App Smashing with Grade 1

App Smashing Storehouse Presentation

I had the privilege yesterday of observing an outstanding lesson by two colleagues here at AIS-R. Sean Walmsley is our Elementary iLearning Integration teacher and yesterday he was working with Grade 1 Students in the classroom of Ms. Dema. Sean invited me to what he described as “one of the best iPad lessons I have ever done” and he did not over-sell it. Being January, Sean has had many opportunities to work with Grade 1 students and has taught them several useful iPad apps to find, save and share information. His lesson yesterday, titled “App Smash Extreme,” pulled together previous learning of 4 separate apps into a First Grade Social Studies unit on Community Helpers. Looking over the lesson materials ahead of time, I was struck by the ambitious, multi-stepped activity he had planned for the First Graders. Sean led them through the process with ease, having laid a great foundation of skills with each individual app.

As part of their unit, students, in this lesson, were asked to choose two community helpers, find images of those, add sound of their own explaining how one of them assisted in the community and share the results with everyone.

The lesson went flawlessly thanks to the students’ previous learning, a well-organized and clear whole-group presentation and the developmentally appropriate nature of the tasks. Students used voice to search, chose images to represent their ideas and recorded their own voice rather than typing what they wanted to share.

Sharing the results on Instagram was an excellent publishing tool, allowing the whole class to view each other’s results afterwards, giving the teacher access to all the products and also putting the results on the web for parents to see.

The Grade 1 students were adept with the technology tools they were using and also were able to focus on showing that they understood the big ideas of their Community Helpers unit.

Thanks again, Mr. Walmsley and Ms. Dema. Well done!

New Year’s Message to AIS-R Families

Happy New Year!

We hope all our AIS-R Eagles had a restful and festive break. The new year brings us new hopes and aspirations for learning and growth and we embark on 2015 full of dreams and determination to make the most of the new year.

So, what is new at AIS-R and what do we have to look forward to this year? In the technology department, we are always exploring potential new learning technologies and finding new ways to support our students. We want to highlight three programs that are quickly evolving and will enrich our learning community: Show and Share Video, 1:World and Cloud-hosted services.

As part of our new campus project, AIS-R has invested in a new and powerful video hosting platform to serve our teachers, students and parents. “Cisco Show and Share is a webcasting and video sharing application that helps organizations create secure video communities to share ideas and expertise, optimize global video collaboration, and personalize the connection between [parents], [teachers], and students with user-generated content. Cisco Show and Share provides the ability to create live and on-demand video content and define who can watch specific content. It offers viewer collaboration tools such as commenting, rating, and word tagging.” (Cisco Guide, P.10) AIS-R has chosen this video solution to enable teachers to easily create and share videos of lessons and embed them in Moodle and Blogs to support Blended Learning. Videos can also be created by students and teachers using iPads or uploaded from any computer. All videos remain the property of AIS-R, so we do not need to publish content to Youtube. This has the added advantage of allowing our Elementary students to create and share videos without using Youtube (which is not available to students under 13 years of age). Look for more information about Show and Share, and more videos being used for learning, in the coming months.

Currently, AIS-R is mid-way through the three-year roll-out of our 1:World Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. Students in Grades 4-6 are using their iPads on a daily basis and our entire High School, Grades 9-12, are bringing laptops every day. We are already seeing extensive improvement in students’ technology skills and the natural integration of these tools into the classroom curriculum. This year we have enhanced the BYOD program with the adoption of Hapara Teacher Dashboard. This tools integrates with Google Drive, enabling teachers to create and distribute learning content and assignments through Google Docs. Teacher Dashboard has also allowed students to complete more work on the computer, reducing our reliance on paper and hand-written assignments. Recent improvements to Google Docs on the iPad, including the ability to view and edit tables will further students’ collaborative use of Google Apps. Beginning in August, Grade 3 and Grade 7 students will join the iPad program and Grade 8 students will begin bringing their laptops each day.

As part of our move to AIS-R’s new campus, we have realised the benefits of many new technological systems and these have, in turn, improved learning for all students. First and foremost has been the greatly improved Internet connection and robust internal school network. This connectivity serves our 1:World program as well as all curricular areas with speedy connections to Skyward, Moodle, Blogs, Google Apps and the Internet in general. We have, as a result, been able to move all of our core learning platforms to the cloud thus ensuring their availability and continuity in case of emergency. We recently moved all our school blogs from a server on AIS-R’s campus to a cloud-hosted service and are already seeing a marked improvement in performance. Our next move will be migrating our main user database, Active Directory, to the cloud to secure the final component needed to seamlessly transition to fully off-site services in case of an emergency. This transition will take place within the next month, though we do not expect this to impact your user-experience in any way. We believe that these moves to cloud-based systems will ultimately provide security and continuity of learning for our AIS-R community into the future.

The new year will bring countless learning adventures for AIS-R students, both in the area of technology and beyond. Teachers, students and parents greet January with energy and enthusiasm in all grade levels and in all subjects as we face the new year. 2015 will surely see innovations and new learning for all.

Michael McGlade

Director of Technology and E-Learning