“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” -Walt Disney
One of the best gifts I received this holiday season was the notification from Apple that my school, Drayton Hall Elementary, met all of the criteria for Apple Distinguished School. The application was rigorous as was the competition. We were thrilled to be awarded the distinction. While many see awards like this as the culmination of hard work, I see it as just the beginning.
I’m pretty good at pushing boundaries. When I was given the iPads back in January, 2011 as one of 3 pilot teachers for the entire school district, I really had no rules or expectations. My only limitations were those created by my very own self. Since I was given a class set of iPads, (thank goodness the district’s Ed Tech staff believed in kindergarten having 30 iPads!) I took full advantage of the opportunity and looked beyond the “broadcast nature” of the iPad. More than a presentation tool, my students fully interacted with the iPads. In small groups, we found individual support opportunities that bolstered those students who were in the bottom tier. As student engagement was instant, I looked for ways to incorporate the iPad into every aspect of our instructional day. As the pilot moved beyond the 3 original classes, the staff at my school embraced the technology and zeroed in on the potential these devices hold.
While I know many schools are just getting iPads and perhaps aren’t able to fund them 1:1 at this time, I hope the teachers will continue to voice their desire for them. The iPad is designed to be a one-user device. The true power comes when each student holds his/her own iPad and is able to interact with it, work with materials on the child’s own level, and create and save on it. Sharing, while perhaps necessary for a time, isn’t ideal. You can’t expect to see the results we are seeing at my school without a 1:1 implementation. If you are unable to fund a whole school, find your early adopters on staff and let them have at it. These people make things happen!
While my holidays are coming to a close next week, I’m excited about what the remaining 5 months of school hold. With a new year beginning, let’s follow Walt Disney’s advice: Quit talking and begin doing! I’m proud of my school for earning the Apple Distinguished School honor. This isn’t the end, we’ve only just begun!
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