Ed Tech Co-Op Podcast Show 3 - Curriculum Review and Planning

This show's essential question: How can curriculum review and development support ICL integration?

In this show, David and Mark discuss a collaborative approach to curriculum review and planning. David shares his experience in collaborating on a team to systematically review curriculum in teams and to integration information and communication literacies (ICL) throughout the curriculum.  David focuses on practical tips for how to make this process truly collaborative and transformative.

Here is a link to David's article from Learning and Leading with Technology that discusses this process in more detail:


In the show, David also mentions myDragonnet, a Web-based curriculum management system.  Here's a link to David's article from Learning and Leading:


Engagement, Thinking and Technology

We spoke with Jim Reese in last night's podcast about how to better  support pre-service teachers. Jim brought up the point of teaching teachers how to teach their students to be learners ready to ask questions, analyze and go deeper in their thinking. Jim also spoke about visual learning. 

Several of my recent lessons with our 5th graders have been on topics that really do need the students to go beyond surface thought into deeper analysis. The topics dealt with acceptable use of technology at our school, online privacy and citizenship. 

So how did I help my students go deeper in their thinking? 

As mentioned in a previous post, Wallwisher has been my tool of choice to get students to share ideas with others and then react to what everyone else has posted. There are other tools that allow for this but I really do like the way one can drag and drop the Wallwisher notes. This helps me group student responses in a format that then leads to further discussion once we as a class go through all the notes. The visual nature of seeing ideas and being able to respond to them is an important learning mechanism as Jim pointed out in our podcast. 

Here are some of the questions the students responded to in their Wallwisher posts:

-How does technology help you learn? 
-What are some ways and tools that you should be allowed to use at school to help you learn?

-What are your responsibilities in using the tools?  

-How do you define the term "private"? How about "public"?
-What are examples of private information?
-What tips do you have for tweens and teenagers to protect their privacy when online or in using phones?

-What does it mean to be a good citizen? What are the behaviors of a good citizen?
-What does it mean to be a good digital citizen? What are the behaviors of a good digital citizen?
-Is there a difference between being a good citizen in person and online/phone?

The topics of acceptable use, privacy and citizenship all have a social angle that naturally engages students. The process of having them read the questions I post at Wallwisher, think about them, then post their ideas and read what their classmates posted is an instructional process that is bringing about more thoughtful responses from my students than just trying to have a class discussion. An added benefit of the students' work on our Acceptable Use Policy was that they had a voice in updating it for this year. 


Math Casting and Learning

The Kahn Academy site has really focused our attention on creating multimedia tutorials for math and other subjects. Classroom teachers are engaging their students in the thinking and creation processing that takes place when designing and publishing screencasts as in the Mathtrain site.

One of our fifth grade teachers, Margi Weaver, recently taught her students a math lesson using the ScreenChomp app on the iPad. Take a look at the post on the iPad Pilot blog that describes the advantages to using this instructional technique.There are plenty of screencasting apps so do share which ones are working in your classrooms. I have to say that ScreenChomp should allow for uploading to their site while providing a unique URL for easy sharing. However, this was not the case for our students as they received error messages. Update: 24 hours later we were able to upload the screencasts. The students were given specific URLs to access to view their videos.

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Ed Tech Co-Op Podcast Show 2 - Curriculum-Based Tech Integration

In this podcast, David and Mark discuss curriculum-based (as opposed to tool-focused) technology integration in K-12 classrooms.  They discuss the Learning Activity Types approach to tech integration developed by Mark Hofer and Judi Harris at the College of William & Mary.  This five phase process encourages teachers to first identify the learning goals for a particular lesson/unit/project, take into account the classroom context and student needs, select and sequence appropriate content-based learning activity types, incorporate formative and summative assessment, and finally to consider technology options that are linked with the selected learning activity types and assessments.  In this approach, the selection and use of technology flows from the learning goals, student needs and learning activities rather than beginning with the technologies themselves.  

Here are some articles that appeared in Learning and Leading with Technology may be a helpful starting place to learn more about this approach.  More information can be found at the Learning Activity Types Web site - http://activitytypes.wmwikis.net

Harris, J., & Hofer, M. (2009). “Grounded” technology integration: Planning with curriculum-based learning activity types. Learning & Leading With Technology, 37(2), 22-25.

Hofer, M., & Harris, J. (2009). “Grounded” tech integration: Social studies. Learning & Leading With Technology, 37(2), 26-28.

Grandgenett, N., Harris, J., & Hofer, M. (2009). “Grounded” tech integration: Math. Learning & Leading With Technology, 37(3), 24-26.

van Olphen, M., Hofer, M., & Harris, J. (2009-2010). “Grounded” tech integration: Languages. Learning & Leading With Technology, 37(4), 26-28.

Young, C.A., Hofer, M., & Harris, J. (2010). "Grounded" tech integration: English language arts. Learning & Leading With Technology, 37(5), 28-30.

Blanchard, M. R., Harris, J., & Hofer, M. (2010). “Grounded” tech integration: Science. Learning & Leading With Technology, 37(6), 32-34.

Schmidt, D., Harris, J., & Hofer, M. (2010). “Grounded” tech integration: K-6 literacy. Learning & Leading With Technology, 37(7), 30-32.

Teaching to Blog and Comment (Instructional Strategy)

Our 5th grade teachers, Michelle and Margie, use a class blog to build community and further develop several skill areas for their students. To support the students' introduction to blogging, they have a couple lessons in their technology class.  

The first lesson works to answer the question of "why blog?". The students view videos defining weblog as well as read several student and teacher/class blogs. This lays the groundwork for a discussion of how they can participate in their class blog as authors and commenters.  

Here are some of the sites I use in the lesson via our Web Resources site:

  • Examples of Student Blogs
  • Award Winning Student BloggersTeacher and Student Blogs
  • Example of Teacher Blogs (These are just starting links that can take you to student blogs which are usually listed on the right side of the page. Check them out.)
  • More Teacher Blogs (Look on the right side of the page.)
  • Edublogs (this is the service Ms. Cook uses. Go to the Featured Blogs down the right side of  the page to see how people are using blogs.)

A second lesson puts the students in the role of blog reader and commenter. They go to a Lifehacker post listing specific protocols to follow in making constructive comments. After reviewing the post and having a class discussion on the commenting protocols, the students are given a blog to read. They choose one post to make comments on. As the lesson is to give them practice as commenters, the students use Wallwisher to post their comments. Once everyone has made their comment, we have a class discussion analyzing the posts as to how well they followed the criteria specified in the Lifehacker post. The discussion continues when they return to class with Michelle and Margie. The students further discuss how they will make their first comments to the class blog.  

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The Power of Enthusiasm & Willingness to Take Risks

We will talk a great deal on the podcast about the power of systematic curriculum development and review. Whether you document the units of study from curriculum meetings in a Word doc, Google Doc or a curriculum mapping tool, they will not make a difference for student learning until the teachers turn the words into action.

A big part of shifting the way we teach and assessing students comes down to one's willingness to take risks in trying new instructional and assessment techniques while having the enthusiasm to really engage with a positive attitude. As our podcast is about real and practical experiences in our schools, let me share how two fifth grade teachers at my school (Alexandria Country Day School) are turning the plans of our curriculum into action.

Margi Weaver and Michelle Cook spent four days this past summer in our crash course of curriculum development and review. They fully jumped into the process of creating enduring understandings and essential questions. Looking at concept-based learning was an additional aspect of our curriculum review. As we spoke about what Michelle and Margi really felt students should learn, they opened themselves up to question previously accepted learning outcomes. When it came down to how to get students to the newly developed enduring understandings, they were open to new pathways and tools to drive their learning activities.

And now that we are in our first full week of classes, they are moving forward implementing the action steps newly embedded into their unit plans. While Margi and Michelle are the leaders of our 5th grade iPad pilot, they also are finding themselves in the thick of several other initiatives. The piloting of a learning management system (Haiku), using online mind mapping tools (Webspiration) and having the students respond to the essential questions of the first science unit were on the unit plan document and now they are already being acted upon.

While there are usually several other factors that support the process of shifting a school to more constructivist teaching methods and student-centered active learning, one has to start with excited teachers who are willing to let go and take risks. Kudos to our action oriented fifth grade teachers.



Show 1: Ed Tech Co-Op Podcast

In this show Mark and David introduce the purpose of the Ed Tech Co-Op and invite teachers and teacher educators interested in exploring curriculum-based technology integration to join the conversation.


College of William & Mary School of Education - http://education.wm.edu
Alexandria Country Day School - http://www.acdsnet.org/home.asp
ACDS iPad Pilot Program Blog - http://acdsipad.blogspot.com/
The Ed Tech Co-Op Web page - http://edtechcoop.posterous.com
The Ed Tech Co-Op Group on Curriki - http://edtechcoop.groups.curriki.org

Welcome to the Ed Tech Co-Op

Welcome to the Ed Tech Co-Op. This site hosts a bi-weekly podcast, posts, links, resources, and invitations for collaboration on technology integration efforts. This Co-Op is a collaborative effort between the College of William & Mary, Alexandria Country Day School, and other educators interested in exploring and developing their knowledge for effective curriculum-based technology integration in K-12 classrooms. Discussions also take place about pre-service teacher preparation and additional topics are covered as they come up in the news.