These policies are becoming more prevalent. They draw legitimate concerns about student privacy rights and are reminiscent of “locker searches” but on a much broader scale. Are these practices legal? Are they ethical? Do the ends justify the means?
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?
The iPad Summit Boston is finally here! I have been attending the iPad Summit since its beginning several years ago. This is one of my favorite ed tech conferences. The keynote speaker is Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs of Curriculum21. This blog is live, so please excuse any typos or inconsistent writing! It’s tricky to get it all down.
Heidi’s work on building 21st century curricula is at the forefront of 21st century pedagogical and curricular development. I’m excited to hear her ideas. I’ve been following curriculum21 for years and been inspired by many of the tools and ideas that they highlight. Heidi’s talk is entitled: “Integrating the New Literacies: Digital, Media, Global Into Every Classroom.” Heidi tells us that this is an incredible time to be a teacher. There is so much going on in the world of education. “You’re not learning, if you’re comfortable” – Piaget.
“How do we prepare our learners for their future?”
Heidi tells us that any point we raise on instructional time, professional development, curriculum, schedule, use of space (physical and virtual), student grouping, etc (all practical choices) should be in our students’ best interests. In schools, we seem to forget that. None of us would take a child to a doctor using the same tools and practices of the 1970’s, yet in education we are comfortable with old practices.
“What year are you preparing your learners for?”
Are driving principle in schools is assessment. What the assessment is can be standardized tests like state and federal tests, APs, SATs, ACTs, etc. These are event based – one day and time, on a schedule. Schools very rarely prepare their students beyond 1990. Having tools doesn’t ensure a contemporary education. You can do “dumb things” with “smart boards.” You can use an iPad with dated content or as a digitized worksheet processor. We shouldn’t be fascinated with tools, but with the teaching and learning. We are in sedentary rooms, don’t encourage collaboration, ignore play, etc. Our schedule is 19th century, our curriculum the 20th century, and our students are 21st century. We need to elevate the practice.
Are we ready for the Class of 2031?
As we design schools for the future, they need to look very different than they do now. We need to modernize our standards. United States standards are similar to those around the world. Many developed countries, around 2010, began changing their standards. They all reference digital media and digital applications as well as global standards and concepts. However, just because methods are “Classical” doesn’t mean they are worthless. “Classical is timeless.” Quality teaching is timeless. There is a reason why the Socratic Method is still used in classrooms today (we just call it a “curriculum of inquiry”).
Learners Create & Share Knowledge Differently
Students need direction in being self directed. The tool isn’t enough! Students have new needs. This means that we need a new kind of school. We also need a new kind of teacher. This means we need learning environments that keep the classical concepts and respond to modern learning. Our teachers need to be digitally literature, media savvy, and globally connected. As we examine, we need to keep two things in mind: beware of “habits” (they are not classic) and imagine possibilities. Design teams in schools need to think not only for needs in “the now,” but what the needs of the future are. Heidi says that she’s against “reform” because it simply tweaks things. She advocates “new forms” of school. We have to think about space both physically and virtually. We need to work on multiple levels.
Heidi now shares a few examples of school designs from Fielding Nair International. They are building schools that are both exciting, but incorporate different spaces for different types of learning activities. This means seminars, reading nooks, gardens, workrooms, etc. Not only is the focus on creativity and innovation, but sustainability, collaboration, and engagement in a variety of ways. This means that we have new names, such as: Town Square, Learning Students, Classics Academy, DaVinci Lab, Interactive Gallery, R & D Garage, etc. By shifting our terminology, it gives us new vision about our curriculum. So an old space can be transitioned into a new learning environment. Institutions are changing structures that inhibit us with new and interesting physical spaces. Heidi states that she believes that these also have parallels in virtual spaces. She says that our thoughts about space are what limit us. One concept she highlights is MakerSpace environments. These are environments where you can create and design.
Looking at new literacies, Heidi thinks our problems is that we tend to be too generic. Instead of online learning, we need to consider on-line courses, events, point-to-point, games, viewing video and live-stream, blogging, networks, etc. Each of these have distinct meanings and value sets. Just choosing an app is not enough.
Heidi states that there is a new type of teacher emerging; an Independent Practitioner Leader. This has democratized education. You don’t need to be on the school board to impact educational ideas and pathways. Now you can broadcast and share a myriad of resources and tools. Even if you are working in a traditional environment, you can breakthrough, broadcast, and share. Teachers are not only working in their classrooms, but in new ways of collaboration with their peers.
How do we help Support a new Type of Teacher?
Heidi states that there are several myths in this: technology = 21st century environment; Innovation is a step by step sequential process; and We are victims of “the system” and are powerless to modernize. It’s not the technology; it simply allows us opportunity for advancement. Innovation is organic; you have to make decisions, go through trial and error. Prefabricated coverage of curriculum does not allow this. Heidi says that the last one, that we are victims, troubles her the most. It is critical that we step up how we can. Even working in a traditional system, there are other tools available to you. You can push for innovation in your school.
So Heidi highlights that literacy is communication, accessing language, and making meaning. To be literate, an effective communicator, is to have a solid command of language. Heidi says that “literacy is a coin with two sides.” One of the sides is phonemic awareness, the ability to decode signs and symbols. That doesn’t make you literate in and of itself. The flip side of the coin, making meaning, cultivates literacy. If you can translate and make responsive meaning, you are literate.
You can apply these concepts to new, digital literacies. Just because you can access tools, doesn’t mean that you are literate. I run into this all of the time. Just because a student can craft a tweet or send a text message doesn’t mean that students are digitally literate. We need to cultivate digital, media, and global literacies. Heidi believes that one of the problems with schools is that we are mooshing these together and not examining them independently.
If you want a student to be digitally literacy, he needs proficiencies in keyboarding, touch and effect, and voice tools. Heidi believes that touch and effect is the most prominent today, especially with smart phones and tablets. What she doesn’t see happening is enough policy work on access in early childhood. Students need to learn how to touch and interact with a tablet. At what point do we start to work with early childhood students? While keyboarding is dying, Heidi says that it is still important, especially with coding. Voice activated technology is becoming more prominent and will likely become self directed.
Selection Capability & Cataloguing
We need to teach children to curate. They need to know how to strategically select and tag content. We are faced with a glut of information and nee to learn to categorize and organize. Students should be able to make annotated judgments about tools and content. We already do this with our own iPads and Smartphones (all of my social media tools are in one folder labeled “Social”). When a student reads material (in a classical environment, like a book) and a teacher asks them to play “fetch” (What is the name of the main character of a story?). That learning isn’t theirs. However, when a student reads material and categorizes it on their own, it’s theirs. They are becoming literate. Self-navigation is a powerful tool of ownership. Heidi highlights her own website curriculum21. It highlights a clearinghouse of tools which are catalogued and tagged. As an educator, you can have students create their content and submit their tools for the units they are working on. We need to look at creating curriculum with new tools and concepts. One of the most popular methods of employing this in educational environments is student curated Digital Portfolios. Students must curate and design a website, select various modules of work, and then match them to individual standards.
The Power of the Adverb “independently”
If you put the word independently at the end of any standard, it’s a game changer. You want students to be able to play music, draft an essay, and perform research without you. When we are developing modern learners, we are cultivating their independence. Students can create their own apps, navigate social media for learning, and develop their own learning models.
Receptive and generative capabilities. Students need to be able to critique media, question sources, recognize bias not only in text, but in imagery, framing, and audio. Students right now Google and then go to one of the first few sources like Wikipedia (which is actually pretty good) and a paid resource. Not only with online content, but television literacy is important. Someone chooses what we see and what we don’t see. This includes not only adds, but news resources. Students need to learn more about film and quality. Students need to see quality films, documentaries, etc. Film should be a formal area of study.
After students are able to consume content, they need generate high quality content. Many teachers, however, have no training in creating content, which makes them uncomfortable asking their students to produce it. They need to learn the difference between quality and mediocre content is having students engaged in creating a collaborative rubric. We can all think of a podcast that is good. So choose your favorite and then deconstruct it for content and design. If you want high quality, then be tool specific; e.g. “What makes a good iMovie?” There are many media making tools, but we need to use them with our students.
Instead of faculty meetings, take the time and give it to teachers to explore tools like iMovie, Movie Maker, or Blogger! We don’t have time, we have to make it. A quality digital media project should be an assessment. Instead of a report, we’ll use voicethread or vimeo, or other tools. The media that you create should be a replacement for more dated forms of assessment. You can’t add content to your curriculum, but you can replace it.
Heidi says that she is most worried about developing Global Literacy. Americans are highly isolated and we do not explore the world around us. The overwhelming majority of Americans will never leave this country… ever. Not everyone is comfortable with it and it’s pricy; even though we are bordered by three countries. Students don’t have a realistic perception of how the world views our country.
If you look at the job market in a global economy, we have problems. Digital literacy is content free. However, Global Literacy is not. Too many people view this as a “social studies” issue. We need to put the term “geo” in front of our curriculum, geo-economics, geo-ecology, etc. We need to expand the portals. We need to explore our tools in exploring this topic. Heidi believes we need to be aggressive about this. Schools are not working on this. We do not study the BRIC countries, most don’t know who they are. We need to use our digital tools to explore these concepts in a curricular driven environment. Global literate learners have four competencies: investigate the world, recognize perspective, communicate ideas, and take action. Heidi recommends Facing the Future, which incorporates contemporary queries with repurcussions for the future. These are inherently interdisciplinary. We need to deliberately globalize our schools and communicate these ideas. Not only connect our students with others, but our teachers and administrators as well. You can find tools for doing this on curriculum21.
Heidi finishes up with a thank you and encourages us to cultivate our own digital and global experiences.
On my second day at Miami Device, I’m thrilled to attend the session “Web Tools for Ninjas.” I’ve been following Tech Ninja Todd (Todd Nesloney) for years, so I’m feeling a bit like a fangirl! This presentation focuses on tools featured on their website: The 3 Tech Ninjas. Todd’s big suggestion is to focus on 1 or 2 tools, otherwise you get overwhelmed.
The first tool he highlights is Vocaroo. This is a tool that lets you record voice and then share via email, embed, QR code, etc. Todd’s school likes to use this for students who require audio tests. This is a free tool. My friend Moss Pike at Harvard Westlake uses this tool for students to submit audio recordings of language assessments.
Another great tool they are highlighting SafeShare. Safeshare allows you to take a YouTube video and it filters out the video ads that can be a distraction to students before or after a video is shown in class.
A tool I’m excited to use is Canva. Canva lets you produce some amazing designs (documents, letters, flyers, presentations, etc). They make you look like a high end designer! Shhh… don’t tell my boss, I want them to think I’m a Ninja! I’m especially excited that you can use Canva to build a high quality infographic! I love those and want to use them more in my classroom. As its cloud based, you don’t lose content.
Animoto is a web-based video building and editing tool. It produces beautiful videos. If you are a teacher and register with your school email, then animoto is entirely free! This is unlimited videos and links. Keep in mind that students cannot get a free account.
Poll Everywhere is one of my favorite tools. In fact, during my presentation I’ll be using it.
We are flying through the tools! The next one they highlight is WordSift. Wordsift takes text, highlights the type of words used and highlights them in teresting ways, such as world clouds. I put in the I have a dream speech, and have this cool word map! If you click on it, then you can trace the origin of various words.
Remind is another popular tool. You can use it to text students and teachers reminders. By creating different groups, you can send out texts to appropriate groups, e.g. parents, particular class period, faculty, department, etc. This way, you don’t have to share your personal phone number. Additionally, no one can respond to the text, which is also handy. You’re getting the information out there. It’s very easy. Also, remind curates all of your content, you cannot delete it. This helps to protect you. No one can claim that you sent something that you did not. You can also pre-schedule messages! This is a great reminder for events, tests, etc.
Skype in the Classroom is an education side to Skype. They provide content and tools just for educators. You don’t have to worry about “random people.” Todd describes it as a Craig’s List for Skype People! Skype in the Classroom is free for schools and ad free. The nice thing about interacting with other educators is they understand that sometimes they are tech issues, sometimes kids are Lord of the Flies… we all know what each other’s concerns are!
Classroom Champions is a way for top performing Olympic and Paralympic athletes connect to schools and build effective, mentoring programs for character building programs. During Olympic Years, it’s al athletes participating in that year’s athletes. In the Spring, you apply to be a Classroom Champions Teacher, this means an athlete is assigned to your classroom. In the Spring, an athlete is assigned to compete for your athlete to visit your school.
Kahoot! is a popular tool at my school. It turns “Exit Tickets” into a game. Students rack up points and have a fun review session.
Blogging is important for students. As an avid blogger, I can attest to its utility. However, many schools are hesitant about blogging. Kidblog is a great way to give young students autonomy over their own writing within a safe environment. Teachers have control and their security is protected. However, students get to play with the visual elements and content. Other tools for blogging are Blogger (a Google Project) and WordPress. Keep in mind that blogging can be a security concern for many people, so be sure to investigate the tools that you are going to use.
If you’re a tech administrator, check out Ninite! It creates an install bott for updating content on your machines. This is great for allowing you to update and/or install content
Cloud storage is very important. I use about a dozen services. The tool CloudMagic allows you to search all of your cloud platforms to find content and files! This is pretty cool.
Drawastickman.com is a fun site that allows students to draw a story as you progress. It’s very cool.
Incredibox allows you to create your own music! While it’s cool, it can be a bit annoying… Beware! You can put different figures together to build a song and visualize it at the same time.
Project Explorer is a non-profit organization that provides virtual fieldtrips. They have recently updated it to include lesson plans. They have some great projects! They’re short, quick, and to the point. Check out what they have going on:
Google Art Project is another way to take students on amazing digital field trips.
DIY is a site where students share their process of learning something new through other kids. Students teach one another how they’re learning to shoot a bow and arrow or rebuild a motor.
I have only captured a few of the tools they highlighted. Check out these tools and more on their website The 3 Tech Ninjas.