Tag Archives: Aub_Adv2014

iPads in Primary Grades: What Veteran Teachers Think – Jean & Chris

Auburn has had some real success with Advantage 2014, our iPads in primary grades initiative. Although many folks like hearing about the enthusiastic teachers who have done many inventive things with the iPads and their students, others wonder what veteran teachers might think; teachers who may not be so enthusiastic.

In March of 2013, I interviewed a handful of such teachers to see what their perspective was. This is the first in a series highlighting the veteran teachers' perspective of teaching and learning with iPads in kindergarten and first grade.

Both Christine Gagne and Jean Vadeboncoeur have taught first grade “for a long time,” as Chris says. Both were skeptical of having to use the iPads with students, and Jean admits that she is not a “pro screen kind of person.” In this video, Chris and Jean talk about their experience in the first year of using the iPads, and the impact the iPad, apps, and their professional development had on their students.

 

Highlights of their comments:

  • By March, all their students were meeting or exceeding standards.
  • The apps and using the iPads generated a lot of excitement in the students.
  • They saw students try harder and work more diligently to figure out the work on their own.
  • They were surprised at this year's students' progress compared to previous years.
  • They thought the amount of practice and the immediate feedback were secrets of the success.

 

Hold the Date for Auburn’s 3rd iPads in Primary Grades Conference!

Did you miss out on the first two, or were you one of the educators that was able to impact your own iPad initiative by participating in this conference? According to Will Burrows, Special Education Director in RSU 4, “We were able to take what we had heard in sessions and look at our practices from a new perspective. We are now more confident that we have a plan to move forward in a more efficient and effective manner.”

From the Instiute website:

In their Leveraging Learning institutes, the Auburn School Department helps participants learn how to successfully design and implement an iPad initiative to customize learning for students. The institute’s local and national experts will present their progress to date along with their strategies for success. The institute will provide participants with opportunities to network and learn from others. While Auburn’s Advantage 2014 will be a kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 implementation in the 2013-14 school year, the Institute is designed to support all elementary iPad implementations.

So, plan on joining us this year for Auburn's 3rd Annual Leveraging Learning Institute: iPads in Primary Grades.

The conference will be held November 13-15, 2013, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn, Maine. Registration will open on Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 12:00 noon EST.

 

Auburn on Bloomberg EDU: Tablets in K-12 Education

The May 17th episode of the Bloomberg EDU radio focused on tablets in K-12 education. I shared Auburn's experience. Here is the description of the episode:

Educators Discuss the Use of Tablets in K-12 Education (Audio)

Sara Schapiro, director of the League of Innovative Schools at Washington, D.C.-based Digital Promise, Mark Sullivan, principal of Burlington High School in Massachusetts, Michael Muir, leader of Multiple Pathways for Maine's Auburn School Department and Linda Clark, superintendent of Idaho's Meridian Joint Schools District No. 2 discuss the use of iPads and other tablets in K-12 education. They talk with Jane Williams on Bloomberg Radio's “Bloomberg EDU.”]

Listen to the podcast here.

 

Auburn’s Data Shows (Again) The Positive Impact of iPads

Our School Committee wants to know if there has been an impact of having iPads in the primary grades classrooms, and there has been!

In fact, we recently presented those findings to the School Committee.

All our primary grades students participate in CPAA testing (Children's Progress Academic Assessment). It is a test meant to be used as formative assessment to let teachers know where their students are in their literacy and math learning, giving them information about student mastery of specific concepts, helping inform teachers' instruction.

As we look back over the CPAA data from past years, and compare to the cohorts of students who have had iPads, we found that a larger percentage of students have reached proficiency, and have reached it sooner, than in the years before we had iPads. For kindergarten, this is true for 6 out of 8 concepts. For first grade, it is true for 5 out of 7 concepts.

We know it hasn't just been the iPads. We have done a ton of professional development on literacy best practices, math best practices, and educational technology best practices.

But what this data does tell us, is that when we combine teachers with professional development and 1to1 iPads, then our students learn more, faster.

In other words, Advantage 2014, our literacy, math, and iPad initiative, is having a positive effect on student achievement.

So when we ask for iPads for second grade, we aren't just asking for tech or gadgets. We are asking for a proven educational resource that helps our students learn better.

How Does Auburn Select Apps?

Ever since we started Advantage 2014, our primary grades literacy and math initiative that includes 1to1 iPads in Kindergarten and 1st Grade, we’ve had educators and parents ask us what apps we’re using. (We have an apps page on our web site with 2 links, one to just our list of “district recommended” apps and one with the correlation of those apps to our curriculum – at least for one academic area…)

But occasionally, I’ll be asked how we select our apps.

For the most part, teachers guide our selection.

Teachers are free to use what ever apps they would like (especially free ones), but they are responsible for organizing their app library and syncing the devices in their classroom. This, by itself, eventually leads to teachers being more selective about which (and how many) apps they use! (One kindergarten teacher spent a couple weeks taking home a few iPads each night to spend the evening deleting the couple hundred apps she no longer wanted on the iPads!). 🙂

In general, we made “educational resource selection” part of our professional development. We didn’t want app selection to be some centralized function, and we wanted teachers to get good (and deliberate) about how they selected the resources they used with their students (which never happens if “someone else” is responsible for deciding which resources are ok for teachers to use). In a post about our professional development, I referred to our it as using a Constructivist approach:

As we thought about designing PD for our teachers, we didn’t want to just hand teachers information or resources; for example, we didn’t just want to hand them “approved” apps. We wanted teachers to have an intimate understanding of various components of the initiative they were on the front lines of implementing, including app (educational resource) selection. We decided to take a constructivist approach. For example, we had our teachers start by simply exploring apps. They had a limited budget for apps, but could also download as many free apps as they wanted. Then teachers made recommendations for apps that they thought would be the “core collection” of apps, those apps the district would purchase for every classroom. We would give teachers two similar apps and ask, “which one’s better?” to get them thinking about criteria for app selection; this eventually was developed into a rubric. Finally, we correlated apps to our kindergarten curriculum. The constructivist approach insures a deeper understanding based on their own experience.

We decided we didn’t like the term “district approved” apps, and now refer to them as “district recommended” apps.

Also, with teacher input, we revised our app selection rubric a couple times. Then we came across Tony Vincent’s work with iPads and his fabulous resources. We now use his rubric, since we think it captures our thinking about app selection better than we did. (Here are some other recommendations by Tony Vincent on how to evaluate/select apps.) Now, when a teacher requests that an app be installed on all the classroom iPads, we start by asking how it faired against Tony Vincent’s rubric.

In all cases, we tried to focus app selection (and teacher practice with iPads) on our goals for the program. From our PD post:

Content of Professional Development – All of our PD and training has focused on a couple of topics. We wanted to expand our teachers’ skill at applying literacy best practice, and to insure that our teachers and specialists working with kindergarten students had the capacity to select and apply appropriate apps directly toward student academic needs, as well as how to manage the iPads and work within the unique demands of this initiative.

Through our professional development, we also worked with teachers to create expectations for iPad use in the classrooms (which further helped us with app selection):

iPad Use – Minimum Requirements

  • iPads are used daily during centers.
  • iPads are used daily during whole group and/or small group instruction.
  • iPads are used as an intervention tool with below benchmark students.
  • iPad apps reviewed by the district are used.

This year, recognizing that we need to address both instruction for low-level thinking and higher-level thinking, we have some teachers exploring “Using iPads for Projects, Problem-Solving, and Creating.” So even with new explorations, we are working to link app selection to the best practices.

I haven’t really talked about how we pay for apps (mostly district volume purchase program vouchers, and iTunes cards purchased by various groups), and I recognize that budget does have an impact on app selection, and when a district purchase is involved, we involve the Tech Director in the decision (or the Special Ed Director, if it is a Special Education related purchase). But as much as possible, we try to give the teachers the lion’s share of the say in what apps we get. Leadership’s job isn’t to tell them which apps are ok to use or what best practice is, but rather to support their individual and collaborative work toward becoming their own experts in best practice and educational resource selection.

Where Can I Learn More about iPads in Elementary Schools

I get asked regularly, besides my writing about our iPad initiative, who else writes about iPads in elementary education.

Here are some of the folks I read:

  • Sidwell Friends School (the primary grades iPad initiative at the school the Obama girls attend)
  • Fraser Speirs (Scottish tech integrator. Has great posts about iPads in elem sch)
  • Tony Vincent (great info on teaching and learning with mobile tech, especially iPads)
  • Jennie Magiera (amazing tech coach in Chicago, was one of our keynotes at our Leveraging Learning Institute – not exclusively iPads but on the nose about pedagogy with tech)
  • And this blog isn’t about iPads, but we see our iPad initiative as how we implement Customized Learning in the Primary Grades and Mark Davis is a teacher who writes about his experience with customized learning. Very nice, concrete writing about implementation…

More Indications of Positive Results from Auburn’s iPads

We’ve had iPads in our Kindergarten classrooms for more than a year now. This fall, we also rolled out iPads to our 1st grade students. All in the name of improving students’ mastery of literacy and math.

We know that we have too many students who aren’t demonstrating proficiency, so for several years, we’ve been making sure that teachers are getting quality training in literacy and math instruction, and we’re hopeful that, combined with the access to educational resources made possible through iPads, that we’ll increase that level of proficiency.

And when we examined gains made by last year’s kindergarten students, that’s what we found. Our kindergarten students had made more gains than in years past, leading our Curriculum Director to proclaim that taxpayers’ money is well spent.

Read more about our gains in the Sun Journal article Educators Say iPads Help Scores, and the MPBN radio story Auburn Educators Tout Benefits of iPads for Kindergartners (sorry iPad users; you need flash to listen to the story, but you can still peruse the article).

Learning about Leveraging iPads for Learning

We just wrapped up our second annual Leveraging Learning Institute. We played host to 140 educators from across Maine, the country, and around the world! We had folks from Georgia, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. We even had five educators from two schools in Japan. What we all had in common was a passion for the potential of iPads to personalize learning for primary grades students.

Apple even sent a bunch of their people to learn from us about how we’re doing customized learning with iPads.

We had wonderful sessions on everything from the kinds of apps we’re using (presented by our 1st grade students!), to how to use various kinds of data to support your initiative, to communicating with the community, to what to do if your initiative is having troubles, to figuring out the complexities of syncing apps in a school setting. Check out all the sessions here. Resources from sessions and the institute are available here. (Fear not! Over the next couple weeks more and more will be posted. Videos of the keynotes will also eventually be posted.)

In addition to the Auburn team, Education Commissioner Steve Bowen, trauma suregeon Rafael Grossmann, Apple Distinguished Educator Kathy Shirley, Apple Distinguished Educator Jennie Magiera, and customized learning evangelist Bea McGarvey presented and participated. Get connected to all our presenters here.

We had wonderful press coverage! Stories highlighted the conference just prior to its starting, the Commissioner’s involvement in the opening keynote, trauma surgeon Rafael Grossmann, who also shared the opening keynote, and Auburn Kindergarten teacher Amy Heimerl, who did her own research study on the effectiveness of the iPads.

Maybe the best press coverage was our team of Auburn Middle School students who live tweeted every session and even participated in a few! (Search for the #adv2014 hash tag and be sure to set your feed to receive “all posts.”)

We’re already looking forward to next year’s conference. But I’ll warn you! We opened registration in the second half of August and registration filled in just a couple weeks with a long waiting list. After this year’s success, we expect to fill even more quickly!

Should Kindergarteners Use iPads in the Classroom? Absolutely!

This week, Government Technology posted the article, “Should Kindergarteners Use iPads in the Classroom?

It looked like the article had found year-old news of our starting our iPad initiative, thinking it was current, and raised the question if this were appropriate.

I was fine up to the point that readers started posting “black and white”/”all or nothing” comments…

I have submitted this comment:

I’m with Auburn Schools, and it was actually last April that we decided to move ahead with a literacy and math initiative that included 1to1 iPads in Kindergarten. We’re a year into the program and are finding that student engagement is up, teachers find that they are getting to reading groups earlier in the year than in the past, and that it is easier to customize learning for students. We even did a randomized control trial on the pilot which found a statistically significant improvement in the iPad classrooms.

But it is all about the right tool at the right time. We still teach handwriting with pencil and paper, students still play and pretend and read books and work with teachers (all things that some people thought we had plans of stopping once students had iPads – for what reason, I can’t even imagine).

But now that we have actually done it, we entusiastically say yes, iPads do belong in kindergarten.

We’re on track to add 1st Grade iPads for this coming year.

Auburn’s iPad Research Project on the Seedlings Podcast

Seedlings is a great little podcast that, although about educational technology, is really about good teaching and learning.

So I felt honored when the Seedling hosts invited me to return to talk about Auburn’s research on their Advantage 2014 program, best known for giving iPads to Kindergartners. You can download that podcast and access related links here.

This was a follow up to the previous podcast, where we talked both about Advantage 2014, and Projects4ME, the statewide virtual project-based non-traditional program, where students can earn high school credit by designing and doing projects, instead of taking courses.