When I was asked to write a post for Jeffco Ed Tech blog, I was stymied. Education technology is a huge topic. It’s complicated, demonized, canonized, hotly debated, and full of strife & potential. Finally, after six or seven digital wads of paper, I’ve settled on discussing how I rolled out 1:web Chromebooks for my freshman classes this year. It’s timely, and I hope it proves helpful.
First of all, mad props to Pomona’s administration and our campus IT staff. It all starts there. Without a clear and shared vision of what technology will look like and a commitment to goals we set out to achieve by using it, the results would be confusing to everyone involved. Our tech gurus, Matt Daniels and Judy Sims, have been great at keeping our campus focused and practical about everything from how to track each device to which apps make the most sense for teachers to use. They are absolutely central to the success of the roll-out of over 700 (!) Chromebooks (and chargers and cords and screen protectors and id tags and Velcro strips and screen cleaner cloths and styluses and...et al) for our 9th & 10th grade Panthers. I shudder to think how absolutely chaotic this initiative could have turned out, and I’m so appreciative of their strong leadership from the beginning.
So that’s the Big Picture. As for incorporating this technology into our daily classroom environment, I am still a novice. I still ask the Annoying Question of the Day to Matt and Judy and have impractical requests that are met with “You really don’t want to do that, Clint”. “Why not?” And then he patiently explains the Why Not. I’m moving in the right direction, though, and zealously embracing the feel-good-It’s-OK cliche of our times: failing forward. A LOT. My students laugh at me when my “app-tempts” explode. We all laugh together, though, because I’ve found that true humility and vulnerability sometimes creates powerful community. It’s better than the option of playing the immutable sage on the stage, a role that would last, at most, a few measly seconds, and quickly scuttle any vestige of ethos I do have. They teach me more than I could ever figure out myself, and at 1/10 of the time, and they feel powerful when they teach the teacher. I like that. Empowering kids is fun. It’s a rush. Often, when you give That One Troublemaker a Chromebook and a purpose, they are transformed...just like the task they’re working on.
One last thing. At the end of the year, Nick Steinmetz, who I’m sure you know or, if you don’t, you should, challenged us to write a letter about how it went--the inaugural mass Chromebooking. I did that, then ended up writing an alternate version addressed to this year’s students. The letter is friendly yet informative, and includes memes, hyperlinks, footnotes, and other elements that they will run into on digital platforms. Joining our Google Classroom and reading and responding to that letter was their first assignment of the year. Once they join the Classroom, they also have access to the GDoc that I use everyday in class. Even if they’re absent, they get a good idea of what went on during their absence. Here’s a screenshot of (a portion of) that document:
Regarding technology, it’s going well. The kids are excited and potentially a bit intimidated. They see the potential inherent in the system. Even if they are not used to seeing it that way, they recognize their tech as a catalyst to learning and maybe even prosperity. The responsibility they have with that makes them feel like an adult.
Twenty-six years ago, when I first started teaching, “technology” meant the new-fangled electric pencil sharpener that was bolted to a desk. It’s safe to say a few things have changed since then. Heck, we don’t even really need pencil sharpeners. But I still have one. My students still use it. If you need it, it’s right over there by the door, next to the Chromebook cart and the Cell Hotel phone holder.
Happy teaching, everyone!
Teacher, Pomona High School
A journey Begins
The 2018-2019 school year began a little differently for some teachers in the Pomona Articulation area. Elementary teachers in first and fifth grade partnered with the district to implement a 1:1 Chromebook program in their classrooms. Preparing for a new school year comes with some butterflies and many to-do lists. Additionally, our partner teachers embraced a growth mindset to use technology to transform the task with their students in their very own 1:1 classrooms. Teachers from Little, Parr, Warder and Weber Elementary are on a journey to provide learning experiences that prepare students to thrive in a digitally connected world. We are excited to capture their story and share it with others.
Starting with the "Why", not the device
Our beliefs drive our practice. Before unpacking devices, we need to unpack our school's underlying beliefs about teaching and learning with technology. Writing a school belief statement can help staff articulate the impact of going 1:1.
A common element of writing a belief statement is collaboration. Having multiple voices in the process can help build efficacy and ownership.
Resources which helped the Pomona area schools develop their "why" included:
Building a Roadmap
Communication & Partnerships
In order to open communication channels with families, each school sent home an informational letter and invitation to a family night. The open house was created in collaboration by the Digital Teacher Librarians at the four schools to be proactive to community needs. The event was held before devices were handed-out to students. A common Google Form was created to capture questions and concerns. The feedback helped create Frequently Asked Questions which was posted for families after the event. A goal of the evening was to strengthen the partnerships between families and schools.
Expectations and Digital citizenship
Preparing students to make smart choices online is a priority when going 1:1. Direct instruction and on-going conversations about these 6 topics are available for K-12 students in the Common Sense Media curriculum.
Pedagogy: Professional Learning Plan
"The Learning Labs effectively introduce new tools for teaching. [The facilitator] is intentional about supporting us in this learning by modeling how technology can be intentionally integrated to transform our classrooms rather than just as a shiny, new gadget. I always come away from our Learning Labs with tons of new ideas - maybe not things I will implement the next day just for the sake of it, but ideas that have changed entire units of instruction to be more meaningful and that ask students to think and work in new ways." 5th grade teacher
Transforming the Task
The Journey Continues...
Each school continues to engage in continuous learning and reflections about their 1:1 implementation and growth. We are thankful for the school partnerships and for their willingness to share their story with others!
Digital annotations are not new to the realms of technology and education. Digital annotation tools continue to be available and ever changing. The power of digital annotations rests with the user and their abilities to capture their thinking, as well as, share it with others. In K-12 classrooms, digital annotations can be a great tool that empowers learners to begin capturing their thoughts and ideas leading to artifacts of learning which demonstrate understandings. Digital annotations can also be a great source for digital/e-portfolios allowing learners to reflect on their growth and development.
Why use digital Annotations?
Why should digital annotations be a part of every classroom and learning environment? Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are all fundamental components of learning which lead to critical thinking and digital annotations have the ability to cover all four areas. Digital annotations empower us as learners to engage with text, capture our thoughts, share with others, and gain insights from others thinking. Writing is a great way to process our thinking and allows us to begin identifying the process to where our thinking is going. When we digitally annotate and begin to share those annotations in collaborative spaces, our annotations become the center of collaborative dialogue and learning in which we grow collectively. When we begin to learn about annotating for learning, collaborative spaces for sharing and engaging in digital discussion opens doors to understand annotation strategies and processes from other learners with more annotation experience.
Getting started with Digital Annotations
Where and how to begin using digital annotation tools can be daunting and intimidating however, there are a few simple tools that can empower us as learners to get started on the journey. The comment feature in Google is one of the simplest ways to get started. The feature is available on Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings and a few other tools in the G-Suite. It is even now available on any file housed in Google Drive. Comments can be added to PDF's, images, MS Word documents and more when stored in Google Drive. A simple highlight of targeted text or information allows a user to capture thinking and share thoughts collaboratively.
If you're looking for a more robust tool with increased options, Kami is a great selection. Kami has paid versions with additional features however, the free version has plenty of options that are perfect for learners to get started annotating digitally. Highlighting, underlining, and strikethroughs (in a variety of colors) are all available at no charge. Additional features include adding text, comments, and drawing shapes. Under a 14-day free trial when you begin your account you'll have access to drawing, text to speech and a few other advanced options to try them out. Collaborative annotations with Kami are a breeze and users can save their annotated files in Google Drive if need be. It also works well with Google Classroom.
Digital annotations can occur on web-based material as well. Hypothes.is is a great option to consider for annotating web sites. Hypothes.is is entirely free to all users for all features. The tool was originally created for medical professionals who were collaborating around medical journal readings to increase learning and growth. Hypothes.is requires a login which is fairly simple and free to set up. Users can highlight information on websites and even add annotations (notes) which appear in a side bar. Annotations can be public, private, or in collaborative groups. Tagging annotations is offered as an advanced feature at no charge as well for users to quickly access collaborative discussions or topics. Annotations appear to users when visiting websites while the Hypothes.is extension is enabled.
Digital annotations can be highly beneficial to us as educators along with our students. Collaboration is now easier than ever with access to new technologies and the tools shared above work just as well for adults as they do for kids. Curating and sharing resources saves us all time and energy and digital annotations can be a quick way for us to collaborate across schools, districts, states, and more. How are you thinking about using digital annotations whether for your professional practice or during instruction with students? We'd love to hear your thoughts using the comment section of this post and look forward to learning more about how you are transforming tasks through digital annotations.
John Hattie and Robert Marzano together are like peanut butter and jelly! Like oreos and milk! Like bees and honey! John Hattie released his research on educational strategies and their effect sizes in 2009. Since then he has updated and reworked his research to keep up with changing times. Robert Marzano has been writing books on education for about 25 years related to best-practices and research-based strategies. But where do these 2 giants in the education world agree? And how does technology support all of this?
In an article published by Shaun Killian, the author lists 8 strategies that both Hattie and Marzano agree on. So it would seem that this list should be paid extra attention. This list includes things like “clear focus for the lesson”, “give feedback” and “get students working together”. It would also seem that in 2018, we should elevate how technology can support these 8 powerful strategies.
In the table below you can see the 8 strategies, a brief description of that strategy and some ideas on how technology can support those strategies. Technology can be a powerful tool when combined with research-based teaching! What other tech ideas do you have to support these 8 strategies?
"Make something that does a thing." This was the challenge put out to 10th grade students at Golden High School by their teacher, Mr. Gitner. Students were engaged in a very broad PBL. The sky was the limit. Their task was simply to create something that does something.
Gitner said of the task, "If I do not explicitly name a tool for them, at the end they create something that they feel is important. It ended up being a passion project where I just became the coach." The students went out and decided what they wanted to learn and found the right tool for the job. “What you know isn't what is important anymore, it's what you can do," says Gitner. At the very heart of this task was the foundation of student choice.
The results from the students was phenomenal. One student got her artwork on a brochure that fights to end violence against women. Another student created a mockumentary. This student learned a valuable work-life lesson. He says of the leadership within the project,
“What I really learned is how difficult it is get people together without intrinsic motivation. Bringing people together and giving them a task is not enough. It takes true leadership to engage others." This is the essence of The Jeffco Generations skill, Collaboration and Leading by Influence.
Last year, Gitner created a task called "Walk in Someone Else's Shoes". He had students create Trello Boards. A Trello board is a list of lists, filled with cards, used by you and your class. It's a lot more than that, though .Trello has everything you need to organize projects of any size. Open a card and you can add comments, upload file attachments, create checklists, add labels and due dates, and more. Here is a video Andrew made for his students. You can also access his example of a Trello Board here. You can find this lesson on the Bridge to Curriculum in the Teacher Resource Library.
Andrew started his school year by reading Bold School this summer. This book was written by Jeffco parent, Weston Kieschnick .
This book overlays SAMR with Rigor and Relevance. Andrew says he creates experiences for students that span the SAMR model, but spends a fair amount of time creating experiences for students that asks them to Augment. "Students can't always be in Modification. Student experiences should span the range of the SAMR model." The Jeffco Ed Tech Team will be hosting a Bold School Book Study in the Fall. More information coming soon!
So what is next for Gitner's 10th graders? A phone scavenger hunt at the Clyfford Still museum. Students will use their phones to complete tasks around the museum.
Earlier in October, Jeffco hosted the Connect Colorado with Schoology conference at the Ed Center. There were participants from all over Colorado and over 17 school districts, including some travelers from Nebraska and Wyoming. Jeremy Friedman, founder and CEO of Schoology, was the keynote speaker and provided a great overview of the many new features Schoology has added, as well as features that are in various plans of development that will make using Schoology even more robust and efficient.
Teachers are increasingly turning to tools to help support digital workflow in their classrooms. Student online work, discussions, assignment tracking, and instant feedback are some features that digital workflow tools can provide.
Two common tools available for teachers within Jeffco which can support these needs are Schoology and Google Classroom. Jeffco Ed Tech has created a comparison chart to help support the discussions which many schools are having regarding these two tools.
Choosing the best tool for the job always begins with the instructional purpose in mind. Teachers may find they need one or both of these tools at various times throughout the year to help meet their needs.
Digital Teacher Librarians and the Jeffco Ed Tech team are great resources as your school enters into these conversations.
Looking for more information about digital workflow? Read our related blog.
Make your Work Life a little easier with Jeffco's Learning Management System, Schoology!
You've conquered the copy machine, those formative assessment tools have no secrets from you, and you've mastered surfing on the web. Now it's time to take your instruction to a new level.
It's time to use Jeffco's Learning Management System, Schoology. Whether you implement one feature or many, you can enhance your instruction and your students' 21st Century learning style through the use of this versatile system, already on all Jeffco computers!
So much to be done! So little time! The pressure on teachers to get everything done by the end of the school day is formidable. How do you cover the curriculum and allow students to be active learners? Take a baby step into the world of Blended Learning. Blended Learning is “blending” the best of both worlds...the face to face interaction of the classroom with the flexibility of online activities such as discussions, video instruction, content delivery, and group work. Whether it is through a 1:1 environment, or the use of just a few student devices/computers in the classrooms, blended learning will save you time and energy in effectively and efficiently covering the content that needs to be covered.
One of the most useful things in presenting digital content is to use a source’s embed code. You can embed many things to your webpage or learning management system, like Schoology, and get rid of paper and textbooks!
As many of you are gearing up for CMAS and PARCC assessments, Schoology quizzes can be a wonderful resource already at your fingertips to help students prepare. Whether you are working as a team or department or just by yourself, the Schoology Question Banks can be a real time saver. Every person on a team or in a department can contribute questions to the “bank”. You can then customize a quiz by using any of the stored questions from the bank. Question banks allow you to create a repository of test questions in your Resources. You can create Question Banks in Personal and Group Resources.