Friday, April 26, 2013

Various forms of transport in California:-)

St Andrews - the final post on Anzac Day

Our final school on tour - St Andrews Episcopal, an independent school in Silicon Valley. This school has been 1-1 laptops for over 10 years and are in a transition process integrating iPads. The team reflected that this has been an easier transition for Kindergarten to 2nd grade. The middle school are still more comfortable with their laptops - both students and teachers. The students are predominately moving into High Schools who have 1-1 iPads and are resisting as there laptops feel 'right' to them. They don't feel their laptops are replaceable. The luxury for these students in that they tend to have iPhones/smartphones in their pockets so they are good to go! After discussion around this and the challenges of 'change', Adrian talked about Apples new concept of 1 and a half to 1 - 1 laptop, 1 iPad mini per student! YEAH RIGHT:-)

Interesting points about this school

Flipped classroom - teacher talked about responding to emails from students asking questions with step by step instructions

iPads for teachers to trial before pilot (1 year)

Apple TV hard wired in every class

Discussions around having all the resources but not necessarily the infrastructure even in heart of Silicon Valley - a surprise!

Reflected that if they were starting 1-1 in a school would go iPad rather than laptop BUT thr need to change our thinking - they are a personalised device:-)

Students programming with Alice

Digital Citizenship learning using iMovie to create and share learning

Students using sketch up - learning basic coding, creating

Reflection from Principal that it would now be hard to hire someone without technology expertise

Kindergarten -lower grades prefer iPad/Middle school - 1-1 laptop

Loved the outdoor classroom

Need to check out

School Facebook page

Usual apps

Google sites/Docs

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monte Vista Christian School

Monte Vista Christian School is set on 125 acres in a rural area out of San Francisco.  From the moment you walk in you can feel the rich heritage and see the culture of the school within the environment.  I particularly love the HUGE posters of students in action throughout the school.  There are incredibly homely environments scattered throughout the school where students can be seen relaxing, collaborating on projects or simply talking with friends.  Each building and specific classrooms in the school has Stephen's (Headmaster) wife special touch as an interior designer.  In each class you can 'feel' the environment - the photos below really can't do it justice.  Stephen mentioned learning and environments inspired by Alan November.

One environment that was a standout was the now 'paperless library'.  In this hangar type building you will find leather couches, comfy chairs, a green screening room, the iPad help desk and computer stations.

The  Headmaster, Stephen Sharp is a vibrant and passionate leader who truly knows his teaching team, students and their whanau and has a fantastic rapport with everyone as we walk around the campus and join in on classes.  Stephen talks of the importance of meeting with each student and their whanau as part of the interview process.  An incredible sense of pride in the school community 'oozes' from Stephen.  

Around 120 students are boarding and 800 plus students bus in.  The tuition cost in this school is a very reasonable $10,000 due to huge endowments gifted to school.  The school also caters for a percentage of international students, predominately Asian.

There are incredible resources well worth exploring on the school website in relation to their iPad implementation.

A summary of what iPads look like here

1000 iPads
Apple TV in each class
Students manage own iPads - individual iCloud account and total  personalisation (moved from one school apple ID)
Middle school - under 13 - parents have apple ID
School buys apps related to curriculum
Students designing apps for teachers
Teachers create iBooks using iBooks author  resulting in a uge savings on textbooks.  There is a $500 supplement for teacher who puts online class/text together, a great motivator:-)

Tom shared his advice for the Management of  iPads for school starting out

Tom talked about the issues of schools owning iPad - in his opinion school is then 'stuck with devices' - there is only a 3 year timeframe and it doesn't make for great sustainability.  It also puts a lot of work re updates, pushing out apps etc with teachers.  The ideal situation Tom talked about (and I tend to agree) is student owned with good support.  This school is in a lucky situation in that they are able to purchase iPads for students.

Tom's  3 key points for integration would be:

WIFI - ensure excellent and robust INVEST money into this first and foremost

Budget for people  - The iPad project consumes to begin with- it is important to have support for staff.  Monte Vista has 6 people part time staff working on iPads in various roles eg Help desk , Returns

Have strong inventory systems in place
Eg stickers with bar codes 


E clicker -App for diagnostic assessment (essentially it's a poll)
Google Drive
Green screen movie FX - social studies US history 
2 computer labs - used mainly for Final Cut Pro

One other concept that was interesting in this school is there WICKED marketing - movies are created by students, star students and are played in movie theatres, on prime time TV as well as on school website.  The marketing is aimed at the kids:-). Check out the movies in their You Tube channel.

It would be worthwhile liking this school on Facebook to continue following their learning journey and the teaching and learning at Monte Vista.

Our day began with breakfast in the American Diner themed school cafe, included zipping around in a golf cart, riding a horse (Mike), a 5 star lunch in the sunshine and a morning filled with enthusiastic teachers and students.  The most amazing learning spaces.

Loved Stephen's statement - 'We like to have fun but we work hard!'  A truly inspiring school for our last day on tour.

How do we inspire leaders to be that passionate???

I am sure I will be telling stories about this school for a long time:-)

Principals Office Monte Verde - what a collection:-)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Marin Country Day School

Marin Country Day School is set in a beautifully green environment, it has a rich history which is embedded through the environment in a variety of ways. There is a real blend of the old with the new and the school technology team share a strong vision.

'Know who you are as a school and the technology will follow' - they believe in the importance of teachers following their passions and the school providing the access to the tools. There is incredible evidence of this through the school and in the classrooms we visited.

Last night, before visiting this school, I checked out the school website and read the information below.  After spending time in the school today, my feedback would be that this is a community that lives their vision, knows their core values and are passionate about learning and making a difference.

Our School is a Community that

INSPIRES children to develop a love of learning, thoughtful perspectives, and a diversity of skills;

NURTURES in each of them a deep sense of respect, responsibility and compassion; and

CHALLENGES them to envision and work toward a better world.

'MCDS is an independent K-8 coed day school enrolling 565 students at its 35-acre campus in the San Francisco Bay area. The school's mission, underscored by our core values of respect, responsibility and compassion, asks children to become skilled learners and ethical people, motivated to make a difference in the world.'

The school roll is made up intentionally of
  • 25% low income
  • 50% middle
  • 25% high
They strongly believe in equality for all when it comes to 'the extras' including technology, field trips and kai so that attention can all be focused on the learning. Therefore it is an all inclusive tuition fee ($25-$32k). There are various scholarships in place for families.

The Principal spoke passionately about the history of the school, their school mission (has been in place since 1995) and the time they have put into collaborating on their strategic plan. The basis of their strategic plan focuses on 3 points.

Program: We will develop an integrated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program for grades K-8 to strengthen core academic skills. Concurrently, we will explore ways in which 21st century skills such as design thinking and mindfulness can help our students build the capacity for innovation and creativity.
Community: We will develop and cultivate cultural competency skills, K-8, that will help us communicate effectively across a range of human experience and difference. And we will establish the environment and methods for honing these skills in the classrooms, on the playing fields, and outside of the school.
Financial Sustainability: MCDS is committed to thinking broadly and creatively about every aspect of our operating model. We will look for new revenue opportunities beyond tuition, philanthropy, and endowment, which would both improve our finances and expand our mission.

She also spoke about the importance of bringing in consultants to support the transformation of curriculum. There was a high value (and budget) placed on professional learning - 1/4 million each year which was sometimes exceeded.  They also believed in attending professional development as a team, this ensures learning is sustainable and means individuals are not thinking in silos.  They have had huge support from their Board of Trustees who believe in putting as much money into learning and support for the teaching team as possible.  They have 2 teachers in each class and a maximum class size of 20.

The question of 'How do parents perceive technology' was asked of the Principal. It is apparent in this school that if parents are wanting to come to this school (just 50 spaces each year in Kindergarten) there is an understanding that technology will be an integral part of the curriculum. There is a strong sense of home/school partnership through communication on the school website, and through the PTA. The team talked about the importance of empowering whanau and how they intentionally educated parents in the use of technology and supporting their kids in the digital playground.

What does the set up look like at Marin Country Day School?

  • iPads belong to school- cases, apps
  • Insurance policies taken out by the school- 1st time breakage - school cover, 2nd time on student at a cost of $100 3rd student at a cost of $500
  • They reflected on the need to create a better culture of caring for iPad
  • School has total control at this stage but this has it's challenges
  • They are moving to personal accounts, where student/whānau set up apple ID to allow for more flexibility
  • Now in Year 2 of 1-1 with iPads
  • Kindergarten-4th grade - 10 iPads per class (teachers will borrow from each other when they need whole class set)
  • 4th grade have shared password for e backpack for ability to access work at home
  • 5th grade - intro year 1-1 iPad but it stays at school - students also are set up with google account - lots of focus on what does it mean to manage this eg workflow from home/school - google apps, ebackpack
  • 6th grade and up - go home
  • Using printopia for printing from iPads and are experimenting with Printopia pro
  • Class size - max 20 (can you imagine this?)

Teacher Stories

8th grade project

2 kids from two different classes (didn't know who partner was) collaborated on a piece of art eg symbol meaningful, back and forth, last piece found out who it was and voice thread interview (see photos). Art came first but iPads enhanced this learning.

Science - a teacher explored the use of iBooks Author and created a science text book over summer holidays. The importance of starting with a Teacher having a need and then used a tool to create it.

Librarian - Tessa and Erica

  • Students visit once a week - Kindergarten through 5th grade.
  • Waiting to see where market goes with ePub books - a lot of books not available.
  • Exploring issuing San Francisco Library card - digital books for iPad
  • Buy books through VPP
  • Kindles in library
  • Collaboratively involved in building of library - technology, library as one department - research, e literacy
  • Computer labs now 'project rooms'
HUGE thanks to the team @ Marin Country Day School for sharing their school with us today.  I think we will all take away more answers, more wonderings and even more questions.  After nearly 2 weeks of school visits in California, I truly value the deep hard questions and most importantly the WHY.  I think one of the big questions has to be - how is this improving student outcomes?  So much to reflect on.

Enjoy some of the photos from this incredible school.

Twitter Hook Up


Link to Cribby's blogpost of the day:-)

Memories for Anyone???