Redefining Homework Through an At”TACKK” Strategy

Recently my son was assigned a Science homework assignment. He was sent home a ‘fold-over’ booklet where he was instructed to record the high/low temperature, wind speed and precipitation every day for 5 consecutive days.  Students were encouraged to go “beyond the assignment.”

When I received the parent email communicating the task, I immediately knew that if this was to be done in the ‘fold-over’ booklet it would be a long 5 days at our house.  To avoid this misery I emailed the teacher and asked if the “weather log” could be done digitally. Permission was granted.

After talking to my son about different digital platforms to record his learning we decided to utilize TACKK. The ability for him to add video and photos that matched each day’s weather data was powerful. Additionally, he learned about citing sources, inserting pictures and video retrieved from both websites and email, and adding various features to TACKK. To add to this, from the research he learned that during this time of weather data collection in the year 2000 an extreme winter weather event occurred in the home town of his grandmother.  Using this personal connection he conducted an interview to add a historical feature of interest to his TACKK. Changing from a non-technology platform to the TACKK allowed us to have great conversations about why using his first name only on his product was important, asking good questions to have a better understanding of weather events and the significance of those events, what was a source that needed to be cited and writing captions to inform his audience. The greatest reward was after completing the TACKK when the Elementary Science Coordinator for my district commented on his TACKK. He couldn’t wait to respond and the pride in his work reached an all time high.

Just the simple task that initially began as just a substitution for a paper pencil task to help my son engage in the experience, truly evolved to a product that redefined learning. Additionally, he added additional digital literacy skills that this authentic experience made meaningful.

Here is his product:

Kristophers Weather TACKKClick on Image to got to Full TACKK

What started as a way to keep my son engaged in a task turned into a learning experience that required collaboration, research, connectivity and critical thinking a paper pencil task would have not have happened due to the fact he would simply not have been motivated or engaged in the process. This is a simple example of how, when nothing is limited, possibility with technology redefines the learning.

How have you witnessed when simple steps toward integrating technology have catapulted learning from substitution to redefinition? Please share your comments and thoughts.

10 Ways to Assess Learning Through Technology

Educators are constantly looking for ways to check for prior knowledge and understanding of content facilitated in the classroom. Constructivist learning environments require ongoing quick assessments to ensure that there is a progression of learning and mastery of content. Well crafted worship model designed lessons, purposefully planned guiding questions and learning targets that students utilize to evaluate their own learning are key. Additionally, as engineers of the learning experience we must find a variety of ways to assess the learning.

Recently I presented with teacher leader, Hayley Sample, to teachers in my district on the variety of formative assessment approaches and technology tools that can efficiently facilitate that process.

To ensure optimum utilization and variety, Hayley and I created a quick reference sheet that teachers could access, review and use when planning formative assessments as part of purposeful planning for instruction.

Here is the Quick Reference “Purposeful Tech Integration for Formative Assessment” resource provided.

These tools were designed to meet the needs of our district where our elementary campuses share both iPad and netbooks, and our secondary campuses are 1:1 with Dell Latitude tablets, but have a BYOD policy for those students that opt for another device.

What are ways that you and your district formatively assess through technology? Please share your thoughts, comments and ideas.

Anyone Can Do a Training, No One Can Tell Your Stories…

TechnoPalooza

 

In the last two days of July my district hosted an amazing Professional Learning Event called #TechnoPalooza 2014.  There were amazing presentations by myself and others both within my district and outside of my district.

As I moved on from those two days and reflected on the learning, connecting, and collaboration that took place, one thing rose to the surface.  In every situation where an individual’s learning was impacted, it was through a story or stories shared.

I heard feedback about my colleagues presentations as well as my own presentations, and each conversation started with… “I loved the story you told about….” or “I appreciated the story you told how you reached a student through… I related to that.”

Recently, Hayley Sample, a 4th grade English Language Arts Teacher that I work closely with as her Instructional Technology Coach, shared how she completely redefined storytelling and publishing  through the use of Google Forms, Showbie and the BookCreator app that was featured on my Instructional Team’s Blog “Making IT Click“.  Her story was so powerful that her story was re-blogged by the creators of the BookCreator app on their blog site.  As I write this, Showbie is discussing with Hayley the possibility of  re-blogging here story as well.  She was also a presenter on this topic at TechnoPalooza… what resonated with participants?  It was the power of her story, the learning experience and the impact it had on the  students in her classroom and beyond.

As I thought about the presentations and workshops I have led this summer, I have come to realize that the stories we tell of personal struggles, triumphs and transformation as we share the skills are what truly encourage others to try the techniques, tools and ideas we offer.  I am mid-way through the book “ROLE Reversal” by Mark Barnes and it’s the stories he shares through out, but especially in chapter 5 (Moving from Grades  to Feedback) and chapter 6 (Evaluating while Evolving), that fire me up to transform classrooms to a Results Only Learning Environment.

As I think about the transformation and growth in my own professional learning, it has never been because of a profoundly skill driven course I have taken that has pushed me forward, but rather, the stories of passion, heart (and heartache), and difference made.

I have included the presentations I gave at #TechnoPalooza below.  However, without the context of the stories I tell, they seem somewhat empty to me.  I share them without reservation, as I know, anyone can use my presentation, but no one can tell the same stories… those are  uniquely mine and those I share my learning journey with.

 

Presentation on “Curation for the 21st Century”

Curation Palooza

and “Genius Hour.”

image of GH site

I also had the privilege of co-presenting with Library Media Specialist, Sue Fitzgerald (Blog: The Unpretentious Librarian).

We shared with participants…

“Letting a Tech Club Find You”

Tech Club palooza presentation

“Blogging as a Reflective Educator”

Reflective educator palooza

and “Blogging by Choice”

Blogging by Choice palooza

No matter what  expertise you bring to the table in whatever environment, your stories are what make your wisdom and ideas palatable to others.  Anyone can present the tool or technique, but only you can share the stories.  Share your stories… the world is waiting for your unique perspective that may be just the story that pushes that person to transform their own  learning and the learning environment of their classroom, campus, district, etc.

 

“Like a TECH BOSS”

This phrase appeared in our district Tuesday night Twitter chat #nisdnov8.  One of our district’s proactive, tech-savvy administrators @yolanda_wallace signed off saying:

Yolanda Tweet

 

I love walking into a classroom and seeing students engaged and creating relevant product guided by specific learning goals. However, I know many teachers this time of year fall prey or are tempted to slip, allowing knowledge level content games or overuse of “content videos” to fill the instructional time. Often the previous situation is practiced instead of using technology in the last few weeks to revisit skills or objectives that warrant review through student product at the redefinition (SAMR) level to ensure carry over to the next year.

This is a time of year that can be a slippery slope of mediocrity and countdowns to the end of the year.  I don’t intend to be harsh, as I enjoy the unstructured pool time that a summer offers.  However, there is precious instructional time to be mined.  Many schools, such as our district campuses, have access to devices (4:1 on elementary campuses and 1:1 on secondary campuses).  Now is the time to take risks, try new platforms, experiment with practices… it is a time to be brave.

I love the perks of an educator’s profession where we have time to enjoy the sun, don’t have to wake every day Monday through Friday to an alarm (except for my administrator friends and those of us facilitating professional learning courses), and can read uninterrupted our favorite novel.  However, there is still so much precious time for work to be done.  I honestly miss the school time with students during the summer. Seeing those “aha” moments and the exhilaration of crafting meaningful instruction that reaps a great yield is something that feeds my soul.

When I see count-down posts on Twitter or Facebook it saddens me.  I don’t think it is intended to send a negative message… after all, it is just a statement of how much we love summer.  However, to a parent, community member or student, it makes a statement that school is over, there is no value in the learning that could happen in the next few weeks, and downgrades our profession to a lesser profession. Instead of being recognized as the respected professional educators have worked so hard to elevate and be respected on the same level as a lawyer, doctor or engineer, our caution-less posts become a detriment.

We are educational engineers.  We design learning… ALL SCHOOL YEAR LONG.  Do as my fellow colleague @yolanda_wallace challenged and “own these last few weeks like a TECH BOSS!” Seize the opportunity, take the risks, and be the boss… send students the message that learning continues to happen for all.  In fact, I challenge you to present learning in such a way that it ignites your student’s passion for learning and sends them home for the summer on fire to continue the learning all summer long.

When we “Be Brave”…

ferroni quote with canvaWe all have celebrated the moments when we inspire our students.  In those same moments we have become inspired as well.  Often the inspiration takes us on a journey through the reflective epiphany of a fear to take a risk with something or a realization that we have purposefully avoided a challenge.  However, in the face of this inspiration, we know we must seize the moment, push forward and “Be Brave.”

As an instructional technology specialist I am constantly looking for this dynamic between student and teacher inspiration that leads to risk taking and being brave.  After seeing this in many of the teachers and students I work with, I chose to capture through video some of the benefits of heeding the “inspiration boomerang” in hope that more “inspired bravery” would occur.  This video is just a small picture of the teachers and students in my district that daily inspire one another.

One of the teachers, Mr. Suhr, was recently featured on our district Instructional Technology blog, “Making IT Click.”

As Teacher Appreciation Week ends and we begin to bring our instructional year to a close, I hope 2013-14 provided many moments inspired bravery.  As we reflect, think forward, and set goals for 2014-15, how do you plan to continue to “Be Brave?”

#EdCampNOV8

Click on the #edcampNOV8 Thinglink (at date of post Thinglink cannot be embedded in a WordPress blog)
The Northwest ISD IT team, that I am a part of, hosted our first #EdCamp.  It was an exhilarating experience and I was amazed at all the new #EdCampers that attended.  I created the Thinglink above as a celebration, curation and brief reflection of the event.  Additionally, I have a fun 20 second video that I took capturing our autonomous learning #EdCampers moving to GoNoodle a free dance/exercise based online program for situations like indoor recess or incentive built physical education activities.

The “E” in ePortfolio- A Reflection

This past fall our Superintendent shared with us her four main initiatives.  One of them to have every student K-12 create a living portfolio that showcases student learning.  The platform to deliver this… Google Sites.

What happened next was a concerted effort by our instructional team to help train teachers, support students and intentional time spent with students to get started.

When the educational world is in an uproar over testing and common core, ePortfolios show what can happen when effective instructional practices are in place and high expectations, married with freedom of choice, are communicated with students.  ePortfolios is authentic learning at its best.

But authentic learning aside, what happened with students is the story worth telling.

Students embraced the ePortfolios.  Eager to have choice in design and input on what would be included changed how students and teachers viewed learning.  It suddenly became about what is best about the student and not a compliance about products that “must” be included.

Follow the link below to our District IT blog to see how one student,  with teacher’s guidance, fully embraced the idea of ePortfolios and ran with it..

(Northwest ISD Instructional Technology Blog: “Making IT Click”)