In my professional travels recently, I found myself in a district between meetings. I went down (by invitation) to watch a guy named Steve teach some tech. What I found was inspiration from high school students. Steve teaches three classes, all at the same time. He had website design and two levels of gaming/coding going on simultaneously!
So let's talk logistics and classroom management. Of course Steve doesn't know I'm writing this, and if you have read this before you know I stay truthful with my observations. You could definitely tell which kids were in each class. Their level of interest and enthusiasm generally grew as the course became more challenging. I thought is was pretty amazing how kids in each class remained on task while Steve had to explain things to the other two classes; juggling at its best.
Enough with that stuff....What about the learning! Immediately it became apparent to me that students were encouraged and comfortable with helping each other learn/create/share. Kids were moving around and offering constructive criticism. It wasn't a matter of "Your character is weird" or "why doesn't this block jump right". The kids were talking like programmers. Everything sounded like helpful advice. "Change this code", or "have you tried this command?" Even more cool was how students actively sought out other students to TRY their games and wanted help making it better. The collaboration was amazing. Several students let me sit down and chat with them about class, their projects and I got to play several games that I would gladly have shoved a pocket full of quarters into a machine for!
One young lady, in particular, was working on some really moving digital illustration. As a long-time video game nerd, I appreciated someones ability to animate/illustrate nature. Water, hair, and flora are difficult to render in a realistic way. This student was creating an amazing tree. I know a tree, doesn't sound to impressive. After I got her to take her head phones off, she was in the zone, I sat down and talked with her about her project. She let me see the wire drawing that gave the tree life and showed me how she was working to make it sway in the breeze. Her resources to learn all of this? Of course her teacher, Steve, but also Google and YouTube. She was watching tutorials and pulling information she need to solve problems in her own work. She showed me a tutorial of a waterfall and explained that she really wants to try and conquer such a hard animation. The way she talked about her work and how she never stopped working while we spoke reminded me a professional artist; heart and soul in what she was doing.
Below are a few pictures I snapped during my visit. It was really cool to see kids so into creating projects. They had the structure and knowledge of Steve, then the freedom to own their learning. I would have taken more pictures, but I didn't want to interrupt class, and I never think of taking pics until it is too late!
My boss, Dave just got in a great new device for the iPad. It is called Osmo. Basically, Osmo is an app and a small red mirror. The mirror allows the camera of the iPad to see the table space directly in front of the device. The video on the website kept me curious about how much usability there really was in this device (plenty of fluff, of course).
Well we have spent part of our day playing with Osmo. Of all the things that are possible with the app, the most interesting part, to me, was the ability of it to recognize physical drawings. Not only does it understand lines and edges, it responds to those lines and edges. There is a game in the app that drops a bouncy ball from the top of your iPad screen. Your goal is to make that ball hit a target. You can change the course of the ball by drawing lines on a sheet of paper. You can also place physical objects on the table and Osmo interprets the edges of that object. Dave immediately thought of fine motor skills and using tooth picks to create lines and angles. I included two videos below. There is also an anagram program and it includes blue/red letters for spelling games.
The idea that the camera on our devices are becoming so intelligent baffles my mind. Check out there website and comment on this post if you think of any ways to use Osmo with students.
Garth and I are excited to be presenting at Wadsworth Schools today with some other amazing leaders in education from northeast Ohio. Below are some links to view our presentations. If you have any questions after today, and you didn't grab a card, you can comment on this blog post or retrieve our emails from the slides. Thank you to the administration and tech department of Wadsworth schools for your support and hospitality.
Autonomous Mastery Learning
Fun, Digital Assessment (Peardeck, Kahoot and Socrative)
It isn't often that Garth and I post about a conference before we even present, but this conference is special. Every year, Garth and I get to see our Tribe (PLN) at the OETC event in Columubus. Other than those few days together, we all are in our own place, doing our own thing and using technology to connect and change teaching & learning. This year is different. For the first time, the Chromebook Institute is hosting a conference in Ohio. Many of our friends will be presenting, along with Garth and I at this event.
From the title you can tell that it is centered on the use of Chromebooks and the Google Apps for Education ecosphere, but there is more to it than Google. Last night Garth and I chatted via Google Hangouts with David Jakes and Jeremy Brueck about the event. We talked at length about how mobile learning devices (Chromebooks) and Google Apps for Education provides a great platform for meaningful technology integration. Garth and I were able to reflect and discuss how Chromebooks and Google Apps could have shaped and improved on several projects that we have completed over the past few years. Garth talked about his district's move towards Google Apps for Education and Chardon (where I just left) went 1-to-1 this school year. We told David how we often talk always talk about legacy, skills and learning more than any specific tool. David appreciated that fact and encouraged us to do so at CBI while infusing our experiences with Google Apps. Full disclosure: The first skype and cross-district learning that Garth and I completed was via Google Docs. This was eight years ago and we used our personal Google accounts; I don't even know if Google Apps for Education was even around yet.
At NORT2H, the majority of professional development sessions I lead with districts is centered around Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks. I am recommending this conference because I personally know many of the presenters and their work is inspiring and has helped change teaching and learning in Ohio. CBI has several conferences throughout the USA. I encourage you to find one near you and check it out.
Conference Website: Click here
The week of August 11, 2014 Google began rolling out Classroom to all Google Apps for Education domains. While Google isn't calling this an LMS (yet), the simplicity and ease of use definitely begs the question. Below I have included a presentation that I have started to use to explain Classroom, along with some other valuable resources.
IT'S JUST ANOTHER TOOL/APP....
Well yes and no. While this is another app, another tech tool to modernize the process of education, I see it as much more profound. While having a "paperless classroom" to many means taking their once printed worksheets and pushing them to students through something like Google Apps for Education, you and I both know that this doesn't change the process of teaching & learning. The actual goal of all this technology is to transform what is happening in schools. Often I feel like the purpose of education is to "show you learned something" i.e. all the standardized assessment in Ohio only measures your ability to memorize and regurgitate. Okay so many might argue standardized testing also shows your ability to read and find information. Some might even say you have to apply that information to a super hard question...whatever...point is it is the same old educational system that COMPLETELY misses the point of learning how to learn. Problem solving and Problem finding. Those skills are not sufficiently tested and those are the skills that our kids need.
How does Classroom fit into the above rant? Well the way I see it, the simpler you make it for teachers to push presentations and notes and worksheets to students, the less time a teacher spends on those things and the more time they start to pursue relevant learning. If I do not have to direct lecture because I can make 120 copies of my presentation for students, or give them links to videos and resources, then I can start to think about how to move that away from class time, or at least how to use less time doing it. Now I do not have to stand at a copier making classwork (or homework), then collect it, grade it, hand it back, collect again for revisions, all while trying not to lose it!
Classroom represents the simplest, no frills LMS that I have ever seen. It automates the behind-the-scenes craziness of managing your Google Drive with hundreds of students and it simplifies our ability as teachers to collaborate on student's work with them.
BUT HOW CAN THIS REALLY CHANGE MY CLASSROOM?
YOU ARE THE ONLY THING THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR CLASSROOM! You need to see Classroom for Google as a way to streamline the day-to-day and then use your creativity to do something amazing with the time you know all-of-a-sudden have. Good luck, be brave and have fun!
Peardeck is a new program that can be added to your google drive. It is like a powerpoint but does much, much, more like:
I really like PearDeck to present difficult concepts. I do not do a great deal of formal presenting in class, but have found I can get great feedback about what kids are learning using PearDeck during the few formal presentations I do give. Student's even noted they learned the most with PearDeck over four other formative assessment tools on the market (see images below). The tutorial below will have you building a PearDeck to use tomorrow in class.
More to come on PearDeck, but I wanted to get this posted. Have a great day!
This is the first year in my entire professional career that I did not have to prepare a classroom. This is the first time in the past eight years that I did not have the first day jitters. The strange part is that I didn’t even think about it until someone asked me, “do you miss it?” “Miss what?”, I asked. They started talking about the excitement of the first day, meeting the new students and seeing all your old students in the halls.
Here’s my answer:
I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. My life is teaching. To not do that this year should devastate me. It worried me a bit that it doesn’t bother me more. As I thought about it I realized why I’m okay with no teaching this year. See that’s just it; I am teaching this year. I get to work with nearly thirty school districts, in four counties around Ohio. That’s thousands of teachers and tens-of-thousands of students. I get to go spread my love of teaching & learning and how meaningful technology integration can inspire learning. I get to talk to teachers, principals, curriculum directors and superintendents. They ask for my opinion (and for the first time in my professional life) they listen to me and there is dialogue and collaboration. It is liberating and empowering. I set long-term goals and I believe in achieving every goal you set. I want to leave a legacy. I want to help change education in Ohio. I want kids to love learning. I get to do that more now than ever.
I am shocked....
...at all the amazing things happening in schools all over northeast Ohio. There are teachers and buildings and districts doing some amazing things. The things Garth and I have always tried to do for our students. I never realized how little we really know what is going on in our schools. This year, my goal is to try and bring those teachers and leaders to the world via technology. We have this amazing green screen studio at my office. My boss and I want to interview amazing teachers. We want to publicize their students and help them leave a legacy.
No To Rigor, Yes to Frustration....
If you have read previous posts on TFT, or if you have ever seen me present, you know that I enjoy poking fun at pedagogical cliches. So let’s tackle the idea of “rigor”. The dictionary definition basically says anything that takes work to do. That means that rigor can mean a million different things. Yet, teachers are expected to create “rigorous” learning experiences in their classroom. Does that mean we take our top students and then create lessons that are rigorous to them? Meaning that they will be really, really rigorous to our lowest students? Rigor is one of those words that no one ever defines for us, and maybe that’s the point. To create these lofty ideals that teachers must blindly aspire to achieve. I’ve decided to start a movement this year. I want to hear a new word in the conversations of teachers and administrators. We need to talk about “frustration”.
I like frustration. I think it is important to the learning process and I think that it can help foster empathy in our students. There has been this concept of “learned helplessness” in education for decades. It seems the more technology evolves, the more teachers give to students. If we want to make the transition to students as makers and producers of knowledge, then we will also be destroying learned helplessness in our students. This is going to cause frustration. Frustration for students as they began to see that failure and trying again are new concepts in the learning journey. Frustration as they begin to understand that teachers are not going to give them an answer or a mountain of resources when they (students) can’t find an answer. Frustration for teachers as students began to own their learning and direct instruction becomes less relevant in our classrooms. Frustration for teachers as students start to use the scientific method to find the answers to their essential questions and care more about learning than grades.
Think about your own life. Everyone has problems. Big problems, not just text book problems. Sometimes you get stuck in the middle. Sometimes you don't even know where to start. You get frustrated. You might throw things, or stare for hours at the wall. Eventually you walk away, think about something else or just try some different ideas. Usually, when you stop hyper-focusing on the problem, a solution presents itself. You get frustrated, your brain starts to scan for any previous knowledge that can help and eventually you solve the issue. But this is different than just solving a problem by asking someone for the answer. You feel pride, you overcame something and you didn't give up. I want students to feel that pride in thinking and conquering.
Frustration is a necessity in the creativity process too! Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you, I’m just learning to understand frustration myself! You can watch this video, though.
As many of you may, or may not know, last October I left the classroom and took a job for NORT2H and the Lorain County Educational Service Center as a Technology Integration Trainer. My new position means that I get to work with districts across northeastern Ohio as they implement technology and change teaching & learning.
Although school hasn't officially started, many districts have decided to add extra professional development days this week to help prepare teachers for the technological changes coming to their districts. I am lucky enough to be out at Perry Local Schools today (and yesterday) as they welcome teachers back from summer break. Perry is implementing a #1:worldlearning initiative in the Middle and High schools. Perry invited me to give the keynote at their convocation and lead several breakout sessions with their staff. Making my job easier is the amazing administrative and technology support staff in the district.
The first three words in Perry schools mission statement are "Inspire all students...". When I met with the administrative team at their leadership retreat several weeks ago, I really began to see how important it was to everyone to not just implement devices, but to change the experience of students and staff.
The enthusiasm of the administrators was not an isolated incident. During the convocation I was able to talk with several teachers that were energized and excited to change the way they teach. My keynote followed the theme that Garth and I have always kept at the core of our work: Inspire student-owned learning. I spoke about moving away from grades, changing motivation to inspiration and shared the amazing work of our (Garth & my) students over the last seven years.
Many teachers thanked me for inspiring them and giving them new ideas to implement as the school year begins, but it was I who owe them thank you. Working with so many districts and often leading the same type of PD sessions, it is easy to fall into a rut; much like teaching! Working with such an inviting and enthusiastic group helped give me a renewed excitement about my job.
Happy to be back at SPARCC with Garth. We enjoyed doing the Keynote last year--see that presentation.
Below are our two presentations. The first presentation is about using Peardeck to make presentations more interactive. Peardeck attaches to your Google Drive and helps create more interactive learning experiences. We will end this presentation with a quick example Kahoot (a fun interactive review game.) The second presentation deals with Autonomous Mastery Learning and how to allow students to follow their passions, use their creativity and own their learning.