An inspiring conversation during my The Invisible iPad – Significant Learning Experiences Without Losing Your iPad session at EdTechTeacher’s Summit (ettsumit.org)
An inspiring conversation during my The Invisible iPad – Significant Learning Experiences Without Losing Your iPad session at EdTechTeacher’s Summit (ettsumit.org)
I am honored and excited to run a guest post by Ilana Zadok, a colleague, and a talented and innovative educator. Ilana and I have worked over the past two years on a project that supports student led learning of the Revolutionary War. Without further adieu, enjoy the article.
by: Ilana Zadok, 8th Grade Educator
Gone are the days of teachers at the front of the room telling students which pages to flip in the History textbook for the sake of memorizing dates and facts.
Here are the days of the teacher facilitating learning as students conduct independent research to become mini experts on a topic and then collaborating grade-wide to create a digital book using the app Book Creator.
After receiving mini lessons on research, newspaper article writing and design and layout 8th graders set out on a month long journey to learn and discover the events leading up to and including Revolutionary War. This wasn’t an iPad lesson to enhance a unit.
This was a project that through the use of technology supported learning by the students for the students.
Let me explain.
The timeline was divided and each pairing of students chose an event. They were responsible for researching their event taking into account the various perspectives of the time and referencing authentic primary sources-this is in line with the Historical Thinking methodology of teaching History which is the backbone of this class.
Each group was responsible for the creation of a 7-9 page digital book using the app Book Creator which included:
Students were encouraged to make very thoughtful choices as to how the various parts worked to enhance their overall message. They understood that each piece had to serve a certain purpose. They were pushed to articulate what that purpose was.
After 1 week of research and 2 weeks of creation, the students were ready to combine their books.
For the next few days, each student individually with headphones in their ears focussed and interested read through the digital book created by their peers.
In order to hold the students accountable for the content, each student wrote 3 level 3 QAR (Question-Answer Relationship) questions for each mini book in which they had to show that they were thinking about the text.
The students then began the process of reflection in which they gave feedback to their peers for each book in regards to design, layout and content thoroughness.
Lastly, they wrote paragraphs assessing how the process of using Book Creator impacted their own personal learning.
This unit was a success! Book Creator allowed the students the room and flexibility to bring their interests and talents to the table. One student used an animation app to fulfill the video requirement, where another student created a piece of music to fulfill the audio requirement. They extended their research to learn about the clothing, food, and more. They were able to give each other compliments and constructive criticism that was based on the language used in the mini lessons. And, they showed content knowledge.
To highlight the success, here are two of my favorite anecdotes:
One student asked if I’d consider offering the combined book to next year’s class as their textbook. That showed me that he had such pride in his work and felt that the quality was worthy of substituting other resources.
But my ultimate measure of success was a shy boy who struggles to learn came over to me weeks after the completion of the project to thank me for the experience of creating the iBook. He said that he feels that he really understands the Revolutionary War period because of it.
Thank me for learning??!! Didn’t see that coming.
Lovely visual on “Should I go to Grad School?”
Originally posted on Indiana Jen:
Special thanks to a reader Roy from the University of Arizona submitted to me an excellent infographic that highlights the costs and benefits of enrolling in a graduate program. Many recent college grads are not contemplating this very issue. Check out the handy infographic below.
If like Roy you have an idea you would like me to highlight on my blog, please send me a suggestion here. As always, I cite my sources and give credit to contributors!
Imagine, a school where every student has a mobile device. Freed from the chains of classroom walls, outdated textbooks, and the grip of an all-knowing authoritarian teacher. A place where students carve out their own destiny through thoughtful and innovative learning experiences that not only result in a gain of knowledge, but character and life experience as well. Now wake up. Welcome to an edtech fairytale that simply does not exist – yet.
We all want to be there, but the question is how?
Since spending $1 billion dollars doesn’t guarentee success, and no amount of passion and determination will launch a costly technology project into reality, how is a school able to harness the power of mobile technology as a learning tool in a way that supports authentic learning?
There is no magic formula for success. Every school culture is different and the Director of Educational Technology has little to do with an organic and sustainable 1:1 environment. During the 2013-2014 school year, we launched phase one of our iPad Program distributing 130 iPads to faculty and students, as well as a Macbook Mobile Lab with 30 laptops. This coming fall we will launch phase two adding another 110 iPad devices.
This is what we did, and how we did it (and didn’t).
I worked with a handful of educators for a full year supporting carefully guided projects with a set of 10 iPads. Students were always two or three to one, and no project launched without careful planning and focus on learning objectives that kept the iPad in check as a tool and not a solution. In June and August before the fall launch, we had a mandatory three day iPad Bootcamp for all 4th through 8th grade faculty led by our principle, Jason Ablin, and myself. Faculty learned how to use an iPad through collaborative projects that demonstrated the iPad’s power as a learning tool and helped build confidence for faculty that would have these devices in the hands of their students on a regular basis.
1:1 Student Launch:
This is an area where schools need to be very careful. No amount of teacher buy-in, and parent support can make this program a success without the students. When we toured Hillbrook in Los Gatos, Don Orth shared with us how they release iPads into the wild. It’s a method that we did not use, but retroactively wish we did and plan to use in the future. Instead of handing iPads to students and then working on digital citizenship, literacy, and expectations of learning, they flipped that process. Based on his advice, our fall 2014-2015 launch will be as follows.
During the first 30 days of school, students in the 1:1 iPad Program will work towards a educational technology certification that will demonstrate their proficiency in Digital Literacy with the iPad and Google Apps, as well as Digital Citizenship and 21st-Century Competencies. Students will not be able to take their iPad home until they become certified. In addition to the basic certification, student will have an opportunity to get certified as a student technology leader.
This past year we launched 1:1 iPads after a full day workshop with students and 1 parent. We had Lori Getz come 3 times to speak with students and parents on the social and emotional challenges and benefits of technology and internet use. We offered “Tech Cafe” events for parents as well. During the year, I taught the Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship curriculum to classes culminating in me becoming a Common Sense Media Certified Educator.
This process worked well, but the soft launch seems to offer better opportunity for conversation about how we use, and would like to use technology.
This is another crucial area. Workshops are great, but the faculty in the first two years needs to know there is someone in the building that is supporting them above and beyond. I work with faculty members daily supporting them in integrating iPad technology into current curriculum, as well as build up confidence to create new projects using the SAMR Model, ISTE & UNESCO Standards, and Gartner’s Hype Cycle. Together we documented our plan, our challenges, and closely record the process from start to finish. At the end of the project, we debriefed to determine how to better manage the project in the future.
I worked with faculty and students on digital literacy.
I am a true believer that our students are digital natives, and do not need to be trained on how to operate technology devices, but they, without question, need guidance on efficient, organized, and focused uses of technology.
Thank G-d, we have an amazing and truly innovative faculty. Their willingness to grow as educators, as well as find new ways to help students explore, is the key ingredient in the success of any type of program that supports education. Stay tuned for Phase 2 this fall.
There is no denying that current technology trends in education are here to stay. Whether you choose Apple, Samsung, Google, or Amazon, the platforms, companies, and devices will come and go, but the learning outcomes they produce are everlasting. The user experience might be different, but the goals for their use are the same; We want our learners to be able to achieve 21st-Century Competencies. It is evident that these technology tools allow learners to gain these skills while achieving faster and higher quality products, through a more efficient and practical processes. This is why
21st Century Competencies have nothing and everything to do with technology.
In fall of last year I began to research how to support learners’ and educators’ understanding of 21st-Century Competencies. I discovered many amazing resources, but felt that each one lacked one key component. Acquiring 21st-Century Competencies cannot be defined through the lens of the technology itself. It must be through the lens of what the technology allows us to create and the experience gained. 21st-Century Competencies are about social interaction that helps connect individuals in a way that achieves a more developed and meaningful outcome. This has absolutely nothing to do with technology as it is nothing but a connector between two or more people.
21st-Century Competencies allow for strong, independent learners that are highly functional in environments that require advanced skills in collaboration and human interaction, aka the real world.
The challenge was to concretize this process in a way that could achieve measurable results including the hope that through developing a formalized process, learners and educators would be more open to failure. This means that even though we did not “solve” the problem this time, we still gained skills in organization, collaboration, communication, as well as a better understanding of the process of problem solving and critical thinking. This process also allows for a reflective and revisionist process where learners can continue to work on identifying strengths and weaknesses in the project and in themselves. This is because learning is not always about solving the problem, it is also about gaining a deeper understanding through experimentation and discovery, with the understanding that even failure can lead to a significant learning experience.
Together with my colleague, Samantha Pack, we set out to create a rubric that would support the development of 21st-Century Competencies with the following criteria in mind:
1. A clear definition of each of the 21st-Century Competencies.
2. Ability to measure proficiency in each of the 21st-Century Competencies.
3. A universal approach that will support the development of 21st-Century Competencies regardless of discipline.
4. Ability for learners to achieve skills through reflection and revision.
5. To ensure that the 21st century competencies work together with various pedagogical models.
In June during a PD Workshop with middle school faculty, I shared the rubric to get feedback for the final draft slated for launch in the fall. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The faculty described it as supportive but not restricting, giving students the ability to capture the essential idea of each skill, and assist them in becoming independent learners with the ability to assess their own performance. One faculty member said,
This rubric doesn’t describe how to use technology, this rubric describes how to be human.
Ladies and Gentleman, we have arrived. This is the true purpose of technology. Its ability to help us build relationships, foster personal growth, and truly arrive at a better more connected global community.
I will be sharing this rubric at my session “The Invisible iPad – Significant Learning Experiences Without Actually Losing Your iPad” at the EdTechTeacher Summit July 28th-30th at the Navy Pier in Chicago.
As seen on the EdTechTeacher Blog
Do you remember your first plane ride? As young children we remember the excitement of preparing for our trip, the adrenaline as the plane sped down the runway, and the occasional turbulence that met us with surprise, or perhaps fear? All in all, our first plane ride was an experience, and it might have been a big part of what we shared with others about our trip. What about the second trip? What about the tenth or the fifteenth? At some point the flight to our destination has little if anything to do with our real purpose and reason for traveling. Our main focus becomes where we need to be, and what needs to be accomplished.
Our experience and interactions with technology are analogous to many first experiences. In the initial stages it’s all about the tool, the method, and the experience. Then at some point, either through our own maturity or the routine exposure, the tool becomes invisible and the final outcome becomes the focus. There is a buzz in the EdTech world declaring that we must stop talking about technology. On the other end of the education spectrum, the digital native theory is being debunked as a myth, rendering our students as helpless “tech(no)vices” incapable of utilizing technology without us holding their hand. Bobbi Newman makes a very important point that an “educator needs to show students how to successfully use technology.” The question is what are we showing them and why are we showing it?
Students want to see relevant and practical applications of technology just as much as they want to see the same in the learning itself.
Educators can successfully model the use of technology, but if there is no destination or purpose, then very few students will appreciate the process or utilize its potential for meaningful learning. Our students are not helpless, nor are they incapable. Our students are clever, creative, and determined innovators. We must support them and guide them to make careful and well thought out choices. This doesn’t mean that students do not need any technical training, it’s just that they need much less of it if there is an exciting and engaging reason behind its use. I have witnessed 5th graders learn how to create complex objects in Google Sketch Up. What increased productivity and enthusiasm was the challenge to build the Tabernacle from descriptive Bible verses, or build the Capitol Building from blueprints, which could not be achieved without the understanding of the program’s fundamental tools and application.
You can program a robot to use technology, but you cannot program it to create a successful and meaningful learning experience based on individualized passion, and self-driven pursuits of knowledge.
There is a buzz around the EdTech community that we must stop talk about technology. I suggest that we continue to talk about it, and cease having it define us and our learning. This is a crucial piece of advice for any school that has any type of tools that help support learning. This includes pencils, paper, staples, and even crayons. While many learning tools have a slightly lower learning curve than the iPad, it is extremely important for schools to begin the conversation focusing on tech. The question is how and when is it appropriate to shift this mindset to a philosophy that embraces invisible technology.