Edtech Blend

Bringing Tech and Learning Together

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Sometimes Too Much is Okay

Sometimes I think I need to take on more, sometimes I think I’m doing just what I need to do, and sometimes I think I’m doing too much but I just can’t stop. This iPad journey falls into all three categories. I’d like to share some thoughts on the last category, why I can’t stop, and why that’s a good thing.

Upon learning that I would be part of the iPad pilot in my district, my expectations grew so fast and so big that I needed the advice of Jenny K. to bring me back to reality. I wanted to start on the first day of second semester with iPads in all five of my classes. I wanted to jump right in and get started as soon as possible. After reality finally set in, we decided that maybe just two classes would be a place to start. It was a good decision while I learned a lot of the little things that go along with implementing iPads–that’s for another post! But the entire time I was using the iPads with only two classes, I felt guilty. I felt like I was cheating the system. I had 30 iPads, 5 classes, 125 students and only 45 were using them. There had to be something wrong with that scenario, right? Not necessarily, you can take on too much and taking on too much, spreading yourself too thin, can lead to disaster. So what did I decide to do after third quarter? Take on too much and implement the iPads into all five classes and let all 125 students use them. There were just too many opportunities that I felt my other classes were missing out on by not using them.

I felt like I needed to implement the iPads in all of my classes so I could truly see how it would work if all students had an iPad. Talk about the shared model…..five different students used the same iPad almost every day. Now, of course, this would be different if students could take their iPads home, but nonetheless, I wanted to give it a go. Frustration set in as my fellow iPad Academy educators would share things they were doing that I knew wouldn’t work with the shared model I was using. So, I improvised and I found new ways to do the things we wanted to do. Was it always ideal or perfect? No, but the learning opportunities far outweighed the downfalls. Was I overwhelmed and wondering why there weren’t more hours in the day? Of course, but don’t we all feel like that at times? Also, I have to say this type of frustration drove me to work harder to find a solution instead of throwing up my hands and saying it just won’t work—it was a bit more fun. 🙂 I learned so much about the management of iPads and the students learned so much about protecting their work and respecting others that it turned out to be a win-win situation. It can work if you’re willing to give it a go!

I have already started thinking about how I will use the iPads next year in my classes. I have toyed with the idea of only using them in my two senior classes, but I always come back to the opportunities they have provided for my sophomore/junior classes that I just can’t take that opportunity away. This is not the path for everyone, and I wouldn’t expect everyone to do it this way but it’s the way I want to do it. Maybe it’s too much, but sometimes taking on too much is okay. I just can’t stop!


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I Think and Now I Know

I think: Preliminary results are in and here are my thoughts. I think it is working. I think it is improving student engagement. I think it is personalizing student learning. I think it is providing options that weren’t there before. I think it is teaching management skills. It = the iPad implementation. Think = just that, I think.

I’ve been struggling with the answer to this question…How is it going? When I have 30 seconds in the hallway, to answer this question, all I want to say is…Do you have fifteen minutes? I would really like to answer that question thoroughly and with examples, but I can’t do it in 30 seconds.

There is a lot I think I know about how this pilot is going. What I’m trying to find and provide is concrete data, things I know.

Well, today something happened and, I think, it may have to do with using the iPads to do something very simple….review for a test. I decided to have my personal finance students use the iPads Monday, for the first time, to review for their credit card unit test. We used Socrative, something you could use on other electronic devices, but we have iPads so we sued them. Students took a review quiz and received immediate feedback. I’m able to display a color coded spreadsheet, green for correct answers and red for incorrect. We immediately went over the troublesome questions (red boxes) to correct confusion. This, my friends, drove my instruction! It told me, very quickly, what I needed to cover and what I needed to skip.

I know: As a result, for the first time in a very long time, all of my students (70) passed the test the FIRST time they took it. This hasn’t happened all year and I’m not sure if it happened last year. I did a quick word of mouth survey today asking why they thought they did so well. The response—the review. It was better, it was more individualized, it told me what I needed to go over again, it let me go at my own pace, it gave me an idea of possible test questions. I have reviewed with my students many times using a variety of activities. I have never gotten these results. It could be a coincidence or not. Either way, I know, it was success!

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We Must Be Willing to Change

As I finish up week two of the iPad pilot, I have a lot of things running through my mind that I’d like to share and they all go in a different direction. So, I’m going to try and focus on one thing and that is…..change.

After being selected to take part in the iPad pilot, I shared my excitement with colleagues, friends and family. I truly wasn’t sure how this would affect my teaching and in turn, my students. After two weeks in the pilot, I am blown away by how my approach to lesson planning and teaching has changed. I have always thought of myself as an innovative teacher but wow, I was wrong. Now, I find myself willing and able to push the students harder and higher than we’ve ever gone. I am willing and able to let my role change into more of a facilitator than an instructor. I see option after option for my students. I feel excitement and life being breathed back into me and my classroom, at a time where I was beginning to feel worn down.

All of this excitement doesn’t come without questions. Not questions from me, but from others. I’ve recently read some articles and been asked questions about why we need these “things” in the classroom. I’m told; Students used to need just paper and pencil. Students used to sit for forty-five minutes and take notes. Students used to………. My response is always….students have changed and so must we. It doesn’t do any good to figure out why today’s students aren’t like yesterday’s students. We just need to accept this change and meet them where they are today. It is our responsibility to prepare them for the future, a future that involves creativity, innovation, and collaboration. These “things” provide opportunities for students to experience just that and it’s past time to embrace this change.

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We Made It and We Are Ready for More

I don’t even know where to start with this post. It has been a roller coaster of a week with the start of second semester and the implementation of the iPads. Before I share anything about the week, I would like to thank Jenny Krzystowczy, one of our district technology trainers assigned to help Julie and I with the implementation, for all of her help and support. There is NO way I would have made it through this week without knowing that she was going to be right beside me. So, thank you Jenny!

The first thing I learned, again with a recommendation from Jenny, was to start small. I wanted to roll this thing out to all my classes on day one. Thankfully, we decided over break that it would be best to start small. I implemented the iPads into two senior level business management classes. I did decide to go all in with the iPads in these classes. To truly get a sense of how the iPads would work, if the students only had iPads, was to make them use only the iPads.

Did we have issues? You bet we did, but we worked through them and by the end of the week the students had

  • enrolled in my iTunes U course (which is bare minimum right now)
  • listened to a podcast on SMART goals
  • written goals and entered them into a goal setting app
  • used Whiteboard and Google Docs to collaborate
  • and yes, taken some crazy pictures and had fun with the different dialects

The other thing I learned this week…..let them have some fun. Although they are high school students, it is still fun for them to take pictures in Photo Booth, color in Whiteboard and adjust the reading speed to mach one. That’s okay, let them play for a while.

One of the frustrations we experienced this week was the slowness of our network while working on the internet, they are working on this, so patience is the key. Another observation is the lack of personalization when using a shared iPad. It is hard for the student’s to take ownership of a device if they can’t truly personalize it and solely use the apps. I have to be sure to think ahead when working on the apps to be sure each students work will be……protected. For example, I had to find two goal setting apps for the students to use because you are not able to toggle between two accounts, two people’s goals. So, when they go into the app to track their goal, every student’s goal would be seen. These are very small issues but good things to think about before you begin.

After one week, I am utterly exhausted but I have so much excitement for what is to come the next few weeks. Sounds crazy, but that’s how I feel. We made it and we’re ready for more!

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And So It Begins

Tomorrow I will stumble through my first day of iPad implementation in my classes. I was given an incredible opportunity to take part in an iPad pilot program in my district. I am one of six educators that will be embarking on this journey. I’m thankful that Julie Rowse, a colleague and friend, will also be going through this experience with me. Do you think I will sleep tonight? Probably not. I don’t usually get much sleep the night before going back to school and with all of this excitement, who has time for sleep?

There are so many things going through my mind tonight. I feel like a new teacher again! I’m incredibly excited for myself but ultimately for my students. I hope that I will be able to guide them through a semester full of challenges where they will experience excitement and learning like never before. Wow-bold statement and a little cheesy but if you don’t set the bar high I guess you’ll never know if such an environment is possible. Along with being excited, I am extremely nervous about……..well, all of it. So many what ifs that I can’t even begin to write about them. Those ifs will probably happen and I will learn a lot about myself and my students in those moments. So be it.

So, on the eve of iPad PIlot Implementation, I am going to take some time to read a book that has nothing to do with education in order to relax and get some sleep tonight. I’ve been prepping for this for about three weeks and now it is time to embrace it and get ready for the roller coaster ride–it’s going to be incredible!