Thursday, March 15, 2012

iPads in Students' Hands

This was our first year with iPads in the elementary classrooms, purchased with Title funding.

Training with Tony Vincent

We've had several trainings with Tony Vincent, starting with a three hour introduction and a two hour follow up with fabulous center ideas for literacy, fluency, and spelling.

How I see them used in the classrooms 

After Tony Vincent helped us get started, we've become more comfortable with using them, and we're at the point where we were figuring out new ways to use them.

Here were some of the examples I've seen in the classrooms recently: 

1. Previewing nonfiction text in Title I using ShowMe app

Below was an example of how they were being used in Title I with Shelly Brossman. Shelly and I role played how to preview nonfiction text in this ShowMe video, created on the iPad in real time. Shelly then tried this with the students. They were completely engaged and paid more attention to their learning and why it was important.

After the students were familiar with creating ShowMe videos to explain the the skills they were using, our hope was to see the homeroom teachers show their classes what these students have been learning, especially to review these skills.

2. Multiple meaning words as a vocabulary center

Many second grade students in classrooms across the district used the ShowMe app for students to create multiple meaning word videos. Here's an example from Mrs. Saggio's class:

This was a fabulous formative assessment because there were students who really could apply various meaning and creatively show this, while other students could only think of one way to use the word. It also led into several discussions about multiple meaning words, and compared them to homophones.

3. Using the iPads to help facilitate differentiated spelling tests

Bonnie Barrett, 1st and 2nd grade teacher, used the iPad to deliver the spelling tests to her two grade levels of students. This was the process:

First, you'd pre-record your spelling words using the ShowMe app, ScreenChomp, or any app with audio. Click here for an example, or view below:

Second, create QR codes for the link to the test.

Third, place the student names next to the QR code of the test you'd like them to take. (I recommend having them on separate pages/places).
The students benefited from taking a spelling test this way because they controlled the pacing, and could repeat the word as many times as needed. The teacher benefited because she was free to work with other students during this time. It also gave the classroom more flexibility to have the spelling test taken during centers or during other times throughout the day.

4. Using the iPad to bring primary resources and build background knowledge
Pocket Penguins App

When I was in Danielle Houseman's kindergarten class, I noticed she used one iPad to stream content to her students. They were observing real penguins from a webcam, then they drew them, paying attention to details.

Using the iPad with Common Core & 21st Century thinking

There's an app that I found called Painting with Time, where you look at the same thing over increments of time. It had examples of the shore at low tide and high tide, it shows the changes in seasons, the changes in shadows throughout the day, and even a man growing out a beard.

I thought this would be a fabulous app for students to create word problems that would correlate with the changes in time, and they'd also create the answer key. This would help them use time in context with their critical thinking skills, found in the Common Core and 21st century thinking.

Other creative ideas and examples of using the iPads in classrooms

Idea for professional development

If I was a principal at a school with iPads, I'd have a Make-Take-Share time for my staff to work with their teams to create centers and learning activities with the iPads, and have them share back to the whole group what was created, how the students would learn with it, and how they'd introduce it to the students. I'd specifically ask if it would be introduced as a whole group, a small group, or would there be student experts they'd train to help teach the other students how to use it?

I could even start this by having them explore the examples in my post, then have them work together to brainstorm their own.

Your thoughts

I always want to focus on the pedagogy instead of the tool; however, when there are new tools being introduced, it requires time to figure out the best practices with that tool, then you can focus on the learning.
  • How have you used iPads in your classroom?
  • What creative ideas, examples, or resources can you share with us?
Thank you, Tony Vincent, for helping us get comfortable with the devices and for showing us how to engage students with them!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lead, Coach, and Build Capacity

Building capacity in the school district means improving and strengthening the learning in our students, employees, teachers, administrators, school board, and community. Coaching is a great way to build capacity, and leaders naturally build capacity.

Finding leaders to assume leadership roles is an important part of the process. Please be aware that I don't believe a title makes someone a leader, it's just who they are.

Leadership skills sets

I've recently been involved in several conversations about building capacity. One of the conversations was about skills sets to look for when identifying leaders, specifically coaches. 

I believe the following qualities are found in good coaches and leaders:
  • People person: gels well with others and builds relationships
  • Character: has integrity and is trustworthy
  • Attitude: is positive even in negative circumstances
  • Skills and productivity: able to get things done
  • 21st century thinker: adapts, problem solves, is creative, strategizes, communicates and collaborates
  • Stress management: deals with pressure, deadlines, risk/failure, and obstacles 
  • Passion driven leader and visionary: understands, communicates, contributes, and makes progress towards the vision 
  • Leadership capacity: ability to build teams and gather followers
  • Servant leader: takes pride in serving others and building them up
  • Shared leadership: must work as a team to change culture
  • Grows people: nurtures their strengths, and gently challenges them to learn/grow
  • Develops others: knows how much to lead (direct), when to facilitate or team teach (coach), and when to set them on their own (empowering them to do it independently)
  • Measures growth: creates "formatives" along the way to strengthen and help others succeed (this also requires a clear sense of what goals they are looking for)
Coaching and developing others to build capacity

Measuring effectiveness

How do you know you are effective as a leader and coach? Everyone has a starting place and everyone can learn, improve, reflect, and grow.

For me, I measure my effectiveness as a coach based on the growth and changes in myself, and in those I invest my time in.

I set goals for learning, improving, and I reflect, which causes growth. I measure the growth through the amount of risks taken when trying something new, and the improvements made from reflecting, which is evidence of growth.

I also believe Kirkpatrick's four levels of evaluation helps guide a more formal measurement though qualitative and quantitative data, but I will dive into that in a different post.

I'd love to hear your thoughts
  • How do measure effectiveness as a leader and coach?
  • What examples can you share of a time coaching/leading builds others (which builds capacity)?
  • What leadership qualities do you look for in others?