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.

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