Being South African, I grew up with American TV. “The Cosby Show” ,”Who’s the Boss” and of course “Dallas” (which we were never allowed to watch, probably because of Sue-Ellen’s lack of sobriety). When I walked into Burley Elementary school, my childhood TV-memories were confirmed. Wooden floors, high ceilings, beautiful old building…no green sports fields, only those basketball courts where kids run around and shoot hoops. Perfect American kids, sans school uniform, eager to share what they know by putting their hands in the air.
Except now they are eager to show you what they have created and learnt on their iPads.
The teachers at Burley also applied for a grant to be part of the CPU iPad program. Each student has access to an iPad in most of the classes.
According to Carolyn Skibba (one of the amazingly creative and enthusiastic teachers) Apple supported them all the way by doing effective Professional Development for all the teachers involved. The sessions consisted of a little bit of “how to” and a lot of collaboration with other teachers on the program. They would have monthly touch-point meetings where they would share their successes and brainstorm new ones. She found this frequent enough and very valuable. One of the Apple Professional Developers would also go into the schools, observe what the teachers were doing, identify further needs and touch-points which will then be on the agenda for the next monthly get together.
One thing that struck me is how simple they keep the use of the iPad in the classroom. One (of the many) ideas is to record videos which the kids watch (streamed to each learner’s specific needs) and they have to react, problem solve, collaborate and ultimately present their findings to the class or teacher. The class transforms into a buzzing metropolis of activity. You can hear the learning happening!
Not every lesson is an iPad lesson. If the teacher feels that there are no apps or need for the technology for that specific area of instruction, it is not used. Overall it is estimated that they use the iPads about 70% of the time.
Here are a few things I observed:
- Enthusiastic, creative teachers are key
- The learners own their learning process
- Highly effective differentiation and individualized learning takes place
- Learners want to engage and they are proud to show their findings
- Traditional instruction still happens and they still read books and write on paper
- Mostly free apps are used and not too many
- Learners have a deeper learning process and teachers are more in touch with the different levels and needs of their learners.
- The iPad makes it possible for them to learn core skills without them realizing they are in “school” and learning.
I get the question very often: how do you keep learners from going onto other apps, games or other internet sites and therefor not focussing on the work they need to finish. Neither at NTA or Burley did I see any signs of learners having any desire to do anything else but the task the teacher has set for them. Simply, they love the challenge and they want to be part of the process. They love the iPad because it enables them to learn while having fun.
Chicago is one of those cities where you find your jaw dropping constantly. Whether you are gaping at the beautiful architecture or at what the schools are doing with iPads…your jaw really has a hard time maintaining its normal position. This clean, tulip infested city has provided the rich soil for 60 Chicago Public Schools to plant and grow the seed of engaged and effective learning.
Some of the teachers were technophobes but are now active bloggers, tweeters and active users of a wide variety of educational tools. They very much communicate with their learners on their technological level and very effectively at that.
We visited the National Teachers Academy and had the privilege of witnessing the revolution caused by using the iPad in their classrooms. They have 9 carts of 30 iPads which are used in various classrooms from the really small to 12 year olds.
The most inspirational was to see Jenny Megiara at work. She has a blog on everything you need to know about the integration of iPads in the classroom. If you have not read anything this year, do yourself a favour and explore her blog. She also has links to other teacher’s blogs which is really helpful. Jenny’s blog is called “Teaching like it’s 2999”. Go to: http://teachinglikeits2999.blogspot.
NTA uses Edmodo, Google Docs and Forms - Jenny has made a very comprehensive video on her blog on how to use these effectively for instant feedback, assessment and great collaboration.
When you combine enthusiastic, creative teachers with the best technology - the iPad - you truly see transformation happening right infront of your eyes. These kids were engaged and the teacher was free to give quality time to the “slower” learners - very effective differentiation and individualized learning. The kids come up to you and boast about the work they have created!
It was a transformational visit for me. We all agree that education must catch up with the way our kids learn and interact with each other using technology. I believe the iPad is the the jaw-dropper when it comes to the best technology to transform the way learners learn and teachers teach.
“The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) iPad Project seeks to dramatically transform the classroom.
Such a transformation is made possible through use of the low‐cost Apple iPad tablet computer. In an effort to drive “big change” and to promote meaningful classroom usage, Information & Technology Services offered iPad grants to schools. In return, we were able to identify best practices that could dramatically transform the way teachers teach and the way students learn throughout the District.”
ThinkAhead now has the wonderful opportunity to visit Burley Elementary School and The National Teacher’s Academy in Chicago to observe how iPads are used and to share experiences from our South African context.
We currently have about a 100 schools in South Africa using iPads acrosss a broad range of schools.
I will be blogging about our trip later today!
Welcome to iLulu’s blog!
There is so much excitement around the use of iPads in schools in South Africa. The whole landscape of education is changing and I am extremely privileged to be part of the revolution!
I will be starting my blog with a big bang - or a big apple, depending on how you look at it. Michelle Lissoos (Managing Director of ThinkAhead Education Solutions), Rodney Ischikowitz (CEO of the CORE Computer Group in South Africa) and myself are visiting a few Chicago Public Schools who have been using iPads in their schools for over a year now. We will also visit New York City to visit schools there doing amazing things with iPads.
Watch this space for:
- names of great apps for the classroom
- sharing best practice ideas
- Schools in Chicago and New York using iPads
- combining different apps to make the perfect iPad lesson
- subject/learning area specific ideas
- practical tips on using the iPad
- latest news and information regarding new developments in the iPad world
- Digital citizenship for teachers and learners
See our truly South African iPad video on:
So the journey begins….