Tag Archives: Auburn

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.


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.)


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.

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!

Leveraging Learning: iPads in Primary Grades – Registration Opens Thursday!

Last November, Auburn successfully hosted their first Leveraging Learning Institute, focused on iPads in primary grades. We will be hosting the Institute again November 14-16, 2012. Sessions will appeal to those just starting and veteran implementers, as well as, those new to our conference and those who attended last year!

We expect the Institute to fill quickly, so please know that registration opens Thursday, 8/23 at noon (Eastern time).

Come gain insights into:

  • How to design and implement an iPad initiative to customize learning for students
  • Structuring professional development for continuous improvement
  • iPads for formative assessment, and special education, and as a creativity tool, and more!
  • Which apps should you use?
  • Leveraging data and supporting your initiative with thoughtful research
  • iPad and iOS management, and large-scale tech implementation
  • Managing apps and iPads in the classroom
  • and more!

Classroom visits will be available as optional pre- and post-conference sessions under separate registration (which also opens Thursday at noon!).

“The quality of this conference was extremely high. …the information was both pertinent and useable immediately.” Kevin Howe – Board Member – Lakeside Union School District – Lakeside, CA – LL2011 Attendee

We look forward to seeing you in November!


Auburn’s Messages About Learning with Technology for Commissioner Bowen

Commissioner Bowen Visits Auburn Schools

This morning, Maine Education Commissioner Steve Bowen spent an hour at Auburn’s Fairview Elementary School.

We had been wanting Commissioner Bowen to see how Auburn’s schools are leveraging technology for learning. Although the brevity of his visit precluded having him go to the middle school or the high school, we did get him to one of our elementary schools.

The Commissioner was able to visit Kelly McCarthy’s kindergarten classroom to experience Advantage 2014, our literacy and math program with iPads. Next, he visited Stephanie Marris’s 6th grade to see project-based learning with laptops in action (in this case, working on filming and editing plays students were creating and performing).

The Auburn team had three key messages for Commissioner Bowen about teaching and learning with technology.

Teachers Need to Get Out of the Way
Teachers are used to being the experts and passing their knowledge on to students. This sometimes leads to teachers feeling uncomfortable when they aren’t the expert. In many cases, however, students are more comfortable with technology than their teachers are. Teachers need to get out of the way of their students when it comes to technology. They need to see what the students can teach them, and allow students to pursue ways to use the technology for learning that the teachers themselves might not know how to do. This can be especially true for teachers in grade levels starting an initiative while inheriting students who have already been in it for a year or more (as it was for 8th grade teachers in the second year of MLTI a decade ago, and will be for Auburn’s 1st Grade teachers this coming year).

Teachers Can Teach More
When teachers are intentional in their planning, and are selecting apps and activities that both match the curriculum and engage students, the students can be more self directed, receive more immediate feedback, and spend more time on task. This allows teachers to give more students individualized attention, as well as give each student what they need academically when they need it. More teaching gets done!

It Takes Deliberate Leadership
Successfully leveraging technology for learning doesn’t just happen. Kids don’t learn better just because we passed out laptops or tables. It takes planning, and team work, and communication, and positive pressure and support, and lots and lots of PD and support for teachers. It takes leadership with school change in mind.