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Educated By Design Blog

Filtering by Category: PBL

The Third Grade Teacher

TheTechRabbi

I have been working on this article for awhile. When I saw this post during the #1to1techat on twitter I finally knew how to phrase it.

Students teaching students is totally awesome meaningful learning.

Becoming a teacher might not be on everyones bucket list but after watching eight year olds teaching eight year olds about native american life, I hope they realize just how powerful the ability to educate someone really is. Being in charge of other peoples learning was a new experience for these third graders. I began the conversation by asking them the following question,

How do you know how much you know? 

One answer is, teach it to someone else. Our next challenge? If our students are able to become independent learners working towards becoming facilitators of learning, then where does that leave us as the "real educators" in the classroom? The massive outpour of information as well as the technology to harness its power actually leaves educators with a very powerful and humble mission.

It empowers us to help students become caring, thoughtful, and serious learners. 

If we choose to answer this calling and put aside our slightly bruised ego and title of sage on the stage, then the student, teacher, and technology partnership can begin to create some truly awesome results.

Third Grade Native American Tribal Life Project

in collaboration with Deborah Littman and Joanna Benporat, 3rd grade classes

Digital Publication using Book Creator for the iPad

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="a/hillelhebrew.org/file/d/0B8kSXA4O_gAJRlNEWmE2WG90N2c/preview" query="" width="440" height="280" /]

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The initial planning phase of the project went very routine. Questions of purpose, time spent, objectives, and curriculum alignment were asked. Questions about student's understanding of the applications of choice were answered. We projected the project would integrate technology between the A and the M on the SAMR model due to its use of audio-visual capabilities as well as how the technology would allow the learning to be shared. The objective of the student was to demonstrate their knowledge of a Native American tribes to the class. After reflecting on the final outcome of the project, we compared the projects use of technology to how the project was accomplished by traditional means.

21st-Century Skill Acquisition

Traditional Method

Learning With Technology

Oral Communication

5/10

8/10

Visual Presentation

7/10

7/10

Understanding of Content

7/10

8/10

Cooperation and Collaboration

5/10

10/10

Engagement and Enthusiasm

6/10

10/10

Organization and Time Management

5/10

9/10

Students as Facilitators

3/10

9/10

Now each one of these skill sets that students developed during this project have a specific objective.

Oral Communication: Through the use of audio recording and filming, students had the ability to clearly and effectively share their learning with other people in an engaging way that gave the viewer a sense of choice. The traditional method consisted of students presenting in groups in the front of the class reading from index cards.

Visual Presentation: The traditional method consisted of hand made poster boards and dioramas. In the past digital slideshows such as PowerPoint we used as well. Using the iPad students could create an audio-visual multimedia presentation that incorporated hand made artifacts into the project.

Understanding of Content: Many of the traditional methods of learning were still utilized by students including reading from books, note taking, and basic researching. The information was internalized further through the use of multimedia such as audio record, video filming, drawing, and creative writing.

Cooperation and Collaboration: Through the use of technology, this area yields unbelievable results in respect to frequency and sustainability of student partnerships. Students in traditional group projects tend to have one dominant student or have other students who lack motivation to fulfill their group responsibilities. Through the use of the iPad students were able to work independently, build off each others ideas, and help their peers create better quality work.

Engagement and Enthusiasm: At this point in our 1:1 program the "iPad excitement" has worn off. Students were engaged on a much higher level due to the personalized learning experience that allow for independence, choice, and serious ownership over their work. Students were not only enthusiastic to create something their peers would see, but even more so when they worked on traditional worksheets answering questions based on viewing their peers projects.

Organization and Time Management: This is a hit or miss with technology. Technology in of itself doesn't make either of these qualities shine, but with the proper mindset students can use technology as a powerful tool to develop these critical skills. Having all their work in the cloud to work on at home and use the iPads together in class did contribute to success in this area.

Students as Facilitators: This was the best part of the entire experience. Students were on inspirational fire as they shared their learning and made sure students understood the valuable information that they had learned. Students concluded this unit with an in-depth understanding of a specific piece of the unit, as well as a general albeit superficial understanding of the rest of the unit due to their peers amazing ability to share their learning in a serious, but fun and engaging way.

A Historical Approach to the Invisible iPad

TheTechRabbi

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. Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 1.21.55 PM

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:

  • 2 student written newspaper articles highlighting two different points of view.  For example, one article was from the British perspective while the other was from the Patriot perspective.
  • 1 image per page
  • 2 uses of original audio
  • 2 original videos
  • A 5 question assessment which matched the creators goals for understanding
  • A design and layout that stayed true to the time period and considered the emotions being evoked in the content.

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.

 

 

The Invisible iPad - Part II

TheTechRabbi

InvisibleiPad  

 

Invisible Technology in Theory is powerful. Its practical application for educators can be challenging, frustrating, and fill even the most confident learning facilitator with doubt. Invisible Technology empowers its user to be independent, collaborative, and truly shift learning into the 21st century. How do we measure its success? Is there a definitive technology yardstick to build confidence not only in the student, but in the teacher as well? What are our goals and skills we wish our students to acquire, develop, and reflect upon?

If our goal to create an army of App Savvy iPad Aficionados then we have utterly failed.

We are not trying to create students that successfully use technology, because they don't actually need us for that. We have seen the viral videos of toddlers successfully executing in app purchases on their favorite game, and their digital literacy skills will only increase with their exposure to new technologies. My colleague Yossie Frankel stated it simply that,

 We cannot confuse Digital Literacy (ICT) with 21st Century Competencies. 

If we do, we rob our students of what we really can offer them, which is the ability to communicate, think critically, collaborate, solve problems, and create dynamic ways of internalizing information and sharing it with others. This is what our place is in 21st century learning. Yes, we will need to support them with certain technology skill building, suach as keyboarding skills, app fluency (Greg Kulowiec), best practices of sharing and store, and the certain nuances of utilizing technology tools, but this isnt a class or a workshop.

Students don't need theoretical workshops, they want hands on action with a purpose.

As I wrote in my previous article, when we teach someone to effectively and properly use traditional tools, our reason is not for the tool itself but for what we are able to achieve. No one gets excited over using a welder, but its ability to connect difference pieces together to create something unique and useful from raw material, is where its value as a tool really shines. Our challenge with technology like the iPad is that it has so many different abilities, that the user is faced with a real dilemma of losing sight of what the tool accomplishes, for the experience of using the tool. 

Before we even begin to think about how and where we place the iPad in our learning process, we have to concretize our goals, possible challenges, and the planned path of process. If we reach a point during the project and hit a road block, it can be flustered to not have even a rough outline to backtrack to a clear point of success. This all starts with identifying which skills we will need to use. In elementary and middle school, these skills need to be clear and simple so students know that right now they are "collaborating" or "problem solving". We can expect these skills to be sub conscience as adults, but this is not realistic for most students below or even at high school level. At each grade level the following Learning and Innovation Skills can be acquired by students and built upon as they learn and grow.

  • Learning and Innovation Skills (the 7 C’s) + (2 P's)

    • Creativity/Contribution

    • Critical Thinking

    • Communication

    • Collaboration/Cooperation

    • Connection

    • Community

    • Continual Learning

    • Culture

    • Problem Solving

    • Personalized Learning

Once our skill sets are assessed, we then can use these skills in our PBL experiences. Bloom's Taxonomy, ISTE 21st Century Standards, UNESCO Competency  Framework, are all great sources to teach these foundational skills. Many confuse the SAMR Model as a way to learn. The SAMR Model, is not viable method for learning. Its success is in measuring and assessing effective use of technology in our learning.

The challenge for educators, especially Directors of Educational Technology, Innovation, etc. is that we need to not limit how our teachers teach, but to focus on the foundational skills, and provide a clear and concrete formula for how different technological devices and applications will enhance these skills and give a learner the ability to create a product that will change the world.

How to translate this vision to a tangible process is a challenge. In the next few weeks I will be featuring guest articles from faculty members that have successfully integrated technology into learning.

Im having trouble locating the iPad though, must be that invisible thing.

Living with the Times

TheTechRabbi

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Guest Post: NLEResources.com The Alter Rebbe, the first Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch movemment said,

"We must live with the times."

Living with the times means to live with the Torah portion of the week, and that the daily Torah portion should be learned in a way that we can live with its message.

In my current position as the Director of Technology at a Jewish Day School, I play a sort of double identity. While I have a full beard and fit the Rabbi look to a tee, I am not a Mishnah Rebbe. Rather, I am considered apart of the "secular" education department.

"This has to change."

In this week's Torah portion, Devarim 1:13 (Deuteronomy), Moshe tells the Jewish people that he looked for

" אֲנָשִׁים חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים וִידֻעִים לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם וַאֲשִׂימֵם בְּרָאשֵׁיכֶם"

"Men of wisdom and understanding, who are known, to be heads of the tribes"

Rashi says that he looked for righteous men of wisdom who are well known, but "understanding" men he could not find.

Understanding (hebrew: Binah) is the ability to take an abstract concept and apply it to many different areas. This is crucial in education regardless of subject or grade level. This level of understanding can be achieved by students by not just integrating technology into their learning, but integrating the learning itself.

In the "real world" we do not break down our experiences by subject or curriculum. At any given time, the skills gained in math, English, science, and Torah and so to speak coalesce. No one is saying,

"Ok, now I am using the skills I learned in English."

You simply speak or write in a way that reflects your skills and abilities. It is an almost thoughtless exercise, yet in school we break everything down into subject, class, grade. You name it and it is categorized. Now I am not in any way demanding that we abandon the system entirely. There is something to be said about hiring an educator who is highly skilled in their area to teach kids a topic at a level that they can comprehend. I am questioning the reason behind

"enclosing each subject in a 30 foot brick wall topped with barbed wire while rabid dogs circle the perimeter."

The STEM (Science, Technology, English, and Math) method of learning successfully breaks down these walls and there is nothing stopping Judaic studies from doing the same with JTM (Judaic Studies, Technology and Math), except a catchy acronym.

A good math teacher can teach math regardless of the content. This means that if you show a math teacher that an "Amah" (Biblical measurement) comes out to around 20 inches. Then a Judaic Studies teacher and a Math teacher can create a project where the students learn Geometry, ie: the concept of area while finding the measurements for the Mishkan or the Beis Hamikdash. Technology can be integrated into the project via Gamification by using the game Minecraft™ to create a to scale 3D model of the Beis Hamikdash, or use Google Sketch Up™ instead.

The students have now learned more than just concepts from Torah and Math and the slew of positive results from Project Based Learning. They have learned that Math and Torah are both relevant. They have discovered that their learning experience is not limited to a subject or class, but that all subjects connect to one another.

Projects like these unite teachers and students and learning in a revolutionary way. Students crave knowledge as much as Angry Birds™ as long as they feel it's relevant. By showing students that they can learn Math with Mishnah, Chumash with Creative Writing, and Halacha with Hydrochloric Acid, then students will feel that all the learning is united, and most of all relevant.

New Blog

TheTechRabbi

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Hello World. My name is Michael Cohen. I am the Director of Technology for Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy in Beverly Hills, Ca. This blog are my own thoughts, and HHHA does not endorse them in any way. Who am I?

I am a Tech Rabbi- say what? I believe that technology is a tool to share knowledge with the world, including Torah, hence the Rabbi part. Besides that, I am a husband, a father, a son, an artist, a lover of skateboarding, hiking, and even know a little bit about fine wine and a good scotch.

What am I doing here?

I envision this blog being a place to share my experiences as an educator, a student, and an individual who sees the tremendous value not in technology itself, but what it empowers individuals to be able to do. Technology has brought a wellspring of knowledge into the hands of anyone looking to learn. This means that instead of spending time memorize information, we can spend time internalizing information through innovation and creativity. I hope to share my thoughts on this via twitter in hopes to spark a conversation about how we learn together.