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Showing posts from January, 2013

Resources and Activities for Digital Learning Day

We are one week from Digital Learning Day! -   02.06.13  ( Yes PHS Pirates, we are a participating school! ) What is Digital Learning? "Digital learning is any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student's learning experience. Much more than "online learning," digital learning encompasses a wide spectrum of tools and practice, digital learning emphasizes high-quality instruction and provides access to challenging content, feedback through formative assessment, opportunities for learning anytime and anywhere, and individualized instruction to ensure all students reach their full potential to succeed in college and a career." What are the characteristics of Digital Learning? Personalized & flexible Led by supported teachers & students Collaborative & aligned to a collective vision Flexible, high quality resources Data-driven, transparent, and ongoing Authentic learning & authentic audience

When is "I don't know" a great answer?

My younger brother and I weren't the most destructive kids on our block, but we did have our moments of mischief and mishaps. It was through these occasional errors in judgement that we developed a self-defense response called, " I don't know ." Even in the event of being caught red-handed, we habitually broke out the " I don't know " shield. Trouble was, this answer was never acceptable to our parents. Not only was it considered the wrong answer, it in fact, only seemed to make matters worse for us.  ( We will discuss the merits of rewards and punishments in a future post. ) Like Bill Cosby hilariously suggests, maybe we were just " brain damaged ". As a practicing educator for the past 20+ years, I still, on occasion, get accused of having brain damage. While this may contain some truth, one thing I have most-certainly learned as a result of spending practically my entire life in school is... " I don't know " is not only a

Fishing for Answers for Schools

The spark for this topic came from an institute day conversation with a group of my high school teacher colleagues.  I needed a "real-world" example to support my presentation on "Connected Learning".  I also wanted to weave in the concepts of "student inquiry", "problem-based learning", and "passion-based learning".   No small task for a fifty minute professional development session. My analogous story begins in the north woods of Minnesota about 45 years ago.  This is where my mother and my grandfather taught me how to fish for sunfish and bluegill from our dock on Lake Maud. Even though I was only three or four years old, I quickly learned to set up my own fishing pole, bait my own hooks, cast the line, and safely remove the fish.  My brother and I would spend our summer afternoons catching and releasing hundreds of pan fish - we would also keep and clean a few dozen for grandma's famous Friday night fish fries.  That was t

What are Teachers saying about 1 to 1?

Last week, I summarized our high school students' impressions and experiences as active participants our 1:1 pilot.  Half-way through year one, here's what our pilot teachers are saying about learning and teaching in this 1:1 environment with iPads. Achievements & Advances Student organization is improved after our teachers provided tips and strategies for file storage and management.  Our 1:1 classes are almost completely paperless. Student accountability for work is improved.  The excuses for lost materials are minimized since the iPad is the work "container".  Missing class is no longer an excuse for not submitting work.  The students are able to keep in contact with their teachers and classmates, and their work is submitted electronically. Teachers have recorded improved attendance in the 1:1 classes over the traditional classes. It took a few days for teachers and students to get comfortable with the technology.  It took a few weeks for teachers to

Learning & Schools in a Connected World

I was fortunate to be able to join my Principal, +Gary Steiger  and attend  +Will Richardson 's presentation " Educational Technology - Black Hole or Bright Light " at the Midwest Principal's Center. While the title of this workshop didn't blow me away - the topic, the presenter, and the follow-up discussions did. Will Richardson has penned several books on the topic of connected learning, including one of my favorite e-books, " Why School? " You can follow the Twitter chat of today's session by searching #mpclearn . The accompanying Slideshare presentation can found at the bottom of this post. Here are a few key points and resources that I made note of during the presentation... We, as educators, are in the midst of a " Crisis of Learning Contexts " - Traditional Learning Context (familiar to politicians, parents, teachers, and communities) vs. Modern Learning Context (connected learning via the web) Connected technology is her

What Are Students Saying About 1 to 1?

Nearly half-way through the school year, we interviewed our high school students and their teachers who are participating in the first year of a 1:1 pilot. We wanted to get their impressions of how teaching and learning is changing as a result of our 1:1 implementation with iPads. In general, we received many responses that you would expect, and we received several that were surprising.  The overall tone of the comments was one of enthusiastic support for the learning and behavioral changes that were taking place in the students, as well as their teachers. 1:1 Students' Expressions Many students acknowledge that their organization of documents and files using the iPad and cloud storage service ( Dropbox / Google Drive ) is much improved over using notebooks and papers that tend to become disorganized or lost.  There is no excuse for lost work since it should all be accessible through the web connected technology.  ( NETS-S #6 ) Students admit to having to be more

"Digital Classroom Etiquette for 21st Century Learners"

With Digital Learning Day right around the corner (February 6th, 2013), this might be a good time to review and solicit suggestions for behaviors that display exemplary digital etiquette or good digital manners. In days of yore, raising your hand before speaking, keep your hands to yourself, and no gum chewing might be examples of classroom etiquette, or behavioral expectations. But what about today's classrooms where students bring cell phones, tablets, or other electronic devices? What are the classroom behavioral expectations for learners in this digital age? What are the classroom management strategies associated with a digital learning environment? Cell phones and other personal devices should be silenced or shut off unless they are to be used for the classroom learning activity. Movie theaters, libraries, meetings, weddings, and funerals - I am surprised how many important events are disrupted by an inconsiderate, and often obnoxious, ring tone. Remove headphones or

"Paperless Pledge - Three Reasons to Raise Your RIght Hand"

The Paperless Coalition and Google are helping us to make a pledge to go paperless in 2013. Here are 3 reasons why I have decided to make this commitment. Costs Even though a single sheet of 20 lb. copy paper costs about one half penny per sheet, the total cost of production, use, and ownership of paper is quite expensive.  In a typical office or school setting, each person, on average, will use 10,000 sheets, or two cases (20 reams) of printer paper per year.  Rounding to 1/2 cent per sheet means that right out of the gate, each person in the organization will consume $50.00 of plain copy paper in the course of a year. But wait, there are printing and copying costs. Monochrome ink for an ink jet printer will cost between 4 and 10 cents per sheet (assuming an average coverage of 20%). Color ink for an ink jet printer will cost between 9 and 26 cents per sheet. Laser toner, both color and black, cost slightly less than their ink jet counterparts. Typical photocopy cos