A Reflection on Tech Integration – SAMR

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with this whole technology integration initiative that is sweeping the world. Yesterday Jeff and I went into a 1st grade classroom to help them create word-webs and stories using their iPads. It didn’t go as smoothly as one would hope and by the end we were wondering if the technology made the project better.

This morning we were truly challenged as Technology Coaches – two elementary teachers are starting their final project for COETAIL and need to integrate technology into a unit plan. Unlike many teachers that we come into contact with they know about SAMR and want to attain the Redefinition level.
This is what our job is supposed to be…right? Integrating technology in a way that redefines education? I honestly can’t say we’ve done a ton of that this year. I often wonder how many technology coaches (or whatever you’d like to call us) are truly helping teachers CHANGE education through the use of technology. I’m not naive enough to think that it can happen for every task that a student completes…but how about once a unit? Once a month? I’d take once a year! So many people (me included) are quick to make suggestions for integrating technology (in our case iPads) – make movies, use Explain Everything, write blogs, etc. How often do we stop to think…and ask ourselves “Is technology making my lessons better?” and “Where am I on the continuum?” I’ve sat around tables with teachers who truly believe that they are redefining & transforming education when they are simply at the substitution stage. I am just as guilty of this too! There are thousands of education blogs out there boasting about the latest and greatest way technology is “changing” their classroom. But is it really?

So where do we (me, my school, you, your school, educators around the world) go with this? How do we ensure that technology isn’t just a band-aid? I’ve had this discussion with Jeff countless times. But how do we have this discussion with other teachers without stepping on toes and hurting feelings? We haven’t introduced the SAMR or TPACK models to staff yet because we think they’d be a little overwhelmed (have you read Nicholas Provenzano‘s rant?). We are also in limbo waiting to hear what our iPad initiative will look like next year. Do we introduce these models? If so, when?

Quality technology integration isn’t easy. It’s takes time, patience and lots of brain power. It takes CHANGING the way we teach. Are we ready for that?

Get started redefining…
Exploring the SAMR model (ECISD Technology)
Brief Intro to TPCK & SAMR (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
Technology in Education: A Brief Video Intro (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
More on SAMR (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
Elementary example of SAMR
TPACK
TPACK Explained

This is in no way a complete list…please feel free to share more!

A Reflection on Tech Integration – Grade 1

A couple weeks ago a 1st grade teacher emailed us wanting to discuss how she could use the iPad in her lessons. I was the only tech coach available so I invited her up to the office. When I asked her about her objectives, she explained that she wanted the students to create word-webs to brainstorm for a story and then write their stories (individually). She wanted to give those with the iPads the option of using the iPad to brainstorm and create their stories. The two apps on our iPads that might be simple enough for 1st graders to create stories are Explain Everything and Keynote. We decided that my first session with the students would be to “teach” them how to use Explain Everything through the creation of their word-webs. I would then go back into the classroom a second time to help them create their stories.

Session 1 Reflection:
Jeff came with me to help teach the 10 students with iPads how to use Explain Everything. While we were with the iPad students, the teacher was in another part of the classroom with the rest of the students. Students without iPads were given a paper template to create their mind-maps. Students using Explain Everything had to create their own shapes before starting their brainstorm. It didn’t go quite as smoothly as one would have hoped.

After class, Jeff and I discussed how we could have done it differently. We knew we couldn’t just teach 1st grade students how to use Explain Everything through direct instruction. BUT the students were quite distracted by the technology. Many of them created great brainstorms, others never got past the stage of drawing their shapes. Looking back on it I would have changed several things:
*all students start with the classroom teacher to talk about brainstorming and create a class mind-map.
*all students make their first draft of their mind-map on paper using the teacher-created template.
*students with iPads then re-create their mind-maps using Explain Everything (with assistance from tech coaches).

Does this process take longer than without using technology? Yes. Is using technology making their stories better in the end? Maybe. That’s a big maybe and depends a lot on how the students use Explain Everything. When I was in the classroom my lesson plans involving students using technology usually took longer so students could become comfortable with the technology (device, app, etc). But the ultimate goal was to save time in the long-run and end with a better product and a deeper understanding of the concept. In revising this 1st grade lesson, students would be repeating the process of creating their mind-map (once on paper, once in the iPad). Maybe students would revise their paper draft when creating the iPad draft, allowing them to think of better ideas. The major purpose of the second draft would be getting them comfortable with Explain Everything so that they could then use the app to create their stories.

Session 2 Reflection:
Jeff and I went back into the classroom today to continue helping the students use their iPads to create stories. We thought we would mostly be helping them transfer their ideas into stories however the majority of the hour that we were there was a continuation of creating their word-webs. Once again students were distracted by the technology. By the end of the hour, most of the students with iPads had moved on to turning their ideas into stories. We weren’t exactly sure what the stories were supposed to look like, so we had students add slides to their Explain Everything word-web and write 1 sentence per slide.

After leaving the classroom Jeff and I began immediately debriefing and reflecting on the project and instruction. Did the technology cause the students to create better projects? No. The projects were of equal quality, if not worse, to what the students using paper created. Does this project still have potential to create something better? Maybe. After the students have finished their stories (with 1 sentence per slide), they could use the record feature of Explain Everything to make a product that the other students would not be able to make. Students would then have original stories (writing), with their own narration (reading) and the videos would be able to be shared with other students and parents. Is this possible in a 1st grade classroom? Maybe…with lots of practice and patience!

As technology coaches we need to make sure that we are always encouraging our teachers to use technology when appropriate. It is a TOOL that should be used when it is the BEST tool for the job. If paper and pencil are the best tools for the project…that’s okay! There is a fine line between quality technology integration and superfluous technology integration.

Getting back in the swing of things!

Wow it’s been a long time since I posted anything! 2013 had a great start – we were home in MI for Christmas & the New Year and my sister, Abby, came back to Kuwait with us! She is substitute teaching for the semester and just signed a contract to come back next year to teach Pre-K. We’re pretty excited to have a little bit of home here 🙂

One of our biggest challenges as technology coaches this year has been getting teachers on board and actively incorporating technology in their classrooms. There have been a lot of ups and downs with our 1:1 iPad initiative and I don’t think teachers really know what to think – should they invest their time or is it all going to be for naught? Students currently have to pay a fee to acquire a school iPad and gain access to the wireless network. We’re not exactly sure on the numbers but somewhere around 40% of our student body (~2000 students PreK-12) have iPads. This presents many obvious logistical problems for classroom teachers.

As a tech coaches, we’re trying to decide where to focus this semester  Last semester we offered Professional Development after school on Mondays. Although our turnout was good at first, the numbers slowly diminished. We set up a website, but we’re not really sure if our staff actually uses it. Plus we’re still trying to figure out the dynamics of working in a 3-person team.

For the most part our job this semester has become more individualized. The principals sent out an email for us and we’ve appeared at a couple meetings, but we’re trying the let-them-come-to-us method. We don’t want to offer PD that teachers don’t want or won’t come to. But we DO want to support our staff. We’ve been encouraging teachers to give students choice for assignments and allow them to use the iPads. Teachers (individually and in small groups) have started coming to us more to help them plan units & lessons, create their class websites or blogs and support them in the classroom during lessons.

Whenever I get frustrated or down I just try to remember that this is a growing year. I wasn’t involved in the process until we arrived in August (and I’m not always consulted now) so we all just have to work with what we’ve been given. We have some students with iPads which isn’t the ideal 1:1 ratio however it’s much better than most other schools in Kuwait (who don’t even have wi-fi). I’m looking forward to seeing how everything turns out in the next couple years 🙂

Reflector Update:
We’re still in the testing phase of this project. The 5 elementary teachers that are using the app aren’t having great success. We know that it’s not our network or the app itself (I have success using the app on my 2012 laptop connected to the school wireless) or the wireless adapters (we bought & installed 2 new ones with no success). We now think that it might have something to do with the computers that teachers are using (low RAM, etc). We’ll be continuing to investigate during the next couple months!

Some fun events coming up this Spring:
*Jeff and I will be starting our masters with COETAIL on February 4th
*Abby, Jeff and I will be traveling to Greece at the end of February for a long weekend (National Liberation)
*My brother and his girlfriend are coming to visit us in March for their Spring Break
*The three of us will also be traveling to Thailand and attending NESA in April (Jeff is presenting!)

If you’d like to read more about our lives outside of school, feel free to check out our other blog. 🙂

An Update: @ReflectorApp

As I mentioned in a previous post we bought a Reflector (formally Reflection) license for each of our teachers. In that post I laid out some issues. Here are my updates to how things have been going!

*We are rolling out Reflector slowly. I chose the first 5 teachers from elementary based on who I’ve worked with and after talking to the principal. We have one teacher in each grade (1-5) testing out Reflector.
*Before teachers could use the app, I met individually with each of them to show them how it worked. They have to connect to the wireless (instead of wired), open the program (it runs in the background), activate mirroring using AirPlay on their iPad…et voila! I showed them how to change the settings (white or black frame) and set a password (a MUST!).
*I created a Google doc for teachers to share their experiences with Reflector. They are busy people and don’t have time to meet weekly so I thought this would be a great use for Google Apps 🙂 Although you can’t see them (this is a copy), I add comments when teachers share their experiences.

As you can see our biggest problem right now is the glitchy mirroring. We are doing some experimenting to figure out which piece of the puzzle is causing this (app, wireless network, computer, wireless card…). When I use my new Lenovo laptop on the school network I have no issues. Teachers, however, are having issues (same network, different computer). My scientific brain tells me that this could be pointing to the wireless card. We bought two new cards (one internal, the other a USB) for the grade 4 & 5 teachers to test out.

(From my previous post) Some issues we’ve already encountered:
*All computers using reflection will show up on AirPlay on the iPad (if there are 100 computers with Reflection, you will be able to see and choose from all 100). Update: So far this hasn’t been a problem (we only have 5 running). When I met with each teacher, I taught them to exit the Reflector application and disconnect from the wireless when they weren’t actively using it. Even when we roll this out to more teachers, I doubt all 170 will need to use the app at the same time.
*We are running Windows 7 32-bit Professional. When Reflector is installed & authenticated on the admin profile, it is not authenticated on a teacher profile (prompts you to enter license serial code again). Update: After contacting the support team, they gave us the step-by-step for setting up Reflector on each computer so that anyone who logs in can access the app. I have been INCREDIBLY impressed with their customer service. They are quick to respond when I ask for help and are keeping track of my blog & Twitter to make sure everything is going well.

I’d love to hear about other schools that are the implementing Reflector App! Are you having any issues? What is your hardware/wireless network like?

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Just my honest opinion & experience.

We chose @ReflectorApp

Two months ago, after school had started and teachers started worrying about how they would use iPads in their classrooms, I started doing some research. One of the teachers’ biggest concerns was projecting what they were doing on their iPads for the class to see. What follows is how we went about making the choice and what is coming next.

We knew that you could connect an iPad using a dongle but this solution presented many (obvious) disadvantages. Although teachers could share them if needed, it would be ideal to have one for every teacher (at $30+ a piece). There would be no worries about students messing with the connection, however teachers would be confined to their desk. Another option was Apple TVs. We would still need one per teacher ($99 each) and there didn’t seem to be any privacy settings (read: students could easily ‘take over’ and project their iPads). We kept looking.

About this time I stumbled across Reflector App. I had a difficult time finding teachers and schools currently using it, so I decided to do my own experimenting. I bought a single user license for my laptop (normally $14.99, currently $11.99). After installing Reflector on my laptop, I began playing with it. Using AirPlay (must have iPad 2 or newer & wireless internet), I was able to wirelessly mirror my iPad onto my laptop screen. I was excited that this might be a solution for our teachers! I went a step further and created a couple videos for iPad PD showing teachers how to use the calendar app. I was pumped!

And then I brought my laptop to school…it didn’t work! The last month, I have spent time talking with people at Reflector and our network administrator here. Reflector nformed me that bulk purchasing licenses would bring the price down to $8 each and that we could password protect the ability to mirror to the PC (HUGE!). On our end, we were able to open a couple ports and get my laptop on the same wireless network (and subnet) as my iPad. On our network, you cannot connect a wireless iPad to a wired computer because there is no way to make them on the same subnet (however the Reflector staff says this is possible when on the same subnet). The Reflector support staff has been wonderful answering my questions though email and on Twitter. They shared a blog post with me from an educator using Reflector & Air Server. (I did take a little time to research Air Server. There are many similarities, but I was more impressed with Reflector online presence and had already been in contact with the Reflector staff.)

I’m excited to say that the purchase of licenses for our staff has been approved! We are taking this process slowly so that we can get feedback and have a support system in place for teachers as they start using it. We will be setting up computers (installing Reflector & wireless cards) in sets of 5. I have the difficult task of choosing which teachers will start the rollout.
I am looking for teachers who:
*are relatively savvy with technology and are fast learners.
*are eager and willing to incorporate the iPad in their classrooms.
*like to try new approaches and are comfortable enough to experiment.
*enjoy sharing their knowledge with colleagues.

Some issues we’ve already encountered:
*all computers using Reflector will show up on AirPlay on the iPad (if there are 100 computers with Reflector, you will be able to see and choose from all 100).
*we are running Windows 7 32-bit Professional. When Reflector is installed & authenticated on the admin profile, it is not authenticated on a teacher profile (prompts you to enter license serial code again).

My goal is to keep a “journal” of how we are using Reflector in the school and classroom. When I was looking into solutions, I couldn’t find many educators who were using Reflector. I’d like to be able to help others who are interested! Please let me know if you have experience with Reflector or if there is anything you’d like to know about the set-up and how we’re using it 🙂

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Just my honest opinion & experience.

iPad Tips & Tricks

Based on the feedback we received from our staff, we decided to officially start our professional development with ‘iPad Basics’ or as we called it, ‘iPad Tips & Tricks.’ The goal of the PD was to get teachers comfortable with their iPads so that they could become more confident and start experimenting with them in their classrooms. Because we know our teachers are not all at the same place, we created 3 levels of the training. We are offering the sessions on three consecutive Mondays and you can read more about the planning process here.

The three of us split up the presentations…and I was the lucky one selected to do level 3. Although I was not confident to begin with (I don’t have nearly as much experience with iPads as my two colleagues), I’m glad that I had the opportunity to take on the challenge. I learned a lot in the process and even found the Reflector App…which just might be my new favorite discovery. A few notes about the creation of the presentation:

*I took a lot of screen shots on the iPad and edited them with ArtStudio before uploading them to Google Drive using the iPad app.
*I made all the videos using Reflector.
*I used Google Drive & a Presentation to store the pictures and create the presentation.
*I used a Google Form to collect feedback from the staff that attended my session.

Voilà my level 3 iPad Tips & Tricks! Would love any feedback 🙂

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!