Quick -- name that city! If you guessed Detroit, you got it! Now, for Final Jeopardy...what neighborhood? tick tock tick tock... Greektown-- yum!! But, that's not why we're here. Well, location did enter into my hotel choice; proximity to Greek food? Bonus!
So, Day 1 of MACUL 2013 the premier ed tech conference in the state of Michigan. My afternoon workshop today was great! We didn't do
a whole lot- it was not 'an app a minute' type session but we shared
a lot. Sean Williams
led a fantastic thinking session that brought together a diverse group of educators, from elementary to district level; alternative ed, Title 1 grant managers, trainers, and teachers. Noobs to veteran online educators and self-professed tech nerds. All of us with a common goal; putting together strategies for successful online teaching and learning. (and figuring out what ARIS is & why the heck are we scanning these coins??? -- that's a MACUL conference extra)
Out of this collaborative session where participants took notes together in Google docs and filled in the blanks on a Google presentation, we identified the traits of online teachers and students and skimmed the surface on how to teach those skills. Here are my top 5 takeaways in each category.
| |Category 1: Traits of an effective online teacher.
- Responsible & Insightful
- Good communicator
- Willingness to be connected
- Adventurous risk-taker
| |Category 2: Traits of an effective online student
- For whatever reason 'traditional' classroom is not a good fit
- Self-motivated / directed
- Asks good questions
| |Category 3: How to teach the skills needed
- Setting expectations and guidelines
- Rely on user reports to help build self-awareness
- Resist the urge to enable
Things I was left to think about:
- What are the implications of Any Time, Any Place learning in lesson design and class expectations? No longer does the teacher say; "We're going to do this now." Rather, "This is what needs to be done by X time / day."
- Students are growing up in an on-demand world. They may not understand why they are expected to take courses in a certain order or wait to take a course that may interest them.
| |Practical things I can use tomorrow!
- Teach kids about goo.gl URL shortener. If they learn goo.gl (like google) is the way every course resource starts, you can just give them the 5 character code that follows. i.e. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/film-festival-twitter-education = goo.gl/yqbRH = qybRH
- Differentiate with efficiency: Assign kids to color-coded work groups, Create corresponding QR code slips with assignments to match their group. Kids scan and get their customized assignments.
Project Based Learning in action! If they can do this...imagine what you can do with the 'limited' resources in your setting. Use Inspiration or MindMeister
or whatever mapping tool you have to assist in planning. Gotta love TED & TedED
Too much time since my last post...but where have I been you may ask? Well, my nights have been filled the last couple of weeks learning all I can about Easiteach
, the software that comes with our Polyvision
boards. And before I get too far into it I want to say KUDOS! to my partner in crime, Craig Steenstra at KISD. I also want to thank Eric Spicer, our area Polyvision Eno Board Trainer for his ongoing support.
Up til now,my staff have largely used the boards as glorified whiteboards and projector screens doing little more than 'interacting' with Websites, and afraid to let kids handle the equipment lest they damage it. :(
I'm happy to report however, that they left our workshop with a collection of simple self-created resources and more advanced activities they collected online and through built-in resource. Proving, once again, that knowledge is power!
So, here's a 'top 6' list of Interactive Activity design tips that apply to ANY interactive board --smart or not so smart ;)
1. Design the activities to match the height of your user.
Little ones can't reach Interactives too high on the board. Move toolbars and other interfering elements to the side or top of your screen to help adjust the height. And keep the interactive elements within reach on the slide.
2. Don't lose the objective in the bells & whistles.
Too much action, flashing & color can distract from the goal. As with any online activity, keep it simple to stay focused.
3. Design to draw attention
. Black text on a white background gets boring fast, even if you can
manipulate it. Spice up your design with good color contrast. Test colors combinations on your computer AND the full screen. Things can look very different on the big screen under flourescent death rays.
4. Design vs. manipulation tools
: Items may be difficult to manipulate using a mouse (activity design tool), but be fabulous with a stylus or fingers (and vice versa). We saw this in trying to utilize protractor widgets.
5. What is interactive?
Of course we want kids putting their hands on the technology, but the interactive whiteboard can
be a great way to model & teach. e.g. Using the whiteboard to demo protractor handling. Much easier with the widgets than trying to focus a document camera with your hand in the way! And kids can 'interact' with their own protractor at their seat--or use them to demo the protractor on the board.
6. Get a slate
. Get mobile with your whiteboard, pass it off to students in the back row, or students with mobility challenges. This also unchains you from the front of the room.
See you at MACUL: MACUL March 7-9
at DeVos Place. You can pre-conference on Twitter @MACUL2012
(see wikipedia)So what can kids learn from Angry Birds? Can kids learn from Angry Birds?
Just a quick Google search reveals the sort of high level inquiry Angry Birds leads to and really, what a great motivational tool; instantly familiar to all, and high interest. Among the lessons I found around Angry Birds; historical analysis of catapults
, an IB Unit on the valuation of AB
, design proportion
, gravity prediction / acceleration studies
. These types of lessons are exactly what we're all looking for. They're inquiry based, project based, collaborative and authentic. With formative and summative assessment built in. So
get creative! When looking at an app, see beyond the entertainment and look to the broader application. Following are a few ideas on how to use 'non-educational' apps in the classroom. Ooze by Collective Cognition Entertainment -- a lava lamp app. EI students could use this as a sensory tool; play with the lava to center, focus and calm. Word Search for iPad -Young Readers Edition by Independent classic spelling practice activity with timer, reward, and grade-level lists. Talking Tom Cat by Out Fit 7 Ltd. -- fun way to get shy kids to talk in class. Can also be a fun tool for 'flipping the classroom'. Use Tom to make class announcements, give directions etc. Save to your
YT channel or your class Website, blog or wiki.See this post by Jackie Gerstein for simple guidelines and further recommendations on evaluating game apps for educational use.
According to Apple, and as reported in a number of sources, Angry Birds (along with Facebook) topped the list of most downloaded apps in 2011. In fact, it's been downloaded 12 million times since it's release in 2009.
Two items have caught my eye this week regarding online communication. The first has to do with a couple of young Irish tourists whose travel plans were somewhat misinterpreted by the Department of Homeland Security. (article) The second summarizes the Supreme Courts refusal to review cases of online parody and cyberbullying. (article)In both cases, freedom of speech comes in to play and how that plays out in online communication where tone, inference and other nuances are left up to the interpretation of the audience. (intended or otherwise) This all brings to light the importance of
teaching and practicing good digital citizenship. Of the many resources online I prefer Netsmartz
produced by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Netsmartz has a ton of great resources for parents & educators in Spanish and English at three different age levels; kids, tweens & teens. The lessons and videos have some incredibly honest examples by real, diverse groups of kids about their personal experiences and cover such topics as posting too much info, cyberbullying, predators and the like. These activities have been well-received by parents, community members and students in our district. Another excellent resource is Onguard Online
Their program is a little less involved, with a catchy little slogan 'Stop Think & Click' which makes it a slightly more convenient for classroom use, but not as powerful as Netsmartz. They also offer unlimited free booklets and other resources that schools and community organizations can use for presentations. Finally for Michigan schools the Attorney General offers free presentations and materials through the Cyber Safety Initiative. Even if you don't have the time
for a formal presentation, keep the conversation alive; make posters for your classroom, engage your students in discussion around articles like those listed here, and consistently remind them of the importance of their online reputation.
Quick, which skill is of more value to a child under the age of 5; reading literacy or technology literacy?
I'll start with baby steps here...is it really necessary for a child today to learn to write in cursive, or even to print? Be honest with yourself, how much 'hand' writing do you do anymore? Yet physically creating letters with a pencil is considered a fundamental skill encouraged before kids even get to kindergarten. When does keyboarding instruction begin? And can it really be called instruction? or is it a time-filler game? It is a disservice to kids if we do not expect and lead them to be proficient touch-typers by the time they leave elementary school.
OK..if you're still with me, get ready for a giant leap out of the box. How necessary is it for a child today to learn to read?
The skill of reading has really only been a blip on the radar of human culture. Word-of-mouth is the enduring standard for sharing information and generating ideas from wandering minstrels to TED Talks.
Audio books, text to speech tools, Siri...computers transform text messages to voice messages with a simple click, tap or voice command. Increasingly we utilize pictures, icons and symbols in place of written instruction. Anyone been to the app store lately? or constructed a living room from IKEA? And how many people ever consult the help menu to read how a program works before calling tech support for verbal instruction?
What about the flipped classroom, video tutorials, online 'textbooks'? The most engaging, interactive materials have little 'text' at all!
Reading and writing takes place in increasingly smaller bits. Political campaigns live and die on quick quips. We tell the stories of our lives in 140 characters or less.
The habits and expectations of digital natives are built out of the world they come from. As digital immigrants charged with leading them through that world, we owe it to them to take into serious consideration the realities of that world.
P.S. Believe me, the irony of posting this in a blog is not lost on me at all! :)
I saw this headline this morning Girl, 15, Lured Victim to Gang Attack and Filmed it: Cops
A further glance at my reader revealed that the video had gone viral on YouTube. At first, I just shook my head and scrolled down to the next headline. I often react this way to things I find reprehensible. I don't want to lend them credence by giving them my attention. And what kind of world do we live in anyway, that so many people feel the need to witness this by watching the video? Then I realized the people watching this video are probably a lot like the kids in our classrooms;
and the people ignoring it are probably a lot like me. While many schools have opened up to YouTube, it still attracts a certain amount of criticism for content exactly like this. But what a great opportunity to connect with students!Back in the day, I connected with my kids by listening to the same music and watching the same TV shows as them. Now, I see the value of keeping up on viral videos, no matter how inane, offensive or ridiculous. Teachers who watch the same videos as their students recognize the references they make in side conversations and journal entries. They use those cultural connections in examples in class. They present them as writing prompts, discussion starters, settings for debate, literary and historical connections.
The possibilities are endless.So, in the spirit of Marc Prensk
y in his discussion on Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants
, in an effort to value and respect who kids are today and where they come from, it's time to visit YouTube.
I just had an interesting conversation with a friend who recently went back to college after about 20 years out of the game. She described to me how EVERYTHING is done on line. (yes) And, even worse, on a PC!! (yes) She finds herself in the uncomfortable position of having to navigate through layers to find the calculator, scrolling back and forth in a document to reference math formulas vs. math problems, and clicking btwn tools (which invariably get lost) to put all the pieces together in an attempt to finish her inclass, electronic assignment. Then, she's faced with the monumental task of locating the appropriate drive on which to upload her assignment. (Sound familiar?) She finds the whole process incredibly inefficient. Why can't she just have a calculator at her fingertips? Or why can't the prof hand them an actual piece of paper (horrors!) with the reference materials?
Good questions...How do we balance efficiency and electronic learning? How do we balance teaching content and teaching tech skills?
Many educators assume that students are comfortable learning in this environment. They see the so-called digital natives in their classrooms and assume they are fluent in technology.
But are they? These natives juggle social and entertainment tools like a street artist with a basket of oranges on a unicycle. But how good are they at managing a split screen, calculator and Internet search all in the hopes of using a word processing program to produce an intelligently scripted short answer in 20 minutes or less?
So what's a digital immigrant to do? Follow these reminders to help you develop lessons that incorporate content knowledge and technology skill development.
What is the goal of the lesson? What are the tech tool(s) of choice?
Will this tool add to the lesson? --Can it be integrated without losing site of the content objectives?
Does it support differentiation? --Will it challenge students at various levels of tech and content knowledge?
Prepare: What level of knowledge do you, the teacher, have to support student use of these tools? What support do you have?
Scaffold: Build your students up to the level you want them at. Have supports available and allow their use. Provide support and be flexible. Be careful not to enable; embed tech goals in your lessons and set the expectation for all students.
Recognize & Reward: A feeling of accomplishment or an ah-ha moment can be a strong motivator. Make sure tech skills are included in evaluations, peer assessments & self-monitoring.
It doesn't all have to happen at once. You and your students can learn to use tech tools step-by-step so it's done efficiently, and leads to efficiency.