If you are looking for professional development and content focused around the Common Core, then check out ASCD’s (Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development) courses and other resources via iTunes U. Courses cover a variety of content for Grades K-12 and are entirely free for teachers and other educators.
My last session of the day is “Social Media is Learning Media” by Patrick Larkin. I have seen Patrick’s work at iPad Summits for years and I’m excited to see him present again. I’m always excited to see administrators talk about Social Media in a positive, empowering way.
Patrick talks about the power of Social Media in his own career. When he was building technology programs at Burlington High School, there were not a lot of people doing similar work in Massachusetts or even the Northeast. Using Social Media enabled him to connect with other educators around the world. Education can be a lonely and isolating job; we spend most of our time with children and adolescents. Social Media can enable us to expand our experiences outside of the classroom, schools, and districts.
Patrick begins by citing Will Richardson’s article, “My Kids are Illiterate. Most Likely, Yours are Too.” What he was talking about was the fact that kids these days are not able to use media in a meaningful way, to curate, asses, and analyze online content. For example, have you fallen for one of those online hoaxes, like “Modern Family Cancelled!” If you had basic digital literacy, you could have quickly assessed whether or not the source was valid (The Onion generally is not).
Patrick then explains his own journey with Twitter. He got online because he was told to check it out at a conference, but didn’t quite get it. However, when it they announced that the President was going to give a “big announcement”, he did a quick twitter search and learned before it went live that the announcement would be the death of bin Laden. You must know and understand how to assess a reputable source. People get duped all of the time. So we need to teach our kids how to assess online content.
As a principal at Burlington High School, Patrick focused on the school’s mission which included educating students to be good citizens. He then argued that students need to be good digital citizens as well.
As Patrick grew as an educator and administrator, he also learned the power of blogging. By posting blog articles about various tools and policies, others would reach out to him. When he first became a Principal, they had a no cell phone policy in the school. Teachers, however, were frustrated that students couldn’t use smartphones to do quick google searches or to look up content. So they changed their policy!
He then was able to guest post for Richard Byrnes on FreeTech4TEachers. As their programs expanded, he was able to host a respectful communication and commentary online via his Principal’s blog! He said that it also empowered them to celebrate their successes. With these web tools, you can put out good news every day, from classrooms to teachers to district wide!
In addition to posting a blog, learn to follow various blogs. I appreciate the shout out to mine Patrick! Using an RSS reader, you can set up your consumption tools. You can also tweet out content. Feedly is a great service for doing this.
Students can use these tools in powerful ways. “It’s amazing what students can do when we just step back a little!” What a powerful statement. We all went to “traditional” schools and classrooms, so backing off and allowing social learning to proceed can freak us out. Patrick notes that we can’t go without good educators, but that empowering students coupled with skilled educators.
Patrick also discusses with us how he created a Social Media PD day with his faculty. He sat them down over an hour, had them set up a twitter account, established a hashtag, and engaged in a twitter chat for an hour. That is just awesome! Patrick is a strong Twitter advocate. He tells us that you can find out anything you want on twitter. Check out the hashtag #edchat.
Social Media also makes us think about what learning environments look like. We can now take things out of the classroom. If a student is out of school for illness, they can Facetime with their partners and complete the assignment. students can physically leave a classroom and learn as a group in other environment.
Using tools like Google Drive, they were able to encompass more dynamic methods of teacher evaluations. Using 8 topics (listed above in his source tools), teachers could share their own examples of meeting those standards. Using a google form to assess walk-throughs.
Another great tool for administrative meeting is using Google Hangouts. I love Hangouts, they’re a great way to engage with users who are (physically) all over. They are now under the GAFE umbrella, which means you can use them with students. You can also check out unhangouts from MIT.
Patrick also highlights that we need to celebrate those who are willing to try and fail.
‘it’s no longer enough to do powerful work if no one sees it.” – Chris Lehmann. I also love Kevin Honeycutt’s “Stop being secret geniuses!” You need to share and engage with others. Participate in EdCamps, build your online presence, engage with others professionals.
Social Media often has a negative backlash. However, Patrick is quick to note that the issue is the person, not the tool. Bad people with bad intentions are going to use whatever tools available to them. Tools does not turn good people into monsters.
I’m excited to attend this next session “Metamorphosis of the Biology Textbook” with Morgan Ryan and Gaël McGill, Ph.D., co-creators of E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth, a new textbook created via iBooks Author and available on the iBooks bookstore (free).
The vision of the project was to create a series of vibrant textbooks in a new, media platform. The textbook is a standard Biology textbook, 41 chapters across 7 volumes. They wanted it to be standards based and familiar, but at the same time different than what people have seen before. Morgan tells us that what is great about an e-Textbook is that it allows the author to regularly update their content. Instead of printing a new volume, you can input new material.
In addition to the textbook, they also have included an iTunes U course in conjunction with the text. They can even gamify the course with badges. Very cool!
The Power of Scientific Visualization
Visualizing content is powerful in a teaching medium. It should not just be used to engage students, but strategically to impact learning. Gaël is now demonstrating for us several elements of the book. He says that it incorporates pedagogy, science, art, and design. Using iBooks Author, you can incorporate elegant design into building a textbook. With an eBook format, students are welcomed into the book with a short video. It’s simple, yet elegant. Just looking at the book, it is beautifully designed. The structure, colors, and layout are really striking. Gaël points out that the widgets in iBook author can be very basic or advanced and incorporate coding language.
Gaël says that he wants to empower students to consume data at their own pace. This can empower learners as they explore data and information. He says that in the book, they shifted the control of navigating the data to the students, not the textbook or even the teacher. I love tools that empower learners. In addition to included student guided directives, they also included well constructed documentaries for students to watch. He also emphasizes, however, that this is not a replacement for the lab experience!
I have to say, for me, this is a great example of what an eTextbook can be! It’s truly engaging, interactive, and exemplifies a variety of consumption and teaching methods.
The next session I’m attending is “The Power of Screen Time! Reading, Writing, & Devices” by Beth Holland. I’m excited for this presentation because I helped Beth edit and revise her Edutopia piece, “The 4Ss of Notetaking with Technology.”
There is a common theme in research, articles, and newspapers on “devices” being bad for “x activity.” However, as Beth says, it’s not the device! It’s what we or are students are doing. She also said that we’re not going to talk about “going paperless” because, as Shawn McCusker says, “Paperless is a bureaucratic preference, not a learning objective!” This is how we justify costs to our bureaucrats.
Beth now tells us her story (telling your story is a theme today). When she was a college student, she was trying to write a paper on a Mac. However, the Mac wasn’t cooperating with her and she wasn’t getting her assignment done. However, in the bathroom, she came across a roll of paper towels. She then rolled it out and used it to write out her work. It was the right tool for her at the right time.
So the technology that she had to build her project (paper towels and markers), but had to complete the process in the Mac. The moral behind this is that we are not going to put our technology on a pedestal. So many people claim that the tools are “interactive,” but it’s really electronic whac-a-mole. It has no objective.
Beth says that we need to focus on process vs. product. She shows us a clip from the film Finding Forrester
So what part of that scene was writing? The punching of the keys or the process of getting content out of your brain and onto the paper.
Start thinking about the process of writing! Let’s start with
Students organize and draft on paper, submit it to the teacher, the teacher annotates the paper, then students get it back and may or may not keep that paper. This is a straight forward and one dimensional process.
Writing went digital! Students can draft digitally. You can even draft in a non-linear pattern, using mind-mapping tools, create a storyboard, etc. Students and teachers can collaborate and incorporate tools. You can use multimodal feedback (audio, video, etc). The final product can even be shared or published!
Now we have a mobile devices. Beth asks us, who writes on their smart phone? The small screen is problematic as we have to slow down. However, we have this everywhere. Students can organize and draft (using multi-model tools) from anywhere. Students and teachers can then collaborate and incorporate multimodal feedback across devices. The final product can be shared, published, or modified. Beth likes to use Penultimate to draft both physically and electronically. She then shares it with Evernote and then puts it in Google Drive to share and collaborate (sometimes with me).
In addition to typing, she can talk into the device. For students with learning differences, you can speak into the tool. This is also a great way to get students to think about formation of words and sentences; like with formal poetry.
Because students all have devices, we have a ubiquitous opportunity of screens. We can see what our students are doing outside of the classroom. It doesn’t matter what the tool is, it’s that we’re starting to bring up this opportunity.
Beth now references this famous New York Times Piece, “Is E-Reading to your toddler story time, or simply screen time?” They argued:
“Parents and children using an electronic device spent more time focusing on the device itself than on the story.”
What does this mean about impact on childhood literacy? Beth argues that when we’re talking about eReading, we need to look at the behavior of reading. So “what could reading look like?” In the New York Times, what they argued was that the value of reading should look like this:
So if we’re looking at multi-media eBooks, the issue isn’t the device, it’s the behavior. Perhaps not look at multi-media eBooks as a “book” but as something else. Students can read a text on a digitized device. So think about how students are reading, not the device. Start to bring together the digital and the analogue.
Beth now highlights TodaysMeet, a tool for backchanneling. This a tool that allows students to collaborate behind the scenes. In a class where students were reading about the Holocaust, the teacher asked students write down questions as they popped up in the reading on the Today’s Meet.
By setting up the Today’s Meet, he got input from students who were normally silent during class. He gave students a voice, even in a quiet room. Using the screen in a meaningful and powerful way. These tools can give students a voice and extend the experience to outside of the classroom. These are not possible without paper.
When thinking about screens and process, realize that it’s not the same thing with every person and every child. Start thinking about different students and their individual needs. You may have a student that needs to look up every word in a story. With a built in dictionary, you can “tap and know” (Shawn McCusker). You can even manage dictionaries. On a web browser, you can clean up the view and remove the ads or increase the font size. You can also “find” on the screen to look up the information that you’re looking for on a page. So if you want the population of Liberia in 2010, you can go to the website and search using “find” for the population. This allows students to focus their reading. Students can even look up words in context. Technology allows for differentiation at a higher level. Anything that is text can be heard by students. This is a great way to improve learning outcomes for younger students that are struggling with literacy.
Pen or Keyboard?
There was a prominent article called “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard.” After having students listen to a lecture-based class and take notes via hand and keyboard. After the lecture, students took a test and they found that those with handwritten notes did better. However, they did not do an assessment later. What would have happened if students were assessed at a later date? Is it the keyboard’s fault or another example of the right tool for the write task? This is similar to the debate over quill pens and ink pens.
Beth highlights the fact that we have a lot of choice and variety. The reality is that it depends on the student, learning style, and task. Beth references her article in Edutopia (link at the top). Digitized notes allow you to save, archive, curate, and reference it easily later (via search tools). How often have we had a student put their English notes in their Science notebook? If that student could search his notes would that help him? Would that facilitate that asymmetric impact? We need to empower our learners. Can you save, search, and share your work?
Beth finishes up with the point that we need to find balance with using screens. There is a book called Screen Time by Lisa Guernsey. She argues that it’s about balance. Do we want kids watching 5 hours of Scoobie Doo every day? Probably not. However, it’s balance. The questions you should ask are: is it appropriate, meaningful, and empowering?
Day two of the iPad Summit starts with a Keynote talk by Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec), entitled Plato, Paper & iPads… As someone who has read Plato in the original Greek, I’m curious where he’s going here. I have known Greg for years and seen him present some amazing workshops and talks, so I am excited to see him present.
Greg tells us that this morning, he is going to tell us his story. Greg started teaching in 2005 at Plymouth South High School. When he started, he was wholly on the analogue side and not interested in implementing technology. One day while talking to a peer about a problem he was having, she suggested he check out some “web 2.0 tools.” He didnt’ even know what “web 2.0″ was so he went home and googled it. That was his introduction to integrating technology.
With smartboards, the technology is still teacher directed. Greg tells us that he got a group of old computers at one point where students could access a Wiki and send emails. He had zero compass and zero path. Many of us have been in the spot where we are using technology because the technology is available. We don’t know why we’re doing it. It doesn’t help students at all.
In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, prisoners see only shadows and believe it is reality. Finally, a prisoner breaks free, sees the fire, and sees the objects creating fire. His reality is shattered. So, as a teacher, where are we in the story? What is the world? Greg argues that if we don’t have a direction or a purpose, then we are living in shadows. We need to shift our focus to the meaning behind our purpose. What skills do we want our students to have? What do we want them to be able to do? So now that he is more meaningful in integration, he begins to use the tool that will work for his objectives, not just to use the technology. Students begin to make real world connections, interaction with the world, creation of ideas, connection to experts, collaboration, etc. The emphasis is completely different. He then asks us to share our stories; when did our perspective on using technology shift?
Greg then tells us about his experience with iPads. When they integrated the iPad into his classroom, he was back in the cave. He starts using the iPad because… it’s there. He starts focusing on apps, not on what you want students to do! If you want a great list, check out EdTechTeacher’s Tech Tools by subject and skill. The first iPads were very limited, you couldn’t even collaborate because Google Drive didn’t even exist! So initially, everything was focused on “the apps.” You got articles like, “Top 10 apps for History teachers!” We’re back in the cave, isolated.
Greg tells us that with the iPad 2, he realized that the iPad could let him be more creative. It was able to let him create content using the video camera, iMovie, and then publish it to the web! However, you’re still in
danger of the tool driving the creation. Greg highlights that language is important in this process. If you tell your students “Today we’re doing Keynotes!” or “Today we’re doing iMovies!” Be conscious of your language so that you do not get locked into the tool. We need to make a conscious decision about how we are using tools, including analogue. We need to look at all of the tools we use around us, including notebooks and paper, to look at our tasks and objectives. Sometimes, paper is more effective than digital tools. Sketchnoting has taken off as a means to capture information. So we should rethink what role an iPad should play in the classroom. Perhaps most of it should take place off line in a notebook. However, the iPad will allow you to create and share in a way that paper will not.
Greg shares with us his experiences with vinyl. He was a DJ, so feeling and manipulating records gave him a unique connection with the music that doesn’t happen with an iPod or an iPhone. So think about this, are we losing anything when we go digital? Greg next shares the ideal iPad Backpack, Blending Digital & Analog. You can use your iPad to organize digital content, use a paper notebook to capture ideas and sketch notes (even taking pics and dropping them into Google Drive or Evernote), and even a dry erase board with markers. Keep your classroom hybrid. Merge online and offline work. Find tools that are flexible and thoughtful, not using tools to drive your work. He demonstrates this with some sticky notes. He asked several participants to write ideas on a sticky note. He then collected them, used the Post-it App to collect them, shared the post it board, and opened it in Explain Everything!
What an energizing way to start the day!
The next session I’m attending is “Transforming Project Based Learning with iPad” by Ah-Young Song from Phillips Exeter Academy. Ah-Young tells us that she will be discussing some of the PBL projects she has implemented in her own classroom. She will be covering communication tools, gamification, audio/video tools, and media resources.
Ah-Young has just become teaching at Phillips Exeter, which is a harkness school. Harkness is a form of teaching that engages students collaboratively.
“Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge.” – Buck Institute for Education.
Ah-Young believes that even without institutional support we can, as teachers,
advocate for our own students and innovate in our classrooms. Some examples of PBL projects include:
- track migratory species
- beautify space with a public art project
- meet with local officials to address local concerns
- create a tech start-up budget
- analyze and project sports statistics
There are numerous resources out there for PBL lessons. in the process of building a project based lesson, students develop a variety of skills, including:
- Critical Thinking
There are numerous tools that educators can use with their students as they develop their PBL. One of her favorites is Blogger, which students can use to post text, video, images, etc. By posting a blog, students can publish small writings and engage in collaborative feedback. She does this through a Google+ community.
Additionally, she likes to have students backchannel book discussions using Today’s Meet or SMS Generators to engage with a fictional character! She uses Google Sheets as a rubric for certain activities, such as a jury trial of Lady MacBeth. The jurors created the rubric for the trial and used it to assess the verdict.
She also uses Google Docs to create a paperless environment. She distributes content with Google Drive, grades on Google Drive, and returns content this way. However, Exeter is not a Google Apps for Education school. However, the students have their own accounts so it works.
If you want to gamify your classroom, there are several fun tools you can play with. You can run a Space Race using Socrative.
Another tool she shares is Qrafter, which lets you read and generate QR Codes (paid version). You can use this to create a scavenger hunt. Voice Record Pro 7 is a robust audio recording tool that will let you record audio and share with others. You can use it to teach language assessments, read poetry, or for students to engage in alternative assessments. Adobe Voice will let you build an audio slideshow. Canva is another really cool tool that will let you build posters and infographics.
She is going to have students produce vignettes using a tool like Canva or Penultimate to explain their learning.
As a technology administrator, I’m excited to attend my next session “Redesigning Professional Development: How to slay the sit and get Dragon!” with Jonathan Werner. You can view his slides here. Providing meaningful professional development that brings quality educators into the modern world is always a challenging task. Jonathan is an amazing tech guru and I’m excited to be here and learn from him.
Jonathan starts it out with a video from a “traditional” classroom where a teacher speaks at the front of the room and students reiterate what she is
saying. Whoa… I just had flashbacks to Middle School! Ugh! Sadly, this video looks like it was filmed yesterday not 25 years ago! Jonathan says that we need different ways to pursuing professional development. We need to slay this “sit and get” method of professional development. We shouldn’t be teaching teachers with flawed pedagogy!
Start with something you didn’t know yesterday! This demonstrates that you’re not a repository of knowledge. Thanks David Warlick! Social Media (like Twitter) gives us the power to engage with one another in new ways. It’s a great way to build your PLN (but doesn’t replace face to face interaction). Why is twitter so important to Jonathan? Because he is modeling curation. Anything that he knows, he’s standing on the shoulders of other experts.
Jonathan cites that his partner in crime is metacognito, that helps him to capture his thoughts and pathways. It can be challenging to capture and sort. He hopes that metacognito helps him to know why he is doing what he is doing.
This I Believe
The biggest message Jonathan conveys is that you need to apply pedagogy to your professional development! Think about the way you are teaching teachers! We spend a lot of money and time on professional development that it must be maningful, mindful, and thoughtful. We have an absorption method. We need to reinvent PD!
Jonathan says maybe we should rename it. Call it “Professional Learning” or “Professional Curiosity” – Alison Anderson. Sit and get, FAILS! So what does effective PD look like? “PD is most effective when it is long-term, collaborative, school-based, focused on the learning of all students, and linked to the curricula that teachers have to teach.” – Andrew Miller. It must be with your colleagues and focused on students, related to what you teach. I have certainly sat in ‘left field’ talks and they are rarely helpful.
As a norm, are improvement and growth assumed? Probably not… or on a limited basis. For Jonathan, rethinking PD in conjunction with these ideas has been incredibly helpful. This long term climb up a hill has to have objectives for improvement. Growth must be built into all of your initiatives.
“Are your PD offerings directly connected to your mission statement?” – Hans Mundahl. It’s not about the tool you are using, but the process of growth. It must begin and end with students. What are you doing to benefit your students? That should be the essential question all around. So when someone makes a suggestion, the basic question should be “how does that impact the students?” This can refocus the discussion.
Jonathan of course brings back the point of experiential PD and answer the question “why are you lecturing?” As he says, he’s not trying to train us. Never lecture to train. Also, we’re in lecture 2.0. We have all chosen to walk in and are looking for inspiration. We can also vote with our feet. Also, we can go through his slides and use them as a place for dialogue. In this case, the conversation starter is a monologue.
Consider Your Audience
Think of your teachers as your students. People in your PD sessions are students with various needs methods of learning.
ALOHA – Apathetic, Late, Openly Hostile, Adopter. AHOLA also gets so much time and energy. However, don’t forget that there are others in the room! Jonathan says that you can let go of your ALOHA. Give the ALOHO the time and energy that they deserve but focus on all of your students. He also says to look at the technophobes around you when you are planning. They may look like ALOHA but they often just feel threatened and intimidated. There are Rock Stars who are super advanced and are often bored in the room (I’ve been that person). There are also insecure learners (he calls them Insecure Ida). They feel intimidated by the tools. There also also the awed receptive learners. They love the content but it seems to have no impact on their learning. Also, there are teacher rock stars. They are great teachers outside of technology. Great teachers are the people who will often be your peer leaders.
So we have a heterogeneous classroom of educators. However, on top of that you need about 50 continuous hours of professional development to change a teacher’s practice. — learning forward.
Norms & Givens
Jonathan says that if you do nothing else, do nothing by yourself. Build a support group! Mine is on Twitter and through ISTE and other prominent tech networks. When you are no longer isolated, you can get help and support. Empower teachers to teach other teachers what they’re doing well. This is a concept supported by Jennie Magiera. You need both carrots and sticks. You need some type of pressure to get teachers to come to you. At my school, we do this by allowing my tech sessions count for professional development credits.
Switch up your PD. Give them different faces, places, types, and times. We need variety. There are different access points and ways to get to the information.
Jonathan also suggests that you bring solutions to administrators. Offer them a pilot or a comprehensive plan. Give them possible improvements. If you know your PD is bad, then stating it won’t improve it. Instead, give them the opportunity to improve, even if it’s a small tweak! If you have to do PD but you have a choice as to what it looks like, then that’s great PD!
He also suggests that you plan for organic growth. Do what you can and allow it to grow. As teachers teach teachers, you will get more rapid change. Create lighthouses on your coastline to empower others.
The Deep end can be Scary
If you’re diving into SAMR, then you know that as you get up to modification and redefinition, you are in the deep end. It can be scary! Gie people smaller dips into the SAMR Pool.
Don’t shove people off of the diving board!
You should also advocate for non-tech options. I know that in my classrooms, people are surprised to find that I’m not all tech all the time. When people see you advocating a hybrid model, and using non-tech tools, it gives your advice greater weight. People know I’m the “tech girl” but that I also advocate for non-tech tools.
You should also be willing to fail publicly. Failure is the best teacher. Freakonomics even advocates it for success! The power isn’t in failing, but it’s in recovery. It could mess up your lesson or it could make it great. You need to be willing to problem solve if necessary. Have the capacity to be seen as someone who can keep going when things don’t quite work out.
If we are going to get rid of “sit and get” what does professional development look like? Per Andrew Miller, it’s “online and self directed and supervised and within your brick and mortar building.” This may look like a Wiki or a section on your website. Offer them a buffet of options. They can visit what they want when they want.
Jonathan offers about 20 ways to rethink your PD, which I wish I could list here.
Whoever you are, embrace that. Jonathan says that he is a disruptor, but that is not everyone. Figure out what you’re comfortable doing as a change agent and embrace it. So if you’re an improv group do improv PD! Man, I wish I were funny. Also, be willing to fail. Not just fail, but fail epically. If you are willing to look like a jackass, you will be fabulous.