iPad Deployment for Teachers

I have been working all year to convince our IT staff and our leaders that the iPad is a necessary (helpful) teaching tool.  The higher ups have listened and our teachers are getting iPads!  I am so excited for the teachers.  I have read report after report (click here for the horizon report) that states that tablet computing and iPads in particular, are important in the classroom.  Of course, we can’t say that they are THE MOST important thing in the classroom because we know the the teachers are the most important part of any successful classroom.  But, I also know that iPads and technology engage students and without engagement, students won’t learn.

So, in order to continue our schools quest of becoming a school that embraces 21st century learning, we are rolling out this new technology for our teachers.  We are also getting 3 iPad carts and our 4th and 5th graders will be bringing their own devices to school.

We have been trying to put together a roll-out plan for awhile but we have so many questions!  I have put together a deployment flow chart, using ithoughts HD on the iPad (click on the picture for the pdf).  I keep trying to add in new trainings that I have forgotten or new apps that our teachers will need.  This is definitely a working document, but I think our plan is sound.  We are still trying to work through the apple ID dilemma – do we let the teachers use their own or do we use a school ID? 


Our first phase of the deployment will consist of giving the iPads to the teachers.  I have decided to do this in three groups.  The first group to get their ipads will be the teachers that already have apple products, the next group will be teachers that have smart phones, and the third group will be teachers that do not own a personal mobile device.  By breaking down the groups, I am hoping to ease the frustration of the teachers that already know how to use these devices by giving them their devices and then letting them move on.  I will be able to spend more time with each teacher in the third group because that group will be the smallest and I can walk them through their device step-by-step.

I am also setting up a menu of training, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all training.  The teachers will be required to attend a basics course where I will go over how to use their ipad (a little more in depth than the actual deployment training) and a teacher apps training, but then I am offering student apps training, productivity training, and a coaches training.  If they would like additional training they may come to one of those courses.   Then, in July, just before school comes back, I am going to train the teachers on how to build lessons around the ipad.

I will post my training documents as I create them.  I am just now beginning to work through my deployment training.  I would love to know any tips you have learned from your training!

21st Century Classroom Design

I was offered an AMAZING opportunity yesterday!  My school is doing a new ad campaign (we are an independent school) and I was asked to be the faculty representative in the campaign – but, that is not the exciting part!  As part of the photo shoot, I get to design my dream classroom/workspace!

I am a HUGE believer in the power of collaboration and teaching students using 21st century learning skills.  I believe that a teacher should act more as a coach, than a “Sage on the Stage”.  I want students to be completely engaged and immersed in the learning process, using whatever tools fit their learning style.  I LOVE technology and encourage my students to use technology every chance they have!  To be given the opportunity to take all that I believe and turn it into my dream classroom is amazing!

When I was approached, I knew exactly what I would do.  Just the day before I had been reading this blog post on using ipads and project4003255229_f634840b86 based learning on a science lesson.  I am going to take this lesson and incorporate it into a design based classroom.  I am going to use the ideas from the D School at Stanford to create an amazing collaboration space where students can research, design, build, make mistakes, fail, and start over again!

So, as soon as I found out I had this awesome opportunity I set about to design my room.  My classroom will be walls that are all whiteboards.  We are going to use shower board to make the white boards.  We found the plans here.  The room will have fabric cubes for the students to sit on and we will have some tables for students to spread out materials.  We are also going to add in bins with all types of supplies for students to work with – expo markers, post-it notes (LOTS AND LOTS OF POST_ITS) yarn, foam, colored pencils, pipe cleaners, paper, etc.  Here is a sketch of my room design.

21st Century Learning P8

As I work out the details of the lesson and the room comes together I will post more details.  Also, I will post what happened when I asked students to help with the photo shoot, but emphasized to them we would be doing and actual lesson and they would have to do more work! 

The ability to design the workspace of your choice is an amazing opportunity.  What would you do if given the opportunity to design your dream classroom?

Great Tools for Teaching Spelling

I find that when it comes to spelling, most teachers have the students memorize the list, play a few games, do the workbook pages or a tic-tac-toe choice board and then give the test.  I have to admit that when I was a classroom teacher, I did the same thing.  Where in the schedule is there time for spelling?  Truly, do we need to teach the skill of memorizing how to spell words, because really isn’t that what spelling is? 

My son is a terrible speller (as am I!), but when he was diagnosed with dyslexia I realized how important the skill of spelling is!  However, I also know that there is limited time in the school day and is spelling really one of those subjects that I am going to spend an enormous amount of time teaching?  I think the best approach to spelling is one that incorporates spelling into reading and writing.  We know that spelling, reading and writing are very closely tied together!  Show me a student with spelling problems and I will show you a student with reading or writing problems.  If a student cannot spell then that means the student is having trouble encoding words.  If a student can’t encode words, then the student is going to experience extreme frustration with regards to writing.  For my son, he can decode words fairly well, because he has had years of explicit instruction in phonics.  HOWEVER, he cannot encode a word to save his life!  Writing is extremely painful for him and he does not carry over his spelling words from his spelling list to his writing.  I see this exact same model play out in the classroom over and over – I just didn’t realize the link until my son was diagnosed (I had already been teaching 6 years at that point!).

In order to really work on spelling for kids that have significant spelling51D3qQ4ZAdL._SL500_AA300_ issues I highly recommend the book, Words Their Way!  It is a fabulous book, that is labor intensive in the classroom.  This book gives explicit  instruction in spelling patters.  It lays out lessons based on the child’s needs.  This is not a book that I would use in whole class instruction, rather I would use it to remediate students that need extra help.  Additionally, on the Promethean Planet website their are a ton of flipcharts that have already been made that support this program!  I love it when I can find resources already made!

Playing off of ideas in Words Their Way,  there are many iPad resources that can photobe used to help students with spelling difficulties.  One of my favorites is the app icardsort.  I load my son’s words into this app and then have him sort the words based on the phonics of spelling rule that he is learning.   We then have a discussion on why he thinks cards are sorted together.  Adding new words is very easy and the decks can be emailed.  So, you can create one deck for your class and send it to your students (if they have ipads) or you can load it onto a class cart of ipads.  If you do not have ipads, create a center with flashcards.

Another tip for spelling, that really is just rote memorization, but makes the learning fun is to record a story with the spelling words that all follow a specific rule.  For example, my son could NOT memorize the “le” , “el” list.  He could just not remember which word had which ending.  We talked to his Orton-Gillingham tutor about how he could learn these words!  She suggested us making up a story with all of the “le” words and then a different story with the “el” words.  This was AMAZING!  All of the words were learned and he made a 100 on that test!  WE use this strategy each week now.  Also, his carryover to his writing is greatly increasing.  He can  remember the stories and will write some (not all) of his words correctly now in his writing.  We use the app Voice Changer Plus Voice-Changer-Plusto make it fun.  The app allows my son to record his voice but, then change the recording into a bunch of different sounds like mice, or a guitar, or a choir!

photo (2)

Finally, to study spelling words and learn them in a semi-fun way we use the app SpellBoard.  I LOVE this app.  My son and I load his words in to the app together (you have to record the words).   Then, my son can play games, study his words on his own and take a test (on his own) for the rest of the  week.  We have set benchmarks he must reach each day and he meets those goals every week.  One of the things I love most about this app is the freedom it gives teachers to individualize spelling instruction in her class.  Aphoto (3) teacher could conceivable have MULTIPLE lists going on in her classroom based on her assessments of spelling skills in students.  Students could load their own words (starting in 2nd grade) and then study and work at their own pace through the week.  Finally, students could take the test and then send the results to the teacher!  This would free up spelling time during the day for individualized, explicit instruction on both the high and the low end of the ability range in a classroom!