Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Speed Geeking" - Students Introduce Teachers to Technology

I recently read a study about how educators are often reluctant to use new technology. Part of the reason is our comfort with what we currently do but other factors also impact the decision. For example, educators often don't want to look unsophisticated with technology especially if they're working with middle or high school students who may be far more savvy.

This week ASCD EDge introduced me to a new concept---speed geeking. It's essentially a speed dating model for technology. Faculty moved from table to table and learned from students about a new technology and how it impacted their learning. It reminded me of when my school had a group of students who worked with teachers on technology. They were basically the "geek squad" of Tappan Middle School.

It's an interesting idea for sharing, learning and growing. I believe teachers respect the knowledge and skills of their students and "speed geeking" is a fascinating way for teachers, and others, to become acquainted with how technology is used by students to improve their learning.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Power of the "Tweet" - Building a PLN

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is one way to stay collected with trends and issues in your field and to work, and share, collaboratively. Social media is a great way to create and maintain your PLN. PLN's are really useful because you can connect with those individuals and groups that best meet your needs. The benefits include
  • access to useful resources and information;
  • ability to search for new tools and innovative practices;
  • thoughtful suggestions and critique of your ideas;
  • helping you to think more deeply about your work;
  • meeting professional contacts for job growth.

A virtual PLN can be created using social media like Twitter. A recent article by Tom Murray, Director of Technology and Cyber Education for the Quakertown School District in Bucks County, PA describes the benefits of a virtual PLN using Twitter.

Howard Johnston and I describe how to create and maintain a PLN in our book The School Leader's Guide to Social Media from Eye on Education. We'd enjoy learning about how you use PLN's to improve your work.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Common Core and Digital Literacy Skills

As states prepare for implementation of the Common Core standards the focus is appropriately on the knowledge and skills students will need for success on the assessments. The Common Core changes instruction. But an often overlooked need is to assure that students have the digital literacy skills they'll need to navigate the assessments. Students will need to complement their analytical and evaluative skills with operational skills like keyboarding and use of spreadsheets.

But it's not as simple as teaching keyboarding and use of spreadsheets. Students will need more advanced skills like creating and analyzing charts and graphs, using tools to communicate and present information, and using online tools to conduct research.

The challenge is that students often have more knowledge, and greater comfort, in the digital environment that their teachers. They are often more familiar with the digital tools that can be used for these tasks. But it would be foolish to assume that every student has those skills and is comfortable with their use.

We'd enjoy hearing from you about how you, and your school, are preparing students to be successful in this new digital environment.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Free Resources for Flipped Classrooms

We're fascinated by the way digital technology is changing instruction. One of the more innovation approaches is the flipped classroom, a classroom where students spend time outside of class watching videos about new concepts while at home and then using in-class time for in-depth discussion and application of their learning.

Many teachers we've worked with understand the concept and would like to begin flipping their classes. But the prospect of developing their own videos and other materials is daunting. Fortunately, the May issue of eSchoolNews provides information and links to several free resources teachers can use to "flip their classrooms."

We'd enjoy learning from you about your experience with flipped classrooms.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Move to Digital Instruction

One of my favorite publications is eSchool News. The May edition has a story about the move in North Carolina to encourage school districts to purchase digital devices rather than traditional textbooks. A new law provides the incentive for districts to rethink textbook purchases.

In many of the school districts where I work this trend would force teachers and administrators outside their comfort zone. While many of us find our iPads and other devices an integral part of how we do our work, we just can't imagine how they can positively impact student learning. One district we work with in Oregon has embraced this digital trend. They report that as they reduce the budget for textbooks, they can provide funds to update technology for students and staff. They also find that students are generally careful with the devices and damage is minimal.

Perhaps most importantly, access to digital technology opens up incredible curricular and instructional resources for teachers and students. One school no longer spends funds on digital calculators. They simply use the free app that's available.

We'd enjoy hearing from you about your experience with the use of digital devices for instruction. eschool