Monday, May 28, 2012

Teacher Doc Management with and for the iPad

We have been talking, within the Academy, about creating, sharing and vetting lesson plans and other documents.  There are a number of sites and blogs out there, but we are thinking about how to condense, contain and organize the vast amounts of content out there. 
Escondido has a Google spreadsheet. Since it is in a spreadsheet, you could sort by subject, grade level or price (they are only reviewing free apps going forward).

Today I was thinking about some sort of tabbed web site with a tab for each month of the school year (I am trying to do some forward planning!).  But then again you could have other sorts... here are just a few I thought of:

  • Grade level
  • Content area
  • Month by month
Then you have types of docs:
  • teacher productivity apps
  • student apps
    • productivity
    • learning games
    • production
    • portfolio
  • processes and procedures
  • lesson plans
  • student work
    • samples
    • actual final product
If my 5th grade math serves me, that is 33 different combinations.  A clean looking blog is Apps in Education.

Lisa Johnson, who has the blog TechChef4u  offers some guidance and templates for iPad lesson plans. She sums up her process nicely and even has this graphic (created with an app) to go along with her ideas. She also pins a lot of ideas to Pinterest, which frankly gave me the idea that all of this information needs somehow categorized.

Cave Creek Unified in Phoenix created a website for teachers to celebrate learnings with their iPods. I love the idea of a site but like this one, I am afraid it would just be a list.  

Another review site is  . They also include student reviews which is a great idea.

Lessonopoly, a lesson planning resource from SVEF  has only 14 lessons that come up on an iPad search. I know the technology is fairly new to the classroom. I guess it is up to us!

I don't have an answer yet, but am putting it out there, in case anyone has any ideas they can point us to. Maybe we just find the one we like best and point to that. But I do like the idea of Academy teachers creating something local.

iPads and Reading

As a late baby boomer, When I first got my gen one iPad, I wasn't sure I was ready to read on the thing. I have always been an avid reader and I love the feel, smell and heft on a good book. I have learned to appreciate the portability of books on my iPad, no more carrying a stack of books in my luggage or purse. I also love the fact that I can look up words. I grew up with parents saying, " go look it up" and I tell my students the same thing. But personally I am super lazy about doing that. Until now. I just touch the word and I get a definition! Love it!

So once I got 1:1 iPads for my students, I have been finding all sorts of apps for math, science, history and grammar, but not a lot for reading comprehension. I've been thinking a lot about how to use this tool in my reading class. Enter, iPad Literature Circles. This site is devoted to providing suggestions for a variety of (mostly free) apps to promote student ownership of learning using this incredibly diverse tool.
Conducting Literature Circle with mobile devices such as the iPad, not only provides immediate access to a diverse selection of books, but also to reference materials, research tools, interactive maps, and a slew of creation and dynamic notebook apps. Within this single device, students can quickly check the meaning of a word, run a quick background check on a historic event, or articulate their understanding of text with a range of multimedia apps. Teachers can now easily differentiate the processes students can use to demonstrate understanding.

Just found this, Mr. Gleeson talks in his blog about using Edmodo with lit circles!

Technology can play a big part in this and can also be used to enhance, simply and streamline the whole process. This is where the iPad comes in. ( I’ve been neglecting the star of Mr G Online for a while as I’ve been reflecting on education overall). With its ability to act as the actual book ( or text in general), its connectivity and collaborative capabilities and the tools and apps that it can add to the mix, the iPad can be the all-in-one Literature Circle Experience. Using Technology as the tool for creating the preparation for the discussion means there are opportunities for the teacher to check in on the potential online discussions that may occur and have access to the prep work the students have done for the discussion.

I have my summer project!

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

An investment in our future!

The message is plain and simple: This is not a technology expense, it’s an investment in our students and their future!

Hooked on Innovation

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More on the subject of EdTech, not either or

David Ginsberg has more to say about the debate that shouldn't be a debate, in his post, Technology: Teacher Enhancement, NOT Replacement. Technology is not meant to replace effective teaching. It can enhance it!

I offer this as encouragement for those who feel daunted or threatened by technology. At the same time, you've got no choice. It's our duty now, as it's always been, to provide schools where kids can learn to their potential, which technology helps us do. Change can be challenging, so it's understandable if you're tentative about technology. Keep in mind, though, that just as countless veteran teachers successfully implemented new approaches such as cooperative learning, so too can you learn to use technology to its fullest in your classroom.

But also keep in mind that you'll need the same qualities to be effective in a technology-rich classroom that you've needed to be effective in a traditional classroom. In particular, the human qualities--per theory of mind--needed to achieve what Science Leadership Academy Principal Chris Lehman called "the most important thing that we do" in his closing keynote at ISTE: help children become fully realized people of their world.

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It is technology and education, not technology vs. education!

My amazing friend Tracey just sent me this article. Tracey and I worked together in telecommunications for years. Her husband, Michael Bobrowicz, is another teacher like me who left high tech to become a teacher. Like me, he has faced many of the challenges, and enjoyed the personal rewards of, this change. He is teaching an SDC classroom in Pacifica. The discussion about technology in classrooms is reaching a tipping point in our district, and I'd guess in many districts around the world. It doesn't have to be a divisive issue.
Brandon Busteed writes in the Huffington Post Education Blog that A technological revolution is happening in the world of education; it is changing schools for the better. But, it will never change the definition of and need for great teaching. His article, entitled, In Education, Technology Changes Everything and Nothing, he discusses research findings that show what we (teachers) all know, Simply put, great teaching is about emotionally engaging the learner in a way that is individualized. Our opportunity to innovate and improve education is deeply tied to these fundamentals. A great teacher is a great teacher -- whether she is real or avatar.

It is important in discussions and debate to remain respectful and keep the goal of education in mind. We are here to create lifelong learners. We do what we do, however we do it, to make a difference. Technology isn't a fad, it isn't going away. But it is a tool, not a solution.
The Atlantic forum highlighted that the debate about great technology vs. great teachers is unnecessary. Instead, the conversation needs to be about technology and teaching. So now education leaders need to create a seamless interplay between teachers and technology. This will not be easy, but least [we are] left with a clear sense of purpose.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Didn't see that coming

Even before we got our iPads, we came up with class rules and consequences.  As usual, the kids were very thorough and we thought we had covered every "what if". We have added a few along the way:

  • Don't leave the iPad on the floor unattended (responisble)
  • Don't set the iPad on wet grass (safe)
  • Ask before touching another person's iPad, even if you are helping them
At the end of every day, my CTO plugs the iPads back into the "COWPad" (computer on wheels for iPad).  They have gotten so good at it that I rarely check.  This morning when I opened the cart, I noticed a student's iPad was missing. Sometimes I hold them out for a reason, but was pretty sure I had not held out Jane's (name changed to protect the guilty).  I looked in my usual hiding places and didn't find it. I looked in her desk (since she was absent) and couldn't find it. I had all of the students look in their desks and we couldn't find it. I even checked the COWPad next door, we couldn't find it! Now I am slightly panicking. So I sent her parents an email, asking them to ask Jane where it might be.  this is the response I got back:

She had it yesterday and was using it to do her homework. When she wasn’t feeling well this morning I left it with the office and asked them to return it to your class. 

I was shocked! No one has ever taken, much less asked, to take the iPads home.  They know they can't.  She knows better.  Now I am struggling with an appropriate consequence. The student was not malicious, she was using it to catch up on missed work. But she certainly knew that she should ask before taking it home.  

I guess we need a new rule - The iPad stays in the room! Do not take it out of the room without asking permission.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

15 Favorite iPad Apps As Selected By Teachers

15 Favorite iPad Apps As Selected By Teachers

Hi tech...Hi Touch...not mutually exclusive

There have been several studies, as well there should be, about the impact of technology on learning. It can become a divisive issue between educators.
in the Washington Post this week, Cecilia Kang wrote an article, High-tech vs. no-tech: D.C. area schools take opposite approaches to education. It explores two schools with very different, and perhaps extreme approaches to technology.
I believe what is required is a balanced approach. “We have to stop and think if we are embracing technology just because it is there and new or if it is the best tool for what we want to accomplish,” said Michael Rich, director of the Center on Child Media and Health at Harvard University. “Sometimes the answer is that an iPad is great, but does it really do a better job than a hunk of clay or paper.". In my last district, Saratoga Union, I was proud to be on both the technology committee and the garden committee.
I do not agree that technology investments are made on the 'backs of teachers' and that teachers, like me by the way, who are laid off would not have been if only our district had not invested in those iPads. But I also have seen the folly of "over purchase", where teachers who were not willing, inclined or ready to use technology were forced to have it in their classroom, where usually it sat gathering dust. One of my colleagues used her expensive hi-tech media cart to hold her overhead projector.

Technology doesn't make a better teacher, but it can help a teacher teach better. My kids are not only learning to use technology. They are learning what the Partnership for 21st Century Skills calls the 3Rs and 4Cs- they are learning math, science, social studies, language arts and they are learning problem solving and developing critical thinking skills, they are collaborating, communicating and creating and innovating.
I worked in technology for 20 years and my husband still does. He doesn't understand why teachers would not want to use technology as a tool to help prepare kids for their futures. In Kang's article, she quotes an administrator"Tech is like oxygen,” said Shannan Schuster, Flint Hill’s dean of faculty. “It’s all around us, so why wouldn’t we try to get our children started early?”

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Image from

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

iOpen House

Tonight was the annual open house experience with the parents comparing their child's experience to my class, or shopping for next year's teacher. The good news is that my kids outnumbered all of them and were so proud to show off their work. As I was thinking about what to display tonight, I realized we didn't have as much of the traditional product we've shared in the past. We've gone digital! So tonight, we had an iOpen House prior to the frenzy.

We invited our families to come an hour early to allow the kids enough time to have their iPads out of the cart and show off all the things they've done. They showed their 6- word weekend movies, their ShowMe's demonstrating math solutions, the movies they are making for social studies and the books they are writing with ScribblePress.

Parents worried about their child introverting with technology realized that that was their father's Oldsmobile and kids these days interact with technology, not in spite of it.

We talked about the academy and our roles in evaluating process, value and product. We talked about the goal of 1:1 across grade levels and throughout the grade spans. We talked about the need to remain hi-touch while meeting the demands of a high tech world.

Overall, a very rewarding night.

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Location:San Jose,United States

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wake up all the teachers, time to teach a new way!

I was driving to work the other day and thinking about a current discussion in my district about whether to improve our use of technology in schools. Some teachers think that the investment in technology is made on the backs of teachers. Some teachers see technology as one tool that teachers can us to improve their practice. Some of us feel that the integration of technology into our practice is mandatory as we educate 21st century citizens. I heard this song, sung by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and just said...yeahhhhhh!

Complete lyrics:
Wake up everybody
No more sleepin' in bed
No more backward thinkin'
Time for thinkin' ahead
The world has changed
So very much
From what it used to be
There is so much hatred
War and poverty, whoa, oh
Wake up, all the teachers
Time to teach a new way
Maybe then they'll listen
To what'cha have to say
'Cause they're the ones who's coming up
And the world is in their hands
When you teach the children
Teach 'em the very best you can
The world won't get no better
If we just let it be, na, na, na
The world won't get no better
We gotta change it, yeah
Just you and me...
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

We are not playing on the iPad...

We are learning __________( fill in the blank: math, grammar, circuits, history)!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sharing Stories

Our kids collaborating to tell their stories and use Show Me to teach each other.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Yesterday my students paired up, along with classmates from Monger's 4/5 combo to show what they know about multiplication and division. For homework, they had created and solved some 2x2 and 3/1 math problems. After solving each other's problems on paper, they chose one to demonstrate their approach to solving using ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard Easel. The collaboration was amazing and even the kids who had been struggling with concepts were able to learn and help each other learn.

For me, in viewing the videos, I was able to see where students' misconceptions are. Today the students will be sharing their work with the class on AppleTV.

I love watching them love learning!

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