Tag Archives: TEL

Publishing Makes a Difference

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.

[youtube http://youtu.be/eEDd5oOwI4k]

Ethan’s Story

Kyle’s Story

Samuel’s Story

Note: The video and story presentations are published with permission.

~Mark

Social Media as a Writing Tool

The other day I happened to catch a segment of The Current CBC broadcast as I was driving between school appointments. The topic was big data based the book Dataclysm, which certainly captivated my interest for a variety of reasons.

Dataclysm book cover

              Image from Amazon.com

I happened to tune in just at the moment the discussion was focused on analyzing data written in social media, Twitter in this case.   While many view social media communications as somewhat inane,  an in depth analysis reveals some interesting facts.

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  • writing tends to be more sophisticated
  • word length is 20% longer
  • lexical density ,  the proportion  of meaning carrying words, is  higher than in many other forms of writing (email, magazines etc.  – perhaps opposite to what you would think)
  • with a limitation on the number of characters per message or post, 140 in this case,  people learn to improve word choices
  • in turn,  this improves editing skills

In the interview,  Christian commented that this type of analysis can and has been repeated.   This is not an isolated ‘one time’ look at this area.

When one considers the writing benefits summarized here,  I believe there is a strong case to incorporate  the social media writing medium in the school system.   Of course there are natural connections to digital citizenship, engagement, real world audiences etc.

140-2

As a classroom educator,  if you are already doing this, keep going!  If not,  consider giving it a try with an age appropriate system, a collaborative document with simulated limits  or even  offline.

Related Resources

Listen to the  CBC Podcast  with Christian Rudder on Dataclysm

Book:  Dataclysm  by Christian Rudder

Have a comment?   Please share.

~Mark

Meet the Teacher Night Tech Slam

At this point in my life I find myself with one university graduate and one in first year and on the way.  It has certainly been a long time since I attended an elementary school meet the teacher night.

In a  recent summer conversation with WRDSB teacher  Alison Bullock,  my interest in the parent  aspect of  school year startup was rekindled.  Alison was enthusiastically sharing about her plans to provide parents attending with a fast paced “tech slam” – a quick tour through many of the different online services students would be using in their learning journey with her.  I approached Alison about attending meet the teacher night,  and I was thrilled that she readily agreed.

On parent night evening, I arrived at portable 4 to find an energized room of parents and students.  Students were eagerly leading parents to their seating area.

QRdesk

On the top of each desk was a  QR Code  that linked to a personalized welcome video for each parent.  Students were visibly excited to show their parent(s) how to access the video and have them watch it.

Now it was time for the tech slam.

Wow – actioned packed, filled with key learning statements and clearly highlighted  the connected learner robust technology enabled approach to be used in the classroom.

Casual conversation with parents afterwords showed excitement and interest  about the  approach to learning their child would participate in.

If I had elementary school aged children,  this is the type of classroom learning experience I would want them to have.

Related Resources:

Follow Alison’s class on Twitter: ESTP4.

~Mark

Digital Learning Carousel Reflections

I had the pleasure of attending the  WRDSB  Digital Learning Carousel event today along with 400 educators and students from our Board. The event provided opportunity to share our collective insights around digital learning,  changing practice and planning next steps forward for our organization.  The carousel sessions I attended included online novel studies, innovative practices with math, inquiry approaches and the Futures Forum program.

Three aspects of the day really struck me.  The positive feedback on the interest in using Google Apps for Educators (GAFE) and the high rate of adoption on our roll out was awesome.  Secondly, I was intrigued to hear some of the educators sharing the benefits of enough technology to support small group instruction over a 1:1 approach. The ‘just enough’ model allows technology to be used as a learning support as needed while fostering opportunities for interaction, conversation and sharing.   A 1:1 approach can result in students being self focused or isolated. This feedback validates our decision to roll out our iPad program in a way that avoided convenient the “portable lab pack” allocation. Finally, so many discussions touched on the idea of the right mobile tool for the learning, teaching or assessment task at hand. I felt proud that our  IT department is deploying and supporting iPads,  Chromebooks and Windows mobile devices to support learning at WRDSB.

carousel

My Session Highlights

The online novel study group talked extensively about taking a proactive approach to digital citizenship before moving into online activities. Their approach included googling yourself to find out what is actually online, reputation management, managing your digital presence and building relationships. Tools used in this program included Google Apps for Educators, Today’s meet, blogging, skype and collaborative web page designs.  An impressive approach indeed!

In the math innovative practices session, I noted that educators were really digging into teaching collaboration skills. What does collaboration look like, sound like, feel like? “Look fors” would include accountable talk, building on the ideas of others to highlight two attributes. Digital tools used in this program included Explain Everything, GAFE, GeoBoard, Notability and iMotion.

The inquiry stream focused on the relationship of two key elements:

1.  What do students need to learn and what do I need to learn as a teacher?
2.  If I do this as a teacher, then students …

The final session featured the Futures Forum program, which I am very familiar with due to my involvement with the program. Presenters emphasized the importance of a growth mindset for both staff and students. The approach used this year involving SparKW really engaged the students in a meaningful way.

Clearly,  all of the presenters I saw today demonstrated a high level of professionalism and a growth mind set. Thank you for sharing your learnings!

~Mark

EOIT2014 resources and reflections

I enjoyed my recent opportunity to present a session on ever changing EdTech world in K12  education at EOIT2014.  Three points from the various conversations over the day captured my attention.

Limestone DSB,  CIO Wayne Toms described how becoming active on Twitter has “changed his  approach to PD forever”.   He emphasized the importance of having access to a stream of current information and thinking to shape one’s perspective underscoring the importance of connected learning.

If fact,  this coming weekend,  two Ontario based EdCamps  are happening on May 10th as per the  “Tweet captures” below.  Connected learners can participate by following  #edcampsault  and  #edcampisland.

connected_learning

EdCampSault

IT  leaders  Ron Plaizier and James Proulx  openly discussed the challenges of “all the moving pieces” – technology changing at a rate much faster than classroom practices shift and support models can be adapted.  There are no easy answers. The best strategy is to bring people together for conversation and time to play in this “change space”.  Agreed!

The third conversation focused on a notion I would call the  software “power” gap – the difference in capability when comparing a desktop application version against the corresponding web version.  This power gap differential exists in many applications.  In my view, the critical piece of this puzzle is at the intersection of  desktop > mobile, local > cloud and minimal NEEDed functionality vs extra features.  One “crystal ball” question is how long might it take to reach the ideal cloud based offering of a particular application?

I also wanted to share of few highlights from the back channel related to “What is the most important aspect of your work?”

TodaysMeetParticipants stated:

EOIT-1

EOIT-2

EOIT-3

EOIT-4

EOIT-5

Related Resources

View  presentation  file

Twitter chat for  #EOIT2014

Blog articles related to the  Futures Forum  project.

Blog articles on the  SAMR  model.

Scoop.it articles on  SAMR

~Mark

 

Connected Learning with Grade 3s

Last week I became aware of an interesting approach to learning about Ontario communities with grade 3 classes.  The  idea is  to involve people from around the province to submit picture clues about the community they live in.  The clues are shared with the students, and student responses are tweeted (posted) back through a class or teacher based Twitter account.

The project takes on another level of connectedness by using a hashtag (Twitter conversation label)  to collect all of the tweets on this topic into a searchable stream which can be viewed [ here].  What a GREAT way to bring a personal and connected context to the classroom.

I enjoyed an afternoon walk this weekend to take a few pictures to participate this week.  I wonder how many clues it might take the students to guess where I live.

Here are some sample tweets from last week.

WhereAmI 1

possible answer

WhereAmI 2

This will be a great week in the connected learning world.

~Mark

How many apps?

This point from the Twitter stream of  EdCampSWO resonates with me.

NoAppAddict

How thoughtful are you about choosing apps for use with your students?

Do you choose apps that support the “C’s” in a technology enabled learning environment:  Communicate, Collaborate, Create, Citizenship, Critical Questioning/Answering?   Perhaps your app choices facilitate inquiry or project based learning.

Where do you stand on app selection?  How many is too many?  What do you use as app selection criteria? I would be interested to know your ideas on this.  Please comment or get in touch via  @markwcarbone  on Twitter or  +markwcarbone  on  Google +.

~Mark