What I Wish I'd Done Before Deploying iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers, Part 2

We planned. We met to go over the plans. We talked. We planned some more. We made Wikis, created websites, and put it all our plans on spreadsheets and documents. We trained teachers on everything iPad from how to turn it on to how to create an ePub with lesson information. We overwhelmed them with information, and it wasn’t always the information they needed most.

Training Teachers

What we didn’t do was address some of the simple day-to-day things that we never thought would be an issue. So let me tell you what I wish I’d done, and maybe I can save you a little bit of time and frustration if you are planning a deployment for next year.

When offering professional development to teachers on integrating iPads, give them training on a management system like Texas’s Project Share from Epsilen (which is releasing an App soon), Edmodo, or Schoology or even eBackPack.  You need a way to move information between the teacher and the student. You will want to have a way for students to back up work. We have a WebDav server that has made a huge difference, and there are several services like eBackPack which offer that type of backup solution. Teachers need to know how they are to receive assignments from students and tips on how to organize the student work they do receive. If the students will email work to the teachers, then help the teachers with an organizational format of student folders within class folders in their email.

Teachers also want to know how to deliver content to their students. Whether you choose to have them use a teacher webpage, Edmodo or some other system, please tell them a system to use and show them how to use it. Our mistake was telling them multiple ways they could do it and then letting each teacher choose whatever they wanted. It was difficult for the teachers because they couldn’t collaborate easily. Also, they didn’t know which would be best so they tried multiples which was confusing for them and the students.  Finally, the students had so many systems to learn that it was confusing and frustrating for them, too.

Everyone agreed that the better way to do this would have been to choose one, train how to use it and stick with it for a year. If you do this, all of your students will have the continuity between classes, all of your teachers can help each other and collaborate easily, and you will have one system to support.

Finally, give your teachers clear expectations, not only of the iPad use in the classroom, but of how classroom management should look. Will you expect the iPads to be used daily? Say so. Will you expect lesson plans to reflect use of apps or online resources. Be clear and specific. Your teachers want to do what is expected, and they need to know very clearly from the beginning what that is.

We had an expectation that the iPads would be used multiple times a week if not daily. However, we did not model or show teachers what it might look like when students were not using the iPads. Several weeks into the school year, we still had teachers who were worried about telling students to put the iPad down. Obviously, it was not clear enough to the teachers from the beginning that we never expected it would be used every minute of every day. Had we anticipated that this would cause concerns and anxiety, we would have been much more clear and we could have modeled classroom management techniques for our teachers.

Some tips we used for classroom management are:

  • “Apples UP!” This means students are to put the iPads face down on their desk with the Apple symbol facing up. No one is working on the iPad. Everyone is listening.
  • Use background colors for assessments and individual work to be graded. If your Google form or quiz has a green background, any other color on the screen will be very obvious as you glance around the room. That works for all items you want to be securely graded.
  • Paper and pen back-up plan. Students who do not follow rules won’t have the iPad for that period and will resort to the old-fashioned way.
  • Give up a little control! Don’t focus on requiring a specific product. Tell the students what needs to be in their final product and then let them create the product of their choosing. Teachers don’t have to feel that pressure of knowing all the tools in every app, and that is a great relief to them. From all reports, the student work improves greatly when students are given the choice to do even greater things than you could imagine.

I hope these tips will help those of you deploying iPads next year. When you plan your teacher training and handouts, make sure to think of the little day-to-day things required of everyone. Once you have those clearly defined, your teachers will be free to conquer the rest!

Find TericeSchneider on TwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Polyvore.

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5 Tips to Prepare Teachers for 1:1 iPad Projects

After talking to many of my colleagues over the last few days, I realize there are many schools looking at some version of iPad deployment and they want to do it right. In order for the iPad to be a great learning tool, you’ll need your teachers fully committed to it. It requires time and effort to prepare teachers for such a deployment, so make sure you have staff in place to do it.

Without blathering on, here are Terice’s 5 Tips to Preparing Teachers for 1:1 iPad Projects.

  1. Give them iPads–Put them in the teacher’s hands early and let them use them for work and play. If they do not understand how they work or why someone would use it, they won’t be able to guide students effectively. And while you are at it, buy them the dongle to allow them to display what is on the iPad’s screen. It’s absolutely essential for teachers to have these (assuming the classroom has a projection device). 
  2. Train them immediately, then follow up often. The first flurry of training will naturally focus on basics. However, you will need to follow up frequently on tips such as how to use online tools effectively, where students can collaborate effectively, and what a 1:1 iPad classroom looks like. To begin, plan short training on how to:
    1. use the iPad
    2. set up iTunes accounts,
    3. use iCloud or syncing capabilities
    4. use a few basic apps
  3. Help teachers understand how to use the iPad to transform instruction. The first instinct will be to just substitute the iPad for pen and paper assignments. You will want to guide your teacher toward a more challenging approach to instruction. Apple offers Challenge-Based Learning instruction and the New Tech Network has wonderful resources using their Project-Based Learning instructional approach. A quick search on the web will result in many Problem-based learning tools as well. Choose a model, learn it and follow up on it with teachers often. Review lesson plans together and require to transform a few units the first year.
  4. Host Appy hours! Review apps that apply to subject area content for a few minutes at a time each month with content area teams. Take chocolate or popcorn. Make this a fun time together. Have a wiki where teachers can post their favorite apps and review the ones you discover for them.
  5. Offer just-in-time training all year long. Have staff available to help in classrooms and train the teachers how to use apps or online tools. Then ask your teachers who really understand these tools to help their colleagues. They will naturally turn to each other for this help, especially when  you encourage it.

Now for my disclaimer: We planned to do each of these things and even more. We had schedules and timelines and all kinds of plans. We gave teachers the iPads, offered beginner training, had Apple training on Challenge-Based Learning, and then school started. Once 735 middle schoolers had an iPad with them day and night, there just weren’t enough of us to go around to support them and to do the fabulous extended training we had planned during the summer. So we deployed apps, had some brief training during conference periods and a lot of just-in-time training.   We are growing and learning together, and we’re making great plans for next year!

Find Terice Schneider on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Polyvore.

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iPad 1:1 Means Freezer Bags, Charging Stations and Lots of Cases

At South Belton Middle School where we issue an iPad 2 to every student, we have discovered that protecting the device requires forethought and a couple of extras.

Our wonderful instructional facilitator, Kevin Rasco, realized on the first rainy day that our kids who walk home might have wet iPads by the time they reached their destination. Quick thinking and a trip to our local Walmart with a few bucks had teachers and administrators handing out plastic freezer bags to students as they left the building. The covered iPads fit neatly inside, and the grateful students headed off without a care.

student with iPad

Additionally, you need a few extra cases on hand. The best case scenario is that when a student has an accident of some sort and drops the iPad, the case takes the hit and leaves the iPad untouched. We’ve seen that several times with the Otterbox Defender cases. However, the case was broken in some cases. Otterbox was quick to replace them, but we didn’t want a moment with the iPad unprotected. So we purchased a few extra cases to have on hand at all times. I recommend this practice.  The Otterbox folks have been great to work with and replace what is broken.  Also, if you purchase a cover like the Otterbox Defender that has two pieces (a case for the iPad and a cover/stand), you will want extra cover/stands.

Finally, you’ll need extra chargers for the iPads. We issued a charging cord with each iPad, but we had to order a few more to replace those that were broken or lost. We plan to have charging stations next year for those iPads that show up at school with no charge. In general, this has not been a huge problem, but we feel we can avoid it totally by having a charging station or two.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about what we have learned and how we plan to improve upon what we have done so far.


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Deploying iPads 1:1?

If you are considering iPads as a 1:1 device or a classroom set for your school, you will need to have support and maintenance systems in place before you deploy. These are some questions you should ask.

  1. Who do students go to with issues? Will you have a HelpDesk? Do you have a spot for students to check out/in iPads? Some ideas include the libary, a designated office or lab or the homeroom teacher. The librarian at South Belton Middle School has become an iPad specialist this year just because she was the first one students turned to when they had issues with their iPads. We didn’t realize that would happen, but it was the natural product of having the librarian check out the devices to the students. Our students go to the library, the office of the instructional facilitator,  or the campus technology facilitator for help. We plan on training students to serve as tech support before school, after school, during homeroom and lunches next year.
  2. Who do teachers call for help? Teachers on our campus also contact the Instructional Facilitator or the campus Technology Facilitator when they have issues. The technology department also has help available for those teachers.
  3. What will you do if a student accidentally breaks an iPad? Especially if you send devices home with students, you can expect some breakage and hardware issues. You need to plan on 5%-10% depending on your cover and the age of your students.
    1. Will you purchase insurance? You can use an insurer like the Worth Avenue Group to insure for breakage, accidents and even loss or theft for around $50.
    2. Will you ask the student to purchase insurance or pay a user fee?  Some districts choose to build the cost of the insurance, along with the cost of covers and apps, into the cost of the iPad when they budget. Others ask students to pay an annual user fee (typcially $25-$50) and the district designates those funds for repair and replacement of damaged, lost or stolen iPads.
    3. Who will collect funds? We have tried having the principal’s secretary collect a user fee this year; however, it was very burdensome on her since we let parents pay small amounts over time. If we continue with this plan, we will need some automated way to remind parents of the amount they owe and a different person to collect.

Your district administrators, including the campus principals involved, business office staff and technology director, will need to discuss these details, map out a plan, and communicate with parents long before the first day of school. Decide these things early and have systems in place before problems arise.

These are just a few things I have learned through our 1:1 iPad projects at a 735 student middle school where the students take the devices home plus class sets in two rooms at our largest high school and in a few elementary school classrooms.

Also See 5 Tips for iPad Deployment on The Evolving Classroom

***Coming Soon: Now that Apple has released a Configuration tool, I will try it out and let  you know!


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What I Wish I'd Done Before Deploying the iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers

There are many things I’ll detail over the course of the year, but there is one thing sticking out right now, and I must share it with you in case you are considering a similar 1:1 project:


Each of our students and staff members has a Google Apps for Education account to create documents, collaborate online, and communicate. Since they submit many projects and lessons through email, they have the ability to email teachers. These are 6th, 7th and 8th graders who have limited or no experience with email. They do know how to text, so the logical step for them was to use their Google Apps for Ed email account just like a giant texting feature. They are emailing constantly with not that much to say.

The problem is that they are emailing everyone many times a day, including their teachers, principals and former teachers.

Teachers report up to 120 emails a day with such intoxicating content as “Go  Tigers!” and funny cat faces. Their signatures are “PB&J Time!” and “Rangers Fan.” Teachers could just delete them in the inbox, but the students are not using the SUBJECT line, so teachers must open each one to know if it’s class related.

Meanwhile, the principal, assistant principal, and counselors receive email from all the students. You can imagine what their inbox looks like! Sounds like no big deal, but with a little training, it would have been no deal at all. Luckily, each staff member continues to have an Outlook account for school business, so they easily segregate the student email from others.

The teachers like the fact that the students send emails when they are absent or if they forgot the assignment. Another positive outcome is that the frustrated, quiet students are more comfortable emailing to say, “I don’t understand what we’re doing in class right now.”

The counselors and principals are busier than ever because students also email them to say things like, “Maria is being picked on” or “I hate myself” which never would be said out loud. Students also don’t hesitate to forward messages which are inappropriate or mean, and there have been a few of those too.

Each of these needs investigation and discussion. Sometimes the students who emailed in panic were in a typical middle school drama which resolved itself 10 minutes later, but that resolution is rarely emailed to the administrator, so the legwork must be done.  Everyone is relieved that it was nothing to worry about, but it took time and effort to find that out. Our poor counselors and principals are worn thin.

We don’t want to stop the email; we want to train the students. During the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas we are taking up the iPads to upgrade them to iOS5 (more on that later). While we have them, the students will participate in email lessons during homeroom. If you have suggestions, please share them with me. These are the topics we plan to cover:

  • Professional email vs personal email. What’s the difference?
    • We will use teacher email as an example. It is for professional use and is archived.
    • We will show students what types of email are appropriate for school.
  • Who can see my Google Apps for Ed email?
    • We can!
    • Their teachers have access and their parents can have access.
  • Why use a subject line?
    • The reason we need it.
    • It’s quick and easy to do.
  • What should the subject line say?
    • We are going to give them a standard subject line for lesson questions and turning in assignments.
    • We will show subject lines in a list of teacher emails so they can see what teachers see.
  • Who do I email for this?
    • We will detail the types of problems to email to a teacher, counselor, coach, and principal
    • We will give them email addresses to ask for help, both with schoolwork and with technical issues.
  • What’s an email signature and why do I need one?
    • We will show them how to create a signature for emails addressed to teachers and staff.
    • We will show them how the signature looks when sent in an email.
    • We will walk them through creating a signature for their account.

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Kids with iPads are still Kids

We have 6th, 7th, and 8th graders with iPads and email accounts. Do they email each other about things that have nothing to do with school? Absolutely.

They email about their clothes, the big game, their boyfriends/girlfriends, their hair, their zits, their mean parents, their awesome friends and everything else that middle school students all across the country are writing about on pieces of paper, in notebooks, in text messages and on social media sites. Our students just have a different tool to use. It is no different that kids passing notes between classes. It’s age-appropriate and expected. And if off-task email or passing paper notes is happening in class, then we need to monitor more closely and make our classes more engaging. If not, we can expect poor performance and bad behavior. They need a reason to be there.

the disclaimer-This is my opinion only and does not reflect opinions of my employer or my colleagues. 

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Six Weeks Into the Year of the iPad at Middle School

Let me begin by saying that all of the opinions on my site are mine. They do not represent my employer, co-workers or anyone else. Just me chattin’–that’s it!

I live and work in a school district of just under 10,000 students in central Texas. We are about 60 miles north of Austin just so you have a frame of reference.

Our leaders are committed to the best school experience for every child. We want them to learn, to grow, to be able to function in the real world. To that end, we have started putting computing devices in students’ hands. And we allow students to bring their own devices if they have them.

Part of my work this year is to support a new middle school that not only has an iPad for every student to use at school but sends them home with the students. This has been a challenge to implement, as well as a joy to see.

First lesson: Figure out iTunes accounts

We chose to create email accounts and iTunes accounts attached the device instead of the student. That way, we won’t have to set up the iPads every year. Ideally, we would do it just once. (We have seen that students can disable the iPad by putting in too many wrong passwords which causes us to take them back to original settings. A few have done this.)

We purchased JAMF Casper to deploy apps. It can do that. It can let you see what apps are on the iPad and if the iPad is checking in to you network. It cannot delete apps, and the student can remove the profile. If they do, we lock them down and remove their ability to add apps. We also put on a ‘restricted’ profile which reduces the apps they have access to use.

Phew…there is a lot to do. Think through each step for your situation and see what works best for you.

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Hello world!

Hello! I love teaching adults, and I wonder what you think? I want to offer training that is collaborative. In other words, in training for teachers this summer, I want them to pick their own group, sign up as a group, and then ask for what they want to help them make the training exactly what they need it to be. Any ideas from you guys?

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