teaching with the tools of a digital world


Goal 11: Ask, Perhaps You’ll Receive, iPads and Conference Fridays

My 18 month old son playing on my iPad

This goal has been a long time coming. I came up with the idea for this goal way back when I started the 30 Goals Challenge (and it has taken me much longer to get to this point than I expected, but soldier on!). The item I have decided to ask for is a classroom set of iPads. I have my own iPad and really enjoy it. I also think that I could leverage the power of the iPad in my classroom in valuable ways. The biggest thing my students complain about is the log in time for our laptops (partially the laptops fault, partially the nature of the beast). Turns out my Technology Integration Facilitator has had the same plan as I have. We are definitely getting a classroom set of iPads to test out, one for the middle school and one for the high school. However, we are writing a grant for 1-to-1 iPads for all students in the high school. This would be a big commitment and a big undertaking. It would be coupled with virtual machines to make up for the “missing Apps.” For my science class this would include LoggerPro (a program for¬†analyzing¬†student collected data).

The second item in this goal that I have asked for has to do with a change in the schools schedule for next year. As mentioned previously we are a small rural district where a majority of the student body participates in athletics and other extra-curricular activities which regularly takes them out of the classroom, especially on Fridays. Due to this, the district is moving to a 4 1/2 day school week. That 1/2 day is the point of this post. It has been decided that there will be no progression of content because of the number of students out of class. Which left us with about 28 minutes in each class to not do much other than review. This led our principal to ask for ideas from the staff.

A group of teachers and I, built the idea of “Conference Fridays” (the name may not stick around…). The idea is that Fridays will become much more like a conference (think also of Google’s 20% time). Staff will propose and present cross-curricular extension activities, not tied to a specific course or grade level. Students will be able to choose which “conferences” they attend and will have a month to attend the proposed conference. Each conference will culminate with a student product and a student presentation, the venue can vary from the school board, a local company, science fair, art show, etc. There are many teachers and students very excited about this idea (including me)! The best thing that as a first year teacher I have had the opportunity to spearhead this effort because of a administrator and staff members who are able to rely on each other and open to each others’ ideas.

I am presenting this idea to staff members tomorrow morning, I will also embed a copy of the presentation which explains the idea in greater detail. Wish me luck!