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My iPad Journey

Open publication – Free publishing – More school The story above is meant to be an illustration of the school/learning experience.  The first explorer’s journey represents the traditional school model.  Here, students are given set tools and led in one direction down a river of scripted curriculum and standardized tests.  Some wonderful things are learned along the way, but there is little freedom to stop and explore more.  This is further limited by the tools provided that allow for little or no discovery.  On this journey there is a single goal in mind: graduation. The second explorer represents a rich learning experience made available when the proper tools and experiences are made available.  In this model, there is still a destination and objective, but the journey is one of discovery, adventure, and opportunity.  On this journey, students are given the resources that will allow them to explore and learn at their own pace, deepening the learning experience and passion for  a life of learning.  While there are many resources that could enrich the learning experience and help students on this journey of discovery, the tool I am recommending is the iPad. I choose the iPad over other devices (such as netbooks) because it is an intuitive device (particularly for the elementary level) that puts the focus on the journey unfolding.  Other devices may be cheaper, or offer Flash, or allow multi-tasking but these devices get in the way of the journey because they must be learned before the journey can even begin.  These type of devices can end up being THE journey because there is a learning curve for using the device.  The iPad is brilliant in its simplicity.  Students can pick it up and immediately understand how to navigate and use the device with little guidance.  The iPad offers portability not available in other devices.  It is the go-anywhere, all day learning device that allows students to explore, communicate, and collaborate at their own pace and in their own way. In the current school system, students aren’t afforded the luxury of having the teacher to themselves all day.  The iPad can fill some of this void by guiding learning, offering instant feedback, giving the ability to pause-rewind-replay learning, and allowing students to learn collaboratively.  This frees the teacher to spend more time guiding students individually on their individual learning journey. As I have written previously, one device may not make sense in every school, in every classroom.  In another demographic, the cellphone may be the best portable learning device.  I am proposing an iPad study pilot program because for my students at my school, the iPad is the right tool for the journey.  I have had an average of 400 students each year.  I know every one of them by name.  I know many of their families.  I know their hobbies, interests, fears, and passions.  Being a computer has afforded me the opportunity to teach these kids every week of their elementary school lives.  I know these kids. The iPad is the device that would make the second explorer’s journey possible for them. Before the school year was over, an idea formed to start a 1-to-1 iPad pilot program in first and fifth grade (180 students).  I decided to make this program a formal research study to find out what affect the device really had on student learning and achievement.  I wanted the results of this program to be farther reaching than my school and my students.  It is my hope that by turning this into a research study, not only would my students be given the best, but others could benefit from the results.  Perhaps we could provide the road map of how to implement a 1-to-1 iPad program.  I wrote out my proposal and immediately sent out a tweet asking if there were any research professors or graduate students who might be interested in something like this. Many from my PLN responded positively with help, Jason Schmidt was the one I chose.  Then, I got the wild idea to take the study to another level and sent my proposal to Robert Marzano and Debra Pickering.  They agreed to partner with us on research!  The problem?  We are still working out a way to fund this project. Below is a pared down version of my proposal: Objective/Purpose of Study The purpose of this pilot program is to examine the effectiveness of the Apple iPad multi-touch, mobile device on student achievement and learning in a 1-to-1 environment.  The iPad mobile device will be used to augment instruction, differentiation, inquiry learning, and innovative classroom practice with a focus on reading/English language arts and Math.  Reading/English language arts and math are the primary focus of the study since these are the two subjects that all states have been required to develop assessments under the No Child Left Behind Act.1   The study will also seek to determine if instructional practices are influenced by the use of iPad mobile devices in the classroom. Goals The goal of this pilot program is to provide a 1 to 1 mobile device learning environment which will: Provide consistent access to technology for a fully integrated learning experience by providing each student with an iPad mobile learning device for use inside and outside the classroom. Make provisions for on demand learning opportunities which will expand the reach of the classroom with the iPad learn-anywhere platform (applications, podcasts, video, e-books all selected for individual learning needs). Allow for customized, individualized content to meet each student’s unique learning needs.4 Increase student motivation and engagement in learning.5 Increase collaboration among students and teachers resulting in improved achievement.6 Provide students with student-focused instruction that is multi-level (for different student abilities), multi-sensory (for different learning styles), and individualized.7 Provides students with immediate feedback on learning.8 Provides teachers with the ability for immediate and individualized learning assessments. Questions to Address How can the iPad mobile learning device influence student achievement? How can use of the iPad improve student motivation, attitude, and interest in learning? How can the iPad mobile learning device be introduced into curriculum and instruction effectively? What learning strategies are most effective in instructional applications of the iPad? How can the iPad be used to extend learning beyond the classroom and school day? In what ways can implementation of the iPad be a catalyst for a restructuring of school? What are effective ways of evaluating the impact of mobile learning devices on teaching and learning? Will there be an increase in student ability to use classroom or computer lab computers? Will there be a change in the way teachers think about the use of mobile technologies? Will there be a change in the process of learning from being largely teacher centered, to student centered as a result of the introducing the iPad? Will there be a greater sense of student ownership, responsibility, and empowerment in their own learning (how does this differ in 1st grade to 5th grade)? Will students use technology more purposefully to complete a task or discover new information? Will there be a change of teacher’s philosophy, pedagogy, or approach to the learning process? Conclusion The iPad pilot program offers something innovative in the classroom.  It provides the potential to empower and uplift students in their learning.  To maximize effectiveness, education in the 21st century has to be active, engaged, and customized for students.  Students must have universal access to mobile technologies that will enable critical thinking, differentiation, and problem solving.  It is our belief that the technology in Apple’s iPad meets these needs and more. I tell you all of this because we are still searching for funding.  We have applied for grants, talked with individuals, entered contests, emailed Steve Jobs, etc., etc., etc.  I am stubborn.  I refuse to believe that money is going to be the thing to stop us in our tracks.  I refuse to believe that in all of my PLN, Twitter, and Facebook connections that there isn’t an answer.  Surely Twitter shrinks the six degrees of separation between me and someone who can help get this moving.  Surely someone knows someone, who knows someone who can make this happen. So here is my plea: Spread the word as often as you can to everyone you can. Tweet like crazy! Vote for us in the Kohl’s Cares $500,000 give away Send me any ideas you may have! I am convinced that with your help I can get this program started and that our ripples will be felt throughout the education community.

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How to create an online Advent calendar

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Art, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Fun & Games, History, Inquiry, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 01-12-2013

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I love this time of year, it comes with such wonderful anticipation of things to come. A time to be mindful.

 How to make a digital advent calendar- iLearn Technology

You can build some of that anticipation into your classroom with a digital advent calendar that reveals something each day in preparation for the holiday season. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, “coming.” In Christian traditions, this refers to God’s coming into our midst. Anastasis is a faith-based school, so the advent calendar I created for our students and families is to be in celebration of this coming.  Your classroom advent calendar doesn’t have to be faith-based.

Your advent calendar could be in anticipation of the coming new year, the coming break from school, or just a fun way to surprise your students with something they get to reveal each day.  It would even be fun to reveal some sort of “Mission Impossible” task each day for your students. Be creative! This could be related to something they are learning/working on in your classroom, a kindness challenge, a video of the day, a writing prompt for the day, brain teaser, a book/poem/website for the day, a peek into your classroom for families, inquiry question of the day, song/podcast, 25 days of science experiments, etc.  Even as adults we enjoy moments of anticipation, why not capitalize on that in your classroom?

I used Weebly to create our digital advent calendar.  You can follow our calendar here. Weebly is an easy to use, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website builder. It makes it simple to quickly put together a site that you can easily edit in preparation for the next day of revealed surprise.  Weebly also lets you include a nice variety of content so that it is flexible enough to meet your needs. I started December first with some text and an image.  My plan is to take a video each day of our students sharing a verse, quote, thought, blessing, song, etc. and embed the video using the YouTube option.  The only thing for me to do each day will be to take the video and upload it to our Anastasis YouTube channel and then copy the url into the Weebly image for the day. SO easy to keep up with each day!

How to build your own Weebly Advent Calendar:

  • Sign up for a free Weebly account
  • Choose a template to start with for your calendar. Any of the templates will work, choose the look you like best!
  • Start by dragging some text onto your page. This is a great place for a few sentences about your calendar and what students/families can expect to find each day.
  • Under the “Structure” section, select and drag over the “Columns” onto your page. I chose 5 columns.  Repeat so that you have multiple rows of 5 columns.  I have a total of 5 for 5 rows and 5 columns.
  • Into each row and column, drag over the “Image” option so that you have 25 image place holders.
  • I used Apple’s Pages software to create my daily images with the dates listed on them. I used some digital paper, layered a solid box of color, and two text boxes. I took a screenshot of each date (I just created one image and then changed the text for each screenshot).
  • Back in Weebly, click on the image placeholder to upload the images created (alternately, you can just use the search option to find images to use). Repeat for each image.
  • Create a new page (under the Pages tab a the top of the Weebly screen).  Be sure to check the box so that the page is hidden from navigation.  This is going to be your “come back on the appropriate day” page. Click “Save and Edit.”
  • On your new page, add some text and an image.  Type a greeting message from those who are trying to sneak a peek early.
  • Navigate back to your home page. Click on each image, an edit box for the image will come up.  Select “Link” and choose “Standard Page” and then the page you just created.  Save.
  • Create other pages for your site if you would like to, I created an “About” page for those who are curious about Anastasis.  It might be fun to include a “contact” page where students can submit ideas for the calendar (maybe original writing or other work?)
  • Publish your site.
  • Each day go back and click on the image for the appropriate day. From the edit box, go back to “Link” and change where the image links to.  It can link to another page that you create on the Weebly site, a website or video, a file, or an email address (what if your students got a new email address each day to email an encouraging note to?).  Alternatively, you can delete the image for that day all together and embed a video, html, flash, etc.
  • Don’t forget to re-publish after you’ve added/edited the site!

There is something truly wonderful about revealing a surprise each day. Don’t leave the families of your students out, it would be great to give families a glimpse of your classroom so that they can see what there kids are up to each day. This can be photos, original student writing, video, or fun activities to be completed as a family in lieu of homework.

Students can also be in charge of creating their own advent calendar. The possibilities for this are endless!

 

What great ideas do you have for using an advent calendar in your classroom? Share them below!

Comments (3)

I love this idea! In the past I have done a Twelve Days of Christmas where different teachers are filmed reading their favorite Christmas story each night leading up to Christmas. I’m wondering if I can incorporate that into an Advent Calendar. I need to get on it soon because I’m already behind! Thanks for the inspiration!

[…] first read about the idea from Kelly Tenkely’s fantastic Edtech blog, I Learn Technology. Kelly creates her calendar with Wix. I decided to do mine with Thinglink, a free tool to make […]

Great idea Beth! I love the idea of a story a night :)

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