Starting the Year With a 1:1 iPad Initiative

By Jessica Johnson
Communicator
September 2013, Volume 37, Issue 1

This year at Dodgeland Elementary School in Juneau, Wisconsin, is fortunate to be starting a1:1 technology initiative. Each student will be provided with an iPad.

Dodgeland Elementary is located in a small district where all students—pre-K to grade 12—are housed in one building, and 50 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunch. Our “three schools under one roof” setting allows us to share technology even though we still function as separate schools in three separate wings. Over the years, we have continued to improve our technology. Each building level has a computer lab and every classroom has a SMARTBoard. This past year, we added several carts of devices: Lenovo laptops, netbooks, Macbook Airs, and iPads. The carts allowed teachers the opportunity to explore different devices to determine what we should use for a 1:1 initiative.

Planning

Our district technology team explored schools that have gone 1:1 to see what worked and what didn’t. The team determined that the elementary level was the best place to start implementing a 1:1 initiative, and then developed a three year plan for implementing it in every grade. The day after this decision was made, we began educating parents and the community about the initiative on the school website and in the district newsletter. We even had a number of families say that they read about our technology initiatives and chose to move to our district because of them. 

Obstacles

Over the summer, our technology staff installed the necessary infrastructure to ensure that our wifi bandwidth could handle the additional devices. They configured the student iPads and developed procedures to download apps. While teachers were excited to start the year with iPads, some were apprehensive and worried about what they would do if the technology didn’t work. We have already found some glitches, such as issues with wifi connectivity—which our tech people worked on right away—Apple TV’s not working correctly, and issues with teachers being able to set up their own Apple ID for downloading apps to personalize their iPads. For teachers who are not as comfortable with technology, these types of obstacles can make or break the initiative. So, I continue to meet with our technology staff to ensure that these issues are handled quickly to get teachers back on track.  

Integration

Our back-to-school in-service included a full day of training from Apple certified trainers to learn new ways to integrate technology in the classroom. I plan to continue to lead and support our teachers to take risks and try new ways to integrate technology to engage their students in the learning process.

During the first week of school, I used my iPad to record clips of students modeling our Code of Conduct, and then created a trailer in iMovie to show at our first school assembly. I modeled this particular tool for teachers and students because teachers received training on it. I also include an “iPad Tip of the Week” in my weekly memo for staff.

In addition to supporting teachers, I plan to continue my own learning in integrating iPads into classrooms. I have learned a great deal through other educators on Twitter by following the hashtags #1to1techchat and #ipaded. I also listen to several podcasts like Techlandia, TeacherCast, and Edreach Mobile, and the 1to1 Videocasts at Edreach.us.

Finally, I am encouraging teachers to share best practices through a monthly Tech Talk during our regularly scheduled staff meetings. To facilitate, I set up a Google doc on our staff blog Web page so that teachers can sign up for a slot. During their slot, teachers will discuss an app that they are using, or some other integration technology. By having teachers give tech talks in our staff meetings, teachers will learn from each other about what works in iPad integration, supporting each other through the process.

I am convinced that this iPad initiative will engage students and be a game-changing tool to personalize their learning.  

Jessica Johnson is principal of Dodgeland Elementary School in Juneau, Wisconsin. She also blogs as Principal J.


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