The Success of a School iPad Project – Pupil, Teacher & Parent Voice

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Has our iPad deployment worked? A simple question, but one that is often very hard to answer. There is no doubt that technology offers many means of improving teaching and learning in the classroom; the results of our recent pupil survey certainly reiterated this. However, as any technology deployment is unlikely to suddenly provide all pupils with 11 A* at GCSE, how do you truly measure success?

Ready_for_final_exam_at_Norwegian_University_of_Science_and_TechnologyPersonally, I don’t believe that success should be judged by a set of test results, but those that do will tell you technology is an expensive waste of time as there is no evidence it impacts upon ‘standards’. Simply, they are wrong. I am fortunate enough to work at a school where independent thinking and a love of learning are just as important as great grades and standards of all-types are valued.

Over the previous two years we had made considerable investment in the procurement of whole-school holistic WiFi. The Y6 iPad roll out in September 2015 was the culmination of many months of planning, training and decision making that had ultimate the goal of improving the classroom experience of our pupils; allowing them to do things differently and express themselves in a multitude of ways.

Eight months into the project, and with September 2016 fast approaching, it has been a time to reflect on both the successes (and failures) as we make preparations for the second phase of the deployment. We recently held an iPad information evening for prospective Year Six parents whose children are in the second year of our roll out. Therefore we compiled these two short films and completed a qualitative survey of parents to demonstrate the success of our 1:2:1 project so far from those who have experienced it first hand. The results speak for themselves.

Pupil Voice:

 

Teacher Voice:

Parent Voice:

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Blog On – Challenge Based Blogging

I’m a huge fan of school blogging and also of Challenge Based Learning. I therefore decided to combine the two for a school project for Year 8. This post shares what we did and also contains links to all the resources you need to replicate the project in your school. Using the CBL wheel as our guide, we started with…

THE BIG IDEA

The Big Idea should be broad concept that can be explored in multiple ways. Furthermore, it should be important to students, and society at large. For this project, the over-riding concept was communication and with a little prodding in the right direction, the students decided to create their very own blog sites to share their writing with a potentially global audience.

ESSENTIAL QUESTION

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 20.39.35The formation of an essential question is a fundamental part of any CBL challenge; it is something pupils can always use to refer back to and forms an umbrella under which they can all work. The students used Padlet to establish “Sometimes our writing never gets read. Can we use blogging to write for a real audience?”

CHALLENGE

The next task was for the students to embark on their specific challenge. It is imperative that the students generate an area of interest in which to work. By this point they knew they would be making a blog and creating content for it, however they needed to decide what they would be blogging about and organically work out whom they would be working with. Again, Padlet was the tool of choice. In the example below you can see that 4M loosely bundled their choices into video games, pets, cars, photography and sport.

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ACTIVITIES / RESOURCES

Once the groups were formulated (via subject choice not friendship) their initial task was to plan their blog. To do this I provided a blog planning sheet for each group. Each group started with a discussion and then took to their computers. They then used OneDrive to begin work on the planning sheet collaboratively in real time and left it in a shared folder for me to check and provide feedback.

Blog Planning Sheet

Another key aspect of the project is the blog design. We are fortunate to have a whole school WordPress site, hosted by the fantastic Creative Blogs. I am a huge fan of WordPress and knowing how to use it properly is becoming an ever more valued skill. Therefore, a significant part of the project is an introduction to some basic skills that can enhance their blog and help them to meet their objectives.

Blog – Design Checklist

Once the subject of the blog has been decided, students then begin to design their blog. This design checklist details things that all students should do and a few things they could do, therefore taking care of differentiation.

I also created some tutorials below that will help the students (and teachers) with the could do section. Flipped learning really does change the dimensions of the classroom and empowers pupils to work independently. Please note that each template within WordPress may have slightly different functionality but the tutorials should certainly point you in the right direction.

Customised Widgets:

Personalised Header:

Customised Menu:

Customised Background Image:

There are a couple of ‘Could Do’ options on the deign checklist that don’t have tutorials; that is because if the students get this far they should be able to start to work things out for themselves! The beauty of working with technology is that it doesn’t really matter if you get things wrong, but it is hugely important to experiment and take risks. Of course, if it does go horribly wrong; hit the undo button or don’t save and start again!

SOLUTIONS/IMPLEMENTATION

Once the site is designed and up and running, it’s time to get blogging! Each group should have a theme for their blog that they opted to write about. This should promote enthusiasm for the task. When you set up your blog, students can be assigned different privileges. Good practice is to ensure that they are contributors as opposed to editors. The reason being contributors can not publish articles without approval from the page administrator which should be the teacher. This should also encourage a good standard of English as only well-written and thoroughly edited posts should be published.

Students can add images and even embed videos within their posts relatively easily. The following tutorials are available should assistance be required with this.

Embedding Video In Your Post:

Inserting Images In Your Post:

EVALUATION

Evaluation does not have take place at the end of the project. As soon as the first blog posts are published, pupils can start leaving comments on each others work. Using the comment function of blogging is arguably the most important part of it. Comments provide each author with feedback from a variety of sources. It is also authentic evidence of an audience and has the effect of improving standards as students realise their work has a true purpose. The comments are all moderated by the administrator (teacher) and should be useful and constructive. It’s worth spending time looking at comments and what makes a good quality comment, and indeed a poor comment. Teacher feedback can also be provided via comments and by using social media, comments can even be collected from an authentic global audience and should provide a successful, contextualised answer to the original Essential Question.

Here our some example comments taken from our ‘Blog On’ project:

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1:2:1 is Working – The Results Are In

In September 2015, we rolled out 1:2:1 iPads across our Second Form (Year Six). This was a huge step for King’s, a school which only adopted WiFi in 9 months earlier in January.

Learning in action

After the WiFi install, all pupils in the Prep School had access to a bank of 20 shared iPads and although they proved incredibly popular for staff and pupils alike, the limitations of shared devices was somewhat frustrating. Device set ups were changed, work was lost and functional attributes like contacts, calendars and email were unavailable.  Nevertheless, 99% of pupils agreed that lessons had become more enjoyable when iPads were used to enhance their learning experience, yet 90% also agreed that their experience would be improved further still with individual, personalised iPads.

Happily, we were able to respond positively and with a mixture of parent-owned school managed devices and BYOiPads our 1:2:1 vision became a reality in September. Second form (y6) Pupils are now routinely using iTunesU, regularly using Apps like Padlet, Explain Everything, BookCreator and iMovie and even working from digital iBooks and submitting their work via ShowBie. It has been an exciting journey for pupils and teachers alike – lots of mistakes have been made along the way, but we have learnt so much. We have come along way in a short amount of time but before we start making plans for expansion of the project, has it actually made a difference to learning? Does the theory that real change can only take place in a 1:2:1 environment ring true? We put it those in the best place to answer these questions: the students of Year Six…

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The results of the survey are pretty conclusive. The pupils all agree that their learning experience has improved since adopting 1:2:1 iPads. Having access to information at your finger tips has fundamentally changed the dynamics of the classroom and the role of the teacher. However, it must be remembered that although the role of the teacher changes in a 1:2:1 environment, their importance does not.

Teachers get to grips with their iPads

Teachers get to grips with their iPads

Teachers need to know how to create courses, share resources and suggest Apps through which students can both demonstrate their knowledge, understanding AND creativity. Teachers need to know how to set work, collect work, annotate work and return work to students therefore it is imperative that in any 1:2:1 model, teachers are provided with the necessary equipment and training to make the project a success.

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Interactive Digital Workflow

Its happening. In September, we are initiating a 1:2:1 iPad project across Year Six! Two years of research, planning, hard work and graft have paid off and the school is looking forward to an exciting 2015-2016 full of new and engaging learning opportunities. Considering where the school was a couple of years ago, with regard to tech-infrastructure, it really is a huge step-forward. However, for the project to be successful, a clear and well-structured Digital Workflow is paramount to it’s success. Using the awesome Thinglink, I have created an interactive version for use by our teachers. It gives them an opportunity to learn more about the Apps/Tools and also provides information on how they could be used.

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The King’s Prep digital workflow is based on an original by Greg Hughes but adapted to fit the needs of our school. Establishing a digital workflow helps classrooms operate with efficiency and allows teachers to personalise instruction, collect, mark, assess and return  work. Establishing a successful workflow requires careful thought, experimentation, and research into the best apps for accomplishing tasks in the context of your school.

Thinglink Revision Guides

The stress of exams live long in the memory

As an adult, I love Spring and saying goodbye to long, dark and cold nights. However, I distinctly remember as a teenager, dreading what has traditionally been exam season. In an attempt to alleviate some the stress inflicted on our y8’s,  I decided to dedicate the computing curriculum time to revision in other subjects.

This may sound odd, and neglectful of computing, but my theory is that by using technology to create engaging, interactive revision guides that both bookmarked useful sites and allowed students to create their own content, I would be providing them with the best of both worlds; time to learn, consolidate and revise but also time to create high quality digital content.

The ideal tool to do this is Thinglink. A free resource that allows users to pin links/video clips/images to an image of their choosing.

Example of student description of link

Students were encouraged to pick curriculum areas in which they lacked confidence and then develop their research skills and collate useful and helpful websites. Short descriptions and links were then added to their Thinglinks that explained the resource at the other end of the link.

Once 3/4 quality links were attached to their ThingLinks, students were then encouraged to create their own content. This could take the form of a film, blog post, podcast, popplet, quiz, prezi or whatever students thought would allow them to create content that would be useful for themselves and for their peers.

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Examples of positive and constructive student comments.

Finally, once completed, the students embedded their ThingLinks onto their year group blog. Each student was also careful to ensure that they categorised their work properly therefore creating what is now a complete revision hub, across all subjects, available to all students locally and indeed, globally! The categories range from German Revision to the Great Reform Act and contain superb links to both web content and self-created content. Another huge advantage of blogging is the ability for children to comment on each others work. This has done wonders for their self-esteem and has also created a great atmosphere of collegiality between the students .

I have embedded a few examples below but please take the time to visit their class page and even better, leave a comment or two!


Maths: iPad & Padlet

I recently ran a CPD session for our maths department and was short of ideas; however I knew I wanted to avoid simply going through times table or division drill apps. A quick text chat with fellow ADE and good friend, Marc Faulder, pointed me in the right direction and I decided to demonstrate how you can use Padlet, and a variety of free maths apps to challenge thinking and use technology to provide stimulating, engaging and fun learning opportunities!

Set up your Padlet and pose a question 

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Pose your question at the top of your padlet and then invite children to join the padlet on their iPads via the self-generated QR code. They can scan straight from the IAW/screen or from a pre-printed copy or even via a link shared on your school learning network.

Think 3D

The question posed on the Padlet read:

Using the Think 3D App OR Unifix Blocks, create your own cuboid with a volume of 18 cubes. Take photos or screen shots then open the Skitch App and draw the dimensions. How many different objects can we make with a volume of 18? Which is the longest/tallest/widest/highest?

Students can answer the question by either using unifix cubes or the Think 3D App and then annotate over the image using Skitch:

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Maths Learning Centre Apps.

The FREE apps from the maths learning centre are a revelation! There are eight available; Number Line, Number Pieces Basic, Geoboard, Number Frames, Pattern Shapes, Number Pieces, Math Vocab and Number Rack. They really are fantastic tools for the classroom and incredibly user friendly.

The example below uses the Geoboard App and the question posed on the Padlet was:

“How many different rectangles can you make with an area of 12cm²?”

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Adding Work To Padlet

 

Once the students have drawn their rectangles, they can save to camera roll by taking a screen shot and the upload to Padlet using the upload button:

From Skitch

Another setting worth noting on Padlet is the ability to change the layout into a grid. This means that when students contribute their work, it automatically goes into a clear and easy to follow grid formation:

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 17.14.45Once the work is on the board, students can be invited to present their work and question their peers understanding. Students work can be enlarger, simply by clicking on it.

Padlet really is a great classroom tool and its use should not be limited to maths. It can be used across the curriculum in a variety of different ways and I encourage you to give it a go!

 

 

 

 

The Impact Of iPad – Results Are In…

Over the Christmas break, King’s was involved in a flurry of activity. Despite the lack of students, the ancient Meru APcorridors were witnessing a fundamental change in the learning environment. WiFi was being installed…

Across the school, peculiar little white boxes adjoined with four flappy panels appeared on many of our walls and ceilings. These devices, otherwise known as AP’s (Access Points), offered a seismic opportunity for change in our classrooms and opened up the endless potential of transformational digital technologies to our pupils.

In the Prep School we took the decision to invest in a number of iPads. Although we are well aware that the devices are better used in a 1:2:1 environment, the acquisition of shared devices is a huge stepping stone in the right direction and an exciting statement of intent. Eight weeks into the project, the iPads have been in almost continual use. From subjects as diverse as Latin and Maths, they have been used in a whole host of imaginative and creative ways and are fast becoming a much-valued resource.

What though, and most importantly, has been the impact on learning? Last week I took the opportunity to gauge the opinion of those who matter most, our pupils. The results of the survey are published below and are a real cause for celebration:

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In conclusion, the graphics above tell their own story. We are very much in the early stages of iPad adoption but already they have had an incredibly successful impact on learning and pupil engagement. Interestingly, the statistic concerning sharing work on the devices caused the most disagreement, and that in itself is telling. Having shared devices does not help to create a dynamic workflow and neither does a lack of connectivity to the classroom display board. We do have a few Apple TV’s up and running but are looking to roll out ‘Airserver’ in the very near future. When combined with Showbie and our school blog site I expect to see an increase in connectivity between teachers, pupils and the outside world. We know there is a huge amount of work ahead of us, but we can be confident we have made  a very positive start and that plans are in place to ensure future success.