Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Article: iPad Workflow in the Elementary Classroom

Last week I had an article published on Emerging Ed Tech, (as the name implies) a fun, educational technology blog (where I tend to lose a lot of time getting sucked into all the nerdy things I love). The founder, Kelly Walsh, is part of the iPad conference that Marshall and I are presenting at next month and asked if I would write an article as a little teaser for my session to help advertise for the conference. So far I've had a school in Illinois email me asking for advice on using iPads with their K-5 students and we have a local Raleigh school visiting us this week to see our iPads in action with our teachers and students. Surreal! This is all pretty cool, considering that in 2013 when I started this job there was like, nothing, about Elementary iPad programs out there. I know this, because I looked. Everywhere.  Overall, I am so excited to be part of the movement of helping little people do big things! Some days this job is just so overwhelming, but this week (today, especially) my little people have been doing really big things with virtually no help from me and it just really gives me hope that I am where I am supposed to be right now, after all. Some days I really miss high school age kids, especially when most of my battles are 'criss cross apple sauce' related.  Today after my little technology club as I was getting all the kids in their parents' cars and to appropriate after-school places, a sweet one gave me a big hug and said, "Today was so much fun. Thank you for today!" I'll admit, I'm a little hormonally compromised these days, but I cried a little. Precious little people, you are going to do great things! Okay, here's my article. I feel happy.  If you want to see it in real life on the real thing with fancy logos and stuff, here's the link: http://www.emergingedtech.com/2014/10/ipad-workflow-elementary-classroom/ otherwise, the words are below! Shoutout to my sweet, wonderful, handsome, intelligent and talented  husband for proofreading, challenging me to use words that make sense and adding the word 'ubiquitous' in there. I may or may not have had to look it up after I read his suggestions. I did, it makes sense where he put it. Love having him on my team. Enjoy! 


Franklin Academy in Wake Forest, NC has been infusing iPads into high school classrooms since the product’s release in 2010. As the devices have become more advanced and ubiquitous over the past few years, use of iPads has spread to all K-12 grade levels at Franklin Academy. Franklin Academy K-2 campus uses multiple mobile iPad carts containing 30 iPads each. Each of the 30 iPads in a cart set is configured to sign in to a shared account for iCloud and Google Drive for that cart.
In Franklin Academy’s Kindergarten through 2nd grade classrooms, teachers have built a workflow for their shared-use iPad carts around three key components: iCloud, Google Drive, and specific management procedures. iPads are not a reward or a distraction in these classes, but tools for learning and content creation, with the ability to share students’ digital creations with teachers and parents.
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The following techniques and tools have proven helpful in our use of the iPads in this setting.
iCloud Contacts Syncing. Among several other functions, Apple’s iCloud service syncs an address book, allowing contacts to auto-populate in an email “To” field. Even though iCloud is designed to be used by one user across multiple devices, we’ve been able to leverage it for multiple users of a shared device. By creating a custom list of iCloud contacts containing only K-2 Teachers, students are able to safely email their projects to their teacher by simply finding and touching their teacher’s name. Even young kindergarteners are able to recognize the appearance of their teacher’s name, and can send their work off with a minimum of hand-holding.
iCloud Shared Photostreams is another feature of iCloud that has helped the K-2 iPad workflow. Teachers can set up an album of approved photos for an assignment or project using their own AppleID, and share it with the iCloud account for the iPad cart. This alleviates the issue of K-2 students researching and finding photo sources that are appropriate to be used for a project on their own. Students are still able to choose which photos to use, but the teacher has pre-gathered the appropriate pictures, eliminating the need to send students to the internet or required them to research and find pictures outside of school.
Google Drive provides a platform for creating and sharing Google Docs, as well as content from other sources. It allows for the creation of folders and sub-folders, and easy uploading from the iPad camera roll, where many content-creation apps allow work to be saved.
Folders for each grade level, and subfolders for each homeroom class and within those, subfolders for each student have been created to give each student their own storage space. Students are taught the process of how to locate Google Drive, open it, find their grade level folder, find their homeroom teacher’s folder and their personal folder. They are then taught the steps for uploading photos or videos to their folder and not to close the app until everything has been uploaded completely. Students are taught to complete these steps by themselves.
Rules. Campus-wide expectations for proper iPad use will prevent teachers from needing to create their own set of rules for classroom use, and will allow students to practice good habits from the beginning. Things like how to safely carry the iPad, properly plug in headphones etc,  should be taught in more than one class as being a school expectation (the same as recess rules, hallway behavior, bathroom rules, etc.). These rules should encompass any foreseeable issue and can be changed as issues arise. Clear expectations prevent many issues, especially if students are aware of the consequences, which often can be little more than a loss of time using the iPad. Develop a set of rules with input from teachers, students, IT staff and administrators, but these rules should ultimately come from those that will be working with the students with the iPads. Like any rule at this grade level, frequent reminders are recommended.
Technical Skills go beyond the basics of safe handling, and include things like how to power the device on and off, adjust volume, and any other skill that could be used in a project (Google Drive uploads, screen shots, etc). Having a dedicated technology class for K-2 students at Franklin Academy has allowed students to learn technical skills that they can use any time iPads are brought in to their regular classrooms.  Things like a clean up procedure may vary slightly from classroom to classroom, but should ultimately be established ahead of time and clearly communicated to students. Having students understand the rules and equipping them with technical skills gives teachers more time to focus on lesson activities and less time worried about student logistics.
Staff Procedures, much like the rules given to students should be established from the beginning of the year, with clear instructions. For shared carts, there should be an easy procedure in place for reserving the devices. Resources for shared practices and accounts (like adding photos to a Photo Stream as mentioned above), need to be easily accessible throughout the year and any changes or updates communicated to those involved. Administrative decisions such as maintenance of the carts (app updates, app requests, software updates) need to be clearly communicated from IT staff to teachers.
With the right amount of planning, forethought, and flexibility it is possible to use the iPad cart effectively to have elementary students individually create and share their amazing work on a device that is shared with other students. As with any heavy use of technology today, there are sure to be small hurdles, setbacks, and unexpected changes along the way. Therefore it is imperative for teachers to continue to learn about what options exist for mobile learning and creation, and start thinking like problem solvers. If something doesn’t work right, keep trying to find a solution.
Having universally-adopted procedures and technical skills means our teachers can dream big! iPads make it easy for students to create things and demonstrate their mastery of skills that might not have been so easily demonstrated and shared before. Let’s help our little people do big things.


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