I have spent much of the year teaching students and teachers “new” things. Because the iPads were so new, everyone had to learn each app from nearly the beginning. Thankfully app developers stick to similar systems so the kids and teachers could begin to see the similarities which helped when using a new app.
We also introduced Google Apps for Education as our system for the kids to save work, when our network began to fail and eat their work. I introduced Google to 8 classes in a week. I also introduced Drive to the younger students for them to be able to back up and share work with their teacher.
We learned Puppet Pals, Explain Everything, Book Creator and Popplet in nearly every grade level. As expected some used the apps more than others but each grade became “fluent” in at least two of these apps.
This will make next year easier. Next year the teachers will be able to concentrate on how they want to use these apps not how the apps work. This is also true for the iPads in general. At least 80% of the students will know how to back up, buy apps, update apps, update the iPads, etc. This will also mean that I won’t need to spend all my time teaching this to 8 classes in August. I will just have to teach the two grade 3 classes who will be new to having their own iPads.
I will be able to start working with the teachers on moving forward with the way they integrate into their lessons. Grade 5 has already expressed an interest in blogging which I think will be great. We will start at the class level before moving them to individual ones to prep for Exhibition. We may look at getting involved in Quad Blogging. Though that may be more suited for grades three and four.
I want to begin to use Twitter in the lower grades so that the students can be involved in the posting by making suggestions. 140 characters is a doable level for Kinder and PK students to create, with teachers help. Blog posts might be more intimidating. These were all ideas that I had intended on implementing this year, but I realized quite quickly that most teachers weren’t ready to go there yet. They needed to keep it simple with the iPads this year.
For example, the kinder teachers focused on Puppet Pals. They learned it back to front. They used this app for several unit, but each time with a different focus. This means that next year I won’t have to “teach” these kids, puppet pals I may be required for tech support, but the teacher will be able to introduce the app themselves. Also, because they know how it works they will begin to think about how they can use Puppet Pals while planning.
I will focus on bringing in other apps, like iMovie. I am keen to get them using it. I think that it could be a great way for them to document their forest school activities. It will give the students a way to participate in the creation of a reflection project throughout the year.
This will be the same for all of the grade levels. It means that I will need to get back to reading blog posts and Twitter feeds to keep the ideas rolling. I have cut back on my reading towards the end of the year. I found their was too much to follow because I wasn’t in a situation where I could try all of the ideas. Next year will be the year I test some ideas to see how they flow. It will give me a better idea of where to aim my lessons and ideas.