Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Curriculum Framework

May30

I took some time today to review the Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Curriculum Framework.

I know at this point in the year, many teachers have full plates wrapping up their school years. I get that you probably don’t have the time or energy (perhaps, if we’re really being honest here- even the desire!) to read a Framework. So here’s a very, quick run down…

This Framework created in June 2016 takes a critical leap from the past, recognizing that students most be both consumers (users) AND creators in our global community when it comes to technology. The four Strands are Computing and Society, Digital Tools and Collaboration, Computing Systems, and Computational Thinking. The Framework outlines a real balance with understanding the impact of technology and one’s responsibilities as a  digital citizen while still getting the nuts & bolts. A key emphasis also is on students being problem solvers.

How will this weave into the rest of our curriculum? That’s where some thoughtful investigation needs to take place. The progressive skills should not be out of context or add-ons.

I am looking forward to my work on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s DLCS Implementation Panel that begins tomorrow. I’m sure there will be plenty of good conversation there as well as with my district colleagues over the next year. Stay tuned.

Ask 3

March21

A common protocol in many elementary classrooms is “Ask 3, then me.”

I’ve used this procedure from my early days of teaching. I quickly discovered as a first year teacher that there would be a line of students constantly around me seeking my answer to routine questions. By having students go to classmates for help, it has made my students more responsible for finding solutions, I think.

Recently, as I was preparing for my Google Level 2 certification, I came across a terrific graphic that reflects a much more modern take on the Ask 3 protocol:

(Poster created by Heather Dowd)

You can see that it’s no longer ask 3 peers before a teacher, but rather friend, Google and then YouTube.

This poster really struck me. How true is it that we no longer have to rely on face-to-face assistance or a person being our sole conveyor of information? That there are so many answers just a Google search away! And then to take it a step further… how many people are sharing their knowledge via videos now? If I want to learn how to do something, I will see if someone has made a step by step tutorial for me to follow on YouTube first.

Should we just let kids loose on these tools? No, not a first, but with guidance and training on how to do proper searches and sift through the information in order to evaluate what is reliable, they will be ready to follow this new thinking and find some really great stuff. We just can’t gloss over these important digital literacy skills. They have to be taught as authentically as different reading genres.

How do you seek information and answers? I welcome your thoughts.

What Needs a Make-over in 2017?

December6

Believe it or not, December is here.

A whole lot of excitement for upcoming holidays and vacation time make the weeks often fly by us. Before you know it, we are into the new calendar year. At that point, we often ask students to partake in the traditional activity of New Year’s Resolutions. Sometimes the focus is on school and what students hope to achieve, or maybe it’s of a personal matter. You may even do some reflecting yourself.

My experience is that I tend to focus on personal life resolutions. Maybe, you do as well? Yes, in the past I have pledged to eat healthier, take on a new exercise regimen, drink lots of water each day and even take more deep breaths before reacting to my family. Any of these sound familiar to you?

This year, I’d like to make a proposal that when we have our students make a resolution that we do one as well for our work at school. Honestly, I’m not sure what mine will be yet… But I’d like to invite you to join me in thinking of it in terms of a “make-over”.

What curriculum area, subject, objective or practice needs a little highlighting and sprucing up? What needs a little life breathed into it in 2017? Maybe, there’s a digital learning solution…

Before December gets away from us, let’s take time to reflect now… as well as set a plan in motion to hit the ground running in January.

Abbot Colleagues- I know it’s a busy time of year; however, please let me know if you’d like to set up a time to chat for a few minutes this month.

posted under Thoughts | 2 Comments »

Conversations

October11

Last week was a great week of chatting…

No, we didn’t have our feet up eating bon-bons in my office space, talking about the beautiful fall weather…

Instead, I really got to listen to teachers tell me where they want to be heading with their students. These conversations led to me asking lots of questions and showing teachers different possibilities in Google and with apps to help them get started with achieving their student as well as professional goals.

Did I always have an answer?

No.

At least, many times last week I really had to stop and think… about the desired outcome and what was the most developmentally appropriate and manageable way to make it happen. And I think we came up with some great ideas and next steps if I do say so myself.

For example, a teacher wanted an easy way for students pass in work to her when working on an iPad. In the past, we had been using Dropbox, but she wanted them getting into Google Drive and sharing with her. After many different ideas, we came up with a quick solution that also marked the students work so she knew from whom it was coming (an issue with Dropbox): make a Google Classroom Assignment. Students then can log into GC on the iPads and add an attachment to the Assignment and submit to the teacher. Anything that is in the camera roll can be attached, and Classroom names and organizes the attached work for her. Easy, peasy. Let the flood gates of creation, submission and then sharing on her projector begin and keep going! To many this may seem like a no brainer, but for us the workflow of sharing on a community iPad to the teacher has been a challenge in the past. We’re excited about this new procedure.

I like to think last week’s conversations really got my brain fired up.

Let’s keep it rolling… let’s chat soon!

posted under Thoughts | 2 Comments »

Automagic!

May31

I love the way Google Classroom organizes student work.

Life has never been easier for a teacher. Create an Assignment: either give students a copy or Google will make them one right in Docs. No more naming files and then misplacing on the local server. A teacher can view finished and unfinished work all via the Classroom, too, from anywhere… at home or at school. Convenience at its best!

I think I was at a digital learning conference and someone referred to this beautiful system that Google had created as “automagic”! Truly, it is!

However, over the course of this year, I’m beginning to wonder if there are some drawbacks to this magical automated system in the sense that students really don’t have to think.

Of course, they have to think about the curriculum content, and that’s the most important thing. Hey, that’s another perk! The other stuff that held up student’s from getting down to work (naming files, finding files) is no longer a part of the equation. But should it be? Maybe, that stuff that can be annoying to us is really good for them to know how to do?

Is it important to know how to create a file yourself?

Is it important to know how to make a folder yourself and to be able to organize and move files?

If we want students to understand the process and to be able to troubleshoot for when the going gets rough, the answer to both questions is “yes”.

I have witnessed on several occasions this year when students are outside of Classroom trying to do a task using a digital device that they come to a complete halt when having to connect to another service and then save and create a file. Then to have to move or copy that file has continued the pain.

I don’t think we should stop using Classroom. I want to be clear: I am not advocating that solution at all! However, I do think that it would be very wise on our part to create situations for students to work on their digital organization skills.

My suggestion: have students go directly to Google Drive and My Drive and create a folder. Perhaps, a folder called Grade _ Projects.

Then have students open finished projects (Docs, Slides, etc.) from within Classroom and go to the file menu to Make a Copy. This will give students the experience to rename the file (as Classroom automagically names things, right!). When the copy of the file opens up on the screen, have students click on the folder icon to organize the file. In other words, now students can move that copied file to that newly created Projects folder in his/her My Drive. You then can show students how to access this folder via Google Drive instead of Classroom. All of this experience will be very helpful, especially since life does not exist entirely in Google (yet).

I’m looking forward to a portfolio project with grade 3 students next year. The endeavor will give them opportunities to select and reflect, but also very importantly, students will have to organize. A skill, in my opinion, that we can’t afford for them to lose.

Just some thoughts over my lunch time today… please share your thoughts below! Thanks!

posted under Thoughts | 2 Comments »
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