Apple Teacher...FOR KIDS!?!?
Earlier this year, I was reflecting on how much Apple Teacher has helped the staff that I’ve worked with to complete the program. I thought of the powerful uses, and how many fewer questions I had gotten from teachers and thought to myself……
“I wish there was an Apple Teacher for students!”
and I was off and rolling……
“YES! And teachers could use it independently with their classes!
YES! And we could use videos so that reading isn’t an issue for younger kids!
YES! And we teachers could share those videos when they want kids to create a project in an app!
YES! And we could spread it throughout our district
YES! And we could make it available to other teachers from other places to help them transform their students into expert users
YES! And when students complete the program they could help other teachers with projects when they get stuck!
YES! And the teachers could give students more choice; more ways to "Show what they know” than just worksheets and tests"
and so on…
and so on……
and so on……….
I took the idea to my library teacher, Carrie, who oversees our High Performance Learning (HPL) program, and one of our district’s technology managers, Cat. The three of us met up and over lunch shortly after and the idea began to grow. We decided that we would incorporate it into our techEssentials program, a resource that’s previously been used for teacher technology trainings/tutorials..
That’s when techEssentials Academy was born (though my heart still really wants to call the program “Apple Student!” <3)
In October, Carrie, on behalf of our team, put a lot of work into applying for a grant through the La Crosse Public Education Foundation and we got started working, not knowing if the grant would come through or not.
I began developing the program. We started out thinking that it would be a great iTunes U course, but quickly realized that an iBook may be easier, and would make it more manageable as it continues to grow.
So….what exactly is the program? Here’s a quick rundown:
1. Students watch a video to learn the basics of an app
2. They get a few options for projects, and a checklist of components that must be included in their project.
3. Students take a quiz and upload their project. If they score at least 22/25, they earn their badge!
YES….There are badges!
We looked into online badging, but again, wanted a solution that would be easy to manage as the program grew. In our school, each student will receive a lanyard, and they will earn a pin button (like the miniature buttons that you often see in stores) for each app they master! As the program grows, we will provide future teachers (or as we refer to them, techEssentials Academy Leaders -TEAL-) with sticker/stamp charts they can use with their kids in the event they can’t/choose not to purchase pins. (Sidenote—-A few weeks ago, Carrie received word that the grant we applied for has been funded, and we are excited to order the lanyards and pins to award to those students who have already begun earning badges.)
There are 3 Levels to the program
Similar to Apple Teacher, there is a Productivity level and a Creativity Level, and we also added an additional level for a few other apps, including Explain Everything, Green Screen, etc. We hope that this will allow teachers to have leaders no matter what app they choose to use in their rooms, as well as allowing students to have expanded opportunities to tell their stories and use their creativity through their work. Students can earn any of the badges, but once they’ve accomplished all three levels, they become a “techEssentials Academy Master(TEAM)” and join our student TechTEAM, made up entirely of masters.
The Pilot…….is underway!
I am excited to say that our very first group of techEssentials Academy students are currently working their way through the program. It has been amazing to see their excitement for the project, and hear them excitedly race to complete the badges and asking questions like “Can I work on this at recess? Can I take it home?”
We currently have Pages and Keynote available to students, and are near completion of the Clips badge. As I continue creating the videos, quizzes, and iBook, Carrie works to develop the student project ideas and lists. We are excited to finalize this program and I look forward to sharing it with the ADE world in the near future! Our ultimate goal is to make the program accessible to teachers out-of-district to help them create their very own leaders in their own schools.