By profession I am a technology integrator and I set up this blog to post my ideas about technology. My posts have little to do with technology and everything to do with learning and thoughts I have revolving around learning.
I have fought the notion for years now that this blog should be about technology. If you look in Publications you'll see my original technology content. What you should also notice is that I don't just give tech tools but how to use them.
Within my teaching ego, I waged a war to changed the title of this blog and I've finally loosed the canon and have done so.
From this point forward the new title of my blog is "Creating Learners." I base my decision on the premise that iteration is a normal part of any organization and in order for an organization to adapt it must change its vision. Again, I fought for years within to change the title because the blog didn't match my passion.
My passion is to create learners who are self-directed, flexible, and desiring to learn for selfish reasons. The selfish reasons are simple enough to understand. They want to learn and no one will hold them back. My previous blog posts have dealt with the "creating learners" theme focusing on how educators can move forward in their practice.
I had a great time sharing what I know with other teachers at the iPad Symposium held at the University of Akron today. Thanks to Jeremy Brueck for organizing and providing the opportunity to connect with my PLN friends and see new faces.
It is my opinion that iPads offer students of all ages the ability to quickly create learning artifacts, and that once you show them a few apps they can make their stuff quickly and then share it. I said something just before lunch that has to be true of creating with apps - the first thing I look for in an app is being able to export work and share it.
The goal of my presentation was to have teachers create content in one app and pull it into another to create final product. I call it AppSmashing and so does Edudemic, Meghan Zigmond at ZigZagging through education & technology. and edtechteacher.
Here's the idea. I start with one app, let's say Paper by creating original images and export those images to the photo gallery. I then open Puppet to import my pics and add voice over to the images. After I'm done creating I share it to social networks for people to learn from. So, I can take multiple apps and smash their products together to make a single product that can be shared.
AppSmashing involves critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and the ability to merge multiple forms of data in new ways.
Get these apps on the AppStore
Open is good in education. Learning resources are available to students when they need them. But what happens when students abuse the openness of a network? Should they lose network work privileges? Should access to #GAFE accounts, YouTube, and many other resources be done away with?
It is hard to argue with critics about school networks that are open. Not open from the standpoint of security but open to the myriad of resources teachers and students can learn from. When students disregard technology etiquette in favor of doing what they want then, perhaps, privileges are lost.
What would it do to students to not have access to online resources?
Maybe nothing. I say this because educators are not fully exploiting the power of learning embedded in the Internet. Students may miss nothing because they aren't using it.
For some students it would be cutting off their arm because they heavily rely on Internet access for research, creativity, and more.
However, students who abuse the power to use and create at their disposal should lose their privilege to access a great sum of humanities knowledge and the power to add to it.
What would restricted access to the Internet do to teachers?
Teachers who use it to engage students in deep learning will have a conniption because their source of information is gone. Out goes email, out goes chat, out goes all kinds of stuff we've come to rely because we can't trust kids to follow rules in place to protect them and us.
The question is: If students continue to abuse an open network, should they lose their privilege to use it?
Presenters: Kader Adjout, Lisa Brown, Rob MacDonald
Design Thinking is way to design engaging learning
Presenter: Brett Clark
HIgh quality 1:1 implementation needs a systematic, systemic approach to shift pedagogy.
Are we going to continue to sharpen the pencil or make a dramatic shift?
Richard Culatta is the director the United States Office of Educational Technology. You can also find him on LinkedIn. The keynote is yet to commence, however I have a litany of questions to ask of him.
I've decided to use Cornell Notes as the method to write questions and reflect on the keynote.
Learning is tech infused
A pervasive thought I have is the balance of technology and pedagogy. In my PLN I follow a variety of educators who are noted for their technology prowess. These folks use Web 2.0, iOS and Android apps to help students learn and have created PD for other teachers to learn how to use a variety of apps and websites. Efforts such as these help everyone to learn - educators and students.
Within the technology integration model, pedagogy is fundamental. Knowing about apps and websites is great and I curate many #edtech resources using Learni.st so I can share my findings. Yet, the focal point is instruction answering this key question - How will an educator engage students in deep learning while infusing technology? Learning is not about the tech, apps, or websites but about viable teaching methods. As much as I want educators to use technology, it has its place. It may or may not fit into a particular learning experience. Weighing the pros and cons of tech to the essential standards and learning targets is the first step in deciding when to integrate and when not to. Just because the tech is available doesn't mean it should be used.
Late this year, 2013, I attended a three day conference sponsored by Solution Tree titled PLC at Work led by Rick and Rebecca DuFour and Robert Eaker. Along with a host of other presenters, this institute was the best onsite learning experience I have had in quite some time so much so that I have read four books to help me better understand how the PLC process creates a deep culture of learning.
The books I've read are:
If schools are to prepare students for the future (vision statement of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Schools) then a different culture needs to exist in schools. There are various views about why schools exist. The only reason a school exists is to create deep and engaging learning experiences. Students come with a curiosity to learn and it is up to the educators, administrators, parents, and board of education to push a single agenda - learning.
Developing a positive school culture focused on learning takes time. Some will resist, others will waffle, and some will jump in with both feet. Action is key to creating a high powered PLC that focuses on learning.
As a result of this experience I have committed myself to being a positive force and leader in the schools where I work. A passion, a fire has been lit that wants to come out and share with the educators I work with. PLCs may seem like a fad or a product but the entire concept is really about a shift in culture. The shift focuses entirely on learning and the need for teachers to collaborate to meet the learning needs of students.
Clarity preceeds competence. This phrase was repeated over and over again. Educators have to be clear on four things:
Clarity preceeds competence. Educators have to be clear on the learning culture. If there is cultural ambiguity individuals fall back on tradition.
Some students just don't care, so break tradition
This is a scary statement. Educators may take offense to this because what they teach is the most important to them. Yet, every teacher will state that some students just don't care about their class and rightly so.
I've learned that every student focuses on their needs and what they want to learn. They do not come to the classroom with the same intensity. Some gravitate towards different contents while others gravitate to no content area but have diverse interests in other areas. In other words, some students just do not care about a class or classes because it is not their passion.
The question is what to do about it. Using the differentiation buzzword, educators will need to find a real world link to capture the students who are not engaged in their class. Tradition has to be broken allowing students a wide berth to learn the content in their way while demonstrating mastery. It is scary and teachers will admit to this. Breaking tradition is difficult but it can mean a renewed sense of purpose for you and your students.
In the technology class I teach students have license to learn what they choose while the tech skills I are infused. They are mystified when I say they can learn what they want because the others teachers always dictate content. When students have leeway to create their own learning using technology they own the content and the skills.
Making a PLN is a long term investment
PLN - personal learning network - is a long term investment for me and the people I'm connected to. Making it takes time, patience, persistence, and energy. Investing in tweets, social media, curating, and blogging takes constant effort and vigilance, but the payoff is tremendous.
In my efforts to develop a PLN I joined a variety of digital spaces to connect with other educators. My reasoning for joining so many came down to a simple question - How will I know if this community will support my learning? I do not participate in all of the online communities but do recommend some:
Flipped Learning has little to do with video
I read Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student by Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann. It was a short read but an important one.
Educators know tech is important to students today. Even my five and three year old know how easy it is to access what they want in a few taps or clicks. Aaron and Jonathan leveraged technology with a pedagogical underpinning. These men were not after technology integration but deep learning and engaged students who demonstrated learning mastery in their science classes.
Flipped learning has little to do with video, podcasts, computers, or tablets. It focuses squarely on learning and help every student achieve mastery no matter how long it takes. By shifting the lecture outside of classroom time they gained quality with every student every day. They knew the progress of each student, the struggles, and the success. Flipping allowed them to truly differentiate and enrich every student at his or her particular level.
Many assume flipping is all about video and tech and having kids watch a lecture and take notes outside of classroom time. In reality it has little to do with that. Flipping is about mastery learning and meeting the learning needs of every student.
Developing real and relevant PD is difficult
Part of my job is to provide technology PD to educators in my district. I have thought long and hard about how to deliver and what to use as a basis for learning.
In response to this I created PD titled Qademy and used Schoology to deliver instruction. Teaching Digital Natives by Marc Prensky was the required reading and I based the class on the principles in this book. This is the class description:
Qademy is a course specifically designed to teach you how to integrate technology focusing on pedagogy, leadership, and technology.
Fifteen educators participated focusing on a vision for their classroom. Often teachers do not have a vision but simply do. A phrase I used often is "have the end in mind" - know what you want to accomplish and work a plan to get there.
To make the work real and relevant teachers based all of their work on their needs. Contrived learning was not the norm.
Educators were challenged because the assignments were open ended, lacked explicit instructions, and caused them to think outside the box. They often asked what to do or how to do it meaning they wanted to know exactly what to do to get the assignment done. I wouldn't tell them of course as that would defeat the purpose of them owning the work. One participant said, "You make my brain hurt." I took that as a compliment.
This small shift pushed educators to think differently about teaching and learning. Students can do more than we think, and allowing them to do the work is more important than telling them every little thing to do.
Publications abound about PD. Much of what I read says that PD, as it is articulated and given today, does not address the learning needs of educators. Either it is too general with little application or is mandated from the top-down. As educators choose their learning experiences they do so to further their understanding of various topics. The question I have is, "How do provide choice, make it powerful, real, and relevant easily applied within the classroom?"
Here are other pertinent questions:
With that question in mind I had to decide what to use to curate Web content. I ultimately decided on Pearltrees. This tool makes webs of information. The easiest way to create pearls and add them to a tree is to use the Chrome Pearler extension.
I am responsible for giving technology PD to educators. Earlier in this post I focus on pedagogy so I approach teacher learning from this point of view first.
NextGen PD utilizes good pedagogical and assessment practices. Formative measures inform me of progress - who is having trouble and who is not. Rubrics describe learning according to level of mastery. Levels of mastery include novice, emerging, skilled, and advanced. Educators work in small groups and individually. Flipped learning principles are used to introduce a concept or a certain technology. It is is easy to use an LMS to deliver instructions, assignments, comments, updates, grades, and more. Teachers use creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication to solve real classroom and world issues.
Learning is setup as a series. Each series has a variety of topics and different levels, or depths, of learning. This model presents educators with choice, and choice is essential to owning learning. Educators may choose to more about one topic and less about another because of interest. As students are not always interested in content so too are teachers. Choice allows teachers to maximize their learning.
As teachers choose their learning series and depth of learning, badges are given to credit the work of educators using Mozilla's Open Badges framework. Educators keep their badges in Mozilla's Backpack. Open Badges allows teachers to display their learning on websites, blogs, and other online communities. Badges can be added to resumes and CV's. The Open Badges framework bakes badges with proof of learning. This provides proof of learning and portability not available before. Prior to the concept of badging the primary way of proving learning was through a certificate, printed or digital, or transcripts. Badges allow educators to promote, prove, and share their learning in multiple ways.
I'm a tech coach for grades 3-8.
How do I help more teachers integrate technology?
Do I force teachers to meet with me, or is that a bad idea?
Do I teach the teachers the tools and let them teach students, or do I do that?
If deeper learning is the purpose for integration, is the focus on pedagogy more important than the tech?
Teachers already work closely with their respective media specialists who help them integrate tech. What's my purpose as a 3-8 tech coach?
How often to do I follow-up with teachers I've worked with? Is the follow-up the only form of accountability?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Scott is an instructional coach for BBHCSD helping educators shift instructional practices to design effective, student-centered instruction in a 1:1 and blended learning environment. He presents and speaks to audiences locally, statewide, and nationally. Scott is active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, and Flipboard.
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