The Power of Great Teachers!

February 19, 2018

By: Beth Hatlen co-author of the k-2 NOW Classrooms: lessons for enhancing teaching and learning through technology book

Working in a 1:1 District and having my own children that attend the same district gives me the unique opportunity to celebrate when teachers have incorporated authentic and natural integration of technology in a meaningful way through education.  

Last week, our family sat down to watch the opening ceremony of the 2018 Olympics.  My children were amazed with what what they saw.  Their excitement was partly due to what they had been learning in school.  My first grader came home telling me all about bobsledding and the rules of skeleton.  I looked at him in shock as I said, “Where did you learn that?”  At school, of course was his answer.  All week he had been studying and reading online and in print all about the Olympics.  Additionally, my third grader had been doing the same thing.  Of course learning about the Olympics was great, but that wasn’t what really impressed me.  

As we sat watching the Olympics, my daughter sat on her iPad.  I asked her to put it away and watch the Olympics with us (I figured she was watching KidsTube), but I was pleasantly surprised when she told me that she was creating a presentation for her class about the Olympics.  I knew this was something she was capable of, but when she was creating a presentation as the Olympics played on in the background, I was a proud mommy and delighted at what my child had been taught by her teacher.  She also didn’t stop there.  She immediately shared the presentation with us and also emailed her teach that Friday night to ask her if she could present it to the class.  With delight, she presented that Monday as the introduction to a unit about the Olympics.

What this example showed me, was that what my daughter is learning in her classroom, is #NOWClassrooms approved.  She took interest in a topic, learned how to research, created a Powerpoint presentation, learned new information and presented it to her class.  Her sense of pride was huge and her excitement to present what she created was genuine.  

This is what we hope will happen in all classrooms across America.  The ability to create and share learning with peers.  The ability to deepen knowledge of a subject and share it with others.  When students are taught how to use technology in a meaningful way, that is what they will do, both at home and at school, and hopefully in their future as a contributing member of society.  I am so thrilled that my children have teachers that uphold all the NOWClassroom ideals.  I feel lucky!  Keep up the good work teachers!
Here is presentation my daughter created (not perfect-but kid work she was proud of!):  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1LEEwgQ87B9XV9dxHm1d87fgj-TlsULtO

@MrsHatlen

The Use or Abuse of Chromebooks in Classrooms

This fantastic blog post by Andy Losik has been bothering me all week because it made me think deeply about my work with schools, and the real work that is ahead of all of us in edtech!

This report by the company Go Guardian has me really worried about the use of Chromebooks in the classroom but I don’t think this problem is limited to Chromebooks I think IF we could look at data across all student devices I think these trends would continue.

To quote Andy “In short a huge amount of Chromebook use is being spent on educationally questionable video games, low-level assessments, and YouTube with the two highest trending websites for over 5,000,000 learners (after G Suite for Education) being CoolMath Games and Renaissance Learning, the parent company to Accelerated Reader and other assessments.”

I’m right there ranting with you Andy especially when you hit a very sore spot of mine about creativity when you said “Zero sites for creativity are listed in the study. We know fewer kids are getting to create with Keynote, iMovie, and GarageBand due to device choice, but it doesn’t look like they’re getting many chances to use any of the Chrome-based alternatives to these apps either. No Soundtrap. No Canva. No WeVideo. No Pixlr. No Emaze.

Creativity is so important and being able to convey a concept in multimedia is a skill all industries are demanding now. A local school board president was asking me about what’s next in edtech and the discussion led to content creation. He holds a high-up position with a multi-national company that creates automobile interiors and he agreed.”

Again, I agree with Andy and the school board president, we have a ton of work to do in the world of edtech. When our team of 27 co-authors was writing our #NOWclassrooms series of books I had to constantly remind them of the real current reality in schools where technology devices are being used for low-level tasks and often just to keep kids busy.

I know my co-authors did not believe me during the writing and editing process, BUT that is because I picked some of the greatest teachers to join my NOW team. These teachers are not the ones on Cool Math Games or “drilling and killing” using digital worksheets. Instead, their students are creating, building, and sharing their work beyond the walls of the classroom. Check out our #NOWclassrooms Twitter feed to see their student artifacts.

Our series of five books are based on the ISTE standards and a big focus is on the 4C’s of communicating, collaborating, creating, and critical thinking as students use the digital tools to demonstrate their learning and as I like to say “get it out the door”. One thing each of our team did is we did not focus on specific devices, we wrote the lessons for teachers regardless of the devices they have. Use the technology you have for higher level thinking, problem-solving, group work to solve real-world problems.

Andy your rants have inspired me to keep working on the shift to create, build, and share student products with whatever device you have. I know it is possible because my dynamic team wrote five books about what IS possible using technology in the classroom. Help us get the word out there!

#ThanksAndy

Meg Ormiston

Author, Teacher, Mom

@megormi

11 Reasons Every Classroom Needs a Learning Management System

Integrating technology calls for a lot of shifts in thinking. One shift is the workflow between teacher and students. The bin for papers on the counter isn’t going to allow students to share their digital creations. A digital rich classroom needs an organized way to communicate in a digital environment. A learning management system (LMS) is the answer.  Even without a device for every student, this can still be the digital hub for the classroom. 

What is an LMS?

Think of a learning management system or LMS as the digital hub for your classroom. Some standard features on most LMS platforms are posting assignments and resources, discussion boards, the ability for students to submit work, and parent access.  Some more robust systems may include a grade book, student portfolios, and data management. The use of an LMS may vary by grade level, but all grades can find features that are beneficial to students and parents from Kindergarten through College.

Why do I need an LMS?

  1. Create a smooth workflow in a digital environment- Teachers are able to post assignments and discussions for students to have all the resources they need. Students can turn in work in an organized manner.
  2. Share resources with students- Videos, graphic organizers, and any other tools or resources can be saved to the LMS for students to refer to as needed.
  3. Make content accessible to all students – Anchor charts, for example, are usually hung in one place in the room. If the teacher snaps a picture of the chart and puts it in the LMS, all students can use it while they work.
  4. Organize content for students- Content from many different programs can be centralized into one location.
  5. Differentiate activities easily- Activities can be individualized or students can be put into groups that allow for the differentiation of activities. 
  6. Create self-paced learning- When students are finished with an activity, they now have access to the materials to move on to the next task at their own pace.
  7. Easy feedback- Assignments can be annotated and the feedback and comments can go directly back to the students. 
  8. Student Portfolios – It allows students to organize their learning in portfolios that can be used to show the progression of learning.
  9. Parent Communication- Parents can access the platform to support their child in learning.
  10. Collect data- An LMS helps track qualitative data by keeping the students’ work in one place. 
  11. Teach Digital Citizenship – Students can use online discussions and share their learning with the class is an environment that is safe and overseen by the teachers.

Which one do I use?

Some school districts or buildings choose to use the same LMS with all teachers to develop consistency for students and parents. Even if an LMS is not provided by the school, there are many free versions that teachers can use with students. Here are a few systems, but many more exist. Check out a variety of them and see which system best fits the needs of your classroom.

PowerSchool Learning

Otus

Schoology

Google Classroom

Moodle

Canvas

No matter which one you choose, a learning management system will get the digital environment of your classroom running smooth.

 

Jenny Lehotsky