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Me and My Students are Getting iPads! Now What?

"Now what do I do?" is a common question from some of our teachers.  They recently learned that all of the teachers in our district (1000), and just over 1/2 of our students (7000) are getting iPads at the beginning of the school year 2013-2014.  I have been supplying strategies and resources to help teachers and students adjust to life as a connected learner. But as +George Couros stated in his recent blog post ("Just give me the fish"), rather than learning how to catch fish, some people just want the fish. I am taking off my Technology Coordinator's hat and putting on my teacher's cape and jumpsuit to list the steps that I would take in preparing for a 1:1 learning environment.
  1. I entered this 1:1 program voluntarily. WHY? What are my best hopes for me and my students? I want to be the lead learner in our classroom learning community. I want my students to take responsibility for their personalized learning. I want to model and reinforce "dispositions of learning+Will Richardson ("Students First, Not Stuff") in the hope that these traits take root and provide students a lifetime of enrichment and growth. I will start a blog so that I can record and share my experiences and reflections with others. 5 Critical Mistakes that Schools make with iPads+Edudemic 
  2. I will commit to becoming actively engaged with my personal learning network (PLN).  My PLN (Educators PLN) is the very foundation of my connected learning.  It will be clear to my students how I learn.   PLT (school-based professional learning teams), PLC (district-based professional learning communities), PLN (personal learning network comprised of social media (Twitter), social bookmarking (Diigo), blogging (Blogger), RSS feeds (Feedly), and social readers (Zite). I will utilize my PLN to learn all I can about educational best practice.  The old ways of learning (rows of desks, handouts, textbooks, and lectures) are no longer relevant to students who have the wealth of the world's information in their hip pockets. Transformative learning, disruptive education, problem-based learning, project-base learning, inquiry-based learning, challenge based learning, passion-based learning...I need to investigate and decide upon instructional methodologies that best meet the needs of me and my students in a connected learning environment.
  3. I need to establish a digital container (cloud storage) to store the information, files, and links that I acquire through my connected learning activities. Even though we are working with iPads, I want a device independent platform for my digital storage. I am using both +Google Drive and +Evernote since both of these tools allow for file sharing and collaborative documents. I have moved my H-drive (school e-locker) to Google Drive so that I can access my information any time, any where, from any web connected device.
  4. I will establish, learn, and implement a classroom LMS (Learning Management System).  This will provide a digital hub for communicating and staying connected with my students and their parents. Schoology is a full-featured LMS that also provides a unique and effective system for digital workflow (digitized information to students, digital work or responses back to the instructor, digital feedback returned to student). I need to become familiar with instructional technology standards (NETS-T / NETS-S) so that my plans and practices have an objective foundation.
  5. I need to get my hands on an iPad so that I can become familiar with the features that best support connected learning. Are there any limitations or restrictions? The iPad was designed to be personalized to a single user. What applications will provide the base for our digital instruction? I plan to keep it simple as these five apps will support 90% of what we will use for 1:1 learning. (Google Drive, Notability, Schoology, iBooks, and NearPod) Additional social media programs will be brought into practice as students build their own PLNs. (sample app evaluation rubric)
  6. I need to update, organize, and digitize those essential documents that still address objectives and standards for my students in my class. This will help us move towards paperless instruction and collaborative documents. In addition, I need to adopt a social bookmarking (Diigo) system that will help me organize and share my web resources. (The Paperless Classroom+Eric Curts)
  7. Finally, I need to reflect upon my current classroom practices. What are my strengths? What do I need to improve upon.  Should I be observed and informally evaluated by my peers? Formative evaluations are good, right? I need to get to know my students. What are their interests? How will my classroom management change in the 1:1 environments? I need to investigate methods and strategies for keeping students on task and focused on learning. (sample classroom management checklist)  I need to remember that 1:1 devices don't guarantee better learning - 1:1 is not enough. (TeachTech Checklist)
Graphic shared by Atif Siddiqui


All in all, this is an exciting time of growth for me and my students. We will become a team of learners looking to stretch the bounds of our academic experience. I must remember that this adventure will have its ups and downs - but it will be quite rewarding to see my students develop a craving for learning that will provide them a lifetime of enrichment and opportunity.

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