You never know what surprise might happen in a day. This was such a great student written letter to receive – forward thinking and action oriented with a vision.
By happenstance, I received this letter during the same week as I completed a number of school visits to converse with Principals about the role of technology in the change process.
It is so awesome to see students thinking about change and signalling a readiness from their perspective. I look forward to responding to this student next week. I am thinking a Google Hangout conversation would be a nice approach if it can be worked out.
scan of letter (with student name removed for privacy)
I recently had an opportunity to enjoy a site visit to John Mahood PS, a WRDSB K-5 school to see a their technology use in action.
Under the leadership of principal Tracy Tait, the staff has been working hard over the last 3 years to explore new effective ways to utilize technology to enable student learning in new ways, change and improve practice and share their successes.
The traditional lab at the school has been dismantled and the desktops have been redistributed throughout the school. The mobile technology (iPads and Chromebooks) within the school has been allocated so that each classroom has a minimum of 6 to 8 devices to share among the students. The lab space is now used as a “tech lounge” – more of a flexible creative work space.
In a site walk through, Tracy commented that she expects staff to integrate mobile technology into the learning environment as part of their daily practice. I enjoyed observing a couple of classes during silent reading time and seeing that student had a choice in both what they read and HOW they read it: paper based, via iPads or Chromebooks. Talk about a great example of student voice and choice!
The school focus on choice for students is making a noticeable difference. Several staff commented about technology options providing choice and independence for students. In some cases, the use of technology created benefits in socialization between students both in and out of class. In conversation, it was noted that technology use improves the focus on learning which in turn impacts behaviour in a positive way. In some cases, the use of technology removes frustration when paper and pencil based tasks create an obstacle for students. The result is increased participation through differentiated approaches.
This video captures some of the observations and thinking of students and staff at the school.
Note: The video and story presentations are published with permission.
Our new library system at WRDSB comes mobile ready. The free ILS app (iOS and Android) is easy to download and set up. iOS users should note that the iPhone version of the app is also used on the iPad so the search settings in the app store may need adjusting to locate that app on an iPad.
Once the app is downloaded, launch it, choose the Waterloo Region District School Board from the school board list. Next, press the ‘choose library’ icon to select your school library and set it as the default.
As an example, I choose the Huron Heights SS library and set it to my default library.
This is a sample search result based on “world war 2”.
Now you are ready for searching on the go. Happy inquiring!
One of the sessions I attended at the ISTE13 conference was a Birds of a Feather discussion. The original discussion topic was advertised was chromebooks. When the actual event happened, the chromebooks topic was replaced by a more general discussion on mobile devices in K-12 learning environments. There were about 8 people at the table, mainly representing independent schools as it turned out.
What really surprised me was the nature of the conversation put forward by most of the participants. From most participants, the discussion centered around being a “one device school”. The key question that emerged was: “How might one go about choosing between the variety of available options: windows netbooks and tablets, android tablets, iPads and chromebooks.”
It seems to me that different tools have different strengths, and that there would be value to having a variety of options available. Besides, at the rate of change with technology, it would be challenging to set a particular long term direction at this point in time that you could stick to. Perhaps the key idea is to focus on learning with technology, and leveraging new possibilities rather than focusing on the device itself. No matter what the device mix is now, things will change. I believe investing in the infrastructure to support the needs of students and staff in todays 21C learning environment with a variety options including BYOD is the best way forward.
An invitation: I am curious to know your view. Please share your thoughts in a comment or tweet.
Blog Post: What’s in a device