Monday, April 27, 2015

NETA 2015 Inspired Keynote Review

NETA 2015 turned out to be a fabulous two day experience. Adam Bellow and George Couros contributed more than they know with their story telling, resources, ideas and passion for education. If you couldn't make it to NETA, here are some snippets of what they shared with the teachers at NETA last week.

Thursday April 23rd, NETA kicked off with Adam Bellow talking about the fear of failure and letting our kids reach their dreams. Adam Bellow is always an inspirational speaker with a focus on how we use technology in schools. He says the  "break it, make it, share it" model should be repeated all day long in schools. And that "learning can be a messy process." Adam talked about turning a child's curiosity into passion. He makes the point that technology is the stuff and that what matters is what we allow kids to do with it.  

Adam encouraged the audience to live the life of
beta. Meaning, continue to try new things, fail, and then try again. Learning and life aren't perfect. Even though Adam is passionate about educational technology, he warns against certain things that cannot be downloaded, like curiosity and personal connections. He wishes to give kids roots and then wings for the future. He also made the point that the missing main ingredient for effective technology integration is time.

This philosophy of giving teachers time is what our TT4T team always preaches, so it was validating to hear Adam profess that teachers need more time to play. Giving teachers time and support and providing a risk-tasking environment has been critical to the success of our very own iPad Academy. Time to play, time to fail, and time to try again. He left the audience with two words: create and share.  Do you?

Some tools that he mentioned briefly :
Pixel Press~ Lets kids create their own digital games with paper and an iPad.  
Kano computer  ~ Lets kids build their own computer.

Day 2 at NETA kicked off with George Couros talking three things: innovate, create, and voice. George has a real knack for storytelling and he told many during his keynote. One in particular was about his father and the things he learned from him. As a child of an immigrant parent, he saw innovation at its best. He watched his father go from only having a few dollars to owning his own restaurant, building relationships, and raising a family. He shared a video of his father, who passed away recently, and expressed how much it meant to be able to see his father in video. There was not a dry eye in the house.  

George went on to explain the importance of connecting with his students as a principal. He greets kids each morning at his building, knowing their names. He admitted that his wife, a third grade teacher, keeps him grounded and provides perspective into the lives of kids.  

Twitter became a game changer for George, once he began connecting with educators. He stated that surrounding himself with passionate people made a huge difference for him in education. Both Adam and George talked about the importance of Twitter and being connected to people who are passionate, intelligent, and connected. They made the point that teachers are only isolated if they choose to be.  
I love his analogy to “be more dog”. The idea that people need to build strong connections to people and to be more playful in life and learning. Social media is an amazing tool to stay connected using selfies, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This idea of digitizing our life to document amazing moments is a powerful tool that our teachers and students need to be leveraging,  

The topic of innovation is central in his message. He stated that “you must change your routine to begin your innovative thinking.” He showed examples of digital content that can be remixed to make it even better. His message that innovation has no age barrier is so true!  

He talked about creating opportunities for students to share their learning to give voice to what they create. I love the quote “chance favors the connected mind”. Are you giving your students room to be innovative, to connect with the world, and to publish to the world?  

Nothing can compare to being there in person, listening to their stories, feeling their passion for people and education and gleaning ideas from Adam and George, but hopefully this post will help you feel a little more connected. We encourage you to follow these amazing educators on Twitter. I will leave you with this quote that George Couros shared:

Written by, Jenny Krzystowczyk

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mixing Math and Explain Everything Makes a Difference for Learners

Mrs. Smeby (@coachsmeby) was recently teaching a lesson on multiplying fractions in her 1:1 iPad classroom, and I was there as her tech coach.  She started by giving her students some direct instruction on how to solve fractions with pictures, repeated addition, and multiplication. Then, they began guided practice, solving problems in groups while we walked around and helped them out. It was fun to watch each child work collaboratively to problem solve. This was just the beginning.

The most incredible thing happened next when the kids moved to the next activity.  She asked them to create a screencast using Explain Everything. They were to solve two problems using the three methods they just learned.  They eagerly spread out into the hallway and each student began creating.  As they started to work, we shifted to the guides on the side and individually conferenced with students.  They were able to ask us questions, record their work, listen to their projects, and revise.  
For several students, as they were talking through the steps to solve the problem, everything crystallized for them. Suddenly, the light came on and they got it, they understood!  As teachers, we know what that joy looks like as students take off and leave scorch marks.

As I step back and reflected on this afternoon, I still revel in the joy the students felt when they learned this concept.   What I witnessed was the collision of pedagogy and technology. What organically evolved was a wonderful way for each student to construct meaning using multiple modalities.  The kinesthetic piece was a game changer.  As they talked, they drew pictures, words and numbers and the concept became crystal clear to them.  All of these culminated as they created their own videos.
Screen Shot of Student Explanation
Because every student was individually explaining the concept, they were all actively, personally involved in the learning process.  With our support as guides on the sides, we were available for just in time learning, clarification, and re-teaching.   This combination of experiences cemented the concept in their minds.  Essentially, when they were done, they had an assessment that demonstrated mastery of the curriculum objective.  Now, they can teach others and that is my definition of mastery learning!

Take Aways

  1. Talking out the problem while simultaneously solving the problem helped students make connections.
  2. Teacher availability during work time was important.  Coaching each student individually helped them learn exactly what they needed to know.
  3. Individual screencasts creation used a number of learning modalities and tapped several of the multiple intelligences.  
  4. Showing what they know increased the ownership of learning.

Video Sample created by Brody:

Written by Ann Feldmann

Monday, April 6, 2015

6 Tools to Find Your Digital Presence

Educators of today face many challenges. Students live in a face-paced, information-saturated world. How do educators keep kids engaged, informed, and connected? Creating your own digital presence as a teacher is key to answering this question.  

If you aren’t sure where to start here are 5 tools that can increase your digital presence.

Blogging is an excellent way to tell the story of your classroom. There are many platforms that work for a classroom blog. We love Blogger, Wordpress, or Edublogs. Blogger is connected to your Google account if you have one. Some teachers find that with blogging they do not need a website.  
Check out these class blogs for inspiration.  

If you are not big on blogging, use a Facebook Page to communicate events, student work, and ideas. It is super easy to set up an account. Many teachers find their Facebook pages work well for them because they can update their feed right from their phone. Privacy settings can be tailored to suit your particular needs. Check out these classroom Facebook Pages to get some good ideas.  
Second Grade Classroom

Twitter is being overtaken by educators! Use Twitter for yourself professionally to connect with other educators and ideas. You can use Twitter for your class by creating your own class hashtag. Simply choose a word for your hashtag and tell your kids what it is. For example, you could use #mrssmithclass and use it for class discussions.  

Now more than ever kids are into Instagram. This generation has been dubbed the most photographed generation ever. Kids use photos to express emotion, status, and experiences. Use Instagram as a way to showcase student work, literary themes, science experiments, field trips and more.  

YouTube Channel
Create playlists on content that support your teaching and require students to watch those videos prior to coming to class to increase intervention time and mini lessons. YouTube channels and playlists are great, because you can simply add to them throughout the year.  

A Website
Teacher websites provide important links and information to students. We like Weebly and Google sites. Both platforms are free and easy to use. Here are some great teacher websites to check out.  

Written by Jenny Krzystowczyk