Project REAL Revisited

I had the good fortune to attend another Apple education seminar at Little Falls High School . Last spring, I attended a morning session where the Project REAL plan was presented and the 5th grade teachers and students who piloted iPads were there to show what they had done. Last year, there were approximately 40 people in attendance.

This year’s seminar was a full day. Teachers presented about what they had been doing, then we had time to visit with students and teachers at tables. The IT staff answered specific technical questions. This time, there were over 250 people at the session, and more than 550 people were watching the livestream. Wow!

Thankfully, they recorded the morning session which had about 12 teachers presenting different aspects of how they have used iPads this year. Watch it for yourself and see the great stuff happening in Little Falls!

It was a great day with many interesting stories. If I wasn’t already convinced that schools need to move to this direction, I am now.

Here’s a quick list of highlights for me:

  • “The only thing I can’t do on the iPad is print, and boy, am I glad.” — from Dave Girtz, the middle school media specialist
  • Carrie Youngberg, 5th grade, sees increased parent communication when the kids produce a weekly video of the “newsletter.”
  • Anjanette Kraus, High School English, uses Kidblog.org. She’s seen a significant reduction in late work and plagiarism, and thinks the public audience component has improved student writing and engagement. Kids are collaborating on writing.
  • Andy Ward, High School Science, was a sceptic. He was NOT happy about the iPads. He is now a convert. He says he’ll never go back to written lab reports – all his lab reports on done with video. Watch him – he’s quite entertaining!
  • The PE teacher uses an app called Tennis Coach Plus HD to record students practicing skills.
  • Jody Waltman, High School Math and French, demonstrated how she uses Moodle and email. No paper assignements!
  • Gregg Pearce – 5th grade. Gregg was uncertain as he piloted the iPads last year. The tech integrationist suggested just trying it – “unleashing the hounds.”
  • Greg Aker, Middle School social studies, demonstrated how easy it is to create epubs. Little Falls has a goal to not purchase any more textbooks.
  • Nate Swenson, Middle School principal, demonstrated how they use Google Forms for assessment.
  • Adam Smieja, Middle School math, demonstrated Socrative.
  • Karen Warner, High School art, discussed how she has embraced the iPads after being less than enthusiastic. She has student collaboration and student voices as they exchange ideas on the Moodle site. She uses iPads frequently for students to find references to draw.
  • Sarah Shaw, elementary art, has had the kids make digital art portfolios.
  • Shawn Alhorn, 5th grade, had the iPads last year. He loves not having paper assignments. He’s seeing more engagement, students digging deeper into content. He has kids do keynotes for vocab – has seen this reach kids of all learning styles, with significantly improved retention of meaning.

 

Quote

Quotes from the Digital Textbook Playbook

The FCC published the Digital Textbook Playbook on Feb. 1, Digital Learning Day. The Playbook (and other resources) are designed to provide schools with resources for building their own digital learning environment.

I’m just reading the Playbook and am seeing great quotes. I’ll post the quotes here as a place to keep them.

The dynamic in many classrooms around the country remains decidedly 20th Century:
teach the paper textbook, test the students at a fixed point in time, and move on. There also remains a
profound disconnect between the learning that happens in school and that which takes place out of
school. – p. 6

 

A modern day approach to digital learning is a personalized experience that dynamically identifies and addresses each student’s unique learning needs in a manner appropriate to their learning interests, styles, and aptitude, and does so anytime and anywhere.
The most important component of successful digital learning conversions has been strong, collaborative leadership.

 

Too often technology and digital learning is added on top of the existing practices, challenging already
busy curriculums and overwhelming busy teachers. Instead, successful digital learning implementations
require modifications to the curriculum to replace ineffective practices with those that best leverage the
technology. – p. 14

— from the Digital Textbook Playbook, published by the FCC, Feb. 1, 2012