Tag Archives: ed tech teacher

Keynote Speaker Greg Kulowiec – What is the Answer with iPads?

Jen Carey is LIVE blogging for us from the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA. You can also find these posts on her site – indianajen.com.

What is the Answer with iPads? from Greg Kulowiec

400px-Djhero_playedHow does iPad support teaching and learning? How do they give students a voice? How do they get children to focus on things that matter? Greg starts out his talk by telling us about his days as a DJ. The “menial task of carrying turn tables and vinyl records in milk crates” occupied his pre-teaching years. Just as the 21st century has redesigned the life and tools of a DJ, the internet, and specifically mobile technology, has revolutionized education and the life of a teacher making skills of only a few years ago are now useless (albeit they can be nostalgic).

We live in a world where we do the same thing (listen to and mix music), but we use different skills to get there. Using iPad is still creation but through a different medium. Creativity does not need to look the way it did twenty years ago. Greg argues that just because technology makes some things easier, that does not make the process less creative. In fact, the technology works to remove hurdles so that individuals can exercise creativity.

Still, we need to look at how we are using iPads. Are we using them in new and innovative ways, or are we simply plugging them into the same old same old? Greg takes a quick poll of the audience, asking to what extent iPad is being used to its potential in education. The general consensus was that iPads were being severely under utilized in our educational institutions. He seems genuinely surprised by our pessimism.

“The idea of school in many of its features is so deeply ingrained in people’s thinking that when they look at technology to discuss it in relation to computers, they see it in a particular and very narrow way dominated by the nature of school as they’ve known it.” – Seymour Papert

We have a concept as educators, parents, and former students about “school” that is very narrow. We think we understand “school,” and so we view technology through that lens. So the question becomes, is iPad helping us to do new things or are we simply strapping a jet engine to a stagecoach?

Right now the trend in education is control. iPad is designed to allow sharing online, collaboration, and expansion. However, we are currently stripping it of its features and abilities to fit into the mold of the classroom. Does this make it a solution or a problem in education? By strapping new technology onto antiquated systems, do we create more problems or are we finding new solutions?

If we are going to view iPad as a solution, then we are using it the wrong way. We are placing it on top of an existing structure, but largely ignoring the forest for the trees. If we view it as a problem due to the conflict that it produces with what is going on in our schools, then we need to examine what it is that we are actually doing in our schools.

One of the key issues that we have in academia with technology is one of academic integrity. The ability to readily access information has teachers and administrators scrambling on how to address its use. Leaving out “copy and paste,” when do we view collaboration as cheating? When do we see “looking something up” as a problem? Students can now find the answer instantly, so should we hide this content from our students? Is that the solution? Perhaps we should instead show them appropriate ways to use the tools and to demonstrate their understanding.

“Technology doesn’t magically change teacher’s practice. You can have students use iPads in much the same way that they once used slate boards. But what new technologies like tablets or laptops can do is open new avenues for conversation. In schools where every child has a portable, multimedia creation device, what can we do differently? What is possible now that wasn’t possible before?” – Justin Reich

We should be examining: “What are we asking? Who is asking? Who is the audience?” We need to get the content off of our devices and to a broader audience. Let students know that there are eyes on their work that aren’t just our own. It’s time to come back and think about this issue: is iPad just a fancy device that we’re throwing into the existing structure or is it creating a new environment?

“Maybe the force for change that will really be effective in the end is the kids who have had something better at home won’t stand school as it is anymore. Kid power will force school to change or go out of existence.” – Seymour Papert

Students can access content and material now on the web easily and quickly. How do we make the time that they spend with us, as educators, into valuable and meaningful experiences? For example, take a look at The Independent Project.

Students are certainly capable of developing and driving their own education. What we need to do as educators is to use these devices to make our classes more meaningful and to allow students to access and explore their passions. We need to condense what we’re doing on iPads and focus on them as creative devices. We don’t need to be on App overload. It’s about what we can create with our devices, not the device itself.

You can view Greg’s presentation materials – as well as those from other presenters – on the iPad Summit web site. Greg will also be leading sessions at the 1:1 & Mobile Learning Summit in June as well as during our Summer Workshops.

iPads for Administrators by Chris Casal

Jen Carey is LIVE blogging for us from the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA. You can also find these posts on her site – indianajen.com.

Concurrent Session #1: iPads for Administrators – Chris Casal

While the title of this talk is iPad for Administrators, the focus is less about administration and more on working as a leader (in every capacity) in the school. Chris works for a public school in NYC of about 1,000 students.

Administrators view iPads primarily for three things: communication, collaboration, and observation. They often have a fourth goal as well: going paperless. iPad is an amazing tool for communication and for being able to do so silently. Using a traditional PA system is loud and disruptive. In a school environment, we seem to either be inundated with information via interruption, or we are entirely out of the loop. In terms of communication within a school, we have the old standby of technology: the email distribution list. This way, we can limit information to a select group and send it out electronically. If teachers have iPads, they are not tied to a computer, they can get it on the go.

In addition to traditional list serves, there are also new media being used by schools: blogs and Twitter that can readily be followed by students and faculty. While using hashtags is new, administrators seem to be embracing it. The school has various hashtags that they use to disseminate information, and since so many students, as well as parents, are on Twitter that it can be a faster medium by which to distribute information.

casal-dropboxCollaboration at PS10 in Brooklyn is primarily in the cloud (they are a Google Apps School), and they also use DropBox to share information. The school has various shared folders that they use for administrative details, staff, and/or students. This is another quick and easy way to distribute information as it limits paper distribution and inbox clutter. In addition to DropBox, the school uses Google Drive.

By using Google Drive, not only can staff and students share information but they can also edit them live. Google Drive is still fairly new, and it is not as iPad friendly – yet. Chris said that they currently prefer DropBox as it is more adaptable for various programs and more cross-platform friendly. The great benefits of the cloud is that content can always be accessed regardless of device or platform. Chris also likes to use the program DROPitTOme for student submission of work. It helps to keep all content for a class in one place. Using DROPTitTOme means that you no longer have to manage folders or sharing permissions. It is purely a submission element. However, Chris does say that ultimately they will move entirely to Google Drive in the next few years.

Another great element of iPad is that it allows for real-time observation and feedback. If you look at his presentation, available here, you can see a variety of his favorite applications to use for collaboration and observation on iPad. Chris demonstrates the ability of annotating a PDF observation form using the app Good Reader. He quickly accesses and annotates the form via DropBox and then posts it within seconds. This demonstrates how easy it is to use iPad for portable and paperless record keeping – making the bane of education a little more palpable 😉

Chris’s ultimate message is that you have to try things out. Fortunately, iPad apps are cheap or even have free “lite” versions. Two dollars is a worthy investment for exploration. If you want to try something new, try it out. It’s about being flexible and finding options. Ultimately, iPad can help administrators and educators achieve that fourth goal: to become paperless (or at least less paper-y). Take the printer out of the thought process. Send it to iPad!

You can view all of Chris’ presentation materials – as well as those from other presenters – on the iPad Summit web site.

iPad Summit Keynote Speaker Angela Maiers: Passion Matters

Jen Carey is LIVE blogging for us from the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA. You can also find these posts on her site – indianajen.com.

“Follow my lead. Let’s go somewhere that matters – not just somewhere that glitters.” – Angela Maiers

Please note: the slides and audio for Angela’s talks are available on her website. Angela Maiers is an experienced and passionate educator. She is a celebrated author and keynote speaker. She just kicked off the iPad Summit with her keynote address. Angela’s excitement is palpable in the large conference room. In spite of some technical difficulties (a staple at all talks on technology), she pushes through and begins chatting about the role of passion within education. You can see Angela speak about passion at the TEDxDesMoines event, recorded here.

“Passion is not an event, it’s an emotion,” Angela states. She argues that we often view passion as a luxury. Rather, we should recognize that we all have passion inherently – as educators that work at our craft, travel for learning, and recognize in our students.

“Nothing great in the world can be or has ever been accomplished without passion.” A single person that hides their passion, drive, and discipline actually harms the community. We need passion to drive us forward as a society. We need to protect our own passion as well as cultivate the passion of our students.

Looking at the American educational system, the rules are written by people who don’t “get it.” Educators and those that work directly with children do. That’s why we’re here today. Angela tells the story of attending a summit of three hours addressing the need to create innovative students. Out of 8,677 Tweets, not a single mention was made of cultivating passion. Instead, the focus was on accountability, standards, and rigorous assessment. Three concepts that make teachers around the world cringe. Creativity and innovation… risk taking – these were all neglected. Without passion, education cannot be an innovative industry.

Compare this mentality with a collection of individuals at SXSW. While the event is famous for its music and film festivals, the core element of South by Southwest is that it’s a collection of tech innovators. A core element of this festival is a focus on innovative and emerging technologies. She pointed out that in this element alone, the word “passion” was mentioned thousands of times.

Angela highlights that passion is necessary in education, and that, interestingly, iPad has fostered and encouraged an element of passion within the world of education. In other words, “Passion Matters”!

The conversations about education often focus on data. This is in part where some of the disconnect happens. We want our students to be ready to be global citizens, and yet data-driven education does not fuel passion or innovative success. Passion is not quantitative it’s emotional. We need to make these conversations part of the culture. For many students, school is a “soul sucker.” It penalizes risk taking and discourages passion. We have a passion gap in this country, not a technology or achievement gap. Students need to be driven to do work that matters. If you can secure the heart, then you can get everything that the mind is capable of achieving. As Angela reinforces, schools today kill students’ passion as we remove the focus from passion and work that matters to instead look at testing and data-driven assessment.

“Where would the world be without teachers who had a passion for their science and craft and loved it right in front of us!” – Mr. Rogers

Passionate individuals can and do change the world. Angela argues that the geniuses who have contributed to society throughout the history of the world have discussed the painful and gut wrenching nature of the innovative process. It is physical and emotional pain to push through for what matters. Passion is not about something you “like” to do or are good at doing. Rather, passion is getting in touch with what you must do and what you will be called to do as a contributing citizen of the world. Without it, we become complacent and apathetic. Passion is drive and discipline. It requires commitment at an incredibly deep level. This is what we need to cultivate in our classrooms. In order to do that, we need to surround our students with passion driven people: leaders, teachers, and other students. Witnessing someone driven by passion is inspiring.

“Secure the heart or you don’t have a shot at their brains or business” – Angela Maiers

After we meet basic needs, the brain focuses on our social interactions with the world around us: knowing that we are valued and mattered. Per Malcolm Gladwell, this happens in seconds. If we do not take H.E.A.R.T. (Honor Expect Act Risk Take action) then we will lose them. We need to ensure that we recognize others’ value. Any level of genius that you recognize in others you must excavate and get out of them. Everyone has an element of genius. Great educators understand how to get this out of individuals.

In order to live up to our genius, we need to act, to take courage, and to demonstrate a willingness to take risk. We can foster that willingness by surrounding ourselves with passionate people. A passionate individual influences the world around them. For example, Zappos specifically recruits passionate individuals for their company. Passion allows you to be who you are, not what you do.

“You are a genius and the world needs your contribution.”

As educators, we need to stop focusing on what children consume and instead focus on what they contribute. The 21st century demands that we contribute. There is more contributed in a single second on the web than there is in a year via traditional media. Pumping out content is easy, but making it meaningful and ensuring that others care about it is challenging. The web is inherently passion driven, people share what they care about. Looking at Google and Yahoo trending, we can view what captures the hearts of the public.

In terms of iPad, it allows students to act on their passions wherever and whenever they need. It allows them to contribute to the world, acting on their passion. As students, they can act on a “to be” list rather than a “to do” list. Your “to do list” should be a “get to do” list. Passion driven people are never “done” with their to do list. Our work is not about getting there, but about becoming more successful and impactful.

If you do not know how to take a chance or a risk, then the 21st century will be a dangerous place for you. In fact, safe is risky – playing it safe does not solve problems. To get past “safe” and encourage kids to risk, we set “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” (B.H.A.G.). If you want to know if it matters, then it should scare you. Big goals are terrifying. Without them, genius will not show up. You must live and learn as though you are capable of solving the world’s biggest problems.

In order to get students to take action, ask them “What breaks your heart about the world?” Then… act on that. Passion drives young people to do amazing things. Technology allows individuals to reach farther and have a broader impact. It expects students to contribute and participate in the world.

Angela highlights that her heartbreak is that the genius of kids and teachers is not valued by the world. As such, she had the individuals at TopCoder build a site, Choose2matter, an organization that celebrates the genius of students and teachers. It launches this week and its focus is to recognize the genius of ALL students and children.

Teaching History with Technology

If you teach Social Studies or History and want to incorporate more technology into your curriculum, check out “Teaching History with Technology.” The site includes many free and paid resources. Every week, they highlight a tool in their “New Resource of the Week” section. It contains a variety of lesson plans on various subjects, US and World History, AP Subjects, Geography, and more. They even provide ways for educators to expand on a favorite of multimedia incorporation: the PowerPoint presentation in their “Presentations and Multimedia” section. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Visit “Teaching History with Technology” to explore further.

Rethinking the Writing Process with the iPad – Karen Janowski

Karen Janowski Twitter Profile

On the second day of the conference, the first talk I attended was “Rethinking the Writing Process with the iPad” with Karen Janowski. I am especially eager for this topic as using the iPad as a word-processor is a common way that it is applied and often meets with ergonomic frustration. I know that as a touch typist, I can write well over 90 words a minute. The iPad cuts that down to at least half.

She started by pointing out the flexibility of the iPad which means that these tools are not limited to older children – that we can apply various techniques and processes to students of all ages using the same tool.

Students of all ages and skill levels often struggle with good writing. “S/he has great ideas. They just can’t get them down on paper!” For many students, the paper and pencil are the struggle – the tool can be the hinderance.

  • What skills are required for successful written expression?

From planning, organization, ideas, critical thinking, knowledge and understanding, communication skills, understanding grammar and spelling, imagination, etc., students need numerous skills in order to be successful writers. To help students achieve success in writing, we need to identify the breakdown in their individual process so that we can effectively intervene.

  • Is what we’re doing working?

Most educators can say that what they do works for most students, but definitely not all. As educators, we generally need explicit writing strategy instruction – planning, revising, editing. These techniques are especially effective for low achieving students.

Word processing alone has had only a moderate effect on improving student writing (about 10%). While not insignificant, it’s not enough for students that truly struggle with their writing.

Karen recommends using various applications, like Videolicious, to help students tell their story. This way, students can first tell their stories visually and orally before they take the next step of writing.

What we need to do to help our students is to: provide strategies, allow our students to make choices, and select tools that are “mistake tolerant.” Going paperless is not only an ecological goal, but it also helps struggling writers because paper is often ‘the enemy’ for struggling writers.

  • Building Vocabulary

A prominent vocabulary is key to developing great writers. There are many tools to help students expand their vocabulary. Karen uses Spelling City as an example of one such tool.

  • Brain Storming

Different brain storming tools are available to students. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Mind Mapping with MindMeister (Mind Mapping in my Classroom with MindMeister). It is, however, a little more advanced and may be challenging for younger children to use.

There are other graphic based brainstorming tools such as Popplet. It is very easy to use and applicable for students at all grade levels.This allows students to organize their thoughts visually and tactically. The finished product can be saved as a .jpeg or exported in various formats. This way, students can take the final version with them for the next steps in their writing.

Another visual organizational tool is Inspiration, which allows you to build thought bubbles and diagrams. It provides students various formats for them to use when they organize their thoughts and ideas.

There are numerous pre-write tools for the iPad and what makes them distinct from paper and pencil is that they can be colorful, dynamic, easily malleable, and image based. The tyranny of the paper is gone.

  • Drafting


Everyone knows that the iPad can be used as a word processing machine. However, it is far more flexible than traditional word processors and exponentially more so than pen and paper. Most people are familiar with Pages,  Apple’s word processing software. However, there are numerous other options that are more appropriate for struggling students.

A good diary based writing app she suggested was Emotionary, that can help students to articulate their feelings on paper using various visual and textual cues.

Scribble Press is another word processing app that helps students to develop ideas and stories at a very young age. It includes several stories that require only small sections of text for students to complete. Students can incorporate drawings and sound (including their own voice). These are age appropriate, developmental apps that are more fun, versatile, and accommodating than traditional pen and paper writing.

Another great story telling application is Toontastic which teaches students how to develop a story arc in a fun and interactive application. Students follow the steps of setup, conflict, challenge, climax, and resolution by building a playful cartoon.

  • Revising


A colleague once told me “There are no good writers, only good revisers.” Revision is instrumental and key to developing good writing skills. There are numerous tools that allow for individual and collaborative revision. Google Drive (formerly google docs) is a great, free tool for peer collaboration. This allows synchronous editing for students and teachers. It is an excellent universal tool for advanced writers.

  • Editing

There are many tools available to teachers to help their students in editing. One is a checklist. There are some great checklists and checklist templates at PBLchecklist. At PBLchecklist, you can create one that will be published to a URL and can thus be published on a course website or distributed to students electronically. Your checklists can be as intricate or simple as you would like and are flexible enough to be created age and ability appropriately.

  • The Finished Product/Publication

There are numerous drafting and publication applications out there in addition to Apple’s Pages. What is great for students with Learning Differences is that there are numerous assistive writing applications. Karen highlighted iWordQ ($24.99), while pricy a great tool for students with writing disabilities. For more free apps, see her page udltechtoolkit and Free Apps for Educators.

There are so many tools for writing available on the iPad that cannot be replicated in a traditional paper and pencil environment. What makes the iPad unique is that it can be used at a variety of age and skill levels and accommodate a myriad of learning differences. From pre-writing to finished product, “there’s an app for that.”

Pens, Pencils, Papers, & iPad – Beth Holland

The next presentation I am attending at the conference is “Pens, Pencils, Papers, & iPads” by Beth Holland. Beth is talking about her experiences as an educator in a non-leveled classroom environment. When it comes to tools, which ones are better? Pens or Pencils? Macs or Windows? The reality is, it all depends on what you want to do. For example, if you are in a math class you likely want students to use a pencil – it’s ‘mistake tolerant.’ Whereas if you in a writing class, you may want blue or black ink to make it easier to read and to see where students make changes and revisions. How you want to use the tool is how you choose it. In fact, you can use multiple tools in the classroom! And you should!

The plans we develop, the tools we use, should support our classroom teaching. We need to eliminate the idea that it is one or the other – all in. I whole heartedly agree with this. As much as I integrate technology into my classroom, I also believe in a lot of traditional methodologies and practices. Variety is truly the spice of life – especially in a classroom. A white variety of tasks, objectives, and tools by which to accomplish them.

So, here are the essential questions we should ask:

  • Why Technology and even more so, why iPads?

Here are some good answers to that question: it’s customizable, mistake tolerant, accessible, mobile, communicative, collaborative, and publishable. These objectives are not always obtainable via traditional methods.

  • What do I want my students to… master, demonstrate, learn, achieve, communicate, understand?

So, what do we want our students to do and how? What’s the role of this technology in our classroom? How is this tool going to meet these objectives?

  • How will my students best… master the content, process, or skill; demonstrate their understanding; achieve clearly defined learning objectives; communicate their knowledge?

Again, it’s not about the tool, it’s about the objectives. Not all students will get there the same way. The journey will be different for all.

So how do we do this? Well, it is going to be a lot of work – define learning objectives, scaffold the skills, differentiate presentation, and vary the assessment. What we are going to do in the classroom with iPads is dependent on what we want our students to do in the classroom. This follows up Tom Daccord’s in my pre-conference workshop yesterday – you identify the need, then you look for the tool.