One Device For All

In my district, iPads are the technology device of choice.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, my district is currently in the middle of a digital conversion process.  Aside from them being the district choice, they are my choice as well due to how easy it is to link them within the network of my already existing MacBook and iTunes accounts.  I can easily push out apps to all the devices I utilize as well as share my school iTunes accounts with the devices that are used for the listening center.  IPads are easy to use and many students have experience using Apple products at home.  I reached out to Matt Gomez (who leads Kinderchat and is a leader in technology implementation in kindergarten) via Twitter to see what his favorite tools were. I couldn’t agree more with his suggestions.

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I recently collaborated with some colleagues to write an implementation program for our school which you can download and read here: PREDigitalConversion.  It calls for 1:1 implementation grades 3-5 and 4:1 implementation in K-2.  When we were looking at ideas to pull together, we focused on Apple’s iPads in Education sites as well as Edutopia’s 1:1 Implementation site.  Our plan include a gradual release of responsibility to the kids (along with a year-long roll out plan broken down by teacher and student roles), as they complete a digital “iPademy” (iPad academy – page 3 in our program) as well as including Family Tech Nights throughout the year so that parents can feel up to date along with their students.

I payed close attention to the problems that plagued Los Angeles Unified during their iPad rollout.  One major problem in LAUSD was the lack of tech support, including the technological readiness of the staff.  Although we have a 96% buy-in from our staff, one major concern among them was their own lack of knowledge when it came to using iPads for anything other than apps or checking Facebook.  We wanted to make sure that staff feels confident in their new style of instruction.

Our professional development focuses on School Improvement Wednesday (SIW) trainings on digital citizenship, application instruction, creating common assessments, and planning time.  Additionally, we will have Studio-style lesson studies (more on that on page 4 of our program), and Appy Hour – a digitally focused Happy Hour where we focus on specific apps to use in class.

Some possible problems that face us are students damaging or missing devices (LAUSD reported that 31% of their ipads had gone missing!) as well as the financial cost of replacing devices as they become outdated.  Overall, there is also a fear of the unknown.  I work with a dedicated bunch of strong teachers who are trusting us that we will give them the tools they need to be successful.  One of our district administrators said that we cannot let our fears stand in our way and that we have to continue forward making educated decisions along the way.

We just learned that our staff is getting our teacher iPads this year, so we will be able to implement some of our SIW trainings and Appy Hours this year.  Students will be receiving their iPads next year.  Although we were initially disappointed that our kids wouldn’t get their devices this year, we are now thinking that is a benefit to the teachers that we will have a year to practice on our own devices with one another before implementing technology-enhanced instruction in our classrooms.

I hope you take the time to read our iPad conversion proposal.  I’d love to hear any suggestions you have on how we can better facilitate our roll-out.  Has your school successfully implemented a 1:1 integration?  What advice can you offer me and my staff?

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8 thoughts on “One Device For All

  1. Hi Kathryn,

    Your school is well prepared for the iPad roll out next year to students. I like that teachers will be able to use the iPads and become familiar with the device well before delivery to students. I discovered that trouble shooting is one of the hardest things I do with technology. Once you know your way around the device, it is much easier to trouble shoot issues. The year time frame will give teachers the opportunity to work with the technology.

    I also like the schedule for rolling out the iPads which gives you plenty of wiggle room for any issues that may crop up. It appears your school planned for the unexpected. The teacher expert training sounds inviting for those teachers who are not that tech savvy. The proposal is very impressive and from reading it I can tell a lot of time and effort went into the document.

    • Thank you for your feedback. We are optimistically cautious with our rollout. The teacher leader stipend will also for onsite tech support, which is always nice with learning something new. Our staff will be getting their ipads next week, so we’ll be off and rolling soon!

  2. Hi Kate,
    I enjoyed reading your post. I like the staff development plan of having “School Improvement Wednesdays” as well as the “appy hour”. Teacher by-in is important for 1:1 to be considered a success. Our district just rolled out interactive Smartboards and laptops to teachers. We have tech coaches in our schools; however, the coaches are busy “do-it-all” teachers. The technology leaders that your district plans to hire, are they teachers or are they support staff? Is there 1 tech leader per building or are they shared amongst schools?

    It should be interesting to see if the iPads, or more specifically the apps and software, will enhance student performance over the next few years.

    • Hi Kevin- Our technology leaders will be teachers will an additional stipend for their role. We had a growing problem of “do-it-all” teachers at our school, too, but it is part of our school improvement plan to spread out our leadership positions across our staff and we’ve done a pretty good job in the last year or so of sharing the wealth. Right now we will have on teacher leader just at our school, however, two can share the position (and the stipend) if we decide to go that route. I, too, am interested to see if it enhances student performance over the next few years or if it is just a necessary implementation to keep kids current with technological trends.

  3. I was very intrigued by your post. I was impressed with all the ideas you have! I especially liked the Family Tech Night, because most times parents are not that knowledgeable with technology, so educating them to be able to keep up with what their children are using is a fantastic idea! I also think the staff training is a necessity and keeping the topics similar to what you propose is right on track to creating a very positive learning environment. The more teachers know and understand technology, the better equipped they are to teach students and to encourage them to be excited. It seems that a lot of work went into your proposal and I hope that you have great success with it!
    Gina

    • Thanks, Gina. We did work really hard on our proposal, yet we know that “the best laid plans… often go awry.” We are cautiously optimistic about our implementation. Teacher training is the first step!

  4. Kate,
    I couldn’t agree with you more that one of the challenges with bringing in technology is the sometimes lack of readily available technical support. I have access to a wonderful and knowledgeable tech support staff member but, have to share her with another school and therefore only see her in my school 2-1/2 days a week. If more and more schools are proposing to and having success with integrating technology devices in the schools, I strongly feel that tech specialists should be an essential role in all schools.
    Terra-Lee

    • Yes, it’ll be great to have someone at our school to provide tech support. Unfortunately, that person is also teaching all day, so their time is limited, but we are looking at using sign ups via Google Docs or drop in times for assistance. There is nothing more frustrating than when you want to use something and there is a glitch in it!

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