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 Socrative.com 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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