A School Making the Shift

Second graders designing exhibits for the National Museum of American History, teachers dressing up as endangered species telling their stories as a part of a school-wide thematic festival of learning, and middle schoolers using the arts and multimedia to share their understanding of To Kill A Mockingbird are just a few of the highlighted instructional strategies and assessments being used at Alexandria Country Day School.

My school's blog, Adaptive and Innovative Practices at ACDS, is jammed packed this week with excellent lesson and unit plan ideas. The purpose of the blog is to share with our parents but I think it is time to share with a broader audience. Take a look!

Ed Tech Co-Op Podcast Show 11 - Supporting Teachers for Tech Integration

Essential Question: How do we support teachers in finding ways to effectively integrate technology in their teaching?

David and Mark are joined this week by Tom Pantazes, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher from the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools and Alex Roosenburg, Primary School Learning and Technology Coordinator at the Washington International School. Tom works between two elementary schools to support teachers in curriculum-based technology integration.  Alex supports teachers in grades PK-5 to weave technology into their instruction.

In this show, David, Alex, and Tom share strategies and approaches they use to support teachers in curriculum-based technology integration.  Despite the differences in their settings, a number of common strategies surface in the discussion.

Tips of the Week:

Alex - So my tip will be this ning site: http://elementarytechteachers.ning.com/  which is a really great resource for teachers all around the world, in terms of support, ideas, website recommendations, and even photos of what other tech teachers/programs have done. I have it bookmarked on my computer and visit daily, but also post questions in the forums about once every 2 weeks.  Members are all very open to sharing ideas and helping each other solve problems or lessons conundrums. It is a fantastic resource!

Tom-  Hackasaurus way to look at the HTML coding of any website.  You can make changes to a site and post picturesyour changes to hackasaurus.  A great tool for deconstructing sites when learning HTML. Blooms Taxonomy of Apps is a great resource as well.

David wrote a blog post in response to the Essential Question so check it out for more information. Connecting to earlier podcast on iBooks and simulations, the Concord Consortium has many simulations to choose from. Here is a link just to the elementary ones. Use the navigation menu to look by subject and/or division level. My second tip deals with Bill Moyers new show “Moyers and Company”. I am enjoying his in depth coverage of recent and current issues in our society. His first shows focused on the 2008 banking crisis and his most recent show recent is on how liberals and conservatives see the world. He interviews Dr. Jonathan Haidt of UVA. Haidt provides insights as to how liberal and conservative thinkers approach life based on six moral foundations. Here are links to Haidt’s site, his TED talk, blog and survey, if you would like get involved in his research. One can watch the show online or listen via a podcast. Here is a link to Moyer’s site. I can see all of the podcasts being used in high school social studies classes as well as Haidt’s resources to help one’s students better understand differing viewpoints on issues. As polarized as adult American society has become, it is more important than ever to help our students seek out information for validity and depth. It is also important to skill our students to look at issues from many perspectives.

Mark- Mission U.S. is a great site developed by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Humanities that hosts two interactive online U.S. History simulations. Immersive, role-playing format engages students in decision making related to the rise to revolution (For Crown or Colony) and the underground railroad during the Civil War (Flight to Freedom).  The simulations are keyed to core content but also engage students in highlevel historical thinking - particularly in terms of perspective taking.

Next Show: Jeff Nugent to talk higher ed

Ed Tech Co-Op Podcast Show 10 - Determining the Value of Tech in School

Essential Question: How can we determine the value of technology in schools?

David and Mark are joined this week by Tom Pantazes, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher from the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools. Tom works between two elementary schools to support teachers in curriculum-based technology integration.

In this show, we discuss a recent New York Times article In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores. The article offers a potent critique of the lack of measurable impact on student test scores in schools and school divisions where technology has been a focus.  In this discussion we discuss the challenge of measuring impact only by standardized test scores and discuss alternate approaches to assessing the value of technology in teaching and learning.

Tips of the Week:

Tom shared two sites with us.  Code Academy is an interactive and social Web site that helps folks learn to program.  He shared that he's been trying to learn java script and has found Code Academy to be a fun and helpful resource. Socrative is a smart response system that can be used to engage students in interactive discussions and games using a variety of devices including laptops, smartphones and tablets. It looks like a really interesting alternative to dedicated student response systems.

Mark shared Edmodo, an education-focused, private social network designed for schools. He's used it for three semesters in undergraduate, graduate and doctoral courses and really likes the flexibility and Facebook-esque feel to the service. In Edmodo, you can create student groups, communicate with the whole class, small groups or individuals, post resources in a shared library, and assess work with the builtin gradebook. It's actually a pleasure to use.

David share two tips. The assistant head of his school (Alexandria Country Day School), Nishant Mehta, is a very shifted, creative and make things happen leader who is doing wonderful things for our students, staff and community. He recently started blogging so David wanted to share his blog and point out that he takes ideas bouncing around in the Twitterverse and really adds depth and a an interesting take on them. Here is the
link to his blog: http://edu21k12.net/ and going back to our talk on the iBooks, take a read on Nishant’s take.

 Doug Johnsons’ 3 part curriculum series on ICL and project-based learning that “motivates” involving in my mind the 4MAT approach to lesson design with a very strong hook and student connection. He really breaks down the reasons why the project he shares works thus further painting the picture of why PBL can be so effective. It is also a nice example of how the librarian can be a great collaborator in developing curriculum to naturally integrate ICL > http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2012/1/17/elements-of-projects-that-motivate-part-1-of-3.html

Ed Tech Co-Op Podcast Show 9 - Apple's Textbook Initiative

Essential QuestionsHow might we see iBooks transform the etextbook market? Might the “i” in iBooks mean individualized books?

In this show, Mark and David discuss the possibilities and implications of Apple's new textbook intiative for teachers and schools. There have been a number of articles and commentaries posted about the project, some of which can be found here:

Links referenced in the show:

  • Kno - etextbook service and app
  • ExploreLearning - powerful math and science interactives for the classroom
  • Valley of the Shadow - digital archive focusing on two communities in the Civil War

Links of the Week:

David - Teacher librarian Elizabeth Lockwood designed an excellent multimedia project to teach her students about the Caldecott Medal and to teach them many ICL skills - http://acdsipad.blogspot.com/2012/01/mock-caldecott-learning-project.html

Therese Mageau’s “Make It Stop!” editorial in the latest The Journal pointing out the onslaught of attacks by the mainstream press against educational technology. Very clear points. I find that in many cases the reporters don’t have a background in education let alone educational technology so they don’t understand the needed professional development processes and leadership to make the money spent on technology make a difference in learning. Even tech leaders like Leo Leporte of the TWIT network misreport when they talk about educational technology.

Mark - Scholastic provies a great way for kids to post, share and consume book reviews by kids for kids - Share What You're Reading

Ed Tech Co-Op Podcast Show 8 - What are the key trends in ed tech for 2012?

Essential Question: What are the key trends in ed tech for 2012?

In this show, Mark and David are joined by Dr. Karen Richardson, executive director of the Virginia Society for Technology in Education.  Following on the heals of the December VSTE conference, Karen shares three key trends she has identified for educational technology in the coming year:

  • Mobile devices (e.g., iPads, iPods, etc.)
  • Bring your own device initiatives
  • Social networking policies for schools

Tips of the Week:

Mark - Zite app for iPad and iPhone is a great way to expand your horizons for educational blogs. Starting with a list of feeds from Google Reader or other RSS readers, Zite builds a "personalized magazine" of feeds from a variety of sources. Beyond a simple RSS reader, however, Zite learns over time what you're interested in reading and pulls in posts and articles with similar keywords to the articles already in your feed. Users can further "train" Zite to find interesting articles by clicking a button that will pull in more articles for the particular keywords, sites, or authors that you indicate. Mark found Mindshift from KQED - an excellent blog of substantive and thoughtful articles on technology in education.

Karen -  Storify is an interesting web-based service that enables users to create stories based on social media from a variety of sources. The site states, "Storify gives you a view of the world through the eyes of the people on the ground where news is happening. Our users bring together the best text, photos and video from social media to tell stories that help make sense of the world." For more information on Storify, visit the Guided Tour or view this example created by Ed Week on the impact of NCLB.

David - Two great sites for educational animations are RSA Animates, Open University animations (see right side of page playlists). David also came across the Work Skills for 2020 project from the Institute for the future. It appears to be an interesting alternative/complement to the 21st Century Skills framework.


Making Thinking Visible & Work Skills 2020

I am a real believer in finding ways for my students to use technology to make their thinking and their ideas visible. My futuristic hope is that we will have a mechanism for our words to become images, graphs, animations, mind maps, etc. on a display as we communicate our ideas. While we have the tools to manually do this today, it can be a fun and creative adventure but it takes time to produce the product. Wouldn't it be something if our political leaders, CEOs of companies, school principals, teachers, etc. in explaining important information have their ideas automatically appear on a display for the audience to further connect to? Oh, yes, we have PowerPoints/Keynotes and markers with whiteboards but the communication process definitely slows down as we turn our backs to the audience, think, and then scramble to write our ideas out usually in the form of words. Even image rich presentations do not engage the viewers as animations expanding in real time would. What a terrific way to build understanding and to make it easier for one's audience to really engage and ask questions of the speaker. To see the answers to questions expand across the screen truly would be something leading to further understanding and discussion. Who knows, maybe the 10th generation of Siri will have a vast "visulation" database of ideas and concepts to draw from to then display. :)

Jim Reese of Washington International School and Project Zero (PZ) was on an earlier Ed Tech Co-op podcast where his pick of the week was the book Making Thinking Visible which communicates the research on visual thinking from PZ. I purchased the book and have a set aside some time today to start reading it. Something tells me that the book will prompt a lot of thinking on my part.

A recent Washington Post article listed a couple British sites that make thinking visible through animations. The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (RSA) produces a series of voiceover animations where an illustrator using a whiteboard expands upon the ideas of the off screen speaker. Another resource from the article is the Open University use of animations to offer explainations on several topics. Both efforts make thinking visual.

Here are links to these videos housed at YouTube:

RSA Animates Channel
Open University Channel (the animation playlist is on right side of page)

Another article that caught my attention was a post from the GigaOm site. "The 10 Key Skills for the Future of Work" post drew from The Institute for the Future and their work predicting what the jobs of the future will be and the skills needed for those jobs. We have our 21st Century Skills framework and now the Future Work Skills 2020 that this group has produced.

Here is a listing of the Skills 2020 that Jessica Stillman of GigaOm put together in her post. Many of these skills are similar to the 21st Century ones but some of these go further in cognitive processes and various literacies. As we developed our skills for Information and Communiction Literacies (ICL) several years ago at Hong Kong International School, I am seeing how this new listing will help me further develop the ICL construct. I can see a wonderful opportunity for one's school learning community to come together in small and then whole group to discuss each of these skills to make meaning of them and to then paint the picture of what teachers are doing in their respective classes to help students learn them.

  • Sense-making. The ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  • Social intelligence. The ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  • Novel and adaptive thinking. Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • Cross-cultural competency. The ability to operate in different cultural settings
  • Computational thinking. The ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • New-media literacy. The ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • Transdisciplinarity. Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  • Design mind-set. Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  • Cognitive load management. The ability to discriminate and filter information for importance and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  • Virtual collaboration. The ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team


Image Source

Ed Tech Co-Op Podcast Show 7 - Curriki Community Feedback

Essential Question (continued): How can Curriki help support learning in your school?

In this show, David and Mark continue their discussion of Curriki and provide thoughts and feedback to lessons posted by Mark's students from William & Mary.  For each of the lessons below, we offer a brief summary along with some lessons learned and ideas to consider.

We invite you to join the Ed Tech Co-Op Curriki community to explore these lessons and more.

Tips of the Week:

David- DebateGraph- “A debate visualization tool to help groups think through complex topics by building and sharing dynamic, collaboratively-editable and ratable maps of subjects from multiple perspectives.” I attended recent edtech camp that Susan Carter Morgan ran in Fredericksburg, had recently heard about Google Earth Lit trips and was hoping to learn how to do them and it turned out that Robin Ricketts did a wonderful presentation on them at the Edcamp.
Mark- Explore Learning - Great site that hosts a number of math and science interactives for students in grades 3-12.  These are researched based interactive tools that have been developed in collaboration with content experts.  In this way, concepts are presented in substantive, accurate and effective ways to support student learning.  Each interactive is supported with a lesson plan and additional materials.  Great stuff!

ESPRAT+G for Social Studies

My wife the librarian emailed me the other day looking for information on the ESPRAT+G approach to the teaching and learning of social studies. I had put together a website to share with my students and she wanted to share the link with a social studies teacher at her school. As I have been reading the social studies lessons posted at our Curriki Group by Mark's students, I figured it might be helpful to also share the link here with Mark's students and interested readers.

I smile that my wife Margaret was asking me for information on ESPRAT+G because it was her work with Don Zimbrick 20 years ago at the Saudi Arabian International School in Riyadh that was the start of using this construct as far as I know.

I posted a couple of years ago about ESPRAT+G in my personal blog and included a link to the website that describes it. Here is a link to that original post.

Image Source

Ed Tech Co-Op Podcast Show 6 - Curriki Community

Essential QuestionHow can Curriki help support learning in your school?
in this show, David and Mark discuss the Curriki community and how it can be a wonderful resource to find and collaborate on curriculum materials.  They discuss the benefits of the Curriki community as well as the contributions that Mark's students have been adding to the Ed Tech Co-Op Curriki group.  We invite you to join the ETCO group by going to the group's home page, and clicking on the Request Membership link at the bottom of the page.  Please add that you heard about the group from the podcast in the note field.  We look forward to your contributions and comments!
Tips of the Week:
David shared some tips related to the iPad initiative at Alexandria Country Day School. He noted that two great resources to find good educational iPad apps are the Apps in Education blog, and Appitic from four recent Apple Distinguished Educators. He also invites listeners to explore the UbD Resource Ideas for David’s school.
Mark shared a new professional development resource he's created with his colleague, Kathy Swan, at the University of Kentucky. Digital Docs in a Box is a resource site for teachers exploring the use of student-created documentaries in the classroom. The site includes a number of content-focused toolkits (images, documents, video, etc.) that teachers and students can use to create their own documentaries. In addition, he noted that there is a new video PD course on leading student documentary projects in the classroom.

W&M Student Curriculum to Curriki

It really is worth taking the time to read through the lessons of Mark's students that were recently contributed to the Edtech Co-op Group. You will find two sections: Technology Integration Lessons and Technology Expert Modules. I will share comments in our next show about the technology integration lessons and offer some comments here on a couple of the technology expert modules.

The modules are extensive descriptions of tools and how they can be used for learning. Mark's students describe the technology and give examples of their use. While I read several blogs that share terrific tools, they rarely give full descriptions of their use or examples from the classroom. This a nice value added by Mark's students.

Here are links to a couple of the modules:

Google Lit Trips> I was talking with my middle school son about The Pearl which he was reading for class. We spoke about some of Steinbeck's other books and the nature of life during the Depression. I tried to describe some of the photos of the time period and the geography of the dust bowl. It would have been nice to have a Google Lit trip at my disposal to further paint the picture. I can really see my son digging into his next school literature study if he could map out the events and bring in images to help him further make meaning of his reading.

Virtual Cell Animation> This module offers several supporting sites to help one plan how to use this simulation tool. As we are piloting iPads at my school, I can defintely see our using these simulation apps as well as the web-based versions.