Thursday, August 21, 2014

iPads in First Grade

iPads have come to stay at our site. This is the third year that I am at this site. So students going into third grade started using them regularly and creatively since first grade and so on if they were at this school. Yesterday was my first iPad lesson in first grade.

One of the many things we, educators are aware, is that just like classroom rules and procedures, expectations and norms with use of the devices needs to be set from day one. There can be no exception. Students must learn to use the devices appropriately and safely. They have the world at their fingertips which is fantastic, but in order that they use the devices efficiently from a young age, students must be taught the same explicitly.

The current first grade students used the iPads regularly in kindergarten with creation apps on a very regular basis. The apps they used included the camera, Doodlecast Pro, Book Creator and Toontastic. By the end of the year, I had been complimenting the teachers and students at their amazing work. The children were drawing so well on the iPads, it was unbelievable and their movements were really fluid. Since I do the cool lessons, the students are almost always delighted to have me in their classrooms (the same students in the second week of kindergarten had referred to me as "The iPad Lady"). 

The classroom teacher and I decided to coteach the norms so that the message was consistent from us. I asked the students to tell us the do's and don't's since they had been using the iPads for a year. The first question I asked them was, "What do you use the iPads in school for?" The very first hand to go up was a boy who hadn't exactly been there the entire year and is an English Language learner who spoke no English when he came here during kindergarten. His response was, "Learning". This validated the fact that once expectations are set, students will use those devices as learning tools and not treat them like toys. Thereafter, it was very smooth sailing with all the follow up questions and responses. We had an excellent discussion.

Not only was my day made, I got renewed energy to go deliver the message once again to the teachers and more students to forge ahead with their creativity and enthusiasm.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


So we have a brand new Makerspace at Barron Park Elementary in PAUSD. The formal innauguration is on Saturday, September 6th from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. with two keynote speakers:

Rushton Hurley , inspiring speaker, educator, founder of Nextvista at 10:45 a.m. and

Dr. Max McGee, Superintendent of PAUSD at 11:00 a.m. 

The first day of school was not really setup. However, the students saw the open doors and asked to come in since they are so used to coming in at lunch for the programming club. Following are just a few pictures of the students tinkering around, getting a tour of the new space, being super enthusiastic.

Fourth grade student who figured out his connections very quickly

New third grade student tinkering

Seeing one of the many options - a Bee bot in this case

Third graders getting a demo of the 3D Printer

A FIrst Day Story

There are a few first day stories from yesterday, but the one I wanted to share is this one: 

After the bell and attendance on the first day of school is the school wide assembly right after which follows the PTA coffee. I had to check out a few classrooms with respect to helping them set up and a few odds and ends in terms of jobs, after which I decided to pop in to welcome the new parents and greet the old faces.  

I encountered one of the parents who had had a ski accident and was telling me about her recovery. She then pulled me aside and asked, "Aren't you the one who taught Scratch to my children?" She now has a fifth grader and a seventh grader. I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that because yes, I did introduce the children to Scratch and guide them along, but not quite taught them but that does boil down to our definition of "teaching" the students. She then proceeded to tell me how for her birthday her fifth grader had made her a Scratch card with popping fireworks and it was the coolest thing she got so she wanted to thank me. Her face was lit up while talking about it, she was so happy, so proud of her son and it was really nice for her to share her story.

Needless to add, it was one of the many things that just made my day!