using social media to expand the classroom community
Halloween. Trick or Treat? Hopefully, there are a few treats you can tweet…
I’ve just returned from the 2013 Southern Association of Independent Schools annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia. My main reason for the trip was to present with my colleagues, Matt Scully (Director of Technology) and Eric Hedinger (Upper School Head). While the conference theme was “The Global Future: Preparing Students and Shaping Schools, our presentation (google site with resources here) was on implementing and sustaining a 1:1 (iPad) program. Using mobile devices for creation and collaboration is one of many schools are grappling with as we prepare for the future.
There were many excellent presenters and sessions, but I was struck by several key moments:
Ian Symmonds: The Global Flattening of Education
A consultant out of Portland, Oregon. This presentation was a concise analysis of “modest” current trends in global education as well as future trends. Fascinating. You can find the slides here. Key takeaway-its about cultural competency, not language acquisition.
Dr. Brett Jacobsen and Nishant N. Mehta: Flat, Flexible, Focused: 21st Century Models of School Transformation
Two up-and-coming rock stars in ed leadership. This was a session jam-packed with ideas on how to shift (and/or transform) school culture. During this presentation and a second by Brett, two things resonated with me (paraphrased):
1. The future is here, our student’s don’t have time for us to mess around.
2. The power of common language in shifting school culture.
Dr. Yong Zhao: Two Education Paradigms; What Defines a World Class Education (Keynote)
Dr. Zhao delivered his data-based message with humor and skill. He debunked the value of traditional education (and testing) and made a wonderful case for the rise of the “creative class”–and how we as educators must foster these young entrepreneurs. Key takeaway: Dr. Zhao sees this creative class will succeed in a century of “like” where personalized consumption of psychological products is the norm. Check out his new book here.
All this makes me think back to Tony Wagner’s remarks at the 1st iPad Summit USA last year AND Pat Bassett’s remarks at the NCAIS Conference last year…which makes me think back to the NAIS Annual Conference 5 years ago….maybe Brett Jacobsen is right, the future everyone has been talking about IS here. So, what is your school doing for kids NOW?
As September 2013 closes, I am launching my 4th and final iPad pilot class (is it really a pilot after the 1st?) while our school rolls out iPads in grades 4, 6, and 9-with plans to add the remaining grades between 4 and 12 next year. In May of 2011 I started my first pilot with 6 students 1:1 with the first generation iPad. That seems like the distant past, but it was just over 2 years ago. We were just starting to grapple with the idea of the iPad tablet as a “digital backpack” that could replace many traditional physical school tools. I remember reading a post by Ian Jukes on what iPads can NOT do and writing this rebuttal. Curious how that Jukes post now seems to have disappeared from the web…
It is so exciting that this time has come. This year is the launch of what we are calling our “One to World” program, adopting language promoted by Alan November in his recent article, Why School Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing. In a nutshell, November argues that many of the schools that have rushed to put devices in the hands of students have unfortunately focused on the tool.
As I am now moving into the Academic Head role, I was intrigued by November’s points about leadership in implementing 1:1 programs:
Leaders must be given the training to:
- Craft a clear vision of connecting all students to the world’s learning resources.
- Model the actions and behaviors they wish to see in their schools.
- Support the design of an ongoing and embedded staff development program that focuses on pedagogy as much as technology.
- Move in to the role of systems analyst to ensure that digital literacy is aligned with standards.
- Ensure that technology is seen not as another initiative, but as integral to curriculum.
Leaders also must learn how to support risk- taking teachers and creating cohorts of teachers across disciplines and grades…
Thanks to the vision of our Technology Director, Matt Scully, and the support of our Headmaster, Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw, we have tried to structure our implementation program to include these components:
- We promote educating worldly-minded students that we are preparing for global citizenship, and the “one to world” language encourages use of the device to connect and collaborate with others around the globe.
- Our senior leadership team all carry devices and have been working to model use the tool to collaborate and communicate with stakeholders.
- We have developed internal professional development programs that focus on pedagogy (particularly the SAMR Model), as well has pushing key leaders to attend the best national workshops and conferences.
- We are developing TK-12 digital literacy curriculum in the context of digital citizenship. Additionally, we are inviting parents in to “town hall” style meetings on a monthly basis to discuss issues of digital citizenship.
- We see the tablets as a tool to help continue work on 21st Century Information, Media, and Technology Literacy Skills and not a separate initiative. Additionally, we are empowering faculty to see the transition as a “both-and” approach, and not an “either-or” approach (see this great article by Milton Chen).
- We hope to start inter-divisional and inter-disciplinary professional development cohorts in the coming year.
Again, these are exciting times. What we cannot lose sight of has been expressed so eloquently by Bill Ferriter, that “technology is a tool and not a learning outcome.” I think his simple, hand-drawn chart should be kept somewhere that a teacher can reflect on it daily:
Today was the first day of school. This is my 18th first day of school as a teacher. This is my first day of school as an Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs. Regardless, it was exciting.
Why is it exciting? Well, it is exciting because I work at an amazing school that continues to evolve under the pressures of this “flattened” 21st Century world. We are in the process of moving to a 1:1 school (iPad tablets) and developing a curriculum that pushes 21st Century Skills and a global perspective.
But that is not really the exciting part to me-not on day one. You see, if you are not a teacher or if you are new to teaching, the real excitement is about new relationships. This first day (and out to at least the first two weeks) are critical to establishing good relationships. I often quote this bit of (anonymous) wisdom; “they don’t care what you know until they know you care.”
Yes, it is an exciting time to be an educator. But despite all the high tech toys and virtual learning opportunities, this is still a endeavor based on relationships. I have had the pleasure of presenting with Peter Gow, who has blogged about independent school and education issues for years under several banners. I think he said it best with this remark off his Admirable Faculties blog:
Schooling, education, call it what you will and carry it out how and where you will, is a deeply human activity, and for all the ways in which the schools we are creating will not be Your Father’s (or my father’s) School, that core humanity will never change.
To my fellow teachers, good luck building new relationships this year.
Yes, it is that time again. Every year I find it important to unplug from various components of social media and focus a bit more on Life 1.0.
Why unplug at all? Well, this post from last summer contains my most coherent thoughts on why.
I find it harder and harder to totally unplug. I came pretty close on a recent vacation with my wife by turning off all mail accounts on my iPhone and never opening Twitter. Usually, if I take a sabbatical from Twitter then I spend a more time on Facebook. I did sneak in a few peaks at Facebook and post a few status updates on vacation…
See you in about a month…
Can you totally unplug? Ever? Why or why not?
As I mentioned in my last post, I just returned from leading a travel course in Costa Rica. Two years ago I was fortunate enough to take six students to Costa Rica for a Tropical Ecology course for the first time. I was also really fortunate at that time to take six iPad 1 tablets and image them as “digital backpacks” for school work. This was my first attempt at a paperless classroom. Seems a bit strange to read my posts from the first trip now. So much was unknown–it was so exciting to see what was possible. This time around I knew what was practical. This time I knew the core apps we needed (glad to provide a list if you want) and much more about workflow. This time we had a iBooks format digital text and did not have to carry a printed version.
Blogging on iPad2 tablets in Costa Rica
The last time around, I was not aware of the SAMR model of technology integration (good summary of the model here). I was really just focused on substitution. As time has passed, I think taking the iPad2 tablets has allowed me to augment and modify (maybe redefine) traditional tasks. You can check out some of our project work at our class blog and decide for yourself. While I built the template for the blog, the kids did all the writing in WordPress using pictures they took in country.
iPad2 camera use in Costa Rica rainforest
I think it is interesting to compare the student feedback from the last trip and this trip. Two years ago, none of the students owned an iPad or had considered using one for school work. You can read their impressions here. Compare them with comments from this year’s group below (note it is not all positive). Here is the prompt: How did the iPads change the way you learned or completed course work? What were the positives and negatives of bringing iPads instead of a traditional notebook? Did they enhance your learning or provide too many sources of distraction? Was it convenient to have all course materials and communication in Charger (Google) Apps? Why or why not? If you have trouble, imagine this course without the iPads-how would it have to be different?
I think everything was done well and in our best interest. I have nothing to complain about.
It was a little hard to do project work on the iPad.
Less heavy in my backpack. Liked how we did quizzes and tests
I think the iPads were great. They provided easy easy access to the textbooks, and made it easy to check the hw and work on projects. It helped my learning because I could literally take it out and go straight to the textbook. I also liked it because I could highlight things and watch videos in the textbook. I liked having all the info in one place and not carrying a bunch of notebooks around. This way, I wasn’t able to misplace or lose anything important. I think not having the quizzes made everything a lot less stressful. Overall, I’m very happy we had the iPads instead of traditional paper and pencil.
They helped in some, but hurt for actually learning – I couldn’t write stuff down. It was helpful for pictures and blogging.
I hated the restrictions, as I previously stated. It was definitely useful to be able to search the textbook though.
Could be an easy distraction, but was very good at consolidating info.
I liked the iPads to consolidate what we learned and have it all in one place, I would rather be able to actually write notes in it rather then take pictures, and its also easier to see your notes while looking at the book with traditional notebooks, I liked the projects, but I would like to have quizzes just to get practice and review
The IPads were super helpful. It was all in one place and all we had to worry about was charging it.
As our school approaches going “1 to global” with a tablet in each student’s hands, I am more confident in my ability to help students use the device for work and to help teachers use apps to transform learning.
Collecting data in the field on iPad2 tablets
What are your experiences? Is there anything the students said that resonate with you?
I just got back from a 12-day travel/study trip in Costa Rica with 11 students. They did all the blogging (and work) on iPad2 tablets using WordPress. More on the details later. Here is a link to the class blog (check out the project page): http://pdsblogs.org/costarica/
Hi folks. I have been consumed by the end of school and Life 1.o, and have not found much time to write lately. I do hope to blog again soon before a summer hiatus. Thanks.
I have been fortunate to attend (and present at) the 2nd EdTechTeacher iPad Summit over the last two days. Much like the first summit in Boston last fall, the EdTechTeacher crew tried hard to create conversations more around the “why” of technology use rather than just the “how.”
Of course there were workshops where teachers could learn tips on good apps or workflows, but the most of the keynote speakers (in my opinion) dealt with creating the conditions for innovation that are necessary to have quality instruction using the device: Angela Maiers spoke about passion, Greg Kulowiec spoke about defining the problem (before using the tool), Justin Reich spoke about creating a culture for change, and Tom Daccord challenged attendees to define what learning looks like.
One keynote stands out, and that is the “Chicago Crew” (my nickname), the group of talented young educators from the National Teachers Elementary Academy in Chicago (names linked to blogs/class pages): Jennie Magiera (Digital Learning Coordinator), Autumn Laidler (Science teacher), and Anita Orozca (Director of Curriculum/Special Ed). They once again delivered a fast-paced prezi presentation chocked full of powerful examples of transformational teaching using technology (not just iPads). While Angela Maiers led an inspiring pep-rally on passion, these ladies modeled passionate teaching-bringing their kids into the room to explain projects with video clip interviews. As in Boston, they shared the work of Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura, who developed the SAMR model for selecting, using, and evaluating technology in education. While they showed many examples of projects using the iPad and Apple apps, they always brought us back to the reason for choosing a tool and the metacognitive task the student would engage in when completing the project.
Learn more at their presentation Google site here.
Again, kudos to the EdTechTeacher team for putting practicing educators on the stage to illustrate passion and purpose!
*Here are links to my presentation Google Doc (with hyperlinks to my projects) and my slidedeck.
I am thrilled to be presenting at the second EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA at The Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center on April 11th. This is a revised version of a presentation from the first iPad Summit in November of 2012. The title is now a bit broader: From Possibilities to Practices: How iPads & Social Media are Changing Science Instruction.
My presentation in a nutshell-I am trying, once again, to show how this device and social media sites have helped create some shift in what were rather traditional science classes in a rather traditional school. If you have read other posts on this blog, I hope you realize that “it” is NOT about the what (iPad)–it is about the why (and some of the how). The EdTechTeacher crew has organized another conference around this idea.
Hope to see you in Atlanta!
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Two years ago I was looking for a way to have students in my AP Environmental Science class analyze urban design during our unit on land use and management. I decided to ask students to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts, documenting examples of well and poorly designed areas in and around Charlotte, NC, USA using digital images. Flickr was the host site for our little project, and I wrote about that first experience in a previous post.
Over the last few years, I have tried to make the experience more authentic. This year, I invited a local urban planner to join our current flickr project group (see our pics in a slideshow-be sure to click show info) and participate. We did the project prior to her coming to speak to the class on urban planning issues. So, the students were front-loaded with examples around town and she knew what they were. Check out this exchange between the students and the urban planner or this one.
This little trick let us be very efficient with the 45-minute class period we had to work with that day. She gave a short presentation and then let the students participate in map activities planning the redesign/redevelopment of some actual infill sites in Charlotte.
Urban Planning Map Activity
What was even cooler was that we had a Chinese exchange student in the class. Since she did not know our community very well, I let her feature images she found online (or her sister sent to her) from her hometown. Check this out this urban planning dilemma from China:
How as else has the project changed in three years? Now I see students much more like to use Google Earth or Google Maps for aerial views or street-level views instead of taking the images with their phones in person. Not that one or the other is better, just different.
So, what do you think of our use of Flickr for a class project? Have you done one or seen other similar projects?