Monday, September 15, 2014

If I was going 1-to-1 next week...

I came home from work today with a craving.  (Well, besides the craving to sleep since I'm running on about 3 hours today after a long, hot night with no air conditioning that including a 1 1/2 hour snuggle session with a toddler who was thirsty at midnight...)

I was craving to blog.  To reflect. To process.

It's been hard not having my own classroom and stories to share and reflect on.  But, I know that blogging and reflecting is such a valuable tool to an educator that I am committed to keeping it up.  Sometimes I just don't know what to blog about anymore.

Next week we are deploying 1-to-1 devices (laptops) to our high school students.  My job will then be to really start working with the teachers on how to actually use them in the classroom.  As I was reminded today, it's not really a choice - the community has put a lot of resources into getting these devices into the hands of students.  They need to be used.  More than that, though, is the fact that this technology can truly transform the teaching and learning that goes on in the classroom.  These laptops are a tool that can help foster an environment of greater communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity - all those 21st century skills we want our students developing.

What comes to mind now is this:  If I was still in the classroom, and my students were getting laptops next week, how would that change what I did in my classroom?  I think by answering this question for myself, that will help me in coaching my fellows to come to their own answers...

First off, I think it would allow a lot of things with my flipped classroom to run more smoothly.  Students would all have a device where the videos could be downloaded or transferred via flash drive if they didn't have internet access at home.  Students wouldn't have to watch the video on their phone and type the WSQ responses into the Google Form using their awesome texting skills.  While having 1-to-1 devices would not solve the "I didn't watch the video" issue, it would allow me to not have to focus on making sure the students had devices, monitoring the checking out and in of those devices, making sure the old old old school desktops were working and updated, etc.

Even in my Course 1 class that I did the "in-class flip" with, students wouldn't have to watch the videos on tiny iPods, and I could always have them in partners instead of sometimes having them share in groups of 3.  I could have them do follow-up assignments on the computer (Google Forms, activity/game math practice sites, Khan Academy, etc).  A lot of the activities they did in class where they were finding data points, identifying patterns, graphing lines, etc - those could be done on a Google Doc where their work is "collected" by me instead of forever being lost in their workbook, never to really be looked at by a teacher.  They could actually do some creation and publishing quite easily with Google Docs and Desmos!

Student blogging would be much more manageable if the students had laptops with them in class.  They could create their own material (picture or video) and upload it right there in class.  They could type their blog post, do their research, publish and turn it in all in class - not having to wait until they got home.  In addition, students could make their videos using screencasting or their webcam - while not as simple as an iPad app like ShowMe or Educreations, it would save automatically to their computer and we wouldn't have to worry about the sslloowwnneessss of uploading the video from their phone via wi-fi.  They could also use other programs for creation, such as Thinglink, AdobeVoice, TouchCast, that add a little more interactivity and creativity.

Going along with that, even in a traditional classroom when students do more "problems" at home, technology could help in making the time more efficient in going over those problems.  From students submitting a Google Form at the beginning of class (or even the night before) marking the ones they need gone over, to having students create videos explaining the problems they did understand and posting them on a class website for students to access later - the sky is the limit.  Imagine you have 35 students - there could be so much differentiation here!  The top students and middle students could create video answer explanations for the tough homework problems and the lower students could receive some sort of remediation or reteaching on the material.  That could rotate and some days the top students work with the lower students in creating the video answer key, teaching them the concept while going through that.  I think the big thing here is that there is an archive of problems for the students to go back and access at any time, and they are in student friendly language.  To begin, the teacher could create these video answer keys and have them posted, and as the year goes on, student interest might even naturally be piqued and students could ask to be the ones to make the videos for their classmates.

WSQ chats could include a much more collaborative aspect with a live Google doc for each class period.  Students could have a spot where they share what they are discovering with their group, key points, or even questions that they still need answered.  While students submit their questions to me on the WSQ the night before, I could easily copy-paste those questions to the Google Doc (possibly with names) so discussions could be sparked and students could collaborate better with a need in mind.

When students are completing an inquiry or discovery activity, they could submit their results/thoughts/responses to me live on a Google Form, Doc, Spreadsheet, Drawing, etc - whatever suits the need.  This holds them accountable, gives me immediate feedback and guidance, allows them to share their findings with others, and sparks conversations.

Quick Quiz - Using Google Forms (or in the case of my school, Haiku LMS has a great assessment/quizzing feature), the beginning (or end) of class could be a quick quiz on the material to see how students are doing.  No paper, could grade it automatically, look for patterns, etc.

Today in class, I... Why waste paper having the students tell me what they plans are and what they accomplished on a piece of paper that I never look at?  Create a Google Form and have them fill it out at the beginning and end of class (or just the end... or just the beginning...).  Then the data is there constantly for teacher/student reflection and feedback, and it only takes a couple seconds to click through the form.

Templates for blog posts, activities, etc - With Google Classroom (or even the Doctopus script, although I've never used it), you can push copies of documents out to students where they each get their own editable copy.  You can set up a template for how you want an assignment completed, and you can see how they are progressing on it live and give them feedback/comments throughout the process.  Ideally, this means when the final product is turned in, it is complete and high quality because the feedback has been taken into consideration.

Brainstorming and idea shareout with Padlet or Today's meet.  Live Collaboration in a way where all students really can participate at once and get their ideas out.

Collaborative Notetaking - there are some units where there are key ideas that are much more than just numbers and formulas.  How awesome would it be to have that on a live Google Doc and then even go a step further and have students take different parts of the notes to add pictures or videos to describe even further?  All in one place where all students can access, rather than written on a side whiteboard and hoping that all students got it copied down while trying to listen, learn, and write all together?

Apps and programs that are much more useful with 1-to-1 devices:

  • Desmos - I would use for everything to do with graphs.  From graphing piecewise functions, transforming (shifting, reflecting, stretching/shrinking) functions, comparing and contrasting functions... the possibilities are endless.  This is the same for Geogebra, which I still haven't played around with enough to understand.
  • Kahoot - I blogged extensively about my short time with Kahoot once I discovered it near the end of the year.  I found ways to make it meaningful when done both as individuals and in small groups.  This is a great opener and provides some great data and feedback to the teacher.
  • Aurasma - The walls of the class could come alive - there's so much more than meets the eye.  From more structured activities where there are pictures of problems around the room and scanning the "Aura" would lead to a video explaining the problem, to pictures of mathematicians that lead to a video about who they are and what they discovered (and how it relates to this class!) - there's so much you can do with this app!  Students could make the videos and show their understanding of the material in a dynamic way that could not normally be "displayed" on a classroom wall.
  • Khan Academy - The self-paced, personalized setup of the "missions" allows students to work at their level and find success no matter how high or low their skills are.  I could see myself using this as a set activity once a week (example: first 15 minutes on Fridays is Khan Academy missions) or as an activity that students work on once they complete the day's work.  There is some extrinsic motivation / competition aspect to the missions, and it helps build those math foundational skills that a lot of our students have continued to sweep under the rug year after year.
Wow... I think the list could go on, but that is enough for tonight.  It's 5pm and I'm hoping bedtime is coming soon. 

There is just so much potential for the classroom to change from:

Teacher Centered to Student Centered - Class time focused on students discussing, working together, collaborating, and sharing - in an environment where they can still be held accountable for their work and the teacher can monitor their progress the entire way!  Direct instruction does not need to be delivered to all 30-40 students at once - it can be offloaded to the individual learning space, whether that be at home or even just within partners in class so students can work at their own pace and feel free to ask questions without fear of standing out in front of their peers.

Passive Learning to Active Learning - Class time has students actively involved in applying their knowledge, analyzing problems and discussing what they find, creating their own work and publishing it for the world to see.  Students don't just have to sit their and ingest information!  When there is a time for direct, whole-group instruction, you can involve the whole class by having a collaborative notes document, a Padlet or Today's Meet, or other way to keep them actively engaged with the material.

Lower Order Thinking to Higher Order Thinking - Students need to be able to articulate their knowledge, defend their answers, and understand the connections among the concepts.  There are so many ways that technology can aid in that happening.  I think a lot of times activities are designed that can definitely be great HOT activities, but they end up being great HOT activities for 3-5 students and a time to space out for the rest of the class.  Technology can help in involving all students and holding all students accountable for their work.

Whew... This is longer than I had planned but it feels so good to blog!

A few things to end on...

Technology is awesome.  There is so much cool stuff you can do with it.  

BUT - When it comes down to it we must consider:

1. Does it make my class more effective?  Are my students able to learn better and deeper because of the technology? 
2. Does it make my class more efficient? Is less time and paper wasted?
3. Does it allow my students to collaborate in a way that wasn't possible without the tech?
4. Does it allow my students to create and share their work in a way that wasn't possible without the tech?
5. Does it help to facilitate critical thinking in all students, even at the most basic level of holding them all accountable for deep thinking and processing of the material?
6.  Where does what we are doing fall on the SAMR model?  While Substitution (replacing something paper/pencil with tech; no functional change) and Augmentation (direct substitute, but improved functionality) are a great place to start, how can we move towards classroom transformation with Modification (task is redesigned because of what the tech can help do) and Redefinition (new tasks created that were inconceivable without technology)?

1 comment:

  1. Your six points for effective use of tech are great, but if you were still in the classroom, you would have never had time to write such a thorough and informative post. I blog on the math brain for a math game site, and I've been thinking about how CAI (computer-aided instruction) works to take the cognitive load out of math education. The point that I have more or less stumbled on is that given the resources, the students can do a lot of the "work" of getting facile at math at home, they can't construct meaning in isolation.

    Your students and the teachers you consult to will benefit from your introspection. I wish you school management as progressive as you are.


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