Tag Archives: Aubschl

iPads in Primary Grades: What Veteran Teachers Think – Stephanie

This is the third installment in a series of interviews with veteran teachers to get their perspective on our iPads in primary grades initiative, Advantage 2014. Is the initiative really having the impact our early adopters would have you believe? Would our more cautious or hesitant teachers agree? Here are the first and second posts in the series.

Stephanie Hathaway teaches kindergarten. Here are her thoughts on the initiative.

Highlights from Stephanie’s interview:

  • She felt there was a lot of pressure to succeed, which she found daunting, since she wasn’t familiar with iPads before the initiative.
  • But the district provided lots of professional development
  • Impact: Assessment (time 0:48)
  • Impact: Like having 18 teachers in the room – interventions & individualization (time 2:18)
  • Impact: Motivation factor and creativity factor (time 4:07)
  • Also supports the learning of handwriting.

iPads in Primary Grades: What Veteran Teachers Think – Sheila

We’re all used to some teachers being enthusiastic about a relatively new initiative. It’s no different with Advantage 2014, Auburn’s iPads in primary grades initiative. But the “enthusiastic teacher” view might not sell decision makers, since it’s probably not a representative perspective (and keeping in mind that not necessarily all decision makers are fans of any initiative). “What do veteran teachers think?” is the question whose answer is more likely to sway decision makers.

So last March, I interviewed some of our veteran teachers to get their perspective. This is the second in my series of three such interviews (the first is here).

Sheila Ray teaches first grade, and was admittedly skeptical of using iPads with students, when the program was introduced. She shares her perspective after her first year of teaching with iPads, especially for reading and math. She notes that not only did using the iPads contribute to greatly improved test scores, but parents also noted student enthusiasm.

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.

 

The Connection Between Facilities and Learning

Auburn needs a new high school, and we're working through the process to get a new one built. The issues were especially brought to light by our accredidation, which placed us on warning status in the curriculum and program category because of our facility. Also, until recently, we thought we'd have to go it on our own, without state funding.

This led (naturally) to questions from the public about what the connection might be between facilities and learning. Plenty of folks believe that you can throw a tent up in the ball field and teach kids (effectively) there…

So I did a little digging.

Turns out there's strong research on the connection between the quality and condition of a school building and student academic achievement, student behavior, and teacher stress levels.

Key elements that impact learning include natural lighting, noise reduction, heating, cooling, and air quality, and overall conditions, such as maintenance and cleanliness. (Maybe this is why an academically oriented accreditation process examines the state of the facilities…)

Studies have controlled for family factors (such as family background, free and reduced lunch rates, race/ethnicity, attendance, and suspension rates), and found that building condition not only significantly impacted achievement and behavior, but was a stronger predictor of academic achievement than many family background factors and socioeconomic conditions.

Researchers also found that many of the environmental factors that contribute to student learning can be improved with proper building maintenance, construction, or renovations.

See Barnes, R., Chandler, J., Thomsen, B. A Problem Based Learning Project Analyzing State Assessment Instruments Used for School Facilities. pp 32-35 for a summary of the research.

 

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.

 

The Series on the New MLTI: Choice, Auburn, and Learning

Maine has long had the first (and, unfortunately, only) 1to1 learning with technology initiative: MLTI.

The MLTI contract was up for renewal this year, and, for the first time, Maine is allowing each district to choose from 5 finalist proposals, producing a lot of conversation about the choices and how to choose.

Below is the series of blog posts I have written about the MLTI renewal, Auburn's choice and choice process, and my interest that MLTI selection focus on learning:

 

What We Want from Technology – MLTI, Customized Learning, and School Vision

There have been many discussions around Maine since the Governor announced schools would have choice over which solution they select for MLTI for the next four years. But most of those conversations have focused on the device, or its capabilities, or why it is “my preferred device,” or why people are worried that the device they aren't that familiar with will not be sufficient for the task at hand…

I wish so much more of those conversations had instead been about school visions for learning, and what we hope to get from technology for learning. What role can technology play in learning? What is your school's or district's vision (ours is here), and what is the role of technology in fulfilling that vision?

And for Auburn, as I would guess for other districts in the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning, we are concerned about technology's role in helping us succeed with implementing Customized Learning (such a critical part of our vision).

Here is what we think the roles for technology are for learning, especially for Customized Learning:

  • Instructional Resources for Building Foundational Knowledge
  • Instructional Resources for Using Knowledge, Creating, Complex Reasoning, and Projects
  • Learning Progress Management
  • Supporting Independent Learning
  • Assessment
  • Home School Connection
  • Student Motivation

How are you currently using technology for each of these? What are teachers doing (maybe in your district, but maybe in another) that shows you exciting ways technology could be used for each of these? What is best technology practice for each of these roles?

But much more importantly, as Maine's districts think about selecting a solution for MLTI, how does each proposed solution measure up against each of these roles for technology?

You don't have to be interested in Customized Learning to be interested in these roles. But I don't beleive a school can make a satisfactory decision about which solution to select if they are only thinking about the device or the operating system…

 

What Did Auburn Choose for MLTI and Why?

Auburn chose the Apple Primary Solution (iPads for students; MacBook Airs and iPad Minis for teachers) for MLTI.

Here is a two-page FAQ document we prepared for our teachers and community. Among other things, it explains our rationale for making this choice.

(Again, we aren't asking anyone to choose what we choose, but rather we're trying to share about our process and how we chose.)

 

Maine Announces State Technology Contract Award – But Not Apple (Kind Of)

We're in the middle of (a contentious) budget season, and I haven't been able to blog as much as I would like lately…

But things took an interesting turn last Saturday, and even though I still really don't have time to blog, I need to get some of this out there…

Saturday, Gov. LePage announced that the MLTI contract would go to HP, not Apple. Apple has been the state's partner in MLTI, Maine's learning with laptop initiative, for the last 12 years.

This was a shock to Maine's educators, because the RFP Evaluation Team had identified 5 finalists and the HP solution had an RFP evaluation rating almost 14 points lower than the top proposal, coming in 4th, and costing almost $20 more per seat than the highest rated solution…

The Governor stated that it was the least expensive solution, but his spokesperson clarified later that he meant to say “least expensive laptop solution.” Also, he made his belief clear that a Windows-based laptop was the best choice for preparing students for work (despite the fact that MLTI is supposed to be a learning initiative, not a job training program).

The really interesting thing, however, is that the Governor also said that districts could choose from any of the 5 finalist proposals, but (for 7th and 8th grade, that the State pays for) would only cover the cost up to what the State would pay for the HP solution. If a school chose a more expensive solution, then they would have to pay the cost difference. (Auburn is likely to choose the iPad solution, the “Apple (Primary)” proposal, which costs less than the HP solution.)

Schools can also buy into MLTI for non-middle grades (high school and elementary school) at their own cost.

There are still lots of questions and lots of concerns, and I'm going to try to blog about some of them over the next day or two…

But in the meantime, here are some resources: