1:1, iOS, Kuwait, Professional Development

iPad PD

We (the technology coaches) started going into the elementary classrooms last week to give mini-iPad lessons before the students get their iPads. I’ve been in classrooms from KG1 (3-5 yr olds) to grade 3. It’s definitely been a learning experience! We’ll continue to go into ES classrooms throughout the next week. I’ll also be subbing for the Language B department head Sunday through Tuesday. I’ll be teaching her DP1 and DP2 classes. Guess I wasn’t quite done 😉

We’ve also started planning PD for the teachers. We asked teachers to complete a needs survey so we could tailor our offerings throughout the year.

About half of our staff completed the survey and @MrLaymanSS made a nice infographic in order to share the results with the admin team.

Starting on Monday, we’ll be offering staff 3 levels of iPad Tips & Tricks and teachers will be ablle to choose which they’d like to attend. I’ll be facilitating the level 3 sessions…any iPad or iOS6 tips & tricks would be much appreciated!

I’ve been working on a Google presentation (will share later), but today I decided to download the Reflection App. I tried the free version first and went to my twitter PLN before paying the $15 to get the full version. I got good input (merci beaucoup!) and decided to go for it. It seems completely worth the price and I’m eager to experiment with it! The first video I created is for my upcoming level 3 PD showing teachers how to create an appointment in the calendar app. Would love feedback 🙂 Enjoy!

1:1, Collaboration, Google, iOS, Kuwait

My foray into Elementary

One of the first official things we’ve been asked to do as Technology Coaches is to go into every classroom in the elementary (Pre-K through grade 5) and do a short introductory iPad lesson. We met with the Primary Years Programme coordinators and the Elementary iPad Advisory Group (made up of 7 teachers) to create and refine our ideas for our lessons. It was decided that the most important concept before the students received their iPads was how to treat it (where it should/shouldn’t go, how they should/shouldn’t hold it).

To get started, we created a sign-up sheet for the teachers in Google Docs. We then sent them an email with the link telling them a little about what we wanted to do and asking them to fill in their information.

As a team, the three of us decided to split the grades so that our lessons would be able to be tailored for the target age group. After my two gentlemanly colleagues had chosen, I was left with 3rd grade and half of 2nd. I was a little hesitant and nervous at first as I’ve never worked with students younger than grade 9!

I emailed my elementary counselor friend for some advice, gave my creative juices some time to flow…and voila I had an idea! Using the pictures and cartoons that the guys took and drew, I wrote a short picture book for the students. I based my story off of Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. Here is my book (written using a Google Presentation)…

My first class this morning was a 2nd grade classroom. I started by introducing myself to the students and told them that I work with Mr. Jeff and Mr. Smith. I also explained how we would be coming into their classrooms sometimes to work with their teachers and that they would see us around the school. Before starting the story, I had them read the title and make predictions about what the story was going to be about. While I was reading the story to them, we talked about what made the iPad sad and happy. We talked about how the iPad wouldn’t like the canteen because she doesn’t like food, wouldn’t like the bathroom because she doesn’t like water and how she doesn’t like being up too high or down low. The story ended up being more interactive than I thought it would be…for each picture the students tried to find the iPad and it become like a “Where’s Waldo?” game.  It was fun and they really seemed to get into the story 🙂

I then asked them for their help. I told them how I knew a little boy who needed their help deciding how to treat his iPad. For each drawing (thanks bunches to Matt!!), they raised their hand if they thought it was a good way or a bad way to treat the iPad. Before showing them the “answer,” I had a couple students share about why they thought it was good or bad. We talked about why it would make the iPad happy or sad and I reiterated to them that I would be sharing their advice with the little boy. Before letting them switch to question mode, the teacher and I steered them towards giving me advice about what should be put in the iPad (only charger, headphones & case), what shouldn’t be put with the iPad in their backpack (no food/drink) and how the iPad should always stay in the keyboard case (unless a teacher tells them differently).

When I took out my iPad to demonstrate some of the things that might make the iPad happy or sad, they were in awe (they literally cooed when I took it out of my bag!). They loved seeing it and were excited to be able to get their own soon. I then let them ask me questions. I quickly saw that there were going to be WAY too many questions in the time we had (the whole lesson lasted about 30 minutes), so I asked them to talk with their table groups in order to come up with 1 question. This was great because they had to work together to pick a question and then also to pick who would ask it.

Overall the lesson went way better than expected! The students were adorable, asked great questions and had great advice! It was so different to be in a lower elementary classroom (as opposed to high school) where the students are eager to share and thirsty for knowledge. They really seemed to connect with the characters in the story…let’s just hope they remember when they get their iPads! This afternoon I’ll be working with a 3rd grade class. Who knew elementary could be so much fun? 😉

All the credit goes to Matt for this cartoon!

Update: Today I walked into a 3rd grade classroom and was told they didn’t have a projector…uh crap?! Luckily I created my book as a Google presentation and have the Google Drive app on my iPad. I had the students gather on the carpet and read them the story on my iPad 🙂 It worked really well…maybe even better than when it’s on a big screen!

Update #2: I had my first experience with KG1 students today! Going from high school to elementary was a big jump, but going from 2nd & 3rd graders to 3 & 4 year olds was almost as big. They are SO tiny! The class I was in was sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on the carpet. Each student had a piece of tape with his/her name on it and they had to keep their bums on the tape. They don’t have projectors in the KG1 classrooms, so I used the iPad as a book strategy. I also cut down on the examples of how to hold the iPad after the story. I brought the keyboard case (sans iPad) and let each child stand up to practice “hugging” it. They all clapped for each other and it was adorable! Some other adjustments I made – we skipped the predicting about the story and the giving advice part. I did allow them to ask questions, but they didn’t really know how to so they told me some stories instead. Incredibly cute…but no way could I teach little ones all day! 🙂



I just taught my last class as a temporary French teacher at AIS 🙂 The new teacher arrived on Tuesday morning, shadowed me yesterday & today and will take over her full schedule (my 3 classes plus another French and a Spanish) on Sunday. It feels great to be done and I’m ready to be 100% committed to being a Technology Coach. I am, however, grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know some of the students at our school. In total, I now know 51 students in grade 9, 10 & 11. It was also nice to meet the Language B teachers and speak French. The head of department (HOD) also asked me if I would be willing to sub for her later in the year. This wasn’t the start I had envisioned for my school year, but overall I’m glad I had the opportunity to help the school 🙂

The fact that I am not teaching does NOT mean that I’ll stop collaborating with teachers across the world. I’m incredibly eager to introduce the staff to Twitter and the myriad of learning opportunities awaiting them and their students. If you are interested in class exchanges (for any subject & grade level), please contact me! We have 200 teachers and 1800 students to keep busy with iPads 🙂

Bon week-end!

Quick edit: it was incredibly interesting to be in a classroom in Kuwait as everything is going on near the US Embassy’s in our general vicinity. It was refreshing to have a conversation with students who can acknowledge that what the Americans did who made the movie was horribly wrong…but also that the response by some people in the Muslim states is juste as wrong. It’s not all Americans and it’s not all Muslims…and it’s too bad that a few people represent all of us.

1 Two 1, Collaboration, iOS, Kuwait

Advice needed for Technology Coaches

In February, my husband and I were hired as Technology Coaches at an international school going 1:1 this fall with iPads. This position was a brand new position and we were told we were hired because of our experiences working in 1:1 environments and giving PD. We found out a couple months later that they had hired a 3rd coach to work with us (no longer would we be working as a husband-wife team, but with another person whom we had never met). Upon arrival in August, we found out that the three of us would be working as a K-12 team (our school has about 1800 students and is divided into divisions – elementary, middle, high). We are excited about this new venture, but are in need of all the help we can get in order to be successful. As a team, the three of us came up with the following job description….

The primary role of the technology coach is to collaborate with teachers in order to
integrate technology in a meaningful and effective way in their classrooms. Responsibilities may include:
– assisting teachers in lesson planning regarding the integration of technology in ways
that support teacher goals and further student achievement.
– facilitating school-based high-quality professional development across all grade levels
(prek-12) and subject areas.
– meeting and working with teachers in teams or individually on an ongoing basis to refine
 their knowledge and skills. Examples include in-class coaching, peer observing,
and/or modeling of instructional strategies.

It is up to the three of us to make the K-12 vision of the admin a successful reality. If you have experience as a Technology Integration Coach (or a similar title), working as a K-12 team of teachers…or any other relevant expertise, please share below!



First day of school

It’s been an interesting experience to start the year off teaching when my mindset had completely changed. Since February I’ve been preparing myself to be a Technology Coach…not a teacher. Especially not a teacher in an international school. I just finished my first of 2 classes for the day. First day of school, first class I taught at AIS, first class I’ve ever taught made of up entirely 9th graders! They are eager to please but sneaky at the same time and wow are they squirrelly! There were 21 of them in a room half the size of a normal classroom.


If you didn’t notice…there is no computer or projector in this room. It is a brand new classroom and not entirely ready for classes to be taking place. Very interesting to teach with no technology!

In groups they made lists of words/phrases they remembered and then put their best 6 on the board. First impressions on their ability…they learn faster and have better pronunciation than the American students I’ve taught. This is their 3rd year of French and is equivalent to my level 2 class in the US. They remembered quite a bit and we had a good discussion about nouns and verbs. Their first formative assignment (I need to get used to the lingo in an IB school!) due tomorrow is a family tree. I’m giving them lots of freedom, hoping I get some good results 😉

I did not tell them that I won’t be there teacher for the entire year, although I briefly mentioned no gum, no food, no cell phones and no online translators. Their new teacher is supposed to arrive late Sunday night so I’m not exactly sure when she’ll be taking over. I may just be teaching through Sunday, I may be teaching 2 full weeks. I’m planning on telling them during our 2nd or 3rd class together that there will be a different teacher. I want to balance between them getting attached and the misbehaving because I’m not staying. We shall see!

This afternoon I have my first DP class. I imagine it will be quite the opposite…grade 11 students taking their first French class. The schedule here is really different. I’ll have to share it another time!


my (nearly) paperless beginning of the year

The past two years, all of the beginning of the year paperwork has killed my copy count. Each student has received:

  • a 2-page parent letter (including parent survey & signatures to be returned to me)
  • a 3-page syllabus
  • a 3-page grade contract
  • a 1-page participation rubric
  • a 1-page iPod contract and
  • a 1-page student survey (including signatures to be returned to me)

That added up to 11 pages of paper…times 100 students…equaled 1100 copies! I am NOT okay with that. Mostly because I know the paper is wasted. The stuff that goes home probably sits somewhere un-read or gets thrown away (not recycled). The stuff that comes back to me is filed away to (probably) never be looked at again.

So…since we have google apps for education, I decided to go to (mostly) electronic documents and forms. I sent a 2-page parent letter home with my students because I wanted to make sure parents got some sort of information telling them what to do and how. I also gave them a copy of the iPod contract because I think it is important to have them on file in case anything happens (more on why I have iPod touches in my classroom later).

In class, I showed all of the students how to access the syllabus, grade contract, participation rubric, electronic signatures for parents, and parent survey. Then I asked them to go home and teach their parents what to do. Are there still a lot of parents who haven’t completed the signature or survey? Yep. Where there quite a few who didn’t when I was all paper? Yep. If a parent emails me, I have also been able to give them the links to what they are missing.

During class, students used iPods to complete the electronic signatures for students and the student survey. My French 2 and 3 students also used the iPods to complete pre-tests to show me what they remembered from the previous level.

Have you ever used google forms? They are A-mazing. You can create a cute little survey (as seen in last week’s post) and the results show up instantaneously in an organized spreadsheet. I love being organized…electronically. This year I actually read all of the parent and student surveys. And if I want to look at any of them again, I can easily access them from anywhere. I have converted all of my important teacher paperwork to google docs and I am creating new documents exclusively with gdocs. I love being organized and having way less paper/trash around!


p.s. I used gdocs for all of my classes, not just French 1. See? You’ll also see (if you click on French 1, French 2 or French 3) that I created google calendars for each of my classes. I embedded the calendars into my website so that students can easily see if they have any upcoming assignments. Did you notice my twitter feeds? Also more coming about that later.