iPad Project, Year Two

At Collegiate School, we have entered year two of our iPad Project.  In year one, we asked these two questions:

  • “How can we use the iPad in a class with one teacher?”
  • “How can we see using the iPad in a class where all the students are equipped with iPads?” (from Essential Questions for iPad UserGroup)

The first question changed a great deal on the release of IOS 4.3 that enabled us to mirror the iPad with a VGA connection.  Many faculty used the iPad as a projection device in the Spring and are continuing to do so this Fall. 

As our faculty UserGroup tested their iPads and explored different apps last year, they found numerous ways to use the iPad with students.  Melanie Hutchinson, Lower School Curriculum Coordinator explored many of these ideas with Lower School students in these two posts:

In the Spring, after numerous UserGroup meetings and lots of interesting conversations with faculty, we decided to enter year two of the project by deploying two shared sets of shared iPads in Lower School and Middle School.  In the Upper School we decided to test the iPads in a 1 to 1 roll out with two classes (one in the Fall and one in the Spring), much like Reed College did with its iPad Study.  As you can see from the previous post on this blog, we deployed 15 iPads for Art and Religion this fall.  We’re running an action research project around the students in Art and Religion and will post results from that in the Spring. 

In the Lower School, our faculty will continue to use the iPads with interactive apps to support skill development, the creation of comics and illustrations,  writing and anything else the faculty can dream of — including creating videos or composing music in Garage Band. 

In Middle School this Fall, the main use of the iPads has been with in class research.  We’re deploying Google Apps in the Middle School and will be testing that along with numerous other apps on the iPads. 

In addition to these school sponsored iPad projects, we’re continuing our 8th grade UserGroup and adding the 7th grade to that mix.  Once students earn their iPad drivers license they will be able to bring their personal iPads or Tablet Devices to school.  This training will review acceptable use as well as train them on Google Docs, Evernote or Noteshelf and GoodReader. 

Our question  for this year is, “How does the iPad change the way teachers teach and students learn at Collegiate?”  We’ll be exploring this big question over the year. 

How does the iPad change the way teachers teach and students learn at your school?

Photo Credit


Audio Editing 101

In Tech 6 we’re working on a project to create a Story Corp podcast.  Students are working in groups of three and have set up interviews with community members, written questions, and interviewed their subjects.  This week, we’ll be editing the audio they are listening to in the free program, Audacity.  Here’s the process we’ll use.

  1. Open Audacity
  2. Import MP3 audio that we recorded using our Sony ICD PX820 recorder by selecting Project –> Import Audio
  3. Save the file – Name it with the date of the interview and the subject.  For example if you recorded an interview with me, on April 3, 2011 the file name would be 2011-04-03-Ragone
  4. Watch this video on using audacity:
Audio Editing 101 with Audacity


5. Now listen to your audio. Take notes on the time you begin questions and when you hear great stories. You might have to listen to your interview multiple times.

6. Decide on the most compelling story from your interview and edit it down to 2-3 minutes.  You can story board the story and arrange the pieces in different orders if it makes the story more compelling. 

7. When you’re done, select File –> Export as MP3 to save the file. 

Feel free to post questions below. 

I’m looking forward to listening to the audio interviews that you create!

* Image Source: arvindgrover

Scratch Mastery Project

Goal: To use Scratch (a free visual programming language) to program a game or learning experience that someone else can watch and learn from without a person explaining it.

This trimester, we learned the scratch programming language through a mastery project.  We started with a graphic organizer that asked the students the following questions:

  1. Name three activities you enjoy doing?
  2. List one thing from each that was difficult for you to master?
  3. Pick one of those – What are the steps in mastering that task – break them down. 

For a fifth grader, this is not an easy task.  What I was lookingscratch for was for the children to think through the steps to succeed at a specific task that they were good at.  Once they did this organization activity, they moved to scratch and created a program to teach those steps.  Because we use scratch in the lower school we jumped right in with a quick Scratch refresher.  If they had questions, I encouraged the boys to ask their neighbor or read/watch the tutorials at the MIT Scratch Support site.  These include the getting started guide and video tutorials.  More advanced students also downloaded and looked at the code from other scratch programs on the scratch web site

With some coaching and challenging, the boys really took off on this project.  There were lots of sports instructions including throwing a football, juggling a soccer, ball, and shooting a paintball gun.  Other students taught us to play instruments and jump off of snowboard and bicycle ramps.  

Criteria for Online Projects

Check out the criteria for a successful student web 2.0 project that Marie  Salinger from Whitefriars College just posted on a PLP NING group page:

What makes a good online project? The following VELS-based criteria may be addressed:

  • Interpersonal – students should work in teams and have opportunities to develop speaking, listening, decision making and conflict management skills. They should also have specific roles and responsibilities in relation to those of others and the overall team goal.
  • Personal – Students learn to seek and use feedback from their teachers and peers and draw on other members of the community who may provide feedback, knowledge and advice about skills that support their learning.
  • Communication – development of literacy skills and opportunities to present information, ideas and opinions in a range of forms eg verbal, written, graphic, multimedia and performance.
  • ICT – opportunities to communicate and collaborate and develop new thinking and learning skills in creative ways.
  • Thinking – An explicit focus on thinking and the teaching of thinking skills to develop students’ thinking to a qualitatively higher level with opportunities for creative problem solving, decision making and conceptualising.

Projects will also be assessed for effective use of websites and web 2.0 tools, creativity, clarity of instructions and overall presentation.

The project and supporting materials should be presented in such a way that other teachers could follow the instructions and use/adapt the project with their own students.

From: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Teacher/Webquests.htm

Lots to think about there.  Do you have criteria for online projects?

Photo credit: http://flickr.com/photos/darrendraper/3199912725/in/pool-858082@N25

Projects for the Year…

I’ve been back to work for a week and many of our faculty will be back next week.  My staff has been hard at work all summer setting up new machines and reimaging old ones.  We’ve rolled out 50 new desktop computers in two computer labs and classrooms.  We are in the process of rolling out 30 new faculty laptops and servicing the other 40 that are already deployed to faculty.  This includes service packs, an Outlook upgrade, and SmartNotebook 10.  As we do these laptop upgrades, we’re requiring faculty to participate in a 30-45 minute training session when they pick up their laptops.  During this training session, we’re reviewing basic laptop maintenance, spending a few minutes training the faculty on Outlook, and making sure our backup script works. 

In addition to the nuts and bolts above here are some of the projects that I’m working on for the school year (Thanks to Jim Heynderickx for the inspiration here):

Outlook Training: During the first month of outlookschool we have to make sure to provide enough support to faculty, staff and students so we can complete our transition from FirstClass to Outlook.  So far, so good as our transition over the summer was completed with only a few minor issues and with a positive reaction from the community.  Change is hard, so I don’t expect that September will be a cake walk, but with appropriate communication and preemptive training and support, we’ll be in a good place in October. 

Continued Professional Development including New Faculty and moodle Student Orientation,  Collegiate Connect (our SIS and communication hub for school constituents), Gradebook, Smartboards, and Moodle.  This is a big one. 

  • New Faculty Orientation is a big one as we need to bring our faculty in, show them what we have to offer and how to find resources about technology at the school.  Luckily, we have two one hour sessions with the new faculty this year and that will allow us to do a nuts and bolts session: file sharing, printing, Outlook email, and Collegiate Connect (SIS).  The second session will be a technology scavenger hunt that our Academic Dean and Lower School Assistant Head are putting together.  This is going to be a fun exercise to see if new faculty can use the training and FAQ material we’ve posted on our department web site to get the scavenger hunt done. 
  • New Student Orientation includes much of the above, plus a heavy dose of Acceptable Use in 20 minutes.  Any ideas? 
  • Collegiate Connect training is usually done in conjunction with division meetings as it consists of specific administrative responsibilities of the faculty in each division.    We’re creating lots of documentation in the form of FAQs on our Technology web site for this.
  • Gradebook, Smartboard and Moodle training.  None of these tools smartboardare  required so we’ll be providing as needed support on them in September and then rolling each out via targeted monthly themes with professional development and communication with the faculty during those periods. 


Powerful Learning Practice — This is very exciting.  Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson are running this professional development program for five of our faculty/administrators.  Here’s how they describe it:

Powerful Learning Practice offers a unique opportunity for educators to participate in a long-term, job-embedded professional development program that immerses them in 21st Century learning environments.

Day one of this is September 8th.  I’m psyched. 

Website Upgrade — Yes, we’re upgrading our web site.  This collaborative process has taken longer than I planned, but we’re on track for a January launch providing us a much better look and feel and more integration between our site and Collegiate Connect. 

And a few smaller ones —

Faculty Professional Development Reports — Last year we did these in a DrupalEd environment.  This year, they will be in Moodle.   Just waiting for MoodleRooms to finish up our Moodle config and we’ll be rocking and rolling. 

New Media Gallery Training — Whipplehill just released the new version of their Media Gallery which is a Flickr like upgrade to their photo galleries but wh also includes a slick video and audio player.  Tagging and all sorts of web 2.0 goodies available.  We’re starting with our archived digital photos from 2001 to the present.  Our archivist has two parent volunteers who will be working on this all year.  Very exciting!

Oh, yeah — On the personal front we’re a few weeks away from a working kitchen — you can check out some of the pics here.  Feels like I have two 10 hour a day jobs lately. 

arvind and I will be webcasting again over at EdTechTalk in the next few weeks.  Just need to wait for his teaching schedule to get going. 

I’ve also decided not to subscribe to all of the listserv’s I traditional participate in and concentrate on Twitter, the ISENet Ning and my Blogroll this year.  See you all there. 

I’m sure there is lots more, but that’s it in a nut shell right now.  See you all on the other side!

Defining 21st Century Education

In my last post I discussed the curriculum design on 21st Century Schools. Recently, Patrick Bassett, President of NAIS has pre-published a paper entitled, “So What’s it Gonna be, Huh?” that defines 21st Century education as:

In my work with schools in the US and around the world, I frequently address groups of leaders, not only educators but their boards of trustees, primarily comprised of CEOs, social sector leaders, professionals, and, internationally, the diplomatic corps. When I ask the kind of “generative” question these school leaders should be asking themselves, “What are the skills and values that will be rewarded in the 21st. C.?,” I always, every time everywhere and anywhere in the world, get the same list:

* integrity and character
* teaming and leadership
* communication skills
* empathy, social and global consciousness
* expertise/competence in some field
* innovativeness and creativity.

What’s interesting is that this “wisdom of the crowd” is actually confirmed by a whole host of researchers, observers, and commissions who have “weighed in” on the topic within the last year or so.

He goes on to list a number of examples of programs that embody these characteristics and challenges schools to implement one of these programs during part of your school day/week.

He’s looking for feedback, and the place where I’m very interested in seeing what is out there is in the examples section. Here is his list.

What are the programs that you think of in Bassett’s definition of a 21st Century School?

Questions about Basic Technology Skills – Part II

Thanks, Nancy and David for stretching my thinking about this professional development day.

I’m struggling with appropriate administrative pressure and my department’s buy in to provide basics training to faculty. I have been re-tooling our sessions to allow for better technological solutions for everyday problems. For example, “Appropriate Presentations” would include a discussion about what appropriate skills and guidelines are, how to find images, and create a presentation that is visually appealing. Another example is, “Creating a Newsletter” which would include pulling resources together and then formatting them in a desktop publishing program.

Nancy, I love your visualization question,

“Try to “imagine it is a year from now and you have embraced a couple of tools and practices that make your work more meaningful/fun/productive. What does that look like?”

I plan on using this when asking folks to register for sessions.

I am truly struggling with David’s game. I believe in my heart that that is the way to go, but want to start slow in smaller groups so we have some practice before going to the “big group”. I would like to try this with a small group of faculty during this day.

I hesitate because this is my professional development first day like this with a new Head of School and Business Manager. We have a traditional faculty and I want to expose small groups to this before we do it with the entire faculty.

I will definitely use these exercises in my department over the Spring, and then during our Summer Professional Development series where we’ll be working with faculty to use read/write web options…

I’m trying to be transparent in my writing here… Honest and open. But boy do I feel like I’m not living up to good pedagogical principles for adult learning… It’s very hard to let go of that “control”.

Thanks again, Nancy and David, for stretching me.

Questions about Basic Technology Skills

I have been thinking a lot about what basic technology skills faculty should know. We’ve surveyed our faculty on basic tech skills, and have a good idea of what people know and don’t know, but what Technology skills should they know?

The reason I ask this question is that we have half of a professional development day in February to work with our entire faculty on technology skills. Our plan now is to run 4, 40 minute sessions on the basics: word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, desktop publishing, e-mail, information literacy skills, laptop hardware optimization and troubleshooting and configuration, and a number of other ‘basics’. We are planning lessons that demonstrate and allow participants to practice 2-4 skills, walk them through an Atomic Learning Lesson (if applicable), and give examples of the use of that software in a classroom.

NETS has a long list of skills that beginning teachers should have when entering the classroom. This list is well above the performance point of my faculty.

In order to learn something new, faculty (for that matter – anyone) must feel a need and be engaged. How do we get the second and third wavers to be engaged when teaching the basics? Nancy White asks these types of questions often.

Here are some of the other questions running through my head:

If you were running a seminar for faculty who have a wide variety of technology skills, what would be the core goal of each session that you teach?

Just thinking through my fingers: Start with the learners, know their skill set, and teach them what they need to get to the next level, even if that means configuring windows and file management.

What skills/applications would you teach?

Word vs. Google Docs

Do you have links to examples?

Our lesson plans will be posed here: Tech at Collegiate when complete.

Thanks for your time and thought.

Faculty Technology Assessment

I’m working on a technology self-assessment for our faculty. We’ve collected a number of surveys from the Independent School community and are using them as a base to create our own. I’ll publish that on the School Computing Wiki when it is done — hopefully by the end of the month.

Our assessment is surveying application skills: Wordprocessing, Spreadsheets, Presentation Software, E-mail, Internet, our Student Information System. Our next step is to use the NETS standards to give us real world examples of how to apply technology skills in the classroom. Once we have the results of our skills survey, we’ll offer 1 hour professional development sessions that are focused on applying technology skills for in the classroom.

It is my opinion that there need to be clear expectations on faculty that they keep up to date on current research on teaching and learning, and within that, there is an expectation that they know what technology is out there to use as a tool to enhance the learning in their classrooms. Our goals of these 1 hour sessions is to give them technology skills and a way to use technology to enhance the learning in their classrooms.

I would love to see how other folks are training and evaluating faculty. My feeling is that evaluation needs to be based upon faculty teaching and student learning. Within this evaluation of teaching and learning, tools such as textbooks, worksheets, technology, etc. are critical as they are tools to enable the best possible learning results for all students.

What do you think of this?

If you have good examples, add them to the School Computing Wiki – Teaching with Technology space.

Professional Development Models — How do you change teachers?

Over the summer, I wrote about collaboration and its power to help us learn.  One of the things I have noticed about our faculty laptop program is that the place where real innovation happens is when we have a group of fellows who have similar interests (department, grade level, etc.) have a clear goal and collaborate to achieve this goal.  This year it’s most aparent in our K-3 faculty who have a weekly Tablet user workshop.  This time is spent learning new software, sharing ideas, and discussing how to use them in class.  These faculty are using their tablets as anecdotal recording devices so when it comes to giving students feedback and evaluation (which should be often – even at the lower school level), they have a running record.  By collaborating on this project, they have revived a conversation about the importance of documentation and evaluation, a clear curricular goal.  They are using Microsoft OneNote where they can post inages, text (typed or written), audio and video content. 

A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in Lesson Study with our Math Department.  Lesson study is a method of teacher professional development, widely used in Japan, where faculty defne a learning goal, define the skills and content required before and after the lesson, design the lesson, observe the lessonbeing taught, collaborating on how to make the lesson better, and thenteach the lesson again to see the results. 

As I sat through the first session last week, my mind jumped to the small groups of laptop teachers with whom I am working.  I thought, “these small groups could tie in to a technology lesson and collaborate to design a lesson that has a curricular goal, but uses technology to enhance it.”  By working as a group, many of the bases that one teacher would miss would be hit.  There is also the support structure to allow faculty to do their lesson for the first time.  Much as the K-3 table group had done.

In Lesson Study, the product is not the point. The learning along the way is the point.  Just as we hope learning in the classroom will be (or at least I do).  To come out with a well designed lesson at the end, but the core participants have gone through the process of thinking about teaching and learning in a very intense way, giving them insight into their own teaching and learning – and the teaching and learning of their students.  Useful information that they can apply in the classroom the next day.  

Activity leads to learning, and that is why writing is so powerful.  I blog because when I think of ideas like these, writing helps to make connections and solidify them.  I think the process of Lesson Study will influence my professional development for the rest of my life.  Thanks to the Math Department for inviting me to participate. 

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