Monday, February 17, 2014

Don't Let Those Kindles Go to Waste

A few days ago I received this comment on an old post about using Kindles with my students. It was actually perfect timing because when we transition to 1:1 with iPads I will have to be creative in using the 12 Kindles that I have at my school.

I have 20 Kindles (old style, not Fire) in my library closet just sitting there :( They have only one or two books loaded onto them due to the high cost of loading ebooks to the entire set ($5.00 a book x 20 = way too much of my library budget). My principal wants me to use them somehow, but I am lost. She is on the fence about letting students check them out like regular books. I don't know any other way to use them. Can you please give me some ideas on how to use them affordably, or should I just try to get rid of them all together?

I love this question and it really got me thinking. Here are a few of my ideas. Please add your ideas and suggestions in comments.

1. If you're not comfortable checking out the Kindles you could encourage teachers to use them with students with reading accommodations, reading resource students or reluctant readers. Ereaders can entice those hard to motivate students sometimes.

2. Have the student and parent sign a form before checking out to put your principal at ease. Even if a device is damaged or lost it is better than letting it sit in a cabinet unused until it is completely out of date.

3. Search for free books to load onto the devices. Sometimes you can find older titles that are still used by teachers for class novels or literature circles.

4. Designate certain Kindles for different genres. If you don't have the funds to load every title on every device you could create a "Fantasy" Kindle, "Science Fiction" Kindle, and so on. 

5. Allow teachers to use them after setting up a Netgalley account. 

6. Create a student book review club and help them to create Netgalley accounts so that they can preview books, share book reviews on a school blog, and read Advanced Reader Copies from Netgalley.

7. If you have no use for them in school anymore you could use these for a raffle or prizes. Many students would be thrilled to have this device to use at home. 

What else can my readers think of to share? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

iPad PD in Action

Every teacher in our district was given an iPad (if they did not already have a school purchased device) in preparation for a possible 1:1 iPad program next year. As I mentioned in my previous post, we've been putting together professional development sessions to help our teachers get ready.

Here is a run down of what we've done so far.

1st session
Teacher homework before the session was to sign up for a Dropbox account and make sure Dropbox and Popplet Lite apps were on their iPads. I recommend sending out a Dropbox invite so that you'll earn more space.
When they came in they were asked to sit by subject area groups and we served Pumpkin Latte. You can find tons of crockpot recipes on Pinterest for this drink.
We served this drink to go along with the video we started the session with.
The SAMR model explained using Coffee. We emphasized that we want our goal to be Redefinition when using technology, not just Substitution.
We showed the teachers how to use Dropbox. We used Squirrel Reflector so they could see that the document we saved on the laptop was now accessible on the iPad.
Then we used this awesome App Task Challenge from Craig Badura so that the teachers could learn and practice using Popplet Lite. His challenges were recently highlighted on the Learning in Hand blog. I contacted Craig on Twitter and he was happy to share his challenges. We're working on lots more of our own and plan to share with him as well.
Teachers had to create one Popplet use the instructions on the challenge and one as group listing ways they could use this app in their subject. Those products were emailed to me and I put them in a shared Dropbox folder for all the faculty to see.
Finally we used the app, Name Selector, to draw names for prizes.

2nd session
Teacher homework was to bring an app to share and download Pic Collage, Tellagami, Mastery Connect, Socrative Teacher and Socrative Student.
Again teachers sat as a subject group. We had the Socrative question up on the Smartboard asking them to share an app. It was our hope that we can model apps in our PD sessions to give them ideas for their own classroom.
We briefly talked about the Mastery Connect Common Core app and we had three teachers that currently use Class Dojo share their experiences with using that app to monitor behavior.
Again we used one of Craig's App Smash Challenges. This time it was Pic Collage and Tellagami. An App Smash is when you have to use one app's product in another app to create a final product.
Teachers were asked to email their completed Gamis to me for sharing in the Dropbox folder.
We only shared the instructions in the shared Dropbox folder to encourage the teachers to get accustomed to sharing documents through the app.
We wrapped it up with another prize give away.

3rd session (scheduled for this week)
Teacher homework was to download Kaywa, Animoto, Remind 101 and Apps Gone Free. They have to bring six images that relate to their next topic of study so that they will be ready to create a video and create an educator account on Animoto and Kaywa if they did not already have one.
Finally they were asked to use one of three backgrounds that my PD co-teacher, Kristen G., created to make a lock screen background. All of our iPads have the same cases so we wanted lock screens with the teacher and school name prominently displayed. Teachers were asked to chose a background from the shared Dropbox folder and then create an image in Pic Collage with their name added. This is their entrance ticket to the meeting.
We plan to share Remind 101 and Apps Gone Free and have them complete an App Task Challenge using Animoto. This challenge was created by Kristen Hearne, our instructional technologist.
When their Animoto video is complete, teachers must generate a QR code to the url and save it to images. Then they have to ask me, Kristen G, or one of our principals to scan the code to watch the video. This is their exit ticket.
We will end the meeting with more prizes.

Our 4th session will be a little different. We had to use iPad carts for some teachers during the first few meetings because all of our iPads were not here yet. Now that they are here we know that some of our teachers need some Apple basics. We created a presentation called "A is for Apple". This presentation covers things like taking a screen shot, redeeming an app code and other basic functions we want all teachers to know. We have teachers at all levels so we created an assessment. Those that can come to me or Kristen G. and show that they know these basics get to opt out of the training. Those that need more help will be asked to attend. However, our district recently purchased Blackboard so we are working on recording this training and having a "flipped" PD. Teachers will be asked to watch the recording then come in to show that they now know the basics. We're hoping this will be helpful to the other schools in our district that are also trying to prepare their teachers.

The response in our school has been fantastic. The sessions are fun and active. Other schools are using and adapting our sessions and we're having a great time learning together.

I'd love to hear about how you make PD fun at your school.