Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Two Other Projects for the Year

Interestingly enough I left off two other major projects I'll be working on this year. First is our conversion to a new student information system. We decided last year to go with Veracross as our SIS and the implementation begins now. Our initial meeting with the project management team was last week. This should be interesting.
Second, I am taking a course with the Online School for Girls called Charting a Direction for Your School: Online Learning. This is basically a year-long course that will help school leaders determine a course for implementing online learning into the fabric of the school. I expect this to be an incredible learning experience and fully expect to increase my knowledge base about online education.

The one-on-one meetings with teachers have been progressing fabulously! I admittedly was initially skeptical that teachers would want to be obligated to a class period with the technology integrator one day per week, but I am happy to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by not only the response to the time commitment but also the desire to learn! Many teachers come to the meeting with lists of topics and questions they'd like to cover, and others are so very open to learn what they don't know to ask about. One-to-one instruction has always been a part of the total technology integration model, but I have not experienced it to this magnitude before now. The time required of me to be able to meet with everyone has been considerable. I have begun to consolidate meeting times by scheduling a least two teachers in one period and with the plan of possibly alternating each appointment every other week. In the off-weeks, the intention is that the teachers will work on projects and goals we've set up together either on their own or with another teacher partner. Currently, we are still in the start-up stage and in the process of establishing the goals and projects.

The iPad program is expanding almost exponentially! We have added three library skills classes to the "pilot" and will soon make an all-school announcement that the iPads are available for any class if they are available. Additionally, we are adding 5 new iPads to enable more teachers to get their hands on one to explore and consider for their curriculum. Because there is one set of iPads that students share, we needed to establish some standardization of the organization for the iPads. I created a "page" for each subject area and placed the app icons in the same locations on each iPad. This way students will basically know where to go on the iPad to locate the apps they need regardless of the specific device they pick up. With the announcement of the iPad mini last week, perhaps we will test a few of those out in the near future to see how they fit in our environment.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Welcome Back to School!

Welcome back to school! Yes, it has been anywhere from five to nine weeks since school started, depending on what region of the country you are in, but things have been so busy that I am only now able to stop long enough to post! The summer was busy with developing processes for maintaining the backend technology at my school as well as developing a strong teacher training program, reviewing and evaluating the results of the previous school year's initiatives, and determining a process for creating a vision for technology for the school. As usual, the summer went by quickly and here we are: five weeks into the new school year.

An Update

My previous posts have included the mention of an iPad Pilot Program. I would like to offer a "report" of how that initiative fared.

We began the initiative with 15 iPads for an eight grade science class with as many students. The teacher of this class was very diligent about the use of iPads in her curriculum and made sure that it was the central tool for her course. The students used many science-specific apps like Pig Dissection, Chem Lab, and Quiz Chemistry, as well as some productivity and creation apps like Explain Everything and Evernote. I sat in on many classes and was witness to the excitement the students exuded when producing video explanations of the parts of the body or a chemical reaction. In the end, the pilot was a success. All of the 15 iPads we began with are still with us and in great condition! We used the ASVPP with one Apple ID so we still have all of the apps used last year to continue to use with this year's eight grade science class. In addition to continuing the Science 8 initiative, our middle school French teacher has been added and we are now exploring expanding the program to 6 more classes. We have graduated our classroom-sized pilot into a middle school pilot. A new adventure for a new school year.

Posts to come

I plan to continue to report on our iPad program this year. I am certain there will be a lot to learn from it. We have also begun a new initiative surrounding teacher development. The school administration has decided that integrating technology and supporting teachers as they learn to do this is so important that time has been allocated on their weekly schedule to devote to this endeavor. I have been meeting with every teacher weekly (our faculty is small enough for me to - barely - do this) to work on developing their technology and integration skills and knowledge. Again, I am certain there will be much to learn from this endeavor and I plan to update this blog with the progress. A third major project this year is the work of establishing a technology vision for the school. This is an exciting step forward as we think about and mold the future of our school.

So, please continue to read and I hope that you can glean something useful from the posts. As always, please share your comments, thoughts, and questions with me and other readers. Discussion is always welcome!

Thanks for reading!

Links to apps mentioned in this post:
Pig Dissection
Chem Lab
Quiz Chemistry
Explain Everything