Tag Archives: 1:1 laptop environment

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.

Shaping a Research Question as a #SEACCR

Image: Literature Circle Meetings and Posting Notes of Meeting to the Group's Google Site!

Literature Circle Meetings… – cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by The Unquiet Library

I must admit that I have fallen a little off the pace in the SEACCR Community as this week progressed. There were a number of disruptions at the school where I work, including the tragic accidental death of a eighth grade student in the immediately adjacent middle school, as well as an unexpected leadership change in my building. Needless to say, all of that diverted a lot of energy away from a typical focus I might have had on this project. Add to that, I have come down with the annual welcome-back-to-school-cold, so I am currently playing a bit hurt.

But enough excuses.

Angling for a Question

When it comes to developing research questions, I always feel like a have a bit of a weakness. I am not sure that it is true, but I certainly feel like it is. I sometimes have a hard time problematizing certain ideas in a way that makes them more readily research oriented. Perhaps it is simply a matter of over-thinking. I am not sure. Then there is always the issue of scale, which is no simple challenge for me, always a bit more ambitious than a course of study and schedules sometimes accommodate. Refining and narrowing are also challenges always seem to come in a rush as the deadline looms and I need to figure out how to wrangle all the research I have compiled into a sensible whole.

With the SEACCR Community’s focus on English Language Arts Common Core Standards as an anchor for the journey, however, I am operating in a comfort zone. I also knew, based on previous action research from last year, I was going to focus on writing. Last year, I suffered a bit from grandiosity of goal but in so doing actually was employing a whole lot of different strategies and tools, each of which could very well have been turned into a project, if isolated. So, as I got my students started writing their first assignment this year, knowing that I was going to be using it to introduce them to the practice of reader response groups, it occurred to me that I might have found a focus that could be examined over eight weeks.

Surveying Current Practice

I have been employing reader response groups for a number of years, but was rarely all that systematic about it until last year. In my class context a reader response group involves each student meeting with a few peers, in a small group of three or four, reading their work aloud to the group, soliciting feedback and discussion, in preparation for revising their work. The process is cyclical and nearly always precedes my seeing student work.

It is not a peer editing session. It is more about engaging the students in thinking about real audiences – themselves. In fact, I tell all my students, The first audience for your writing is yourself, always and forever.” Yet, I want them to share their work with each other and recognize that I, as the teacher, am not the ultimate audience for everything.

Making it a practice continues to challenge me to find different reasons and tasks for writing. While I hate the overused term “authentic” in education, I keep trying to create opportunities for writing that embrace a wider audience than me or even the classroom, while trying to employ professional models of craft for inspiration. It also means that essays about stories and books that we read in class have become less the focus and more just part of the process and just another genre opportunity.

Plus, everything changed once I began working in a 1:1 laptop environment with ninth grade students. Suddenly the ease and convenience of employing the approach opened in a way that made earlier attempts seem medieval. Since we are a Google Apps school, we use Google Docs, but truth be told I had student start using Google Docs years before the school got around to providing every student with an account. With each student able to share the document and the rest of the group to follow along on screen as it is read, potentially embedding comments in the document, everything can take on more of a charge, It is now a regular routine in my courses and continues to evolve my classroom.

Crafting a Question

So as I introduced my students to their first reader response experience this week, it was clear this would be the crux of my action research question.

How does the use of use of Google Docs impact in reader response groups change or shape the writing process?

I know that may yet need some refinement and tuning, but it is good enough to start. This week I will need to consider how I am going to gather data and what angle or approach I want to take to seeking an answer.

Shifting Standards

I have been working with the Common Core for a few years now, beginning just as states started adopting them. As part of a team of Massachusetts teachers involved in the National Writing Project’s Efforts in the Literacy Design Collaborative in 2010, I had an opportunity to grow quite familiar with the new standards early.

Considering that the state of Massachusetts’ previous frameworks served as a model, at least in part, for the new Common Core, as well as the stake in getting an early adoption from a highly successful state, I have generally found there to be a lot of similarities between the two. In many ways, the previous commonwealth’s frameworks were better written, arguably offered greater flexibility, and friendlier to teachers. yet, the differences are far more overstated to me and marginal, at least on the surface.

On a broad level, I am not convinced that new standards will have a significant impact on the teaching and learning in my classroom. Part of this is due to the fact that I have been adapting for the last three years, and part is due to the broad similarities. Once routine practice I have been doing since is using the new standards to audit curriculum and make decisions about what might need adjusting. Any new curricular efforts simply based on  the new standards from the start.

Ultimately, no one will really know how much of an impact the new Common Core Standards will have on the teaching and learning on any individual classroom until the results of the first battery of new tests are gathered and analyzed. I suspect that will have far greater ramifications than anything.