Sunday, February 17, 2013

Edtechkit Weekend Report - 2/17/13 "We don't glue pencils onto our students' hands, right?"

Links of the week

I love student created content especially when I learn from it too. Check out the Tech Sherpas blog (students from Central Maine at Nokomis Regional High) for informative student created video webcasts covering all number of education technology topics. The kids are Smart with a capital "S". This week they covered the sharing features in Google Drive. This could be a great jumping off point for having your own students creating meaningful content for the world to see.

I'm a big fan of graphic organizers to help students visualize their learning and organize their thinking. I like this article by Ryan Knoblauch that unpacks how he is using graphic organizers to support his students. He has tons of resources for templates you can use plus a great glimpse into the methods he is using in his classroom.

And here is one from my "Bartleby" collection. Patrick Larkin is an Assisting Superintendent in Massachusetts that is bravely writing against the continued push for increased testing in our schools.

News and Upcoming Events in Michigan

MASSP iPad Summit March 26 (MSU Henry Center) - Only 50 seats left for the Michigan Association of Secondary Schools Prinicipals iPad Summit conference. If your district is implementing or planning to implement iPads at the Secondary level then you won't want to miss this opportunity to learn how schools  in Michigan are transforming student learning using iPads. I'm honored to have been asked to keynote this exciting event and look forward to setting the stage for the day with what I think will be a very fun theme: "iPad Magic - How to Wrangle the Unicorns"

Save the date. April 20, 2013 Jackson ISD will be hosting an innovative conference that plans to be half edcamp half brain trust (bringing in the REMC Connected Educators from around the state). It's sure to be a can't miss. Details to follow.

Another date worth saving will be Thursday August 22, 2013. That's the tentative date for this year's 21st Century Learning Symposium hosted by St. Clair County RESA. This annual event has been host to some of  education's leading thinkers including Yong Zhao, Will Richardson, Mark Prensky, and Stephen Heppell. This year we are excited to have Kevin Honeycutt join this impressive list along with 600+ of Michigan's best.

Last call for MACUL - Michigan's premier education technology conference is just around the corner March 20-22. This statewide event is an awesome opportunity to learn and network with some of the most innovative educators in our state. This year's MACUL conference is hosted in Detroit at the Cobo center. I'm facilitating two sessions this year - The Appcessible iPad (UDL strategies for the iPad) and co-presenting with Laura Chambless - Cooperative Learning and the iPad.

New Apps to check out

Wow! This was a good week for apps.

First. Michigan's very own Brad Wilson has released his first iPad app called "Write about this". The app uses high quality and thought provoking imagery combined with writing prompts that are tied to different levels of Bloom's taxonomy to inspire students to write more. The app is very intuitive, includes a writer's notepad area, and voice narration of the writing prompts to assist emerging and struggling readers. The app is really an embodiment of the Universal Design for Learning principals because it clearly provides "multiple means of  Representation, Expression, and Engagement." Read more about Brad's journey creating this app here.

Science teachers - Take a look at Color Uncovered and Sound Uncovered to provide inquiry based resources that are sure to pique your students' curiosity. The interactive, hands-on manipulatives and informative accompanying articles are incredibly well done and very interesting. I'd keep my eye out for more apps from the Exploritorium Museum in San Francisco that developed these apps to accompany their brick and mortar exhibits.

I'm taking a second look at the Davinci Note app after coming across another interesting web app called Both iPad friendly programs provide a beautiful templates for mashing up pictures and text to create high impact informative writing. I'm drawn to the simple user interface of the Davinci Note app for the potential to create attractive research reports, quick writes, and other blog like reflections with students. Tackk is similar but is web based, giving it the advantage of working on multiple devices and has the distinct advantage of not requiring a student login for creating and sharing. One key piece is that e-mail sharing feature does NOT use the iPad's native e-mail to send and therefor let's students e-mail their work to the teacher without needing their own e-mail. 

Roll your own professional development

First, here's a great resource for teachers using Google Apps with iPads in the classroom Google Drive for iPad by richardbyrne

I also have a couple of new screencasts to help those wanting to get more organized using their iPads.

Thought for the week

This week someone tweeted out something along the lines of "we don't send kids to the pencil lab". On Wednesday I was challenged to model some lessons across a K-5 building that put technology into the students' hands the entire time. To be honest it felt a bit forced, and had I not felt the pressure to model in this manner I might have dropped the tech from certain parts of some of the lessons. At the heart of my lessons was a very non-techy modified think, pair, share strategy for keeping all students accountable and engaged. Had I left this out I think my lessons would have been a disaster. What if I had left out the technology? The answer is that the delivery of content to each child's device via Nearpod personalized the information and helped hold their attention. The formative classroom response tools helped me gauge mastery of the concepts, increased accountability, and made the lesson fun. But these tools could have been less front and center and been just as effective. It didn't need to be a tech lesson. It merely needed to be an opportunity for everyone to learn. The technology went a long way in supporting this goal of reaching "everyone". Until it didn't. Until the technology became the focus. We don't glue pencils onto our students' hands, right?

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