“Appy” Hour PD

Backdrop  – Our school has TDPPT (Teacher Directed Professional Planning Time) every Friday afternoon from 1:45- 2:45.  Some teachers were struggling to organize themselves into groups so we decided to offer 4-5 week teacher led sessions on an ongoing basis. Other options were available in areas such as Project Based Learning, Improving Student Motivation, Using Portfolios to Document Student Growth, and Planning for Student Success. The school has 1000 students and several iPad carts around the campus – one is dedicated to Science and each of the 9th and 10th grade interdisciplinary teaching teams have a cart to share. These four carts are housed with the English teacher on each team. What follows is an overview of our first “Appy Hour” session. 

Intros  - We started our session with intros by asking each participant to respond to two questions: What is your experience with iPads? Why are you here?

  • Japanese teacher – total novice, wants to learn how she might use iPads for foreign language instruction
  • Math teacher (calculus) – advanced novice, here because it sounded fun
  • Tech Coordinator -  support/wants to know more about iPads in Education
  • Art Teacher – has an iPad but wants ideas on how to use with Art Students
  • Health Teacher – novice but wife has one and he wants to be able to know more than she does for once (lots of laughs)
  • Math teacher (trig/precalculus and college algebra) – addicted to iPad – uses it for everything – wants to learn more about how to use in upper level math classes
  • English teacher – addicted to iPad, uses it mainly for presentation but has a cart in his room – wants to use it more often. Also wants to share how he is using it with his students with others. Has presented on iPads at conferences and to other schools.

Overview of iPads in EducationAt this point, I presented a brief keynote about the primary functions of iPads in Education. While this was happening the iPad novice math teacher was exploring the Art Set app and created a beautiful piece of work that everyone ooh’d and aah’d over.  I think this prompted what happened next.

 App Exploration:  The original Plan was to explore one APP (Animoto) together with participants following along at first and then creating something on their own. The idea was then to share their creations and how they would use the APP in their different subject areas. Instead one participant suggested we all explore apps that were aligned with our subject area with sharing of what we each learned at the end of the session. The group enthusiastically agreed. Participants worked as follows:

  • The two math teachers paired up – I suggested they explore Wolphram Alpha which they did but they also found a few other apps they really liked.
  • The Art teacher explored Art Set and created a beautiful design.
  • The tech coordinator paired up with the Health teacher to teach him some basics and they looked for excellent health related apps. There weren’t any that jumped out so Lisa introduced him to Pages after a while which he started to explore a bit. He also decided to play with the Art Set as he was sitting next to the Art Teacher.
  • The English teacher paired up with the Japanese teacher to explore different language learning apps since he had used an Indonesian app for personal use in the past.

Throughout the session questions arose about things like how they could get access to a cart, how they could download apps they would like their students to use onto a cart of iPads and what the best projection set up would be in each classroom. The technology coordinator and the English teacher were able to address all of those questions.  There was also a request to let participants check out the iPad for the weekend to play/explore. This was allowed and encouraged.

Sharing Out:  Participants were asked to share what they learned, one takeaway and one suggestion for the next session. I didn’t grab all the learning or individual takeaways but it seemed like everyone found something valuable. The feedback was very positive.  We decided to try the following format next week:

  1. App of the Week (10 minute) – Introduction to one app that is already on all the iPads.
  2. App Exploration (20-30 min) – Participants can explore the App of the week or any other app they are interested in. If they want a particular app on the iPad cart for next week’s session, they are to email Mike (tech coordinator) by Thursday.
  3. Sharing Out – Sharing out of findings/learnings/creations (10-20 min)
  4. Sharing Practice – those who have used iPads will share how they use it, management tips and examples of student work with th rest of the group.  (10 -15 min)

I’m excited to see how this unfolds over the next few weeks. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile if you have any great app suggestions for high school upper level math, high school health, or Japanese, please leave a comment below. Hope to hear from you!

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