October 1, 2012 Update

The month of September continued to be a great learning experience as we begin to see the evolution of staff use of their iPads. We continue to offer training for staff and have transitioned from large group, centralized training like our Tech Boot Camp to targeted, on-site sessions at each building on a weekly basis – a total of 15 of these sessions were held in September. The training is moving toward building-specific needs. We have demonstrated the use of QuickOffice HD, ShowMe, talked about synchronizing calendars, and shown the process for mirroring the teacher’s iPad to their classroom projector. General problem solving also takes place at these sessions — it is an opportunity for teachers to gather and share the new things they are learning with one another.

Here are a handful of examples of how staff are using iPads in the first month of school.

  • Our 7th grade science teachers have purchased a frog dissection simulation app and are preparing to implement this as a station for students to use during lab time in the coming months. They like the fact that the app they’ve selected allows students to make connections between the frog’s biology and the human body.
  • One physical therapist has used her iPad to record changes based on strategies she is using with her students. She writes “When students begin wearing new foot and ankle orthotics, the skin goes through an adjustment phase, which I can now easily document with a photo.  I also have taken movies of students’ walking patterns as baselines for this academic year.” These things could have been completed before but using several different pieces of technology. The process becomes more seamless with the ability to integrate photos, video, and notes on one device.  
  • One elementary teacher shared how the ability to take attendance on her iPad frees her SMART Board in the morning so that students can begin to interact with the “morning meeting” message on the SMART Board as soon as they walk in the door as opposed to waiting until after the teacher had taken attendance on her classroom computer. This makes a more fluid start to the school day. Even if just five minutes are saved per day, this equates to 14.5 hours per year that can be devoted to additional instruction!   
  • We continue to see administrative tasks being moved to the iPad – for example, the continued movement toward sending meeting agendas and other documents ahead of time, saving significant paper.
We have been installing software that allows teachers to mirror their iPad on their classroom projector. The manner in which this can be done has really changed in the last several months – moving from the ability to use a VGA connector that is directly plugged into the projector to a low cost piece of software that will allow teachers to mirror their iPad screen to their classroom computer and onto their projector. We have chosen to use Reflection. It works for both PCs and Macintosh computers using Apple’s AirPlay technology. It is lower cost — $8 per license. In many cases, we need to add a wireless adapter to our PCs or update our Mac OS X software to be able to run the software. We have started slowly, piloting it in about a dozen classrooms to ensure reliability and adding more classrooms each day. The approach is significantly less expensive than using the AppleTV or other larger scale software.
Our task forces, charged at looking at areas associated with a potential student implementation for next school year, started their second round of meetings last week. Task forces tackled a number of other districts’ policy and procedures in preparation for developing the policies and procedures that Northfield would use with any possible student usage. They also looked at possible methods to guide the larger-scale purchase of apps and digital textbooks.
We have also started an “iPad Minute” segment at each Board of Education meeting to highlight the ways our staff are using their devices for student instruction and professional efficiency. You can watch the “iPad Minute” segment from the 9/24/2012 Board of Education meeting by clicking here. The segment begins at the 55 minute mark of the video.