Candace Marcotte

One educator, determined to create an engaging and dynamic experience for learners of all ages.


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iPad Distribution Day

iPad Distribution Set UpThis year, we are transitioning from a pilot year of 300 student devices to our inaugural year of full implementation with about 900 student devices.  With feedback from teachers stating that they were ready to go and wanted to be able to use the device asap with students, we decided to attempt an iPad distribution day before the school year started.  So, we started to put plans into place!

Some things you should know about our distribution are that we had summer employees tag, scan, and assign iPads to students.  They also had the fun job of removing them from their boxes, labeling the iPad for the student, and placing the iPad in our new cases.  We are using Apple’s new Mobile Device Management program this year and parents were asked throughout the summer to create an Educational Apple ID for their student(s) under 13 years old.  We pair Apple’s MDM with Cisco’s Meraki MDM. Now that we have all of the technical specs out of the way, let’s take a look at the actual event details.

We scheduled one day, a week before school started, from 1pm-7pm for students to pick up their devices.  Students had to have their iPad Handbook signed and hopefully had created an Apple ID before coming to the event.  We decided to not split them into certain time frames by alphabetical order or ask them to schedule a time for pick up since we were doing distribution for just one day.  We had 26 teachers in our building volunteer to help (our teachers rock!), in addition to about six student Tech Squad members.  The helpers were arranged in shifts from 1pm-4pm and 4pm-7pm for the most part.  Let me tell you, I can’t imagine doing this with any less number of helpers!

We set up the event in stations so that the tasks were separated.  At each of the six stations we had a poster with the steps of the station so that individuals could start the station steps on their own while they waited in line.  We also had handouts on each table with the same steps.  We tried to have at least 2 helpers at each station.  For some of the more challenging stations, we had three helpers.

Breakdown of Stations (You can find our complete station guides here.):

  • Station 1:   We initially separated individuals as they entered into two lines: 1.  Have an Edu Apple ID, 2.  Don’t have an Edu Apple ID yet.  Then, when they had taken care of business at Station 1 with either just signing in or creating an Apple ID, they received a ticket so that they could proceed to Station 2 and pick up their iPad.
  • Station 2: The red ticket was used so that Station 2 knew that the student had checked in and had turned in their signed iPad Handbook.  This worked really well.  Students told the helper their last name and as the helper searched for the iPad, the student found their name on a sheet of labels.  Students then immediately labeled their chargers.  After getting their iPad, they proceeded to Station 3.
  • Station 3:  Students went through the startup configuration of the iPad, until they got to the “Get Started” message and home screen.
  • Station 4:  Students renamed their iPads so that we could manage them by building and grade level.  They also turned on items in the app store so that they could receive apps.
  • Station 5:  Students set up their student email and found their Meraki email so that their device could receive apps.
  • Station 6:  Students checked to make sure they had the Meraki profile on their device and then completed an expectation checklist so that they were aware of the big iPad rules before leaving the building.
Issues Successes  Lessons Learned
  • Network flooded when trying to create Apple IDs and wouldn’t allow us to access site for ID creation.  It seemed to be a two-part issue (our side & Apple’s side) because parents couldn’t access the site from their phones which were not on our WiFi.
  • “Missing iPads”- Since devices were labeled, etc. at another building, we were actually missing a few boxes that we were not aware of until the event started.  We also did not plan on new students (like registered a few days prior) arriving to pick up devices.  So, we had some students who came and their devices weren’t even in our boxes of missing iPads that arrived.
  • Dead iPads
  • Stations and the number of helpers running each station.
  • Clear directions posted large and having handouts on table.
  • We pulled people when the line got too long and we created stations in the lobby near our gym so that they did not have to wait in line forever.  This kept people happy.
  • Multiple WiFi access points.
  • Having power strips on hand.
  • Having printed copies of student usernames and passwords on hand at the first station and email station.
  • Possibly label the iPads then and there, which will cut down on time it took to try to locate the iPad and would also solve issues of devices not being able to be located.
  • You can never have enough WiFi access points!
  • Having parents come in over the summer to create their Apple IDs if they need assistance.

Overall, we had more success than issues and after the first two hours of a non-stop line of people, we were easily able to get people in and out in under 20 minutes.  The biggest hang up which caused for some people to be there longer was due to our issues accessing Apple’s website through parent email.  When parents were clicking the “Consent” button, the webpage was redirecting them to the wrong page and was not allowing them to create an actual Educational Apple ID for their student.  We ended up just forming a line where we took the parent’s information so that we could help them create an Apple ID at a later time.  Being flexible and creating a plan on the go really helped!  We had about 700/853 students come through to pick up their devices that evening and it was truly an awesome showing of our learning community with the number of staff, students, and parents involved!

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How Did We Prep for 1:1? Teacher and Student Resources Explained

As our district piloted a 1:1 resource allocation for k-5 over the past three years, this year provided the opportunity for the middle schools to officially enter the pilot!  Excited, anxious, curious, and strategizing are all words that could have summed up the summer of collaboration between myself and the other middle school Technology Facilitator in our district.  How could we best prepare our students and teachers for the fall rollout of the devices?  With lots of discussion, a shared Evernote notebook of resources and ideas, and a shared planning Google Site, it was decided that we would put together some sort of lesson start up for our teachers to guide the students through the first few weeks of school.  So…the real planning got started!

Naturally, we began “TPACKing”!

Context:

  • Every student (Grade 6 in my building, Grade 7 in the other middle school) would have an iPad to utilize as a learning resource.  Once a contract was signed, students would take the device home with them every night.  This is the first year that the middle school has been in the pilot and none of our teachers or students coming into the pilot have had an iPad experience previously.  We are starting at the foundation.  Staff had optional professional development that they could be a part of during the summer (See my iPad 201 post) and we created two iTunes University courses for staff to utilize for summer preparation as well.

Content:

  • Teachers: 21st century teaching/learning skills
  • Students:  21st century learning skills
  • Guiding Questions:  What skills/ideas are essential for students and teachers to be successful and smart users of the iPad?

We had a lot to cover!  From executive functioning, to digital citizenship, to Internet safety and everything in between!  We started with the basics of increasing the technical skills of the user through personalizing the device (organizing folders, tips and tricks of using the iPad, creating photo albums for each content area, etc.).  Then, we “leveled up” to integrating learning how to use key apps by addressing content that teachers have to address at the beginning of every school year (like dress code).  We moved on to discussing Internet safety and Creative Commons.  It was key to us to create an awareness of proper use of the device and proper use in sharing, as we knew students would be creating and sharing at a much higher level with their devices.

Pedagogy:

  • Guiding Question:  How can we model meaningful 21st century learning for students and teachers?

We knew we needed to use this as an opportunity to not only increase the digital literacy of our students, but of our teachers as well.  This challenge called for lots of modeling!  From citing sources throughout our lessons as a way to reinforce digital citizenship, to providing a clear instructional sequence to model online learning strategies, we kept an eye on details as we created the sequence of instruction.  My work with Michigan State’s Certificate in Educational Technology helped to solidify a sound and concrete structure for delivering content.  When teaching a course in Winter 2013, I fell in love with the instructional sequence:  Explore, Learn, Create, Share (Master of Arts in Educational Technology Program, Michigan State University).  After dialoguing with my colleague and discussing observations she had from a visit to Aptakisic Junior High, we also wanted to create a structure to increase engagement and differentiation.  Through the inclusion of elements of gamification, we were able to create a structure to allow students to “level up” or move on if they already had an understanding.  We wanted to be incredibly hands-on and interactive, as we knew that the only way to really increase digital literacy was for our students to interact with the device and the content.  With all of these ideas spinning around, we decided on a mix of structures that we had experienced, which took shape in the following instructional sequence of every learning opportunity:

  • iDiscover:  Content, as outlined by the learning target for the level
  • iExplore:  Learning about the content or tool in a more exploratory, hands-on way
  • iCreate:  Creating an artifact that demonstrates understanding of the content, using a technological tool
  • iOrganize:  Organizing ideas or the device itself in some way to create personalization (ie., setting up folders, photo albums, etc.).  Let’s remember, we’re working with middle schoolers.  We know how messy their lockers can get!
  • iReflect:  Provide an opportunity for students to make connections to content and extend their understanding
  • iShare:  Provide students the opportunity to share their understanding of the content

All of these pedagogical strategies allowed us to create a focus on individual exploration.  We were aware that technology had been taught through demonstrations in classrooms and we knew that, while this can be effective, it would not be plausible when allowing for student choice in demonstration of learning as the year got rolling.  In addition, we opened up every challenge to exploration and encouraged the participants to explore, play, and problem solve on their own.

Technology:

  • Guiding Questions: How can we model purposeful technology integration and use this as a learning opportunity for teachers?  How can we make the content more accessible to students through utilizing the device?

To make the content more accessible and place emphasis on the exploration and differentiation elements, we decided to utilize a Google Site to house our program, which we deemed “iSucceed”.  Affordances of using Google Sites over using our selected learning management system:

  1. Students would not have to create an account to get to the information.  So, we could start Day 1!
  2. Familiarity with the technology.  We would not distract from the content which we had identified as important by having hang ups in dealing with issues of understanding how to navigate content in the selected learning management system.
  3. Provided a shell that allowed the content to flow in an easy-to-follow sequence.
  4. Allowed for staff not in the pilot to have access to the content.
  5. Allows for fluid differentiate for all levels of users by embedding video tutorials and written directions so that content is represented in multiple ways.

Take a look at our iSucceed Program!

iSucceed Website

iSucceed Website User Interface

Reflections:

The resource allocation roll out at the middle school certainly set the tone for utilizing the device in purposeful ways.  Since we took content which needed to be covered−like the dress code—and showed how students could access content, clarify their understanding, and demonstrate their new knowledge, it allowed for teachers and students to see how content could be made accessible in new ways.  We have teams at our respected buildings and district level that are still reflecting fully on how we will better prepare for the full roll out next year.  I’ll certainly keep you updated!

References

Master of Arts in Educational Technology Program, Michigan State University.  Explore, learn, create, share [instructional sequence]. (Jan. 2013)


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Summer Reflections…in the Fall

Every teacher knows that summer really doesn’t mean that things slow down when it comes to brainstorming, learning, gathering ideas for lessons, and professional growth.  Before we know it, the school year has started and we’re getting to know new staff, students, and setting goals for ourselves for the new year.  This summer has been one of those summers that has flown by for me due to awesome professional development opportunities, weddings, and prepping for the middle school entering the 1:1 iPad pilot (our district is now 1:1, first through fifth grade).  I’m happy to report that the iPads have been deployed, MAP testing is over for the fall, and I’m now having time to reflect on what a whirlwind it has been!  So, here come a few posts that I’ve been brainstorming all the while.

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy at the University of Rhode Island.  I was in the company of technology educators, advocates, classroom teachers, library specialists, higher education instructors and professors, and journalists.  Our goal was to dig into what digital literacy is and how we can support our students in becoming more literate.  Hearing from others in different areas of the field of education and from the media field helped me to see that “text” can be anything.  We read images, billboards, search results, videos, infographics, printed literature, app settings, etc. While the process in which we read, interpret, and analyze those different forms of text may be slightly different, we are still pulling meaning from and comprehending each of them.  This seems like such a basic idea, but it was one of the first times that I really had actual time to process this.

While at the institute, I had the opportunity to present a session with a Michigan State colleague, Bill Marsland.  Resources from our presentation, “Catch You On the Flip Side: How Educators can Explore Digital Literacy Through Flipped Professional Development” can be found here.

Another twist on the conference was that we all participated in an inquiry based action project.  My partner, Jeremy Hyler, and I took the time to explore grammar education in the 21st century.  How could we take grammar practice and make it more motivating and meaningful for our students?  This exploration is one that I have researched before with my MAET coursework.  Grammar instruction is typically static, rote practice.  Yes, we put a rubric with graded assignments that focuses on the application of these concepts and rules, but is the connection really there for students?  Jeremy and I determined a structure that would allow for an inquiry approach to grammar instruction utilizing blended learning.  This approach calls for student ownership and allows students to analyze how text is compared across mediums.

Strategy:

Grammar Smackdown Cover

Step 1.  Students view a “teaser” video that has an example of a grammar concept/rule in it and some examples and non examples of the concept/rule which can be found in current text they are reading.

Step 2:  Students are given resources to access to try and figure out what the concept/rule is.

Step 3:  Students update their grammar portfolio, or what we referred to as their “Grammar Smackdown”, which has been created in Google Presentations.  Here, they must determine how this concept/rule looks in different mediums.  Also, they will utilize the speaker notes within Google Presentations to cite their sources and to put the ideas into their own words (seen below).

Student Grammar Example

By going through this process, it challenges students to think about the differences between formal and informal communication.  It reinforces the idea of how images can represent an idea, how we should be responsible digital citizens and cite our sources, and how we communicate with different audiences.   They first take the concept/rule and input an example into the template for the research paper, they can see what is appropriate in academic writing.  By taking that same concept/rule and plugging it into the template to fake Tweet, Facebook post, Instagram post, text message, and email, they are then able to see patterns and differences that arise when writing in these different contexts.  It allows them to see what language looks like in the 21st century, across platforms.  Hopefully, inspiring them to write for the correct audience and purpose in future circumstances!

Conventions of Standard English

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Knowledge of Language

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

Creative Commons License

Summer Reflections…in the Fall by Candace Marcotte is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.