Last week was the Dynamic Landscapes conference here in Vermont. I presented at one session during the day about our year-long school goal. This goal for our K-8 students and teachers, was to share, publish, and/or collaborate with an audience beyond our classroom. I’ve talked about this a few times in past blog posts here and here.
I’m sharing the slides I used at the session here, with MY larger audience. Some teachers have helped to reflect on the goal and offered feedback. It is obvious that we’ll continue to work on this goal for the next school year as well. Our plan is that we can refine and re-define our goal as well as stretch ourselves beyond what we were able to do this year.
Included in this presentation are some video clips of teachers and students. I noticed that the teachers all talked about their PLNs or how being connected has helped them work toward this goal with their students.
Posted in audience, collaboration, connected, integration, pln, teaching | Tagged audience, collaboration pln, Sharing | Leave a Comment »
It’s been a very interesting few weeks. In an effort to educate and inform the community in which I work, we offered a many question/answer sessions and presentations about our proposed 1:1 initiative for iPads for our 5th/6th graders. We didn’t have a huge turnout, but there were great conversations. We also added a new section to the district’s website with information about everything related to the proposal, including a frequently asked questions page and a form to submit more questions.
Last Tuesday was Town Meeting Day in Vermont. The residents of the towns vote on town budgets as well as school budgets. Our school budget, like most in Vermont, was going up. The majority of the increase is due to things for which there is little control like salaries, health benefits, and costs to operate our school buildings. In the whole budget, the cost for the 1:1 was about half of a percent.
For some reason, the idea of providing an iPad for each 5th and 6th grader didn’t sit well in this town. The whole budget got voted down, by 27 votes. When exploring things further, we saw that only 15% of registered voters turned out that day.
Image originally from Creative Commons/flickr by Sean MacEntee http://flic.kr/p/9EhzwC
We don’t know the next steps yet. The School Board and administration are faced with that task. The budget will likely be adjusted to better suit the voters. Will the iPad initiative be gone entirely? We don’t know yet.
One community member was heard to say, “Our town is not ready for this.” Why not this town, when others are fully in support? What are people frightened of? Loss of control of the digital culture in their homes? Fear that their children will know more than them? Obviously there’s not a clear understanding of how this tool can support, enhance, and transform learning for the better. How do we better educate and inform the adults in our greater community?
I’m still pondering the next steps and reeling with surprise from the tone of the vote. Do you have suggestions?
Posted in 1:1, tech | Tagged Budget, IPad, Vermont | 2 Comments »
We did ‘celebrate’ Digital Learning Day again this year. There were many amazing examples of how we are integrating technology into our everyday learning. Given that we have a school goal to connect, share, or publish with a larger audience, it was a perfect opportunity to recognize and honor the work that’s been done.
Our Wildcat mascot
Many of our teachers are using Kidblog with students – so having them comment on one another’s blog was a natural offshoot for the day. Some of that happened class to class within our district. Others blogged and left comments for students in other states and countries. Our reach is extending! Skype played a part in some classrooms which was a great way to connect between the two school buildings in our town, but we also had classes Skyping with Canadian classes and a class in Greece. One first grade class physically went to visit another class, and shared the digital book they had created on iPads. There was a lot of ooh-ing and ahh-ing heard. We also have two math classes doing an amazing collaboration down the hall from one another – tweeting, blogging, and videocasting math conjectures with one another.
We experimented with a tool that’s new to us by using Thinglink to showcase some of the things that took place on Digital Learning Day 2013 in the Williston School District. Take a look and feel free to comment here or on the Thinglink.
Posted in collaboration, connected, integration, teaching | Tagged IPad, kidblog, Learning, Skype | Leave a Comment »
So we did it. A group of teachers, administrators, and tech folks developed a proposal to move forward with this initiative and our administrators in the school and district got crafty and found a way to include it in the proposed overall school budget for next year. Here in Vermont, we have Town Meeting Day at the beginning of March. At that time, residents of each town vote on school budgets, municipal items (firetrucks, for example), the town’s budget, and other things directly impacting the town.
So now we wait. Well no, we don’t wait. Our School Board and the school needs to educate the community about the budget in the hopes that residents will vote for it on Town Meeting Day.
We’re starting our efforts to educate and inform the community about the 1:1 initiative. The iPad is the device chosen, but we all agree – it’s not about the device, it’s about the learning. We’re hearing some things from the parent perspective, which is helpful. Some have said that they see their children play games on the iPad, but they don’t have the visual of how iPads are used by students in schools. They have lots of questions, all valid. There’s a lot of planning going on, details being addressed, and questions getting answered. We’re being as transparent as possible. We’ve begun to put articles and resources on the school’s website. We’ll continue to add more, as well as examples and videos of iPads being used effectively for learning. (Feel free to share any you have with me!)
Do you have any suggestions for how we might best inform and educate our parent community about the value and importance of this endeavor for learning?
Posted in 1:1, integration | Tagged educate, initiative, IPad, Learning | 3 Comments »
Many (most?) of us in the country are preparing for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Students will all utilize technology to take the SBAC. We are submitting data about our readiness in terms of the technology twice a year in preparation for implementing the actual assessment in the 2014-2015 school year.
At a recent in-service in our supervisory union devoted to work on the Common Core, one sample task from the SBAC was shared with educators. In that task, students need to click on a link that takes them to a video. Once there, they should watch the video, pausing it when necessary to navigate back to the assessment to respond in their own words to various questions. They would then continue as often as needed to go back and forth between the open-ended questions and the video.
To me, the embedded basic technology skills include navigating between windows and tabs, starting, stopping, and pausing video, and typing their responses directly on the computer without drafting on paper first. That means a comfort level with keyboarding or at least knowing where the letters are on the keyboard, so that the response they’re typing is not stymied by the act of typing.
Teachers who saw this example task worried about our youngest students (3rd/4th graders) being comfortable enough with the technology so that it didn’t impede their completion of the assessment task. What do we need to do to help prepare them and when do we start? In kindergarten?
I ask, how do we help all of our students gain comfort with these basic technology skills, in addition to those I don’t know about yet, in an authentic manner? We don’t want to have students practice these skills in isolation, just to prepare them for the assessment. That feels like teaching to the test.
Image credit, Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/41xp8a by cc511
Posted in assessment, Common Core, integration, tech | Tagged Common Core State Standards, SBAC, Technology | 1 Comment »
Today we had the first of two consecutive in-service days devoted to work on the Common Core. The morning, however, turned out better than I anticipated.
We saw a documentary titled, “Wretches and Jabberers“. It was one of the most powerful films I’ve seen in a while. It focused on Larry and Tracy, two men with autism, both from Vermont coincidentally. They are advocates for global education about autism. These men lived a challenging life until technology that allowed them to get heard and express themselves was introduced to them. They use various devices to ‘type’, which for them means ‘talk’. And boy do they talk! They are so articulate, have an amazing perspective, and a poetic use of vocabulary. One takeaway was that we can’t judge intelligence from the outside and that we should be more accepting and give everyone a chance.
In the film, Larry and Tracy had traveled the world connecting with other people with autism and without, presenting at conferences, and finding their purpose. They proved how important it is to be open to those with differences.
When it ended and we all sat down from our standing ovation, we were treated to a question/answer session with the stars of the movie. Larry and Tracy were there in person using iPads to “type” and “talk”. I was struck by their perseverance, their knowledge and use of language, and their amazing senses of humor. When asked a question from someone in the audience, they began to compose their response. They typed it out, taking as much time as they needed to articulate and communicate clearly and effectively.
Here are a few quotes:
“Unless people look for intelligence, it is not seen.”
“Autism is not an illness but a different way of being.”
“Learning about me is seeing through my autistic behaviors and steering my attention towards higher level activity.”
“I am a person with autism second and an artist most of all.”
In the afternoon, we reflected on the morning’s presentation. We thought about how it challenged our thinking around assumptions we make about children. One thing that came to mind for me was the power of connecting. Larry and Tracy were helping others with autism get connected and not feel alone. The power of being connected, and giving each of them an audience for their thoughts, art, words, and intelligence was life-changing for many. Isn’t that true of children in our schools? I also reflected on how important it is for children to express themselves in a variety of ways, given the right tools, support, and confidence. That’s where schools and families play such an important role.
Let’s all work together to support ALL children, hear their voices, and be more accepting.
Photo credit: Nancy Colbourn
Posted in audience, connected, tech | Tagged Autism, Common Core, IPad, Vermont | 1 Comment »