Thursday, February 21, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now?

Partner apps can be motivating and a heck-of-a-lot of fun for our students. The noise of 5 iPads talking at the same time, however, can be very distracting to the center and the students around it. This morning, I delivered two goodie bags to the classrooms piloting our cluster integration. It contained five smaller bags with a headphone splitter and two pairs of ear buds. (Yes, the idea skeeves me a bit...but the Library Media/Technology Specialist is letting me use hers until I can get the money to buy foldable headphones. I want to keep the cluster set of iPads and accessories as mobile as possible, so 10 sets of full sized headphones won't work.)

I trained the three "iPad Monitors" in each class how to set them up and put them away. Since I dislike the "spaghetti" of tangled wires, I showed them how to hold the splitter up and then gently shake the ear buds until they hang down. (Shake, shake, shake) When putting them away, they hold up the splitter and then fold them in half until they can be put into the bag. (Half, half, half). Any ideas on how to manage the "spaghetti" would be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CARE for Your iPads

iPad Clusters in Primary Grades

Last winter, our district was finally able to roll out the 14 iPads acquired for Searingtown. Housing them in the lab seemed the perfect place for storage. Our lab assistant could take them out to install apps pushed by our Casper server, we knew they were locked up at the end of the day and teachers were able to sign them out on our school's Google Apps calendar from school or home. There were very few teachers who borrowed them that spring, however. I tried hosting BYOLs,(Bring Your Own Lunch, where I'd show them an app or two during the various lunch periods.), generating video tutorials stored on the shared drive where teachers could watch at their leisure. I even started attending grade level meetings for 5 minutes to show them something grade specific.

After reading about iPad implementation over the summer and attending an amazing conference in utilizing mobile technology to increase classroom performance, I decided to take on a different approach. Having the iPads living in the lab wasn't working, so having a cluster of them living in a classroom seemed to have more potential for usage. This way, teachers didn't need to plan ahead, reserve the iPads on the schedule, then transport them down to the room. With some collaborative time spent with me to plan out where they would best fit in the daily routine, we've now pushed out two clusters into the school. Once cluster of 5 are in a 1st grade class, one cluster of 5 are in a third grade class and the other 4 are still in the lab. This covers primary, intermediate and three different hallways.

Two weeks ago, I started meeting with the first grade teachers to learn more about how they structure their day. Learning centers tend to occur more frequently in the primary grades, so I thought this would be the best way to push into the class; I'd lead a center using the iPads. Last week, I started teaching my first, grade 1 class, the expectations of how to use/treat the iPads (CARE) and two math apps the teacher and I decided to start with. (Top-It and Tric-Trac, both my McGraw Hill)

Today, I pushed in for the first learning center and the students were self sufficient from the start. I helped distribute the iPads, reminded them of the names of the apps they could choose from and they were off. The 30 minutes went by very quickly. Working in pairs, they found the activities engaging and fun.