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The Evolution of a Connected Learning Community: Student Edition

2014 May 24
tags: , , , ,
by Kim Cofino

Note: this is the fourth post in a series about our 2:1 (iPad Mini + MacBook Air 11″) trial at YIS. Check out the firstsecond and third posts for some background.

Woohoo! After a year of thinking about how this could work, and four months of intensive PD with our grade 7 teachers, our grade 7 students have finally started their 2:1 trial. All grade 7 students now have an iPad Mini and a MacBook Air 11″ for the month of May. To kick off our trial, we hosted a 1 and a half day iPad Institute involving all of our grade 7 students (and their teachers) as well as a great group of parents. Here’s what we did:

iPad Institute: Day 1

Our first day of the institute was with students only, and we focused on making sure that the students really understand why we’re adding an additional device to our already strong 1:1 program, as well as increasing their comfort level with the device as an academic tool, and preparing them to share their learning with their parents on Day 2. Students worked in pre-assigned teams of 5 throughout the day.

Part 1: Setting the Stage

For the first session we wanted to stay focused on our CLC vision to give a clear purpose, focus and framework for learning with the iPads over the next month. We started with an introductory presentation to set the stage and highlight some key themes for our trial:

One of the key messages here was that the students will be our ambassadors for this trial. It’s their conversations with their parents, their actions both in and out of class, and their choices that will have the most influence on the success (or failure) of this trial. We talked about the fact that often students don’t really share what they’re doing and how they’re learning with their parents (even when they’re asked), but that during this trial, those conversations would be especially important.

Although we know they’re going to use these devices for socializing, we also know they have an amazing amount of creativity and ingenious ideas for using them for learning purposes too, and we want to make sure that those examples are part of every day conversations as well. After this discussion, we had students develop some key questions they were wondering about using the Visible Thinking Routine: Question Starts - we came back to these questions throughout the day to make sure they all were answered before students left.

Once we had the background and purpose defined for the students, we wanted to give them some time to think about how their learning experiences might be different over the next month, and how that will fit into the framework of our CLC vision. We developed 10 different activities (2 for each of the 5 themes of our CLC vision) that the student groups would rotate through:

  • Attitudes and Behaviors: Our community will be characterized by inquisitive, discerning, open-minded, and self-directed learners who use technology in a balanced and responsible manner.
    • Activity 1: Acrostic Poem: Write your name in the boxes provided. Use the letters in your name to create a poem describing how you will use your iPad as a self directed learner.
    • Activity 2: I used to, Now I will: For each aspect of the vision statement, explain what you used to do, and then what you will do now. eg: As an inquisitive learner…. I used too…. Now I will…
  • Learning Environment: Ubiquitous access to technology tools and resources will enhance our learning environment, expanding horizons beyond the physical classroom. This will empower YIS learners to access information, collaborate, and exchange ideas within the YIS community and around the world.
    • Activity 1: Before & After: Use the small boxes of paper to draw yourself learning in one of the environments given or an environment of your own choice. Draw yourself “before” having an iPad and “after” having an iPad. Glue your pictures on to the big paper. If you can’t think of an example for the places given, use the blank paper to add a new location.
    • Activity 2: App Smash: List apps that help you learn outside of the classroom to: access information, collaborate, and exchange ideas
  • Actions and Decisions: Our actions and decisions will demonstrate responsible digital citizenship, reflect our school values and create a positive online presence.
    • Activity 1: Manifesto: Write your own contract with yourself describing how you will make good choices with both of your devices. List 5-7 commitments you will make to ensure you will make good choices with your iPad. Sign and date it at the end.
    • Activity 2: Gingerbread People: With this activity, student will label the gingerbread men with statements that show how a persons acts/feels with the ipad. Example: With these hands, I download apps that will help me at school. If time, students can add “accessories” (earbuds, for instance).
  • Educational Experiences: Educational experiences will be authentic, imaginative, and provide for different learning paces and styles. Learners will be encouraged to become independent and enterprising in order to meet the challenges of a constantly changing world.
    • Activity: Tableau: With your group, stage a scene that shows what you image a learning environment will look like with two devices. Ask a teacher to take the picture using the iPad provided. Upload to the YISCLC Instagram account (already open on the iPad) and write a description of the scene in the caption.
  • Community: Our Connected Learning Community will provide a sense of identity and belonging that will enrich our overall school community and connect us with others around the globe.
    • Activity 1 Headlines: Write a statement about how the iPad will allow you to connect with others. Have a 1 minute discussion, take 30 seconds to write your own headline, then share your headline (identify 1 positive quality for each), and finally create a group headline.
    • Activity 2: Create an App Icon: Create an app icon that represents your community with an iPad. Choose a color, symbol and name that represents the message of the vision statement.

Part 2: Unboxing & Set-up

After a big morning of thinking and re-imagining learning, it was time to distribute and set-up the iPads. Learning from previous experience during our CLC Orientation days that we have at the beginning of every year, we split the student teams up into four rooms (for about 50 students) so that we could have four teachers walking them through the steps and only about 10 – 15 students in each room. We were also fortunate to have our tech support staff with us in each room so that when things went wrong (and they did!) we had the right people with us to troubleshoot.

For the most part things went extremely smoothly, we were fortunate to have these lightning to VGA adaptors so we could demo the whole set-up process right from “hello” on the projector. We were organized enough to have students fill in a survey with all the information they would need to create a new Apple ID (since we didn’t know who had one or in which store) so they would be ready once those steps came up on the iPad. The students filled in the survey earlier in the week and superstar Clint used a script to have the form automatically e-mail them their responses in PDF form.

Although that process worked extremely well, we realized quite quickly that Apple doesn’t like 50 people creating a new Apple ID from the same IP address all at the same time. Thankfully we were able to create some mobile hotspots with Clint, Adam, Susie and Mel’s (ahem) Android phones so we could get all the students up and running without too much of an interruption.

Finally, we had them connect to our AirWatch YIS store which is how we’re distributing all apps to students and then they started downloading our top 10 apps. As soon as they had most of the apps, we had them partner up with anyone else who was finished to complete this scavenger hunt (thanks to Dana for this awesome idea!) to customize their iPad and start familiarizing themselves with our apps.

Part 3: Learning the Top 10

After a lunch break, we had each team become an expert in one of the top 10 apps. They had about 20 minutes to explore with the app, and think about how it can be used for learning. Then we split the teams in half (As and Bs) and set up a SpeedGeeking rotation where the A’s taught the B’s (9 times) and then the B’s taught the A’s (9 times). In typical YIS fashion, this worked extremely well:

Part 4: Wrap-up & Preparing for the Parent Session

For the final block of the day, we did a wrap up of their learning and made sure to answer any questions that were left from the morning question starts routine. It was very interesting to go back to some of these key questions (for example there were 5 or 6 about why they were getting an iPad) and have the students turn and talk, and then share, and answer those questions themselves after this day of learning. We also spent some time introducing the next morning’s session, which is a joint introduction to the iPad trial with their parents – where the students will teach their parents about the different apps we’ll use.

Part 5: Parent Session

For the first two periods on Friday morning we had about a quarter of the grade 7 parents join us for an introductory session. We went through the same presentation as we did in March, but this time we had some special guests: their children. Any time we mentioned the different apps or how we could use the iPads, we asked the students to share their learning from the day before.

It was absolutely fantastic to see the students sharing their ideas with their parents, to hear all the different languages being spoken, and to see students already starting to take ownership and responsibility for their learning. The vibe in the room was awesome (thanks to Adam for this short video, taking on his iPad using YouTube Capture):

 

It was also great to have the opportunity to share some key ideas with the parents:

Part 6: The 2:1 Trial Begins!

Before the end of the day on Friday, I already had stories from three different teachers about how amazing the grade 7′s were with their iPads that day. You can see a bit of their learning from Alex Thomas in PE:

Mariko shared the following from EAL 7:

EAL 7 will be creating their Escape the Room game using Minecraft. The target audience will be EAL beginners/intermediate students. I was so surprised when they suddenly whipped out their iPads and used Notability to sketch and discuss their plans. There was so much meaningful conversation in ENGLISH! They shared their plan and uploaded it on a shared Gdoc. I’m SO impressed!

And, Rebekah tweeted about how her 7th graders made a natural transition from paper and pencil to iPad and stylus.

Final Thoughts

We’re just at the beginning of our trial, and I’m so excited to see what the students and teachers do during this month! Hopefully Clint and I will have an opportunity to pop into all the different seventh grade classes during the trial to see what’s happening. Whatever we see, we’ll share on our collaborative blog. If you have any suggestions or ideas for what else we can do (or of any other school running a 2:1 program like this), please let me know!

Images:

One Response leave one →
  1. sameenzubair permalink
    May 24, 2014

    I am an early years practitioner. This year I got an opportunity to work in a school where ICT was integrated with all areas of learning. The use of technology has really influenced students learning. They became more confident and independent at a very early age. Its been a wonderful opportunity to read how you integrated Ipads in students learning. I would really like to know what were the challenges you faced due to institutional policies to integrated ICT fully and how you overcome them?

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