iPod Project: Sound Track of my Life

I was speaking with @kimsten earlier this month about her year with our 1:1 iPod (Touch) in the classroom project. I was really impressed with the ‘Sound Track of my Life’ project that she planned for her students and wanted to share an overview.

Project Overview: Students were asked to identity 8 important events or experiences in their life. Next, the students were required to find songs that suitably represented each of the identified events. Students then authored a written description explaining the connections between the events and songs. Students also produced artwork for their project. Sample artwork included a CD cover design and a concert flyer for the event sequence. The project culminated with a presentation to the class of one selected event and the artwork.

iPod Integration: The iPods were used for song and lyric research via the wifi connection in the classroom. Students also had options to use the iPods for project details using the Notes app and creating the artwork. Apps that could be used to create artwork were listed in an earlier blog post.

Teacher Perspective: The project integrated research and writing skills, creativity through the artwork creation and presentation abilities. The iPod was used in a natural integrated manner as part of the learning process. This project also created a learning situation allowed the teacher to learn a lot about each student in a very individual way.

Student Perspective: My daughter, Charlotte, has had the good fortune of being in @kimsten’s classroom the past 2 years. Wearing my ‘parent hat’, I was quite interested to see the level of student engagement with this project outside of the traditional school day. She also felt the learning situation was designed to allow personal choices within the learning process. On the iPod side of things, search engines such as Google and Bing worked well on the device. Charlotte  indicated many students used the iTunes,  Tune Wiki and Lyric Wiki in their research.

Hat’s off to @kimsten for designing this effective integrated project. Based on her success, you might like to try this in your classroom.

Related Resource:

The WRDSB iPod project wiki. Thanks @susan_watt.

~ Mark

Paradigm Shift???

An interesting ‘event’ happened to me earlier this week. I was mulitasking on a number of projects in my office and had taken a short break to discuss a couple of ideas with staff. On returning to my office, I sat down and ‘it happened’ – I started using my laptop but absolutely nothing happened – weird for sure.

Then is struck me – nothing happened because I was touching the screen on a non touch screen device – yikes! I gave my head a shake, reverted to ‘laptop mode’ and carried on with my work after sharing this incident with staff.

Was this a defining moment in my technology use? Have a used my iTouch, iPhone and iPad enough that a touch screen now seems normal? It would almost seem that way. I must admit, this event really caused me to stop and reflect.

For now, like many, I will continue to bop back and forth between touch screen and regular screen devices. Currently I am spending more and more time with mobile technology – a mix of these 2 worlds. I am writing this post with my new Lenovo x100e and plan to write my next blog post with my iPad.

~ Mark

Round Table Reflections

Last week, I had the honour of attending a round table discussion on the topic of 21st Century Teaching and Learning in a Digital World, along with approximately 30 others,  as arranged by the Ministry of Education. I wanted to share a personal reflection on the day.

Setting the stage: After a brief welcome and overview of the day, participants were invited to briefly introduce themselves and share a significant insight or practice they have on the topic of 21st Century Teaching and Learning in a Digital World.

When my turn came, I spoke to the following points regarding insights and/or best practices:

1.    Technology use must be embedded into the learning process and aligned with high yield teaching strategies  (examples: graphic organizers, anchor charts, open ended critical questions, non fiction writing, exemplars)

2.   Link digital citizenship to the character development programs, and distinguish between appropriate use tools and poor choices of behaviour

3.    Embrace the strengths of social media tools  to support student learning where appropriate

4.   The importance of having a student voice in the planning process

5.    Enable and empower learners and the teaching process

6.    Invest in infrastructure, and support use of using personally owned mobile devices

7.    Expectations regarding the effective use of technology needs to be set at the provincial level, reflected in strategic plans. School success plans  should also specify appropriate use of technology to support learning.

Alignment: The next part of the discussion required us to look at how 21st Century Teaching and Learning in a Digital World related to the three key goals: improving student achievement, closing the gap and increasing public confidence of education.

Throughout the discussion, I thought a number of good points were made by the group including:

a) We need progressive and aggressive change at the systemic level to alter the culture and address the gap in effective technology use

b) Building capacity in school administrators

c) Teacher training needs to change, and include the strategy of gradual release of responsibility

d) Model effective use of technology, and make use of mentors

e) Assessment practices are inherently paper based

Recap: At the end of our session, 8 emerging themes were identified as follows:

1. infrastructure

2. access, equity and use of personal devices

3. privacy, rules of use, digital citizenship

4. teacher practice and preparation

5. development of, and use of digital content

6. effective sharing of resources

7. change assessment practices

8. continued focus on the business of learning – continued improvement

Next Steps: The notes of the day will be formally documented, and a plan will be determined to share the findings and announce next steps.  I found this to be a great experience. I would be delighted to have continued involvement in this planning process should the opportunity come about.

~ Mark