Connected Education

Of course one of the great instructional advantages of placing a mobile device in each student’s hands is that she has a world of information at her fingertips. But as a learner and teacher, I have found that being connected to other people has had an even more powerful impact on deep learning.

At the very founding of our iWizards student tech team group, our consultant, Lucy Gray, arranged Google Hangouts with other groups, such as the Tech Sherpas of Central Maine. More recently, we experienced a fun collaboration with the iWarriors of Birmingham Brother Rice. Together tech team members visited the ultra-techie-cool Data Center of Rock Financial in Detroit. This was a terrific learning experience about technology , engineering, and careers.

In this spirit of collaboration the iWizards are now trying to connect globally with other student tech teams. We have established a hub where teams can gather virtually and share. Even though it is only under construction, I invite you to see it (and promote it on social media).


Mercy also helps its staff learn by connectivity. Each year we host an ed tech conference for 350 attendees at cost. We invite the best ed tech practitioners in Michigan to present o stimulating sessions. This year’s, Februarly 24,  topics will include coding, 3D Printing, digital environmentalism, formative assessment, social media, and much, much more. Check out  and  follow the2017 Mercy Tech Talk for K-12 Educators #mhtt17

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-7-11-01-pmMy presentation proposal to tech talk also involves connected learning. It showcases my iTunes U collection of the best best digital practices of school administrators around the world. Contacting administrators in New Zeeland, Ireland, Singapore, British Columbia, and throughout the 50 States has taught me more that any source of PD that I could imagine. As learners we are blessed to live in these times if we know how to leverage these powerful tools.

— Larry Baker, Associate/Operations andproud ’09 Apple Distinguished Educator. @labcbaker




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iOS 10

ios-10-1It’s that time of year again when Apple releases it’s next big iOS update and this year is no different with the release today of iOS 10. For those of you who may not already know, iOS is the operating system Apple uses on most of it’s mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones.

Below is a link to Apple’s website that explains some of the cool new features:

The Mercy IT Dept. highly recommends that you upgrade to iOS 10 at some point within the first few weeks of it’s release. You will need around 1.3 GB of free space on your device in order to download and apply the update. To check how much free space you have go to Settings, About, and look at the available amount of space. If you do not have enough free space usually cleaning up your camera roll is the best place to start.

Starting today you will start to receive notification of iOS 10’s availability through your Settings app. When you choose to do the update it should be done at home and not here at school. There are two reason for this. The upgrade could take as long as one hour depending on your connection speed and your iPad will be unusable during the upgrade. Also, we will be limiting the internet bandwidth allowed so that any users attempting to update their iPads on the school network will find it very slow. This is to prevent the update from bogging down the school’s internet connection during the first few days of it’s release. Before you initiate the upgrade you should have a recent iCloud backup or you should backup your iPad to a Mac or PC using iTunes. If you have any other questions or if you run into any issues please feel free to drop by or contact the IT Office.

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Joining the iWizards

New students are immediately eligible to join a dynamic tech club at Mercy self-named the “iWizards.” The iWizards came into existence five years ago when the school adopted the iPad. They have been active leaders, teachers and learners in technology ever since.

Ninth graders were introduced to our iWizards at the iPad Orientation. The iWizards completely created the curriculum for the program and taught it.


iWizards conduct the iPad Orientation for new students, August 18, 2016

The iWizards are involved in a number of activities. They create tutorials, conduct a workshop for grade school students and troubleshoot technology in classrooms through a new badging program.


iWizards who receive special training from the I.T. Department are “badged” as classroom tech troubleshooters.

The iWizards also collaborate with other tech teams. They have Skyped with the Tech Sherpas of Central Maine and last spring attended a field trip to the Rock Financial Data Center with the Brother Rice iWarriors. They currently building a collaborative web site for schools around the world.

On August 31, 2016 all students will be sent an application for the iWizards and we hope lots of ninth graders will apply.  Another application opportunity will occur next semester.


April, 20167 field trip with Brother Rice tech team.

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Scenes from 2016 Tech Talk

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Mercy High School hosted its third annual  Tech Talk for Educators conference on February 26.

Keynote speaker Dr. Jason Siko began the conference with“Futures of Educational Technology; Possible, Plausible and Preferable.”  Approximately 300 persons participated this year attending 28 one-hour presentations and six two-hour workshops. Faculty from around 30 metro area school systems were in attendance. Mercy iWizards assisted with technology and logistical support. Six eighth graders from Hillel Day School participated in a “Collaboration Using Student Expert Teams” workshop.



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New iPad Policy for 2016 -17 School Year

ipadsPlease note that starting with the 2016-17 school year new students will  no longer be required to purchase the Mercy iPad Package if they already own an iPad meeting the minimum storage and model requirements listed below.

Acceptable iPad models and storage capacity:
iPad Pro—128 GB
iPad Air 2—64 GB
iPad Mini 4—64 GB

If you decide to bring your own iPad, your daughter should be the sole user of this iPad and will be required to register the device on the school’s management server and also pay the $50 Mercy app fee.

If you do not own an iPad that meets these minimum requirements then you are required to purchase the Mercy iPad Package. Costs are listed below:

  • iPad Air 2-64GB $579.00
  • 3-Year AppleCare+ $99.00
  • Mercy App Fee and Custom Mercy iPad Case $75.00
  • Total $768 (includes $15 order processing fee)

Please visit our iPad FAQs page for more information.

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Senior iWizards Well Prepared for Their Futures

Four iWizard seniors (and a senior citizen!)

As I recently posted, some of my iWizards have grown up! As originally formed three years ago, all members were ninth graders.  While still skewed toward younger members, the iWizards will now be represented by students from four grade levels, among them the seniors pictured above.

Three of my seniors have been vitally involved with the program since its inception. We have shared many wonderful experiences and I have promised them that for all of their efforts I will write them absolutely superb college recommendations. I am presently in the process of drafting these letters. In those recommendations I will be remarking upon how the iWizard experience has helped these young women develop the following qualities:

Leadership The iWizards do not have fixed leadership positions. For each project, leaders are self-selected or selected by project teammates. Senior iWizards have been leading projects for four years now and have been continually identified as take-charge individuals with exceptional leadership skills.

Responsibility The iWizards are accountable to each other rather than an adult leader and the team bond is the most effective system of accountability. Students who do not follow through don’t remain iWizards very long.

Self Direction iWizards are given free reign to develop their curriculum and instructional plans for projects like the new student iPad orientation and iCreate! — an arts workshop for middle school students. They do not need “approval” from a teacher though they select mentors who critique their work. The mentor’s participation is more collegial than hierarchical.

Problem Solving The iWizards become good at problem-solving. These problems could be technical, logistical or inter-personal.

Presentation Skills  All iWizards are involved in making presentations at student-to-student workshops.  This includes developing slide presentations or designing ice-breaker activities. The students whose letters of recommendations I am writing also presented last spring at the largest teacher technology convention in our state. They were invited by Apple to present on “ iWizards– Empowering Students as Leaders“.

Collaboration Outside of developing our collection of iPad Tips and Tricks, all of our projects have been completed as teams that have required continual communication through digital means such as Google Apps.

Stretching Technical Skills It is not uncommon for the iWizards to join a particular project team so that they can learn more about a technology. Perhaps the best example of this would be a project team which intended to introduce the Schoology LMS to new students. They were required to learn how to use and develop tutorials before the school actually adopted it. Consequently, they became proficient long before the great majority of teachers did.

Service Finally, after mentioning all of these intangible benefits the iWizards gain from their participation in the group, it should be noted that all of their projects perform a service to the school or greater community. The benefits of this program flow in both directions.

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iWizards Lead the New Student iPad Orientation

This was Izzy’s third year leading an iPad orientation session

Three years ago Mercy adopted the iPad as its 1:1 device for the class of 2016. Shortly afterwards we formed a club of ninth grade iPad enthusiasts who named themselves the “iWizards“. Those ninth graders set upon an ambitious project: They would conduct the two and a half hour tech orientation for the next group of ninth graders.  While the iWizards now pursue additional projects, they still produce the new student tech orientation before school officially starts. This year every Mercy student will have an iPad, and some of the iWizards who originally formed the club are now seniors. Learning with them over the past three years has been a fabulous experience.

Last Friday (August 14), twenty-four current iWizards provided an orientation for the new students four separate sessions. This actually meant that eight teams of iWizards independently taught sessions with a teacher of their choosing in the room for support.

The process of choosing the subjects, creating the curriculum and presenting the material is a great experience for these young women. They acquire presentation and technical skills but also they gain self-confidence and leadership skills. They hold each other accountable and each year we have been delighted to find that none of the iWizards bail out on the project over the summer.

By all accounts the iWizards did a splendid job on Friday. I have shared a small slice of the experience in the following video:

P.S. New students may apply to become iWizards in October.


Top photo by Gary Morris


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