iPad Fluency

I’ve been sitting on this post for quite some time now, and it’s time to get it “on paper”. As I was reading through my Twitter feed, I noticed a tweet from Silvia Tolisano (@langwitches) that stated the following:

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I was immediately drawn to the term iPad fluency, since my school district had started a K-2 iPad initiative a few months before. I was curious about exactly what she meant by iPad fluency and really took to the response from Siliva:

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Melissa Techman (@mtechman) added to the discussion with this:

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I see this as an important idea on today’s educational landscape as it pertains to mobile devices. I thank Silvia and Melissa for their input and for helping me shape my outlook and ideals and helping me take the integration of technology beyond the tool and/or device as I work with teachers and students in classrooms.

2013 in Review

So how am I going to use this 2013 in Review blog report?…As motivation to reenergize my blogging  habits in 2014.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Our iPad Learning Community

iPads-header-1As mentioned in my previous post, teachers that were accepted into our iPad cadre group had to agree to become part of a learning community where they would share successes, challenges, and lessons learned. The format we chose to set up for them was a blog. All teachers have full access to the blog to post and/or comment as they choose. We chose this format because we felt that the tagging and categorizing ability a blog  provides would make it easy for teachers and other visitors to find the topics in which they were interested. Please take a few moments to see what our teachers have done thus far and even leave a comment. Thanks for taking the time…it means a great deal!


An iPad Journey Begins

2013-01-13 17.08.53One of the items our department was charged with this year was replacing some of our oldest elementary technology devices. We were specifically focused on grades K-2. Historically we have been a Mac district. When we began looking at new equipment, we naturally looked at the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. However, we felt that this was an awful lot of computer to put in front of a group of 5-8 year olds. With that in mind, we began considering iPads. They were cheaper, more mobile, and lent themselves better to their motor skill abilities.

Our challenge was to not purchase carts of 30 iPads and shove them in buildings. iPads were designed to be an individual, personal device.  Virtually anybody you speak to or anything you read says that putting them on a cart in a shared environment really hinders you from using them to their full potential. Being aware of this, our department decided to follow a similar model from our local Intermediate Unit and use an elementary center-based approach.

In addition to a center-based approach, we wanted to be sure these devices ended up in the hands of teachers that were enthusiastic and willing to put themselves out there to use them in such a way that fostered the idea of content creation and creativity. So to be sure we were pulling in teachers that were interested in using the iPads in the classroom, we decided to create an application process. All K-2 teachers were invited to apply for an iPad for their use and seven iPads for classroom use with students. There were two simple questions that asked for some basic insight regarding how they saw themselves using the iPads in the classroom and how that would impact their classroom/students. We would then review the applications and determine the top 30 to pull into this project.

The 30 selected teachers were notified of their enrollment into our iPad cadre and were provided their iPad and a day of introductory professional development. This day included an overview of the iPad itself, and introduction to navigation, and some sample lessons using various apps that would help them get started in the classroom. Ongoing professional development would take place throughout the school year as time allotted.

They also had to agree to be part of a learning community where they would share successes and lessons learned. Teachers had about a month or so to get comfortable with the iPads themselves before we delivered the student iPads.

All K-2 teachers outside of the iPad cadre group were provided a basic introduction to the iPads in order to open up the opportunity for them to use them in their classroom when they were not in use by the cadre teacher. Our hope was to establish opportunities for all teachers and students for those that were interested and create a sharing, collaborative environment to further the spread of technology integration.

I plan to follow with updates as we make our way through this process. I hope to share successes, challenges, and progress throughout this year and beyond.

Not Using QR Codes?…Are You Qrazy?

chartLast week I had the pleasure of presenting a session at the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo & Conference (PETE&C) about using QR codes in education. I had a fantastic time in my session…the audience was eager to learn, which lead to some great questions, comments, and ideas about using QR codes. I wanted to make my resources available to others that might read this blog and were unable to attend the conference. The following link contains my slide deck and my LiveBinder of links and resources.

Not Using QR Codes?…Are You Qrazy?

No Texting While Driving Campaign

photo-4According to a report published by the NHTSA, of the 26 percent of drivers involved in a crash over the last five years, 3.5 percent attribute distraction as the reason for their crash. When converted into numbers, it totals up to 6 – 8 million drivers.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states, “In the United States, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year-olds is nearly 3 times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over. The risk is highest at ages 16-17. In fact, the fatal crash rate per mile driven is nearly twice as high for 16-17 year-olds as it is for 18-19 year-olds.” As per the report published by distracteddriving.gov for the year 2010, 11 percent of drivers under the age of 20 were involved in a fatal crash led by distracted driving.

As an educator and parent in 2013, I believe it is at least partly our responsibility to make an effort to educate and inform students of the dangers of distracted driving, including texting while driving. Our school parking lots are filled with cars of students and teachers alike that need a reminder about texting while driving as they leave our parking lots. With that in mind, I was thrilled when I saw the No Texting While Driving Campaign link posted on twitter. (I wish I could remember who tweeted it…)

Myparkingsign.com provides TWO FREE SIGNS (signs or label packs) for your school. Simply email Daniel Male at daniel@smartsign.com to order your free products with free shipping. You can even get free customized signs!


Our district’s graphic artist, Rhonda Fourhman, submitted artwork for signs to be created using our logo.

All the information you need to order is at No Texting While Driving Campaign.

We’re realistic that these signs will not stop all students from texting while driving, but every reminder counts. It sounds cliche, but if we can get one student to think twice about texting while driving then all the effort was certainly worthwhile.

Moving Forward with QR Codes

Short URL: goo.gl/vLs0O

I am happy to report that our QR project continues to progress and morph as we learn and share more. If you haven’t been following our story, you’ll want to check out the previous posts QR Codes…The Beginning and QR Codes…The Next Step. Our students currently  have limited access to mobile devices, so we needed to find a way for them to use our current technology to scan the QR codes in school.

Our solution was to find a desktop application to read QR codes and a MacBook running 10.6 (Snow Leopard). The application we use is called QRreader and can be downloaded here. This application can be installed on the Mac, Windows, or Linux platform. You do need to install Adobe Air in order of this to work, so since we’re a Mac district I needed a computer with Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Our MacBooks have a built-in camera, so if you’re using a Windows computer you’ll need a web cam also. Here is a look at our station…

Students are now able to scan the QR codes and listen to the book reviews their peers have created before deciding if they want to check out the book and read it. It has been a long but enjoyable ride. I am glad to continue working with dedicated administrators, teachers, staff, and students. The next step is building the density of books in our library with codes to scan and promoting the awesome work being done in our building. And I have a plan for that too…