Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: October 2014

A Student Perspective

If I go back to the classroom as a teacher, I know there are lots of things I would do differently today than eight years ago. Yes, technology has changed, and I have learned quite a bit about instructional design. However, even leaving all the theory behind, I would try to do things very differently after reading this essay in the Washington Post.

The author, Alexis Wiggins, is a veteran teacher who has transitioned to an instructional coaching role at her school. I imagine her role is much like mine, maybe with less emphasis on technology use. Trying to find out how to best serve her students, she shadowed students to become better attuned to their experiences. I wonder if I would have a similar experience if I shadowed students at GHS/GMS.

I could not believe how tired I was after the first day. I literally sat down the entire day…students move almost never. And never is exhausting.


How often do our students move during a block? I don’t mean shuffling feet and shifting in their chairs. I mean purposefully moving out of their seats. How often do students just tear up a piece of paper for the simple pleasure of walking out of their seats to the trash can?

We should think about ways to build in movement into our lessons. Remember Brain Rules? We must move to keep our brains working properly.

 In eight periods of high school classes, my host students rarely spoke…It was not just the sitting that was draining but that so much of the day was spent absorbing information but not often grappling with it.


Is our teaching student-centered? Are we relying mostly on lecturing? We must think of project-based approaches and in-class activities that let students discover information rather than handing out the information.

you start to feel sorry for the students who are told over and over again to pay attention because you understand part of what they are reacting to is sitting and listening all day…if the person teaching answered those questions by rolling their eyes at me, I would never want to ask another question again.


How empathic are we to our students’ needs and feelings? No matter what, we are the adults in the room. We set the tone for what happens, how it happens, and how students treat each other.

I think I’m going to ask permission to shadow a few students in the next few weeks. I wonder if any administrators want to join me in this.

Open Letter to Goochland Elementary School

Dear students, teachers, and staff,

Thank you so much for inviting me to speak at your school. I had a super fun time talking about bugs and other tiny things with all of you. You were all so attentive and respectful, and I was blown away by your eagerness to learn.

I am sorry we ran out of time before we got through everything you wanted to see. Thankfully, I am just down the road from you and I can stop by again sometime. Remember we have our blogs, Schoology, and email, and I can send a few more pictures your way. Dr. Hendron and I will also make sure all 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders have a copy of my book in their iBooks app.

I hope I have inspired many of you to take a closer look at what might be under your feet of hiding in your yard. Remember every living thing has a proper place on the planet, and has a purpose. Take good care of all of them.

 

Again, thank you for the invitation, and I hope to see you all again soon.

Ms. Leiderman

Submitting iWork Documents – Schoology

If your students are using iPads, the easiest way for them to submit work is through Schoology. In a previous post, I shared a video on how to turn in Google Drive documents through Schoology. In this video, I share how to turn in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote files.

 

 

Who’s Using Schoology?

Today I helped Mr. Hecker with a bit of a computer glitch. He started telling me how much he likes Schoology, so I decided to make it a formal chat. Here’s the video.

 

Tech Snacks

This year we are trying a new way to meet our teachers’ needs. In the past, all teachers were expected to attend at least one two-hour technology class after school, or a longer class over the summer. But, two hours after a long day of teaching is not always easy. Furthermore, a two-hour session has to be planned in advance, something with a somewhat inflexible structure or topic.

Tech Snacks will be more informal sessions between twenty and thirty minutes long. The topic and location will be announced a few days before and will reflect questions asked by faculty and staff during the week. I believe this will make the sessions more relevant and the content presented will be immediately applicable. So, if a two-hour class is a full meal to be digested over time, these shorter sessions are a snack that energize your teaching immediately.

In addition to members of the Instructional Technology team, teachers with cool ideas or interesting resources to share will be leading the sessions. If you have something you would like to share with the GHS/GMS faculty, please let me know. If I see you are doing something worth sharing, I will invite you to lead a session.

Here is the fine print:

  • The dates of the Tech Snacks have been tentatively set in our GCPS Tech PD calendar, but are subject to change. The day varies so people with prior weekly commitments can still take advantage of this resource.
  • Final date, location, and topic announcements will be made through the GMS and GHS faculty and staff groups on Schoology.
  • You do not need to sign up in advance. If the weekly topic is interesting and useful, and it fits your schedule, join us.
  • In order to meet your PD requirement, you must attend four Tech Snacks during the school year. Leading a session will also count as attending a session.

I hope this will be a successful model for us. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Deeper Learning Has Legs

It is easy for educators to sit in a faculty meeting or professional development session seemingly paying attention and nodding along to what they hear while secretly vowing to wait until this new fad passes by. Deeper Learning, however, deserves true commitment from all of us.

A recent study by the American Institutes of Research (AIR) shows that students in schools that adopt and successfully implement Deeper Learning initiatives graduate on time more often. They also had higher rates of acceptance to competitive 4-year higher ed institutions. You can read more about it at the KQED Mind/Shift blog.

I’m sure you have heard Dr. Geyer and Dr. Hendron discuss Deeper Learning. It is a central goal of our iPad 1:1 initiative, as well as our G21 project-based model. Deeper Learning aims to reinforce academic rigor by creating an environment where students apply the content standards they learn across academic fields to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills. This new study provides evidence that our G21 initiative should be implemented across the board, not just with Honors or AP students, which is a common tendency.

The model is often critiqued as a framework that only works for high-achieving learners. The Hewlett Foundation commissioned this study to test whether the model works for all learners, choosing schools with a high proportion of low-income and English-language learners who often face more barriers to achievement. AIR investigators were also careful to choose schools that did not have a selective admissions process that might skew the student population toward high-achieving learners.


What? You “don’t have time for fluffy, fun projects with kids” because you “need to cover the standards before the test” and “snow days will get in the way” if you give this a try? Remembering that covering the standards is the bare minimum and knowing a bunch of facts without knowing how to USE them will not make these kids very successful in the future.

If our mission is to unlock the potential of ALL learners, we need to give Deeper Learning a fair shake and allow ALL students, regardless of the classes on their schedule, the chance to develop skills more important than test-taking will ever be. 

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