Monday, February 4, 2013

K-4 iPad Parent Meeting

We hosted our first iPad parent meeting on January 30th in the school auditorium for those parents wanting to learn more about the K-4 iPad pilot program initiated in January at MSES.  We had an excellent evening.

Key points reviewed:

Why iPads? 
Manitou School District Vision Statement:   "Our whole children are Empowered personally to lead and to serve, Equipped intellectually to shape their future, Enriched creatively to flourish lifelong." 

iPads offer another powerful tool to students to achieve those whole-child ends - a medium our digital natives find both natural and intuitive.

Most of us have heard the term "digital native" used to describe children born in the high-tech world that we adults have grown up into - a world far more connected and fast paced, for better or for worse, than when we were in elementary school.  Technology is a part of many of our students lives already - and will be a significant part of their schooling and work world going forward.  That presents many challenges to parents and educators.  While technology offers new power in the learning process, it raises concerns for us, not just as parents, but as a society about the effects of this power in our lives.

We have had computers in classrooms for over 15 years and linked to the internet for just as long.  We have already seen kids' natural connection to technology in their learning and thinking.  Now, the iPad has entered the scene and causing to address this issue from a personal point.

We have been saying for several years now that it's on our watch as parents and teachers to address the implementation of 1:1 technology in the classroom.  We have a desire to put this power for learning in the hands of our kids on a continual and individual basis.  We have accomplished this by increasing the number of computers available to students in the classroom and in computer labs.  We also notice a continual increase in the number of devices students bring to school with them on a daily basis (smart phones, iPads, computers.)  Schools are in constant competition with these devices and need to address the "check in, unplug, check out" attitude students bring to school each morning.

Initial 1:1 Pilot
As a response, two years ago fifth grade along with middle school implemented one to one iPad program.
  • iPads are not a new way of learning or a revolution in education, they are a powerful tool in the classroom and, for many students, at home.
  • Higher engagement
  • Longer, more focused basic skills practice
  • But also great creavitity in publishing their knowledge and more empowered research.
iPad Brochure
Russ shared the iPad Brochure with everyone.  It is available here for download. IPAD BROCHURE

Last year, as we piloted this program, Debbie Heidenreich’s husband, Dan, made a Video that illustrates these points in the words of our own students and teachers.
iPads Invade the Fifth Grade at MSES

Interactive Example
We then shared an example of an interactive electronic book to show some of the power of digital learning for younger kids.  The book, though powerful, is not intended to replace the power of a child sitting on an adult's lap while being read to or the feel and interaction of a great paper book.  The electronic book has distinct advantages we want to capitalize on in the classroom and at home when the parent or teacher is working with others.

User Agreement
An overview of the Elementary K-4 User agreement was presented.  This agreement outlines general care and use of the iPad, insurance policies and the opt in/opt-out agreement.
User Agreement K-4

Take Home Preparations
The next couple of weeks involve final preparations for students to bring the iPad home.  While we feel the iPad is a powerful learning tool, we also recognize and respect the choice of some who would choose not to have electronics enter the home environment.  The Opt-In/Opt-Out agreement form allows for parents to express their iPad home front preferences.

Classroom Visits
The meeting then adjourned to classrooms where the children and teachers shared some of the exciting new uses being pioneered for the iPad in various grade levels over the few short weeks the iPad has been in use.  The principal and I were on hand in the auditorium with questionnaires for those who wanted to share feedback.

Future Conversations
In addition, parents and school staff will meet on the second Tuesday of each month to address iPads in the classroom.  The first meeting will be February 11th at 3:00 PM at MSES.

More information about iPads at MSSD may be found on the MSSD14 iPads Wikispace.

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