Stop, Start and Continue
Type of Technology: iPads
SAMR Model: Substitution, Augmentation and Modification
Grade Level: 11-12
Subject Area: Science and Art
It’s June and that means we are wrapping up the 2014-15 school year at La Cuesta. I thought it would be interesting to look back at the school year and see how my expectations compared to reality concerning the 1:1 iPad program we have been piloting. In June of 2014 I was interviewed by a local online newspaper about the role of the iPads. I found the article and had to giggle a little bit as I read it. I have included the link if you are interested. It is interesting to look back at my attitude about the program before it all began.
iFad? One year ago, hopeful and pretty much ignorant about iPads.
Here is what I was thinking a year ago:
La Cuesta teachers and administrators are supportive of the program, even if there is some concern.
“The idea is awesome,” said Mike Mowers, a science teacher at La Cuesta. “I am excited, but with trepidation. The possibilities are limitless, but I really need to figure a lot out myself.”
Standing at the front of his physics classroom, Mowers said the iPad will infuse a sense of the real world into the learning experience.
“We don’t have a physics lab, but there are all these apps that do great things,” Mowers said.
Assignments will move online and students will be able complete and submit their work on the iPad. Mowers knows that there will be some glitches along the way. He’s worried about kids being on Facebook during class, or that students will lose their iPads altogether. He also acknowledges that many students enjoy having direct contact with their teachers and that the iPad cannot replace that interaction.
“I know I am going to make mistakes,” he said. “I am just going to jump in. I think it’s going to be cool.” Article written by Joshua Molina, June 1 2014, Mission and State.
So maybe I am related to Nostradomus because I nailed it. I did make a lot of mistakes, students were not really on Facebook, they preferred Snap Chat and Facetime, I was able to get all of my assignments online, students did lose their iPads, and I did get considerable push back from some students who prefer “to do it old school with pencil paper.” All that being said I think La Cuesta made considerable progress this year. At the end of each school year our staff gets together and we have a discussion about what we want to start, stop and continue at La Cuesta for next year. Here are the big “take aways” for the year for me.
- I have learned that student will find a way around any kind of “security” system that we put on the iPads to help them stay focused and they really love social media. Next year I would like to stop fighting the tide and try to utilize services like Twitter to bring the outside world into my classroom.
- In the interview above I stated that the iPads “will infuse a sense of the real world into the learning experience.” I did not really understand what I was talking about at the time. I was thinking about research projects, but I have now seen how the real world can be brought in to the classroom via communicating with other classes around the state, country, world through Twitter. I want to start making connections with community members, professionals, students and the like so that my students can feel a connection to “global ” community.
- I also really want to get my class using Google Drive. I have a colleague who is using the app Showbie, which has features like Google Drive plus other classroom management features.
- I want to start using Twitter to connect with other educators that are using the iPad/tablet format.
One of the most valuable things that I did this year was to attend an iPad summit in San Diego. I learned there is a huge community of people that are using this technology in the classroom and they are eager to share. Honestly, I have avoided social media like Facebook because I like my anonymity, but I did take the leap and started an Instagram account (it’s private with 18 followers). The value of Twitter is amazing because of its speed. You can find answers to your questions when you want them!
La Cuesta is an alternative high school so this may not apply to other schools that are using iPads, but I am going to stop requiring that all assignments are to be done on the iPad and turned in online. I know this sounds counter intuitive for a 1:1 program but here is my rationale. We have experienced significant difficulties getting the iPads that students use to be uniform, meaning they all have the apps we are requiring them to use.
We have gone through several phases trying to solve this problem and we are close, but for several reasons, not all of our students have what they need on their tablets. Initially, we had the app store on student iPads (which is how most schools operate), but we found that students were downloading games, movies and music and then declining the apps that were being pushed to them.
We then collected all of the iPads and wiped them clean and installed a management device called “Self Service” which is essentially an app store that students have access to but it only contains apps that the school has selected. This has helped, but several students have managed to avoid having their iPads wiped and do not have Self Service and then there are just few that have Self Service but a glitch prevents them actually installing the app.
Finally, those creative kids have figured out that if they try to install several apps on Self Service at the same time, the App Store locks up for a brief time (10 seconds or so) and they can then download FIFA or Grand Theft Auto. So, I am going to stop requiring that all work needs to be done on the iPad, but all of my assignments will have the option to be done digitally.
Continues: I am pleased with how much I have learned this year in regards to iPads. I will continue to use my “go to” apps: Explain Everything, Notability, Notes, Pages and iMovie. I will also continue to give students the opportunity to turn work in digitally on NEO. I think I have about a third of my students who do all of their work this way so I hope as we get our iPads dialed in that percentage will grow. I will also continue to provide direct teaching for my students and try to strike a balance between what they are comfortable with and pushing them toward technology. I most certainly want to continue with my professional development in this area and attend another iPad summit, this time hopefully with more of my colleagues.
It has been a tough year at La Cuesta, but I think our 1:1 program has really made some great strides. As I said when interviewed a year ago, I knew we would make mistakes and we certainly did. But when listening to other schools talk about their programs I feel like La Cuesta is on the right track. It is frustrating that we are making many of the same mistakes other programs have made, but what I am beginning to realize is that there is no one single recipe for this. The program reminds me a lot of my students: they are growing and developing and they make a lot of mistakes. The successful students are the ones that learn from the mistakes and move on. We really try to push our students to be gritty and persevere, I think we need to do the same with this pilot project. It will be interesting to look back at this blog next year and see where we are at.