Category Archives: Presentations

Reflections on Unit 1: Projects, Collaboration, and Community

Image: Title Slide for Giving Credit Where Credit is Due Slide Presentation

Link to presentation slides Giving Credit Wher Credit is Due for Global Collaboration and Community Project

Note: This post is an extended reflection from the EdTech Team’s Teacher Leader Certification Program. I am participating in the initial cohort.

Looking back on the opening two weeks of the course, I find myself increasingly returning to the perspective of a student. Of course, I am a perpetual student, in truth.

Since this is a new class and it is entirely online, so there is always an adjustment period. This opening two weeks essentially was just that.

There were a lot of adjustments, from the urgent desire to figure out how to manage the deluge of emails that began from the activity in the Google Group or notifications from the Google+ Community that threatened to swamp every other message in my Inbox. I can only imagine what someone unfamiliar with some of the tools.

I have to admit that I struggled to keep track of all the work that as supposed to be completed and even misunderstood some directions. I still can’t help feeling like I might have forgotten something.

As for the project, after some initial uncertainty about what exactly I was supposed to deliver, whether or not I needed to work with others, and how global or collaborative things needed to be, I just got to it. I reached out to someone familiar and someone not so familiar.

At first, we had to gain some clarity between ourselves over the scope of the project, agreeing that the directions were really asking for a single lesson with multiple supportive elements.

I am not entirely sure that what my team accomplished ticks all boxes, although I am not sure what all the boxes would be anyway. Still, I know it is good work, especially for an initial effort.

flickr photo by mikeyb.0101
shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

We collaborated, divided labor, and all pulled in the same direction. It did require someone to kind of take the lead and drop the needle, but once that happened we were in a groove. The distance never became a factor. We were able to work asynchronously without any real problems.

More than anything, it was an interesting problem to tackle. Also, the uncertainty was not all bad, in retrospect. It forced some decisiveness and created a sense of urgency, as well. Each member of our trio jumped right into a task and was able to develop something based on the initial document.

It has been a good reminder of what it is like from a student’s perspective.

All that being said, I think the spectre of the graduate credits and grades kind of taints things a bit for me. I am all for exploring, taking risks, and experimenting. However, again like a student, the grade remains lurking in the background. Alright, maybe that is not quite like a student. It is much more in the foreground for many of them.

On a fundamental level. I don’t care much for grades. I often remark that I spent more than 10 years trying to make grades irrelevant in my classroom. However, I certainly need to do well in order to meet requirements of my employer for reimbursement and credentialing. While there were some general examples, I was not completely clear as to what all this project was supposed to look like upon completion.

It was another reminder of how much trust can play a role in learning. Since this is the first real work to be submitted for a newly developed class, there is a lot of ambiguity. This is completely understandable but it causes the specter of grades to loom much larger than it otherwise might.

I am fairly sure this will prove less and less of a concern. Still, another reminder of how much work we may need to do to ensure the climate and culture we desire with our students.

Building 1:1 Capacity

Image: Building 1:1 Capacity

I recently had the great privilege of presenting to a neighboring high school’s English department on their professional development Tech Day. They are a high school that has recently gone to 1:1 computing, with every student being issued a Macbook. While efforts have definitely been growing, the district wants to encourage even more seamless integration across the domains.

Having been working in some kind of 1:1 environment for a few years now, it was a great opportunity to share some thoughts about ways to take advantage and leverage the affordances of the new dynamic.

Like the Chinese word weiji, the truth of every student possessing a laptop is both precarious, invoking fear and for some danger, as well as presenting a crucial opportunity. The moment 1:1 computing becomes the reality of your classroom a lot of norms and previous practices are called into question. As Michael Wesch has so sharply articulated in his video The Machine is Us/ing Us, “We need to rethink a few things…”

Another truth is that not every educator, student, or person for that matter is ready for the depth or breadth of the changes that are occurring as more and more 1:1 programs roll out. Plus, adaptation and evolution take time and in educational settings that time can take longer than it does in corporate settings where increased sales and profits can outpace mistakes.

Still, given time, guidance, and encouragement educators and students can build capacity toward better and better seamless integration of computer devices into their way of working and being. It naturally happens in personal, informal settings but school has always been a little different and, in some cases, there has been good reason for those differences.

Nevertheless, here are some thoughts I shared in the presentation to the neighboring school and my own.

Image: SAMR Model

I used Ruben Puentedura‘s SAMR Model for my whole approach. I do not think it is a silver bullet answer, but I do think it can provide a useful framework for smoothly increasing integration and capacity over time.

Image: Technology Comfort Level Survey

It is always important to survey the teachers. Survey results can guide best SAMR model application. By encouraging each teacher to pick one to three tasks, units, or projects in a year to alter by integrating laptops using the model can rapidly make significant change.

  • Self-ranked individuals of 1-2 : Substitution and Augmentation are reasonable goals by year’s end.
  • Self-ranked individuals of 2-4 : Augmentation or Modification are reasonable goals by year’s end.
  • Self-ranked individuals of 3-5 : Modification is a reasonable goal by year’s end with effort focused on Redefinition.

If every teacher selected 2-3 end-products each year to integrate and alter, within three years, the majority of student work would be enhanced by the affordances of the laptops. Depending on the comfort of the teachers, a significant portion of student work could be transformed. It may not be a reasonable goal that all student work will have gone through a Redefinition, but the natural byproduct of the process would contribute to a significant amount reaching that level.

Image: Writing Stakes

Beginning with writing in mind first for planning purposes, enhances thoughtful, backward design of students learning. The student writing will determine the end-product, in turn opening the possibilities for the realization of an expanded notion of what constitutes a text. Additionally, students need opportunities of various levels and stakes to produce high quality end-products. Many of the examples above can benefit from the application of the SAMR model, ultimately including potential Redefinition.

Image: Google Drive Documents

Using Google Drive is a pure Substitution for any class, without making any changes. It can quickly be elevated to Modification by employing the sharing or commenting features. One simple strategy that leverages the Modification aspect is using a Google Document as the platform for collective, structured pre-writing activities, where guidance can be provided while work is captured, as well as shared across sections, potentially.

Additionally, demonstrations and templates, among other strategies can easily be employed to reach the Modification level. Yet, using the tool in the context of peer feedback groups.

Image: Google Drive Forms

Using Google Drive to create and administer Forms is one of the easiest ways to elevate to the Augmentation level, while gathering a variety of feedback or data from students that can be used in any number of ways. Forms can be a simple Substitution for strategies like entry or exit slips, opening prompts, surveys, and more. However, since the answers and data is collected in a spreadsheet that renders it searchable, manipulatable, thus potentially more useful and clearly reaching Augmentation.

Using Google Drive as a tool for peer feedback is another simple way to achieve the Augmentation level. Sharing a Google Document within a group and soliciting feedback becomes easier and enables some functional improvements. Using the Comment feature and a simple protocol, comments can be preserved for later revision. Additional, collaborative writing possibilities exist too.

Image: Flipboard

Using social bookmarking tools offer another simple Substitution method for sharing resources. A tool like Flipboard works in a similar fashion but allows for curated resources to appear in a digital magazine-like format. Individuals or teams can use Flipboard to curate Internet items from periodicals, blogs, websites, anything with a URL in an elegant, easy-to-read format for sharing.

Building 1-1 Capacity at HHS (7)

KQED’s Do Now is a Modification example of using an existing resource from San Francisco’s PBS station, which posts weekly articles and questions designed to engage teens at the intersection of current events and social media. Using hashtags and Twitter, comments, responses, answers can be shared and gathered. Since the site is built on a blog platform, a comments feature is also available for anyone to contribute, with or without Twitter.

Image: Youth Voices

Youth Voices is an existing student community with participating classes from across the country. While most of the active teachers and classes in the community are in the humanities, there is no requirements or limitations. The community of participating teachers continue to create curricular material that achieves Redefinition level. It is a lively and evolving community of student work.

This is a quick sample of the presentation and some accompanying thoughts about how to implement the model, as well as build capacity of a wider group of educators and students.  Everyone is at a different place on a continuum of ability, learning, and understanding. Yet, using SAMR can anchor the efforts to advance and enhance the way class works, over time reaching higher and higher, with the potential to ultimately transform the entire way school works.

EdTechTeachers, Journalism, iPads, and More

I gave a presentation at EdTechTeacher’s iPad Summit 2013 Boston today, about the work that my colleague Sterling Worrell and I have been doing with our journalism course, entitled iPad at the Center: A Student Journalist’s Most Versatile Tool.

For both those in attendance, many thanks again, and those who wish they were, here are some notes.

Slides are available on slideshare and include the instructional Five Shot Sequence with A Roll video used in the presentation. However, here is the student created report on the school schedule.

Our journalism course is a workshop environment, that functions as project based learning experience for all students. The course runs in a true hybrid or blended way with a ratio of 65% face-to-face classroom contact and 35% online contact.

The purpose of the course is creation and management of digital content to be published for an online news site. Our main goal is to generate as much publishable content as possible.

All students receive an iPad to use 24/7 for the duration of the course. The iPads are pre-loaded with a handful of apps, but students can add apps independently. The iPad affords each student with a single device to capture and craft text, audio, and video. While it may not be the best tool for any one of those individual mediums, it is a multimedia Swiss Army knife.

All content is created as text plus, meaning text plus photography, text, plus video, etc. We use a self-hosted WordPress installation for news site, as well as Flickr, and Vimeo primarily to manage student generated content. Student leaders function in editorial positions, managing all content and student reporters. Students are given instruction about digital workflow and management.

In lieu of a textbook, we incorporate News University, from the Poynter Institute, a professional development source for practicing journalists. Sequencing of NewsU modules helps move students from consumption to production behaviors and habits of mind. All models of journalism for class are elevated, professional with occasional collegiate exemplars.

In addition to being a project based method of learning, journalism provides a platform for students to write with real purpose for authentic audiences.

In fact, local news outlets will repurpose student content, especially sports stories. Most small publications lack the resources to cover the breadth of high school sports events but have a readership eager to read about them. Plus, sports journalism has a high churn rate, meaning students that write for the sports beat get multiple reps with faster turnaround, honing their skills.

Using iPads affords a deep exploration and experience with digital literacies focused within the domain of journalism. It also presents the opportunity to discuss various contexts of our work, personal and private, proprietary and public, as well as the ethical implications for students and journalists.

Again, many thanks to all those that attended.