Posted in Innovation, Investigation, Research-Based, Shift, Transformation

When is Digital The Right Choice?

As a School of Innovative Learning and Technology, our Site Plan calls for innovative, technology-embedded programs and experiences for our students. Does that mean that everything we do needs to be surrounded with technology? When is digital the right choice?

The use of digital resources in instruction needs to support best instructional practices, further your learning target, and promote deeper learning. We have amazing digital resources literally at our fingertips every class period, but not to use merely because they’re present.

Digital resources do have the ability to increase personalization, aid in differentiation, provide immediate formative feedback, increase engagement, and provide access to authentic materials (VanderArk & Schneider). Research shows that digital learning can increase achievement by as much as a grade level (Anderson). Thoughtful implementation is essential (Schapiro) in the planning process for this to occur. Merely using the technology without monitoring student use does not increase student achievement (Jacob). Our instruction has to be founded in best instructional practices. Technology shouldn’t replace the teacher, the standards or the learning targets.

As we move forward on our 1:1 journey, consider the instructional practices you are using. Is there a digital alternative? Is that alternative a substitution? Does that substitution offer additional possibilities for differentiation and application? Does that alternative actively engage students in the learning process? Does that alternative encourage collaboration? Does it encourage students to build upon prior knowledge? Does it provide for an authentic experience? Will you receive timely formative feedback through its use? Is it an additional activity or something embedded into your lesson?

Do you need help answering these questions or knowing what possibilities we have? Let’s work together with your collaborative teams to explore the possibilities.

Resources

Posted in Constructivism, Learning Environment, Research-Based

Making Connections From The Start

It’s here, the start of another school year. Our halls and classroom will soon be filled a variety of students possessing a variety of needs.

Last week, Pine Creek High School’s new Mission Statement was revealed, opening the door for our next steps forward. Part of the Mission Statement speaks of “providing a safe and welcoming learning community.” Have you thought about how you might make that happen in your classroom? What would that look like? What would that feel like?

The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to begin making the connections necessary to foster that safe and welcoming environment. Wes Kieschnick, author of Bold School, says that “on the first day of school, if you spend more time talking about rules than connecting with kids, you’ll spend more of your year enforcing those rules than teaching” (Kieschnick). Those connections are a vital ingredient in increasing student achievement (Richman) as well as building the trust needed to make mistakes and ask for help (Hattie, 2012, as cited in Richman).

How are you going to begin this year? How are you going to make those connections with your students? Take the time to make these connections. Don’t lose this opportunity. Your syllabus can wait. Model the behavior and relationships you want in your class. Take the time.

Resources: Safe and Supportive Learning Environments

Resources: Activities to build a safe, supportive learning environment

Resources: Connections

Additional Resources

  • Hattie, John. Visible Learning.
  • Kieschnick, Wes. Bold School.
Posted in iPads, Note Taking, Research-Based

Sketchnotes

Have you seen those illustrations depicting various concepts in journals, magazines or online? Those are Sketchnotes! While some might call these doodles, they are really so much more. A sketchnote is a visual representation of a topic that requires listening and synthesis of information.

What is the process? One description calls the process “circular breathing”: listening, synthesizing and visualizing (Berman). It’s about transforming what you hear into a visual piece of communication, structuring that understanding, giving a hierarchy to the concepts and synthesizing the information. It’s an individual, personal experience that isn’t about being an artist.

What do I need? Most avid sketchnoters agree that there are certain elements of a sketchnote: text, containers (shapes), connectors (lines and arrows), and icons (stick people, smileys, etc.). As you become more comfortable, try adding shading and color. Of course, you’ll need a medium. Blank paper and a comfortable writing utensil are the best places to start. Is there an app for that? Of course! Pair a stylus with an app like NotabilityPenultimatePaper by 53InkflowProcreateSketchbook Express, or Autodesk Sketchbook. Digital or paper, it’s really about what is most comfortable for the user.

Why sketchnote at all? Sketchnoting is personal and expressive experience which encourages the note-taker to interact with the material in new and different ways. The note-taker is engaged, making connections to the material and “adding some joy” to their notes (Irgens). Research has found that as a learning strategy, it can help learners “organize and integrate their knowledge and ultimately be transformative.” It can also provide “teachers with windows into students’ thinking” as well as being a means for peers to “share knowledge, discovery and understanding” (Davis).

What can I do now? Start with me! This is an area of growth for me, one that I’m diving into and cultivating. Take it easy and try some templates like these from “Complete The Doodle” Challenge or join me in 50 Days of Sketches promoting a growth mindset with educators. Follow the hashtag #Sketch50 on twitter to see what others are sharing.

What can I do next week? Want to try bringing this into your classroom? Start by allowing students to sketchnote as they take notes in class. Encourage them to share or present their notes. Students are often really proud of these notes! Check out this Social Studies example or include students in the 50 Days of Sketches challenge.

What can I do next month? Assign sketchnotes to your class. Have students share their notes in an LMS forum, using the Remind app, posting in Schoology, or uploading to a class Padlet. Did your students use pen and paper instead of an app? No problem! Have them take a picture and upload their sketchnote from the camera.

Some additional thoughts on sketchnoting. This is a brief introduction to sketchnoting. There are books, websites, podcasts and YouTube playlists devoted to this. This is about trying something different and engaging using digital tools or a combination of traditional and digital. There are sketchnoters that have turned this into a hobby and have preferences regarding type of paper, brand of pens, apps and stylus. Don’t let them keep you from trying! If you’re ready for more, explore some of the sites and videos linked here for more information.

A few of my favorite Sketchnote links:
http://www.coolcatteacher.com/sketchnoting-resources/
https://www.jetpens.com/blog/sketchnotes-a-guide-to-visual-note-taking/pt/892
http://nuggethead.net/2013/01/what-are-sketch-notes/

Resources

  • Berman, Craighton. “Sketchnotes 101: The Basics of Visual Note-Taking.” Core77, Core77,       21 June 2011, http://www.core77.com/posts/19678/sketchnotes-101-the-basics-of-visual-note-taking-19678. Accessed 2 Apr. 2017.
  • Davis, Vicki. “Epic Sketchnoting Resources: How To Get Started Teaching Sketchnoting.” CoolCatTeacher, Vicki Davis, http://www.coolcatteacher.com/sketchnoting-resources/. Accessed 2 Apr. 2017.
  • Duckworth, Sylvia. “Sketchnotes.” Sylvia Duckworth, Sylvia Duckworth, 25 Jan. 2017, sylviaduckworth.com/sketchnotes/. Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.
  • Elaine. “Blog.” JetPens.com, JetPens, 22 Aug. 2016,  www.jetpens.com/blog/sketchnotes-a-guide-to-visual-note-taking/pt/892. Accessed 2 Apr. 2017.
  • Irgens, Elisabeth. “How To Get Started With Sketchnotes-SmashingMagazine.”  Smashing Magazine, Smashing Magazine, 19 Jan. 2017, http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/11/how-to-get-started-with-sketchnotes/. Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.
  • Rhode, Mike, et al. “About Sketchnotes – A Showcase of Sketchnotes.” Sketchnote Army, Sketchnote Army, sketchnotearmy.com/about/. Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.
  • Schrock, Kathy. “Sketchnoting.” Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything, Kathy Schrock, http://www.schrockguide.net/sketchnoting.html. Accessed 2 Apr. 2017.
  • “Sketchnotes.” Social Studies Megastore, Social Studies Megastore, 15 Jan. 2017, socialstudiesmegastore.com/2016/04/sketch-notes-assignment/. Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.
  • Thorn, Kevin. “What Are Sketch Notes?” Nuggethead Studioz, Nuggethead Studioz, 15 Jan. 2013, nuggethead.net/2013/01/what-are-sketch-notes/. Accessed 2 Apr. 2017.