IT Banner

Swade Blog

5-10-15 - Module 2
How could you adapt or change one of your current class/course policies to reflect a moving mindset? Is this a change you are willing to make? Why or Why not?

To answer the previous question, I am going to focus on the video "Waiting for Superman" from Will Richardson TEDxNYED. This video struck a chord with me. When I watched it the first time, I thought this is really good. However, trying to put into words to my team members the next day was difficult. I knew I had been inspired, but I kept asking myself "Why?" Then it occurred to me that I'm not the only teacher students have in a given day. I realize that students have Math teachers, Social Studies teachers, Language Arts teachers, and so on; but, students are learning through online "teachers" too (go to 2:30 of the video). The hundreds, if not thousands of other users on line influence our students on so many levels. We as classroom teachers get wrapped up in "our way," we sometimes fail to acknowledge the possibility of learning in a completely different way.

I know that many of try to think "outside of the box," but how many of us just go back to what works for us? Students now are the quintessential definition of Digital Learners. They have all kinds of information at their fingertips and almost instantaneously. We as teachers need to facilitate this collaboration, instead of hindering. This means we must let go of some of our control. This is scary for us as teachers, but is a necessary step of the evolution of education. Students are now going out on their own and learning things on their own without a guide. How cool would it be that, we as educators, be one of their "collaborators" and guide them to what we want to learn? Then, assist them in finding deeper meaning in what they have learned, thus getting more critical thinking. How do we get there? How do we go from putting our toes into the water, to diving in head first?

I think the first thing we need to do is to accept we will make mistakes in this process. We should be willing to do some critical thinking of our own. Second, we need to learn that others out there have excellent ideas and ways to bring information to students. I love the Crash Course series on YouTube over a numerous subjects like World History, Biology, Literature, Ecology, Chemistry, Psychology, US History, and many more. Students are willing to participate in the learning. We just need to bring the material to them in an up-to-date way. Students want to be engaged in the learning. Not robots that need to be programmed by lecturing to them all day.

In the beginning of this blog, the question asked what am I willing to adapt or change in my class policies to reflect a moving mindset? I am willing to open the door (slowly) to the world of collaborations in my classroom. Students will learn using some of the tools that are at their fingertips. Guess instructors will facilitate what I am teaching them already. Quoting Mr. Richardson, "It is time we stop trying to do better, and start trying to do things differently."

 
6-7-15 - Module 4: New Tools=New Rules

Some stakeholders are under the assumption that the “new tools” of technology can be used to liven up the “tried and true” tasks that define traditional teaching. - Opening Overview from Kelly Holloway

So you went to Web 2.0: Cool Tools for Schools, and found tons of new tools to use with your students on the computer. Now what? Who is going to help you figure out what tools you should use? When you find the tools you want to use, who is going to train you how to use them? Then when you figure out how to use the tools, who is going to give you extra support for any problems you have or help extend the lesson if you want to go further? The simple answer is you!

I realize that most teachers don't have a ton of time to research, learn, and develope new web tools; however, most of your students are digital natives. So much like an entrepreneur trying to keep his customers coming back by keeping them interested in his/her product, a teacher must adapt to the learning styles of his or her students.

New tech tools should not be used to dress up an old lesson. It should be used in place of the current method being employed. Sounds easy right? Not at all. All use get in our comfort zones.

Lets look at flashcards. All of us have used flashcards in school as students or as assignment to students. The basic primise to flashcards are you have a question or definition on one side and the answer on the other side. Pretty simple, so how does a teacher make it new, different, and wait for it...INTERESTING? Enter a tool like Quizlet.

I could rave about its interactiveness. I could say it turns the flashcards into something fun. However, my point here is not to sale a product, but to point out that the tool is only good as the user. If you use this tool only as a flashcard builder then that is what you get. It is up to the teacher to make it an useful tool in the classroom. So, how are you using new tech tools?
 
6-17-15 - Module 5: Adaptation and Engagement

Although he is speaking about business productivity, consider how his points could apply to education. How might you incorporate autonomy, mastery, and purpose into your professional situation? Choose a particular area and identify a specific way you could increase motivation using Pink's ideas.

Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation

Dan Pink speaks about using autonomy, mastery, and purpose to motivate employees to work more efficiently.  So how does this work?  Here I’m going to give you a brief description, but if you want a great discussion go to his TED video.

Pink believes that intrinsic awards work better than extrinsic.  If employees are allowed to work on their own work for 20% of the day, then they will produce and will improve dramatically on the “companies” work.  Thus, employees become more motivated, willing to work harder, and moral improves.  However, “Yahoo CEO and formal Googler Marissa Mayer once bluntly denied its true existence. Only about 10% of Googlers are using it, last time the company checked, but it doesn't really matter, as long as the idea of it exists, according to Google HR boss Laszlo Bock in his new book, "Work Rules!" "In some ways, the idea of 20 percent time is more important than the reality of it," he writes. "It operates somewhat outside the lines of formal management oversight, and always will, because the most talented and creative people can't be forced to work."

"It’s funny, people have been asking me since I got here, 'When is Yahoo going to have 20% time?'" she said on stage during an all-employee meeting at Yahoo. "I’ve got to tell you the dirty little secret of Google’s 20% time. It’s really 120% time."

So the challenge set to us as teachers is how do we, as teachers, use this model in the classroom; especially if it is only an “idea” of autonomy.  As I become a “Flipped” teacher, I try to promote intrinsic rewards and goals as the main reason to accomplish assignments.  One of the general areas that I would focus on is creating PowerPoints.

Like all good teachers, I have a great lesson plan on how to design wonderful PowerPoints and how I want them done.  This is where I need to “let go” and let the learning happen.  Students can and will learn better if I allow them to choose what kind of PowerPoint they would like to work on and how to approach the assignment to finish it.  They will take pride in their work because it is theirs’ not some cookie cutter PowerPoint that looks like all the rest in the class.

I still believe that I need to control most aspects of my class, but I believe I can let go…a little.

 
6-28-15 - Module 6: Authentic Assessment & Feedback
Do you believe that authentic assessment is possible in every subject area? Can students at every grade level demonstrate mastery through authentic assessment? Why or why not? Is it practical to ask teachers to complete these types of activities in the current, high stakes testing environment?

Do I believe that authentic assessment can be done in every class? Short answer is yes. There is a long answer though. Teachers will need to build their lesson plans backwards. Thus, they will need to know what they are assessing first before coming up with the lesson. Seems weird, but makes sense. What is our end goal on anything we do in our classrooms? Make every student a productive member of his/her community.

How do I do that in class? Easy if you show how any job is connected to your course work. If I’m doing a lesson on Microsoft Word, then I need to show students how I use Word in my everyday life with all the shortcuts I have learned to become an efficient Word user. In math, I get asked all the time, “What am I ever going to use Algebra for?” I would hand them a grocery list and tell them to stay under $50, but I need these particular items and you need to get 2 extra items. This teaches them to stay under a budget, but it teaches them that this is Algebra. The particular items are the usual: milk, eggs, bacon, bread, some sort of juice, etc. This lesson has a load of real-life uses.

As far as every grade level using authentic assessment for mastery, that is a more difficult question to answer. I believe third to twelfth grades you could use this. Under that I’m just not sure. I believe there could be some excellent lessons that can be evaluated using authentic assessment for mastery, but not sure if all standards could be covered this way.

Is it practical to ask teachers to complete these types of activities in the current, high stakes testing environment? Wow, that is the million dollar question. If teachers believe that this type of assessment will elevate test scores, then yes. I believe that students will gravitate more to authentic assessment because they see the importance or the goal in learning the standards. The standards become personal, instead of a bunch of black and white lettering on a page.

This style of assessment isn’t for the faint of heart. By working backwards and making it personal for your students, you need to do a lot of work. Not only do you need to know what the end goal is for your students, but you need to KNOW your students!

 
7-12-15 - Module 7: Curriculum Design

Susie spent hours collecting and curating resources for her upcoming unit on cells. She is able to successfully use much of what she has found when implementing her plans.
The following year, when it is time to begin the unit on cells again, Susie forgets about the resources she curated. She essentially starts from scratch, performing the task of searching, saving, and sorting once again. Create a plan or provide suggestions for ways to make your curated resources a regular part of your planning.

As an old timer, I would suggest Susie needs to get better organize and create folders in her favorite’s folder on whatever internet browser she uses. As I started my quest to be better organized on the internet for my resources for my class, I have made a number of folders. This can be cumbersome because I have to remember what folder the resource is in and why it is there. Also, what if I use that resource more than once?

I have created a pretty good system that works for me, but probably not for today’s learners. So now I am expanding my horizon to www.symbaloo.com. Here I can organize my resources into different webmixes and create categories for these webmixes that relate to whatever unit I am teaching. Thus if I want to focus on Career Education Unit then I can have all my resources I need for the career unit on one page where I can simply click on a button and boom I’m there.

This is simply enough to build and use. It’s a busy teacher’s dream. Best of all it can be personalized for you and will be there FOREVER!

 
7-26-15 - Module 8: Digital Citizenship

Reflect on your own digital footprint. What search results are returned if your name is Googled?
How can you make your footprint positive (as opposed to neutral or nonexistent)?
What role can we play in making sure our students have a positive footprint?

Many of you may not follow the National Basketball Association or NBA, but many digital footprint lessons can be learned from the NBA. Most recently there was a tweet from Larry Nance Jr. then 19 on May 2, 2012 about Kobe Bryant. I won’t go into details about the tweet, but rest assure Kobe does not want to be reminded about Denver. So what does Mr. Nance, a ball player out of Wyoming, need to worry about an opinion he made 3 years ago on Twitter?

During the 2015 NBA draft, Larry Nance Jr. was drafted by (you guessed it) none other than Kobe Bryant’s Lakers…Awkward! Sure Kobe says it’s “Water under the bridge,” but is it really? I mean it was a nasty tweet. I love when people say, "It's just an opinion," but words have meaning, and words can hurt and haunt people.

So, what does this have to do with a person’s digital footprint? Everything! There are millions of tweets, Facebook comments, and blog post where people write their opinions and think they are witty or thought provoking. However, once they are on the internet, then they are there forever and for everyone to see (just like this blog post).

So, what is my digital footprint? Well, thankfully there wasn’t Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram when I was growing up. My footprint is not near as large as some of my students. I know that there is more to a digital footprint then these social media outlets, but even the few stories in a local newspaper is minuscule compare to some of my younger friends and colleagues.

Obviously, a person wants to have a good footprint, but happens if you are like Mr. Nance? Well, first thing is apologize, then keep all negative comments to yourself or at least make them to someone you can trust not to say anything…like your dog. If you do have that special person in your life then make sure your conversation isn’t getting recorded, right Hulk.

Words will come back to hurt you if you use them in a mean spirited way. But if you stay positive online, then you footprint will positive. And you won’t have to worry about water under bridges, right Mr. Nance.