Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Preparing for launch

The iPod Touches arrived last week and we experienced a few "technical difficulties" that were not anticipated. I thought I would take a minute to share these out so that if anyone out there is trying to replicate, you can use this information to help make it a little smoother.

Our first road block was the cart. We ordered the Bretford Power-Sync Cart which allows us to charge 40 iPod Touches and sync 20 touches at a time. Originally, Bretford said that we needed to use an Apple computer in order to sync the cart. We had several G4 iBooks that we could use, however, the system was now powerful enough for us to download the 10.4.9 OS so we were unable to download the iTunes that we needed to sync with the cart. Fortunately, we called Apple and they informed us that a PC would work with the cart, so we should be good to go from here on out.

Our next speed bump was syncing the iPod Touches. Before you are able to sync with the Bretford Cart, you must sync each individual iPod Touch to the computer that will be used with the cart. We needed to sync 28 iPod Touches, which took about an hour. During this process, you need to set up each iPod and name it. Again, this only needs to be done once, but it takes a little bit of time - so it's smart to plan ahead. Along with the set up of the iPod Touches, we had to also get them on our network at school. This only took a few seconds to do each iPod Touch, but needed to be done before the iPod Touches were launched in the classroom.

Stay tuned...the project has launched in Mrs. Stacey's Class. Video and updates will follow!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Defining Roles

So the Christmas Crazies have finally wound down and I'm back to blogging about our exciting project - using iPod Touches in the classroom.

During our last meeting (right before holiday break), I thought it was important for us to begin to define our roles in this project. Currently, our team exists of Megan Stacey - classroom teacher, Debra Simson - media specialist, Cary Harrod - instructional tech. coordinator, and me - building administrator. As the project began to roll out and we started planning with the end in mind, it became more and more evident that if we didn't clearly identify our roles in the process there could possibly be considerable overlap or not enough support. Also, if we attempt to replicate this project in the future, will we be able to maintain these roles for multiple teachers?

Here is a list of ideas that we came up with for our roles and support. I would love to hear feedback from my PLN on what we may have overlooked or unnecessary items that we listed.

Megan Stacey - Classroom Teacher:
  1. Plan the Project - determine the best use of the iTouches in the classroom.
  2. Collect data on whether we are moving to authentic learning or if we are just doing the same tasks in different ways.
  3. Maintain communication with stakeholders - parent nights, newsletters, etc.
  4. Research tools that will enhance student learning.
  5. Plan and implement lessons.
  6. Support students through the discovery process of learning how to use these tools.

Debra Simson - Building Media Specialist:

  1. Tech support - if/when there are problems with equipment.
  2. Process support - help in the planning of the project and the direction the team is heading.
  3. Paperwork - completing technology/media paperwork that is necessary (tagging equipment, off premise use forms, etc).
  4. Extra set of hands in the classroom to support the students and Megan.
  5. Researcher - seeking out apps for iTouches and ideas for use in the classroom.
  6. Provider of time - help lighten Megan's load (help Megan respond to student blogs, etc)

Dani Watkins - Building Administrator:

  1. Plan the project - also support project through finding resources, use for tools, and support financially.
  2. Research current trends in ed. tech and tools that are available, both for the classroom and for team use (communication, sharing ideas, etc. - drop box, Google wave, Kidblog, etc)
  3. Support Megan with parent questions/concerns providing research that supports our stance. Field the tough questions, especially when we begin to break down the classroom walls and become more "open" with the student work. Maintain relationships with stakeholders and provide frequent information regarding the project.
  4. Collecting data for our project to determine success of the project as well as determine feasibility of replication in other classrooms.
  5. Promoting transparency - through PLN, blogging, monthly building newsletter, etc
  6. Recorder of information through pictures, voice recordings, podcasts, flip to help support data collection and transparency.

Cary Harrod - Instructional Technology Coordinator:

  1. Help plan the project. Spending the past five years learning about instructional technology has given me a view that will ultimately prove helpful to the implementation of the project. My true expertise is understanding how to embed technology in a seamless manner.
  2. I’m also interested in helping to insure the transparency of the project from a district level.
  3. Support of Megan. Help her in any way she needs me to help her. My plan would be to spend approximately an hour/week in her classroom, observing and collecting data. I would be especially excited to have the opportunity to work one on one with some of the kids so I can gain a deeper understanding of the learning that is occurring.
  4. From a district level, I will be the one who reports back to Central Office and makes a recommendation as to whether or not these devices are to be adopted by our district.

OK - So what are we missing??? Where are the holes? What else could we be doing to support this project?