Monday, November 24, 2014

Core Apps for the #ipadacademy

It's More Than An App

When rolling out iPads in education, often the first question we get is what are your favorite apps?  We chuckle a little, because we know that iPads in the classroom are more than apps.  And while we do use a criteria for choosing apps, we think bigger than just apps.  Bringing iPads in the classroom is just one small piece of the pie.  There is so much more to consider.   

More than an app is needed to be successful, the question becomes what do you want students to accomplish.  When the focus is on student learning, the conversation shifts from apps to how to craft a student centered learning environment.  The iPad is just a tool, a very powerful one, that if used correctly can unleash learning opportunities teachers and students have only dreamed of.  Training, coaching, and on-going opportunities to grow provides teachers a framework on best practices for teaching and learning in a digital classroom.  Instead of using the iPad as a tool to substitute what is currently done in the classroom, teachers instead learn how to shift from a teacher centered classroom to a learner centered classroom.

In Bellevue Public Schools, we use Google Apps for Ed for our student work flow.  Students have access to e-mail, Google Drive, and YouTube.  These buckets become essential tools as students begin to create work and need to share/store/submit their work from their iPads to their teachers and parents.  We favor app that export to Google Drive or YouTube, allow for creativity, are easy to share, work across all grade levels, and increase collaboration.

We’ve been at this now for three years and have learned a lot.  We shy away from in-app purchases and apps that are used in only one part of the curriculum.  We provide continuous training and support to our iPad teachers through monthly collaboration days, in class coaching and co-teaching models, and bring parents in for iPad sharing sessions. We’ve discovered that we really only need about two iPad screens of apps and only three paid apps.   

Here is a link to our favorite core apps.

Written by

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What is Your Greatness?

New teacher technology training is one of my favorite professional development days I have the privilege of facilitating with my colleagues, Jenny and Jeanette.   New teachers bring joy, enthusiasm, passion, energy and a zest for our profession. 

Today at our new teacher training, we took the time to reflect on our greatness as educators. What do we bring each day to school and share with our students and colleagues?  What is that greatness? How does our greatness make a difference?  

Each new teacher reflected privately and then wrote his/her greatness on a clothespin decorated with Washi tape.  Then each person shared his/her greatness out loud with the group. "Patience, energy, creative, devoted,"  the new teachers said.   

As each new teacher shared their greatness with the group, they clipped their clothespin to our wire wreath.  One by one, the clothes pins were added and soon their pins developed into this stunning reminder of greatness.  Alone we are amazing and as we pool our greatness together, it develops into something unimaginable.  

The wreath will now hang proudly in our office/classroom as a reminder of all the greatness we added to our district this year when we hired our new teachers.  Our new teachers are an amazing group and their greatness is making a difference every day for our students in Bellevue Public Schools.    

Greatness wreath created at New Teacher Training, November 2014.

What is your greatness?  How does your greatness make a difference? Feel free to leave a comment.

Written by Ann Feldmann


References:  Idea modified from a Thankful Wreath featured in the November 2014 issue of  Momaha Magazine 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Becoming a Connected Educator

October was Connected Educator month, but what exactly does this mean? Here are a few steps you can take to get you started on your path to becoming a connected educator. A few tips to remember along the way…..start small and throw fear aside. There are many people here to support and help you along the way.

Step 1: Create social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The important thing to remember with this step is to become active with these sites once you create an account. For example, participate in one of these Twitter chats to engage and find people to follow--people that have the same interests as you! If you created a Facebook page or group share something each day and be sure to like other educational pages to receive links to articles, events and ideas.

Step 2: Collaborate using Google+ Hangouts or Skype-become a global educator. Hangout with fellow educators from across the nation and world to collaborate on any topic that is important to you. Use these tools with your classes, all you need is one computer and a projector, to connect to students from all over. Imagine what your students in Nebraska could learn from students in Canada or Australia. So many skills can be developed by becoming a global educator. Join this Google+ community to learn how other teachers are using Hangouts. And this Google+ community if you are interested in connecting your classrooms.

Step 3: Start a blog and share regularly. Read other blogs and start conversations through comments. When starting a blog it is important to start with short blogs, 250 words. Try and challenge yourself to write once every two weeks or even once a week. Too often we feel that we have nothing to share or that we are sharing something that has already been shared. Don’t think this way! Many people like to read different blogs about the same subject gleaning different perspectives from each blog. Blogging is also a great way to reflect and others can learn from your reflection. Click here for links to the most popular educational blogs.

Step 4: Create your own PD by taking on online class at your own pace or attending an Edcamp. There are so many opportunities out there for you to learn what you want to learn, when you want to learn it. There are webinars, Google+ Hangouts, MOOC-ed’s (Massive Open Online Courses for Educators) and Edcamps that can help you focus your learning. Take a hold of your own learning and dive right in.

Step 5: Share and reflect upon your experiences. During your journey to becoming a connected educator, share your thoughts and experiences with others through some of the tools you used above. Share out on Twitter, post on your Facebook page, host a Hangout, write a blog post, participate in an Edcamp. Whatever you choose to do, others can learn from you as they go on their journey to becoming a connected educator.

Written by Jeanette Carlson