Sunday, September 22, 2013

iPrep for iPads: The Game Plan (and Blogging!)

With a great deal of deliberation, 4x has not launched the iPads yet. We will this week – the fourth week of school.  It is the halfway point in the first six weeks – a critical time for routine setting and generally getting to know one’s students.  We waited for a few reasons.  One, a guiding philosophy is that the iPad is a tool and one tool of many that students are equipped with.  It can be perfect or wrong depending on the task, and our students need to now when to use it and when to put it down. Two, we don’t want the iPads (or any particular technology) to be the center of our classroom or our curriculum so we have been doing other stuff with books and color pencils and paper and glue and scissors and poster board.  The pedagogy is leading, and the iPads will literally follow.

When we do launch the iPads on Monday, we are going in with a game plan.  Our tech integration and rollout plan will include “just in time” digital citizenship lessons taught by our Technology and Idea Coordinator, guided discoveries of apps, introductions to supplementary accounts with GoogleDrive and Haiku, email etiquette and protocols, and the piloting of student blogs via KidBlog.

I've selected a few guiding principles or "professional development mantras" to help me stay focused throughout the year, and I look forward to conversing with colleagues about what motivates and guides them.

           We will focus on introducing open ended, creativity apps through meaningful curricular tasks and assignments. When exploring apps, we give minimal instruction.  There is usually a list of things to find or include; part of the learning process is figuring out exactly how to do so.  They teach themselves, each other, and often their teachers! Once the children know enough about these apps, the goal becomes enabling them to choose how to demonstrate what they are learning.  We want them to select the digital or non-digital method/format that is right for them.  We want students to think: 

  • How can I best communicate what is in my head? 
  • What project can I manage effectively and efficiently?  
  • "What can I do well?"  
  • "What risk could I take?"

I am most excited about our KidBlog pilot where students will curate their best work and reflect on their learning. Creating digital portfolios is an important next step - the absence of which left last year's program feeling incomplete. We have heard many good things about this platform, and I am hopeful it will help us achieve our goals. We are currently in the process of developing curriculum on publishing and commenting. Some inspiring work comes from:

If you have blogged with students (especially elementary school students) and have some advice, we would love to hear from you!

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