Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Creation Apps in the Elementary Classroom | January 20, 2014

Lisa Maples
http://techencounter.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/creation-apps/


Creation Apps in the Classroom
What makes for great instruction that has educational technology involved?  

ImageI have designed lessons this year to my K-5 students that answers this question.  As a classroom teacher who taught 3rd and 4th grade for 20 years, I love to equip my students with tools to help them communicate clearly.  In my opinion, technology enhances students’ experiences with communicating.  There are endless digital options these days for students to use to create and to write, but I will focus on just three apps in this post.  

Stay tuned for future posts on Tellagami app, Collins Book Creator app, and Book Press app.
After doing an Interactive Read Aloud with my first graders using “A Chair For My Mother” by Vera Williams, I asked students to collaborate while drawing three pictures that showed the beginning, middle and end of the story in the Doodle Buddy app.  Next, they took screenshots of their drawings and placed them in the Comic Maker app where they added speech bubbles with text.  They clearly communicated their understanding of the story while designing a creative digital product.  Could students have retold the story by drawing on paper?  Yes.  Did my students need pencil or paper to do this assignment?  No.  They drew on the iPad with their fingers and typed using the iPad’s keyboard.  I gave them a way to read and respond to books while adding to their ever growing repertoire of digital writing strategies.
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In December of 2013 I gave 4th grade students iPads with the “Write About This” app.  They could choose their own picture with three levels of prompts to promote creative thinking.  The student who wrote the story above articulated her thoughts while composing vivid verbs, inserting internal thoughts and approximating proper use of quotation marks.  This image inspired her.  If I had just given her this prompt to write about with paper and pencil, I don’t know if she would have been able to write with such creativity.  Asking learners to type while composing is different than having them write with a pencil.  This learner was not only inspired by the picture, also also embraced the opportunity to type on the iPad screen.  She published a piece of writing that looks like one she could read in a book with a type font and beamed when she shared it with the class.
Learners communicating their thoughts is nothing new, but with the ability to use technology, students can design and dive deep into engagement!  Teachers can show leadership by modeling how to use the apps with their students by using the Airplay mode on the iPad and an Apple TV.  My students love to get their hands on iPads.  As I demonstrate the steps of app smashing between Doodle Buddy and Comic Maker or show the components of the “Write About This” app to students, they appreciate the tips and are ready to start their projects.

If You Were a Fly on My Classroom Wall | January 20, 2014



Jessica Anderson
http://triscicurious.blogspot.com/2014/01/if-you-were-fly-on-my-wall.html

You can read, listen, or read and listen (http://www.recordmp3.org/hFBbI.mp3)
If you were a fly on my classroom wall, what would you see? (Insert special fly powers…your compound eyes can now focus, but you keep your almost 360 degree view. Is that better? Okay.)

With your amazing view, you see that some students are watching an awesome video introducing rocks (really, it's awesome), some are working on a rock identification lab with video explanation, and others are making the wordigneous look like the definition (thanks Dave Burgess) which will eventually become a part of a digital picture collage. From an outside view, it's probably exciting to see students engaging in so many activities and using many different technological devices. However, to the students in room 105 it's just another day in science class.

I'm a firm believer that in order for technology to be effective, it's presence has to be seamless. It must be just another fly on the wall. It can't require a great deal of effort as the goal is not the technology, but the learning that comes from and is applied by the technology. 

For instance, the goal of my students' Genius Hour projects was learning for learnings sake. So when asked to create a video and then upload it to YouTube to obtain an authentic audience, it was about the students sharing their passion and knowledge. It wasn't about a grade (nor was a grade given), and it most definitely was not about the technology (although cool). 

I can think of numerous ways I integrate technology and tell you about all the awesome projects I've done across all my classes, but that's not really important. What is important is that when I observe my classroom, I see students building tech, content, and life skills, learning how to use technology for learnings sake, and having a great time doing it. So if you're ever really a fly on my wall, you'll really see what's happening. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Characterizing the Effective Use of Technology in the Classroom | January 20, 2014

Great instruction that involves educational technology, or "edtech", is engaging and entertaining for all students because it gives them the ability to gather information quickly in various forms and receive instant feedback. Since relationships are the foundation for learning, great instruction is needed in order for educational technology to be integrated properly as a tool for students. Approaches like authentic assessment, project-based learning, and hands-on inquiry are possible without the use of technology. However, technology should be used with these approaches because we use these tools in our daily lives to solve real-world challenges. 


The features of great technology use in education has the same features that make for a great "low-tech" lesson or instructional strategy. It is essential to use active student engagement strategies and question students to develop critical thinking skills. The use of technology will be different when comparing grade level to grade level and subject area to subject area because of the difference in learning objectives and information needs. The use of technology will also be different when comparing student to student because of the digital divide which has been caused by the inequalities that exist between individuals at different socioeconomic levels. 





Mike Lerchenfeldt (@mj_lerch)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Teacher Leadership Challenge | January 27, 2014

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PM
This multipart series is intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online, through blogging, and in person.
The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond to the prompt in 500 words or less via a post you publish to your blog. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.
You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at tlc2014.posts@blogger.com Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published by sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This Week's Challenge:

How do you maintain a balance between your personal and professional identities?

Photo Sep 14, 9 09 28 AMIt’s 10:30am on a Monday morning. Where are you? With whom are you spending your time? What are you doing? What is happening where you are? How does your response compare when it’s 6:45pm on Sunday evening?

As adults in the workforce, we share our time between home and our career, among other aspects of our life. Teachers are no exception. They spend their mornings and afternoons typically working directly with students. Their evenings and weekends might be spent elsewhere and with other individuals, but when it comes down to it we all have multiple identities, including personal and professional.

Teachers have families, just like everyone does, and they also may have additional personal areas of interest or pastime. This is complemented by their work with students, participation in professional learning and other career involvement. Although the typical school day has a clock time duration that begins early morning and ends in the middle of the afternoon, many teachers experience overflow from their professional life into their personal life. The investment into personal and professional areas of our lives might not always be equal, and this can cause the areas of our lives to conflict with one another and blur our identities.

Whether that be preparing lessons for the upcoming school days, troubleshooting issues facing particular students, or engaging in continuing education themselves, teachers are professionals who often take their work home with them. While teaching is not the only profession in which this occurs, it can still cause challenges in balancing attention to personal and professional identity.

In what ways can teachers maintain a fulfilling career and yet still pour into their family and personal life? What considerations are there for developing and advancing both your personal and professional life?

Teachers can wear many “hats” both at work and at home. They might be instructors, department leaders, or committee members at work, but beyond the school day they might coach, have children, or be involved in their community. How can teachers attend to all that is going on even handedly enough to due justice to both a personal and professional identity?

What approaches help you to become a better instructor, a better parent, a better spouse, a better citizen, or a better person? How do you develop in multiple areas without focusing too much energy into the development of one area of your life? Is it possible to avoid neglecting one identity to attend to the other? Does a professional life have to be separated or distinct from a personal life? Does balancing between your identities mean that opportunities will be missed, or can it all be done well?

Maintaining life balance and developing your personal along with professional identity are keys to being an effective person, but how might we accomplish it in the teaching field?
Image Credit: Gary G. Abud, Jr.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Teacher Leadership Challenge | January 20, 2014

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This multipart series is intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online, through blogging, and in person.
The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond to the prompt in 500 words or less via a post you publish to your blog. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.
You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at tlc2014.posts@blogger.com Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published by sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This Week's Challenge:

Characterize the Effective Use of Technology in the Classroom

What makes for great instruction that has educational technology, or "edtech," involved? Are there features of educational technology use that coincide with great instruction? How are the two different from each other? What can we learn from instructional trends of the past to inform what decisions we make today? Are approaches like authentic assessment, project-based learning, and hands-on inquiry possible without the use of technology? Are the features of great technology use in education the same features that make for a great 'low-tech' lesson or instructional strategy? How does this compare from grade level to grade level, subject area to subject area, or student to student?
IMG_0240Consider this photo from a 2nd grade classroom. Without knowing the lesson at all, would you label this effective use of edtech? What makes you respond that way? What do you see going on in the picture? What do you infer is the classroom lesson, the learning, the teaching? What role is the technology playing and how could it be helping students? Are all the students doing the same thing? 
Now, let's add some context to this picture to see if it changes your estimation: 
The students in this classroom have four ipads to share between 24 students. They are practicing their vocabulary spelling words together, which were given to them in a list on their word wall. The student group selected one of the vocabulary words and are doing the digital equivalent of playing Pictionary with their classmates, except instead of acting out the word, students are making a collage on their iPads using images found in the room. Then they'll project their collage on the front board using AirPlay Mirroring and other students will have to write the word they think the collage represents, spelling it correctly.
How did your impression of this classroom's use of educational technology change once you had the context on top of the image? 
If you walked into a classroom that had effective use of instructional technology in the education of students, what would you see? What would that classroom look like? What would students be doing? What would the teacher be doing? How would the technology be used?

Image Credit: Gary G. Abud, Jr.  

Professional 'Development' in 2014 | January 13, 2014


One of my professional development goals this year is to continue to learn how to use the various forms of instructional technology effectively in order to increase student achievement in 6th/7th grade science and to improve as a teacher leader. Last school year, I attended workshop sessions on instructional technology during the Michigan Digital Learning Conference (MDLC) at the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD) and during the conference hosted by the Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) at Cobo Hall in Detroit. After attending these workshop sessions, I implemented many of the instructional technology strategies in my classroom and shared what I learned with colleagues. As a presenter at the 'GetSMART 2103' conference sponsored by the Chippewa Valley Schools, I shared information on 'Flipping the Classroom' using instructional technology tools such as Edmodo, Kahn Academy, and Remind101.    

This school year, I also would like to focus my professional development on further developing my knowledge of the science content at the 6th/7th grade level in order to have a deeper understanding which will enable me to explain the concepts in various ways to students who are struggling and to challenge advanced students with higher-order thinking. I am interested in observing the hands-on science projects and activities that are completed by students in other classrooms at my grade levels. Using my blog, I will share these ideas for hands-on science projects and activities with colleagues. I also would like to develop my teaching strategies through reading publications from the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and participating in the Teacher Leadership Program at the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD) or the Galileo Institute through Oakland University (OU). 




--
Mike Lerchenfeldt

Monday, January 13, 2014

Teacher Leadership Challenge | January 13, 2014

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMHappy New Year--and welcome back to this multipart series intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online, through blogging, and in person.
The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond within one week to the prompt via a post you publish to your blog. Responses to the prompt that you publish to your own blog should be around 500 words or less. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.
You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at tlc2014.posts@blogger.com Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published by sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

Historically, the #TLC2014 has come out each Friday in 2013; however, by popular demand the challenge is moving to Mondays in 2014! Each Monday at 7am, the next prompt in the series will be published right here on the blog. You can subscribe to the blog to make sure you don't miss any of the challenge.

This Week's Challenge:

How Serious Will You Be About Professional 'Development' in 2014?

IMG_2585As Dr. Deborah Loewenberg Ball so aptly posited last year, there is a "national imperative" to build teaching as a profession. Dr. Ball was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Network of Michigan Educators Annual Conference. Listening to Dr. Ball make a case for how teachers are not regarded as professionals in their own field to the public sparked a really poignant question. Do teachers even consider themselves, and regard themselves, as professionals?
Often we use the word 'profession' or 'professional' associated with teaching, but do we really believe it? What are the observable actions that could convey to others that we do? How serious do we take advancing our own professional practice and becoming better more cutting-edge professionals? If we do, in fact, take teaching to be a profession, then we must heed Dr. Ball's charge to take our own profession more seriously, more professionally, and help reshape the public perception of teaching.
To take our profession more seriously, and to build the teaching field as a profession in the public eye, we must begin first with our own professional development. Teacher leaders make their own teaching better, they help make others' teaching better, and they strive to make teaching better. Teacher leadership starts from within the classroom. To be a teacher leader, one must be a masterful teacher. The goal of professional learning is not to merely complete as many workshops as possible, but rather to actually develop as a professional. Being exposed to new ideas is not enough, we must put them into action. We must make our classrooms better and then go from there.
So what will you be doing to take your professional development seriously this year? Seriously enough to develop yourself professionally and contribute to the collective public perception that teaching is a profession and that you are a professional?
Are you taking your career as a teacher seriously enough that others notice? When you reflect on your own classroom, are you honest with yourself about how you can work to improve. How are you taking the teaching profession seriously enough that your teaching exudes professionalism when people learn of your work? Are you enhancing your own practice like other professionals do, seeking/gaining new insights and then implementing them? How are you contributing to your own and others’ professional growth? How are you contributing to supporting the teachers in your department, building, district, area, state, country, or profession? Are you meeting your role as an outstanding teacher and teacher leader such that it adds to the collective thought that teachers are highly-skilled professionals?
Will you attend conferences? Are you going to sign up for more workshops? Will you reflect more on your classroom practice, or blog about your classroom to refine your teaching ideas? Do you plan to get involved in online professional learning communities? Will you resolve to bring more back to your classroom from professional learning opportunities and take action to enhance your professional practice? Will you get more involved in Twitter chats, unconferences, or your Professional Learning Communities at school? Maybe your professional development happens individually, or maybe it happens with others. Regardless of who is involved, how will you be tackling the challenge of becoming even better at what you do in your profession?
Developing as a professional requires a goal and an action plan. Like Stephen R. Covey professed: "begin with the end in mind." Before you can get started on your action plan, you must identify a goal and be serious about it. If your goal is to develop professionally, and not just 'attend professional development' then you must focus on that. How serious are you about developing your profession this year and what steps will you take to make it happen?

Image Credit: Gary Abud, Jr. 2013 | Summer Modeling Instruction in Chemistry Institute

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Celebrating Accomplishment in the Classroom | December 20, 2013

Mike Lerchenfeldt (@mj_lerch)
http://mlerchenfeldt.blogspot.com/2014/01/celebrating-accomplishment-in-classroom.html

Our classroom culture consists of a weekly routine that celebrates success and gives all students an opportunity to share the current events in their lives. The weekly game or ice breaker is called 'Flash Flush', and all students are required to share one recent accomplishment. 

Our classroom community also celebrates students' attendance, academics, citizenship, and creativity. Students are consistently thanked for their effort on assignments which are often displayed in the classroom in order to improve their self esteem. 'Panther Pride' certificates are used by students to obtain prizes and are awarded to motivate students to be successful. Classroom parties are planned bi-monthly and are designed to recognize student accomplishments. 'Student of the Month' postcards are mailed home to parents. 

These methods have developed a classroom climate where students are engaged and achievement is desirable.