Saturday, April 5, 2014

George Washington High School gets iPads in the Library!, Nicole Guevara, Librarian

As soon as I read about the CPS REVITAL grant in an email from Lisa Perez, I knew I wanted it for my school library! All kinds of magical possibilities came to me...student made book trailers for the library’s book blog, ELL enhancement, Special Education support. Oh the learning! Oh the fun! Oh the collaboration! I quickly spoke to the administration and tech teams to get their approval and consent for future support. We all agreed it would be a wonderful opportunity for students, teachers, and the library program. I knew only five high schools were going to be awarded, but for some reason I felt lucky! A month later I got the congratulatory email with next steps.

The real fun began when the iPads were finally delivered. They arrived when our entire school was in the beginning stages of a wireless upgrade. Washington serves 1600 students so this was no small task for our large building. The library was taken over by the workers and their equipment and the tech team was busy assisting the process. I am not sure what exactly needed to be done, but I was told that the workers had to update something on the iPads before I could use them. Some days during the upgrade transition there was no internet for huge sections of the school so the iPads were on the to-do list but not a priority.

Two weeks after their arrival they were set-up, in cases, barcoded, and locked in a cart ready for students. I used KC Boyd’s helpful Google Presentation to guide me through the set-up process. She added tips learned along the way which were especially helpful such as turning off the keystroke sound and setting up an email account just for the iPads. Because we have 90 other iPads in the building I wanted to make the library’s distinct. I cataloged  them in SOAR and labeled them as library property. I store them in a small metal laptop cart we already had in the building. It is heavy to move, but it is secure and works great.

I soon reached out to Ms. Jirik, a Special Education teacher with small classes. She told me her Physics class was working on an energy unit and would benefit from some demonstrations of circuits. The use of iPads for educational purposes is new to me and both members of the tech team so we all agreed to start with free apps. The free apps I found for this were limited. However, I was eventually able to locate two good examples. After studying the material in class, students were able to construct one serial circuit and one parallel circuit. If we would have purchased the apps, students would have been able to build six of each type of circuit. Though our use of the apps was limited, we were both pleased with how students reacted to the hands-on learning. They were well-behaved and quite engaged. As a group we completed the short assessment offered by the app. Everyone followed along and had an opportunity to participate. The students are now thirsty for more!

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