Monday, April 22, 2013

Menlo School

Great to meet a fellow kiwi - David Spence - science Instructor, Assistant Director of Instructional Technology was our tour guide of the day:-)

Menlo school have just this year moved from laptop carts to 1-1 iPads from 7th through 11th grade.  This is a BYO iPad scheme with full ownership for managing iPad on the student and their whānau.  Students have a personal apple ID and the school operates on a high trust model, not just with iPads but within their whole campus philosophy.  They believe if you make the conditions right, students are able to follow their own learning pathways and pursue their interests.  The opportunities (and money) at this school appear to be endless!

As this school is in the heart of Silicon Valley, there is a huge push from whānau to include programming as an integral part of the curriculum.  Bio tech is also huge in this area and as a result their is a full on dedicated bio lab.  Local companies are very supportive and students have opportunities for internships that work alongside their project based learning.

As you will see from the pictures I have posted there is incredible technology in the school including a 3D printer, laser cutter and robotics galore.

Today we visited Math, English and French classes and talked briefly with both students and teachers about projects they had been working on.  

A few apps used

Explain everything - Worked together in google docs to create script
Graphing calculator - totally beyond me to explain but looked impressive!
Instagram - a teacher reflected on how this has changed her students view on the world
Notability app  - all work stored in one place - no chance of dog eating homework 
Dropbox - for sharing work 
Creating text books in iBooks Author - study guide
Students using book creator - oral and written language French 
Google Apps taking over - powerful tool
Lots if vodcasting at end of units - chemistry 
Creative book builder

Interesting fact - although not measured often - Approx 3 TB of data a month:-). 

Logistics for grade level wide app purchasing 

Menlo use JAMF Casper Suite - this is the software package that enables them to connect each iPad to a person in school, which then allows them to distribute apps, manage apps, wipe apps, gather statistics and take an inventory of what apps are being used.
Eg all 7th grade need keynote, school buy through VPP - students get given key to redeem 

Individual curriculum apps are purchased by students and download at home - the teachers specifically aim to keep the cost fairly low.


Teachers talked about how other schools/teachers are blown away by their approach and often there is disbelief BUT they have a total trust model and feel it has def been the right way to go for their community:-)

Started with iPad programme -  teachers reflected that because the students had no individual ownership as well as uncertainty of what was happening with the iPads next there was no real buy in from students.  They fully believe in family choice and ownership.  They would however, if starting again, give the parents clearer guidelines for BYO iPad including what this should look like in school as well as in the home situation.  eg There is no need for students to be working into the wee hours of the morning - they may really be gaming and blaming homework:-)

Teachers are beginning to integrate common sense media into the curriculum to focus more on digital citizenship. 

What does Professional Learning look like for this school

  • Paid summer school - 4 days every second year (not often enough)
  • Undivided attention - open time
  • Tech rotation for teachers throughout year
  • Workshops during year for interested teachers 
  • Looking at what is good teaching and learners and how does tech enable this?
  • Identify teachers are using technology well/students who are using well - sharing at meetings
  • Conferences - CUE
Again, they value the importance of professional learning:-)

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