Devices Devisiveness

Wow! It has been a busy year and eventful year. Participating in COETAIL during my school’s transition to our 1:1 iPad program has been quite a journey. As overwhelming as it was at times, I am so grateful that I started COETAIL when I did. I have learned so much from the course and the people in my cohort and am really looking forward to our second year of 1:1 iPads and our fifth and final course of COETAIL.

So…. managing devices in the classroom. That’s easy… Right? We have 1:1 iPads and every child has and uses their iPad. The real question for me is how do we help students and teachers manage their device?  My view of this questions moves past the device and more to the APPS, websites, and programs that we use with our students.

  • Which ones do we choose?
  • How do we maintain consistency?
  • How do we stick with them?

These are three questions I have really grappled with this year. One of my first posts titled, Too Many Apps For That, describes my struggle.

With >80,000 APPS to choose from, where does one start? It is so overwhelming! There are so many great Apps and sites out there, how do I choose? How do I keep things straight and work smarter, not harder?

Looking back on our transitional year from shared laptops to 1:1 iPads, we have had a great year. It was a very steep learning curve, especially for the teachers. We had to rethink and rejig a lot of our resources and reorganize how we work, which was a challenge because we were doing this on the fly. I think the struggle was less for our digital native students. My fourth graders are very adaptable and helped troubleshoot problems as they arose.

Celebrating success

Our 1:1 iPad has made a positive impact on learning. Students are able to show so much more about themselves as a learner and as a person. Their personalities come through from the way they personalize their iPad, organize themselves and complete their assignments. Academically speaking, students are able to access the tools they need, when they need them and are truly in the driver’s seat of their educational journey. I see my students all achieving success. That is a huge thing to celebrate!

Moving Forward
My next steps are to be more mindful in the decisions I make when choosing tools and resources to use with my students. Now that I know about a wide variety of Apps, their positives, their quirks and their beneficial potential, I can choose the learning tools we will use with more purpose and introduce new ones that a fit for purpose.

  • Which ones do we choose?
    • Start with the basics. Our students know how to use Google Drive
      • Begin the year by setting expectations and getting them organized.
      • We use Seesaw as a digital portfolio for students to reflect and showcase their work.
      • Start the year by building the folders with the students.
      • Give them ownership over their organization
  • How do we maintain consistency?
    • Think about the purpose behind why I am using the tools that I am using. Set up clear expectations with my students and hold them accountable.
    • Examples- tagging items in Seesaw, expectations for reflections, posts, comments, etc. build a tech routine.
    • Teach them how to be a positive member of their PLC by modeling how to comment on each other’s work.
    • Give parents access from the start of the year, building community and transparency.
  • How do we stick with them?
    • Apps I can use, many do the same thing in a different way. There is no wrong one to use, but it can be tempting to switch to a new app that has the same capability.
    • Build a solid routine and classroom community. Be consistent, but adaptable.

My goal, which I will work on for my final project is creating a unit that unpacks technology in Grade 4. Creates expectations and a living resource board for students to refer to when learning about and, later on deciding which tool is the best for them and what they want to achieve.

I plan to make an interactive bulletin board that is similar to these:

Source Jennifer Gonzalez

My intention is to build technology routines in the same fashion I build all of the other classroom routines. There will be a big focus on this in the first 6 weeks of school, but continue to build as we go through the year.

This brings me to my final project for Course 4 and my focus for Course 5. I would like to recreate my first 6 weeks of school unit to include a more direct focus on technology expectations and possibilities, with an end goal in mind that will enable students to pick and choose the best tool for them and their task.

Jennifer Byrnes

My name is Jen and this is my 10th year as an educator. I am a fourth-grade teacher at the American School of the Hague. I have lived and worked in the US, Uk, Italy, China and the Netherlands. I have taught grades K-4.

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1 Response

  1. Sitwat Khan says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    I really like your idea of building technology routine in the classroom similar to other classroom routines. Most of the students from this generation probably have never seen the world without technology and therefore learning technology comes natural for them. Likewise, students at an elementary level are able to acquire impressive level of skills in technology. But like other routines in class, it’s important to set up clear expectations and transparency. I hope the following link help you setting up clear expectations as per grade level. All the best for course 5 final project.

  2. Pittrapim A. says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    You are certainly right there are a TON of apps to choose from for various purposes. We are also about to introduce iPads into each classroom next year. This is the first time teachers will have their own iPad in the classrooms. As we are not yet a 1:1 model, the iPads were intended for learning centers and more leveled reading. My main schedule for the start of the next school year is to introduce some productivity apps that relate to the units to the teachers so they feel more natural to turn to the iPad for certain tasks, hopefully on a daily basis, and since I’m in a bilingual school, in TWO languages. I really liked the Padagogy Wheel poster that Allan Carrington created. Maybe this will be useful for you too.
    Have a nice summer ahead.

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