Sunday, February 16, 2014

Week 4 - 1:1 iPad rollout- Digital Learning Day

Did you know that  it was Digital Learning Day nationwide?  PBS offered a fantastic opportunity to connect educators.  I stepped up my enthusiasm for digital learning by telling students to SMASH APPS! and tweeted class totals (#dlday).  Smashing immediately connotes images of destruction but according to my twitter community it simply means using more than one app to create something digital.  My students had opportunities to using sketching apps with text apps, work flow apps with platform apps and as an added incentive, would be allowed to use class time for gaming or bonus points on past assessment scores. Guess which incentive won out?

Our school launched our Follow Your Dreams project during DLD week. Every week a senior or alumni of has the opportunity to present their work towards a dream, TED Talk style in our library media center.  During a 20 minute advisory time students voluntarily choose to attend a variety of club activities, conferences or down time.  We kicked off the FYD project with a senior who, last semester, lived abroad in Ecuador. She will finish her senior year riding a bike cross-country. The library was packed, standing room only. We recorded the presentation and tweeted it out from our school Twitter feed.  Students attending filled out paper exit tickets highlighting their own dreams. I threw together a 6 second Vine stop-motion video posted to Twitter with immediate retweets.  Making a Vine video has been a goal of mine for some time. I can't believe how easy it was to learn.

Four weeks into a 1:1 iPad rollout and my iGeners are developing a work flow.  "Patience grasshopper" is an idiom constant in my mind as I navigate the small changes in my teaching/ management style. I am learning that it is not wise to build lessons limiting and controlling students' choice of apps. I avoid design one app lessons- ie Book Builder lesson or a Thinglink project. Instead, I incorporate apps as classroom routines that build towards CCSS (Common Core State Standards). Just as we learn vocabulary every day, we now learn how apps provide choices in learning. Bill Ferriter (@Bill Ferriter) reminded me in a recent tweet, "iGeners aren't always the best students. Working quickly instead of carefully, they 'info-snack' their way through class flitting from instant experience to instant experience."  They push aside meaningful learning.

This is why I am convinced that veteran teachers should embrace technology with fervor instead of reluctance. They know how to engage and differentiate meaningful lessons for a variety of learners therefore technology can assist in this process. Keeping this in mind, I made the focus this week on sharing and sending work instead of incorporating new apps.  Since students were at different stages finishing their creative pieces from the previous week it actually worked well to differentiate with a checklist of assignments and tasks published in PowerSchool. I rotated through the room conversing with individuals in regards to work completion, final edits and guidance through the options for handing in work replacing the whole class lecture. I taught students how to change creations from a variety of apps to pdf, to download google drive for saving all assignments and how to attach them to a Haiku Learning platform. It is so important not to allow students the option of emailing assignments, email can become cumbersome.

By the weeks end students were ready to move onto evaluation & analysis tasks. Merely creating a research project encourages synthesis of knowledge but I needed to assess students on analytical thinking. I offered three choices for comparative analysis of world leaders posted on our Haiku Learning wiki. By reviewing each other's work online and conversing with one another in class, students could choose to create a comparative evaluation tool, or they could write an essay, or they could write a letter to a real world leader. I posted the assignment expectations on Haiku and again, rotated through the classroom acknowledging choices each individual would make. Options included work produced on iPad or paper or with other technologies.

There were times in class that I caught students gaming as I rotated throughout the room. Our school does have a iPad removal process and I did have to use this with two students whose gaming addictions became quite apparent. Most students could be convinced to set personal goals for task achievement and their own gaming incentives.  I actually had an opportunity to enjoying some of their gaming suggestions. I know that Dumb Ways To Die is not a deep nor analytical game but it was easy for me to navigate much to the delight of the students.  It is worthwhile to discuss gaming strategies with students who have so much to say and share.  In fact, gamification will be a future focus of the iPad rollout.  For now, I end my evenings experimenting with more apps, Storyme, Instagrok and Socrative are on my mind.

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