Journey of 1:1 iPad Initiative at Welcome Elementary School

“To be successful, a one-to-one initiative must be approached as a strategic education initiative enabled by technology; it requires much more than simply providing devices for students and teachers.”

The goals of the 1:1 iPad Initiative Plan for Welcome Elementary Schools were to provide students with a 21st century learning environment.

  • Goal 1:  Give students opportunities to practice rigorous thinking that is required for Common Core
  • Goal 2: Provide individual instruction for all students by remediating students who are behind, by moving students on target to higher levels, by keeping high-achieving students motivated and engaged, and meeting the needs of students who have disabilities or language challenges
  • Goal 3: Engage learners through project based learning and on-demand access to information
  • Goal 4:  Develop students who can think critically, create, collaborate, and communicate in order to be successful in school, college and/or career
  • Goal 5:  Use authentic, real-world assessments with students
  • Goal 6: Extend technology access to all students
  • Goal 7: Provide support to teachers (training, theory, practice)

“The most valuable thing we can do for our students is to teach them how to think”

In April of 2012, Welcome Elementary School’s Fourth Grade team was selected to pilot the 1:1 iPad Initiative. Training for these teachers, the Instructional Coach, and the Principal began in May 2012. The fourth grade teachers were given their iPads in May so they could take the iPads home over the summer to research apps and read articles about successful 1:1 iPad classrooms. Several teachers also attended iPad classes offered through the district over the summer. They were required to attend a mandatory half day training at Welcome in July 2012. At this time they shared apps that would enhance instruction and student engagement based on fourth grade curriculum. In August, 2012 teachers met to finalize the iPad Behavior Contract, set up the iPad carts, and plan the first 4 weeks of instruction using the iPad with the Instructional Technology Facilitator, the Instructional Coach and the Principal.

During the first few weeks of school, teachers and Instructional Technology Facilitator, reviewed procedures for using the iPads with students and taught a few basic, but powerful, Apps such as Skitch, Screen Chomp, Edmodo, use of the camera tool and screen shots, uploading videos to School Tube, Sock Puppets, and how to use SC Discus and Instagrok for research projects.  Teachers and students concentrated on these tools and posting in Edmodo, taking quizzes in Edmodo for the first few months of school: August – December. The majority of the time was spent differentiating instruction and meeting each student’s individual needs using Edmodo groups, screencasting lessons for assessment,  stations in the classrooms with leveled app lessons, creating assignments and quizzes in Edmodo, and time to work with the teacher for remediation or acceleration.  The ability to assess each student using these tools and plan instruction based on the outcomes were the most powerful outcomes of the iPad project at this point in time. The Instructional Technology Facilitator met and planned with the fourth grade team after school each week and once a month during grade level planning time with the Instructional Coach.

In December, Welcome was notified that all students would receive iPads for the 1:1 initiative and the process of planning professional development for all Welcome teachers began in January 2013.  Fourth grade teachers began using QR codes with students and continued planning lessons and stations using Edmodo and content creating Apps such as Ask3 for assessment and collaboration. The activities centered around students building their own content for analytical skills, critical thinking skills and projects that provided high interest for students and fostered collaboration around student created content.

In February, the process of labeling iPads, setting up iPads with technicians and assembling carts took place.  Professional development for the entire faculty began in February focusing on the vision of a 1:1 iPad classroom, the goals for their students, and how iPads impact the environment of the classroom.  The most successful training experience of the year was the “Field Trip to Fourth Grade Classrooms” during grade level planning. Each teacher visited the fourth grade classes and saw how actively engaged the students were in the learning process. They were able to ask questions to the students and students were able to demonstrate their knowledge of the iPad and show the content they created using the iPads.  They were able to explain Edmodo to the visiting teachers and show how to use screen casting apps to assess their learning. The fourth grade teachers and students set the standards very high for the visiting teachers and successfully showed the impact the iPads had on their learning.  This experience motivated the teachers and inspired them to take ownership of the 1:1 iPads that would soon be introduced to their students.

Also, in February, one K5 teacher and one third grade teacher were selected to pilot the iPads in their classrooms. Time was spent individually with these teachers as the Instructional Technology Facilitator met and planned with the teachers and taught lessons in their classrooms.  The next teams to join the iPad implementation was second grade, then first grade, kindergarten and finally in April, the third grade students received their iPads.  It took 3 months to fully equip the rest of the students with iPads. They are using the iPads daily, effectively using Edmodo in grades 2-5 and are engaging students with the use of content creating apps and skill based apps.

In May, the process of updating the 4th grade iPads began and professional development for the school year 2013-2014 is planned.  Meetings with individual teachers continues, grade level meetings to share updates and new apps are ongoing, and modeling lessons for the 3rd grade teachers and students is still taking place.The next step is for the students to wipe each iPads camera roll and content saved within each app before the school year ends.  The plan is for fourth grade to travel with their iPads and the rest of the students will receive new iPads for the school year 2013-2014.

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