Friday, November 16, 2012

Two Interactive iPad Apps that Work!

I recently learned about two iPad Apps that allow you to get immediate feedback from your classes. They both work really really well.

Nearpod puts teachers in control of student iPads

1. Nearpod allows the teacher to control what students see on their iPad. Teachers can upload any PDF file and Nearpod separates each page into a slide. Students sign into a "room" and the teacher takes control of the slides that each student sees. If that wasn't cool enough, Nearpod also allows you to intersperse different types of interactive questions throughout the presentation to check for understanding. I tried this recently with a grammar lesson and it was great. I was able to see who was getting the concepts and who wasn't immediately.

Space Race on Socrative
2. Socrative allows the teacher to create interactive quizes which students answer on their iPads. Students can see immediately if they are right or wrong. You can also show a graph of the answers after students have responded and use that to spur discussion about the topic. Socrative will send you data from the session in an excel file with each student's response. The other fun feature is the Space Race which puts students in competition to answer questions first and win the race.

Both of these Apps are free, Nearpod allows you pay to upgrade for more features such as large response groups and the ability have more students in a session, store more slideshows and share them with others.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Silent History - It's an App - It's a Book - It's Awesome

Field Report Locations
The Silent History is "a new kind of novel." The App itself is free, but then you have to pay for the books within the App. The book is serialized and each installment is delivered to your iDevice on a daily basis (except weekends). You must wait 8 (painful) hours between each piece of the story.

A science fiction novel set in the future about a phenomenon of "Silent" children, children who are born without speech. The story is told through "witnesses" who recount their various experiences with these kids. Each episode features a different perspective at a different point in history. There are 6 books which tell the story from 2011 - 2043. You can purchase the books separately for 1.99 or all 6 for $8.99.

Field Report from South Beach, Miami FL
In addition to the story itself. The App uses geolocation to point you to "Field Reports." In order to read a field report, you must be in exactly the spot where it was written. Thus far I have been able to access three reports. One led me to a clearing in the woods above a middle school not to far from where I teach. The other two were on South Beach in Miami. (I was able to check them out when I was down there for my my Grandmother's birthday.) The reports themselves rely heavily on you being in that spot. It is a pretty creepy and cool experience to stand there and read them.

In many ways this is a book like any other, yet reading it this way makes it something entirely different. If you start now you will be able to marathon through the first book (lucky you) and a little bit of the second. Then you will be just like me, waiting each day for the next installment.

I think this is a brilliant idea that has great potential. Children's books in this form could really help kids get excited about reading! I am certainly loving it.

If you do start reading the series, let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Love Love Love my new Chromebook!!

In addition to piloting iPads this year, we are also looking at the new Samsung Chromebook. For only $249 you can access your Google Drive and the web through your Chrome browser. Given that we are a Google Apps for Education school and I am a very heavy user of Google Docs, Presentations, Forms and Spreadsheets, this machine fits my needs perfectly. Plus it is the size of a Macbook Air and weighs only 2.5 pounds.

I can't say it could replace my Macbook Pro for things like editing video, plus the screen is a bit small, but for just about everything else it is the perfect little tool. I'm hoping to get a class set at the end of the year and try them with the kids. I'll let you know how it goes.

Are you using Chromebooks at your school? I would love to hear about your experience.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Technology is NOT just a tool...

I just attended a (fabulous) conference where the Key Note speaker made the point that technology is just a tool. Now believe it or not, I have heard that before. I have even said it myself. I understand the point that everyone is trying to make. It isn't really about the technology it is about the pedagogy, technology should be like oxygen,  the technology shouldn't come first, etc. etc. etc.

All of that is true, but really technology is not just a tool. Marshall McLuhan famously said "The medium is the message." The technology tools we use impact teaching and learning in more ways than we realize. We use these tools as status symbols (as I write this on my brand new Chromebook) and as political statements (are you a mac or a pc?). The tools we use send many messages about who we are as learners and teachers and schools. Are you a 1 to 1 laptop school, an iPad school, a virtual school, are you an innovative teacher, a traditional teacher, are you a 21st century teacher?

We shouldn't fool ourselves that these things don't matter. They do. The more we are aware of the messages we send through the tools that we use, the better able we are to send the right messages.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

iPad Ideas for October 17th, 2012

1. Handwriting Recognition - WritePad really works! I have been on the lookout for a good iPad App that will turn handwriting to text and this one really works. It will convert your writing to typed text as you go. It also syncs to Dropbox and Google Drive! It is pricey at 9.99, but if you prefer to take notes by hand, this could be a really useful App to own.

2. Grading on the iPad is a free Online grading website 
that works pretty nicely on the iPad. I like it because I can enter my grades from any computer or device and, because it is web-based, I can access those grades anywhere. Learnboost also allows you to weight categories and print reports about individual students. There is also funcitonality to add lesson plans and connect to Google Apps.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Google Apps for Ed New England Summit

I am looking forward to attending and presenting at the Google Apps for Education New England Summit being held at Burlington High School in Burlington, MA on November 3rd and 4th. They have even listed me as a "Spotlight Speaker" and people who know me know how much I like to be in the Spotlight ;-) I will be presenting on Apps for Ed on the iPad.

I do think it is going to be a great event and Google is offering a $50 discount to the event if you use the promotional code INVITE and an additional $10 off group registrations when you use the code INVITEGROUP.

I hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Books For Boys: Book Reviews by Boys for Boys

As many of you know, I work in a boys school and we often struggle to keep our boys reading for pleasure. The Reading Zone by Nancy Atwell has inspired me to do more independent reading projects with my 7th grade English students. As both assessment and incentive, we have started a blog called Books For Boys. Students will be posting reviews of the books that they love. Eventually there will be book reviews from the entire student body. 

I hope this blog can help others find books that boys will love to read. Please check out Books For Boys and leave a comment. We would especially like to hear from other kids who have read the same book. Visitors can leave their review as a comment on any post. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

iPad Ideas for Sept 24th, 2012

Getting your contacts into the Mail App - The built in Mail App on the iPad doesn't automatically fill in contact addresses. You can fix that by adding your email account as a Microsoft Exchange account (rather than as a Gmail account). 

Here are directions for how to do it. After you do this you can delete your old Gmail account. HOWEVER, If you use the native notes app  - BACK UP YOUR NOTES FIRST before you delete your old mail account.

1. Go to Settings and Choose Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

2. Under Accounts, Choose Add Account...

3. Choose Microsoft Exchange

4. Fill in your Email address, Username (include the as part of your username), and password. For Domain use Google. You can change the description however you like.

5. Click Next.

6. You will see a popup which tells you it cannot verify the server identity - Click Cancel.

7. Add the server address:

8. Click Next.

Your account has now been created. If you open this email account and start to write an email, you should see your contacts pop up as they do on your laptop.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

iPad Ideas for Sept 19, 2012

  • Google Tasks for iPad (and iPhone) - If you use the Task function in your Gmail, you can use this link to access your tasks on the iPad. You can use the directions below to add a direct link to your tasks on your iPad.
  • Add an Icon with a Link to any Web Page to your Home Screen - If there is a link that you access a lot, you can add an icon on your home screen that will take you directly there. It will look just like an App.

1. Open Safari and go to the Website. Click on the icon at the top of the page and choose "Add to Home Screen."


2. Name the Link and Click "Add."

3. You will now see an icon with a link to the website on your homescreen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Focusing on What Works!

The Thin Book Of Appreciative Inquiry by Sue Annis Hammond is just that, a very thin book (59 pages) that explains and describes the process of appreciative inquiry. Hammond describes Appreciative Inquiry this way,
The major assumption of Appreciative Inquiry is that in every organization something works and change can be managed through the identification of what works, and the analysis of how to do more of what works. (page 3)
I was first introduced to the ideas of Appreciative Inquiry by Gene Thompson-Grove, the head of Professional Development for the Public Schools of Brookline (my former employer). Recently, I've been reflecting on Hammond's 8 Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry and how they relate to my work as an Instructional Technology Specialist.

8 Assumptions of Appreciative Inquiry (pages 20-21):
1. "In every society, organization, or group something works."
In a society that is always trying to solve problems, we often miss seeing what works. Those of us who evangelize educational technology in our schools, often complain that teachers aren't doing enough to integrate technology into their curriculum. Yet, there are many teachers and students in our schools who are doing great things. The first thing to do is to ask the questions - What is working?

2. "What we focus on becomes our reality."
If we focus on all of the ways that our schools are NOT preparing students for the 21st century then that will become our reality. In turn, if we take a look at all the ways we are preparing students to succeed in the future, we can use those positive models to inspire others to do the same. It is a much more pleasant reality.

3. "Reality is created in the moment, and there are multiple realities."
Our own perception of what is real might be very different than a colleague's perspective. OK, this one is a little too zen for me. I welcome your thoughts here.

4. "The act of asking questions of an organization or group influences the group in some way."
Just asking the question makes a difference. Think about the difference you could make by asking what IS working, rather than what is NOT working.

5. "People have more confidence and comfort to journey to the future (the unknown) when they carry forward parts of the past (the known)."
We can't and shouldn't expect teachers to abandon everything they know and do well in order to bring technology to their teaching. Technology is a tool that only works when it is placed in the hands of a thoughtful practitioner.

6. "If we carry parts of the past forward, they should be what is best about the past."
This brings it back to the positive. If we are going to keep doing what we have always been doing, let's make sure what we are doing is working.

7. "It is important to value differences."
Different opinions, different approaches, different perspectives all add value to an organization.

8. "The language we use creates our reality."
You are what you eat - OK I'm just checking to see if you are still paying attention. Choose your words carefully.

I'm going to try to carry these 8 assumptions with me into my work (and my life).

I have been writing in this blog for quite a while. Lately I feel like the things I wrote back then are still relevant today (despite the fast pace of change).  Some of you may remember these. I think they are worth re-reading. This one is from November 2007. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Edcamp Boston Revelations and Reflections

Thanks to Lillie Marshall for this great Picture!
Yesterday I was privileged to help organize, along with Dan Callahan, Laura D'elia, Tracy Sokalosky and Karen Janowski,  the second annual edCamp Boston. It was a great day! We had a record attendance of over 200 educators and, by all accounts, it was a great success. Here are some of the things I took away with me.

About Edcamps:
This is my second time organizing edcamp Boston, but over the last few years I have organized 5 other unconferences. What strikes me the most about organizing these events is how easy it is to do. The sponsorship and food parts take work, but other than that, you build a schedule and the participants do the work. Really! I know many of us say this, but it really is true. Once the conference gets going, there isn't much that we have to do.

Glenn and Matt teach us about Edmodo
My favorite example of this was the Edmodo session yesterday where the presenter didn't show up. Everyone in the room looked at me. I am an organizer and I got to rock the awesome red organizer shirt, but I don't know anything about Edmodo. So I did what we edcamp organizers do best, I turned the question back to the room. Does anyone here know something about Edmodo. And two wonderful participants stepped up, Glenn Blakely and Matt Cronin,  and did a great job of explaining this tool. Which by the way I'm going to try with my 7th graders tomorrow.

I also discovered a new way to learn at an unconference. Rather than posting a session about something I know about and want to share, I posted sessions about something I want to learn about and discuss. I turned edcampBoston into edcampLiz. Fortunately for me, there were lots of smart folks there who could teach me what I wanted to learn.

Which right now is about iPads. If you have been reading my blog, you know that I am pretty obsessed with iPads right now. I want to thank everyone at the conference who helped push my learning and thinking on this topic. Here is what I came away with.

About iPads and...

Professional Development: 
I got a lot of suggestions about how to roll iPads out to my faculty. My favorite suggestion came from Sarah Edson. She suggested assigning my faculty some games to play on the iPad. I love the idea. I think I'm going to ask folks to sign up for either Words with Friends or, my new obsession, Draw Something. We will share our usernames and I will encourage folks to play at least one game with one other colleague over the summer. Not only will this teach iPad skills, but it is a good team building and connecting tool as well.

I got some great App suggestions yesterday. By far my favorite is Reflection, a Mac App which acts like an Apple TV, allowing you to mirror your iPad on your laptop. You can try it for free for 20 minutes, or pay 14.00 to use it. I followed up about a site license and they offered me 60 licenses at $8 each. That is a lot cheaper than an Apple TV and it works (We have been having difficulty getting the Apple TV to work at my school.)!

Another great suggestion is the website, iPad as... put together by Tom Daccord and his edtechteacher team. They have compiled a list of Apps based on learning goals. Each App has a nice description. A wonderful resource for tools.

Other Apps I walked away with include Zite, a tool for aggregating all of your news feeds into categories, Pocket, a tool for saving websites to read later, and Logmein, a free tool to use your iPad as a wireless remote for your laptop.

Finally, and thanks if you are still reading this far into my post, I created an iPad Google Group to continue the conversation. If you are interested in discussing iPads, please join and share your thoughts and questions.

And of course I welcome your comments here. If you have rolled out iPads to your faculty and students, I would love to hear your suggestions on what are some good approaches for doing this.
Thanks in adavance!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Arguments for the iPad in Education

As we continue to explore the possibility of becoming a 1:1 iPad school, I am starting to put together my arguments in favor of this adoption. Here are some of my thoughts so far. I would welcome your feedback on this document!

Why 1 to 1?
In a digital world where information on a multitude of subjects is both abundant and immediately available, students today must learn to effectively access, analyze, synthesize and integrate this information on a regular basis. By providing our students with immediate access to a digital tool, such as a laptop or a tablet, we provide them with the world at their finger-tips (literally). In a time when the ability to discover an answer is more important than the ability to memorize and regurgitate the answer, we must make those answers readily available to both our students and faculty. If we want a pedagogical shift, 1:1 access to a digital tool will help both to facilitate and to force this change to happen.

Why the iPad (and not a laptop)?
There are many reasons that the iPad makes the most sense as the best tool for our 1 to 1 transition. The low screen profile makes a huge difference in a Harkness/discussion classroom, retaining the intimacy of the classroom conversation without the distraction of a laptop screen. The portability and tablet format allow the iPad to double as an e-reader for textbooks. This will lighten student backpacks and lower their textbook costs. Finally, in addition to internet access, iPad education Apps provide new and engaging ways for students to learn and understand complex concepts.

Why the iPad (and not a different tablet or a bring your own device model)?
Given that we are an Apple school, the iPad makes the most sense for us as an institution. Our faculty are comfortable with the MacOS and many already use iPhones and iPods. Maintaining a single platform for all students will make for the smoothest transition to 1 to 1 by giving all students access to the same tools, books and Apps.

What about the iPad 3 (or 4 or 5...)?
At this time the additional features of the iPad3 are not meaningful enough for us to upgrade and the new lower price of the iPad2 make it even more attractive and accessible to us. As newer models of the iPad are released, we will have to consider the lowest version when we make our App and book choices. If we look at the iPhone as a model, as each new iPhone was released, the newest Apps and Operating system continued to function on older models. Just as we replace our faculty laptops every 3 years, we will need to consider a replacement schedule for our iPads. Students should be able to make it through grades 7-12 with no more than 2 iPad purchases.

Will students and faculty continue to need access to a laptop or desktop computer?At this time faculty will definitely continue to need laptops or desktops for word processing, printing and more complex computing tasks. For some students the iPad may be sufficient for their needs, but many will continue to need access to a computer.

Photo Credit: A Bit of How I Study on Flickr by wwward0

Sunday, March 4, 2012

From Dream to Reality - Making Things Happen

EdcampIS Organizers Introduction
I just returned from Seattle where I helped to run edcampIS, an unconference for independent school educators following the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference. If you read my blog or know me, you know all about this. You know that I have been running unconferences for years. You know that I love them. And, I loved this one just as much as the rest. The day went wonderfully. I had conversations about iPads, about assessment, about parent education and much more. I have lots of notes and lots of ideas of things I want to try, change and do.

EdcampIS Session Board
However, my biggest take-away from this entire experience was that it ACTUALLY HAPPENED! I'm still just not over that. I had an idea, I shared it with my PLN, people stepped up (amazing people) and my idea became a reality. Over the years I have had lots and lots and lots of ideas, but this is the first time I've ever attempted something this big and had it come to fruition. I've been talking about the power of the network for a long time (blah, blah, blah), but I'm not sure I really believed it until now.

Delicious Food!
I lobbed an idea onto the interwebs and Greg Bamford, Anthony McGrann and Jac de Haan caught it and ran with it. Ben Lee opened The Northwest School to us, providing us a beautiful space, coffee, delicious food and a willingness to allow a group of strangers invade his school. Kim Sivick was there in the home stretch to lend her support.

EdcampIS Participants
Finally, there were all of the people who showed up to make the conference happen. Many of whom had never been to an edcamp or an unconference, yet were willing to open them selves up to the possibilities. I've never seen a session board fill so quickly. I hope we can continue this experience at NAISAC13 in Philly!

Now it is time to turn my attention to edcampBoston. I hope to see you there, April 28th Microsoft NERD center, Cambridge MA. Be there or be a rhombus.

Thank you also to Rachel Went-Chaney for all of her wonderful photographs of the event.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On my way to NAISAC12 and edcampIS...

if the snow doesn't stop me. This would be the one storm of the entire winter, on the day I am flying to Seattle for two great conferences, the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference (NAISAC12) and the first Independent School edcamp (edcampIS). I'm looking forward to both, and hoping I get there tonight.

The theme of this year's NAISAC12 is "Innovation." That seems to be the buzz word of the year. I really like their sub-title: "imagine, invent, inspire, dream." Those are great verbs and I'm hoping to do all 4 out in Seattle.

Here are some of the sessions I'm excited about:

  • Disruptive Innovations: Lessons Learned from Mobile Learning Devices
  • How to Move Tradional Faculty Members to Innovation Using Their Strengths
  • Re-thinking Professional Development: Inspiring Meaningful Teacher Growth
  • Innovative Schools, Innovative Students
  • You Say Tomato, I say Tomahto: Just What Does Tech-Saavy Mean?
  • Measuring What We Value: 21st Century Assessment Tools

If nothing else the titles are great!

And then I head to the much anticipated (by me) edcampIS, a brain-child of mine last year, that is finally coming to fruition.  It has been amazing to me to organize this conference from 3,000 miles away. It would not be happening if hadn’t been for Ben Lee and The Northwest School’s generous donation of their space, and local orgainzers, Jac de HaanAnthony McGrann and Greg Bamford who have done all of the serious legwork on the ground in Seattle. I can't believe I have never met Jac or Greg in person. I feel like I know them so well!

I can't tell you what sessions I will attend at edcampIS, because they don't exist yet! That is one of the best parts about un-conferences, the spontaneous nature of the experience. Because we post our sessions on the day of the event, we have the opportunity to hear from people who might not have presented or been accepted to present at a typical conference (like me, who's NAISAC proposal was denied).  I'm really looking forward to seeing what unfolds.

I just hope the snow holds off for little while longer!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Digital Ethics - Exploring how kids use Digital Media

I attended an interesting workshop about digital ethics, given by Katie Davis, a youth and digital media scholar based at Harvard Project Zero. I am always searching for digital citizenship resources that acknowledge the positives of student use of social media and don't try to scare the pants off of kids. Katie presented a very interesting perspective and posed some great questions for discussion with students. Her work is part of the Good Work Project, where you can find an extensive unit for use with High School students. I'm hoping to work some of this into my curriculum next year.

I struggle with fitting this kind of instruction into our school day. We don't have a computer class built into our schedule. How are you teaching digital ethics? Do you have any good resources to share?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Educon 2.4 Reflections 2012

Lisa & Liz Presenting at Educon 2.4
There is always so much to think about on the way home from Educon. And this year was no different. As I sit home unraveling my experience, I am feeling a mix of emotions. As always it was wonderful to see my old Educon friends and meet many new ones. I attended some interesting sessions, presented an Encienda (20 slides, 15 seconds per slide), and presented a session with Lisa Thumann.

Here are some of my take-aways.

Boy is this a heady experience! Educon lives in the brain. It is a conference of ideas and ideas and ideas. Each session tries to think positively about ways we can improve our educational system. When I leave the conference I often feel my head is going to explode. The next step is to take all of these swirling pieces of something in my brain and put them together to create an actionable step in my professional life. That is the biggest challenge.

Boy do I dislike panels. I finally came to the realization that I just don't like panels. It isn't the panelists, it isn't the setting, it isn't the topic, it is the structure itself. First of all, I'm not afraid to admit I have a short attention span. Listening to people talk, without being able to interact with them, is not my favorite type of learning. I can stand a lecture if it is well crafted with a story to tell and an interesting message. The problem with panels (for me) is that the topics jump all over the place. I often feel like the panelists are just vying to get their voices heard (as opposed to having something to say). There are occasionally bits of genius mixed in, but I find it hard to pay attention enough to catch them. This year I watched the Friday night panel in the overflow room (next year I might watch from Mace's crossing ;-). If I follow the Tweets, I might glean more than if I were in the room.

Boy does the Educon crowd use social media well. The aggregation of information through a single hashtag is brilliant. I know I can look back and learn from the sessions I couldn't attend. This level of comfort brings the technology the closest to "oxygen" than any conference I've been to.

Boy are there a lot of good teachers at Educon. Half of what I learn by attending sessions are pedagogical teaching methods and protocols that I can try in my classrooms. I don't just come away with ideas, I come away with methodologies that I can use to support learning (regardless of the content) with my students.

Boy have I heard a lot of this stuff before. I can't deny I'm getting a little jaded. Each year we talk about the same ideas - giving students more choice, students as teachers, problem based learning, innovation, 21st century learning, higher level thinking, blah blah blah blah blah.

Using the What if, and, and, and protocol introduced to me by David Jakes, What if Educon did the talking and the walking, and each one of us left with one concrete action that we could bring back to our schools, and we made a connection with one other person who promised to support us in that endeavor, and we publicly shared our progress on completing that action, and we came back each year and built on that action until all the little pieces made a big change? Wouldn't that be cool!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

5 Things I Love about Educon

At my first Educon 2008
This will be my fifth Educon, and over time, my relationship with this conference has changed, from the freshman excitement of meeting everyone for the first time at Educon 2.0, to the highly anticipated sophomore year, when I couldn't wait to go back and see everyone, to my junior year, where the the familiarity of a place I know well led me to give some Educon advice, and finally my last year as a senior attendee I shared a bit of my disillusionment. And even though I should perhaps have graduated, I'm still committed to this extraordinary conference.

Here are a few reasons I keep going back.

1. The People - For this reason alone I would keep going back. My Twitter network came alive at my first Educon and now it feels like a reunion every time I go back. There are people there I only see once or twice a year, with whom I have developed strong relationships. Every year I add more people to the list. 

2. The Conversations - I can always count on having interesting conversations with people who are facing the same issues I am at their schools. In so many places I am ahead of the pack, doing things others have yet to try.  Not so at Educon, where I can always find someone who is far ahead of me. I learn so much from those folks. 

3. The SLA students - I am always impressed and inspired by the kids who help run this conference. They are an example to me of what students can accomplish if they are given the responsibility, trust and inspiration that The Science Leadership Academy provides for them.

4. The Challenge - Challenge comes in many forms at Educon, there are people who challenge your beliefs and ask tough questions. There are events that require meeting people you don't know (which can be scary at times). And this year I am challenging myself to do an Encienda Educon presentation, something I have never done before.

5. The Sessions - I guess it is ironic that the actual sessions are last on my list. I certainly have not forgotten them. I always enjoy both presenting and attending sessions with this community. There are som many great sessions to choose from, it can be difficult to choose one.

Liz and Lisa
And then there are the purely personal reasons. Hanging out with people I have grown to love, driving 3 blocks down the road when we should be walking, laughing at Chris Craft as he freezes his South Carolina tush off, following around "my conference wife" Lisa Thumann, eating some delicious Philly steak, catching up with Joyce Valenza, David Jakes, Alec Couros and so many more I can't name them all here.

I can't believe it is less than a week away. See y'all there!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My iPad Adventure

First semester has just ended and I am finally taking a breath and a moment to blog. I know it has been forever. I've been in the thick of teaching 7th grade English and setting up an iPad pilot for our school. Both have been extremely time consuming.  In this post, I'll focus on my iPad adventure and save my 7th grade English stories for another day.

The Plan:
We purchased 30 iPads this fall and have disseminated them to one faculty member in each department. In addition, we will be piloting 2 iPad classes starting in the second semester (next week). We have chosen a geometry class and an art history class for our pilots, primarily because those teachers volunteered to give it a go (and their class sizes worked with our numbers).

Figuring out the set up process and actually setting up the iPads has taken an enormous amount of time. We are using the Apple Store Volume Purchasing Program to pay for our Apps. In order for the school to own the Apps, I had to create separate Apple IDs for each of our faculty members and students. I also had to set up email addresses for each Apple ID and separate email addresses/Apple IDs for the VPP program. Getting my head around all of the steps in this process was exhausting. I think I have finally figured it out.

We also had to work out an iPad agreement and an iPad insurance plan for parents and students. Thanks to all of you who sent me prototypes. I used a little bit of everyone's agreements. Thanks especially to Patrick Larkin, principal of Burlington High School and to Scott Reisinger, headmaster of Bancroft School who have helped clear the path to make this easier for the rest of us.

My Progress
At this point all of piloting faculty members have received their iPads (right before winter break). I have met with them as a group once to show them how to purchase Apps. I am planning to meet with each of them one-on-one in the next two weeks and we are meeting as a group at the end of the month. I have to finish setting up student iPads this week and will hand them out next week at the start of the new semester.

The Future
It is hard to budget for a future iPad program when you aren't sure you really want one. The difficulty is that this is all based on the success of the program. It may be that we don't think iPads are right for us or there may be some newer technology that we think is even better.  At this point I'm taking this journey one step at a time. I can't quite see the end of the road, but I'm confident each step will bring me closer.

Have you tried piloting iPads? Do you have any wisdom to share? Are you thinking of trying out your own pilot? I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestion!