Friday, September 30, 2011

Late Start

It's been challenging to get this iPad project started because there were just so many details to getting the iPads set up for our students' use.  I am excited about this project, and the students' faces just lit up when I told them what we were going to be doing with the iPads this school year.

After I received the 15 iPads and the Bretford cart, it took many hours to set them up properly for the students to use.  Since I'm in the library with no assistance, I had to ask a volunteer to come in for 1 1/2 days to work on them in the back room while I worked with students in the library.  I couldn't use student help with most of this because passwords needed to be used.

Here's a list of some of the things that needed to be done:
1.  Charge and sync all iPads to the MacBook iTunes account after having set up an iTunes account (without a credit card attached) and an Apple Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) account.
2.  Individually set each iPad with restrictions:  I restricted deleting apps,YouTube, and allowing changes to  Location (so that Find My iPad can't be turned off).
3.  Individually set each iPad to sync with a folder with the student pairs' names on them.
4.  Individually set each iPad with Find My iPad and add location services
5.  Individually organize folders on each iPad
6.  Sign into Dropbox accounts on each iPad
7.  Link each iPad with a Dropbox account for the iTalk app
8.  Set up student pair folders in iPhoto to import photos from the iPads.

Then I created a form with all the passwords and user names for restrictions, iTunes, Dropbox, VPP, and Mobile Me to share with the principal so that I wasn't the only one who knew all this info.

Some of this I figured out with trial and error, but I couldn't have done most of it without some great Live Binders such as this one created by Mike Fisher.

I created a Live Binder too back in March when I was applying for the Qwest grant, but it's nothing like Mike Fisher's.  It's actually somewhat chaotic and spare, but it has been useful to me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Qwest grant (now Century Link)

I applied for a $10,000 Qwest grant in February and found out in April that I was one of nine people in Washington State to receive it.  One of the other teachers is Stacey Churchill who's an art teacher at Foster High School in my school district of Tukwila.
Here's what I said I wanted to do:

This will be a yearlong project with students in an English Language Learners (ELL) class. Students will be paired up to read interactive books that embed audio and video on an iPad. Students will record their own voices reading the books to improve their reading fluency, which according to Johns and Berglund (2006) extends to include reading comprehension.  Students will then practice editing digital books using the StoryKit app from the International Childrens Library.  Eventually students will be ready to create their own digital books, representing themselves and their cultures, and publish them online for the school community to access and respond to.  The digital books will include audio (student narration), video, photographic, and written elements and will be created using various apps such as iTalk.

My district received the money on July 1st, and we placed out Purchase Order immediately.  Thankfully I have the support of Mike Cullum,  the Director of Instructional Technology for the district, and my principal, Brett Christopher, or this project wouldn't have been able to even begin.  When you're purchasing iPads, $10,000 doesn't go far.  With their help and the grant, we were able to purchase fifteen iPads, a Bretford cart for simultaneously syncing and charging the iPads, iPad covers, and $500 for the Apple Volume Purchasing Program for apps.  Additionally, Brett purchased five more iPads for staff to use for classroom walk-throughs, so I can borrow those when needed.
Truthfully, as I read over the twelve pages of my complete application, I wonder if my plan is bigger than I can actually handle.  I think I have some great ideas, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it all with the students.

Tomorrow I'll tell you how long it took just to get the iPads set up, and you'll understand what I mean.