Teacher Love

I am honored to have spent 3 days this week with teachers of preschool-5th grade at the Tots & Technology conference in Frisco, Texas. As an educator of 30+years, I remembered again how dedicated, kind and joyful teachers are.

SBMS iPad Training 3 Oct 2012.jpgThey spent countless dollars on books for their own children and their school children. Unlike so many funny memes and pics you see stating that teachers dread the start of school, I heard multiple teachers say, “I can’t WAIT for school to start.”  They love their jobs, and I loved hearing it again.

So, this year when you walk your child to his elementary room or take a toddler to meet the new pre-k teacher, give that teacher your hand in partnership as you both work with your child. And if you want to give her something else, just ask what she needs for her room!  Most likely, she has a wish list she is working through with her own funds.

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Starting School with New iPads, Chromebooks, or Tablets?

School starts soon for so many, and it’s time to support all of you with new devices in your classrooms. Now what?

Here are a few practical tips to help you begin this exciting new year!

  • Find 1 or 2 apps or web tools you want to start using.
    • Learn the basics, teach your students what you want them to do with those 1 or 2 tools.
    • Learn all the bells and whistles with your students as you discover together what they can do.
  • Practice with the students so they know how you want it to look and feel when they pick up and turn in devices. (You may want to practice with pieces of paper or cardboard before you let them practice with the devices.)
  • Arrange your classroom so you can reach each student easily.
  • Make short-term, truly attainable goals and take time to reflect on how great you are doing!  These goals are not for your school or district; these are personal for YOU! Keep a record of your successes and celebrate them! (It’s so easy to remember the hard days and frustrations, isn’t it?) You will want something you can quickly access after a rough day or when you want to see how far you have come. Try one of these ideas from teachers just like you:
    • write success notes on your calendar
    • take pictures or video records of successful experiences
    • keep a portfolio of things that show you are meeting your goals

Finally, have a wonderful year! Have fun! Laugh a lot, and make it work for you!


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Taking up Devices Soon?

Student uses iPad

If you are taking up 1:1 devices soon, think about what kind of receipt you want to give your students. After much brainstorming and trial/error, we came up with what we needed on our form last year when we took up iPads from students.

Note: Our students took the iPads home all year. We were retrieving them for the summer to clean, repair, and prepare for the this year.

We discussed what this form should look like and decided we wanted a form in triplicate. One piece to stay on the device, one piece to the person entering the info into the asset tracking system, and the third piece is a receipt for the student.

  1.  These are things we wanted on the top two lines of the form:
    1. Name
    2. Date
    3. ID#
    4. iPad#
  2. Below we had an ALL CLEAR line.
  3. Below the ALL CLEAR, we had a place for
  4. Damaged/Missing Items
    1. Charging Chord
    2. Charging Brick
    3. Case
    4. Sheild/Stand
    5. Any known damage?
  5. Line for signature of student
  6. Line for initials of adult receiving it
  7. We also added a line stating: “I understand that I am responsible for payment of fines for damaged or missing items.”

The student fills out his name, date, ID# and iPad #, but nothing else. Everything else was filled out when the student checked in the device.

The forms were printed and cut, four to a page, by our district’s print shop for a nominal cost. They worked out well, and it was great to have 3 copies so multiple people could work with the information simultaneously.

Hope this helps! If you want a copy of the form we used, just comment below and I will email one to you.

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3 Questions to Answer as You Plan for End-of-the-Year Return of iPads

As the end of the school year looms closer, thoughts turn to how you will take up the iPads or whatever device you may use.    It may seem simple, but there are some very important things to consider. Here are just three:

  1. How will you actually take them up? Will you send a team to classrooms? Will the students come to you in a designated place like the library? Will you bring them by classes? Will you have teachers gather them and then go to those rooms at the end of the day to retrieve them? Whatever you choose, remember to look at testing schedules, field trip schedules, and talk to the teachers. Many prefer to have them in the students’ hands as long as possible. Make sure students have been trained and told to back up their items frequently over the last few weeks. However you retrieve them, expect some anguish from students when they give up their device.
  2. What will you need to do to the devices? Check for damages before students leave. You will need to remove the covers from tablets to look for this. Cleaning is a must, so decide who will do that and teach them the proper technique. From my experience, the devices will be dirtier than you thought possible. A small team can clean them pretty quickly, and you have to know who that is. Do you need to update the devices on charging stations? Do you need to return them to factory settings? These are some of the things to consider for planning your summer schedule.
  3. Where will you store them securely? This one requires some thought. Does your building have an area upstairs that would be harder to access? Do you have areas where only one or two people have keys? Do you have shelves, carts, or bookcases where you can store the number of devices you have? Also consider the heat if you live somewhere like Central Texas where the temperatures soar into triple digits multiple times each summer.

These are just a few of the things to consider when you take up devices. More tips on the end-of-the year processes in a 1:1 environment will follow. Please add your own suggestions in the comments!

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3 Big Myths: iPads in the Classroom

As Vicki Ventura and I have visited teachers and administrators from multiple districts throughout the last several months, we are consistently surprised that these beliefs about iPads in the classroom still exist.

MYTH: The iPad is a consumption device, especially in the early years. It is not a creation device. 

TRUTH: Even the youngest children can create on an iPad. We have seen very young children create pictures, edit photos, and even create video. It may not be the highest quality product that they produce, but it is age and developmentally appropriate.


MYTH: You can lock down an iPad so that no one can delete the profile or reset it. 

TRUTH: At this time Apple does not allow districts or any entity to lock down a device so that it cannot be reset. A student must simply connect to a Mac to reset the device. Apple says they are working on an enterprise solution to help districts with this issue.


MYTH: Once teachers have iPads in the classrooms, student-centered lessons will increase exponentially because the students know what to do.

TRUTH: Staff development, collaboration and support are key for successful implementation. Students know the devices, but teachers may not. While the iPad is a powerful classroom tool, it will not be used effectively if the teacher is not comfortable with students using it. Even the best teachers need help to change the classroom environment to student-centered. Teachers have to be supported, both technically and emotionally, in the use of iPads or any new technology as a vehicle for change in their classroom.

If you have a myth to add to the list, please share it in the comments.

 Photos taken by Lexie Flickinger.
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EdCamp, TCEA14, Paul Simon and Sting: What I Re-Learned

This month has been a blur of learning! It started with EdCamp in Round Rock, Texas, on Feb. 1 where I heard from educators who sometimes struggle and sometimes succeed in doing what we all want: integrating effectively, using the best tools for the job, and engaging students.

Teachers told of taking the best of what they had learned and tweaking it for their particular situation. Google Apps for Education, Twitter, Facebook, and the Flipped Classroom were explored with passion and thoughtfulness.

TCEA14 began two days later in Austin, and I saw incredible presentations on the same topics as the small but powerful EdCamp. The convention center was teeming with educators who want to do the best thing for their students.

I saw Paul Simon and Sting together in concert in Dallas just two days after TCEA14 ended. These singer/songwriters own different styles of music and delivery. I have heard that they previously did not like each other, but they figured out that they share something vitally important to each of them: passion for music and songwriting. They sometimes shared the stage singing together, sometimes sang solo with their combined bands. And it worked beautifully. Each retained his own style, yet they were able to sing together with obvious respect and care on Sting songs and Simon songs. It was an unforgettable 2 hours and 45 minutes of incredible music.

I’ve been thinking about all I have seen so far this February, and it has hit me AGAIN~I seem to re-learn this frequently~ we all share the passion for our craft and want the same thing for our students. Our styles may be different, but so what?

Each educator takes what he can from the others and then uses his best strengths to meld the new learning into something just right for their classroom. So the flipped classroom sounds awful to you? Or maybe you hate social media of all types. That’s okay.

You can find something to incorporate without losing your identity and beliefs. Learn from one another, and then take away and tweak what works for you. Remember, we are more alike than we are different. You can be Paul Simon or Sting…and still sing together without losing anything of yours.

My goal is to continue to look for teachers using new tools and techniques to pass along, not so you can copy them, but so you can take something new, do what you do best with it, and make your classroom even more engaging. 

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How Do You Change Instruction? 3 iPad 1:1 Instructional Tips

What is the purpose of having iPads in the classroom? In my experience,  using engaging lessons and thought-provoking assignments to change the way instruction looks in our classrooms is the sought-after result.

The truth is that it takes time to get there. And work.

But it’s worth it, and it’s really fun once you accept the iPad for what it is and fully understand what it is not. The iPad certainly does not replace good teaching.

Here are three things  you can do to move quickly to the fun.  

  • The iPad cannot do everything a computer can. It is great for:
    • research
    • creating using apps
    • sharing information
    • skills practice
  • Move around the room.
    • Move student desks so you can walk around easily.  Long rows are usually not the best.
    • Walk around as you teach. It is the most effective classroom management tip for schools with 1:1 iPads.
  • You don’t need to know how to use all the apps and tools on the iPad.
    • You are a content area expert, not an iPad expert. No one should expect you to be an iPad expert.
    • Find an app you like and know how to use. Practice with it. Use it daily. Don’t worry about using lots of apps. Use the one or two you really know that fit your style and class content. Then add some more later.
    • Let the students choose what apps to use when you want them to demonstrate knowledge. As long as they can provide evidence of learning, what difference does it make which app they use?
    • Let the techie student teach you and other students when they find an app or functionality that works well for your class.
      • Be open to learning from your students. It makes you more accessible and creates another connection between you and your students.
      • Use the most tech-savvy students to help you and others. They are usually glad to do it, and it benefits them as well as the rest of the class.

The real crux of the change is that you have to let go of controlling some things while maintaining control of others. It’s a balancing act. Teachers have always had to balance multiple things. You can do this, and you’ll actually have fun! After all, you are a great teacher.

These three things touch on the great advice out there for new 1:1 iPad classrooms. If you have deployed iPads in your classroom, use the comment area to share other tips you would add to the list.

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