1:1 Student managed iPad

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iPad learning programs work best when they’re completely student managed.  Here’s how we’ve enabled that at Shekou International School.

1.  Give your staff at least 6 months lead time with the iPad.  Have a big party when you hand out the devices and then experiment with different modes of professional learning.  We ran extended  sessions, small learning “bites”, weekend workshops and EdCamps.

2.  Build a community of learners that leverages each other for support.  We used Twitter for this and it took roughly 6 months to gain traction.  Provide formal mechanisms for help such as eCoaches, genius bars and student support.  Create the expectation that users are always to try solve their own problems first.

3.  Identify and showcase any success.  We referred to these as our lighthouse practitioners.  With a little support they were able to achieve a lot very quickly and were of great inspiration to other staff.

4.  Share with your community.  Create a portal such as sis-shekou.org/innovation or a blog like this to give them insight into the great work occurring at your school.  Hold a special/exciting parent evening well before you deploy iPads to students.  Give them all the details of the program.  Run practical ‘coffee workshops’ for those that require assistance.

5.  Help parents establish expectations at home.  Make it clear that management of this learning tool is a partnership between home and school.

6.  Get your head around Apple IDs.  Each student and parent will require their own personal Apple ID in the same store.  Have sessions where you assist them in creating these.  Your Apple Edu rep can whitelist your school so IDs can be created without triggering a fraud warning/block.  NB – Students in your school will have different App Stores from around the world.  On rare occasion this means an app might not be available for some students.  Just ask them to find something similar or share – not a deal breaker!

7.  Launch 1:1 iPad with students.  Have an even bigger party than the teacher one!  Literally walk through every step – joining wireless, email setup, etc.  Make it fun!  Give students basic expectations for the iPad.  You can track asset numbers and data with Meraki if you want.

8.  Give your students a week to download their first apps.  Stick with free apps for at least a month while you sort out any kinks.

9.  Spend a month helping those parents/students who have Apple ID issues.  When they settle, launch your paid apps.  Give them help with this too.

10.  Sit back an be amazed at what the students and teachers can do when they actually have control over their own device.  😀

Check out our new Learning Innovation Portal for more information.

~ John

EARCOS Weekend Workshop

Thanks to all those who participated in Transforming Learning with the iPad over the weekend.  It was a great event that saw teachers from right across Asia discussing the integral use of technology.  Special thanks goes out to our student and teacher presenters who did an a amazing job!

All session resources are available here.

If you don’t have access to YouTube you can also watch the video here

Thanks for your participation! ~ John


“This is my 31st year of teaching with technology.  I have attended many tech conferences over the years and honestly, this is the most excited I have ever been!  Well done.”

 The work you’re doing at SIS is great. Thanks for opening up your practice and giving others a peek into what you are doing and how you are doing. It is much appreciated!

I loved all the sessions and this is the best PD I have had in 6 years. Thank you so much. 

This was a game changing day for me……now inspired to give it a real go.

Highly useful and exciting ideas……helped me to envision next steps for our school.

Great workshop! If only I had a chance I’ll attend all of them. All the presenters are very approachable and loved to share all their expertise.

Thanks! Hope you come to our school and explain and give the same talks you gave at Shekou. Your school is fantastic.

Cutting edge ideas and thinking.  

Excellent presenters and awesome ideas.


Appropriate and Effective Use of eCommunication Tools

In the last two months we’ve completely changed the communication paradigm for our learners here at SIS. No longer does the old axiom, “Children should be seen, and not heard,” apply. If anything, the new axiom for our learners is, “Children can be heard, without being seen.”

Since our students have gone 1:1 iPad, we’ve almost tripled the modes of communication. Whether it is individual, small or whole group conversation, we’ve personalized communication in the classroom. Those means communication are instant messaging, access to their own WordPress blog, Edmodo accounts, and of course school email. Each of these tools have a mostly unique purpose and mostly unique method for use.

This development has led me to create a chart addressing the different tools they can use for communicating and reflecting on their learning, in and out of school. My team and I discussed an idea to have an interactive session, in the coming weeks, when staff and students can brainstorm and agree upon the most effective ways to communicate (email, instant messaging, blog, or Edmodo). We also want to have a group discussion on when it is the best time to use email, instant messaging, WordPress, or Edmodo. The chart below is what we will be collaborating on to learn appropriate and effective use of social media tools. Please feel free to comment.

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Excerpt by Brandon Little @btdlittle

Mini's You Say

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It has been nearly three weeks since the third grade teachers at SIS received five iPad Minis to use in their classroom. Here is what students and their instructors are saying about the iPad Minis:

Mrs. Wildings students: 

“I like the iPad because it is smaller and I can take them anywhere” ~ Ory (Student)

“I like the iPad mini because it is faster and has more apps.” ~ William (Student)

“I like the iPad mini because it is easier to hold than a full iPad and the MacBooks are so heavy to carry.”  Lukas (Student)

“We like Bluster because it makes word work fun!” William (Student)

“I really like Educreations because then we can make videos about what we have studied lately. We can post them on kid log and people can comment on them.” Ory (Student)

“I like Educreations because we can post on kid log and show what we learned.” William (Student)

Here is Mrs. Ruthai’s class website, it covers the first couple of days using the iPad Minis in their classroom.

Mr Callahan: The iPad mini has proven to be the perfect size for portable learning in my classroom. The size of the screen allows students to easily take pictures, audio or video recordings, and type with both thumbs while standing. This portability has made the use of apps such as Educreations, a strong tool for students to share, and document their knowledge. For Word Crafting, the students are able to use Spelling City and Bluster to practice word patterns. For reading, students used Educreations to explain how nonfiction text features make them better readers. For writing, students have been working on informational pieces, which will be typed up using Book Creator to make an interactive ebook. These will contain photos, videos and audio to enrich their nonfiction text. Finally for math, students have been able to apply their knowledge of symmetry by playing games like Reflekt, or demonstrate their understanding of polygons by using Geoboard.

Ms. Carino: During literacy centers, one of the activities the students do is scan a QR code to get a website called Wallwisher. In this application students build a wall with facts, take a picture related to that fact, and post it on twitter. Using an app called Educreations, students reflect on their learning by having to teach a lesson using video and writing features in the application. The students also use Kidblog during literacy hour to post blog entries for others to comment on their writing. Student have received positive comments from their parents and family from all over the world. Finally Math, students discover new ways to practice their facts by playing different games such as Monster Sushi or Beat the Computer.



iPad in EAL

Our EAL team has been doing some fantastic exploration of the iPad as a learning tool.  Check out this video in which students reflect on their use of the iPad in elementary.


Reflections on the iPad

We asked our grade 4 and 5 students what they thought about the iPad.  1 month into the program here are their responses.  This feedback was gathered in our eSpace, a flexible classrooms that allows students to write on any wall.

Middle School apps

Here are the core paid apps you will need to install on your iPad.  Prices may vary depending on what App Store you are connected to (E.g. China).  If a link doesn’t work for you, try searching the App Store.  If you still can’t find the app, please see Mrs. Kruse for assistance. For help with purchasing these apps, see these instructions.

Pages ($9.99 US)

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iMovie ($4.99 US)

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Keynote ($9.99 US)

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Popplet ($4.99 US)

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Creative Book Builder ($3.99 US)


Explain Everything ($2.99 US)


Coach’s Eye ($4.99 US)  — Required for students in Mr. Knudsen’s PE Classes.

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Aurasma This!

During our professional development day earlier this year, I shared with our elementary art teacher, Mrs. Mc Crea a TED talk on augmented reality.  The talk was on Aurasma, a multimedia app that brings life to a still picture by overlaying it with video. Mrs. Mc Crea was immediately empowered by the whole idea of making auras for her art history unit that she just had to incorporate this into her curriculum. With that said, over the course of several weeks Mrs. Mc Crea and myself planned out her art history unit that covered famous artists.  We used iBrainstorm App to map out the entire process of creating auras for her art classes.

The process was simple, each 5th grade class was placed in groups of 3-4 students to research a famous artist. Students gathered information, scripted the information, and filmed a monologue of themselves as the artist. Finally, to put the finishing touches on the monologues, students created Auras.  Click on the bulletin board below to view how Mrs. Mc Crea and her students are redefining learning at SIS.

Each aura has sound. The demonstration clip does not have sound. Please follow the steps below to experience full augmented reality of Aurasma.

Redefining learning through technology is an on going initiative at SIS. Next year Mrs. Mc Crea has every intent to redistribute the auras(trigger images) that were created this year with new auras that students will create next year. SIS will have a continuous museum of famous artist aura around the entire elementary school using Aurasma. If you would like to see her and her students work about famous artist in full. Please search for “SIS Art ES” by flossmaymccrea in the Aurasma App and follow her channel.  The auras or trigger images will allow you to know what images will come alive. Search for the aura(s) via world wide web or art history book. Point your iOS device and see the image unravel into a filmed biography!

“Creating Auras using Aurasma has fully enriched art class, every student could tell you an interesting fact about the famous artists we covered this year. Teaching art history in the past, typically it does not resonate with students, nothing is retained and there is no story to be told. Using Aurasma… well, you make the call” ~ Mrs. Mc Crea


Google Drive with the iPad

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Most teachers are familiar with Google Docs as an excellent set of classroom tools. The new update of Google Drive for the iPad makes using Google Docs on the iPad an excellent workflow option for the iPad classroom. The app is free. With a gmail account, students have access to collaborative document and spreadsheet editing.

I have used Google Docs as a means to share benchmark progress and ESLR observations. I share this document individually with each student. Now I can roam the classroom and update my observation sheet and the student has immediate access to my observations and notations. More importantly, the students can create documents and spreadsheets right on their iPads and share them with me or other students for collaborative projects and constructive feedback.

Also, although the app version is limited, students can sign into the web version on their iPad for access to all of the other Google Drive features. This is useful for students to email a document as a .pdf (and many other possibilities).

For more detailed information:

One explanation of how Google Drive can be used in the classroom.

Another explanation with a video demonstration on how to create student portfolios with Google Drive.

Basic instructions on how to share a file on Google Drive.

~ Katie Kruse

Personal Management ESLR

Not only is SIS a institution of academics, it also instills expected student learning results (ESLRs). There are five ESLRs that students are to demonstrate effectively through out the year.

  • Communicate effectively
  • Demonstrate personal management
  • Work collaboratively
  • Be a complex thinker
  • Demonstrate global citizenship.

In the clip below, you will find a wonderful demonstration of how grade two students expresses their comprehension of elearning personal management.

 Footage, directed and captured by grade two students.