Monday, September 3, 2012

Slide to Unlock...

So our journey has begun.

Before I tell you about our progress, I should probably explain the journey, itself.

One of my fellow teachers, Mrs. Z. (5th grade) and I (2nd/3rd grade combination) were chosen along with 2 other teachers (at another elementary school in the District) to pilot iPads at the elementary level.  Another teacher (at yet another school) was awarded a grant that provided iPads for her classroom use. So, if you are counting, there are five of classes that were chosen by the Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction to pilot the iPads.  Our two high schools have teachers that have been using iPads in their classroom for many years and, fortunately for us, the District Administration realized that it was time to allow some at the elementary level.

We were told last May and have been actively planning all summer about how we would best implement the devices in our classroom.  We have had a few meetings with all of the stakeholders, including the Director of Information Technology and we also worked through a shared GoogleDoc that we used for brainstorming which apps would be best to encourage learning for our students.

We held one last meeting the Friday before teachers were to return to their school sites.  At that point, we found out that there was a glitch in the ordering process and our carts had not yet been ordered and the AppleTV that we had requested was also not ordered.  Boo.  :(  The requisitions were being pushed through and the carts would arrive at our sites quickly.  I chose to purchase my AppleTV from the Apple Store and be reimbursed rather than waiting for it to be ordered.  

As we returned from our summer vacation, we found that the iPads and the MacBook Pro, that we will use to manage the iPads, were on campus, but had not been set up yet.  (Not that either of us had planned on using them the first day, but I do have to admit that I wanted to get my grubby hands on them.)

The District Director of IT realized that we were anxious and set the iPads up the weekend that we returned to school.  Even though the iPads were set up and ready for use, we needed to wait for the carts to arrive so that they would be secure in our rooms, as well as have a place to charge.  The plan is to sync our iPads through the iCloud, so it won't be necessary to use the cart to sync the iPads.

Tuesday afternoon, Brian (our SuperMan) delivered the carts to our room.

Since I have PE Prep on Tuesday, I frantically worked to get my set unpacked and situated in the cart.  I'll admit...dealing with the power cords and the silicon covers was absolutely tedious.  I appreciate that the cords should be fed through these "canals" at the top of each divider, but 35 x Tedious= Frustrating!  :)

Wednesday morning, my students were able to handle the iPads for the first time!  Awesomesauce!  I decided to teach them the functions of the buttons (homekey, power down, volume, etc) first.  Then, we moved on to the camera.  I taught them about rotating the camera, taking a photo vs. video and how to delete photos and video.  In my opinion, if you can manage how the camera works, everything else with the iPad is fairly intuitive.

I couldn't believe how quickly my 2nd (and 3rd graders) picked up the basics of the device.  I allowed the students to work on some educational games Thursday afternoon, as well.  They had an absolutely blast.  I feel like it is important to allow the students to have some free-time on the device so that there curiosity is satiated.

But then....came the bad news.

Our school has declining enrollment.  We are down about 60 students, which means that we needed to downsize by two staff members.  A kindergarten teacher volunteered to go to another school that is closer to her house and an intermediate teacher was the least senior person at our site and had to be bumped.  So, my 2/3 combo was collapsed to fill the second and third grade classes and I will be teaching...drum roll, please....  a 4th grade/5th grade combination.  What the???? What?

To be honest, I am excited because I have never taught these grades before and I actually know many of the students from when they were in third grade.  Score!

So far, we have only had a few issues with iPads that don't want to sync.  (One of the issues that each iPad needs to be logged into iBoss through Safari before the automatic iTunes sync to occur.)

Mrs. Z. and I have invited parents to a parent meeting to give them some information about the iPad pilot as well as asking them to setup an email account for their child that we will use this school year.

I will post an update after the meeting with our agenda, as well as how it all went!

Wish us luck!

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