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! 🙂

Advertisements

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!

MANY MANY MANY THANKS!

New Beginnings

As you may (or may not) know, my husband and I moved to Kuwait to begin our international education career as Technology Coaches at an International Baccalaureate (IB) World school in Kuwait. We arrived LATE Friday night and have been in orientation with all the new staff since then. We’ve been constantly busy (in a good way) setting up our apartment and getting to know the other new teachers. Today was the first day with the entire staff back to school. It’s been an interesting journey so far.

We were hired as Technology Coaches in February and are still figuring out exactly what that will look like. Today was a great day for as us we got more information about the 1:1 iPad roll-out (we aren’t really involved in the logistics..yay!) and had time to meet as a team (me, my husband and the other coach) to creating a job description that we can share with faculty & staff. Our goal is to get the message across from day 1 that we are here to help teachers meaningfully integrate technology into their lesson plans.

The Big News: The school has been scrambling for a French teacher since finding out 2 weeks ago that the hired teacher needed to stay home for a family emergency. Yesterday I was asked to take over her part-time load (3 French classes) until they can find a permanent teacher. I agreed, with the clause that it is truly temporary (maximum 1 semester). Although everything can change before school starts on September 4th, I am currently teaching 9th and 10th grade French (both part of the Middle Years Program – MYP) and 11th grade French (Diploma Program level 1). I have incredibly mixed emotions and I’m going to try really hard not to stress until Sunday when I know for sure if I’ll be starting the year in the classroom on Tuesday.

I hope everyone has had a great start to the school year or is eagerly awaiting the first day of school!

Open Letter to My Students

I know I haven’t posted in awhile. I don’t know how teachers juggle all the different things they have to deal with and still blog regularly! I have lots of ideas to talk about…just might have to wait a bit 🙂

Today was my last day with my advisory students. I have been meeting with them monthly or weekly since my first year (3 years!). They will be graduating on June 1st…I can’t believe how fast time has gone! Because of this, I decided that today was the best day to let all my students in on my secret. I started class by instructing them to get their Chromebooks, log into their email, read the most recent email from me and not talk about it until we discussed as a class.

Here is the letter I wrote them…

I was incredibly impressed by the questions my students asked. It was a great teachable moment – we talked about where Kuwait is, what’s around it, what language they speak, how people dress there and many other topics.

It feels great to finally have this off my chest so that I can openly talk about it with my students 🙂

Update: I not only sent this letter to my current students but also my former students. I received 2 of the nicest emails I have ever received. Two of the sweetest (and smartest) girls I have taught responded with words that every teacher wants to hear. Going to file them for a rainy day!