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Corrosive to a teacher’s humanity

Ellie Herman said:

If teaching is an art and a science, I’m scared that in our national conversation about education, we are so intent on demanding accountability for mastering the ‘science’ part that we’re creating conditions that seem designed to crush teachers’ souls. When our system treats teachers with disdain, creating accountability measures whose underlying premise is that teachers are so incompetent and lazy that they need to be monitored rigidly, strictly and incessantly, at what point does that myth become corrosive to a teacher’s humanity? 

How do we nurture and encourage the qualities teachers need in order to use all these techniques in the first place, the faith, the compassion, the patience, the passion for a subject? Can we start by valuing those qualities – by which I do not mean putting a dollar value on them? Can we acknowledge and respect the individual lives and experiences that teachers are bringing to the classroom every day, without which none of what they’re teaching would be of any use to anyone? Can we balance our need for accountability with our equal need for inspiration?

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/02/02/what-makes-a-great-teacher

Why must we ask the 21st century to wait outside our classes?

Internet kill switch

John Jones said:

why must we ask the 21st century to wait outside our classes? Is it just to protect the lecture? We know what a classroom designed around lectures, notes, and quizzes can do, and it is not impressive. . . . Perhaps by embracing the new forms and structures of communication enabled by laptops and other portable electronics we might discover new classroom practices that enable new and better learning outcomes.

There is a robust body of research exploring alternatives to the lecture. Never before has technology been so able to support a new understanding of learning but, as Rivers argues, suppressing the use of new technologies avoids and ignores such discussions.

via http://dmlcentral.net/blog/john-jones/let’s-ban-bans-classroom

Image credit: internet-kill-switch, CyberHades

The educative effect is greater when students do something than when something is done to them

Lecture

Ron Byrnes said:

There should be a corollary to the admonition [to students], “Bring energy for learning; be interested and engaged,” such as “Faculty will resist talking at you. Instead they will capitalize on your energy for learning by developing personalized learning environments characterized by meaningful interaction.”

Deborah Meier argues in The Power of Their Ideas, “Teaching is mostly listening and learning is mostly telling” (1995, p. xi). Likewise, Decker Walker contends in Fundamentals of Curriculum, “The educative effect is greater when students do something than when something is done to them” (1990, p. 479). University faculty rarely apply these aphorisms because they think of themselves first and foremost as mathematicians, philosophers, and psychologists who also happen to teach. Consequently, scant time is spent thinking about whether conventional teaching methods are working. Even less time is spent crafting alternative ones; as a result, a talking at students status quo prevails.

via http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=17818

It’s about opening a door to someone I never knew I could be

Open door

Javier Guzman said:

For my students and the thousands like them, the options they are given are inadequate. The bar is set low and little is expected of them. Mostly they are taught to regurgitate information at breakneck speeds under the guise of equity and the achievement gap. We need to move away from that and build schools that consider the whole person, that understand that our students have passions and interests, and that give them the tools to transcend their environments.

It’s about being given the tools to truly reach one’s full potential. . . . as one of my students stated, “It’s about opening a door to someone I never knew I could be.”

via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lH1gxIT4nSE

Image credit: Open door, Martin Müller

Avoiding worst-case technology scenarios through mindfulness

Mike Crowley said:

There can be no question but that technology can provide the potential for isolation, for synthetic relationships, for a sedentary lifestyle, an anxiety-ridden social existence, a failure to focus, concentrate, and engage. But surely this is a worst-case scenario conception of technology without balance, without thoughtful schools, informed, engaged parents? An education system that emphasises the need to be cultured as well as educated, well-read as well as literate, articulate as well as able to skim, physically healthy as well as mentally engaged … surely an individual in this context will only benefit from the interactive tools of contemporary technology to allow them to create, design, persuade and engage? Yes, perhaps our brains will be rewired in the process, but isn’t that what the brain has always done throughout history? 

via http://crowleym.com/2014/11/03/rewired-brains-unbalanced-lives

When students create content [SLIDE]

When students create content, it sticks in their head forever. Matt B. Gomez

When students create content, it sticks in their head forever.Matt B. Gomez

Download this slide: .pptx .key .png

Image credit: yes. create., Sarah Parrott

See also my other slides, my Pinterest collection, and the Great Quotes About Learning and Change Flickr pool.

Day 2 with Matt Gomez

Here are my notes from Day 2 of our elementary school technology integration workshop with Matt Gomez… [often in Matt’s voice, not mine] You also can see my notes from Day 1.

  • Our agenda and resources (including Matt’s slides)
  • Our backchannel
  • Crowdsourced ideas
  • Lesson / activity redesign
    • We spent 15 minutes thinking about redesigning what we do – individual reflection then conversation with others in room
    • In Matt’s district, there aren’t separate math blocks, or health blocks, or science blocks – the entire curriculum is integrated
    • If you want to see what students are excited about, give them choice and see what they gravitate toward and finish first – most often it’s the activities that give them greater agency and creativity
    • When I started sharing what’s happening in my room, I realized that we had better be doing good stuff! – that meant giving up some control and focusing on deeper thinking work – our one rule is ‘be brave!’ and we take it from there – it takes about 3 weeks to get my kids up and running at the beginning of the year – then we roll without dozens of rules about everything
    • Rather than seeing a bunch of kids at one center as a problem, see it as an indication of success – how can we do more of that tomorrow?
    • Every year my class is first or second of our five kindergarten classes on standardized tests
    • Get kids excited about learning – little things like rhyming or site words come along as part of the process
  • App reviews
  • Wonderopolis
    • Every day we start with a daily wonder
    • My kids run into school and class each morning to see what the day’s wonder is – others tell them not to run – I say, ‘they’re excited about school… let ‘em run in here!’
    • Geared toward 2nd to 4th grade – may need to translate / paraphrase for younger students
    • This helps me find out what my kids are interested in – sometimes we spend 3 minutes on this, sometimes it launches new learning inquiries/activities and an hour later we’re still going
    • Each morning they have a wonder journal – they start a page, draw a picture, and write down what they wonder
    • Kids are good at telling you what they know – not so good at sharing what they don’t know – in the journals, they can’t write about what they know, they can only write about what they don’t know or would like to know – ‘I’m glad you know about [x], but I want to hear from you what you don’t know’
    • If the topic is polar bears, when they come to the carpet, they ask questions like ‘I wonder why they’re white’ or ‘I wonder why they don’t get cold’
    • Second semester their wonder journal becomes a KWL (Know, Wonder, Learn) journal – this 10 to 30 minutes depending on their interest
    • Each day my kids write 3 journal entries – Wonder/KWL journal, reading response journal, and a regular writing journal
    • My team collectively writes lesson plans each week – I’m not afraid to deviate from those
    • If you’re going to make your classroom student-centered, you have to follow the students’ lead
    • The app stinks, use the web site
    • Matt’s Top 50 Wonderopolis activities
  • Headphones
    • Never buy headphones without volume control – kids need to adjust their sound
    • Suggested headphones
    • The kids never care about background noise – only adults do – we like products, we want it to be perfect – they’re just having fun learning
  • Toontastic
    • An app designed for telling stories
    • The first time my students use the app, their job is to make one scene/page – later they’ll do two, then three…
    • Example – students make a scene in Toontastic to make sense of their learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. – the best way to understand if my kids learned is for them to tell me stories – I can see what they understand, what they’re still struggling with or where they have misconceptions – helps me know what to review
    • The background can be whatever you want – great for explanatory videos
    • When kids watch each others’ videos, they’re reviewing our learning over and over again – kids learning from kids is incredibly powerful
    • Upper elementary students in our school use Toontastic for vocabulary – have to use several of the words in the story
    • How can we connect this to Iowa standards?
  • Audri’s Monster Trap video
    • Kids will get this excited about learning if we set up the environment right
  • Chatterpix (not Chatterkid)
    • Chatterpix allows you to email the final product
    • Take/import a picture, add a mouth, record audio…
    • Kids will self-differentiate a lot – e.g., taking a picture of any set of blocks/shapes, but then explain in Chatterpix how many there are of each – explaining about an animal or a book character or a historical figure – reading sight words (you can type in the app)
    • How can we connect this to Iowa standards?
    • Examples – screenshot a book page and tell what the characters are thinking (inferencing, motivation, feelings) – screenshot anything and describe its attribute – snapping a picture of a stage of work and explaining that step for a how-to video (then string multiple ones together) – write a poem of an inanimate object (then take a photo, read the poem) – pretend that no one likes your animal baby and convince someone that your animal baby is the best (persuasive speaking/writing)
    • Great for prewriting
  • Story Buddy 2
    • The app that we use in my class to make books – kids can draw, add text, add pictures, and change the background – also can add audio to each page – can add multiple pictures to the same page
    • Wonderful for digital storytelling, sharing with other students or classrooms – great for nonfiction
    • The paid version allows you to add audio and work on multiple books at the same time
    • Example – field trip to the arboretum – took two cameras and took photos of everything – imported into Story Buddy 2 and told the story of our trip – groups of four wrote books
    • Example – watching the Olympics – writing about / describing the Olympics
    • Example – animal research book
    • Example – list of weather terms – these are the words I want to see in your book – write a story
    • Example – color words – take a picture of something that’s red – make a sentence that uses the word ‘red’
    • Once the book is printed, the kids own that book! – they read each other’s books over and over again – these are all on the class bookshelves for each other – if they can’t read something, they’ll go ask the author
    • I expect the kids to write and spell at their level
    • In our district we don’t have thematic (topical?) units – our curriculum is broken down into concepts (e.g., water systems, how are things connected) – science, social studies, health all tie together – in my class, we investigate kids’ interests
    • I’d rather have 1 iPad than 20 every other week – it’s much easier to use them when you know what you’re going to have and what you’ll have access to – everywhere I go, people are having trouble with carts – sharing iPads across classrooms is tough
  • Explain Everything
    • The mother lode of all creative apps!
    • Similar to Educreations but this one costs money and is more powerful
    • Instead of me regurgitating what I know about the butterfly life cycle, my class and I co-create a video on the butterfly life cycle – they learn the concepts and vocabulary as we go
    • I fill the iPad with butterfly life cycle pictures the night before but I don’t choose which ones – they pick from many options – we talk about why we’re selecting each picture (e.g., ‘I like how we can see the eggs in that picture’) – I try to get 8 to 12 options for each stage of the life cycle
    • We should use real pictures, not cartoon clipart – helps them connect to the real world – for career day, pick diverse images (e.g., male nurse, female doctor, Latino lawyer, etc.) – we need to be thoughtful about this – my Latina girls shouldn’t have to think that all doctors are white males
    • Using pictures that shouldn’t go in the book is a great way to see if they know what they’re doing – e.g., did the kid put a reptile in her mammal book? did the kid put a spider in his insect book?
    • They know each others’ books (just like they know every other kid’s backpack but their own!)
    • Sight word books – finger dots under each word – these ebooks have helped lots with our sight words
    • Use this app a lot in my reading groups – take a screenshot of a book page or import a book PDF – circle some words to emphasize – have the kid read aloud and record it – this is a great running record, able to be shared with parents – easy to show how much kids have gained in their reading skills – I can show parents what kids are reading and what they need to work on
    • I take a video every month (or more often) of every kid’s language acquisition, reading, etc. – great documentation for the teacher and parents
    • Ask kids at the beginning of the year what they like – make a word wall with 5-6 photos from what they tell you – put on their lockers – kids use these as sight word helpers all year (e.g., I need to know how to spell the word ‘bike’ – Brianna likes bikes so I will go look at her locker)
  • Kayden + rain video
    • Learning is about experiences – the only way you can understand rain is to feel it
    • My goal as a teacher is to give my kids as many experiences as I can
    • The thing I’m most proud of in my room is our 3 terrariums, not technology
    • If you can find kids’ interests – if you can tap into their interests – learning can’t help but occur – where interest lies, learning occurs
    • When I went to school, when I went to college, I had lived my whole life in a bubble – I don’t want my kids’ lives to be like that
    • We don’t teach empathy, we give kids opportunities to be empathetic
  • Global connections and collaboration
    • Why Twitter? – student voice, digital citizenship, global connection, spark interest, post anytime
    • What on Twitter? – daily review, answer questions, geography, document learning, shared writing
    • My kids learn to tweet when they’re 5 – we always ask ‘is it safe? is it smart? is it nice?’ before we post – when we’re talking online, it’s like we’re talking to a stranger – we wouldn’t give a stranger the same information we would give a friend
    • I don’t teach digital citizenship, we live digital citizenship every day through what we do
    • Kevin Honeycutt: kids are playing on the social media playground but no one’s on recess duty
    • Things to consider – protected or unprotected, profile name/picture, description, who to follow, favorite tweets
    • I have two Twitter accounts: 1) professional account @mattbgomez and 2) my class account @mrgomezclass (which is protected)
    • My class account is only connected to other kindergarten classes around the world, no individuals
    • Start small and local and then grow it – when we started on Twitter, we tweeted with the class across the hall
    • A physical Twitter map on our wall – throughout the year, we add location-specific cards with Twitter IDs – you don’t need 30 cards, you only need 2 or 3 – pick a couple to really get to know well
    • Every day we did shared writing, but now we do shared writing on Twitter and then press ‘send’ to share with the world
    • We read others’ projected tweets, we circle sight words – the content comes from other kindergarten classes
    • Integrate digital citizenship into everyday activities – it shouldn’t be a standalone lesson or unit
    • We learn a lot about other classes’  locations – we trade pictures of the outdoors, our lunch rooms, our classrooms – we share videos that we made
    • Two years ago a tornado came through Dallas ten minutes before dismissal time – parents are in line in their cars, beating on the door to get in – very dramatic! – another class tweeted us the next morning to ask if we were okay – we replied – other classes saw the exchange and chimed in – my kids saw that these things happen everywhere, they have safe rooms too, their class had a safety bear, etc. – it all helped my kids make sense of it
    • A class in Japan said they didn’t know anything about Texas – we talked about it and decided to make a book – it turned out my kids didn’t know much about Texas either! – we walked down to the library, got some books, did some research, made our book, and shared it with them – every year the 2nd week of March is Texas History Week because that’s when it is in the curriculum but this year we learned all about Texas because my students needed to know about where they lived – they had a reason for why they wanted to know – we received a book back in return
    • Sometimes we follow experts – e.g., @cmdr_hadfield – when Chris Hadfield shared pictures from space, we would match them up with Google Earth – Pete Delkus, @wfaaweather – we sent 3 questions and he replied – every day we tweeted how close he was – in our class we worked with the number line and showed that he was close (predictions)
    • Channel 5 News (@nbcdfwweather) heard that we tweeted with Channel 8 News – they set up a live tweet exchange with my class where we asked questions and got answers
    • We have a research center in my class – as we tweet with other classes and experts, we write down terms and concepts that we run across (migration, bears, lightning) – we use that list on Friday to pick our books from the library for next week’s research center – a sheet of paper with a big box at the top for a picture, then lines below for writing – they draw and share what they’re reading in the research center
    • Reading books on Skype to others – armadillos, dinosaurs, cars – I hear a lot from parents that they had to go to the library to get more books on what we’re researching
    • Sharing about their flag with the other state/country (and vice versa) – peer-to-peer conversations that foster learning
    • One adult reads to Matt’s class every Friday – Eve’s grandparents lived in China and Skyped in
    • If they’re experts in their field, they’re passionate about their work and are eager to share it – I’ve never had anyone tell me no – authors, zoo scientists, meteorologists
    • We play Connect 4, Tic Tac Toe, 20 Questions, and other games with classes around the world – we play on a shared Google Doc
  • Sharing our learning
    • Doing things in real time is much better (and easier) than sharing 5 days later in the weekly newsletter
    • My class has a Facebook page for our parents – you’ll want to set up a closed group, not a private group – every family can have 4 members – they email names to Matt so he knows to approve them – keeps track on a spreadsheet
    • Every day one of my kids takes home our plastic turtle, Tiny Tim – they have adventures, share pictures on Facebook, and write about it
    • Video of red balloon hanging from ceiling – can you move it without touching it? – parents can see our learning about the concept of force
    • Kids are promoting our learning to their parents – make it a space for students to share their learning, not for you to share updates and reminders!
    • We share things as they’re happening in the moment, not days later – it takes 20 seconds – can do from my phone
    • Matt deletes group members at the end of each summer (after warning parents), then starts a new group for the new year
    • The Remind app is a great way to share messages/pictures to parents – you can set up scheduled texts
    • Weebly is an easy way to set up a web site [I recommend WordPress instead!]
    • The main thing is to find some way to share with parents
    • Symbaloo page with pictures of each kid (no names) – links to a Google Doc for each student – they write in their journal, parents read and leave comments
    • What’s the best way for us to share with parents?
  • Girls first ski jump video
    • Be brave! – we challenge kids to go past their comfort level every day – we need to do this ourselves too – we have to own our fear and change anyway
  • Evaluation results

Toontastic app

Explain Everything app

Story Buddy 2 app

Matt Gomez and new Iowa friends

Day 1 with Matt Gomez

Here in Northwest Iowa we have the wonderful opportunity to spend two days with Matt Gomez. We have 70+ elementary teachers in attendance and almost 40 more on the waiting list (which is why Matt will be back in March!). Here are my notes from Day 1… [often in Matt’s voice, not mine] You also can see my notes from Day 2.

  • Our agenda and resources (including Matt’s slides)
  • Our backchannel
  • Crowdsourced ideas
  • Twitter
    • Why do you need a Twitter account?
      • PLN – a group of people who are your people – you need those people around you who do what you do and with whom you can talk and share – Matt’s #1 resource is a kindergarten teacher in Montana, they connected through Twitter – every teacher benefits from being connected to the teacher next door – online colleagues take Matt outside of his bubble in Dallas – the more connected we are, the better we get – every day Twitter can inspire us and teach us – Twitter can be both real-time and time-delayed – how do we have time? we have to invest the time if we are going to improve ourselves – most of the time investment is up front – be prepared to put a little bit of time in at the beginning – 4.2 million education tweets daily
    • We are getting everyone set up with a Twitter account – Matt is explaining reply, retweet, and favorite – the purpose of hashtags is to connect tweets together – sometimes they’re just to be funny (e.g., #pukealert)
    • Every Monday night at 8pm is #kinderchat – see also #ecechat, #1stchat, #2ndchat, #iaedchat, and so on
    • Matt has a list of ‘stars’ that he recommends that elementary educators follow
    • We now have a Twitter list of all the Iowa educators that are here today
  • Philosophy
    • It’s important to be grounded before we dive into tools
    • Remember that this has been a 4-year process for me
    • Video: Emma
    • Technology is not the end all, be all – if you don’t have a sandbox, you don’t need an iPad – focus on real experiences for kids – use tech to enhance, not replace
    • Don’t fall in love with the tool, fall in love with the learning that it provides – makes it easy to move from tool to tool to tool
    • Let them play! – when you give kids something new, let them play
    • Process v. product – it doesn’t matter if their gingerbread house is perfect – it never will be – let them play – focus on the learning process along the way
    • Learning how is greater than learning what – primary goal is to get kids excited about learning
    • Are you modeling the use of the technology? – we have to model ourselves so that kids can then take it and run with it – that’s why I blog and tweet and make videos – be sure to model your sharing and technology use with your kids!
  • The camera
    • The number one tool in my classroom is the iPad camera – they can take pictures anywhere, anytime (except in the bathroom) – not uncommon when we’re doing something for a kid to pick up the camera – pictures tell more about what we’re doing than anything else – story starters at home – every Friday I collect the pictures from the week and make a Facebook gallery – we make lots of books – if you want kids to write, get them excited to write – we have a photographer and a videographer for every experiment we do – every Friday we pick 3 videos to watch from earlier in the year – if you want to learn what’s important to your kids in your class, give them a camera
  • We have to own this
  • Projecting
    • The primary way we share what we’re doing with the iPad is through the document camera – kids can see what is being touched – 10 ways to share your iPad on a projector – assign iPad duties just like other class duties – put your most used apps in the bottom row or on the main screen
  • Felt Board app
    • The first app my kids use each year – start by just letting them play! – pair them up randomly, use Felt Board to explain who the 2 kids in the group are – upper and lower case letters (and LOTS of other t-chart uses!) – fiction v. non-fiction pictures – 4-box graphic organizer (e.g., seasons) – Venn diagram (land animals / water animals / both) – how would you put this into a literacy center? – make the empty Venn diagram with labels – put the screenshot printout at the center – now, students, you make this and then fill it in – great for story writing (INSERT PICTURE; 3rd picture = ‘get a house’) – telling a story and writing that story down are two different skills – many of these apps let me break down those two skills into separate components
    • Printing – we always print in black and white – we only print in color for Parent Night – I print two or three of each kids’ screenshots – they can pull their picture and write their story, they also like to write about other students’ pictures
    • Mix up the groups as often as you can – don’t let students work with the same peers over and over again
    • How can we connect this to our Iowa Core standards? (working in pairs to identify a standard and discuss a potential use of the app)
    • There also are Christmas and Mother Goose versions of Felt Board – wait until they are listed as free
  • Skitch app
    • Explaining how to use Skitch – we use the text tool and the arrow tool most often in my class (along with the size/color options) – touch the middle of the screen to bring up a text box – I use the digital pixelation tool to blur out the kid in my class whose picture can’t be shared publicly – I use Skitch constantly in large group instruction – for example, labeling birds – save the picture – we can use it later, they can see me using the tool – this is why I use the document camera
    • If you give all the kids the same picture, you get 20 of the same thing – if you give kids 40+ pictures to choose from, they can have choice and variety – I add pictures if they want one that’s not there
    • I talk to my kids about how to search for images safely – I don’t just tell them what not to do, we also talk about what to do when something pops up that’s inappropriate – first semester I provide the images for them – second semester I start teaching them how to do it themselves at teacher tables – occasionally a search will bring up bad things; teach them what to do; it’s digital citizenship
    • Tech integration starts with teachers being the leaders – ask kids ‘what app should we use to create this?’
    • We catch things every couple of weeks for our terrarium – we always take a picture and label it before sharing with parents
    • Search for ‘coloring page elephant (or whatever)’ – can download the black/white drawing, label it, print it – then they can color it – a built-in literacy center
    • How can we connect this to our Iowa Core standards? – we use Skitch a lot in math to show what we’ve done – a picture of a boy and a grandma (where are the verbs (or feeling) in this picture?) – describing setting/characters from a book – labeling books is a great way to use Skitch – this is the beginning of writing stories – make a Felt Board, but first they have to use Skitch to identify what verbs/adjectives they’re going to use
  • Math Class video (Kid Snippets) – after lunch fun!
  • Kahoot!
    • Can’t change a wrong answer – kids need to learn this – sorry, Johnny! – use team names if you don’t have a device for each person – can download answers at the end – there is a risk-reward between answering correctly and quickly – first kids learn not to yell out the correct answer, then they learn to yell out the wrong answer!
    • Examples of how to use – addition problem on screen, they have addition dice at each table – you don’t have to have a question, can just use an image – can search for and download other educators’ public kahoots – what is the ending sound for this animal’s name? (e.g., d for lizard) – for sight words, pick from “the, his, her, have” – as the year progresses, the words get harder – can get Matt’s kahoots by searching for mattbgomez
  • Popplet
    • Both free and online versions in addition to the paid version – powerful because of the different organizers – everything is synced across platforms – free version only lets you make one at a time
    • Since we don’t print in color, we only use black and white – we always use the largest size font
    • The only direction I give them on the task card is ‘make a new poppet’ (screenshot using Skitch) – teachers will spend 60 minutes laminating something for a center but get frustrated if it takes 10 minutes to make an electronic center activity because they don’t have time
    • Tip: take/download the picture from Safari, then pull it into whatever app you’re using
    • Examples of how to use – sight words – words that start with ‘i’ – show me you know what an insect is (preloaded the iPad with 20 pictures, 10 of which were insects and 10 which weren’t) – also wrote insect names on white paper, they had to pick which ones were the correct names – examples of nouns – took pictures during field day and then they picked pictures and labeled the verbs – who likes fruits and vegetables? – read a book (what word could you use on each page? or write the character? or the setting?) – sequencing using pictures from making applesauce – add pictures of rhyming words and they can spell them out – kids can sort things – students can do all of this at home with the online version!
    • When kids are done, they pick email jpeg and send to me (is the only email in the iPad address book) – this is a process, they have to be taught but they can do this – I don’t worry about their Popplets, they just show up in my email inbox as they get completed
    • How can we connect this to our Iowa Core standards?
    • Remember that we can save as images, pull into Skitch or another app – Matt’s images are organized in iTunes folders, then he chooses which folders are on the iPad (e.g., only the animal babies folder)
  • Other teachers
    • It’s not that they’re doing things wrong, it’s that these tools have value
    • How can we help our teaching peers see the value here?
  • Educreations
    • A virtual whiteboard that also can record/overlay audio and then save as a video
    • How many ways can we make 10? – Matt recorded each kid one at a time talking and drawing
    • A great way for students to show what they know
    • We use this a lot in math – we can show parents what we’re learning (e.g., how are we teaching place value) – also handwriting – parents can see how we talk/think about this stuff – I usually put these on our Facebook page – also good for students who are absent
    • No privacy concerns because you’re showing kids’ work, not their faces
    • App smashing – make their picture(s) in Felt Board – then import into Educreations – practice telling the story before they write it – usually partners working together – they can listen to the story over and over, which helps them remember what they want to write down
    • Every week we do this, their stories get longer and longer – they add more details – 2 minutes of telling a story is really good for 5- and 6-year-olds – stories can be at least 5 minutes long (haven’t gone beyond that yet)
    • Leveraging multiple concepts and skills with this one tool – blending together numerous standards into one activity rather than working on each in isolation
    • My goal is to get kids to this point by the end of the year
    • I keep a folder of math photos (base 10 blocks, timers, dice, etc.) that they can use to explain their math stories – they love using their own counters (e.g., Minecraft Steves, Skylanders, Frozen Elsas; we have 8 Steves and we take away two…)
    • Participants are using Apple TV to share sample ideas and creations from their own iPads!
    • Matt: “When kids create content, it sticks in their heads forever” – you don’t have to tell parents what students are learning, they run home to tell their parents what they’re doing and to look at Facebook
    • You want your iPads logged in to all of your accounts so you and the students can easily share
    • As you share the value that’s coming out of your room with these tools, it becomes easier and easier for parents and administrators to support expansion – more apps, more iPads, etc.
  • Tom Wujec video (Build a tower, build a team)
    • Who consistently performs poorly? Recent grads of business school
    • Who consistently performs well? Recent grads of kindergarten
    • How come? None of the kids spend time jockeying for power, business students are trained to find the single right plan and when it fails they’re out of time, kindergarten students prototype while always keeping the marshmallow on top – young kids are not afraid to fail and do it wrong – we shouldn’t let our fears hold them back
  • Virtual field trips
    • If you can go to the zoo, go to the zoo – virtual field trips allow students to have experiences they otherwise couldn’t have
    • When I get home, I will make a video slideshow for my kids so they can see every aspect of my trip – for example, most of my kids have never seen the inside of a cockpit or clouds from the top
    • If kids ask questions about volcanoes, there are 8 million videos on YouTube – why aren’t we using them?
    • Google Earth – sunrise tool, measure tool, etc. – hard for kindergarten students at first to understand virtual representation of the real world – you can make path videos (e.g., from our school to the football stadium; can go back in time to show what the neighborhood looked like before) – also Google Sky, Mars, and Moon
    • See the World Wonders Project – great for inquiry, questioning, learning about the world
    • See 360cities.net – 360-degree views of different locations around the world – for example, the inside of a mosque in Iran is great for talking with kids about patterns
  • Wrap-up ideas
    • The first couple of months our stories are terrible but as the year progresses they get better and better
    • More fun tomorrow!

Felt Board iOS app

Skitch iOS app

Popplet iOS app

William’s pseudochoice: Obey or suffer

Beyond discipline

A teacher wrote to a parent:

William had several hours to complete an assignment but chose not to. He will be sent to the room of opportunity for 90 minutes tomorrow to complete it. If he chooses not to finish it, it will be a zero. Not the best way to start the semester…

Messages like this occur every day in schools: You chose to get a bad grade. You chose to be punished. You chose to be separated from your peers. Alfie Kohn reminds us that this is a ‘fundamentally dishonest, not to mention manipulative, attribution [whereby] … children are told, in effect, that they wanted to have something bad happen to them.’

There is no way that we can justify these ‘obey or suffer’ messages under the guise of ‘student choice.’ The only choice that William has here is to 1) do what the teacher wants, or 2) be punished. Neither is something he would freely choose on his own. The teacher’s language is a threat that hides under the cover of student free will and it is disingenuous (Kohn calls it a ‘pseudochoice’). If we are going to exercise our power and authority over students and force them to do our will, we should at least be honest about it.

Here’s how I might rephrase this teacher’s message:

William didn’t want to do something that I asked him to do, likely because he found it meaningless and boring. Rather than working with William to find a learning project that better aligns with his talents and interests, I am instead going to try and force William to do the perceived-as-worthless task by isolating him from his friends and peers. If social isolation doesn’t work, I am going to punish him further and will continue to do so until he modifies his behavior and is compliant with my wishes. I am letting you know so that you hopefully will help me vanquish his resistance.

Of course this message is much more difficult to send to a parent. Thus the masking language…

What are your thoughts on William’s ‘choice’ and the ‘room of opportunity?’

It would be hard to imagine an institutional structure less suited for the future

Public School 6, New York City

Richard Elmore said:

While learning has largely escaped the boundaries of institutionalized schooling, educational reformers have for the past thirty years or so deliberately and systematically engaged in public policy choices that make schools less and less capable of responding to the movement of learning into society at large.

Standards and expectations have become more and more literal and highly prescriptive in an age where human beings will be exercising more and more choice over what and how they will learn.

Testing and assessment practices have become more and more conventional and narrow as the range of competencies  required to negotiate digital culture has become more complex and highly variegated.

Teacher preparation, hiring, induction, and evaluation practices have become more and more rigid and hierarchical in an age where the teaching function is migrating out into a more individualized and tailored set of learning environments.

We are continuing to invest massively in hard-boundary physical structures in an age where learning is moving into mobile, flexible, and networked relationships. In other words, it would be hard to imagine an institutional structure for learning that is less suited for the future than the heavily institutionalized, hierarchical world that education reformers have constructed.

via https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/higher-ed-beta/future-learning-what-about-schooling

Image credit: New York: Public School 6, Matt_Weibo

I liked this post so much I split it into two quotes. Here is the other one. Oh, and Will Richardson liked it too.

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