Technology and higher order thinking

As we continue the journey of developing the best instructional practices around integrating technology to support learning and focus on the collection of literacy skills students need to learn, there has been a positive shift away from the ‘drill and kill’ software application use to a more thoughtful integrated approach to technology integration. Many educational institutions, including mine, are embracing the ISTE Standards for Students to guide the thinking and planning process.


As we investigate and learn more about mobile technologies, I feel it is important to keep this focus. Many of the applications available for mobile devices fall into the ‘drill and kill’ arena from my point of view. While it is important to move forward into this mobile learning world, the journey must continue to be planned in a thoughtful manner to embrace the correct type of engagement and support to the learning process.

The links below offer a variety of ideas centered around using technology, mobile or not, to engage students in using higher order thinking skills. I hope this information helps you to reflect on your current practices and plan your go forward steps in a strategic manner.


Education World:  a techtorial

Using technology to promote higher order thinking skills

Eric Web Portal:  Developing Higher-Order Thinking Skills through the Use of Technology.

Book:  Beyond Hardware

Slideshare:  Integrating Technology, Higher-Order Thinking, and Student-Centered Learning

Slideshare:  Using technology for higher order thinking.

Ed/ITLib Digital Library:  Assessing Higher Order Thinking in Video Games

eLearn: Case Studies Threading, Tagging, and Higher-Order Thinking

~ Mark


Cell Phones as a Learning Tool

Since mid summer, I have had a running search in Twitter to follow the postings about cell phones in schools. After reading the comments for two months now, the only observation that I can make is that the ‘camps’ are clearly divided.

In some educational organizations, there is a centrally determined policy that is followed by all schools. In other cases, the use of cell phones (or not), is determined at the local school level. Approaches typically fall into two main categories – cell phones are banned, or cell phones are permissible during non class times. A small number of schools allow unrestricted use.

The opinion of teachers is equally divided. Based on my Twitter observations, there seems to be growing interest in the use of cell phones as a mobile learning tool. While it is easy to argue that a cell phone is more likely to be a distraction in the classroom, teachers are finding effective ways to integrate their use in curriculum delivery. My personal view is that cell phones, and other mobile technologies, can be used as effective learning tools. As with many things in education, it all comes down to context, appropriate use and finding the ways in which the device can be used in the learning environment in a positive manner. Teachers willing to take a chance to explore a new approach or integrate a new tool are often rewarded with success.

Reading and Resources

Journal Star:  Should cell Phones be allowed in schools?

Tech Learning:  Cell Phones Welcome Here

K-12 Cellphone  Projects

Slideshow:  K-12 Mobile Learning

Ed Week:  Emerging Mobile Technologies for the K-12 Classroom

The  Mobile Learner blog.

EduCause:  Handheld and Mobile Computing Resources

Text message based  polling.

ISTE Books:  Toys to Tools – Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education

Your opinion? Where do you stand?  Leave a comment, send an email or post on Twitter.

~ Mark

‘Habitudes’ in the Workplace

Synchronicity is an amazing thing.

This past summer, I became aware of the work Angela Maiers was doing through Twitter. I visited Angela’s  website and found a write up on her book – Classroom Habitudes. After reading the summery of the contents, I ordered an e-copy to read. Classroom Habitudes looks at learning by exploring the Habitudes — behaviours, habits and attitudes — that will ensure student success inside and outside classroom walls.  The Habitudes are:

  • Imagination
  • Curiosity
  • Self-Awareness
  • Perseverance
  • Courage
  • Adaptibility

I was extremely impressed by the book and ordered a number of copies to share with various staff members with the intent of stimulating some thinking about work we are doing with technology integration, new library resources and iPod in the classroom projects.

Recently, I read the book again and was thinking that these Habitudes also qualities that I want in my staff. At a recent leadership program I completed, one of the areas studied looked at the importance of knowing your staff well, relating to them on a personal level and knowing how to ‘stretch’ them a little in pursuit of learning and career goals. Stretching, or challenging them to think out of box as they investigate solutions to problems or look at process improvement in new ways, is a key ingredient in the growth process.

This week, I made a few notes about writing a blog post about the notion of these Habitudes in the workplace, a natural extension of student success outside the classroom walls and put things in the perspective of life long learning. Today, I sat down to do some blog reading and write this post. As a faithful reader of Doug Peterson’s blog Off the Record,  I started reading Doug’s blog first. I was amazed to see a link to a post titled Habitudes of Professional Learning Communities.  Talk about SYNCHRONICITY!

In today’s world and workplaces, rapid change and the need to adapt are givens. We are life long learners and 21st century learning applies to adults too. In my view, the Habitudes are just as important in the workplace as they are in the classroom. As leaders, it is important to find ways to continue to nurture these characteristics in our staff. It is great to see how many people are thinking about, setting and leading opportunities for  personal learning and growth plans and professional learning networks.

~ Mark

Data in Education: Times have changed

Earlier this week, I attended our Admin Council meeting, a once a month meeting with our senior administrative team. Admin Council is a great group of people that truly work together to support students and the learning agenda. I am fortunate to have an opportunity to work as a member of this team.

Each of our meetings begins with a round table opportunity for each member to comment on the reflection topic identified for the meeting. This week, our topic was data use in education. It was really quite fascinating to hear the variety of comments from the team members about data use in their particular roles.

A sampling of data uses identified (one or two per person) at the meeting include:

  • capital planning
  • financial reporting
  • special education student tracking and analysis
  • student learning
  • school success planning
  • trends in legal data
  • pandemic planning
  • demographics related to strategic advertising
  • EQAO
  • OnSIS
  • backup verification
  • project planning and sustainability
  • staffing process
  • enrollment projections
  • workflow tracking and analysis
  • student assessment
  • transportation analysis
  • bus route planning

What struck me was the evidence of change. I wondered what the answers to that question would have been 5 or 10 years ago. There is no doubt in my mind, we are solidly in a data driven world in education with data analysis well established as a key element of the planning and decision making process.

That is progress!

~ Mark