- Emergency Preparedness Distance Learning - October 18, 2016
- Educational Renaissance: Veteran Teachers Vest in Change - October 10, 2016
- Breaking out of the Norm with Breakout Edu - April 29, 2016
- Mini Thought Bubble on Performance Assessments - April 12, 2016
- The Sensibilities of Mind Mapping - March 15, 2016
- Pioneering Nearpod - January 28, 2016
- Classroom Work Flow Before the Holidays - December 15, 2015
- Surviving the Doldrums of Education - December 1, 2015
- E-Sub Plans for Educators - November 17, 2015
- Presenting Missing Histories - November 2, 2015
Living in Vermont means making amends for educational productivity when a perfect snowstorm blankets the state. Students and teachers embrace the cold powder while it lasts. We ski, we snowboard, we play hard. No wonder Vermont supplies a proportionate number of Olympians. At school we gained one actual snow day and then a week of residual effects as smiling, exhausted populations loped through the doors. Now we are on our winter break. Week 5 merged into week 6 of my experience with a 1:1 iPad rollout but not without sound accomplishment.
Smart Technology- I created a metaphor to explain the advantage of utilizing a variety of apps. When we imagine the iPad as a "dumb" robot the applications we add to it gives it a brain like function. We are the masters building the brain of this device instead of playing games it presents. We make it a "smart" technology.
Design- Students accept the roll of mastery and some have begun experimentation with apps like Stencyl, Scratch and GamePress. I am out of my comfort zone so I rely on my husband/ tech integrationist to introduce these tools to students. He assured me opportunities for game design during winter break and directed me to a webpage he already made, guiding beginners through the gaming process. Content wise, my world history students are studying philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. We use the basis of 18th century theories to examine contemporary issues. After the winter break we will use a conversation rubric to assess a variety of Salon style conversations of the issues, performed for peers. Blending visionary philosophies of Voltaire, Locke and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin with game theorists like Jane McGonigal and James Paul Gee has immediate appeal. Students are used to gaming but being in control of game design is quite new to them. I never thought that I would be the first to suggest this.
Immediacy and Discourse- I post quizzes through our Haiku platform, to be taken independently, multiple times, recording only highest scores. This week I introduced the app, Socrative. I preloaded a questionnaire meant to separate student responses relative to their political affinities: radical, liberal, conservative, reactionary. Students click on the app, enter the room number assigned to my account, to begin answering questions. I immediately project results as a spreadsheet for class viewing while layering political ideologies as a spectrum . Lots of questions and criticisms of results regarding the outcomes lends itself to fruitful discussion. Cognizant of classroom management with a need to break away from iPads, we close them down, engage in physical activity, followed with a reading from tangible texts. Over reliance on iPads just as over reliance on one textbook is not conducive to differentiated learning. The class comes full circle back to our discourse comparing political ideologies. Feeling impulsive I type up one Socrative exit ticket- What idea is worth fighting for? Students were spurred to answer with the gambit of "love, freedom, guns, ur mom"... ending class on a playful note.
I have underestimated the appeal of game shows. My husband urged me to check out the gamified assessment tool, getkahoot.com. The site allows me to access publicly shared quizzes or create my own. Set up for my own current news quiz took 30 minutes. I downloaded images and hit launch. Instructions cued me to display the game room number and offer lobby music while students prepared for game play. iPads become instant response systems once they entered Kahoot.it through their browser and choose their nicknames. Students opted to compete individually or as teams. The surface of the iPad displays brightly colored multiple choice buttons. My screen displays the countdown timer, the leader board for quickest, correct response and of course, the lobby music. Students had fun racing each other to get onto the leader board, shrieking and yelling loud enough to draw attentions from a perturbed math teacher with request to quiet down. I am in the experimental stage with Kahoot but hope to download the quiz data and track team/ individual results over time. I can't wait to explore the shared quizzes and share my own via Facebook.
Storyme adds that "je ne sais quoi". I have changed assignment structures to depend more on review and synthesis of notes. Ideally we spiral back to notes throughout the year affirming or changing how we think. It was especially useful when I asked students to illustrate comparative studies and introduced Storyme as a perfect app to do so. It organizes images into comic book sketches or a series of storyboards. It allows for simple, short captions and bubbles for dialogue. I shared this app with a few teachers who responded by sending me Storyme emails instead of the usual typed text. It has been awhile since I have enjoyed playful banter with colleagues. Take a selfie, add a message and end with a bubble(dramatic), " noooooo! Swoon! Not another faculty meeting!"
An educational shift is taking place in the 1:1 iPad classroom. Students arrive each day for the most part with notebooks open, writing utensils ready. The notebook is their iPad, the utensil, a finger or stylus. Total homework completion is on the rise, not one student has lost a single assignment and I'm working with various students individually or collaboratively by choice. And here's a real thriller for high school teachers...I'm observing students reading. The access to choice readings based on thematic research has led to students spending class time reading deliberately. And they pause to summarize for me their readings. One student, absorbed in the biography of Che Guevara, was unaware that class had ended. His final assessment piece was handed in later than other students but I couldn't penalize him with a late work grade in good faith. I had to give him more time because he wasn't reading from wikipedia. The librarians have created accessible pathways to academic databases with the option to default to wikipedia if the video links, trusted sites and databases supplied are too difficult or lacking in intrigue. We routinely model comparisons to search engines. Nonchalance yet persistent expectation for comparative review edges students towards the myriad of perspectives on the internet. Choice and ease of access is compelling.
While I am happy to have vacation time to enjoy the last days of Vermont winter I must admit, I can not wait to get back to the classroom.