My notes from visiting Waverly-Shell Rock’s Middle School with 1:1 iPads

Earlier this week, I visited the new Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School, in Waverly, Iowa.   Their school was devastated by flooding back in 2008.  With the help from FEMA, state, and local resources, the school reopened in the fall of 2011 as a 5th grade thru 8th grade middle school featuring a 1:1 ipad rollout to all 600 students. District-wide, each teacher has an ipad and each student grades 5 thru 8 has a 16Gb iPad.  Next year, iPads will be deployed to all 9th thru 12th graders (approx 750 more).

Links related to Waverly-Shell Rock’s 1:1 iPad deployment…

  1. My favorite quotes from visiting Waverly Shell Rock’s 1:1 iPad Deployment
  2. Waverly-Shell Rock iPad Open House Notes by Dave Mourlam
  3. Waverly-Shell Rock’s Official iPad FAQ
  4. Waverly-Shell Rock’s iPad Policy

Media reports related to WSR’s iPad deployment…..

  1. Waverly-Shell Rock kids take education in hand
  2. Middle Schoolers Enhance Learning with iPads in Classroom
  3. An iPad For Every Student

My full notes………………

1. This past winter break, they placed an Apple TV in every room to connect iPads to projector.  It’s located on top of the short throw projector and has been a huge success, allowing students and teachers to connect to each classroom projector.

2. The furniture was designed to be entirely portable, almost everything is on wheels.  We loved the whiteboard  tables!

3. We love the teacher AV desk.  In most rooms it holds only the document camera, but it can be lowered or raised – giving the teacher the option to use the document camera at standard desk height or while standing.

4. There was lots of soft furniture all all around, including classrooms.

5. We really liked the science classroom setups, with the lab stations along the walls and the traditional classroom space in the middle.

6. Love the lunch room view from above!

7. Picture of the library furniture…  and the computer lab

8. They love soft furniture – and even the filing cabinets have seats!!

9.  While touring the building, we overheard “Our school needs a flood !”

10.  We asked the kids…. who determines who gets the comfy furniture in the classroom?  Apparently its first come, first serve – and I bet they have very few tardies!

11.“We don’t have a technology initiative, we have a learning initiative”

12.When they moved to iPads, there was some concerns such as “How are we going to teach Prezi”.  Of course, this lead to the conversation that we don’t teach Prezi, we teach presentation skills, collaboration, etc. They referred to this as the Great Prezi breakdown of 2010.

13. One of their goals: everyone has technology so they can take the focus off technology.

14. Families purchase insurance for their iPads, or use current home insurance, but proof is provided before the iPad is allowed to go home.

15. They talked about stranded professional development, where teachers were able to select the strand that was appropriate based on their current experience.

16. When asked: How long will an iPad last, when are you planning to replace them? Best guess, and current planning is for 3 years, although there is some concern that there will a time period when the device is functioning, but can no longer accept software updates.  (comparable to how some iOS devices were not able to update to iOS 5  and could not longer update applications)

17.  Who buys the apps?  The district provided some standards such as Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and iMovie, but school and departments had the option to buy more

18. Student iPads are standardized, students can not select or download apps on their own.

19. Internet access for the iPads is tracked and filtered (through LightSpeed, students are required to log in every time they open a browser).  iPads that go home are not filtered.  They discussed this with families and decided that home filtering is home issue.  They also provided families with various filtering options for home.

20. Approximately 50% of the families have wireless at home, however, students without wi-fi at home still found the iPad useful at home.  District is approximately 13% free/reduced lunch.

21. During a panel discussion, a teacher commented “The iPad won’t transform education, I have to, it’s still up to the teacher”

22. During the panel, students shared what they liked about iPads – including having all their homework in one place!

23. The students were asked: do you prefer a regular keyboard or the iPad by itself?  Most students in the panel preferred a regular keyboard, but teachers noted that the results are more mixed.
24.  Tell us about what things frustrated you…..

a. Transitioning to iOS 5, losing documents, settings, etc.
b. Some students said there are too many apps available… and that they don’t even use all the apps that are installed
c. Students HATE the sync process…  when the school takes their ipad, syncs to a station to update the apps.  They lose their personal documents and they must email them to themselves and then set things back up again. This happens about once a month and was considered “messy” at best by most students we talked with.
d. Getting flash websites to work, although it is getting better.


After the panel discussion, an optional “technical” session was offered for visitors to ask questions about the infrastructure and management of the iPads.

1. Early on they had printing issues… but they mentioned (joked) that this helped reduce printing.  Currently they are using HP ePrint– students send their documents to a specific email address assigned to a printer.  This is sufficient for now, but they are looking for better options.

2. They use Casper Suites to manage the updatesto the iPads –  students do NOT have the iTunes accounts and can not update/install applications. Student iPads are NOT using iCloud, as the students are not 13 and do not qualify for an iCloud account.

3. The model they are planning for the 9-12 ipads:  Use Casper to push the apps out to student iPads, but then let students use their own iTunes account to download/install/update apps of their choice.

4.  They were asked: is the 16Gb model sufficient? Answer:  yes, so far it is.  They have had a few students who filled the storage space, but it was always due to a large number of videos and photos, which were rarely educationally related.


5. How many access points are in the building?  52, they are using Aruba wireless.
6.  How is the wireless network holding up?  holding up well….  the only issues they have encountered is that occasionally student iPads jump over to the guest public network, but students are able to reconnect them to the proper network.
7.  They were asked “You have Dell PCs and iPads – what problems does that cause?”.  None.  I think they handled this very well – as there is no issue mixing the two and Waverly is great example of how this can work.
8. A student pledge sheet was signed by students and parents prior to deployment
9. They were asked… what would you change?
a. Buy better cases to protect the corners
b. Restructure the insurance to ensure that the families are truly covering the cost of deductibles and replacements.
10. How many iPads were broke or damaged in the first semester and how does this compare to what you planned for?  Answer: Out of 600 devices, we planned for 80 accidents and so far have 40.

5 thoughts on “My notes from visiting Waverly-Shell Rock’s Middle School with 1:1 iPads

  1. Pingback: My favorite quotes from visiting Waverly-Shell Rock’s 1:1 iPad Deployment « West Des Moines Community Schools Technology

  2. Salli Pence

    Brian, thanks for sharing your notes and pictures from your visit to Waverly-Shell Rock. Did you by chance hear anything about how much bandwidth they have?

    1. Brian Abeling Post author

      Hi Sallie…

      Yes, they are currently using 25Mb of internet access, but are looking to expand next year, as they are also expanding iPads to grades 9-12.

  3. Jim Kelly (@TRC_Jim)

    Nice job on this, Brian. We are doing a 1:1 iPad initiative next year with a seventh grade group. We are struggling with student access to Apple TV. Students can theoretically jump in and kick others out. You can password protect it, but you would need to change the password every class period. How is it being used there? Just by teachers? Also, if the students are using a 3rd party filter app at home, how does that affect the performance of the device when it is on campus and using Lightspeed? Do they both run concurrently? Many thanks in advance!

    1. Brian Abeling Post author

      Hi Jim… Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to this, as I actually work for a different school district and was reporting back to our staff on what we found during our visit to Waverly-Shell Rock. However, here’s a twitter contact from Waverly-Shell Rock that should be able to help out… Bridgette Wagoner, Twitter: @B_Wagoner


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s