Saturday, December 21, 2013

Reflection On EPSB EdTech Tablets in Schools Session

Managing school sets of iPads & Android Tablets

So I went to the session on managing iPads and tablets because was not just about iPads, which so much of the discussion about tablets in education is often about. However, I was the only user that did not have iPads. So I did not find any solutions to my Android tablet woes but I did come away with some ideas, mostly from Randy Lyseng. Many of his ideas apply to any tablet device.

Good Reminders

  • schools tablets do not work the same as our personal tablets
    • The example given was ask someone to use their tablet for a day. They are like our smartphones, they are personalized devices with personal information. That is very different than a device shared among many users. 
  • tablets in schools are rarely 1:1
  • they need to be supervised devices
  • no matter the device, you cannot purchase apps easily

Things to Consider Before Use

The message that stood out for me was: protect your investment

  • buy cases
  • consider screen protectors 
  • possibly re-purpose an old laptop cart for storage
  • store securely
  • label devices
  • bar code devices

Start Small

The messages that Randy gave around starting small really apply mostly to iPads but there are some ideas that relate to Android tablets that are used in EPSB. 

  • iPad:  start with one page of apps and organize into folders.
    • Android: for the amount of time and energy involved with Android apps I would say even start smaller, maybe start with a handful of apps, no folders. 
  • iPad: be picky about the apps you buy, pick apps that will provide the biggest bang for your buck.
    •  Android: at the moment in EPSB spending money on apps on the Android tablets is financially unmanageable when multiple users are involved.
  • iPad: encourage student to same apps at home by having an App of the Week.
    • Android: being an Android school, it would be best to have ones that exist on both platforms, for while we have Android tablets at school, likely  many students will have Apple devices at home.

Have a Plan

Think about how the tablets will be used. Do not only consider general classroom use but also how they can be used for intervention or enrichment.

Consider your special needs and English language learner students and consult with ILS consultants. When thinking about using tablets with special needs students, he suggested using SETT: student first, then environment, then the task and finally the tool. You do not start with the tool and work from there.


When deploying tablets at your school, have one person or team to manage them.  The lead technology teacher should work together with the ITS analyst. 

Final Thoughts

I would argue these are things to consider not just before using tablets in schools but before buying them. Often people see how useful and easy to use these devices are in a home/personalized setting which is not the same in a school setting. 

I would also argue look at how much the devices cost to purchase and include in that total the tablet covers, apps, (and in the case of iPads the laptop to configure them all), etc. I think that in some cases that tablet will still be the tool the makes the most sense but I think in many cases other technologies are better choices at this point in time. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Flipping the Grade One Classroom

Using the flipped classroom model can create collaboration amongst students and also between students, teachers and parents. It can also be a powerful tool for increasing engagement and differentiation. 

Using the flipped classroom model is very achievable in the Division One classroom.  Like anything in technology, its all about practice.  When I originally watched the Flipped Classroom video I thought, "I was not ready to take that on."  I had never used YouTube for that purpose before but just by exploring the website, doing some reading and asking some questions, I was able to figure it out.  I am still not an expert but now that I have experienced an amazing degree of students success, I am motivated to continue using the model.  

I have heard many teachers say that time is a factor.  When you are starting, time is certainly a factor.  I have found that if I can plan ahead and make several videos at one time I decrease the time for setup.  Then I have several lessons planned ahead of time and ready to use in the classroom.  I spent an hour preparing, making and uploading six videos.  I have used those six videos for five, one hour class periods.  Also, I will refer back to these videos later in the year for review and further extension of the skills.  It is an investment of time up front that pays off big in the classroom. 

My goal is to continue using vodcasting to present new concepts in the classroom and at home via SchoolZone.  The next step is to create learning opportunities where students can apply the learning to more project based work in the classroom.  My latest idea is to continue recording videos for the Math curriculum but switch topics to patterning.  Each video will introduce a skill from the Program of Studies, such as: creating patterns, naming patterns, extending patterns and translating patterns.  The students would start a larger individual project where they incorporate each skill as they learned it.  The criteria for the project would be tailored for each student.  Different videos stationed around the room, and made available at home, would make for a custom project tailored to meet the needs of each student at the speed in which they are able to learn. 

Yet another idea was suggested today, and that is to have the students make their own video to share their learning.  This would certainly be a powerful learning experience for the students. And something new for me to think about.  I would start by making a class video or small group videos. We could use the video camera or the Chromebooks. We could use the videos for assessment. We would have lots of discussion about digital citizenship; we could share the videos with an audience.  Some many ideas and lots to think about.  If you are familiar with the Flipped Classroom model or with making videos with Division One students, I would like to connect with you and here about the process you used.  How can we collaborate as teachers to create collaboration in our classrooms?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Community of Practice Blogger Session

Here is my presentation for Edmonton Public School's EdTech Google Apps Community of Practice (December 2013). Please share your successes, ideas (tried or not), problems/concerns and questions about blogging with younger students. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013: A Look Back

Top Viewed Post

In 2013 I was lucky enough to go to the Edmonton Google Apps Summit (which I'll be going to again in 2014, woo hoo). I left with my head filled with so many ideas for the classroom. It also led to the most popular post for our blog in 2013: 

Top on Google+

I use Google Slides a lot with my grade twos, as a result, I blog about Google Slides/Presentation a lot. Many readers liked:

Other Favourites

Here are the other posts that were popular in 2013:


Monday, December 9, 2013

Shared Folders to Share Photos

Why Shared Folders?

I wanted to create a fast and easy way for my students to access photos. With Google moving away from Picasa and toward G+ for photos, I needed a way to easily give students access to class photos. By creating a shared folder called "Photos for Room 13", I only have to create share settings once. Now when I have new photos to give to my students, I just have to add them to that folder. I did not spend a lot of time explaining shared folders. You can watch the video Managing Shared Folders for more information.

When Do I Use Photos From the Shared Folder?

For Students To Use In Their Work

My students created a brochure on Edmonton 100 years ago. They needed to put pictures in their brochure along with their sentences. Many of their great ideas did not have suitable (easy to access) images to go with the topic. So I shared the photos from our class field trip to Fort Edmonton Park where many of the buildings were things they wrote about.

Using the Smartboard, I demonstrate how they go to the image icon and then they select "Shared with me" under Google Drive.

For Sharing On SchoolZone

During Halloween I took photos of all the students. So I put the photos in the class "Photos for Room 13" shared folder and put the link on SchoolZone. More recently I took photos of students sorting by two attributes. It is a tough skill to master and I wanted to visually show parents on SchoolZone what it would look like. I uploaded one photo to SchoolZone and then put the rest in the "Photos for Room 13" folder with a link in the SchoolZone entry.

Try it for videos too!