A Shift Will Happen One Way or Another

Fear is a powerful emotion. It is the impetus of all of the “What if…. and What will happen….?” questions that come to the surface when something seemingly new and different is presented. It is what puts teachers into a cold sweat when they are asked to consider trying a new tech tool that could replace or enhance something that they are doing and potentially improve the experience for teacher and students alike. Fear causes teachers to hold on tighter to the illusion of the sense of control they are so conditioned to want and demand, because that is how it was when we all were in school. Fear keeps teachers from really seeing the change that is taking place in our society as a reality and not another phase in the proverbial pendulum of education. Read this opinion about connectedness that gives an interesting perspective on this idea.

I know this because I have been and still am to some degree that teacher. In my first year out of the classroom as a tech integrator, I am able to see the classroom experience from a different perspective. I am the one now who is asking teachers to try something new; to let me show them tools that could make life during the school day more interesting and engaging for their students; to show them that if they give up some “control” and allow students to have more independence and freedom that they can actually meet the needs of more of their students throughout the day. This requires a shift from teachers delivering information and all that is important to teachers facilitating learning by promoting and developing inquiry and thinking skills. A high school teacher writes of her experience with making this shift in her approach to time spent with her students and how this shift is something that she has always known was right for her and her students.

I was a conference this summer and a presenter put a quote on the screen that read, “You think integrating technology is expensive; try irrelavence.” I fear that teachers with very good intentions and who believe strongly in what they are doing are steadily becoming irrelavent by not embracing or at least acknowledging the world in which their students spend so much time.


Re-Thinking Classroom Space

Adele Caemmerer and I presented to about 25 faculty members our ideas about re-thinking our classroom spaces in terms of the space being integral in the education of the students who experience it. We shared information from architects and teachers who have made changes to incorporate what we are now calling 21st Century Learning skills. We asked teachers to sketch their current classroom space and evaluate it based on 4 elements that we presented. Teachers were then asked to sketch their ideal classrooms, considering the space they have to work with. The ideas then began to flow, which we are keeping on a Google Doc so that more creativity, collaboration and communication can take place.
What ideas do you have about rearranging your space to most optimize movement, collaboration, creativity, sharing, and reflection? How does integration of technology fit into your thinking?
School Design
Modern Classrooms

Re-Thinking Our Classroom Space-edt 2 pdf

Mayo Clinic Study on Movement in the classroom 2006

CBS Report on Mayo Clinic Study

School District Launches iPads

Adopting the iPad as a school wide tool is part of the discussions here at AES. We are having great success with the ways teachers are piloting from KG to 5th grade. The middle school is also moving their set of 20 iPads around to different teachers and subject areas, while the high school has gone the direction of making them dedicated devices to two teachers. Here is an article about a school district in Michigan that is investing in students from grades3 to 12 to have their own tablet. What have your experiences with an Ipad or other tablet been like in a school setting?

Infographics as Teaching Tools

Infographics are a great way to present information in a colorful and eye catching format. There are sites where it is possible to find ready made infographics, although most of the ones that I have seen are geared for college students and other adults, and it is also possible to create your own. This Are Vs Our is my first attempt and I did it by copying and pasting from images on the web onto a word document. What if students were to look at and study this infographic and then look for examples in the book they are reading or look for correct and incorrect uses in their own writing? Would this be an effective tool? Feel free to try it out with your class.

are vs our infographic1

Here is a page from a page from a site that gives more information on infographics that I found helpful. See what you think and possibly give it a go. What are your thoughts about having students create infographics to show understanding of concepts, comparisons, or information from different subject areas?

21st Century Learning

What does 21st Century Learning mean to you? Are you actually tired of hearing the term? Do you want to yell at the top of your lungs that it is what good teaching is all about? Or, does the term make you want to say that sound teaching/guiding skills need to be adjusted to the ways that students are gathering and processing information in today’s world? Please open the link below to leave your written or spoken thoughts regarding this educational buzz term. 21st Century Voicethread This will also give you another opportunity to see how VoiceThread might be used to gather ideas from students, family members, experts, etc. from outside of our elementary community.

Using VoiceThread

VoiceThread is an amazing web tool that allows for students and teachers to share ideas, projects, and lessons with others. Word documents, electronic presentations, photographs, videos, laptop camera files, basically any file that can be uploaded from your computer or downloaded from the web can become part of a VoiceThread project.

I think that one of the most powerful features of this web tool is the ability for others to record thoughts as feedback. Check out the four examples below of different uses of VoiceThread.

An English teacher shares an essay and elicits responses.

Color Poems are recorded and supported with images.

Presenting a math lesson on using a protractor that was made with SmartNotebook and then uploaded to VoiceThread.

Uploading political cartoons to create reflection and discussion.