Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Salt Lake City, Utah Apple Leadership Event Notes

I had the privilege of presenting at an Apple Leadership Event recently in Salt Lake City, Utah.  As has become our custom in our District, I make it a point to share what I learn from these inspiring events.

Here are a few apps I picked up.  Make sure you check them out:

I also received another dose of learning about iBook Author.  We really need to take advantage of this.  We will learn more about this later.  And of course there is iTunes U where we have access to free courses both in college and K-12. More PD to follow here as well.

Apple Distinguished Educator Cheryl Davis

I had the opportunity to learn from Cheryl Davis who is the Technology Specialist from Acalanes Union High School District.

She had shared some of the exciting things that are happening with teacher and student from the evolution of teachers sharing some of their successes using iTunes U, the use of iPod Touches in many classrooms to the roll out of a 1:1 iPad pilot for half of the Freshman class at one of the high schools.

Cheryl listed four of the most pleasantly surprising things that have happened with the advent of technology being used in their district:

1.  She noticed much more student use of complex text and literacy.  She mentioned the existence of a natural symbiotic relationship between iPad touch devices and a willingness of students to read more complex text. She described students having a much more voracious appetite in their reading.

The students being able to physically touch words on the text on an iPod Touch or iPad gave them ease to annotate, take notes, and look up definitions.  Student  literacy levels took a leap upwards.

She gave an example of how the teacher added the  element of  a "back channel" during oral Socratic. Discussion.  Teachers saw amazing progression with students reading and responding to each other.  The student enthusiasm and engagement were increased when students read aloud on iPads and annotate that reading with the opportunity to demonstrate the reading and annotations by putting them on the screen.  Students encouraged other students, " You put yours up there," and this led into great discussions.

Another exciting piece I would like to see more in our District is students publishing with apps like Creative Book Builder.  Students used text, images, video and sound and wrote reflective essays with glossary included! Students use this multimedia tool to create books, and students love them because they become a publisher and share books with parents and students.

2.  The introduction of the iPad encouraged more teacher collaboration.  Their personal learning communities took an upbeat step as teachers are now more excited about what they are doing to the point of stepping up and sharing.  More and more teachers now understand the technology and have more control of the device and how it can be used to improve teaching and learning.

3.  Cheryl saw a turn in student engagement where it became more than just being engaged with the device.  There was a sense of excitement and expectation among teachers and students where students stepped up to assist their peers.  There was also this sense where teachers and students were "in this together" in the new endeavor to use technology for greater learning.  Teachers also started to let go and have students find ways to express content.  This was a shift where the teacher designated a learning outcome without requiring one specific app or way of expression how the content and outcome was to be presented, illustrated or described.  Cheryl called it a place in learning where students engineer learning themselves.

4. Cheryl observed a shifting in pedagogy.  Teacher noticed new tasks began happening with students.  For example one Math teacher flipped the classroom but took it a step further with iPads and challenged students to make their own instructional videos.  He expressed to the students that you get tired of hearing me, and now it is time to hear from you!

There is also a shift of more students creating instruction for other students (used combo of iMovie and Explain Everything).  Math and Science classes used the technology to add to the hands on and enrich the learning.  The iPad creates flexibility for learning and teaching where no longer students sit on side while someone else uses the technology.  Also, students find solutions easier from working collaboratively, and the mobile device takes away the "divided" desktop or laptop screen where students can work together over a flat and easy to move iPad screen.  Lastly, the school found students had a much easier way to connect with experts, using a social network called Tout.  One powerful example included students asking questions from a historian at Antietam.

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