Posted in Shift, Vision

What is Digital Learning?

What is digital learning? As a 1:1 school, it’s a necessary question to ask. The day-to-day of digital learning may appear different in different content areas, with different teachers, and in different grade levels, but the foundation is still the same: instructional strategies using various technologies that strengthen the student’s learning experience.

This is not using tech, because we have it. This is not about an “iPad lesson.” No. This is about effective strategies and practices that allow for deeper learning, real-world experiences, collaboration, individualized instruction, real-time feedback, equitable access to learning anytime and anywhere, and access to authentic materials.

As a School of Innovative Learning and Technology, we have a mission which calls for innovative, technology-embedded programs and experiences, Alongside our mission, we have a Digital Vision driving us to deliver experiences where our learners investigate, collaborate, create, innovate and demonstrate. Our digital tools serve to support and advance those learning experiences. Foundational are the instructional strategies which foster them.

As we take our next steps on this 1:1 journey with our mission and vision as our guide, we will work in collaborative teams to build that pedagogical foundation, increase our efficacy and craftsmanship, and add to our toolbox.

Resources

Posted in Constructivism, Transformation

That One Thing – Your Place in Technology Integration

That One Thing, that one thing you do. That was the theme of our digital professional learning program this year. What was that one thing for you? Where do you find yourself in the process of technology integration? Embedding technology into instruction is supposed to support that instruction and further students’ ability to demonstrate what they know and are able to do – not to take the place of instruction.

Starting at an entry level where we use digital tools to consume material, to substitute what we might have done on paper into a digital format, we begin to grow. We grow to explore and experiment and find ourselves moving beyond curating resources to creating our own and even having students create to demonstrate their learning.

How do we find that transformative place in our instruction? We find that through collaboration with educators within our department, within our building, and outside our walls, too. We find that as we explore the possibilities online. We use resources like the Technology Integration Matrix filled with models and examples. Resources like that exist for a reason: to guide you, to provide you models, to provide you structures necessary to strengthen their own practices.

Are we expected to be at that transformative place all the time? No! This is a constructive process where we build on best practices, use direct instruction and guided practice. It’s a process where we scaffold learning with students as active participants, collaborating with one another in authentic, goal-directed situations.

As you reflect on your school year and plan for the next year, reflect on where you are regarding technology integration. Technology is available to support your instruction, not take the place if it. What was That One Thing for you this year? What will your Thing be next year? There are so many possibilities – Be Inspired!

Posted in Creation, Curation, Investigation

Consumption to Curation to Creation

Consumption to Curation to Creation – That One Thing
That One Thing, that one thing you do. That was the theme of our digital professional learning program this year. How did you integrate digital tools into your practice this year? What was that one thing you could do with any of our digital resources to facilitate students investigating authentic problems or situations, creating innovative products, demonstrating what they know and are able to do, collaborating inside and out of the classroom, communicating in real time, or even steamlining your workflow? What was that one thing for you? Where do you find yourself in the process of technology integration?

It’s a normal part of the technology integration process to begin with using your digital resources for consumption. It’s convenient. We have a tool right in our hands, the iPad, and we don’t have to wait to logon: email, reading, research at the tip of our fingers. This is an important part of the adoption process, because it gives us the opportunity to become more proficient with the device.

What’s next? Curating materials is the next step. Curating is the process of gathering materials and resources and sifting through them to find the most meaningful ones and incorporate them in an organized manner. Our filing cabinets are physical representations of this concept. Having a digital tool at our fingertips opens the door to an unimaginable world of resources that would burst that filing cabinet. Explore what’s out there!

There comes a time when we need to create our own materials for instruction. Again, our filing cabinets are filled with examples of content that we have created over time to meet our instructional needs. Our digital tools offer the opportunity to innovate what those resources look like. Sometimes it takes just a bit of inspiration to see the possibilities. Where do we find that inspiration? We find that by observing our peers and collaborating with them. We find that by exploring what other educators are sharing with us online.

This really isn’t a linear path into digital teaching and learning. I see this as a circular process of consuming, curating, creating and back to consuming. This is a constructive practice woven in and throughout the Technology Integration Matrix and the SAMR model of technology integration. When we move from our entry into technology integration to adoption, adaptation, and transformation, we revisit the stages of consumption, curation and creation as we refine our art and practice.

Where were you this year regarding your content and use of materials? What was That One Thing you did this year? Next week will bring a look at the Technology Integration Matrix and reflect on where we are in the Matrix.

Resources

  • “Matrix.” TIM, Florida Center for Instructional Technology, fcit.usf.edu/matrix/matrix/. Accessed 30 Apr. 2017.
  • Reich, Justin. “Three Lessons from the History of Education Technology.” Education Week –EdTech Researcher, Education Week, 15 Sept. 2014, blogs.edweek.org/edweek/edtechresearcher/2014/09/three_lessons_from_the_history_of_education_technology.html?r=641074646. Accessed 30 Apr. 2017.
  • Reich, Justin. “Towards a Pedagogy for Tablets: From Consumption to Curation and Creation.” Education Week – EdTech Researcher, Education Week, 25 Sept. 2014, blogs.edweek.org/edweek/edtechresearcher/2014/09/towards_a_pedagogy_for_tablets_from_consumption_to_curation_and_creation.html. Accessed 30 Apr. 2017.
  • Schrock, Kathy. “SAMR.” Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything, http://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html. Accessed 30 Apr. 2017.
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.
Posted in 21st Century Skills, iPads, Technology

New Devices, New Problems

Adding a device into the classroom is like Christmas for the students; there’s excitement, adventure, curiosity and ultimately distraction from the learning goal of the day.

I thought I had prepared for that. I thought I had our first days with the iPad well-planned, anticipating student reaction and guiding it. The reactions 30 young, eager, curious minds, however, can’t always be predicted. It’s a language class, so we began by reviewing and practicing iPad-related vocabulary in the target language. I want my students to be able to talk about their “tool” in the target language, to maintain that focus in the classroom. We then distributed the iPads and practiced using the iPad vocabulary in context: functions, placement, actions, etc. We then did our first assignment with the iPad.

Our first iPad assignment involved students videotaping themselves practicing a dialog. We had been working on the related vocabulary in class, adding the related skills, and were then practicing it all in context. Students were to record themselves. listen to themselves and edit or redo as necessary until they were proud of their final product. My hope was for students to upload their videos to their shared Google Drive folders  (a topic for another post). There was so much technical need during the period, that I decided to have them Airdrop their videos instead. Airdrop is fast and convenient for the students. A couple more steps for me, but easier for them. They loved it – too much!

Let’s talk about Airdrop and other technical difficulties. Deep breaths. 30 Students all asking for my help at once. It often doesn’t matter how many times you say and write the directions, there are so many questions students have! Problem solving, even in this generation, wasn’t one of the strengths this group had. My name was called from all directions of the classroom minute after minute. It wasn’t even because students had problems with how to film – experience with their phones made them fairly adept at this. Most issues revolved around not being able to login to Google Drive, hence the switch to Airdrop (before deploying the iPads, students had gone to their District assigned Google Drive accounts and set up shared folders for the class). The main issue was that students hadn’t logged into our District network, so of course the sharing wasn’t working. A number of iPads were defaulting the an incorrect network that kept logging them out of the District network. Logging in was part of the directions, but the thrill of the new “toy” distracted students from those directions. That meant I was caught going from student to student, from one side of the classroom to the other, “fixing”  issues that shouldn’t have been issues. In the meantime, students had discovered the “fun” of Airdrop and begun Airdropping Photo Booth pictures of themselves.

Did students get their assignment done? Did they enjoy this format? Have they asked to do it again? Yes. Yes to all of that. For me, however, it was an exhausting experience. After stepping back I could see that just because they are having fun, doesn’t mean the students aren’t learning. Even though they were Airdropping and using Photo Booth apart from the assignment, they were still learning how the device worked and sharing their knowledge with each other.

Maybe I’m too hard on myself. A part of myself thinks perhaps I should have gone the opposite direction and not planned anything and watched where students would take themselves.  Ultimately I still think that students need to be guided towards the appropriate doors. That’s part of their digital education. I believe we have an obligation to guide students through the digital craze. Planning is the key.  Anticipating student reaction and actions is also important.

Maybe my experience will help someone else in their journey into a 1:1 program. Maybe my continued experiences will also help.

Posted in 21st Century Skills, iPads, Shift

Hindering Collaboration

“We cannot waste another quarter century inviting or encouraging others to collaborate.” – DuFour

I love this quotation. I mean this in a positive way, but I really do love this. We’ve spent so much time speaking to the idea of collaboration, but have we really taken the dive into what this means and what can really be accomplished if we work together towards our goals?  There are, of course, arguable obstacles that we’ve often heard: scheduling, student contact hours, personality conflicts, etc. But what if we really put our goals first? What if we had administrative support, encouragement, and perhaps even directives behind those goals?

As the summer progresses I’m drawn closer into the launch of our District’s 1:1 iPad Pilot Program. My building has an enthusiastic group of teachers participating in the pilot, each with varying degrees of iPad experience. Additionally, we have an administrative representative who is deeply invested in the program; we have a 1:1 coordinator; we have our library specialist involved in the planning; and, we have our building tech coordinator to manage the apps and the equipment. The equipment will be arriving soon, but not delivered into the classroom until the 2nd quarter.  The structure is there. I’m thrilled to be part of this opportunity. Thrilled, but apprehensive at the same time.

I could say that I’m apprehensive because of the expected accountability.  That may come in time, but not now. I’m apprehensive because of the collaborative element.

I love collaborating with other teachers. While not the most active twitter collaborator, I’ve learned so much from my tweeps and am so thankful for these online resources. I love attending professional conferences. I nerd out at the thought of these. It stands to reason that I would be excited about collaborating on this project, but not necessarily so. I am one of a group of teachers who will need help and direction regarding this launch. The fear comes in because I’m aware that not everyone in this group “plays nicely” with everyone else.

The human factor. One of the largest barriers to collaboration.

We have people in our groups, people at various levels, that don’t get along. They don’t agree. They don’t work well together and don’t want to work with each other. Not only is that a problem in itself, it’s a problem for the rest of the group and the program in general. There are gaps and inconsistencies in the chain of communication and the flow of information. We are the pilot group. What happens with us sets the stage for the rollout over the years to come. If we can’t get it together, work together, problem-solve together, then what will happen to those that follow?

There are goals with this program. There is a group of people that need to meet these goals. We need to work through the successes and failures with congratulations and comfort. We need to be free of judgment within our group so that we can share, learn, and grow together. We are the example. We need to collaborate.

While I may have come close, hopefully I’m not crossing any lines in sharing this. My comments here are meant to encourage collaboration, to encourage going on even when others aren’t yet as willing. There are needs here, ones that have to be met if we are to succeed. Collaboration is requisite. Let’s not waste any more time.

Posted in 21st Century Skills, iPads, Shift, Technology

New Directions: 1st Steps in a 1:1 Program

I’ve taken a break for some time now, not writing in either of my blogs.  It’s time for that to change.

Things do not change; we change.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Walden (1970)

The school I am a part of is one of the SILT Strand schools, Schools of Innovative Learning Through Technology, in our District. Despite the unfortunate name, these schools have some great potential for 21st Century education, their goal most simple stated in the title: innovative learning, using technology. These school have finally taken a huge step forward – initiating a 1:1 program.

So, one might imagine that a strand of school charged with innovative learning through technology would have gone down this road earlier, but not necessarily. The more recent downturn in our national economy put us back a few steps. With things appearing to be improving, our District had many more urgencies to take care of first. Still, this direction was not lost and here we are!

Our journey is just beginning. First there needed to be the choice of platform. What kind of device will we use? Selfishly, I was thrilled not to have been in those discussions; they were difficult and fused with emotions. In the end, for many reasons, we went with iPads.  Being a member of the church of Apple, I was personally thrilled, though I saw many of the virtues of the other top choices. If you ever get the opportunity to go down this road, be prepared: this may be the most difficult part of your journey!

Today was the first of many trainings. So much material to cover! We went over everything from basic skills, to District devices vs. personal devices, to insurance, to parent and student responsibility agreements. There are so many factors to consider in this process! I’m just introducing the road this blog is now going down. I’m looking forward to sharing every bit of this one step at a time: the logistics, the apps, the device, the colleagues, the learning, the successes, the failures, and everything else.

I am thankful for all the others who have gone down this road before us and have been willing to share their own experiences. We have benefited from your efforts, I know. Hopefully, through what I share here, others may be gain from our experience as well. That’s one of the compliments a teacher can receive, right? Having others benefit and learn from your experience?