Uplands Elementary/Uplands Montessori has seen many new changes in technology over the past year. We have slowly been trying out new equipment and programs as they have become available. As eager as we are though, it seems that as we start to take journeys on the technology train, we end up going very slowly and the advancements that we want to succeed in are often held back simply by accessibility. Unfortunately, Uplands is one of the Elementary Schools that has extremely poor Wi-Fi…we have Mel running to us for emergency Wi-Fi issues on a weekly basis it seems. Any work that staff members need to do with the Internet is usually taken home and done in the evenings or on weekends. This roadblock makes for a very hard kick off to technology. This hasn’t stopped us though and although there are definite frustrations with Wi-Fi, we continue to try new things and engage our students with the use of the technology and programs that are available to us.
We have been fortunate at Uplands to have had access to COWS (a cart with laptops) since the program kicked off. Our carts have been used for several years and our students have used them in many different ways for learning. The problem that we are now dealing with is that they are outdated, many of the batteries are dying and need replacing and they just simply don’t have the capacity to hold many of the new programs. This of course will be the district’s concern as the cycle of technology changes, upgrades are needed and systems become obsolete. Keeping up to date will be a costly and time-consuming endeavor for sure. Frustrations with our COWS have definitely affected the amount of use they have been getting. That being said, I have personally used Kid Pix, Kidspiration, Comic Life, Photo Booth and I-movie on the COWS with students. Older students continue to use them for word processing and typing good copies of reports, as well as for Researching topics for presentations.
We also have a few teachers in the school that have had training on the SmartBoards and use them often to teach lessons in the classroom. The concerns that we had with the SmartBoards in the past are that they have to be moved around, locked and calibrated each time you use one and if they get bumped, further calibration is needed. This all adds up to frustration and often in the end, less use of the boards. We have solved this issue by having one of our 2 smart Boards mounted in the Library and it is always available when we want to use it with the mounted projector. It has become a personal goal for me to learn, play and explore the SmartBoards more, as the lessons that are available look very engaging.
Our wonderful PAC at Uplands purchased a charging cart with 30 I-Pads for classes to share, as well as 3 carts that include projectors, Apple TV, speakers and document stands. These have been the main source of technology used throughout our school. All of our staff are at different stages of familiarity with the carts, so to get us all on the same page and to help with problems and questions concerning the carts, I made up a basic how-to power point presentation for the staff (See drop box for a copy). I was given a 2 hour block during our last in school Pro-D day to present the power point and to show staff the wonderful apps and programs we have been sharing in our DLC sessions.
On our I-pads, we have the apps organized in subject folders, so they are easier to locate for students and staff. These are the apps that we have available: