I will be presenting at the 30th Annual VSTE Conference in Roanoke, Virginia. My presentation title is On the Road to Deeper Learning, and it will focus upon the vision behind our 1:1 program.
Deeper Learning through Projects, Personalization, and Play
I will be presenting at 12:45 PM on Thursday, December 3 in Williamsburg. The theme of this presentation came from the article that Dr. Gretz and I had accepted into Virginia Educational Leadership this past spring.
I’m proud to announce that our 1:1 program with iPads has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished Program for 2015-2017. Roughly 300 schools and districts have been recognized around the world; beyond the U.S. in places as diverse as Singapore, Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, Malaysia, Thailand, and Brazil.
Goochland’s program began in 2013-14 as a pilot program in grades 3-5 at Goochland Elementary School before expanding to additional schools. This school year the program provides iPads for students to take home across the division in grades 4-7, in addition to the third grade at GES. Next year, the division plans on expanding the iPad program to grades 3-8. Creativity, personalization, individualization, and student passion are at the heart of Goochland’s approach to learning with individual technology. With iPad, teachers and students are working together to redefine learning, as it supports achieving the division’s mission of maximizing the potential of every learner.
The Apple Distinguished Program designation is reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence, and demonstrate a clear vision of exemplary learning environments.
This designation will place us in contact with other schools implementing 1:1 programs so that we may continue to grow and learn in this evolving process. It also opens up the opportunity to host other educators from across the region to visit Goochland and see our environment and work towards deeper learning.
At the start of November, we will publishing an interactive ebook in iBooks format that communicates our vision for the program and highlights the components that we believe make a strong 1:1 program. Stay tuned to our homepage for the publication of this book.
Thanks go to our teachers, school board, and technology staff for making the dream of a 1:1 possible!
For examples of other superlative programs, visit Apple’s iTunes portal for other iBooks-compatible resources that share stories from other schools and programs.
Recently, at one of our parent nights for our iPad 1:1 program, a mom approached me about my thoughts on screentime, and specifically, what did the research say about it? Were kids possibly being put at jeopardy with too much time in front of an iPad?
I have a couple thoughts on this, that I have shared with a number of parents. Some of these thoughts were also echoed by our teachers in the program.
- Our iPad program does not prescribe students being actively in front of, and using, an iPad all day long. It’s hard to say how much time per day a student is looking and interacting with an iPad (or laptop for that matter), but within a 1:1 environment, that time might range from between 60 minutes to 3 hours per day.
- All screentime is not the same. We have traditionally thought of screentime as time spent in front of a television. Later, video game systems were lumped into the concept. Now, it’s any time facing a backlit screen. We know that your brain is doing very different things between watching a television show (passive) to working out a puzzle game on an iPad (active). So, if we think if “screentime” as a way to kill off brain cells and waste time, video games, Google searches, and creative pursuits using software on a device are all actually brain-developing pursuits of time. That said, we do be believe there is a healthy balance and we hard to maintain that at school. It’s important for parents to help with that when the iPad goes home. Students still need active time away from all electronics, and hopefully interacting with peers and family face to face.
On the side of research, this study recently came out specifically looking at younger children from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They seem to echo my sentiment about choosing brain-active activities.
This 2008 report details how families used technology in the home, and more recently, this 2015 report details how teens are relying upon technology for romance. Both articles do not make a case whether or not technology as a whole is good or bad, but its presence in our lives is changing the way we spend our time.
There are two difficulties I see in proving or disproving whether or not technology use by younger students is appropriate or not. The first is that looking online will reveal a range of opinions. For instance, this blog post is in support of technology being a part of an early childhood education program. And research studies, like this dissertation, don’t exactly answer the question, and may be difficult for everyone to understand. The second issue is that because technology use is so ubiquitous today in many American households, it would be hard to conduct a true comparison study to look at child development with the absence of technology.
In the end, our 1:1 program is being developed to stand on a foundation with a few core beliefs. Among those is that the use of technology in a classroom should aim higher than simply replacing a the types of tasks that were undertaken by students without technology being present. Using the SAMR model, our aim is to provide, invent, and design new types of tasks that take advantage of ways of learning that would not have been possible without the technology being present. Another belief that does not parallel the first, is that technology can be used to make learning more efficient–both for the instructor and the student. We do not emphasize this, but tend to think of it in more student-centered ways. For instance, if assessment of student needs and strengths can be streamlined using technology, it can equip our teachers with more time and ability to individualize learning and based on a student’s needs.
Our final iPad Night for parents is tonight, Monday, October 5, 2015. We have loved the opportunity to engage with parents and love all the questions.
We’re almost done with iPad deployment this year, and coming up, we have some parent nights for learning more about the iPad program.
Our technology team, headed by Peter Martin, has been responsible for the behind-the-scenes work in setting up and configuring iPads. I know Ginni Nichols and Mike Arrighi have been helpful leading up to handing out iPads to students. Our library media specialists have also been instrumental in making sure iPad deployments ran smoothly.
We continue to struggle with Apple ID requirements for students. I want parents to know we regret the process has to involve coming to our schools and spending time creating these accounts.
I am looking forward to where we are 3 weeks from now – when the real exciting things really start to take shape with deeper learning. As I watched tonight at home the new Apple announcements for the iPad Pro, the new iPhones, and the Apple Watch, I was less impressed by the hardware or Apple’s new software. What stood out for me was what people were doing with these mobile tools. We might not yet be at the level that doctors, engineers, artists, and photographers are yet on the professional level with these tools, but there is something to be said about the inspirational notion of a tool doing something well and effortlessly to help us achieve our goals. Please know our team of educators this year is dedicated towards making these tools work for kids to help them realize their full potential. Through apps? Yes, but more through creativity, innovation, and hard work.
This year at our opening Convocation on August 13, 2015, the Goochland County Public Schools awarded three prizes of distinction to teachers based upon learning that took place by students during the 2014-15 school year. These G21 Awards were presented to teachers based on their success in planning and executing engaging learning experiences focused on the development of twenty-first century skills using a project-based approach.
Our elementary winner was Mr. Joe Beasley from Goochland Elementary School. As a 1:1 iPad teacher, Joe’s G21 Project was entitled “Zooapedia,” and required students to develop their own class wiki on animals. Modeled after the world’s most famous wiki, the Wikipedia, students developed webpages that collected factual information, photos, and even animations of animals. Using Google Sites software, he was able to engage the entire class with every page through commenting. Students took great pride in figuring out how to construct the pages in ways they wanted them to behave, using HTML code in some cases.
Our secondary winners are Mrs. Emily Holloway-Costa (English) and Mr. Neil Burch (drama). The two teachers worked together to find new ways to approach the teaching of myths. Students wrote their own plays, and Burch’s students performed the dramatic works. The approach adopted focused on the art of creation in the learning process. The resulting works penned and acted by students were of high quality.
Goochland also likes to recognize projects that go beyond a school’s walls. This year Goochland Elementary Teachers Ms. Ariel Kuykendaal, Mrs. Betsy Alvis, and Mrs. Sara DeLong (Kindergarten) designed a calendar project where their Kindergarten students developed calendars they could sell, with the help of older students who had iPads at the school. They later got help from Mr. Tim Greenway (CTE) at the high school and had outdoor easels built for art projects. The students got to see the fruits of their labor with a cool new outdoor learning space.
G21 is a district-wide initiative begun in 2008 to bring project-based learning opportunities to students. The G21 Awards are a way for us to highlight superlative efforts by our educators. GCPS appreciates the support of the Goochland Education Foundation which underwrites this award each year. Congratulations, teachers!
Video tutorials are not everyone’s idea of the ideal learning asset. The idea of reducing education to a bunch of embedded online videos really did not sit well with a lot of educators as the Khan Academy began to be used in America’s schools. Yet, I am a fan of the site and resource. And it’s not because of the videos.
They offer a nice management dashboard and they are trying some truly interactive, interesting ways to engage the learner beyond video watching. What some teachers may not know is:
- What’s available? and
- Is there a management tool for me?
This guide does a good job of detailing how a teacher can create a coach role and let students become monitored by the teacher. As students progress through activities and develop points within the system, it’s all tracked. This would help facilitate time spent within Khan on a routine basis, if the teacher set the expectation for “10 minutes of Khan a week” or “1000 points a month.”
And for those not sure what’s there beyond math, here’s a catalog of their subjects covered by volunteers and resource partners. For parents, they too can become a coach, and monitor their student’s progress. We recommend students use their Goochland Google account to connect to the service.