Exploring and playing with manipulatives is one way that our students start to develop an understanding of shapes, counting, patterning, sorting, and other early math concepts. At the beginning of the year each year, I give my students time to just play with the manipulatives we have and I observe. You can learn so much from seeing how they build, organize, and communicate about their work. Some kids like to sort objects, some like to make patterns, and some stack things high into the sky. All of these are valuable experiences for both the student and his/her peers.
Fast forward to mid-year, when we break out the manipulatives again, this time to be used with our iPads. We work in partner centers to design with tangrams and mirror those designs on our iPads. Partners design patterns with tangrams on the table and then use the tangram objects on the iPad to mirror their designs. This helps the kids with motor planning, creativity, and communication. They make larger shapes and designs form smaller shapes. They manipulate the objects and challenge themselves. Most importantly, the students communicate with each other, describing what they made and how to mirror the image on the tangram app.
We complete a similar activity with our rubber bands and geoboards. I just love watching my kids problem solve and figure out the app without my explicit instruction. So much of kids learning to work with technology and make it applicable to their learning is allowing them time for play. When they play, they make connections and their learning can expand, allowing many students to innovate beyond our expectations.
How do your students connect and collaborate over tech use in your classroom? Do you mesh hands-on activities and tech?
Post by former kindergarten teacher turned instructional coach Kirstin McGinnis
Wow! What a start to the school year! With just me and 23 little kinders life can be kind of crazy as I am sure many teachers can relate to. We have spent so much time learning the rules and routines of the classroom and now it’s time to start the learning! But I often wonder….did I spend enough time on those routines? It sometimes seems that the first month is not enough and that is just talking about how to be a student. And now they want me to use technology too!?! More routines and procedures to teach! …..well that’s how I felt my first year with one to one devices! My opinion has certainly changed since that first day but it took some time.
Technology is no different when it comes to school. While technology is present in many of our student’s lives it looks different at school than when we are using technology at home. I now embrace using technology in the classroom after seeing all the learning that can occur and would love nothing more than to dive in right where I left off last year but I need to remind myself to take a step back. To really use technology in the classroom and be successful at it, you need to set up the routines and procedures before even putting devices in students hands and my new Kinders don’t have any of that set up yet. So start slow! And know that it is ok to start slow. A very wise administrator once told me that spending 6 weeks (if not more) reviewing those routines and procedures is ok! Be sure to include technology in that timeline. It seems like it should be so easy just to give them all the ipads and let them go but it can certainly prove to be more challenging than expected. As I am writing this post, I am having flashbacks to a few years ago and can hear all my little Kinders with hands in the air waiting, ever so patiently…..or not, as I make my way around the room, wishing I would have taken more time before the activity to explain expectations. I encourage you to take the time and set your year up for success so you don’t have 23 hands waving at you!
As I am writing this post, I am having flashbacks to a few years ago and can hear all my little Kinders with hands in the air waiting, ever so patiently…..or not, as I make my way around the room, wishing I would have taken more time before the activity to explain expectations. I encourage you to take the time and set your year up for success so you don’t have 23 hands waving at you!
So all that being said, what should we do to set our year up for success when it comes to using technology. When working with our youngest learners we need to make sure our expectations are very clear. I love using anchor charts and pictures to explain what our ipads are used for, our rules when using them, and even how to fix technology glitches. You can find many of these anchor charts in the K-3 series book as well as many other tips for setting up technology in your room!
Of course as your year goes on, there will probably be glitches but I can guarantee if you take the time in the beginning to set up the expectations, your year will end up being a success!
Wishing you a wonderful and glitch free school year!
In Chapter three of the 9-12 book, Katie writes about the idea of preliminary research. We all believe creating a plan before researching is very important, so we wanted to share this form with you.
Copy of Presearch Chart
Google Doc of the Form
NOW Classrooms, Grades 3-5: Lessons for Enhancing Teaching and Learning Through Technology (Supporting ISTE Standards for Students and Digital Citizenship) Released September 29, 2017
Order yours today!
“NOW Classrooms, Grades 3-5 is a simplistic tool for all elementary educators wanting meaningful and relevant strategies of engaging students in their learning through the use of technology. Rather than organizing and sharing ideas of how to use a tool, NOW Classrooms, Grades 3-5 authors share effective strategies to learn how to focus on the skills and content of the lesson and how technology will enhance that learning. Having examples of model lessons, NOW Classrooms, Grades 3-5 is a valuable tool for any elementary technology specialist coaching educators in the school.” —Nichole Allmann, Technology Integration Specialist, Columbia, South Carolina
“The text provides readers and coaches with practical, ready-to-implement technology integration ideas that emphasize instructional decisions rather than technology tools. In addition to sample lessons, teacher tips and tech tips sidebars prepare teachers to consider common stumbling blocks before presenting a lesson, making first-time implementation more successful and meaningful. In addition to providing sample lessons and applicable integration tips, the text sets a standard of student empowerment with a positive urgency to create a more authentic learning environment for students today. The lessons in the text are appropriately differentiated for both student and teacher comfort levels regarding technology integration and are device and content neutral. Any content-area teacher working with any devices will benefit from the examples shared in the text. The book provides supports to ensure teachers consider instructional goals first and technology integration second. By emphasizing data-informed instruction with an emphasis on instructional practice, student learning outcomes always remain at the center.” —Brady Venables, Technology Integration Specialist, Columbia, South Carolina
“I believe NOW Classrooms, Grades 3-5 can be an invaluable resource for teachers of many levels of technological ability. It provides great guidance as well as inspiration for how to integrate technology into their lessons. I believe that these lessons embrace the SAMR model and help to move the integration of technology and tools forward for our students. Additionally, the sidebar tips would be very helpful for adapting the lessons if the devices or programs varied by classroom.” —Amy Tong, Instructional Technologist, Azle, Texas
NOW Classrooms, Leader’s Guide: Enhancing Teaching and Learning Through Technology (A School Improvement Plan for the 21st Century) Released October 13, 2017
Order yours today!
“I found this book incredibly timely and practical to help schools and districts move from deploying technology to developing a plan to transform student learning. The Why, What, How, and Then What are critically important to creating a growth mindset for educators as well as students.” —Eric Ferguson, Director of Instructional Technology, Bellevue School District, Bellevue, WA
“Leveraging relevant K-12 advice and intuitive frameworks to build on, NOW Classrooms, Leader’s Guide is a must-read for anyone in classroom technology leadership. This book can easily become a foundational guide in any institution looking for innovative approaches to teaching and learning.” —Chris Cummings, Director of Information Technology, Klein Independent School District, Klein, TX
Today I participated in a meeting with a principal and an instructional coach who recently transitioned from being a technology coach. Our goal this year is to increase the number of coaching cycles the instructional coach engages in, so we opened the meeting by reviewing her current partnerships. We learned that a few staff continue to ask her to assist with technology items such as setting up Google Sites and teaching students how to use specific iPad applications. The school these wonderful staff happen to work in recently had a technology support position added. Our conversation quickly turned to the distinction between what the instructional coach is here to help with, and what the technology support position is here to help with.
The principal drew what I think is a brilliant line: If the teacher’s request is related to standards and student learning outcomes, the instructional coach should partner up with the teacher. If the request is about teaching students how to access and use an iPad app for the sake of using it, the technology support staff member should be called upon. The next step for our group is to create a flow chart or other document that staff can use to determine the appropriate staff member to connect with when tech help is needed.
You might think differently about the division of responsibilities described above. That is ok! The real take-away here is to be sure that roles and responsibilities are clear and articulated when developing an instructional technology plan. This can ensure that teachers, and students, are able to get the appropriate help quickly. Examples of this can be found in the Now Classrooms Leader’s Guide!
Written by: Becky Fischer
As the new school year begins, it is a good time to take a closer look at our learning spaces. We have all heard the term “Flexible Learning Space”, but what does that really mean? Why should we redesign our learning spaces? What does it do for our students, and why is this becoming so much more popular?
Children of today are part of a new generation of flexible and busy learners that crave a welcoming, warm and inviting space. We want our learning spaces to say to our students that we welcome them with open, happy arms. We want them to feel empowered and excited to walk in the door each day, and help them create their own learning style.
This year, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to join my co-teacher in the library to share a classroom. At first glance, it was an older, small, crowded library that didn’t allow for much flexibility or creative space for our young students. We realized this was a great time to change a few things to make meaningful changes for our students benefit!
We decided to remove the oversized tables/chairs, rigid/dark bookshelves and removed a counter that just took up space. We added mobile, open bookshelves with wheels to push aside if students need more space! We painted the wall green to allow students immediate access to create movies to share and document their learning! We added colorful stools that are light enough that can be moved by children to any space they prefer. We were able to find some amazing tables that can collapse or combine together to create different shapes to allow for students to create and collaborate in a style that fits them! We decided to put our supplies out in the open for students to pick and choose what and when they need something to create! We have renamed our space to the Learning Lab, and welcome our students everyday with open arms to a happy, engaging room that will give them the freedom to choose their learning style and path! Students have loved the change, and are excited to learn with us in the New Learning Lab! #nowclassrooms
Thanks Mrs. Walker, @D60HolmesLib for the pictures! Keep watching them using #D60Learns
NOW Classrooms k-2 co-author
School district’s face challenges and opportunities of meeting the unique needs of the communities in which they serve. As educators, we are servant leaders, and we often get so immersed in the day to day work that we forget about the big picture of the messages that we send to our families.
If you don’t tell your district’s story, someone will do it for you. In fact, someone is telling it right now. What do you want them to say? Have you given them the right story, the right information, and the right tools to share your message? In today’s immediacy of information and technology, it’s natural for people to be constantly communicating, sharing, telling stories on a personal and professional level. How do we, as educators, share how and why our districts do what we do for children and the community?
Technology has changed our avenues of communication and opened doors to share our message. We have an amazing opportunity to tell our district, school and classroom story through technology. Whether it be through social media, e-blasts, or apps and websites that share photos and messages, we underestimate and underutilize the power of such tools.
Think about the best part of your day as an educator today. How did you share that message? Did you take a snapshot of a class who just mastered a concept for the first time? Did you share a blurb with parents about the exciting project that is coming up next week? Did you watch students learning on a field trip within the community and share it with the local paper?
Every day we have opportunities to share the amazing work that we do as educators that affect the lives and future of the communities we serve. I am lucky to serve in a school system with talented, driven and ambitious staff who want to proactively share their work with the world. We have a large percentage of our staff sharing their message via Twitter and social media. And while it started small, their leadership and ownership of telling their story has positively changed the dynamic of our story…and we’re creating magical classrooms, NOW Classrooms…
My next blog will focus on our journey of going 1:1…stay tuned!
Superintendent, Lemont-Bromberek SD113A
This week we hit a major milestone with the Now Classrooms project. The 9-12 writing team submitted their major edits last night, and it is time to celebrate! Writing 5 books at the same time with 26 co-authors sounds absolutely crazy, but the writing part was nothing compared to the editing cycle, that officially was crazy! There were major edits, and minor revisions on all 5 books staggered over months, and I wonder where the summer went. I never want to think about things like referential time, again period.
Even though we are not out of the editing woods YET, the timing of submitting the final edits and the arrival of the fall Solution Tree catalog gave me a chance to reflect on this crazy journey. After hitting send on the 9-12 I opened the catalog and there was our book series on the New Releases page. In the Technology section, the books are also listed with the other new books and we also scored the Expert Spotlight with more details about the process.
As I read through the spotlight I thought about my 26 co-authors and their dedication and perseverance through this laborious process. As we planned, collaborated, wrote, revised, and edited they still were doing their day jobs of teaching, leading, and juggling all the other family responsibilities. I kept flipping through the catalog and in the author index there were all my co-authors on the same pages as some of the greatest names in education.
As new Solution Tree authors, I hope they find a minute to reflect and see their names on the same page as Becky and Rick DuFour, Bob Marzano, Tim Kanold, Doug Reeves, Ken Williams and hundreds more fantastic educators. I’m so very proud to have gone on this crazy adventure with my co-authors. This is a group of educators to watch become the leaders in teaching and learning with technology.
We don’t have a lot of time to reflect, crazy starts again on Monday when the next round of edits starts for the 6-8 book. Books will be available soon, pre-order them here!