Category Archives: Integration

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!

http://blog.wssd.k12.pa.us/ipads/

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?

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…

Using Text To Speech

There are a lot of hidden features in the Mac operating system that are extremely useful. One of those features is the Text To Speech technology that allows your computer to speak selected text. This is a great tool to use with students who are emerging readers, struggling readers, auditory learners, students with visual impairments, or with ebooks. Text To Speech works with a designated key combination and works in web browsers, word processing documents, and with online books. Watch this episode to find out how it works and how you might use it in your classroom.
Please feel free to download the TextToSpeech.PDF file located at the bottom of this post for directions on activating Text To Speech.

TTP #22 Text To Speech from Chris Hyde on Vimeo.

TextToSpeech.PDF

Google Advanced Image Search

This post will show you how to do a Google Advanced Image Search in order to find images that are licensed to be used in student work. It is important that we teach kids how to be good digital citizens. Enter Creative Commons (or CC). CC allows owners of images, music, video etc. to basically ‘give away’ some (and sometimes most) of their rights to their work. Watch this screencast to see how you do an advanced image search using Google and where to find the license once you locate images.

If you’d like to learn more about Creative Commons, check out CreativeCommons.org and Wikipedia’s entry on Creative Commons.

Special thanks to Laurie Vitale (@lauriev88 on Twitter) for her contributions to this post.

TTP #21 Advanced Google Image Search from Chris Hyde on Vimeo.

These Kids Have No Skills

The school district where I am a K-12 technology integrator moved away from computer labs at the elementary level about five years ago. Each elementary building is assigned a technology integrator to work with teachers to assist them integrating technology in their classroom. Prior to this effort, students met in a computer lab once per 6-day school cycle. Lessons were very much isolated and included instruction on how to use Word, PowerPoint, iMovie, etc. Much of that time in the labs was spent on lessons that were isolated and not connected to curricular activities occurring in the classroom. Classroom teachers now have portable carts of MacBooks and an integration teacher to help them plan, co-teach, provide resources/tools, or support them in the classroom. A resource I would think many teachers would love to have access to.

In my opinion, this is a tremendous step in the right direction and allows teachers to use technology in a meaningful way. However, I’ve recently heard from a number of teachers that we need to go back to scheduling computer class and even resurrect computer labs because “these kids have no skills.” My first thought is do they realize that schools all over the country are advocating for integration and trying to move away from labs…something we’ve done successfully and way ahead of the curve. A more pressing issue for me is what do they mean by “these kids have no skills”? What skills? Word processing skills? Do they know every menu item in PowerPoint? I couldn’t disagree more with this assessment!

I have watched elementary students access their district Google domain, create a document, share it, and collaborate in the cloud. I’ve watched 3rd graders create a Wordle and take a screenshot of it. Then log in to their class blog, upload the picture, and add a riddle to it in order to spark a conversation with readers. There are very few, if any, of our teachers blogging on their own. I’ve also seen students in 5th grade create a multimedia presentation using Keynote, zip that file, log in to our Moodle server, find the teacher’s course, and upload their presentation. Just take a minute to consider all the skills these kids have demonstrated both curricularly and technologically to complete these tasks. No skills? I have to disagree!

Skills students need to develop today in 2011 aren’t the same as they were 10 years ago. Students don’t need to be taught the intricacies of word processing and spreadsheets in isolation. These need to be authentic and meaningful lessons. I don’t believe we need to bring back computer labs. I believe we need to educate teachers about the evolution of technology in the classroom. They still think that the most important skills to learn with a computer are how to use a specific application and keyboarding. This needs to change…but I imagine that’s a completely different post. Any ideas for that post? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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