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

NOW Classrooms Book Series Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Twenty-Seven Educational Experts from Across the Nation Share Best Practices for Using Technology in Classrooms

Bloomington, IN (November 1, 2017)—The NOW Classrooms series, published by Solution Tree, presents classroom-ready lessons that support the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Students. Educators can use the lessons, which are grounded in the essential four C skills—communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity—to connect technology to key learning outcomes and prepare learners to succeed in the 21st century.

“My books are written with the classroom teacher in mind and contain strategies that are practical and easy to implement in the classroom,” explained author Meg Ormiston. “The tech-rockstar teachers get everything quickly and are racing on to the next tip, app or tool. Most teachers need more time to practice as they familiarize themselves with various digital tools—I write for these teachers.”

The books are organized by grade bands of K–2, 3–5, 6–8 and 9–12. Each book’s chapters are divided into several sections containing three lessons each—one novice lesson, one operational lesson and one wow lesson (spelling out “NOW”)—that readers can choose from, based on their experience with the technology and their students’ needs. The series also includes a leader’s guide, which outlines a flexible framework for driving instructional innovation schoolwide or districtwide.

Carole Colburn, a technology teacher at Highlander Way Middle School in Michigan, praised NOW Classrooms, Grades 6–8, stating, “I love this book and how the authors organized it around the ISTE standards, including terrific lesson ideas that teachers can immediately implement in any middle school classroom. It is a great resource, and I highly recommend it for any middle school teacher who wants to create a classroom environment full of engaged, 21st-century thinkers and learners!”

Readers interested in getting technology updates from the authors can follow #NowClassrooms on Twitter or Facebook.

The NOW Classrooms series is available to order at SolutionTree.com.

Books in the NOW Classrooms Series

NOW Classrooms, Grades K–2

By Meg Ormiston, Beth Hatlen, Kristy Hopkins, Kirstin McGinnis, Lissa Blake and Nicole Ring

NOW Classrooms, Grades 3–5

By Meg Ormiston, Sheri De Carlo, Sonya Raymond, Grace Kowalski and Justin Gonzalez

NOW Classrooms, Grades 6–8

By Meg Ormiston, Lauren Slanker, Jennifer Lehotsky, Megan K. Flaherty, Janice Conboy and Whitney Cavanagh

NOW Classrooms, Grades 9–12

By Meg Ormiston, Scott D. Parker, Tom Lubbers, Gretchen Fitzharris, Ellen K. Lawrence and Katie N. Aquino

NOW Classrooms, Leader’s Guide

By Meg Ormiston, Cathy Fisher, Jamie Reilly, Courtney Orzel, Jordan Garrett, Robin Bruebach, Steve M. Griesbach and Becky Fischer

About Solution Tree

For nearly 20 years, Solution Tree (https://www.solutiontree.com) has worked to transform education worldwide, empowering educators to raise student achievement. With more than 30,000 educators attending professional learning events and more than 4,260 professional development days in schools each year, Solution Tree helps teachers and administrators confront essential challenges in schools. Solution Tree has a catalog of 515 titles, hundreds of videos and online courses and is the creator of Global PD, an online tool that facilitates the work of professional learning communities. Follow @SolutionTree on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about Solution Tree.

Contact

Solution Tree

Erica Dooley-Dorocke

Erica.Dooley-Dorocke@SolutionTree.com

800.733.6786 ext. 247

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Book Reviews and Reflection

Writing five books at the same time with 26 co-authors has been a crazy journey! We thought the writing was the hard part, then we tackled the editing. All the major work on our end is done, and today I found some of the reviews on Amazon from educators that were sent preview copies of the text.
It is great to see that our major message of instructional goals first and then technology came through in their reviews! Also, words like practical, ready-to-implement, invaluable resource, great guidance as well as inspirational, and growth mindset. My favorite so far “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.”
Maybe all the late night editing was worth it! I am so proud of our #NOWclassrooms team!

Rules, Routines, Procedures…….and Technology!?!

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!

Kristy Hopkins

Book Reviews are Starting to Roll In!

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

by Meg Ormiston (Author), Sheri DeCarlo (Author), Sonya Raymond  (Author), Grace Kowalski  (Author), Justin Gonzalez (Author)

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

Leadership Book

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

 

Telling Your Story

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!

Courtney Orzel

Superintendent, Lemont-Bromberek SD113A

Crazy!

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!

Meg Ormiston

@megormi

Five Trends in Our NOW Classrooms Book Series

Five Tech Trends in Educational Technology for the 2017-18 School Year

Shifting trends in educational technology are hard to plan for so it was rewarding to see that the content in our soon to be released book series aligns with the vision of the leaders in the field of educational technology. In The Journal  article Watch Out for Coding, Immersive Tech This School Year The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has identified five technology trends for the 2017-18 school year.

These trends include:

  • Every student will need to know the basics of computer science coding
  • Learning feedback will happen in real time
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality will reach the classroom
  • There will be a bigger push for media literacy to identify fake news
  • More conversations about digital citizenship will be focused on being active global citizens

As we wrap up the editing process in our NOW Classrooms five-part book series this article hit home because each of these trends have been woven into our books from kindergarten through high school in specific classroom tested lessons. From coding to digital citizenship, we have created practical lessons for classroom teachers to bring these trends to students.

Coding

We wrote about coding in our k-2 book and that strand goes through the 3-5 book, the 6-8 book, 9-12 book and into our leadership guide. We don’t just write about why students should code we include specific lessons and curriculum connections at all grade levels. We agree with the ISTE article stating that coding is “the international language of problem-solving”. We take coding to the next level to help the classroom teacher bring coding into their classrooms.

Real Time Feedback

Throughout the series we have included specific ways teachers can provide feedback to students in real time using a variety of tools. The 27 NOW Classroom co-authors have written creative lessons using all types of technology tools including the Google drive applications. Each lesson has at least two curriculum connections including formative assessment strategies.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Many of our author teams had a learning curve with virtual and augmented lessons but again k-12 we developed classroom tested lessons to support teachers. We agree with the article when they focus on the learning goal first before the technology tools. Each of our lessons begin with a student I can statement always keeping the learning before the technology.

Media Literacy

Historically media literacy education was left to the school librarian, but that is shifting to the classroom teacher in all curricular areas. Our authors have created lesson curriculum connections k-12 and in the 9-12 book we also wrote connections for the Career and Technology Education (CTE) teachers.

Digital Citizenship

One of our peer reviewers commented specifically how they liked that our digital citizenship lessons were not “focused on stranger danger approach”. In each book, we created lessons that are practical and future focused for students. Every lesson connects beyond the walls of the classroom using social media and other global connections.

These five trends and much more all focus on teaching and learning objectives first and then how do technology tools enhance the experience for students. The NOW Classroom series will be available starting in October 2017. Pre-order your copies today and keep your eye on our Twitter hashtag #NOWclassrooms as we share what these trends look like in the classroom.