Video of Presentation:
This blog post shares the resources from my presentation session at Floradale Public School on technology in learning.
I intended to share this blog post much sooner than today, but life has been a little crazy.
On a recent (March) visit to Ryerson P.S. I had an opportunity to visit the grade 1 classroom of teacher Jenni van Rees. The excitement in the room was obvious as it was coding day! Learning goals for the session were clearly laid out and reviewed with the students.
Students were clearly comfortable using both iPads and Chromebooks as they worked in groups of 2 or 3 for collaborative learning and problem solving.
The students really did work collaboratively, and it was great to see their joy in planning, testing, reviewing results and determining next steps.
Fast foward to April where I had an opportunity to attend a Sphero Challenge event organized by teachers Scott Dickie and Chad Lloyd from Westmount P. S.
I arrived early to see the first of 4 sphero tracks being marked out in the gym. The remaining tracks were laid down as teams from a variety of schools began to arrive.
As was evidenced in Jenni’s classroom, the energy and excitement was in abundance. Teams were eager to embrace the challenge: planning, measuring, calculating, comparing, testing, observing, collaborating, communicating, iterating … “all in” problem solving for sure.
I hope this highlights video give you a good sense of the Sphero Challenge event.
I am already looking forward to the next one!
I stopped at the Starbucks at King & University this morning on the way to see Carlo Fusco at Waterloo CI to consult regarding his library project. As I entered, I happened to notice the striking view change that (literally) just one step made.
One step, a small step, can strikingly change your perspective. Have a listen to Carlo’s perspective on library change.
During my ongoing curation of articles about learning, digital tools and social media, I recently came across this article exploring perspectives on social media in the lecture theatres. Although the article was primarily examining post secondary perspectives, I would argue the same discussions are relevant in K12. The discussion was centred around various viewpoints on whether or not students:
Two interviewees interviewed commented that “… because the students are most likely taking notes. Many don’t use pen and paper, and rely on their devices. She says students are old enough to decide if they are to learn or not.” and “My view is they are old enough to choose and multitask (and choose to fail too),“. Meanwhile, others choose to dictate “no access”.
Now, if I put a personal perspective on this and let you observe my learning mode, this is what you would see. Typically I use 2 devices … taking notes on my iPad using notability – not just for notes – adding audio recording, and insert photos for context for a more complete package. On the second device I organize lists, todos, ideas and share via social media, typically Twitter but this could easily be a Facebook group, G+ community, LinkedIn or open Google doc. I reiterate – this is MY style. This is how I learn best. Paper and pen doesn’t work for me.
Why not let students choose what works best for them – student voice. To me, letting students choose what tools they use and how they organize shows a strength based approach to student learning. What benefit is there in forcing students to function in a way that may not be self directed and self optimized?
Weigh in: Where do you stand?
Five years ago, we dared to dream – created our first teacher support role dedicated to focusing on in servicing and supporting elementary teachers to use educational technology in the most effective ways. It seemed like the right approach, at the right time to forge a new path forward, create interest, synergy, and impact the future. Susan Watt was the successful candidate for the position – and the journey began!
Standing now in 2015, and looking back, what a journey it has been. A new path was definitely forged. I look back fondly on all of the annual “system tours” as they were affectionately known – professional learning for staff at each school — using a dual boot Mac, what can I do with an iPad, we have wifi hotspots – now what, wifi in the classroom, GAFE, chromebooks, dropbox and more. Another important project was migrating our acceptable use procedure (AUP) to the responsible use procedure (RUP) where our initial thinking about staff as digital citizenship role models and use of social media for positive purposes was captured. I could of course, list many more highlights, but you have the idea of system impact.
In her retirement speech, Susan challenged her colleagues: “ So, I have some advice for our retiree supporters tonight: go off script, listen and respond to your students’ spontaneous questions and observations. Understand that every moment is teachable. Don’t settle for the status quo. If it doesn’t feel good for kids, challenge it. If it’s being done a certain way just because it’s always been done that way – question that rationale. Follow your heart and intuition. Explore new options. Take a risk. Embrace change.”
Susan, it has been a privilege to work with you. Thank you for your creativity, determination, enthusiasm, ability to see a big picture, having a huge positive impact, and, perhaps most of all, daring to dream.
I look forward to staying connected and following along your life journey via your new blog: Watts Up Next. Thank YOU!
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.[youtube http://youtu.be/eEDd5oOwI4k]
Note: The video and story presentations are published with permission.