Friday, September 27, 2013

Apple Distinguished Educator Don Orth

I recently had the opportunity to listen and see a presentation by Don Orth from Hilbrook School in Los Gatos, Ca.  Don currently serves the Director of Technology and Strategic Partnerships and is a recognized Apple Distinguished Educator.

Don Orth
I hope by sharing the following summary and notes, you can learn and gain as much of the insight and innovative thinking Don shared with an audience of about 40 district and school technology educational leaders as I did.

Exploration and Innovation

iPads have been the single most influential spark of innovation at Hillbrook School.  Don provided the label of the iPad as being the "Trojan Mouse", a term coined by Justin Reich.

I thought of the term "psychological safety" when Don shared one of the core values at his school is to "take risks!"  He noted this is much easier to do with students than teachers, but there is that message that it is OK to take that stretch and it is OK if it does not work.  The challenge question he provided is, how do you make time for teachers to practice and play?  

Another good question for all of us:

If you know why use technology, can you talk about it?  

The message I received is we need to do a better job of communicating our rationale to students and community.  And the message needs to be clear.

Their Foundations for their initiative are:

Professional Development
The focus is to develop a growth mindset. How do you encourage teachers to seek out and learn?  We need to encourage them to look outward.  The key is to understand and limit the barriers such as time, or pressures of the job, and tap into their motivations.  How do you help them own and partner in their initiatives?

Key questions
1.  What basic skills do I need to work on? (Foundation)
2.  What expertise would I like to deepen? (Competence)
3.  What would I like to research? (Curiosity)
4.  What school initiatives am I working on?
5.  What risk am I willing to take? (Risk)

Digital Citizenship
The focus should be on helping students to navigate a digital world.  Kids have access eventually to an unfiltered world.  There appears to be a huge gap between what parents know and what the kids and school know about what is out there and how to deal with it.  When a student brings a device home, there arises a whole new set of responsibilities.  The key is to help partner with parents.  Hillbrook school has a student media agreement where the parent and the student pick ten things they agree on with use at home which is a beginning of a conversation.   Parents are grateful for these conversations because they are trying to keep up - parents don't know!

Work Flow
Ho do you manage student work? This includes all communication digitally , transfer of files, etc.  How do you distribute materials to students and back?  How do students create content and how do they share it out?  How is the E-portfolio set up, and how is the access and readability?

Learning Spaces
Traditional classrooms are getting in the way of using mobile devices.  Don took the computer lab out and put in tables which can be folded, and created an environment where the furniture is moved and placed accordingly to the lesson.  This resulted in students helping to set up the environment, and they had to figure out the type of work they were doing and the work and then changed the environment.  Students gained much more ownership, and as a result, the teaching changes.  A large factor is the teacher develops the lesson first, and then the students change the classroom spaces in order to accomodate the plan and the learning!  (See iLab promo video fall 2012 under videos in the link below)

Here is a quote by Don: 

Who controls the space between intention and what happens?

Check out his iBook with great tools and resources: