Thursday, December 29, 2011

Broken iPad Glass

Christmas for our family was filled with happiness and excitement and...devastation.  My family was making one last stop at my in-laws to pick up some forgotten gifts, and the unthinkable happened.  As I went to get my three year old out of the truck, the family's iPad came crashing to the concrete and SHATTERED!  I took a deep breath, and said, "It will be okay." However, on the inside, I was in complete panic mode.  How would we afford to replace the glass?  Santa had just blown the yearly budget, and we have a family wedding in seven days that requires all of us to get gussied up.  How would my kids handle not having the iPad; it has become so engrained in their daily activities.  How would I tell my grandma, the purchaser of the iPad, about the incident?  How would I check my twitter and facebook so discretely every hour?  I was scared!

Upon returning home, I went online to do some research.  Good thing my husband fixed the laptop screen last week.  Funny how the laptop screen being out of commission for six months did not bother me, but the iPad screen being out of commission for fifteen minutes had me sick to my stomach.  At any rate, my research took me to one forum that said Apple did not replace broken screens.  The author compared it to returning a car to the dealership after being in a crash.  I understood, but I kept reading out of desperation.  I found a couple of places that replaced iPad screens for about $180 which was a bit cheaper than the reports about what Apple charged.  I still couldn't afford $180 at this time not to mention the time my iPad would be away from our family.  Finally, I read a post that gave me some hope.  Apple had apparently replaced this woman's iPad free of charge, and her advice to other customers was to be humble, nice, honest, and non-expectant.  She advised that the second you say you have heard they do this for others; they don't do it for you.

It was settled; I had to go to the Apple store in the morning, and hope for the best.  I made an appointment at the store, and I managed to do a little shopping and eat lunch while I waited for my turn to share my story of the broken iPad.  At 1:40, I was greeted by Paul at the Apple store.  My hands shook and my voice quivered as I explained what happened to the iPad and how vital it is to our family.  He explained the $269 swap out practice because it costs more to replace than to buy a new one.  I listened intently and shook my head as if I totally understood and would do whatever it took because we could not live without the iPad.  Finally, he said, "But, we have two iPads in the back, and I'm willing to swap one with you AT NO CHARGE TODAY.  WOULD THAT BE OKAY WITH YOU?"  Holy Bologna (pronounced balony)!  Yes, of course that would be okay with me.  "THIS IS DEFINITELY A ONE TIME ONLY TYPE OF SITUATION."  Seriously, I had tears, and I was still shaking.  Paul went to retrieve the new iPad.  While I waited, I watched another customer hug an Apple employee and say, "You are all angels today."  Her daughter had dropped her iPod touch and Apple had swapped it free of charge as well.  WOW!!  

So, one might now believe that Apple does this for everyone, but I'm not convinced.  All of the posts I read prior to going to the Apple store were written by real people, and not everyone had such a happy ending.  The person who wrote the post that gave me hope was on to something.  Swapping broken iPads is definitely not done for everyone, but it happens often enough that one should attempt visiting the Apple store.  If your iPad has broken glass, this is what I would do:
1.  Stop using the iPad to prevent further cracking
2.  Say a prayer (continuously throughout the process)
3.  Go to an Apple store ASAP (people in person are better than people on the phone)
4.  Make an appointment with the genius bar and do not ask any questions of the sales people
5.  Be humble and honest when meeting your genius
6.  Never mention that you heard they swapped for others (they do this on a case by case situation will not help you)
7.  Take complete responsibility (don't put down how the product is made)
8.  Be super thankful no matter what...     

Apple is a great company, and I am super thankful for them swapping out my shattered iPad.  I hope that no one else experiences the shattering of iPad glass, but I know it will happen to someone somewhere, so I'm sharing my story.  I wish you the best.

And...Thank you Paul!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Keep that Fire Burnin'...Burnin'...Burnin'

Fire #4:
I presented a session at SLATE entitled Independence in the Inclusive Classroom.  I had two objectives.  First, I wanted to stress the importance of teaching self-advocacy skills to special education students.  Self-advocacy is the single most important skill I teach, and it is a skill that needs to be taught directly. 
Second, I wanted to highlight technology tools (accommodations) that allow students to be independent while participating in regular education curriculum.  The single most important tool that I cannot emphasize enough is Bookshare and its accompanying Read2Go app.  This is a FREE service that provides accessible books (fiction, nonfiction, textbooks) to people with print disabilities.  Over 50 people were in my sectional, and under 5 were aware of Bookshare.  I hope those 50 people mentioned Bookshare in conversation with other colleagues at least once, and I hope they have taken the necessary steps to get their FREE organizational memberships.  It is a crime not to use this service. For more information, check out my glog.

Monday, December 12, 2011

SLATE 2011: Starting a Fire!

After returning to the classroom from my trip to SLATE 2011 conference (School Leaders Advancing Technology Education),  I had to put out a few fires in order to get everything back to normal, but now, I plan to start a few more.  I learned at summer camp that fire is a good thing; it allows for new growth!
Fire #1:  No Digital Presence is Worse Than a Bad Digital Presence
Seriously!  Since the inception of Facebook and Twitter and other social networking tools, educators have fretted about how to control it and prevent our children from creating a negative digital footprint at the cost of completely ignoring the importance of helping our students create a positive digital presence.  Most schools ban social networking cites calling them dangerous, distracting, and a waste of time, yet over 800 million people log into facebook each day.  Beth Lisowski and administators from Whitnall presented on the School Communication in the 21st Century which is very different from a traditional newletter home everyday or a monthly school newsletter.  I was inspired to start my own facebook page for my students, parents, and colleagues to access information that is truly important to special education students.  If you know me and my educational philosophy, you know that I believe if something is good for special education students, it is good for ALL students.   I intend to keep spreading the word about the social networking cites that are having a very profound impact on my professional development.  I also intend to continue growing my Professional Learning Network.  Please find me on twitter @MelissaEmler and "like" my fb page.  My goal is to help you learn something!

Fire #2:  Policy to Match Practice
Our school recently went wireless and purchased about 10 iPads that are being tested in a variety of classrooms throughout the school.  We are learning a lot, and things are going very well.  I went to a session about Bring Your Own Device done by leaders from New Berlin, and my superintendent attended a session about 1:1 computer initiatives.  We both learned a lot about these two options, and our team sat down during team time and collaborated about where we might be going in this world of technology.  Upon our return to the district, the superintendent and I used Google Docs to review and converse about the policies we need to address in our district in order to move forward.  We used New Berlin's Appropriate Use Policy as a stepping off point.  Our awareness has been heightened; the benefit for our students will soon be recognizable.

Fire #3:  Consumer/Producer Lines Blur
Scott Mcleod was the opening keynote speaker, and he was great.  The most important message I took away from his topic was the blurring lines between consumer and producer.  When the internet began, we avidly participated in finding the information that could transform our thinking and grow our knowledge, but as the internet ages, there is an expectation of producing content to make it what it is.  Scott shared encouraged leaving comments on Amazon about a book because essentially that CREATES Amazon.  I love when students produce something to illustrate learning.  The most valuable and important learning happens when students create and publish work that makes them proud.  Encouraging students and colleagues to create and publish is my focus at this point.  At one point, this message was on my class webpage, "Do more than you want to do, work harder than you want to work, CREATE something you are proud of, and you will meet my expectations."  I need to put it back!

Technology integration is going to be a long, continuously buring wildfire, but growth will surely follow the fire.