Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Salt Lake City, Utah Apple Leadership Event Notes

I had the privilege of presenting at an Apple Leadership Event recently in Salt Lake City, Utah.  As has become our custom in our District, I make it a point to share what I learn from these inspiring events.

Here are a few apps I picked up.  Make sure you check them out:

I also received another dose of learning about iBook Author.  We really need to take advantage of this.  We will learn more about this later.  And of course there is iTunes U where we have access to free courses both in college and K-12. More PD to follow here as well.

Apple Distinguished Educator Cheryl Davis

I had the opportunity to learn from Cheryl Davis who is the Technology Specialist from Acalanes Union High School District.

She had shared some of the exciting things that are happening with teacher and student from the evolution of teachers sharing some of their successes using iTunes U, the use of iPod Touches in many classrooms to the roll out of a 1:1 iPad pilot for half of the Freshman class at one of the high schools.

Cheryl listed four of the most pleasantly surprising things that have happened with the advent of technology being used in their district:

1.  She noticed much more student use of complex text and literacy.  She mentioned the existence of a natural symbiotic relationship between iPad touch devices and a willingness of students to read more complex text. She described students having a much more voracious appetite in their reading.

The students being able to physically touch words on the text on an iPod Touch or iPad gave them ease to annotate, take notes, and look up definitions.  Student  literacy levels took a leap upwards.

She gave an example of how the teacher added the  element of  a "back channel" during oral Socratic. Discussion.  Teachers saw amazing progression with students reading and responding to each other.  The student enthusiasm and engagement were increased when students read aloud on iPads and annotate that reading with the opportunity to demonstrate the reading and annotations by putting them on the screen.  Students encouraged other students, " You put yours up there," and this led into great discussions.

Another exciting piece I would like to see more in our District is students publishing with apps like Creative Book Builder.  Students used text, images, video and sound and wrote reflective essays with glossary included! Students use this multimedia tool to create books, and students love them because they become a publisher and share books with parents and students.

2.  The introduction of the iPad encouraged more teacher collaboration.  Their personal learning communities took an upbeat step as teachers are now more excited about what they are doing to the point of stepping up and sharing.  More and more teachers now understand the technology and have more control of the device and how it can be used to improve teaching and learning.

3.  Cheryl saw a turn in student engagement where it became more than just being engaged with the device.  There was a sense of excitement and expectation among teachers and students where students stepped up to assist their peers.  There was also this sense where teachers and students were "in this together" in the new endeavor to use technology for greater learning.  Teachers also started to let go and have students find ways to express content.  This was a shift where the teacher designated a learning outcome without requiring one specific app or way of expression how the content and outcome was to be presented, illustrated or described.  Cheryl called it a place in learning where students engineer learning themselves.

4. Cheryl observed a shifting in pedagogy.  Teacher noticed new tasks began happening with students.  For example one Math teacher flipped the classroom but took it a step further with iPads and challenged students to make their own instructional videos.  He expressed to the students that you get tired of hearing me, and now it is time to hear from you!

There is also a shift of more students creating instruction for other students (used combo of iMovie and Explain Everything).  Math and Science classes used the technology to add to the hands on and enrich the learning.  The iPad creates flexibility for learning and teaching where no longer students sit on side while someone else uses the technology.  Also, students find solutions easier from working collaboratively, and the mobile device takes away the "divided" desktop or laptop screen where students can work together over a flat and easy to move iPad screen.  Lastly, the school found students had a much easier way to connect with experts, using a social network called Tout.  One powerful example included students asking questions from a historian at Antietam.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Student Engagement and Technology

The 6 Key Drivers of Student Engagement

The best way to drive student achievement is to meaningfully connect with students. The best way to do that is through technology.
This article, with an exclusive video interview, originally appeared in T.H.E. Journal's March 2013 digital edition.
The following is an excerpt from the book Every Child, Every Day: A Digital Conversion Model for Student Achievement, published by PearsonEdwards is the superintendent of Mooresville (NC) Graded School District (MGSD), whose districtwide 1-to-1 program earned it the 2012 Sylvia Charp Award. 

Read more 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pasadena Apple Leadership Event Notes

I had the privilege of being part of a panel of superintendents who presented at a recent Apple Leadership Event in Pasadena, California.

I learn a great deal from these events due to the rubbing elbows with visionaries and learning from Apple Distinguished Educators like Emy Flores, Principal of Valencia Park Elementary School in Fullerton, CA.

The school was in fourth year PI, with an outdated curriculum and low API of 695.  Principal Flores knew they had to find ways to individualize the learning experience for each and every student.  She created a sense of urgency due to the emphasis that kids have to come first, and they have little time to figure out ways to improve student learning.  They had to act now!  With this theme, she and her staff worked hard in aligning all their decisions around the priority of kids first.

One of those decisions was the use of technology had to be part of the solution.  The focus was not about the technology, but it was using the technology in a way that is best for kids.  They planned their use of technology thinking about creating the right types of learning opportunities for students.

She was able to attract a great deal of teacher buy in through an application process, advertising successes of teachers and students, and great beginning results of reading fluency for second graders from 8 to 39 in just 8 weeks!  They were also successful in using iPod touches and iPads to differentiate instruction and conduct learning in small groups.

In just a five-year period the school moved its API from 695 to 826, and Principal Flores felt the recent use of technology has been a huge piece for students and staff. 

It was impressive to hear how they invested 60 hours of professional development in every teacher.  The research advocates 49 hours are necessary to invoke change in practice.  Another novel approach in their professional development is the first one third of the training is introducing new ways to use technology and the remaining two thirds is play.

She gave examples of teachers producing videos posted on their websites including pictures of site words with annunciation for students and parents to preview and review to be reinforced at home!

Admittedly Principal Flores shared the best outcome thus far with their use of technology is in the teachers being so motivated.

The school has received the following awards: Golden Bell Award, Title I Academic Achievement Award, and Apple distinguished program.

Finally, she sends a clear message to her staff in her belief in her school since her daughter attends her own school even though it is in a neighborhood not far from gang activity. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Classroom Tips for Teachers

Three Classroom Blogging Tips for Teachers

Posted by Ian Jukes on 
“Bill Ferriter draws on his own classroom experience with blogging to bring us three valuable tips on how to really make blogging work in a classroom setting. This article was featured by him recently on TransformED.”
This teacher has three very effective and proven strategies that promote successful student bloggin.  Our push in our entire district is to create great writers.  Blogging is a great way for students to practice and edit their writing as well as express themselves in powerful ways.
Here is a quick outline of the three tips with key comments from the author:
Tip 1:  Create ONE Topic-Focused Blog
A lesson that I learned early in my work with blogs is that they are far more vibrant — and attract far more attention — when they are updated regularly.  The challenge for student bloggers, then, is generating enough content to bring readers back for more.
Tip 2: Train Student Editors to Lead Your Blogging Project

Training student editors makes classroom blogging projects WAY more manageable for classroom teachers.  More importantly, training student editors reminds students that THEY can be powerful WITHOUT needing the help of their teachers.

Tip 3: Recruit Readers and Commenters to Your Blog
I always recruit volunteer readers and commenters when my students are working on a blogging project.