How to make an iPad/tablet roll out a success. Learning from two schools in Vista, California.

a Digital Promise Story.

Vista, Ca
boy and iPad
Happy, proud young man. Photo by Beth Duncan

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An Overview
A wonderful big idea + A thought out plan + Buy-in from the school community + And, a constant reminder as to why they’re doing this made this iPad rollout a super success!  Before I go on, I need to give a HUGE SHOUT OUT to the Learning coaches at both locations, the administration, and the many volunteers that made this day a celebration and not just a ardous task for everyone!

The iPad rollout was A HUGE VICTORY for Vista School District’s Rancho Minerva and VIDA middle schools this past weekend! It was a model for other schools to learn from. Although it was one of the hottest days in history for Vista, California (FYI: they’re about 15 min from the beach, too), it didn’t stop the crowds from coming and being a part of this celebration for learning!  As I pulled into VIDA middle school, there were families posing with their new iPad, as if they were picking up a puppy from the pet store and introducing it to their family. I got out of my car quickly and helped take a family portrait for the different families. I can tell that the schools did a wonderful job communicating the importance, the possibilities, and the value that this journey will provide not only the students but their families at home, too.

Make it a Celebration
Both schools had music, activities, stations for little sisters and brothers to interact with middle school students and the iPads. I also enjoyed seeing community members volunteering at these events as well. There was a group of students from a local college there helping parents with questions about the university and the process of getting ready between now and then. The food trucks came in handy as well. One of them was a Hawaiian shaved ice truck that, I believe, did very well, considering the almost 99° temperature. I liked the selfie station and the I photo station in the library. The kids ran some of these fun stations!!! Also, VIDA had a student store outside, selling branded clothing and other cool school stuff. I bought a cool cap! They appeared to have a steady stream of people ready and willing to buy something: from shirts, to bags, to even school branded headphones.

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Make students a critical part of the event
A humongous plus for these events was the use of the students. At both schools, there was a large group of students wearing distinctive shirts that said “How can I help you” on them. The students were everywhere answering questions from parents and  they were a huge help with translating where needed. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Every chance I saw one of them, they were either jumping up-and-down, smiling, and laughing. As parents, nothing can be better– happy children!!!

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Create volunteer excitement
At the schools, everyone volunteered. They gave up there Saturday to do this, to be a part of this, they were there from as early as 7 AM until 4 PM. I didn’t even mention the countless hours the teachers and the students put into this celebration the night before as well as the previous weeks leading to the event. You can see it everywhere. there was evidence everywhere of the thinking that went into making sure today was going to be a great day. Every student, parent, and teacher I interviewed shared with me how happy, excited, and proud of their school to have been selected. They all see this as a necessary component to help meet the needs of their children.  Also, They recognize that there will be bumps along the way, however, this is part of the learning lessons journey they have to and are willing to take.

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Celebrate your cheerleaders
At Rancho Minerva, I was shooting some time lapse video inside the library and it was such a pleasure to listen to the library staff greet the families, explain the process to them, and congratulate them. Two of the library staff kept reaching out and tapping the kids on the shoulders as if they did something worthy of a shoulder tap. It was beautiful to see that shy middle school smile pop up time after time.

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Plan clear stations
Even though, the lines, at times were super long, the energy levels stayed high. The schools did a great job making sure families had their questions were answered throughout the waiting process. Rancho Minerva and VIDA Middle Schools had very clear stations. Parents knew where to go and what was next. If you’re in a position that will be organizing a roll out like this one, you need to consider what the different stations look like. At Rancho Minerva, the stations were titled, iStart, iDocumentation, iGet, iInsure, and throughout the school, there were iNeed help stations as well. Both schools really thought through the station planning very efficiently and very effectively. The student helpers helped connect parent to the right places.

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Document and story tell your victories
Lastly, I appreciated the storytelling and documenting student teams. They demonstrated how important it is to capture the stories of the day and share them with the world. A look local news team were so impressed with the quality of work of these students storytellers that they asked them to send B roll footage, coverage, that they had been shooting over to the station for a 4:30 PM broadcast. Their teacher, Beth Duncan, was a wonderful cheerleader for her teams as well. This is something all schools need to consider and plan for as well. Vista is about 2 1/2 hours away from me and I don’t even remember any of the drive home yesterday because of how excited I was with what I saw and what I experienced. I want to thank Rancho and VIDA, our Vista schools, for making me love my job even more!

Next stop: Learning!!!!!

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