Sunday, January 19, 2014

Luddite Collaboration iPads and paper in a 1:1 classroom

It is risky business, changing everything you teach and control in order to move towards a tech heavy classroom. I am one week into a 1:1 iPad rollout for all of the juniors and seniors at our rural highschool as the last assigned group of a schoolwide transition to 1:1 iPads that began in August. I went through the training, observed middle school and freshmen/ sophmore educators pioneer implementation and developed some tech savvy along the way. While I still have much to learn, I feel confident sharing a few tips

Get psyched about technology even if you are a Luddite.  Instead of eyeing students suspiciously and working on punishments for misuse of devices develop incentives to use them.   We don't want a culture of learning based on worries about breakage and imposed controls.  No one means of learning should be soley relied upon in education.  On top of this, some of my juniors have taken an anti disestablishment position in regards to worries of a school mandated use of electronic devices.  Some are ethically and philosophically opposed to Apple.

Day 1 of the roll out- I'm taking a nonchalant stand on technology. Students enter the class, the vocabulary routine stayed the same followed by a 10 minute class activity, a textbook reading all without electronic devices. We pair/share and brainstorm leadership qualities before reading an essay question which questions model rationales for legitimacy of leadership.  Students usually read printed quotes in a packet but instead I focused on learning as a moveable feat. I sent students on a scavenger hunt to find these quotes on walls throughout the building, appropriately hung on wall appropriate to the content of the speech. Elizabeth the Great hung in the library, Machiavelli near the principal's office, Mao Zedong, near security.  All Students locate, read and take notes on each quote. Students without devices could read them, and return to class to receive a paper handout of those quotes. Students with iPads gleefully run around taking pictures - both types of students were able to enjoy the content in the classroom without penalty. Equity was maintained even though Ipads did allow for highlighting and notetaking that were emailed to partners upon request. 

Do no rely on the wow factor of apps or iPads. While I now know how to split my typing screen or zoom from one app to the next with a 5 finger swipe, I do not own this. My 8 year old daughter taught me. So it is true,  most students are already digital natives, knowing more about technology than I will so I could not make the mistake of insisting that they use a particular app for a particular lesson.  That control has ruined lessons for my pioneering colleagues. Instead, I thought long and hard about the skill I want students to develop. It is two days before midterms and I want students to utilize review skills. Class always begins with vocabulary but today I had sticky notes with their words on them. Students chose groups to work which blended the Luddites and the 1:1 easily. Regardless of how they did this, each group read a word aloud and then individuals attempted to illustrate the definition on a sketching app or a piece of paper. I demonstrated this on my sketch app with stick figure drawings. This became the best study session ever.  I also posted all of the vocabulary from the semester onto our management platform page for student access. iPads had the advantage of connecting to this immediately but paper students still had their classroom folders to access for review. We developed several versions of illustrative activities before moving onto other study strategies.  

Choice is powerful. My colleagues were well intentioned when they took a unit they always taught and then assigned applications to a project based learning assignment. Had I been a pioneer I would have done the same thing.  The educators were not experts with the app.  They wanted students to present their research using Explain Everything which is a fantastic mashup of video animated note taking and audio.  Problems arose and the problem solving took to long, students ended up refusing to complete the work, Luddites boasted that they knew this would fail and teachers looked foolish.  I follow several blogs by librarians who write about coteaching. They focus on the skill and the content that teachers need and work to present classes with an assortment of resources.  I decided use this same approach by starting with the Common Core
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
The skill I intend to develop is reading news sources on current events. I ended my second day of classes by introducing students to a stack of newspaper sources we used to use in the classroom and then to the benefits of an aggregator. I have been playing with, Feedly, and Flipboard. Each app has a different aesthetic and approach to present organized access to news. Flipboard is set up like a magazine, Feedly has a similar layout that appeals to me and is like a pinboard or a frontpage of a a newspaper. Students could choose which aggregator they would use but they were required to include 2 of the 3 news sources that I suggested. I am a fan of the BBC and Aljazeera. Right away the benefits of having all news in their hand with a mobile device, instead of reading stacks of paper was a sensible move.  I will still keep one paper subscription and the Sunday New York Times on hand.

Routines are everything. Every day I end class with a formative assessment. I try hard to keep students from packing up early to stand by the door.  Sometimes I put a poll or tally on a wall opposite the doorway, delivering the question when students cue restlessness. I will continue to keep this practice alternating between paper activities and now internet access.  For yesterday's lesson I attached a link to to a QR code and pinned that to a wall.  Students scanned the code which brought them to the interactive site for an eye opening lesson in current slave practices worldwide. The site challenges the notion that what we consume has a human price tag and student reactions ranged on this.  The point was to be a part of the conversation and curiosity drew all students in. I kept an Upfront magazine article highlighting similar statistics handy but reactions to the interactive kept all students engaged this time. By the end of the day my last junior hold out came by to sign out her iPad. I stayed calm and nonchalant.  The choice is hers respectfully but I am so happy that my classes will begin this rollout in tandem.

Keep transforming. Sticking to classroom management systems and routines really do not have to change.  What will change no matter what is the amount of control educators are used to taking. I spend lots of otherwise dull moments in my life reading Twitter feeds from my favorite educators. When something grabs my eye I retweet it. Later, at night I revisit these tweets again on my homepage. Vicky Davis reposted an article which addressed the very stage I am at. 

@coolcatteacher: It Is Not About the Gadgets - Why Every Teacher Should Have to Integrate Tech Into Their Clas... via @pernilleripp

Some teachers assume that clicking on a SmartBoard or having students type their papers mean that they are “integrating” tech.  This is one very limited usage of tech, in fact, it doesn’t really count as integration.  Better integration is when a student decides to film a video to show off learning rather than create a poster.  True integration is when students have ideas and fearlessness to use technology to show their learning as a natural extension of the classroom.  Not to type a paper.

Paper is still an amazing technology. It is still in my classroom. Paper makes knowledge tangible. Paper is like an iPad with an infinite battery.  Its limits can be replaced with the iPads my students now have.  My job will be to keep blending change and continuity, tradition and reform, humility and success. 

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