Tag Archives: students

Beyond Worksheets, A True Expression of Student Learning

This is the 4th part of my 4 part series on “The New Economy of Information” 

 

Perhaps the most important effect of the new economy of information is the need to make sense of information that is around us. “In order to do this, students need to literally create their learning and demonstrate not just what they know, but what they can do.”

 

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/04/beyond-worksheets-a-true-expression-of-student-learning/

 

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Teachers’ Most Powerful Role? Adding Context

This article originally appeared on Mindshift/KQED.

“And it’s here, in these seemingly disjointed moments, that the expertise of the teacher is crucial to uniting the class’s learning. Teachers need to create the dynamic that transforms individual moments into a broader experience where the class benefits from the complete range of learning that has taken place.” 

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/04/teachers-most-powerful-role-adding-context/

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Filed under 1:1, general education, MindShift, pedagogy, professional development

Why It’s Time To Change How Students Cite Their Work

This article was originally posted on Edudemic on February 20th, 2014.  See the original post here.

When students write a paper, it goes without saying that they must cite the sources that they use in creating it. For generations, students have created note cards to document and organize these resources and/or submitted a bibliography page with their finished work.

In the modern classroom, student research and creation has taken on a new look. Before, when students created a poster, and then separately handed in a bibliography page to the teacher, justice was done and fair credit was given for the ideas used.

However, as widespread sharing of these projects becomes more common, and the internet allows students to reach an audience far beyond the school or classroom, we need to re-evaluate this procedure and address our responsibility to share these sources – not just with the teacher or school, but with all who might consume the project.

Without readily available sources to review, the audience cannot truly evaluate the validity of the project. They are left with what might be a beautiful and elegant project (the product) without knowing the sources used to construct it (the process).

Sharing sources with an audience is how we can focus on the PROCESS of creation rather than seeing only the PRODUCT.

Sharing Sources of Student Work

1. Include citations for individual pieces of information within the products themselves. This method has the advantage of sharing the sources with those who are consuming the project. For a classroom, this further engages the class in evaluating the sources that are used and allows them to ask “is that a valid source?” or “does that source have a perspective or a bias?”

2. Have students create a traditional bibliography page in Google Drive and include a link to it on their project. This will increase the likelihood that students will explore sources and evaluate projects at a deeper level. The same could be done with Evernote or a shared document in Dropbox.

3. For traditional paper projects, science fair projects, posters, mobiles or other display work, have the students provide a shortened URL to let others find and explore their works cited as they view the product. This will also work for electronic work such as PrezisGlogstersPoppletsGoogle Presentations or online videos. Shortnened URLs can be created at tinyurl.com or by using chrome extensions such as goo.gl URL shortener.

3. In place of a Tiny URL, use a QR code to link viewers to works cited. QR codes can be created for free using QR Kaywa or QRCode Monkey. QR codes are an image file that can be easily added to online projects, and are equally effective when added to the end of videos.

In our information-rich world, accessing information is a daily activity, making it essential to credit the sources being used. This is no less true in elementary school, high school or college. The “Culture of Creation” that emerges in connected classrooms makes this even more important, and putting it at the forefront of creation will allow for a healthy and necessary evaluation of how classwork is created and the ideas used to do so.

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Creativity and Learning with iPads (Devices)

I participated in this webinar yesterday on the topic of Creativity. it was great to chat with outstanding Aussie educator Paul Hamilton. My only regret is that I was not able to chat more with the amazing Kiwi educator Richard Wells. Both are innovators and blazing new trails for effective use of iPads in the classroom.

This topic of creativity has begun to consume more and more of my thinking. Though transitioning to a 1:1 classroom is what began the process, I see  that while the devices are wonderful mediums for expressing creativity, the classroom procedures and policies that go along with them do just as much to encourage students to create.

Though the title refers to iPads this video would be no less helpful to those with other devices. The conversation trended to creativity in general and how to encourage and foster it.

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January 16, 2014 · 8:58 am

Creating a Connected Classroom #CEM13

During October I participated in a series of Connected Educator Events. This one focused on the idea of the connected classroom and how students can benefit when learning is extended beyond the classroom walls.

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October 24, 2013 · 2:13 pm

5 Ways To Support Teachers Skeptical Of Technology

The following article originally appeared on Edudemic.  See the original article here.

For some, the technology rich classroom is easy to justify. Once you have made the transition and seen the benefits, it is easy to weigh them against the potential risks and worries about the problems resulting from having a room full of devices.

For these “dive right in” types, the process makes a lot of sense. Give it a try and see what happens! These are the teachers who typically make up 1:1 and BYOD pilot programs and test groups. They are also the teachers who more often than not are going to lead professional development and share what they have learned.

scared of technology

However, the teachers to whom they will be presenting may not be so easily convinced that this change will be entirely positive. There are reasons that veteran teachers SHOULD be questioning new initiatives and putting them to the “This Too Shall Pass” acid test, crunching the numbers on whether investing in technology will be time well spent. It is part of the reality of being a teacher. As a result, once training begins, there can be problems.

As more schools move to a 1:1 or BYOD format, it becomes increasingly important to support teachers – all teachers – effectively make that transition and to support them in that process. Dismissing their concerns is rarely, if ever, the best answer. Here are a few helpful ways to help reluctant teachers make the transition while showing empathy and understanding.

1. Correctly identify their concern

For many teachers the greatest fear that looming changes hold is the loss of effectiveness. Veteran teachers have worked long and hard to craft a system that gets results. Once they find what works, they are right to embrace it. It is easy to misinterpret this as being uncooperative or dismissive, but understanding their viewpoint will help you to have the conversation in a more constructive and less judgmental way. Demonstrating clearly how technology will increase effectiveness is the single greatest way to win converts and give you common ground to stand on.

2. Listen

When teachers are struggling to implement technology or any other initiative in their classroom often what they need is a chance to talk about what they want to accomplish, and have an instructor guide them to possible solutions. Offering too many options too fast, minimizing the difficulty of the transition, or dismissing their concerns outright, only makes it more stressful. We often talk about how technology helps us to meet the needs of our students. We need to be clear on how it also meets the needs of the teachers.

3. Build on what they are already doing well

Often we make the mistake of asking teachers to implement technology to improve on a lesson or unit where they feel that they are not currently being effective. Suggest that teachers implement technology into a lesson that IS effective in order to show them how it can help them to be even more so. These units are often points of passion for the teachers where they have invested time to get successful results. Here teachers will not be constructing an entirely new unit from the ground-up, but seeing instead how technology can augment previous successes. It is a more forgiving entry point from which they can operate from a position of greater comfort.

4. Help them understand that simply using technology is not the same as APPROPRIATE and MEANINGFUL use

Supporting effective technology integration means more than just mandating its use. Much like teaching people how to drive, we should not be too overly excited just because people will get behind the wheel and spin around a parking lot. That is a great starting point, but it is just that. Setting the bar higher, discussing pedagogy and framework, makes it clear that there is educational value and weakens the image of technology as a faddish gimmick. Establishing a conversation that defines meaningful and appropriate use, and allowing teachers the professional time to share their practice with each, will help the entire school to grow and build upon each other’s successes.

5. Let them know the greater “Why?”

Change for change’s sake will never be as meaningful as change that is focused on achieving a shared goal or objective. If your school can effectively align your program with your school and community goals and values, accepting it will make a lot more sense. Too often new programs seem to undercut or debase previous initiatives, causing confusion or a sense of changing direction. (Part of this can be caused by dramatic unveilings and theatrical rollouts.) For teachers, this can seem like their work – and more importantly their time – have been lost. Demonstrating how technology initiatives are another part of a step towards the established goals of your school will help these teachers move past their initial sense of reluctance. Teachers may be more likely to move forward if they view this as the next step on a continuing journey, and not a new journey altogether.

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Filed under #edtech, edudemic, general education, professional development

5 Unexpected Results of Going 1:1

Identity Crisis– You will become a student too. The moment you have devices in your classroom, you are no longer THE resource for answers in the classroom. Students will be finding sources with much greater insight on your subject area than you can offer.  I (as a history teacher) was presented with ideas and facts that were completely new to me on a daily basis. Class was more about interpreting new ideas and evaluating their credibility. I was thinking more. They were thinking more. My place in the classroom changed. Even though I liked it overall, it was very stressful because it forced me to redefine who I was in the classroom.

Remodeling– The physical space of my classroom made no sense.  We worked in groups a lot. I was constantly moving students around and they were sitting on the floor and in the hallway. It didn’t take long for me to realize that they were out of the desks more than in them.  The collaboration and groups were now more common than not. I had to change my class space to reflect that.  Why couldn’t they do group work in desks? Why didn’t I reorganize the presentation space around their presentations rather than mine?  My classroom had always been staged to focus their attention on me and my answers. That organization flew in the face of my new classroom objectives.  So I asked my students to redesign my room and I am in the process of making the change.

Fear (Freedom is Scary)– Devices gave my students options and presented then with choices. Some of them were completely freaked out by this.  Worksheets are boring but they are safe.  One answer per answer blank is intellectually easy but also emotionally easy.  When you tell students “It’s up to you, you decide.” It will cause some of them anxiety, a lot of anxiety.  This is especially true of the “pleaser” who just wants to make you happy and do what you ask. I am learning that I can help them through this but you better be ready.  Their anxiety is real.

Invalidation– Much of what you used to do was based upon an “Economy of Information” with scarcity at its core. Devices revealed to me that this model is dead. So I moved quickly to change it.   But then I realized that the model was invalid in my non 1:1 classes as well.  So how could I restructure lessons to make them more appropriate for an information abundant world? How do I do that without the devices? When is lecture appropriate in this model? How do I move my focus to the big ideas? #facepalm

Massive Overhaul– I began my dive into 1:1 technology by making some processes tech friendly.  I made class resources electronic. I poured myself into workflow and how I could give and receive materials. Then I moved to integrating technology projects to replace certain lessons. Now I find myself evaluating bigger ideas such as:

  • If my class is no longer based upon a text book, and my units were organized around that units, should I completely reorder my units too?
  • How can a multiple choice test be effective to assess learning when learning is individualized.
  • How can our classes be moving to the values of individual creativity and creation when our institutions are being evaluated by standardized assessment.

The change goes beyond lessons, beyond my classroom to much bigger things.  My advice to anyone about to dive into this would be to prepare yourself to take a good look at what you do on every level. Do not just walk into this casually. You will not find the rewards you a looking for. But with the right planning and consideration you can find rewards beyond your expectations.

See the article in the series here.

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Why? An Analogy for Tech in Education

It would be an understatement to say that I have been obsessing about technology lately.  While that has been true in general for the last few years, it has been more so since I left #edcampss.

My friend and PLN collaborator Greg Kulowiec  ( http://www.kulowiectech.blogspot.com/ ) posed the question “Why are we trying to go 1:1 in the classroom?” We discussed it and the moment passed but I kept coming back to the question.  Now it has been about 3 weeks and I have spent most of my in between moments refining my answer to this question.  Ironically, earlier this week I was asked to talk to the school board about exactly this issue. (I know, right?!) The twitterverse and leading educational scholars have many opinions. Here is what I have arrived at in the form of analogy.

Education in the past: We the teachers hand the students the apple of knowledge.  They consume it.

Education in the future: We the teachers turn the students loose in the orchard and say fill up your bushel basket with the best apples. Then we let them use those apples to make something unique.

The devices that we choose will be the portal through which our students will access the info that they must be able to evaluate, synthesize, refute and organize.  They must leave school prepared to make meaning from a sea of facts. Using these devices in the classroom is the portal through which they will access the the raw material that they will process.

But why should we issue each student a device? Why not just have these devices available during the school day? For me this answer is simple.  Not every child has the same access or experience with technology. Some of our students go home to a world with out technology.  This creates a learning gap.  Just providing devices at school prevents some students from using these skills in daily life and expanding upon them.  It also limits learning to the school building.  Any goods teacher wants learning to happen outside of the classroom and wants students to build upon what has been learned. They can’t do this in the future without the proper tools.

I am not ignorant of the related problems a 1:1 model brings with it.  I understand that there are cost concerns yet, I feel strongly that this model of learning is a better reflection of how our students will learn in the future.

It is frustrating to live in a world that is changing so fast. Both as a father and a teacher I am worried about whether I am supplying the necessary skills to survive in a future that Is hard to define. At the same time it is exciting to be part of defining what the true value of this devices can be.  I am hopeful that some of the issues that have bothered me for 18 years as a teacher might be addressed through technology. I hold no hope however that  an I-pad is a panacea.  I have grown weary of those who aren’t aware of their rose colored glasses when they talk about technology.

I will end this with a short video about the future of learning that has been around for a while.  I stumbled upon it again recently while I was reading yet another teachers explanation of why we should embrace a 1:1 model.  I gets me thinking.

I welcome your thoughts, opinions and comments as they have been so helpful in forming my opinions thus far.

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