Nikole Blanchard knows a thing or two about iPads and MacBooks. That’s why when Apple introduced a new PD program called Apple Teacher last fall, she logged in on the night it was released to check it out.
Blanchard, an Apple Distinguished Educator and director of innovation and technology at The Dunham School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, says she was pleasantly surprised by what she found.
“I realized it was doable and that it refreshes the excitement for teachers,” Blanchard says. Colleagues at her school who participated in the program said they felt more confident with the devices and discovered new things to do with students by participating.
Apple Teacher is a self-driven professional development program that helps teachers build skills to use Apple products in the classroom. Teachers earn badges while completing eight tests to show their understanding of the Apple ecosystem.
Whether you have a single iPad or MacBook or are in a 1:1 environment, Blanchard has some tips for successfully integrating the devices into your classroom:
Experiment. Bring a device home. Get used to the applications it includes. Launch the internet. Answer emails. Play. That way, when your students do the same, you’ll be able to answer their questions.
Jump right in. Think about your curriculum, then jump into trying one exciting new thing, even if you’re taking baby steps. Download and app like ChatterPix Kids that lets you make doodles, friends or pets talk, or use Fotobabble to create talking photos and slideshows.
Network. Learning something new is always made better – and easier – by networking. Whether inside or outside your school, in an ongoing group meeting or a group email, or through social media groups, Blanchard encourages educators to connect to brainstorm and share ideas on how to thoughtfully incorporate the devices to drive deeper learning.
Maintain perspective. Remind yourself that the point of technology-charged learning is to prepare students to live in a world where technology rapidly advances. Keep tech integration in perspective, focusing on the fact that you are there to help kids and that it’s OK to learn together.
Self-teach. Apple Teacher is one of many free PD programs that can help teachers with tech integration. Look into other free options or tutorials like teacher modules from the Library of Congress, Scholastic U and PBS TeacherLine.