Reflections and Rethinking…

Summer has been a time to reflect on what worked well in first year with 1:1 iPads, and rethink how to move forward.

Big questions:  What needs to be done to give my students more choice and voice? How can I encourage children to find problems and then be comfortable with the productive struggle as they look for solutions? What do I need to do to make sure they are doing the hard work of learning? How do I make sure I am not an obstacle to my student’s creative discovery and learning.

Reflections:  Celebrate

  • Students were responsible and respectful with iPads (no need for lists of rules and guidelines – the privlege of the iPads was motivation enough)
  • Management: numbers as background on home screen made management easy
  • Simple screen: use of folders made home home screen uncluttered, simple and easy to navigate to apps
  • Motivation:  students took to this tool like fish to water, eager to learn and explore each app and discover ways to maximize/utilize all features and options
  • Choice: iPads/apps became a tool and not an “event” or toy.  Students learned to choose between different apps to show thinking and work or to use paper and pencil along side the iPad.
  • Voice: Our focus on  “creation” based apps where the children drove the content was a good choice – it was amazing to see how these young learners felt empowered to express and share ideas (even though they were young emergent writers/readers).
  • Meeting CCSS Expectations:  For the first time in my 15 years of teaching every child met every grade level expectation, with many exceeding in reading, writing, spelling.  They may have exceeded in math, however, at this point I do not have a good measurement tool to determine advanced achievement in math.
  • Book Creator: I wondered if young 5-6 year olds would feel comfortable using this app.  Would it be too advanced?  It was a bit of a slow start for some and quite frankly not every child likes expressing themselves digitally.  For most,  it was magic, especially for those with fine motor challenges they transcended their obstacles and thrived by having a tool that allowed them to share ideas and areas of expertise (i.e. Minecraft).
  • Seesaw Learning Portfolios:  A powerful school/home tool  that was a fun and efficient way to linked what we were doing in class via photo, notes, annotated pictures, videos, etc. and then use it to track progress and share automatically with parents, administration, specialists. Click here to see  Seesaw Learning Journal in our class .

Rethinking: More Student Choice and Voice

  • Routine and Guidelines:  I will start using the iPads the first week and use responsive classroom type style  and collaborate with children on guidelines and routines to using the iPads rather than have agreements, contracts and rules.
  • Launching iPads|Step 1:  We will start with using the camera app and a few content apps.  Click on the link (title) to see my AppoCollection with files and lessons.
  • Less teacher – more child voice and choice:  Students natural  curiosity combined with lack of fear in dealing with tech taught me that the students learn faster and go farther and deeper in exploring a concept when I get out the way and provide them plenty of time to explore.
  • Seesaw Learning Portfolios – More Choice and Voice:  Last year I did 99% of the entries in the children’s portfolios.  This year I am going to release that to the students.  With the new features in Seesaw release 2.0 (August 2015) children can annotate their work and classmates work (don’t know I am ready to let them have access to other children’s work yet – but time will tell).
  • Classkick:  I can’t wait to use this to create a K-version of Khan Academy for pushing out assignments, assessing, creating personal learning challenges,  and hopefully encourage students to create their own “Genius Hour” type projects.  It certainly makes beginning of year assessment of letter names, sounds, rhyming easier, more fun for both students and me and saves me precious TIME so I can focus on coaching learners.
  • ExplainEverything:  In the spirt of “more student voice”  I will encourage students to “be the expert/learning coach” and record their understanding using ExplainEverything.
  • Kahoots:  I discovered this toward the end of school last year.  I will use this more as the children found it fun and engaging.  Is is not creative from a student’s viewpoint.  However it is creativie in that I can create custom based on instructional goals and then use the automatic data generated from Kahoots to inform my instruction.  Who knows, maybe by the end of Kindergarten some will be creating their own Kahoots! Check out my Kahoots when you visit Kahoots, my user name is mshink.
  • PicCollage and Thinglink:  More Choice: Two new creation apps that I will add to our suite of creation tools.  Let the exploration begin!

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