Welcome to the first of what will be regular posts describing the use of iPads at Cindrich Elementary. Over the past months a remarkable journey has been unfolding at Cindrich. We have moved from a site struggling with older technology (albeit demonstrating good problem solving and perseverance) to a site where students, and staff, are successfully integrating 60 iPads from Kindergarten through Grade 7! Student engagement is high and the impact on learning is noticeable.
On the last day of school before the Winter Break, Santa came to Cindrich! While classes were celebrating successful learning journeys in a variety of ways, two of his elves were busy installing a 70′” LED panel in our Library complete with Apple TV!! ( Thanks in large part to our IMS department for the behind the scenes technology support and to Education Services!!!) When students left the gym after our afternoon Christmas sing-along, the “present” was ready for use. To be able to take pictures captured on an iPad minutes before during the sing-along, and share these on the big screen wirelessly, definitely created a buzz through the small crowd observing.
While we are excited to move forward into 2012 full of ideas not the least of which is the mirroring abilities of Apple TV, I feel that it is important to celebrate how we got to where we are. Following is a brief retrospective documenting a few of the highlights of our iPaddling. Last year Cindrich was chosen as one of the sites to pilot iPads and the new Wireless network through the Innovative Learning Designs project.
Off to iPad Bootcamp four of us went in late Spring and we left the training with three iPads and heads full of ideas. Throughout the remainder of the year and over the summer our explorations with the iPads led to a heightened level of anticipation for the upcoming school year. By the time the first cart arrived in late August, we were armed with an ever-growing selection of apps with feedback from students and our own children at home.
Looking back on the “launch” of the iPads, there were a few minor logistical issues but the wave soon caught on with the sign-out schedule quickly becoming full. As many staff, and students have access to iPods / Smart phones, the iPads had many immediately proficient users and while it may seem cliche, students literally adopted the iPads like a “duck to water”. One item at the first PAC meeting was a hands-on demonstration of our iPads where parents explored first-hand, the technology their children had been talking about. Our PAC was quick to realize the opportunity to accelerate student learning and supported us with 20 additional iPads and a second syncing cart! (Thank-you PAC) Currently we have 2 carts of 30 iPads each; one cart of 30 will be designated for Intermediate use while the other cart of 30 will have 6 targeted for LST use and be designated for Primary. This is currently evolving and is intended to be flexible.
One of the early discussions I had in Spring of 2011 with Kevin Amboe @amboe_k and Orwell Kowalyshyn (@Kowalyshyn) … amazing District ICT Helping Teachers at Ed Services … was regarding the instructional / sharing ability where an iPad’s screen could be shared by projector, or to a larger display. Karen McFarlane, Principal, has been a strong proponent of our iPad growth and also facilitated the exploration of the new technologies unfolding. This conversation evolved over the summer through using apps but took a giant step forward with the announcement from Apple of Airplay which would allow wireless mirroring from an iPad. While we were anxious to use this new technology to support student learning, a major amount of planning and flexibility to enable this to successfully work within our current Wireless Network was undertaken by Dan Turner (@dj_turner), Colin McLellan and numerous others at our IMS department. With further District support form Dr. Elisa Carlson (@ECSD36), and Ed Services, Apple TV came to fruition the week before our Winter Break. Testing the Apple TV was exciting as the technology was truly plug and play. Orwell and Kevin joined us for an impromptu lesson where students took turns “taking the stage” and sharing their Comic Life creations on the projector screen in class. The engagement of students was remarkable and rewarding to see how they integrated their use of work saved on dropbox. We are very appreciative of the “Can-Do” SD 36 Team that has brought two Apple TV’s at Cindrich into reality!!
Interest remains high on-site from students as they have demonstrated their learning in many ways and iPad use is always received with excitement. Our Primary classes, where technology use was previously limited at best, now use the iPads in various ways including Guided Reading and recording videos to share electronically with a “Pen Pal” class in another school! Our Intermediate students have created a variety of works including Comic Life Projects stored and shared through the free Dropbox service. The rapid way our students have grasped iPad technology is truly amazing but it stems in large part from staff being risk-takers modelling their learning. Many staff (enrolling, non-enroling, and support) have signed out an iPads to explore with over the break and at least 3 have purchased an Apple TV for their home use as well. While there has been a large amount of time invested in our successful roll-out, it has been more than repaid by witnessing students leaning forward and engaged with their learning. My own learning curve has been steep but rewarding. I am often left with more questions than answers, but know that we are definitely moving rapidly in the right direction: fasten your seat-belts as the ride has only begun!
Stay tuned for further blogs of our iPaddling as we are truly “Building a Bridge While Walking on It”. With the iPad phenomenon unfolding across the world, my hope is that by chronicling our journey along the iPad Highway you may be encouraged, helped, advise us, or share your experiences. Our experience with integrating iPad’s throughout our school has been marvellous; students are thoroughly engaged and the impact on their learning is noticeable.
Are you integrating iPads into your school? If so, what has your journey been like? I’d be most interested in hearing your story.