Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 12/18/13, using the hashtag #LIVedChat to discuss, "Fostering a love of reading." Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The following post was originally published on #LIVedChat's co-founder Bill Martin's blog, Tech Seeds. Please join #LIVedChat on 12/18/13, at 9:00pm EST, to discuss "Fostering a love of reading". Also, please use the freedom of blog commenting to post an extended response to @bill_m4's post below.

Fostering A Love Of Reading

I love reading.  I didn’t always know this, as a child I was considered a good reader, however I rarely cracked a book I didn’t have too.  But books interested me, I loved to look at them and stroll through the out of the way bookstores and libraries, such as the one in Topinabee, MI, which resides in an old train station.
It was sometime much later, and I don’t recall, that I realized that books were not just for looking, they were for something deeper.  That something may be different for for all of us, just as the meaning of life.  Not remembering ‘the first,’ I remember a significant experience.  I picked out a book on a DIY rock band.  It was in a Mt. Hood, a really cool book, that was at times inappropriate and other times mirrored my experience in a go-nowhere rock band.  It wasn’t a great book by many other standards, but I had found one for me.
Then there is my beloved author Jim Harrison, who writes about exciting out of the way adventures in Michigan and beyond.  I’ve read my way through all sorts of places in the Upper Peninsula in where I have been real life and also characters I’m sure I’ve met.  I began collecting his first editions and I have many.
So how do we foster a love of this in children?  I have some ideas, and I’d love to hear yours.  I’ve been spending some time on MrSchuReads for inspiration, and being a passionate reader, I’m at times distracted with so many things.  I’m feeling the need to reflect on my reader’s workshop.  The reader’s, librarians, and students featured in that blog are a strong example of a vibrant reading community.  Please consider joining us as we chat on this topic this Wednesday, 12/18, at 9pm on #LIVedChat.  Impact students with your voice and ideas, by inspiring their teachers!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 12/11/13, using the hashtag #LIVedChat to discuss, "Personalized Learning". Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 12/4/13, using the hashtag #LIVedChat to discuss, "Mindsets and Education". Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 11/20/13, using the hashtag #LIVedChat to discuss, "Defining student success?" Please check out Kelly Tenkely's (@ktenkely) recent blog post "Redefining Success" before our chat.  It's a great post and should help gear us up for another great chat. Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 11/13/13, using the hashtag #LIVedChat to discuss, "Engaging today's students?" Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 11/6/13, using the hashtag #LIVedChat to discuss, "Dill and practice, is it necessary?" Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chat archives are below my rant ... 

What Happened to the Balance?
 - by @ryanhorne0076

I can only speak locally, not nationally, when it comes to the balance, or lack thereof, when comparing the time teachers and students spend on Common Core subjects vs Non-Core subjects. I can only comment on the trends that I see locally in my area of southeast Michigan when it comes to the non-core subjects and the possible unintended consequences of those trends.

As an elementary non-core teacher (I teach K-5 Technology) I have noticed a trend that seems to be gaining momentum each and every year. We are pushing our non-core subjects to the side in favor of replacing them with more time on our core subjects. I have no doubts that the current system of high-stakes standardized tests play a huge role in this trend to push non-core subjects aside. After all, our school, and district reports cards are based primarily on tests scores in the area of reading, writing, and math. We do occasionally sprinkle in science and social studies as well.

In many districts in my state, one of the first cost cutting measures is to eliminate the fine arts programs, and/or physical education. Some districts tell their classroom teachers that they are now responsible for teaching the art, music, and PE now that cuts have been made and those non-core teachers are no longer employed. Other districts simply replace the time that students spent with non-core subjects with more time on core subjects.

There is also a push for the non-core teachers to integrate their subject area with the core subjects. Teach music? Then find ways to weave math, reading  or writing into your music lessons. Teach art? then perhaps you could integrate character development as an ELA objective into your art lesson on color theory. In fact, many of us non-core teachers are forced to base a large potion of our teacher evaluation on a goal where we focus our teaching on a core subject, and the student's growth in that core subject. One example would be a PE teacher having a large potion of his evaluation being focused on his ability to teach reading skills to his students, and a smaller portion focused onto his teaching of his specialty, PE standards to his students?

While I do agree that all of us educators are a team working together toward a common goal, I believe that we have lost sight of the goal. Perhaps our goal has changed and we are now focused on the short term? District test scores might go down. Students might leave the district. Dollars could be lost. Cuts might need to be made. We need to improve our tests scores to draw new students and new dollars.

Is the answer to have EVERY teacher focus on the core subjects no matter their specialty? Can the high school ceramics teacher help improve our districts math scores if she adds math standards to her ceramic's lessons?

We are creating schools that are no longer diverse in their offerings. No matter which classroom a student walks into chances are they will be bombarded with a core subject. When my own nine-year old daughter goes to art class once a week for an hour, I want her lost in a world of art for that one hour per week. No fractions, no place value, just art. Can an art teacher occasionally sprinkle some common core into his lessons? Of course, but not each and every lesson. Let our non-core teachers teach what we pay them to teach. Let our non-core teachers help our students in areas that these non-core teachers are experts.

For many students, that one hour of PE, or that one hour of music might be the ONLY hour of school they look forward to each week. What then happens to these students when they enter the music room and are confronted with a music lesson on algebra? These students will then turn off any engagement  or excitement for learning because they know everywhere they go in school will be focused on a core subject.

While having our non-core teachers help out with core subjects might help increase our standardized test scores, what kind of student does it produce? Will this kind of teaching produce the often talked about "21st century thinker" who possesses the ability to problem solve and collaborate?  Is innovation taught better when we include the arts and other non-core subjects, or will more innovation and creativity occur with a larger focus on common core?

Give me more non-core. Give me more balance. Keep the "three r's" but give me choices. Give students choices. Expand their minds. Let them know that there is more to learning than memorizing those multiplication tables. Give me one hour of water colors, one hour of singing, one hour of exercise, and less of the three r's. Give me balance.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 10/23/13, using the hashtag #LIVedChat to discuss, "Routines in our schools." Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 10/16/13, using the hashtag #LIVedChat to discuss, "10/16/13 - Supporting Hesitant Technology Users" Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Have you ever given something in which you did not possess a lot of natural talent your full effort? What were the results of your effort? Was it a success? Did you surprise yourself? Did you learn anything?

When I was a freshman in college, I had a two hour break every Tuesday and Thursday between my morning class and my afternoon class. It was a long, often cold walk back to my dorm, and once I made it all the way back to my cramped dorm room, I only had about half an hour before I had to walk back out into the cold to my afternoon class. Instead of the long walk, I decided to kill some time in the rec center, which happened to be very close to both of my classes.

On my first visit to the rec center I walked around, went upstairs, and followed the noise. There were two basketball courts upstairs, both with intense pick up games taking place. Crowds had formed around both courts as people cheered on the players, who all happened to be way more skilled, bigger, faster, and stronger than myself. I now had a challenge. My goal was to get good enough to play in one of these intense pick up games and hold my own. It wouldn’t be good enough for me to simply gather the courage to join a game and get destroyed. After all, I could have, and would have, gotten destroyed on the basketball court on that very first visit to the rec center.

Downstairs, on the quiet, less crowded basketball courts, is where I would be found every Tuesday and Thursday for the next three months. While the loud and frantic games took place on the courts upstairs, I found solace on the courts downstairs. I was all alone. Working on my jump shot and my ball handling. I sure did need some work. I hadn’t played any organized basketball since the 7th grade, and it showed.

I worked hard for the next few months. Chasing down the ball after all my misses was tiring. There was one day in particular that I worked myself really hard. After a ton of dribbling drills, and refusing to leave until I made 15 shots in a row (this took forever), I finally got my backpack and headed for class. It had just started to rain outside, but the good news was my class was only a five minute walk away. If I hurried, I wouldn’t get too wet.  I got about two minutes into my walk when both of my legs cramped up. The cramping was so bad I was forced to take a seat on the sidewalk because I couldn’t walk. I had to sit there, in the rain, which had begun to pour by now, for at least ten minutes. I remember laughing  and wincing at the same time, wishing I could have made it to class before the cramps set in.

At the end of the semester I felt I had improved enough to at least not embarrass myself in one of the pick-up games upstairs on the “big-boy” courts. No longer was I dribbling the ball off my feet. I could now make about 70 percent of my jump shots with no one guarding me. It was time to see if I could make these shots in a game, with those players who I first sized up as bigger, faster, and stronger than I.

I walked upstairs, and walked out onto one of the courts. They were in process of picking teams. There were about 30 players on the court. We all stood behind the three-point line with a ball. One at a time, we launched a three point shot. The first ten people to make it would be our players (five-on-five). I was nervous when it became my turn to shoot. I didn’t want to have to sit and watch the game if I missed the three-pointer. I drilled it. All net. But now I was more nervous than before. What if these people thought I could actually play? What if I was terrible?

To this day it’s so strange how vividly remember the fifteen minute game I played. Even though it was almost twenty years ago, I can still see, hear, and feel what much of the game was like. Perhaps it was because I put in so much effort, and trained so hard up to that point that the memories stuck with me.

I took the first shot of the game. We had possession of the ball first. Since I was the smallest on the court (5’10”) I played point guard. I dribbled the ball up, passed it into my teammate in the post. My teammate passed the ball back out to me. I was wide open. I took the shot and …. it came up short. Way short. An air-ball. Walking back on defense, I hung my head for a second. Negative thoughts began to creep into my head. “What was I thinking? I knew these guys were better than me. Why did I think I could play with them? This is going to be embarrassing.”

Thinking back to my competitive tennis days, I pushed the negative thoughts away. I replaced them with positive thoughts. “I have put in all this work the past three months. I can make fifteen shots in a row now. I am much better than I was before. I got this!”

On our next possession I passes the ball inside once again. My teammate was double teamed, so he kicked it back out to me. I knew I was going to shoot before the ball reached my hands. From behind the three-point line I rose and released the ball. Swish. “That’s more like it,” I thought.

In the small crowd watching the game, I noticed my roommate. He hadn’t been to the rec center when I was there all semester long, but he decided to show up randomly today. I did not tell him that I was going to attempt playing my first game against the ‘big-boys’.

I remember being able to keep the offensive player in front of me on defense. I even frustrated him with a couple of steals. On one of the steals, I grabbed the ball, looked up and saw that I had a three-on-two fast break. One of the defenders came at me fast reaching for the ball. Quickly, and without thinking about it, I dribbled the ball behind my back to avoid his reach, navigated past him, pulled up at the free throw line and swished another shot. I heard my roommate say, “Seriously?” and then say him flash a smile.

We lost the game by two points, but I did my best. I made a few more three pointers and racked up several assists. I fit in. Not only did I not embarrass myself, I was able to play at a higher level than I thought I was capable of. I played one more game after that. Then I was done. The desire wasn’t there anymore. I think I just had to test myself and see if I could reach my goal.

I didn’t have a ton of fun while practicing every Tuesday and Thursday for one whole semester. In fact, some days where flat out tough. I just stuck with it. Often times in life we talk about only doing things that we find fun. If it’s not a good time then stop doing it. It didn’t even feel that much fun during the two games I played. It was more intense than fun. At the end I felt satisfied. I felt proud. This is what I want my students to feel. It’s good to be frustrated along the learning process. Everything we do does not need to be fun. It’s about the effort, the grit, the hard work. It’s about being satisfied with yourself when it’s done.

Story by: @ryanhorne0076

*You can join our asynchronous Twitter chat on Carol Dweck's book Mindset by following the hashtag #Mindset13. Please add your own comments below of a time that you felt smart or successful and how a growth mindset got you there.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 10/9/13, using the hashtag #LIVedChat to discuss, "Teachers as learners" Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 10/2/13, using the hashtag #LIVedChat to discuss, "What is effective feedback for students, teachers, and parents?" Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 9/25/13, using the hashtag #LivEd to discuss, "Homework" Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

**Disclaimer - This post does not reflect the views of #LivEd or @bill_m_4, only the views of myself (@ryanhorne0076). The hope is to start a robust discussion on the topic of DDI (Data Driven Instruction)**

Let me begin by saying I like data. I like data to help me make everyday decisions in my own personal life. I like data as an educator. Every teacher uses data in one form or another to assess their students’ learning. So, how much data is too much data?

First of all, this post is written with no data to support, or debunk, my statements. If you are looking for links on DDI (Data Driven Instruction) research, links to other blog posts on the same topic, or expert quotes on DDI, then you’ll want to look elsewhere. This is simply my stream of consciousness on the topic. The omission of data is done purposely. I am writing this post on data, without including any data, to try and prove my point.

Emily - SRI: 784, SMI: 658, ELA: 717. At first glance I feel as though I’m looking at a ten year old’s credit score, not their school learning accomplishments. What do these numbers say? What do they really mean? Perhaps more importantly, what are we NOT seeing when these numbers are the only information we see about a student?

When students are identified by their various test results, we de-personalize them. They become a walking collection of lexile levels, reading scores, and math percentiles. Many schools have gone “all-in” in the current hand that is DDI. The pendulum has seemed to swing so far that we no longer talk about students as people, but rather their most recent summative test results. I want to know more about my students.  I want to know HOW they like to learn. I want to know WHAT they like to learn. I want to know what INTERESTS them.

Why is this trend happening now? The technology that allows us to administer tests, collect results, and disaggregate data used to be so complex and expensive that it was reserved for the few experts who had both the statistical knowledge and sufficient funds to filter the data and purchase the infrastructure. Now, the technology is available to most educators in an easy to use format, provided by most major edtech companies, at competitive prices. Now many educators have a warehouse of student data at their fingertips with various amounts of training on how to read and interpret that data.

Sometimes in education, we are adverse to an educational trend because the trend is new to us, it makes us uncomfortable, we are unsure of the trend because of our lack of knowledge. We fear the trend because it is not the way we always have done things in the past. What if the trend invokes different intuitions? What if the trend feels deeply flawed or inherently wrong? Not because it’s different, confusing, or new, but because it simply feels wrong?

Our students are spending so much valuable, precious, face-to-face classroom time taking standardized tests. We cannot get this face-to-face time back. Students are unintentionally taught this is a big part of learning. Do some learning, pencil in bubbles. More learning, then click on the correct answer. So many students are being turned off to the learning process, as this has become the learning process.

How much of the DDI trend has been kick started and perpetuated by big money edtech corporations? There’s huge money in standardized testing. Huge money in warehousing data. How much of the DDI trend has been written into law by legislation lobbied by these corporations? Who is profiting the most from DDI? Our country? Our students? Various CEO’s?

How much data do we need to prove that a system is broken? How much data do we need to show what our students have achieved and what they are capable of? Does the data that defines our kids need to be warehoused on a server in Silicon Valley, or does the data that defines our kids need to be coming from the people who know them the best?
Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 9/18/13, using the hashtag #LivEd to discuss, "Data driven instruction, how much is too much?" Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 9/11/13, using the hashtag #LivEd to discuss, "Creating digital citizens" Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 9/4/13, using the hashtag #LivEd to discuss, "How do we bring the nobility back to teaching?" Chat archive will be posted shortly after the chat.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Just bumped into a colleague, who works in another district.  We were having a great talk and I mentioned how much fun we are having on #LivEd and if he could pass the word along.  He said that he would, so I sent along a thank you along with some basic info about our chats.  If you have a favorite chat, wouldn't it be great to include more folks from your district and surrounding districts?  Well maybe we could collaborate on some ways.  I'll start by posting my chat info for #LivEd, and maybe it could be of some use or spark another idea:

It's goal is to connect Livingston County educators to educators around world through social media using Twitter.  It open to administrators, teachers, and other interested staff.  Example discussion topics may include technology integration, best practices, project-based learning, and other relevant education topics.   We chat on Wednesdays at 9pm.  It usually runs one hour, and anyone interested can log on to a Twitter account and search for #lived (Livingston Educators) or send a message with #lived in the message.  You may know of some other education based chats such as #edchat and #miched which are very popular for education related discussions across the country and state.

After attending the MACUL conference earlier this year, we realized how teachers around the country are connecting through social media for ongoing professional development.  We wanted to bring this idea back to our area.  If you like this idea, please forward to any interested parties.  Please send me any thoughts or questions....

So there is one way to increase the collaboration of our very young, but fun, chat.  If you get a chance to use it, or get another idea on including more folks to Twitter or education chats, please let us know in the comments or on Twitter!  Thanks!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 8/28, using the hashtag #LivEd to discuss, "How do we bring the nobility back to teaching?" Chat archive is below:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

#LivEd is back (after a brief hiatus), and this week we will be discussing how to best use Google Apps across the curriculum. Please join us with the hashtag #LivEd, Wednesday, August 21 at 9:00pm ET. Looking forward to learning and sharing your best tips, tricks, and advice for using GAFE in our schools.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 7/10, using the hashtag #LivEd to discuss, "Should teachers connect with their students online via social media?" Should teachers friend their students? Should students follow their teachers on Twitter? Should there be different guidelines for different age students? What are the pros and cons? Chat archive is below:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Join us on Twitter at at 9:00pm ET, on Wednesday, 6/26, using the hashtag #LivEd to discuss, "Is there a lack of respect for teachers?" Chat archive is below:


Sunday, June 16, 2013

What role does building self-esteem and passing out awards have in our schools? What are some of the unintended consequences that have resulted from the "participation trophy era"? How has all of this impacted education? Chat archive below:

Below is the archive from our #LivEd Twitter chat on 6/12/13, "What role should homework play in today's schools?"

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Below is the #LivEd chat archive from our conversation on 6/5/13, "Building community in your classroom".

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Below is the #LivEd chat archive from our conversation on 5/29/13, "Have assessments evolved enough over time?"

Sunday, May 26, 2013

What an inspiration that Twitter, MACUL, Edcamp, and all the globally connected educators have been!  In my ten years of teaching, I have always been passionate, but I have never been so inspired.  During this time, I have met, listened to, and read about so many inspired educators, who have been connecting with each others for longer than I have been involved in education.  Instead of making more work, which it may seem to an outsider, they are working smarter.  Based on these ideas, Ryan (@ryanhorne0076) and I decided to start a chat called #LivEd.  As innovative classrooms become more global, we decided to bring this global learning to our area.  
The following is a reflection of our first chat.  I attempted to step outside of my own perception and provide a non-biased gist of it.  Outside of this, Ryan has provided a wonderful archive of the chat, with each individual quote.
So, Rather than quote individual tweets here, I’d like to think of this as a collaborative blog entry.  98% of the content posted on this entry I credit to the chat participants: @aljasngenietoo, @bill_m_4, @BushjMS, @chasrabesh, @EGHSPrincipalRI, @JemMuldoon, @jkosman, @jpk38, @melis9701, @michellegaydash, @MIsenegger, @MrCsays, @placido, @sanzbug, @scottyb1972, @teambond, @TechMinock
Popular educator excuse is "Don't have the time to learn how to integrate my tech devices." How do we change that viewpoint?
The discussion began with the suggestion of meaningful PDs.  Here we related how leaders could work with hesitant learners together for 10 minutes each day, and considering a source of information may be to ask students for best tools.  Why not offer some frequent mini-PD’s so that staff don’t have to wait for the next PD day?  Maybe even at the weekly staff meetings, staff is already there, and is a win-win.  Instead of the PD’s being long and intensive, make them meaningful, insightful, and engaging.  What about a 10-minute slot?  Get people interested and let them explore.  Include follow ups, via email, online, or face to face.  There may be times when the follow up may need to be daily as our colleagues take off with new ideas.  
Some other integration ideas are making a presentation to the school board, or combining the series of short meetings together for a training session, like having grade levels each present a tech tool or technology integrated lesson at a staff meeting.  Consider a MACUL-style “tech conference” where the teachers lead the PD.  We often have the experts right here in our buildings, and as we are finding out, in our next door districts. Even more, you could flip the PD via a screencast and meet together to discuss the applications of the tool.
But, there are many times that we introduce tools, and no one seems to take note or implement them.  We can put tons of effort into tech trainings, then the tools go unused.  How can we reverse that trend?  Maybe a good future topic.
How do you get staff to so beyond MS Word publishing stations with 2-4 classroom computers?  What are specific ways to motivate and train staff to try new things with their limited device setup?
This is a big problem,  with some classrooms having only one computer.  How can we encourage classroom teachers to get inspired with this situation, and what can we expect them to do?  And then there is the fear factor, many are scared to try something new, but should be supported and also notified that many teachers who are already integrating tech have made mistakes and learned from them.  Isn’t that what we desire for our students?  So many remain scared to bring it in or bring it up.  In this case, we can share our mistakes so that our peers can avoid them, but then feel comfortable to reciprocate and let us know what to avoid with the same tools as they take it further.  Not only does this serve to deepen our technology integration, but it deepens our relationships between staff.
To move our staff past MS Word we can send some Google Docs and Google Forms around, such as minutes or lesson plans, and show it as a useful alternative.  If folks have to open it to view, or edit, they may consider it for their personal or school use, and that is a first step.   Then we can move into collaborating on grants or PBL units.  Outside of Google, show teachers websites to students that support CCSS, and PC's can become learning centers.  An example could be math centers using Sumdog or Kerpoof.  
Another barrier is when technology doesn’t work the way they planned.  It would be great to offer live support, but with budgets, that won’t happen unless it comes from our school community.  This is something we can support each other in.  So if you have a program working on dual boot macs, and the teacher knows how to access the program but ‘forgets’ how to boot into mac, they need to know who can help and how to get it.  As a partner who knows and communicates with fellow staff, supporting them with tech, you can anticipate these needs.  This situation occurred and I knew that one of our Title I Aides were using our Macs and may need some support.  At the beginning of her lesson, I walked over to see how she was doing.  Right away they were having problems logging in.  I walked back to my room, where my students were just getting set up for the day, and I asked 6 students to follow me two doors over.  I just asked them to walk around, boot the macs, then help the second grade students get to the site, and went back to start the day in my class.  We set those students up for success.  But imagine had I not visited, that may have been the last time the educator attempted a tech integrated lesson.  So we need to let staff know that we have their backs when they take risks and try something new.  
On top of this, staff need to know that technology has quirks.  There will always be problems to solve when 4 or 30 students are working on a tech tool, even if you have worked extensively with the tool, the unexpected can happen.  Be ready and flexible, ask the students to help within their ability, their thinking out of the box can often get you and others out of a pinch.  Students can seem less intimidating than experienced tech teachers.  
Computer lab teachers can be a real asset here, informing classroom teachers what students learn while in the lab.  Further, lab teachers and techie teacher leaders can offer to co-plan and co-teach tech lessons.  One example is visiting classrooms on release time or during prep to plan and mentor.  Another example is when Maureen (@MIsenegger) and I worked cross-grade level to have fifth grade students teach third graders a genre poem and the use of as digital exit slips.  Ryan held a Socrative session the day before, and we decided to implement it in writers workshop.  I got the tech going, and Maureen brought the lesson idea, and we co-taught the separate areas.
How do teacher leaders get administrators to help motivate hesitant staff to try more tech with their limited device set-up?
Some discussion sprouted up before and after this question was posted on Bring Your Own Device Days.  Districts across the state vary in their policies and implementation of BYOD. There are classrooms across Michigan that are BYOD every day, once a week, as a fundraiser, as a one day pilot, and never.  Sturgis shared a link to it’s acceptable use policies that allow devices for instructional purposes.  Policies such as this can be considered as you consider BYOD as a tech integration option.  Once classrooms start piloting BYOD, it starts to bring the process to the next level of implementation, where the early adopters begin to think about asking their admins about giving it a try.
Administrators can be trailblazers in technology.  One administrator was noted as holding an after school PD with 100% attendance.  How does this differ when teachers hold optional trainings?
Communication with your administration is key.  If you want support, let them know the kind of support you desire.  Hold the conversation, detail the plan, show it’s potential for benefiting students.  Has this been done somewhere else, in another area?  If so, this is a great way to bring it up to the school leadership.  Show how what worked there can work here.  Enlist them all, from your PTO, principal, and superintendent.  In turn, they can help to convince the hesitant teachers that teaching with tech can make the teaching not only better but in some cases easier, they may come around.  When teachers and administrators support teachers that we are bringing into the fold, it makes it that much easier.
Can technology facilitate community building?
Yes, for staff and students.  How?  Try student blogs and shared docs.  Students have a shared purpose and a realistic audience.  Use the sharing norms that you would have in a traditional workshop.  If you require stars and wishes, such as after a student shares writing, respondents must share something they like before they share a question or a wish for a writing trait, such a ending with a wish.  When they respond by letting students know what they like, they validate the other writer and build relationships.  Just as we reciprocate on each others blogs and Twitter feeds with positive comments and helpful tips, students follow our model.
In this way, tech is being used for a vehicle to connect, and we can further that by using iPad apps such as Aurasma to create school tours.  Edmodo can be used to connect students within and between classrooms.  TodaysMeet can be used to backchannel lessons and role play book characters.  Both tools help give quiet students a voice, and when class members get to know more about our quiet students, they are more likely to take care of them.
And look at this chat as an example.  Move up the scale to the more established chats, #michEd, #langchat, #edchat (See an extensive list here).  Educators are creating global communities in their real lives and taking that back to their real classrooms.  We are expanding our communities from our classrooms to other classrooms, districts, states, and countries.  Just consider the geography of this ‘local’ chat that extended far beyond it’s borders, worldwide.  How community is that?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This week's #LivEd chat focuses on "Making the most out of a limited amount of tech devices in your classroom." Many classrooms in our surrounding districts have a small number of tech devices available for student and teacher use. Also, many districts in our area do not have a full BYOD policy in place. Classrooms considered to have "a lot of technology" might have 5 computers, a projector, and an interactive whiteboard. Classrooms that have "not much technology", might have only one computer (teacher workstation).

#LivEd is a weekly education-themed Twitter chat created by Bill Martin (@bill_m_4) and Ryan Horne (@ryanhorne0076). #LivEd begins at 9:00pm EST each Wednesday. Yes, there are many excellent education related Twitter chats already in existence, however, the idea behind #LivEd, is to focus our weekly discussions on issues that are specific to public school districts in our region (Livingston County, Michigan), hence the hashtag #LivEd (Livingston County Edchat). Each week we will tackle a new topic that is meaningful to our local school districts and ask for your opinions, thoughts, and advice.
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