Teaching Measurement using Google Maps

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Just a simple activity using a tech tools to enhance student understandings.

This week I have been working on area and perimeter with my 4/5s. This has included a lot of estimation. It became clear early on that students were unsure how to estimate common units for measuring length (i.e. mm, cm, m km). To provide a reference point for estimation, I asked students to create a poster for themselves to be able to remember the sizes of these measurements, with the intention that this would make it easier for them to estimate with a visual cue.  Most chose to use the app Pic Collage to display their work.

For example, to remember the size of 1 millimetre, some students took a photo of the thickness of a fingernail. For 1 metre, they referred to the length of a classroom table.

Kilometres proved to be difficult as it is a difficult distance to visualise. So we used Google Maps to experiment with distances and see a visual representation of exactly how far 1 kilometre is. Students found a familiar local point on Google Maps and used the directions function to map the journey to another familiar location that was 1km away (for example, the local Coles or skate park).

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Gender in the Classroom: Books about Girls

Often when I read a picture story book to my students they will identify characters as male, regardless of the character’s gender. They will use ‘he’ and ‘him’ to describe a character that has just been called ‘she’ or ‘her’ only seconds before when I read aloud from the book. I thought this was a strange phenomenon. My students correctly used pronouns in other situations but for some reason, so often girls would become boys when we discussed the characters in a book.

A commentary on a study by the University of Central Florida noted that the study found that out of children’s books published each year in the US only 31% have lead female characters, while 57% have male lead characters. That’s almost twice the amount of males to females at the forefront of the stories children read. There were many more alarming statistics in a similar vein that all highlight the same problem: We are telling children that boys and girls are not equal, that boys are normal and girls are secondary.

51HoHYJv6TL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I was reading an article recently that used the popular book The Day the Crayons Quit to illustrate this problem perfectly. It said that in this book “not a single crayon is identified with a female pronoun. Just about everything and everyone in the books – from five of the crayons to a paper clip to a sock to Pablo Picasso to the crayons’ owner, Duncan, to his father to his little brother – is male, or not assigned a gender. The exceptions are a female teacher and Duncan’s little sister, who uses the otherwise under-employed pink crayon. To colour in a picture of a princess. And is praised for staying in the lines.”

Polygraph recently released an analysis breaking down the dialogue spoken in 2000 screenplays by gender. If we look at the sample of 30 Disney films analysed, we find that 22 of them have a males accounting for majority of the dialogue. 22 out of 30! This is hideously unequal! Movies like the The Jungle Book  and Monsters, Inc. have almost all dialogue spoken by male characters (98% in The Jungle Book), while the extremely short list of four movies with a majority of dialogue spoken by females only had them contributing a little over 60% of the dialogue (Alice in Wonderland, Inside Out, Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty).

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                                                         Image from Polygraph study

 

How will girls learn that they have value and are equal members of society if the literature we provide them does not value being female? We are teaching girls (and boys!) that females come second, that girls are lesser, that they are not as interesting and not worth being read about or watched.

It needs to become normal for animals in the farm book to be females, rather than for males to be the standard and females the deviation.

It needs to become normal for superhero teams to have a majority of female members, instead of five boys and one token scantily-clad girl.

It needs to become normal for there to be no default gender.

So what do we do?

It is imperative for teachers – as well as parents, carers, friends, everyone of influence – to model, speak about and encourage the importance of females in an equal society.

In our classrooms we can start with books. We can read books with female lead characters. We can read books with heaps of female characters. We can challenge our boys to read books about girls (since most girls will read books about boys without hesitation). We can discuss female characters. We can discuss the fact that the gender of the character often makes no difference. We can stop students assigning genders to genderless animals, objects and people. We can analyse films with females in the lead role. We can read books about girls that are not about ‘girl stuff’ but just about ‘stuff’. We can encourage them to write stories about girls. And we can keep going until gender is no longer an issue we need to deal with.

Which books or texts do you use for reducing the gap between girls and boys in literature?

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Some resources:

  • A Mighty Girl has a huge list of picture books and novels that feature girls as main characters.
  • For children’s movies that pass the Bechdel Test (a test that requires a film to have at least two named female characters to have a conversation about something other than a man) check out this article.

Sources: 

Term 2 Goals

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Term 1 was massive for me. Being at a new school and a completely new year level has had me completely floored.

I feel like I have spent the entire term in a whirlwind of not really knowing or understanding what’s going in, which has been completely different to my previous experience of understanding most things and leading a lot of it.Things have not been bad, just unfamiliar. I think I have been so used to working in certain ways and expecting particular things to happen around me that being in a new environment has had me upside down. For the most part I have just spent time feeling guilty that I have not been making a great contribution to my team this term while I’ve been finding my feet.

Now that I’m starting to get my head around my new school and how it works, I am refreshed and ready to do more.

I have three goals for the Term to keep me focused on improving my practise and extending my skills.

  • Stay connected. Twitter is blocked on my school network and I am so used to checking in and stalking my eduheroes during the day for inspiration that without this frequent connection I have been dry as the desert. #vicpln I’m coming for you.
  • Blog more.  When I get into the habit of blogging often, I start to push myself to try new things so I can share it. This can only be a good thing so expect to see more here in the coming weeks.
  • Reconnect with my passion: tech. Out of all the things I do in my job, I find that learning about, teaching with, and using technology to improve learning to be the easiest and most interesting to me. I intend to find myself a niche in the school where I can run with this and try some new things.

Big things happening here – wish me luck!

Showbie and Evernote: Digital Tools for Assessment

I am sitting here in the middle of writing my final reports for the year, and am just SO IMPRESSED with my assessment and collection of student work samples and evidence of learning. I need to share two amazing apps that I use for assessment throughout the year. Using them provides me with a working record of learning that I refer to for planning (through my anecdotal notes and students’ samples of work) and also provides some beautiful summative assessment for when report time rolls around.

Showbie

Showbie is an app that allows students to share their work with me. It is designed as a tool that provides teachers with a digital space to set assignments for their classes and for students to submit their work. It is especially helpful if you find that work disappears when students use iPads.

In my classroom, I use it at a very basic level most of the time; I have really only used it to collect work in an organised (and digital) way.

To do this, I create a folder (or ‘assignment’) for the task we are doing, which is created inside the folder for my class, and my students use their own log in details to upload their work for that task in that folder. For example, I create a folder named ‘Information Report iMovies’ and all students upload their movie in that folder under their name. That way I have every student’s work from that task, and since it is stored online, their work doesn’t take up space on my hard drive and their books don’t take up space on the backseat of my car.

There’s so much more you can use it for than what I have been doing so far… Showbie is simple for kids to use and has lots of options depending on the task. You can upload photos and videos, you can leave comments on each student’s work, or send voice memos. You can also annotate a photo of their work and have them view it. A handy trick I figured out just as I was writing the last report (!) is that you can view work by assignment or by student.

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Assignments View

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A student’s submitted task and comment area between student and teacher

 

Evernote

Evernote is an note-taking app. It allows you to create notebooks (folders) and organise your notes. The notes can include text, pictures, video, voice recordings, inserted documents, tables and more. A great tool in Evernote is the ability to annotate your notes and pictures within the app. It also allows for sharing folders with other users and has a chat function, although I haven’t used those much yet.

For my class notes, I start by making a notebook stack (a folder full of folders) for my grade. Each student then has a notebook with their name attached, and inside that notebook I create a note for each subject area I take notes in, e.g. reading conferences, writing conferences, group work.

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My notebook stack for my class: 2D. It contains a folder, or notebook, for each student in the class.

The below is an example of the reading conference notes I take, with a photo of the running record (or voice recording) taken for that student. As you can see, it is a great source of ongoing, organised information about this student, and I have all the information I need at my fingertips when it comes to planning, conferencing or writing reports.

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This is brilliant for writing conferences! I take a photo of each student’s writing and insert it into their Evernote folder, then I have absolutely NO BOOKS to lug home at report time. I once taught Visual Arts for a short time and used Evernote to collect photos of their artworks and wrote notes on their skills beside the picture as they worked.

My previous school had students from grades 3-6 using Evernote as a learning journal (or digital portfolio) where each student shared a note with their teacher (and their parents) so that work could be submitted and tracked digitally.

If you are looking for a handy way to keep your notes organised, Evernote is it!

Any cool digital tools you use for assessment? Let me know! 

 

Class Blogs for Reflection

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Seeing those numbers drop?

Lots of us start off a class blog with great intentions! We start strong, with heaps of posts and lots of time allocated to reading and writing comments, but it somehow trails off, snowed under by all the other new and exciting things that inevitably appear throughout the year.  Sound familiar to anyone?

I’ve had the same problem this year. The blog became a bit unloved for a while, and if it is not an integral part of the classroom, and does not serve a useful purpose, why have it at all?

In a push to improve learning by making my class blog more meaningful and integrated into what we do, I’ve been trying out using blogging as a very quick reflection tool. Usually for the reflection on a lesson I will pose some questions (usually related to our learning intention and success criteria) for students to answer, in order for both them and myself to be able to gauge their learning in the session. I am trying out using the class blog to supplement the reflection time. I have been finishing tasks just a couple of minutes earlier than usual, and then asking the same questions I normally would, but noting down responses as a blog post. Students will add knowledge, information and skills they think are important to what we have just worked on until we have a blog post with fully formed ideas and a cohesive explanation of our learning.

The benefits of this:

  1. Students need to be able to articulate what they have learnt to a level that can be published for others to read.
  2. The blog becomes a holder of information that students can go back to and use as a reference.
  3. Families have an opportunity to see frequent updates about learning, which opens up both online and face-to-face dialogue about learning and invites parents and others into the learning experience.
  4. It provides me with a very clear indication of class understanding of a concept or skill.

Here are some examples from my class blog that the grade has written recently:

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Growing Good Digital Citizens

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For anyone trying (like me) to get their head around the DigiTech curriculum, hopefully this can help get you. I plan on sharing some of the things I do in my school that address this proposed curriculum at a grade 2 level.

 

My school’s Digital Learning Team has identified the area of “Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility” as one of the areas for improvement after a staff survey on the ISTE standards showed that this was the areas where staff felt unconfident and had less knowledge than others.

As a result, all students have downloaded an eBook (Common Sense Media’s Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum and workbook) that provides a lesson-by-lesson curriculum for teachers to implement with their students. I’m finding it to have some good resources but mostly it is a little dry.

I feel a little more confident about this area than just following a text book, so I wanted to share a lesson I did with my Grade 2s about being a responsible digital citizen.

 

We had a discussion about the term “Good digital citizen” and what it meant. Two of my students are Digital Leaders in the school and were able to lead this discussion quite capably. Students put forward their ideas on what this might look like.

We watched this video to hear some other ideas on what good digital citizens are like. The song “Pause and think online” is catchy and the kids got a lot out of it!

The song basically associates actions and body parts with responsible use of technology. For example “listen to your gut” for things that don’t seem right, and “balance with your arms” to balance your time between using technology and giving your mind and body a break from it.

 

After this my students used the Thinglink app to create an interactive image that would explain their interpretation of how to pause and think online. They took pictures of themselves and inserted “nubbins” (this word is too creepy for me!) which were either text or video to explain how they would use a certain body part as a good digital citizen. Here are a couple of examples and here is the class blog on this lesson, if you want to see more.

 


The Thinglinks went on our class blog for others to read and learn about how they can be a good digital citizen. 

Integrating the Class Blog into Literacy

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Something I have been working on this term is making stronger and more efficient links between reading and writing, and authentically including the class blog into those sessions so we don’t need a whole session allocated to blogging each week. Here is an example of what I have done this week.

 

My students are learning about writing setting descriptions to use in narrative and descriptive writing.

 

In reading, we worked on identifying literal information about a setting. I modelled reading a setting description from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (first six paragraphs of this). Students visualised as I read and then noticed the way the Chocolate Room was described using some of the five senses.


IMG_2993In another session, we read a book called Anzac Biscuits (it describes a little girl and her mum making biscuits at home while her father is away in the war and the perspective swaps between the characters very vividly). Students noticed the various ways the setting and action was described, again through the five senses, and noted them on a sense-o-gram.


  • In writing I used the blog as the launch point for all the learning we would do for this lesson. Students read the learning intention from the blog and we used the picture prompt on the post about the five senses to refer back to what we already had noticed in the mentor texts.

    Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 11.52.02 amWe then travelled through The Secret Door from a link on the blog post. The Secret Door is THE COOLEST EVER tool! It takes you through the door to a real place that could be anywhere in the world! It gives a 360 degree view and allows you to walk around as you would in Google Maps Street View. The students were each taken somewhere different, including a theme park, underwater in the Great Barrier Reef, the South Pole, inside a telescope, and the middle of a baseball field during a game.

    From here students brainstormed some words they could use to describe the setting they ended up in, using the five senses as a prompt.

    In reading the next day, students looked for setting descriptions whilst reading independently, and in particular for phrases rather than just single words. They either marked them with sticky notes or took photos using their iPads.

 

In the next writing session, students went back through the secret door to a new location,  took a screenshot of the view and wrote a descriptive paragraph about setting, using the five senses as a starting point, and reflecting on the types of descriptions we had been discovering in books and mentor texts.

 

Students added their setting image and a description on a Padlet (an online shared pinboard) which was embedded into the blog post we were using. Here’s our setting Padlet. This way student can go back and access the ideas collected on the Padlet anytime they want to use an idea.

The class blog post is here.

I am really happy with this series of lessons; I linked literacy lessons so that what was covered in reading spilled over into writing through the mentor texts we read and analysed. The writing flowed easily from students as they had seen authentic author examples of what they were trying to do, and the blog fitted in perfectly. Students can now access the Secret Door tool on the blog, as well as their own and their classmates’ setting descriptions to use in the future when writing narratives.

Reflections on Digicon

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Wow! #Digicon15! My head exploded.

What a brilliant event with SO much going on in so many areas!

I need to reflect but my head is a jungle so I’m just going to get down anything and everything I am thinking here and see where it takes me.

These are my main takeaways and the things taking up space in my head!

 

My own presentation: Student Centred Learning in a Tech Rich Environment (with @ErinMacNamara)11249157_10152930196816479_2286937671627326159_n

  • I am super proud of myself for diving in headfirst to a terrifying experience that turned out okay and was actually kind of fun. Thanks for the push @BecSpink.
  • I have something valuable to contribute in my own tiny area of expertise. I presented on something I know about and felt comfortable to teach others about it. At first their blank stares were off-putting but after a while people started taking notes and even asked questions that I could answer with ease and eventually I felt like… “Oh… I DO know what I’m talking about”.
  • Here are the slides if you want to peruse.
  • I liked presenting and want to start having a go at doing it more often. Maybe some more Teachmeets. Heck, maybe I’ll run for president.

 

Keynote – Hamish Curry

  • “Curriculum is a guidebook, not a rulebook”. It’s so easy to get caught up inrecite-nb7q7v what the curriculum says that the meaningful learning can get lost. For me, I think this hinges on more of an inquiry approach across all areas of teaching which makes it student driven and most likely will tick off a lot of boxes along the way. This sounds very nice but it’s hard work and something I really want to improve on.
  • “Real things, real places, real people. If you can’t get those things in, you probably shouldn’t be teaching it.” Wow. This is such a great way of explaining that it’s important to make things come alive for students and to make it relevant. Should be second nature for teachers but I find once you’ve done something a few times it’s easy for it to get dry if you’re not careful (speaking from my 4th year of grade 2s in a row… sigh).

 

Keynote – Celia Coffa 

 

Explore the World with Google – Sam Vardanega

Awesome resources and ideas of what to do with them! There is so much potential in these few tools.

 

Don’t be a Textbook & Keynote – Corrie Barclay

  • Lots of reading into frameworks and models for learning to do!  Just some of them… new pedagogies for deep learning, 6C’s, The Solo Taxonomy, TPACK, ACOT2 Framework, ATC21S Framework, CCR, Competencies for 21st Century Learning.
    I always feel a bit behind when people talk about frameworks and models for learning. I am so busy at work all the time that I don’t feel like I have time to look into the ‘big picture stuff’ like this. This means I often feel like I am just ‘doing’ rather than ‘doing with intention’. I want to better understand some of the frameworks behind educational design new thinking to allow me to think more broadly and make some impacting changes to my teaching, and I think some of these that Corrie suggested are a good start. He was really interesting to listen to and challenged me to think bigger.
  • “What would irresistible learning look like?” Corrie said this was cliche but I’ve never heard it before and I like it!

 

Disruptive Thinking in Education – Anthony Speranza

Well this one still has me floored. It was simultaneously the most interesting and frustrating session I went to. There was so much to get out of it, but it all felt too big to properly process. Anthony himself said that he was still getting his head around the concept of Disruptive Thinking and what it means… glad it wasn’t just me!

  • Changing trends in what is needed in education… from content to dispositions. Teaching and modelling skills and thinking habits rather than content and knowledge is something I think I am getting much better at with experience. It is something I am working to get across in my team and sometimes this is difficult. This session reinforced that I am on the right track with encouraging this with my colleagues.recite-1q3uokg
  • “Looking at the rate of change in the world and the rate of change in schools, they’re not even close to correlating.” Most classrooms I see/have seen look exactly the same as they would have 200 years ago, except that now we arrange our tables in groups, not lines (sometimes not even this). The teacher is the dispenser of information, the students are the receivers. We have the knowledge to correct this, but not the… what? What are we missing that is stopping this from changing? Time… motivation… disinterest… fear… pressure… close-mindedness… set-in-our-ways-ness??
  • Time as currency. Could I do this maths in 20 minutes instead of one hour? Is this writing going to need more time allocated to allow it to develop? Should we work on this over a week or a month instead of moving on to the next topic?
  • What does disruption look like in my teaching? Bearing in mind that I’m still not totally sure about this concept, I think I’m doing just a little bit of disruption:
    • 1:1 iPads as a necessary and well-leveraged tool for learning
    • Blogs as a way to connect students with the world, still a long way to go here! (I’m thinking Twitter, Skype, Quadblogging)
    • “Do sharks have saliva?” “I don’t know, guys. Let’s Google it.” Teaching students how to access information that is at their fingertips, teaching them to evaluate its validity, teaching them the skills needed to decode and comprehend and assess what they find out.
    • Starting to trickle some coding into my teaching
    • Learning as the journey, not the destination… problem solving, valuing mistakes as a learning opportunity, developing resilience and nurturing curiosity.

 

Permission to Innovate (Spark Talk) – Adrian Camm

  • “The value of a curriculum is as a framework used to design meaningful learning experiences for students”. Time to get your heads out of the box, teachers. We’ve been told from day one that the AusVELS is designed as a guideline, so we need to stop treating it as a textbook. This might be scary for some, but we need to design learning experiences that reach students on a level that makes them suddenly take the wheel and take control and direction over their own learning. I’m pretty sure that’s where the valuable learning is at.
  • “This card entitles me to try something new. If it doesn’t work as well I as I wanted I will be free on criticism for my efforts. I’ll continue to pursue new ways to help my students be successful.” I would love to see my school be transformed by something as trusting, challenging and terrifying as this! In a school ripe with freshie teachers, we soak up a lot of learning sponge-style, and we’re provided with some great PD and introduced to some excellent methods as we need it, but sometimes I feel as though because we are somewhat fed what we need to know, we lose the onus to push ourselves and take control of our own learning, and begin to see improvement as something that is expected of us, that just takes up extra time at staff meetings or causes jelly legs before P&D time. I would love to see teachers with a passion, who discover something new that captures their imagination and try it out off their own bat, with time allocated to doing it throughly and in a considered way. And WITHOUT a bunch of grumpy faces in the staff room being judgemental about someone who just wants to improve their craft and transform learning for their students.

 

First up on my to do list:

  • Get blogging more with my grade! Make it valuable! Begin with Quadblogging.
  • Start a Twitter account with this year’s class, to connect with experts and other grades, to share and look outside our four walls.
  • Think of time as currency – be more flexible and smart with my planning, according to need.
  • Read about ‘student choice about how to learn’ (any article suggestions for me?)
  • Look more closely at the digital technologies curriculum and map it against the curriculum with my team. Implement lessons and blog about them as a reflection.
  • Get reading! Models, frameworks, inquiry, disruptive thinking… anything! Just take some initiative and learn something new and try it out!
  • Do my own blogging… to reflect and to share. My own workshop taught me that I have something to offer to the teaching community which made me feel all warm and fuzzy. 

Storytelling to Teach Subtraction

IMG_2358I always advocate for storytelling in maths as a way to engage students and apply some context to the skills being learnt. Last time I posted about this a lot of people were interested as the concept was new to them, so I’m sharing another lesson I did.

The What and Why:

The skill being taught in this lesson was applying subtraction strategies to find the missing number/the difference – we had been learning how to count back, use a double and make to a 10 (the three mental strategies advocated by King George Booker in Teaching Primary Mathematics) and when it is most efficient to apply each strategy.

In Teaching Primary Mathematics it is explained that that to develop the subtraction concept, students first need verbal action stories, to model with materials and to record with symbols. They then need to apply the addition mental strategies (outlined above).

The Story:

Students beginning to use the count back strategy.

Students beginning to use the count back strategy.

One morning, as the sun was coming up over the mountain, the little village of <insert silly name> was just waking up. All the villagers said good morning to each other and talked about how lucky all (“let’s all count them by 2s”) 20 of them were to live together so happily. They went about their days doing all the things they liked to do.

After a busy day, the sun was setting and the villagers were all turning in for the night, when suddenly a figure swooped down from the night sky and roared his terrible roar <kids do roar sound>! It was the most fearsome dragon of all… Scrumplybum! The villagers screamed and ran for their lives but some were scooped up into the greedy dragon’s mouth and swallowed whole!

The next morning, as the sun came up, the villagers counted their numbers… (“Who was left? Let’s all count how many villagers are still there.”). There were only 13. They wondered “How many of our friends have been eaten?”. 

We then discuss the strategies we could use to work it out, and each student has a go at how they might apply a strategy they know. This is all noted on an anchor chart to record with symbols as we go. This also allows differentiation, as you can guide students towards a certain strategy where needed.

To check our answers: Unfortunately for the dragon Scrumplybum, he had been way too greedy that day and he was full! He made a massive belching sound and out popped the villagers, still alive but very stinky! 

We repeat the story to practise again a couple of times, and each time the students take over the story a little more. This is the gradual release of responsibility, with the students becoming more and more independent each time.

By the end of our whole class focus time, they are primed and ready to go with their own story. Sadly, the villager puppets get shafted for counters but students are more than happy to pick a villain from the puppet box and get going.

The Evil Lion even got his own den for this story.

The Evil Lion even got his own den for this story.

Tips:
*These stories aren’t very pre-prepared. You could plan it out if you want, but I embellish as I go, and just make sure I have the important points planned so as to make the maths work how I need it to.
*I use materials to act out the story. If you’ve got puppets or soft toys, use them!! If you don’t, get to Ikea, stat!
*Make sure you keep it fun… I like to leave spaces for the kids to add to the story, such as adding in sound effects or music, and making up character names or situations. For this story the ‘Creepy Baby’ puppet was the hit. Vomit and farting sounds also do the trick.

 

How do you incorporate storytelling into your maths teaching? 

Any suggestions for me for the older years? 

Starting a BYOD Program in a Classroom

This year my school has launched a BYO iPad program for students in all year levels. (Woohoo!) This means students bring their own iPad to school each day and take it home at the end of the day. The iPads have specific requiements, including a list of apps set by the school. We are fortunate to have a strong Digital Learning Program in place in the school and the iPad program has been well received by families, with something like 80% participation.

Parents had the option to lease an iPad or buy one and most have chosen to buy their own.  As there are still a number of students in each class who don’t have their own iPad, there are a small number of school iPads available to use in each class.

Here are some of the benefits and issues I have encountered from a classroom teacher point of view.

Some of the benefits:

  • Obviously, each student having an iPad is awesome! It allows integration of technology with so much more access for students, and they seem to be taking more ownership over their use of technology more readily.
  • Something really exciting to see is the way students are trying out new things at home using what they have learnt at school. This is might be an app they have learnt to use, but applied in a different context. Or they might try repeating a task they did at school but use technology to do it a different way.
  • To participate in the program, students had to sign an acceptable use agreement, and they are really stepping up and taking an amazing level of responsibility over their iPads. They are sensible, careful and organised.
  • Staff members know the value of the program. In any situation, there are always different levels of understanding for teachers. Now that all staff members are expected to readily take part, I feel that the conversations are opening up on digital learning, and some of the resistance has disappeared and been replaced with enthusiasm.

Some of the issues:

  • Many of the parents understandably had questions and concerns regarding liability for cost in the event that their child’s iPad was damaged by another student. The program agreement document stated that the school would not be liable, and parents are being encouraged to insure their devices. Obviously, this is
  • The above issue makes group tasks difficult. I have told students in my class that when they are working with a partner or group, the owner of the iPad is the only person allowed to touch the iPad. It is a practical way to deal with the issue, but it goes against other values that we encourage with students, such as sharing and taking turns. This is a difficult balance and requires a lot of unpacking with the students.
  • Some students don’t have their own iPads. It is difficult to manage which of these students, if any, gets to use the spare class iPads and when. On one hand, their parents have chosen (for whichever reason) not to provide an iPad, so they are not entitled to use one when the rest of the students are, and on the other hand, I want them to have the same exposure as the other students.
  • Not all students have downloaded all the required apps, despite a clear list and ample time to get them. This is difficult to manage until you can follow them all up with parents.
  • Having to get 500ish iPads individually connected to the school network is a slow process, so it can be a while before the kids have internet access.

It has been a rocky road to start this journey. There have been many difficult and stressful situations but ultimately it is the beginning of a great move towards creating a 21st Century school environment that is technology rich, with teachers and students that are digitally literate, global citizens who connect and share with the world.