Friday, December 12, 2014

Hour of Code: Year II

Last year, the AP Computer Science students at Edina High School facilitated Hour of Code for all of the students at EHS. As I documented here, it was a huge success, in fact, enrollment in the Computer course went up 50%!

This year, Nancy Johnson, the instructor and the students wanted to take Hour of Code to the Middle Schools. Johnson contacted the Math teachers at both South View and Valley View, who agreed to give up a day of curriculum, and have the high school students facilitate Hour of Code. I hung out at South View, coordinating students and handing out food. The kids were amazing! The high school students received high marks from the teachers, leading students and in some cases learning from them! The high schoolers remarked at how engaged the students were overall in the different activities. Said one,
We aren't that engaged programming for 50 minutes, these kids coded for 80!
All in all, a great learning opportunity for all! Here is a bit of what I captured at South View.

Sidenote: One added benefit of being 1:1, was that we didn't have to schedule labs or set up carts of computers for this year's event. Kids just used their own device and learned to code right in the classroom!

Reflection: There has been some criticism lately from folks regarding the motives behind Hour of Code. I understand those concerns, and also get it that the basic games and activities on the site should not be confused as full blown curricula. While observing one class yesterday, after a student completed the tasks on the Karel the Dog site, I heard a teacher challenge a student to complete a task that wasn't in the guided steps. The student was fully engaged in solving the problem and working towards a solution. Will that student go on to take Computer Science courses moving forward, or have a career in the field, I don't know. But I do know that the students I saw yelling, "YES!" and pumping their fist when they solved a problem, got an engaging glimpse into the instructions and language behind the tools they use everyday, and that many would probably continue to explore these beyond the one "Hour of Code." I also got to see a great group of High School students, men AND women, serve as role models to the middle school students, and leave feeling as though they had made a difference. That to me was a huge #EduWin!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TIES 2014 Notes 10x's Vision in Education with Google and Minnesota Districts

Jim Leonard, Program Manager for Google, shared What is 10x Thinking?
What does 10x mean for Education?
Are we settiing goals that make the radical change that is important?
When superintendents are asked, "Why is this important?" they say:

  • Student engagement
  • Preparing students for jobs
There WILL be new devices...Who knows what TIES will look like in 5 years?
What are the skils of the future?
The Economist group surveyed teachers, business leaders and they asked:

To what extent are the skills taught in education around the world changing?
  • Problem Solving
  • Team-Working
  • Communications
  • Critical Thinking 
The conversation is evolving...
It's not about "If we give everyone a device," it's a means to an end.
From Tool Substitution to Learning Innovation

Ok, Google... and Photo Math are changing what students need to know.
It's not about why or what, but HOW!

Roofshot rather than Moonshot!
"We choose to go to the roof ot because it is glamorous, but because it is right there! 
Go out there and have huge dreams, then show up to work the next day and make it happen!

Leyden High School: Turning 140 character rants into School Pride! #leydenpride Jason Markey: We are not doing any good shutting down Twitter, they need to know how to use it well!

Learning Environment
Milpitas Unified Schools: Teachers needed to differentiate, but didn't have the right tools to make that happen. They took a step back and looked at their models and used Blended Learning

Funding and Sustainability
Lee Summit Schools, "A chance to innovate w/ limited funds."
Transitioning all diesel buses to clean energy




Vault coming in the ecosystem in January, Hangouts now part of the core package.

Chromebooks are the #1 device in Education.

Play for Education is available within Chromebook management.
Chrome Apps
Android Apps
K-12 Books
YouTube Videos

If you're not doing some things that are crazy, then you're doing the wrong things.

Google Play for Education 
Pretty easy for deploying Android Apps on tablets!

Now the content source through Google Play will work on any device, including Chromebooks.

Google Classroom
Designed to do one thing: handle workflow with Drive
If your needs for an LMS is pushing out assignments, then use it, if you need more, use a different LMS, or use them in combination.
Someone in the audience suggested for the ability to NOT have a due date.
Also, multiple teachers in a classroom is one of the top 3 requests. Hopefully coming soon!

TIES 14 Notes: Jane McGonigal Keynote-Games to Tackle Real-World Problems

Noted Game designer and author, Jane McGonigal was the Tuesday Keynote speaker at TIES 2014
The daughter of educators, she started by inviting us to take the next 45 minutes to take games seriously, as a way to shape the future of learning.

The GOOD News, there are now 1 Billion Gamers world wide (1 hr./day). Some might argue that 1 Billion hours of gaming per day may not be a good idea... 300 million minutes/day is spent playing Angry Birds. That's 400,000 years! 1 in 4 Call of Duty players call in sick the day a new version is released!

81% of global workers are not engaged in the workplace. (Gallup, 2013) Not connected to a community bigger than yourself, and not optimistic.
The longer you stay in school, the LESS ENGAGED you become!

52% of Americans do not feel they have the power to make a difference, yet 7+ Billion hours of time is spent playing games, McGonigal argues because they are looking for something.

99% of boys and 94% of girls spend an hour gaming. We've closed the gender gap! 92% of 2 year olds are playing games. What is the appeal?

McGonigal has spent over a decade exploring how games can help us increase engagement to solve real life problems.

The top 10 emotions when playing games include:

  • Joy
  • Relief
  • Curiousity
  • Love
  • Surprise
  • Pride
  • Excitement
  • Awe and Wonder
  • Contentment
  • Creativity

3/4 of gaming hours today are based on team/cooperative games. This could be quality time spent together.

These emotions on average impact people even 24 hours after they are initially felt. Positive emotions make us resilient!

McGonigal showed a portrait series of people playing games that showed how they were engaged and resilient while playing them. She notes that the images show that game playing requires hard work, and is not necessarily the "lazy" misnomer that people attribute to gaming.
In games, you can fail 4 out of 5 times, and still have the optimism that you can succeed. Wouldn't it be great if these were the faces of students learning?!

The opposite of play isn't's depression!
-Brian Sutton Smith
 There is new research that shows that this statement is true at the neurocognitive level! The same areas of the brain that are active when playing games are the same that are inactive when people are depressed!

She showed a game where the player goes through the human body to fight lukemia, called Re-Misison2 from Hope Lab. The goal was for people undergoing treatment to play the game as a way to encourage them to monitor their health and take the medication. 

They found that these people had +16% more antibiotics, +41% higher blood chemo levels, and much greater self-efficacy after playing the game 6 months after playing the game. These kids were highly motivated, but the positive emotions they earned through playing the game enhanced that motivation.
Researchers at Stanford identified that it's not the technology/graphics/story and sound, it was the control of the game that had the most neurological benefit. This is important to remember for education. Students need to be the ones playing and in charge! (This ties closely to my philosophy of digital age learning-It's not what the teacher is doing with the technology, it's what the student is doing that will have the biggest impact!) The Stanford study showed higher motivation AND learning through the interactive play.

Almost all games create this neurochemistry. Video games are higher due to the faster feedback. ALL GAMES are LEARNING GAMES!
If we stop learning a game, we stop playing them! How many adults play tic-tac-toe?

McGonigal hopes for Super-Empowered Individuals who are developing the neurochemistry to be more engaged with their goals, and more motivated to learn! 

I don’t think education is about centralized instruction anymore; rather, it is the process establishing oneself as a node in a broad network of distributed creativity.-Joi Ito (NY Times)
McGonigal shared Foldit, solving puzzles for science, which isn't as complicated as Words with Friends or Angry Birds, but not as hard as World of Warcraft.

50,000 Gamers beat Supercomputers in solving the folding of protien structures. All of the gamers were listed as authors of the Nature Journal paper. Nice resume builder!
When Scientists Fail, It's Time to Call the Gamers!
McGonigal encourages students to get involved, and use their real names, so that if and when they win the Nobel Prize, they will get credit! Their are many games for science like Foldit, that she encourages teachers to check out!

McGonigal noted that it is still important to be in physical spaces, especially ones that are "awe-inspiring," as you are more creative and productive! She developed a game for the New York Public Library, Find the Future

82% of young Americans want to write a book someday! The game is designed to help inspire students to use the New York Public Library to do this. There are 8 stories of books below street level in the library! 
10,000 people applied for the first 500 spots to get in the game! The game was playable at the library for a full year. Mostly high school and college students participated. Friday night, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. people were locked in and couldn't leave till they wrote a book! They looked for objects/artifacts that changed history that they then used phones to scan QR codes that showed secrets about the objects, like the paragraph abolishing slavery in the Declaration of Independence, that Jefferson's colleagues had him strike.
Students then had writing challenges for each artifact, that required collaboration among the players. By the end, 500 authors created 1184 stories!

McGonigal sees this type of game-based learning is the future, where students can actually make a difference. These changes may start in Higher Education, but could trickle down to K-12.

TIES 14 Notes: Personalized Learning-Our Journey

Michelle Ament, Director of Technology and Learning in Eden Prairie and Terry Nealon, CEO and Co-Founder of Fishtree, shared their work on personalized learning.
iLearn @EP is their 1:1 initiative, where students at elementary and middle school receive an iPad, and high school students use a Macbook Air for their learning.

Ament shared the process they went through for choosing an LMS (Schoology), and that they realized they needed a way to personalize learning with Fishtree, and how they integrated the two together to make Fishtree an App inside of Schoology. Scoology is the one-stop-shop for single sign-on to get into both systems.

Nealon's vision for Fishtree is to align resources for any standard for any subject, personalize the resources for the learner, and adapt to every learner in a simple interface. 
The name of the company comes from this Einstein quote:

Learning relationship management involves personalization, Curration, collaboration and learning management. They want to save teachers time, engage every student, support every parent and demonstrate return on investment for the institution.

To me, this sounds similar to School-Of-One, or Plato, except they pull Open Educational Resources into the mix. I'm not sure that this definition of personalized learning meshes with my own. I think this study speaks to the need for personalization to be more about student choice in what they learn, how they learn and how they will demonstrate learning. 

Ament showed how the Fishtree sits in an iFrame within Schoology. They launched an online cohort a few days ago, with a blended cohort. She has seen a great deal of collaboration already within the space. She believes that it isn't about the tool, but about the learning possible, however it requires a tool kit to get things started.

One of the Eden Prairie coaches mentioned a teacher who is doing what I described above in the editorial using Peardeck, Nearpod and other tools and then students post what and how they learned in Schoology, not using Fishtree. Nealon believes that Fishtree allows for more differentiation, but Ament added that what coach described is what personalization really is about, Fishtree is just another tool. Fishtree pulls great analytics on the resources a student needs to be successful.

Monday, December 8, 2014

TIES 14 Notes: Carl Hooker on Analog Leaders in a Digital World.

Carl Hooker spoke on Analog Leaders in a Digital World. Among other accomplishments, Carl developed the "SAMR Swimming Pool" Model, and I was excited to get a chance to meet him. 
Bridget Driscoll, the first person hit by a car, said she was bewildered by innovation. Do we want to be the ones driving or the ones hit by technology?

When it comes to learning, these things are changing about learning:
  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where


(Sorry, I was late to the session. If anyone wants to share this part in the comments below, that would be awesome!)


Analog: Published by experts
Digital: Currated by everyone in the room

Hooker noted how news has changed from waiting till the paper edition the next day to seeing news happen in real time on Twitter now. The same is true in education today, where CK-12, iTunes U and OER Commons are available now, rather than paying for a textbook that is out-of-date the day it's published. Not only will teachers be creating their own books, but students can too!
Look at what happened to Blockbuster. 

On the backchannel on Todaysmeet, there was nice discussion about things that will be obsolete in our children's life-time. He also noted that today's school schedules are still similar to the TV Guide that we had growing up.
Is the digital change always best? Flipping?
The University of Phoenix today has 319,700 students! If people are doing this, what does that mean for us in K-12?


Analog: Delivered by Distributors
Digital: Delivered when needed with a menu of choices
Right now, content still comes from the teacher, but learning can happen in different ways. 
If we made a video in High School, we had to send it in snail mail if our grandparents wanted to view it. Today, in a few minutes, it's up on YouTube and they can comment on it.
How can we make this instant gratification used for good? He showed an example of a Roman Bathhouse that a student created in Minecraft, and then spoke in Latin to describe it.


Analog: Static Location
Digital: Anywhere
The transistor radio had the same effect on the youth of the 1950's. It changed the music industry, because it was portable!
Our learning spaces today are still fairly static. 

He had us use physical movement to have us move based on how we felt about "Reality Television" and "Assessment." I found myself in the "Hate" category for the 1st, based on how it glorifies untalented/stupid people, and in the middle on assessment, if it allows for student feedback formatively and authentic project based for summative assessment. Others in the room were in the "Love" category for both, and "hate" category for both.

He shared a great image he created of an headstone for a student desk:

I'm glad that we have taken steps in Edina to explore other learning space options, like flexible tables and chairs, and more comfortable furniture as we move towards our Next Generation initiatives!

Carl is a great thought leader in educational technology, and it was great that he could come and share his vision at TIES 14! 

TIES 14 Notes: George Couros on Digital Citizenship and Digital Leadership

George Couros, shared his thoughts on Digital Citizenship, and the importance of including Digital Leadership as part of the conversation.

Right now, there is too much focus on what NOT to do!
Look at opportunities! Every kid is going to be Googled! 16 year old kids are making $150,000/year making MindCraft videos!
"Transformational leaders don't start by denying the world around them. Instead, they describe a futher they'd like to create instead!"
-Seth Godin 
Communication is key! 

How can you make sure that on graduation day, every student is "Well Googled" by his or her full name?

He gave examples of a 14 year old in Australia who received job offers because of the video he made. And other students whose lives were ruined by their actions being posted online.

And this one where a guy tweets about his flag football team needing players, and Kevin Durrant shows up.

Too much of what we've been showing kids is about the creepy things that happen when you post online. Couros has a problem w/ videos where anyone over 20 is a pervert! Everything you do online is public!

We can no longer simply say "Don't talk to strangers," when many of our decisions are based on those same people. He gave the example of school Websites, where that is the last place kids go when they're not on school. We need to say instead, here is how to tell who is who online.

Digital portfolios can allow you to put everything you do can be in one spot. Create something that doesn't get thrown out at the end of the year, but it allows you to get into a school or get a job!

People are mashing up and creating amazing things. Is this because of us or inspite of us? 

In Norway, a class is having students write a book. They have come back years later and still support the book!

Creation leads to the digital footprint.
Positive, negative, or neutral

How many of our students have an page with all of their work online?
"No kid is dating my kid until I Google them!"

George's rule: "Anything you can say to a student at school, you can say online."
The Hiring Process 
"We don't interview a teacher until we Google them!"

We need to teach students how to be savvy. 
We also need to build REAL relationships with our students, whether face to face or virtually! 

Emotional Meeting of Two Girls Who are Both Missing an Arm from ourprecioussavior.

We need to help our students dealing with bullies and what happens when they go viral, such as Alex from Target.

Because of this, we need Digital Leadership! By helping our students, we can do things like this!
When kids do it for the teacher, it's ok. When they create for the world is awesome!

One school had students take selfies with the teacher and then share the impact the teacher has had on them.
Couros finished with the Coke Security Camera Ad.

It's a powerful message that we need to share with kids about being a better person!

TIES 14 Notes: Yong Zhao : What Is Right About American Education

Dr. Yong Zhao was the Monday keynote at the TIES conference.
His latest book, The Big Bad Dragon, The Myth of Chinese Super Schools, reviewed by Diane Ravitch, here, discusses what we really need to focus on with education reform today.

Zhao started talking about Nokia phones, looking at how they used to be the most popular. Who killed Nokia? 
Nobody killed Nokia, but Nokia itself. It tried to make a dumb phone smarter, Apple tried to make a smart phone!

In education, are we modifying existing school, or are we trying to invent something different?

He's been looking at developing language software for a long time.
We have done a lot of work. Technology and other reforms have failed.

  • "Progressive education"
  • No Child Left Behind
  • Race to the Top
  • Common Core

All of these "reforms" really haven't transformed, or solved our problems. Obama and Bush's reform efforts have been about the same.
Once you get to the top, you fall down off the cliff and no one is left behind. Mission Accomplished!

Readiness is one of the most absurd words in education these days.
Kindergarten readiness. Education should be getting ready for me, not students getting ready for education!

This is a misnomer! 
The problem with the Common Core is that it is "common" and "core!"
The idea that college is so great, is a myth. 
Half way through his son's experience, he decided he didn't want to do economics. He was passionate about art and art history. He went for it, and afterwards, said:
"I'm sorry for you, that I majored in Art, because in China that is considered a failure. (Zhao noted he was supposed to be a farmer/peasant and he failed at that! He did not meet AYP in driving water buffalo!)

A good education is "out of the basement" readiness! A great education is one that keeps people's children out of their basement. Independence!

Too many of our students are "boomerang kids." 53% are jobless or underemployed!

We have the best educated coffee-makers and bartenders in the world today! 

High unemployment but highly educated for the wrong economy!

Economies change and they redefine knowledge and talents.
Sometimes, technology creates new opportunities and makes other problems go away. 
In the 1800's there were too many horses. An international crisis! We need to do something about this!
Imagine what problems a car might solve. What impact will the driverless car solve, and what problems will this cause?
  • Safety
  • Gridlock (Though don't get a Windows and Google car near each other!)
  • Drunk and distracted driving
  • Visually impared
  • Driving age?
  • Programmers (Security!)
  • Interior Design
  • Reclaiming parking spaces and other infrastructure
What will happen with:
  • Uber?
  • Taxi Drivers
  • Bus Drivers
  • Traffic Police
  • Parking spaces
  • Driver's Ed
Zhao mentioned, "The Second Machine Age," dealing with how digital technologies are transforming work.
Blue collar AND White collar jobs are going away and being replaced. 
Look at lawyers and tax accountants. Turbotax has replaced one and now lawyers are being replaced by data bases and digital search. Medical fields are also being replaced.

Also, the globalization and flattening of the world has made a huge impact, as outlined in "The World is Flat."

Zhao asks two important questions:

Are you preparing students to compete with machines?
  • Farming and Working jobs have been in decline, but service and creative jobs are going up.
  • The new middle class has to be the creative class!
  • (See Doug Johnson's talk from earlier!)
  • We want creativity, but our traditional schools are about compliance, and stifle creativity!
  • Creativity declines w/ age, but can bounce back after retirement! 
  • It isn't cognitive, but psychological
  • Standardized test teach us to comply.
  • In new economies, useless people become more useful. Kim Kardasian is not in her parents basement! Famous for being famous. Why do people consume nothingness? (Age of necessity vs. age of abundance) We used to consume things we need. Food etc.
  • Choice is a great commodity today.
  • We stifle creativity by standardization
Are you preparing students to compete with students getting educated at a lower cost? 

We need to create jobs, not find jobs. We need Entrepreneurial thinking.
Business enterpreneurs, Social enterpreneurs.
Most of the qualities are non-cognitive.
We currently take individual differences, cutural diversity, curiosity and passion and funnel it into 

The Children's Machine from Pappert is a model for what we need to do!

Zhao gave the example of the optimum height people should be at as an analogy of what we are doing with No Child Left Behind. We all don't grow at the same speed, and we only assess a few subjects!
Albert Einstein MIGHT bet a 2400 on the SAT, but is that what we should be measuring against?!
This is a "sausage making model!"
What happens when the economy needs bacon?

We have ALWAYS been bad on test scores. If anyone tells you we are declining, they are lying! Even if it were, we still have the largest, most prosperous economy in the world!
Why is America still here?

Now China is #1 in PISA scores for two years running. Americans are startled! Arne Duncan thinks this is a wake-up call and we need a "Sputnik Moment."

Zhao argues, why do we want to do this? Shanghai is still trying to catch us economically! We have been reducing our education ambision! We used to want to go to the moon! Then Bush says the national goal is everyone can read! 
We are spending too much time focused on China. China is looking at US!
They want more Steve Jobs! They want to make their education more like ours.

The side effects of this:
  • We need medicine, but there are nasty side-effects
  • Warning labels should be put on early reading programs. It may improve your scores, but you'll hate reading for ever.
  • Time is a constant. If you spend time studying for a test, you can't play and develop social skills.
Zhao noted that students in the US may have lower scores, but have a great deal of confidence! Our children are bad because they don't know how bad they are! The cure: Let's test them more and show them how bad they are!

When we look at Asian scores, the students have very low interest and motivation in the very things they do well in. Countries with high test scores have lower enterpreneurial confidence. We ned 

American education has survived by being a broken sausage maker that made

Enhance strengths, not fix deficits
  • Student Autonomy
  • Product Oriented Learning
  • Global Campus
If you give children the opportunities that technology provides, we will incubate innovators and entrerpeneurs!

It was heartening to hear that much of what Zhao said today is covered in our Educational Competencies we have developed.

TIES 14 Notes: The Subversive Educator's Guide to Creativity w/ Doug Johnson

Today's Meet:

Doug Johnson, Technology Director for Burnsville, Eagan, Savage, shared his thoughts on creativity at the opening session at TIES 2014.

Vasco De Gamma was an influencer of Doug's in regards to creativity, due to the project his grandson did regarding him. He had created a first person narrative, where he was going to tell DeGamma's story, and was told by the teacher that he couldn't deliver it, and had to just read the report.
Perhaps the teacher was so focused on standardized test scores, she couldn't get past that.

Goals of the talk;

Why is it imperative we take developing creativity seriously?

Pink in "A Whole New Mind:

  1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
  2. Can a computer do it faster?
  3. Am I offering something that satisfies the nonmaterial, transcendent desires of an abundant age?
60% of an iPhone is pure Apple profit. How can they have 100% markup on a device? Because they have convinced us that we need it. It's about syle, design, It's the digital "Swiss Army Knife"
Routine manual and cognitive work is going away. 
Whats growing is complex communication and expert thinking skills.
Jobs that are going away:

  • Bank Tellers
  • Checkout
  • Gas Attendents
  • even White Collar jobs

Is Creativity A Teaching Strategy?

We shouldn't be asking if a child is creative, we should be asking HOW they are creative.
-Sir Ken Robinson
Standards have been put in place that honor creativity, but we haven't figured it out yet.
Creative children learn to solve their own problems.
We have a creativity crisis, especially in elementary schools. 

  • Creativity scores are going down.
  • One right answer mentality has led to this. 

Concern about the myths

Concern 1: Creativity isn't always about Art, it can be demonstrated in many ways.

Do we honor team building, problem solving, inventing, leading, organizing, motivating/inspiring?

Concern 2: Creativity must be accompanied by craft and discipline.
Format: ABAB rhyme scheme...
Shakespeare was working under tight parameters, but was able to work within them. It's OK to have parameters about your assignments, and still have originality. 
If you assign a project and get back 30 of the exact same thing, that's not a project, that's a recipe. 
-Chris Lehman 
Concern 3: The world is frightened by creativity.

Johnson showed attributes of creative and non-creative kids, and noted that most teachers want the student that is least creative.
We honor the compliant.
I wonder how many of the creative attributes are about culture?
100 definitions of creativity

Concern 4: If we ask students to demonstrate creativity and/or innovation, we need tools to determine whether they have done so.

Johnson believes the most important attributes of creativity are NEW and adding Value, and those need to be in balance. 

Edit: I was reminded of this video where Sir Ken Robinson discusses how to assess creativity:

Johnson thinks the best idea he's seen so far is:
"Wow Factor is Present!"
Concern 5: Standardized test mentality discourages creativity

Johnson used a picture book called, "First Grade Takes a Test" as an example..

10 ways to encourage creativity in every assignment

  1. Ban clip Art
  2. Ask that information be shown in multiple formats/media
  3. Encourage the narrative voice when giving an oral presentation
  4. Ask for multiple possible answers to questions or solutions to problems. When there is no correct answer "Complete the painting" Adding "the right way," made everyone do it the same. Keeping it open ended added great creativity and imagination. 
  5. Give points for "design" on all assignments-more than just neatness counts
  6. Instead of marking a problem wrong, ask why they got what they got
  7. Take advantage of free online tools, like Big Huge Labs
  8. Ask students to design rules
  9. Honor student's unique talents
  10. Don't be afraid to borrow the creative ideas of other people

Is creativity valued in your school's culture? If not, BE SUBVERSIVE!!

There are 2 kinds of schools, those for the governors and those for the governed. -Kozol
Which kind of school do you want your kids to go to, and which do you want to teach in?

Resources for the session

Friday, December 5, 2014

My Notes on (Re) imagining Engaging, Internet-Infused Educational Practices-Dr. Cassie Scharber

Dr. Cassie Scharber, who I collaborated with on initial evaluations of 1:1 in Edina, spoke to the CAREI (Center for Applied Research on Educational Innovation) Assembly meeting on (Re) imagining Engaging, Internet-Infused Educational Practices. Cassie is co-director of the LT Media Lab at the University of Minnesota.

Macro: Tech Integration Barriers
Scharber started the conversation talking about the current "teacher shaming" that is happening in the media.
She read this letter from a teacher, which she used as a frame to talk about what is on teachers plates today, and how technology sometimes is seen as an add on to that plate.

She was one of the 50% of teachers who resign within 4 years of starting the teaching profession. This was in 2000, and she found that she ran into many obstacles and barriers, with filters and other policies that limited her ability to teach in today's world.

Her focus is on literacy, and that is the context that leads her to be an advocate for technology in schools. What does it mean to be literate today in the United States? "Literacy is no longer an endpoint to be acheived, but a process" 
Literacy however is not about the technology but the practices that the tools make possible. It's about changing skills and practices of what students can do in order to be successful in today's world.
It's not about all students having a device. It's about the practices that are possible when those devices are connected to the Internet.

Why? The world is changing and Education is changing!
She then showed this video, that reminded me of a 2014 version of "Did You Know?"

Scharber wants to reframe the tech integration conversation into one in Literacy rather than which tool a district is using. She wants to change the discourse to be not about tools but practices.

She asked us to explore what has "inhibited" our teachers/students from using technology for teaching and learning activities. For the folks around me, we would say:
Fear, Lack of experience, infrastructure/connectivity, not all students having a device, desire to do things the way they've always done them, and teachers seeing themselves as the master of the content.

Scharber listed Reality Check-Barriers to Tech Integration
Internal Barriers

  • Resistance to technology itself (emotional)
  • Resistance to Change
  • Fear of Failure
  • Lack of technology discourse and knowledge
  • Lack of technology proficiency-We teach the way we were taught (Scharber notes that she still sees that in the young pre-service teachers she works with today. They learned the same way she did 20 years ago.)

External Barriers

  • Access to tech tools
  • Access to tech support
  • Access to working infrastructure-If this isn't there, you're not using the tools to their fullest capacity
  • Access to supportive, collaborative communities and ecosystems both within the district and outside the district. (BYOTchat is an example of this!)

Pedagogical Barriers
  • Tendancy to teach how taught
  • Lack of appreciation of how technology can enhance teaching/learning
    • students learn WITH technology, not from
  • (In)Compatibility between teaching beliefs and tech affordances (Collaboration and creation are not honored in how we currently assess students today)
  • Shifting role of teacher-Hard to be a co-learner rather than the lead
Scharber shared TPACK as a way to incorporate this:

Scharber gave these tips for:
Hurdling Barriers
  • Anchor in pedagogy and content
  • "Evolution rather than revolution (Zhao, 2002
  • Recognize and let go of FEAR
  • Be OK with "Failing!" (Live in Beta)

Barriers don't always make headlines, tools do. Scharber notes that we need to focus on the practices, grounding in literacy. She mentioned Science Leadership Academy, where they're anchor is Inquiry Based Learning.
Don't make your anchor the laptop!

Scharber asked us to think of our pedagogy like the Delorian in Back to the Future, where we can go back in forth in time to use the tool that works best for the time. Stay future oriented:
"Roads, where we're going, we don't need roads!" 
Don't let yourself be tied to linear thinking.

Micro: Bright star snapshot
"What do our children need to be ready to succeed, prosper, and seize opportunities for an unpredictable future-and how to they need to be learning it?" David Warlick

Bright Stars
Technology-Mediated Urban Settings for Youth as Pathways for Engaged Learning
Tied to connected learning, the research question asks:
How do school, library, and community based urban settings position youth as engaged learners through the use of digital technologies?
Scharber identified three frameworks:

  • Participatory Culture
  • Engagemet-in-learning
  • Activity Theory
Using this theory, learning is social, not just cognitive. They look at the entire ecosystem. 
They studied a Community Based Organization, where youth participated three days a week, where students got to know one another and learned how to use tools to make documentary films. The object/purpose was defined by the teachers as an internship. The mentor thought it was about being fun and challenging, more about building relationships. The youth thought it was like "group," a fun learning experience, that was more real-world and adventurous.
The youth and adult leaders were very invested in reaching the goal. They found that the youth were very engaged, and immediately moved into the role of film-makers.

The objects for the library, school and CBO were different, but the magic of the facilitator is what made the learning space work. The object was malleable, and the facilitator was key. It wasn't about the tools.

Current Projects from the LT Media Lab

Questions: Conversation

Saturday, November 22, 2014

On Being Intentional...

Earlier this week, I was working with our Teaching and Technology Cohort, a group of educators from Edina and Hopkins. At one point, I asked everyone to close their laptops. My point was twofold:

  1. I wanted them to really pay attention to what I had to say
  2. I wanted to model for them good teaching practice in a 1:1 environment, that when you DO have something important to say, you should have the screens closed, so that you have more of the student's attention.
Despite three requests at one point, some of the adults in the room either didn't hear me, or ignored my request. It reminded me that for this group, I hadn't worked as hard at setting up norms with them, and practiced those norms as we were developing our learning community.

This year, our district has moved from encouraging all students to have a device for their learning to requiring that all students have a device for their learning. To help staff prepare for this, we put together this planning guide, as well as a "Road Map," for the first 6 weeks of school. 

On the Road Map, I talked about the importance of each teacher setting up norms and expectations on how students would be utilizing devices in class, as well as practicing transitions with their students, getting devices out and putting them away. The main point was to get them thinking about intentionality as they incorporated student devices in their instruction.

As the year has progressed, I believe we have made a fairly smooth transition to 1:1. As I walk around the district, students are utilizing their devices to access content, collaborate and create, the goals of our digital age learning framework. Overall, it has enhanced learning for students. 

Unfortunately, we have also seen some students struggle to stay on task, and use their devices to play games, stream video, and get distracted. For some, this has affected their learning. 

Our policy around filtering to this point has been to block based on the Children's Internet Protection Act. Our philosophy has leaned more towards an open policy and an understanding that as a learning organization, we need to help our students become self-regulating, so that they leave our system with that valuable skill. This week, based on feedback from parents, administrators, staff and even students, we modified that policy. Yesterday, I sent out the following message to our staff:

Recently we have heard staff, students, parents and administration note that games and streaming media have been a distraction and have negatively impacted student learning. Because of this, we will be blocking student access to the category Games on our network filter. In addition, we are sending home a message to parents this afternoon that includes a note that if they do not want their kids accessing Netflix or Amazon Prime streaming media, that they should consider changing the password.
We know students have been finding distractions in the classroom prior to eLearning2: doodling, looking out the window, note passing, etc. and that they may gravitate to other distractions once these categories are blocked. We have been operating under the philosophy that we are a learning institution and that self-regulation is a skill that we want our students to have when they leave our system. Given the number of people raising concern lately, the secondary administrators felt we should move in a different direction.
Even the best filter is not impenetrable, and staff in the classroom still need to remember some of the best practices that we discussed at the beginning of the year.
  1. Walk around the room.
  2. Be intentional about when students are using devices in your class, and when they should put them away or close the lid.
  3. Have a plan for what students CAN do with their device when they have completed work in your class.

These changes will hopefully mitigate barriers to learning as we move forward with eLearning2.
As noted, students have been finding a way to be distracted in classrooms long before the introduction of personal devices. As educators we need to remember to be intentional about how those devices are used in class, be they slate tablets, pencils and notebooks, or electronic devices. We also need to remember to set clear expectations and recognize that our role isn't to police, but to guide them toward responsibility.
I like these two short and sweet sets of rules. The first was shared by Dave Eisenman and folks from Minnetonka:
Be Respectful, Be Responsible,  Be Focused,  & Be Present
The second are from Doug Johnson, Technology Director at Burnsville:
Privacy - I will protect my privacy and respect the privacy of others.
Property - I will protect my property and respect the property of others.
a(P)propriate Use - I will use technology in constructive ways and in ways which do not break the rules of my family, church, school, or government.
Good words to remember and live by. Since I sent out the notice to staff, I've had 3 "Thank you," e-mails and one concerned that a simulation game that he uses will still work when we get back from break. With this barrier in place, I hope that our staff do not get complacent, and work to find ways to enhance their learning environment and engage students in learning, intentionally!