October 17, 2012

BYOD School Districts

Have you ever heard of BYOD at school?  "Bring Your Own Devices" programs allow students to bring technology they have at home or on their person into the classroom to enhance their learning: Laptops, tablets, smartphones, kindles.  This list is ever-expanding and will continue to be so as technology changes.

The conversation has come up quite a bit.  Should we or shouldn't we let students use the technology they already own in the classroom?  On one hand, this would empower students to expand the use of technology to an even fuller potential than checking Facebook or downloading apps that make a rude noise when the phone is shaken. On the other hand, not every student owns such devices, or the devices students bring to school run the risk of being stolen or broken.  While looking for an NPR article on the subject of one school in New Hampshire that did something like this, I came across this more comprehensive piece on schools across the country that have tried a BYOD program.  The following article briefly describes the trials and successes of implementing these types of programs.

Ten Schools Using BYOD   http://edudemic.com/2012/08/byod-classrooms/
NPR Article on BYOD in NH:   http://goo.gl/jPo6T

October 11, 2012

Introduction to the SAMR Model

 If you're in any Professional Learning setting with me, you'll often hear me referencing (directly or indirectly) the SAMR model.  Developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, "SAMR" is the acronym describing 4 stages of observing and understanding the use of technology in the classroom.  I use it to help frame professional development in instructional technology.


Notice this model doesn't identify any particular type of technology.  You could be using desktop computers, iPads or Interactive Whiteboards, but the stages are the same.

Here is an example:
Previous Practice...
A classroom teacher taught writing when the primary mode was using pencil and paper.  Now this teacher has access to technology to change the way writing lessons are done.

Students use a word processor and can now easily edit and format their writing.  Student work is now printed rather than handwritten. Students can save various drafts of their work and can produce multiple copies of the finished product without using a photocopier.

Students improve their writing through utilizing the tools in the word processor such as the spelling and grammar check, and the built-in thesaurus. Images and graphics are now easily incorporated into the overall document design. Students can choose easily from multiple page layouts and alternate page designs to enhance their product.

The focus of some of the class writing assignments are made to be collaborative. Students utilize online wikis to write in small groups, conduct peer editing and feedback, and to comment on each group's final products. Work on the projects can be done synchronously in class time, as well as asynchronously out of class. The final writing projects are shared electronically with the wider school community through the class website/blog.

Class collaborates with other classes locally or globally on a common issue or problem. Students research and share their findings in order to find a common solution. The project has grown to be cross-curricular and multidisciplinary, utilizing the strengths of the students in the different classes. Students use a variety of multimedia to collect, communicate and distribute their findings and conclusions. Various technologies are used to communicate and share information between the various school groups.

The idea behind the above examples is NOT that every lesson has to be in the TRANSFORMATION stage.  Sometimes you need to substitute to teach basic skills, such as learning to use a word processing program.   Instead, the idea is this: We can build our lessons up starting from SUBSTITUTION (or anywhere, really) and going all the way through to REDEFINITION before we move on.  We can use each stage to spring into another stage, continuously moving to a more expansive way of using the technology.  If you're familiar with using Bloom's Taxonomy to guide your practice, this model is a bit similar.

October 10, 2012

Google Apps on the iPad

It's nice to have one log-in prompt when using multiple iPad apps and because we're a Google school, this is possible.  However, as you may have discovered, there are some limitations to using Google Apps on the iPad.  To address this, Google has provided a number of helpful pages that walk you through some ways to make the apps work on the iPad more smoothly.

Google Docs
Productivity Apps
Communication Apps

Do you have any suggestions?  Apps you like?  Workarounds that have been beneficial to you?   Post them here!

October 09, 2012

Digital Natives?

The term "digital natives" has been coined to characterize a generation of people born and raised during the blossom of a technological age.  Often, I've heard teachers give students this credit when a child is able to expertly navigate a digital device just minutes after it came out of the box.   But is this characterization really accurate?  A study done by a group of Boston Researchers challenges the question in this article.

The take away from the observations made by these researchers is this:  Children are naturally inquisitive.  They love interacting with technology and love discovering the nuances of the devices by themselves.   However, the role of the teacher is not by any means diminished. The natural curiosity of the students can (must) be augmented by the teacher's guidance so that the experience can be as rich as possible.  Another take-away:  It doesn't matter what technology you are using.  You could be using laptops, interactive whiteboards, cell phones.  If students have access to it, can get their hands on it, and can explore it for themselves, their learning experience will become richer.

October 01, 2012

Need iPad Accessories for Your Classroom?

Many have requested information about accessories and consumables that do not come as standard issue with the iPad carts: microfiber cloths, earphones, and a stylus for those who prefer to use a pen-type instrument on their screen.  Below is a bit of research I did for those who may be interested in buying some with their building money.

          Pkg of 12 Amazon.com for $8.34         
          Pack of 6 from MCM Electronics for $6.99


NOTE: For sanitary reasons, I do not recommend in-ear buds unless the students will be keeping them
          (if students are keeping them) In-ear earbuds ~$1.40 ea    
          (if students are sharing) Over-ear headphones for ~$0.90 ea
          (if students are sharing) On-ear headphones for ~$1.20


          Pack of 14 from Amazon.com for $13.99 (9 long, 5 short)     
          Pack of 3 from Amazon.com for $0.96

Leave a comment below if you find great deals to share with our iPad educators.