Ed Tech Co-Op Podcast Show 5 - Tech Integration Transition for Beginning Teachers

Essential Question: How does teacher training for technology integration translate in professional practice?

David and Mark are joined this week by Abri Nelson, English teacher from Easton Unified School District 449 in Easton Kansas. Abri is a 2009 graduate of the MAEd. program at William & Mary. She taught social studies for two years in Fairfax County, Virginia prior to teaching English this year at Pleasant Ridge High School. In this episode we talk with Abri about transitioning from her teacher preparation program to teaching in "the real world," and about how she integrates technology in her teaching.

The Curriki Group for the Ed Tech Co-Op is finally up and running. Please visit the site to check out a variety of Tech Expert Modules created by Mark's students at William & Mary. They cover a variety of resources and provide classroom examples, pros/cons, and tips for teachers to explore the resources for their own teaching. Students are also preparing to post tech integration lesson plans in the group as well. Both of these collections will grow throughout November, so please check back often. I know the students would really value your ratings, comments, and suggestions, so please scroll down to the bottom of the page and Request Membership to join the conversation. When you request membership, please add Ed Tech Co-Op podcast to the note. Thanks!

Mark shared a new Web site that Judi Harris shared with him called Mightybell. This site enables teachers to create "experiences" or a goal or topic organized around a series of steps for those who join the experience. There is an interesting social networking aspect to the site in that fellow questers can support one another and share their progress towards completing the experience.
Abri discussed how she used Wordle with her English students. In addition she shared how Ning has been a great way for her to connect with other English teachers. wordle.net, Ning as an online community for teachers

David shared a resource her learnded about from the librarian at his school, Elizabeth Lockwood, called the Research Project Calculator (RPC). This site "offers students a simple and comprehensive five-step model for navigating the research process." Teachers create experiences for their students and serve as Information Literacy Coaches.

Ed Tech Co-Op Podcast Show 4 - Preparing Teachers for Tech Integration

Essential QuestionWhat do the pre-service teachers really need to know as they move into their student teaching?

David and Mark are joined this week by Jim Reese, Curriculum and Staff Coordinator for the secondary campus of the Washington International School. They discuss strategies and challenges for helping to prepare new teachers to both transition to the teaching profession as well as to integrate technology in their teaching.

Tips of the Week:

Jim shared information on Project Zero upcoming conference at the Atlanta International School, November 4-6, 2011, featuring Howard Gardner and David Perkins. Also, be sure to check out the book, Making Thinking Visible, which explores strategies to help students be more engaged in their learning with a focus on deep understanding and independence.

Mark shared an interesting blog post by Larry Cuban which appeared on his excellent blog, School Reform and Classroom Practice. In "Steve Jobs on Educational Technology and School Reform," he discusses excerpts from two interviews with Jobs in 1995 & 1997 in which he was asked about technology improving education.  Definitely worth a reade.

David shared a great a great blog post by Renee Hobbs on how "the confluence of popular culture, mass media, and the digital tools for information gathering and creative expression cultivate and deepen the kind of intellectual curiosity that goes beyond simple engagement and leads to lifelong learning?” This post was shared with David by our school librarian Elizabeth Lockwood. He also mentioned a blog post he's written on The Learning Mag project that enables teacher to create their own e-textbooks, a we'll explore in a future show.

Please contact us with ideas for future shows, resources you'd like to share. Also be sure to check out our Curriki group - Ed Tech Co-Op.

Classroom Management and Technology

Every so often, it's helpful to think about technology integration from the ground level.  While collaborative writing tools, dynamic simulations, streaming video and interactive tools all provide tremendous opportunities to engage kids in learning, it's good to step back and consider how to make it all work with real kids in a real classroom.  Some days, leading a group of students down to the computer lab can feel like a bit of this...

Image courtesy of spaceamoeba

The reality is, that to make the most with technology in the classroom, it's crucial to have some practical strategies to most effectively prepare and manage technology use.  In class last night, we talked over some tips and things to consider when planning for and facilitating learning with technology.  More specifically, we focused on a variety of projects (e.g., creating a Glog on a writer, publishing a podcast for student interviews, developing a multimedia timeline to trace scientific advances) that might take place in a computer lab.  While we discussed several potential strategies, they basically could be combined into three categories:

  1. Preparation, preparation preparation - the importance of planning ahead to clearly delineate the purpose for the project, the specific steps and thinking that students would need to engage in, and identifying a viable and productive "plan b" if some aspect of the technology fails
  2. Develop routines and clear expectations - help students to understand in advance what will be expected of them, how and where to save their work, what to do if they need help, and what they need to complete at the end of the session
  3. Identify ways to scaffold student thinking - in more complex, cognitively-demanding projects, it's important to consider a variety of ways to scaffold students through the process - handouts, checklists, regular check-ins/consultations may help students nagivate the process effectively

In the end, though, we realized that classroom management with technology isn't all that different than any kind of student-centered work in the classroom.  Effective organization, clear expectations, and appropriate scaffolding all contribute to an effective learning experience. With the greater degree of uncertainty and potential for glitches that is possible with technology, however, these strategies are even that much more important.


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