At Roycemore School, lifelong learning is a value that is shared across our community. We encourage our faculty to seek new knowledge in their field throughout the year. As Coordinator of Academic Technology and Professional Development, I am here to help teachers meet their personal learning goals and to provide meaningful ways to do this. We feel that learning about technology, and how it fits into our classrooms, is a key part of an effective teacher’s professional development.
Launched last spring with a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation, we began a three-stage professional development program for our faculty called iPad PRoS. Each Roycemore teacher received an iPad Mini, and each classroom an Apple TV, so that they would have a simple and portable wireless way to share information with students in the classroom.
The three phases of the iPad PRoS program are Play, Rethink, and Share:
When you receive a new technology tool, you need time to play on it! The first phase of the iPad PRoS program gave teachers a few months to simply use their iPad Mini in whatever way they thought best. Most began using their iPads right away for email, web browsing, and taking notes. Others discovered great content-area apps to use in their classrooms.
Ultimately, we wanted to help teachers rethink their teaching. During the summer, we hosted three professional development seminars led by well-known education experts. Almost every faculty member attended at least one session, and many attended all three. The emphasis of these sessions was not so much on how to use apps and devices, but on how to integrate them into our curriculum. Teachers were encouraged to promote student creativity, communication, and critical thinking using the iPads. Our last session was focused entirely on “flipping” classroom instruction.
Here are just a few of the apps and tools our teachers learned about:
- Assessment tools that provide instant feedback (such as Kahoot! and Socrative)
- An app for creating interactive e-books (Book Creator)
- Interactive screen-casting tools (Explain Everything and EDUCreations)
- A very visual slide show creator (Haiku Deck)
- Tools for flipping the classroom (especially CrazyForEducation)
Right before school started, I conducted a few more sessions for teachers – on building a classroom website, iPad basics, and Google Drive/Calendar. This provided follow-up and helped teachers start the year excited about using technology in their classes.
We are now in the midst of the Sharing part of the iPad PRoS program. Teachers are encouraged to share the new things they try in the classroom with one another. We share during faculty meetings and through informal conversations, email, and social networks. We share our successes as well as our trials – not everything goes perfectly every time, and that’s OK! Sharing what we try with one another helps us discover new ideas and creates connections from Lower to Middle to Upper School.
Since all our students have access to iPads and other devices, it has been easy to implement the many things we learned over the summer in to our classes. Here are some of the things happening as a result of the iPad PRoS program:
- The 2nd grade class uses Kahoot! to check for understanding in many subject areas
- 3rd grade students wrote an iBook using Book Creator
- 6th and 7th grade students created movie trailer-style book reports
- iPads are used every day to show graphs and problem-solving in Upper School math
- Middle and Upper School French classes are taught using a flipped model
Our teachers will continue their learning throughout this school year, and beyond. We are always focused on improving our own teaching to better help students learn.