Friday, August 31, 2012

The iLearn School

Our campus theme this year is 'iLearn'. Many people want to know what the purpose or meaning of the theme is.  Obviously, our theme is based on the iPad which is a tool that we are beginning to implement in our instruction, but for our campus it is much deeper than that.  I hope that this post will do justice to what our leadership team meant when they decided that this would be our theme for the year.  Before we discuss our theme, let's analyze the company that we modeled our theme after, Apple.

We asked to answer the following question: "What does the 'i' in iPhone mean?"

"As announced for the very first iMac that came out in 98', the "i" stood for "Internet, Individual, Instruct, Inform, and Inspire".

and another answer:

"the original imac, released in 1998, was marketed around the concept that it was the easiest computer to connect to the internet. in '98, the internet was still something that most people didn't use regularly, and so the idea of a computer that was "internet ready" was hip and new. the i stood for internet, but it also stood for "I" as in "me". the imac was designed to make the personal computer feel more personal, and make the user feel like the computer was working for them, not against them."

And another answer:

"The term iPod (according to Apple) simply stands for Interactive POD. The POD in the name stands..."

So for our campus, what does the 'i' in iLearn mean?  What does it represent?  As we ponder these questions, it is extremely important that we reference and analyze the answers from our wiki search.  While the answers are very different, they have some great similarities to education and more importantly, the idea that we would like our campus to emulate.   Here are the adjectives that the describe the 'i' in iPad and my thoughts on how they apply to the goal of learning on our campus.

Internet-Ready: The world that our children will inherit will require navigational skills on the Internet with a variety of tech-tools.  Students must be able to research and use the tech resources that are ever changing.  Most importantly our students must be prepared to use these tools without any training on them.

Individual: Our curriculum must meet the unique needs of each and every learner. The 20th century conveyor belt model of learning will not prepare our kids for the 21st century; therefore, we must individualize instruction. In addition, students must learn in an environment where they own their learning.

Instruct: Our instruction will lay the foundation for kids' learning. Our teachers must create innovative, challenging and engaging instruction that will guarantee that every student is successful in learning.

Inform: Every day, the results of our learning must inform our instruction, not only for the teacher, but for the learner also. Formative data aligned to high leverage skills must be used to measure growth and guide our daily actions for both the teacher and the learner.

Inspire: In order to ensure that every child is successful, we must create a culture that inspires students to believe in themselves and in the power of their learning. Inspiring all kids and one another is a 21st century skill.

Interactive: Teamwork is one of the most critical 21st century skills. This means that students must know the value of good character and respect for self and others. The skill of working together is a skill that can only be developed through frequent interactive learning situations.

'I' Stands for Me: The iMac was designed to make people feel like the computer was working for them, not the other way around. This is Apple's mantra and defines why iProducts are so popular. In an iLearn school, one must pose the question, does our school make students feel like it was designed especially for them? Learning experiences and structures must meet the learner where they currently are and engage them in such a way that the learner deepens their knowledge with the 'apps' provided by the school. A school can gauge if their 'apps' are effective by reviewing discipline, attendance and academic data.

So now, we ask the question, "What does the 'i' in iLearn mean? There are so many good choices listed above for what it could mean. Apple has thrived on constantly reinventing itself based on the needs of the market. In learning, we must thrive on constantly exploring and reinventing ourselves to make learning meet the needs of our kids. So again, what does the 'i' in iLearn mean? The answer to that question can only be one answer and that is an emphatic YES!  The 'i' stands for every descriptor listed above because the iLearn school is exactly what the learner makes it for themselves. I look forward to hearing your comments on what you think it means.

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