Day 2 Morning Keynote: Redefining the Classroom: The AUSL and Chicago Public Schools by: Autumn Laidler Anita Orozco Huffman Jennie Magiera
Autumn, Anita, and Jennie are all veteran and distinguished educators with the Chicago Public School System as well as a network of schools within the Academy for Urban Schools in Chicago (AUSL). These teachers are clearly excited and e
nthusiastic. Those of who saw them at the last iPad Summit are excited to see them again. The AUSL is a network of 25 neighborhoods forming a union Chicago Public Schools. The majority of the schools are low income and high need. These are not contract or charter schools.
The women characterize the National Teachers Academy as a “regular neighborhood school.” Their journey with iPads began in 2010 when the devices were first launched and well before they were being used as a teaching tool. An initial grant paid for several iPad carts.
Jennie, Autum, and Anita begin discussing their journey with iPads following along Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model. When they first brought iPads on board, they decided that they didn’t want to just “duct tape iPads into their curriculum”; rather, they wanted to ensure that this program had meaning. To prove this, they provide several examples of using iPads at the higher levels of integration according to SAMR: Augmentation and Modification.
The ladies’ infectious enthusiasm is also sprinkled with humor. They highlight the fact that iPad implementation is a journey, and there are a lot of struggles and challenges along the way. While their polished presentation looks fabulous, they ensure us all that they struggled as well. Thank goodness! I was starting to feel like a terrible teacher.
One of the most effective elements of their presentation is that they use short video clips of their students to help explain what they are doing in the classroom. The students clearly understand the processes of their assignment as well as the intricacies of producing dynamic, multimedia products. By using iPads to replace traditional media (such as the Science Journal), it allows students to be better organized. By using the Mental Note App, Autumn’s students can choose a paper that they need (lined, graph, or blank), can type or annotate, include voice notes, insert photos, tag their notes, incorporate PDFs, and present an effective workflow end product. Not only does this make their work better organized and stored, but it makes the life of educators easier. Their students’ work is more accessible and portable. Autumn even asserts that students can create their own books of their completed projects via iBook Author – consider the power of students creating their own science textbook!
iPad has also had great success in the realm of Special Education as Anita explains. Again, we see a video of the students explaining what is going on in their classrooms with iPad. Anita highlights that her students regularly know more than she does when it comes to the technology, and noted that one of the greatest impacts of incorporating iPad is that her students experienced a significant boost in self-esteem. Students take pride in the work that they complete in the classroom, and have even taken on leadership roles to “teach grown ups how to use various applications.” Additionally, iPad allows her to further differentiate and individualize her classroom. Using iBooks author, she curated live reading materials for her students. She demonstrates, using a video, how her students used iBooks to do reading more independently (using the book to help her sound out a word for example). Her students also use iMovie to create videos and presentations on topics they are exploring in class. Anita showed us an amazing clip from a film that they constructed about the Freedom Riders. This is an activity that would have taken a lot of work and expense without iPads.
The group finished up with an example from an elementary math classroom. Jennie highlighted a great program called Schoology which she likes over competitor platforms. With Schoology, she feels that the focus really is on the learning. I’ve played with Schoology a bit, but have yet to incorporate it into my own classroom, looks like I need to do that…
The nice thing about Schoology, in conjunction with iPad, is that it allows you to incorporate not only text, but also rich media (images, video, voice, etc). Students can them show their work in a discussion. If you would like to learn more about Schoology and the iPad in Ms. Magiera’s classroom, check out her blog article: Schoology vs. Edmodo.
In terms of recreating her math classroom, Jennie demonstrates a problem put forward by Dan Meyer: the Three Acts of the Mathematical Story. After watching the video by Mr. Meyer, her students demonstrated the mathematical problem using the app educreations. By watching a student’s screen cast of their mathematical process, you aren’t just looking at the answer, but rather can see their entire thought process. Screencasting provides educators a deeper understanding of how their students are thinking, and also allows students to better self assess.
The Chicago team finishes up their keynote by telling us how they are not only revolutionizing their classrooms, but their professional learning network. They maintain a blog and have a Google group that allows them to share ideas and meet virtually.
For more about this talented group of educators, follow them online:
- Teaching Like It’s 2999
- Magiera’s Mathematicians
- Ms. Laidler: Science in the City
- iPad Innovation
- NTA iPad Team
You can view the team’s presentation materials – as well as those from other presenters – on the iPad Summit web site.