Monday, July 19, 2010

A New Year and a New Challenge!

Well, with so much going on the summer has been very short and it is now time to return to school. It’s a little sad but also exciting to be returning to prepare for implementing our technology project for the year.

Oh yes, let me share about our technology project. In January 2010, we began writing the application for our new tech grant. The process actually started a month prior when we first learned about the application, previewed it, and attended a webinar.
This brought us to brainstorming ideas about addressing the requirements of this new 21st Century Classrooms grant. After much discussion, researching areas of greatest need in our district, and the type of web-enabled equipment to use, we decided to integrate iPod touches into the third grade classrooms to help accelerate reading at our six schools in improvement.

The real work started in January of 2010 as our due date for the grant application was quickly approaching. Robyn and I spent many hours looking at websites for schools and districts that had already implemented a project such as this, not to mention the time we spent looking up, downloading, and practicing with educational apps. As our February 5th deadline approached, we enlisted the aide of Ed Stolze to preview our document and Pam Burkhardt to ensure every “I” was dotted and every “T” was crossed. The application was submitted and then the waiting began.

About five or six weeks later the ADE announced that our application was approved. It was exciting and scary at the same time. Now we really had to get to work purchasing equipment and planning for training. And, we needed to try and become “experts” at using the iPod Touch!

In April Dr. Dan McCormack, educational technology consultant for Apple, met with us to share some of his wisdom about integrating the iPod Touch into curriculum. We learned a lot from him but the best part was a comment he made. He stated that we really seemed to be on top of things and were very well planned with our project. He reiterated this again in an email he sent to Robyn. Quite a complement coming from someone who sees lots of schools and districts using iPod Touches with students.

Our equipment arrived and we got a chance to practice setting up an iPod Learning Lab. They are a pretty sweet piece of equipment. We also decide to do a pilot project in two third grade classrooms at Papago and Gateway Schools. Ms. Gaona and Ms. Cloyd agreed to use the iPods with their students the last two weeks of school. It was very interesting to watch the students using the iPods and gave us some good insight into effective procedures and apps to use.

The week of June 14th, we had our first training with the grant teachers. Sixteen grant impacted teachers, the Ed Tech team, and three or four others attended the weeklong training. The first four days we had Intel Teaching with Technology training led by Laura Sheehy. We learned how to use Intel’s online tools and develop project-based units. Friday was iPod Touch day and the excitement in the room was exhilarating! The teachers set up their carts and synced their iPod Touches. After the set up time, we discussed security, rules and procedures, and looked at some of the apps. The teachers all got to check out an iPod Touch for the summer. They each had about 32 apps loaded on them, in addition to the pre-loaded ones that come with the iPod. It was a long but exciting week!

The end of June we attended the ISTE 2010 Educational Technology Conference in Denver, Colorado. This is always great conference but this year it was especially appropriate as there was a strong focus on using mobile devices, such as the iPod touch, in the classroom. We attended a lot of sessions where different presenter shared apps and ideas for implementation.

July is coming to an end and we will have new teacher training, convocation, and the start of the school year August 9th. Can’t wait to get the iPods into the hands of our new third graders and see what they can accomplish!!

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