Lessons from LEAP–Part 1

via Technology Tidbits by Twyla Felty

This past week, I was privileged to go to a site visit of West Ridge Middle School in Eanes ISD to see their LEAP program in action. This middle school campus has gone 1:1 with iPads, and I just had to see it for myself! Since my return, I have been asked so many questions about my visit, that I thought I would share my thoughts here.

Lessons I took from LEAP:

1. Have a great reason for going 1:1–not “because we want the toy”. Relevance: learning and creativity
2. Start with a plan–the WRMS plan was a three year deployment process
3. The plan must start with sound investment in infrastructure–including the MDM and APs
4. Develop proper forms for students, parents, and teachers (include Responsible Use Guidelines)
5. Insurance is critical
6. iPads should be etched
7. Cases should be included in implementation cost–protect the corners
8. Apps should be included in implementation cost–starter money per device and additions for each year
9. Plan the initial distribution process careful–who and how many
10. Teachers need the technology 6 months to a year before students
11. Teacher training must be part of the process–PD, OTS, “on time”
12. Minimum teacher expectations and maximum student expectations (or kids can drive the program)
13. Rules for use and a common language established in the school
14. Develop clear communication channels for parents to set expectations and offer support
15. Parents are still in charge at home and teachers are still in charge at school
16.  Plan the check in/check out process–I love the idea of year long check-out!
17. Be prepared for student distractions and the “implementation dip”
18. Follow-up and track progress with “vision committee”–including teachers, parents, students
19. Campus on-site tech help for repairs/tech issues and on-site Ed Tech–two separate roles
20. Allow teachers and students to find and use the apps that meet their needs

I can’t begin to thank the principal, teachers and students of West Ridge Middle School enough for opening your doors to so many curious people. I was very concerned about being subjected to a “dog and pony show”, but everywhere we went, the students and teachers were genuine, open and honest about the entire process.Thank you for sharing your time and your great resources as well.

Best quote of the day:
I asked a 6th grader if he had found moving to the iPad difficult.
His answer: “It’s so easy a teacher can do it!”

Bigger picture:
Starting anything this big requires great planning and attention to detail.
Random acts of technology purchasing is like grocery shopping without a list. You are liable to spend a great deal of time and money only to get home and still not be able to make a meal with what you have in the bag!

The most important thing I learned:
All schools will eventually be 1:1, it is just a matter of when and what device.
This probably shouldn’t be news to me, but I had gone to the site visit because I am concerned about going 1:1 with iPads due to current device management issues I am having with a very small set. This realization was a wake-up call for me. I don’t know when my district will finally move to 1:1 at the Middle School, but, when we do, I hope to be ready, and this site visit was of tremendous help!
I’m certainly glad that I took a look before leaping!!

The great resources of West Ridge Middle School are posted right on their webpage.
For further information on the LEAP program, you can also visit their district’s home page.

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