When I first started this journey, I was somewhat closed minded as to what I would learn. I already had a Twitter account (which I used to
stalk follow celebrities and athletes on). I knew what Discovery Education was and I had already shown my class MANY video clips from the website already. An iPad sounded pretty awesome but was really just a bigger version of the iPhone I already had. After much reflection, I realized that I had no idea. I have decided that the easiest way to share my experience in the Learning Leader Project was to start at the very beginning and explain the journey I have gone through this year.
It all started that magical day when my iPad arrived in the courier at school. I felt like a young child on Christmas day, and I think some of my students were as excited as I was. After spending the day charging the iPad and registering for a new iTunes account, I decided to ask the students what my first app should be. “TEMPLE RUN!” they all told me. So I downloaded it. Not exactly the most educational, but it became a topic of conversation every day as certain students would run into the classroom to ask about my latest top score. (2,018,720 if you care to know)
I also downloaded Evernote and Dropbox, but I haven’t really used them at all because I have everything on Google Docs (now of course Google Drive). This brings me to the next undertaking that I took on during this journey. Setting my kids up for Google Apps. After many long hours, my teaching partner and I successfully created accounts for all 500+ students at our school. We began training other teachers in how to use Google Apps in the classroom, and then we began using this tool with our students as well. My only regret with this is that we didn’t start using Google Apps earlier. However, we have worked out many of the kinks we came across, and we are ready to go for next year.
After setting the students up with their Google Accounts, the next logical thing to do was to download the Google App. Makes sense, right? Well doing this just about made me throw my iPad out the window. There were so many issues with it – incompatibility between Google and the iPad, Google errors, the inability to share documents on an iPad, and the list goes on. Luckily many of these challenges have been fixed, but it still frustrates me that you can only create a document or a spreadsheet on the iPad but not a presentation or form. Hopefully those things will come with time.
Other than that, I have used my iPad to connect with educators via Twitter, find resources via Pinterest, read books in iBooks, keep up to date with the news via Zite, use a Times Table app during my Core Support class, allow my ESL student to use Google Translate during assignments, and the list goes on and on and on.
My most recent find (thanks to Marci Laevens) was the Coaches Eye app. I heard her talk about it during a Learning Leader meeting once and didn’t think much of it because I’m not a Phys Ed teacher. I didn’t think it really applied to me. But then I had the idea to bring it to my Golf Club’s practice. I was able to use my iPad to video tape the kids’ swings and I had a student change his swing from this:
Pretty cool, huh? (If you don’t know what you are looking for, it’s that his club should be parallel to the ground at the top of his backswing). And he would NEVER have been able to understand what I was explaining to him without the visual.
The last and probably most important thing that I learned through this journey is that we need to share EVERYTHING that we do. In the past, I have always thought that my ideas aren’t good enough to put out there online, or I have been too afraid to ask questions on something like Twitter for fear of sounding stupid. Dean Shareski really made this clear to us when he came to present during our last Learning Leader Session. And since being at this session, I have started to connect with and ask more questions of people in my PLN on Twitter. And it feels great to have such a supportive community online. I hope to stay connected with you all in the future!