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.
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?