teaching at a “college prep” school in which the parents and students expect the kids to do well on college board tests, get “good grades”, and get into a good college.  At a private school, you don’t have to worry about the “standards” and state tests, but you do have more pressure in preparing kids for college.

After a yummy potluck lunch and birthday cake, we watched Michael Wesch’s TEDxNYED talk from March 2010.  I really enjoyed the talk for two reasons: 1. he stresses that technology changes us and we have no choice in it; we change, like it or not.  2. We need to work on helping kids be “knowledge-able” not just knowledgable.  In case you haven’t seen it, here it is:

The end of the first day, I introduced the group to some tools to help them cultivate their learning community or PLN – Twitter, blogs, Diigo.  We easily tied this in to the book and in our discussion about how to keep up with all of the resources and learning.  It was a great first day – there was a lot of energy and enthusiasm and I went home really excited to be working with this group for the year.