Students are back. Teachers are ready. And principals are planning how to make their goals reality this year.
Two middle-school principals outlined six of their tech-related goals for the 2012-13 school year. Not surprisingly, both principals included mobile devices on their lists.
1. Experiment with iPads
The 50 faculty at Otte Blair Middle School in Nebraska will get first-hand experience with tablets this year. By using carts of iPads in class, staff will be able to see how the device handles projects, portfolios, pictures, videos and labs — as well as model how to use them, said Principal Chris Stogdill. That's especially important since his district is thinking about providing a device for every student.
2. Encourage collaboration
In addition to experimenting with tablets, Stogdill and his staff plan to emphasize collaboration in Google Docs. If students can't make it to class, they can work together with their partner on a project and share it with staff. Part of this process involves learning how to collaborate in a safe environment.
"We're moving toward a digital society," Stogdill said. "Our ultimate goal is to teach them how to use technology appropriately."
3. Evaluate technology standards
The last goal Stogdill has involves the National Education Technology Standards developed by ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education. While the school had standards of excellence in place, Stogdill's team will compare what it's doing against the standards to see what needs to change.
1. Continue teacher-led professional development
Last year, a team of teachers at Oakview Middle School in Lake Orion, Mich., did a great job of providing professional development for staff, Principal John Bernia said. This year he would like to continue giving them the time they need to plan exciting sessions that show hands-on activities they do in their classrooms.
"One of our big, big goals is to keep that going and to keep the energy behind that," Bernia said. "As an administrator, I can get things done and I can put resources in place, but the best initiatives come from our teachers to our teachers."
2. Create opportunities to put devices in students' hands
Along with teacher-led professional development, Bernia wants to provide more mobile devices to students without breaking the bank. If the new iPhone 5 comes out this month, as rumors suggest, Bernia hopes to convince community members who are upgrading their phones to give their old ones to the school.
The school would wipe the old phones and use them as iPod touches. Students could take pictures with them and record their responses to questions.
He also wants to look at how the school can better incorporate the phones students already have into their classes.
3. Capture and send informal observations to teachers
This year, Bernia is using a Web-based form generator called Wufoo to take notes on his iPad when he watches teachers teach. Wufoo puts his notes in an email format so he can send them to teachers in a readable format.
"Sometimes we administrators do a really nice job of getting in classrooms," Bernia said. "But I think sometimes we get so busy with other things that we don't give that feedback."
Now you've heard the six goals of these principals. What goals do you have for this year? Please share your thoughts in the comments or tweet us @centerdigitaled.