AMPLIFY your teaching and learning!
That was the challenge presented to us by Sylvia Tolisano at Day 2 of EdWeek SJSD 2012.
Transforming Teaching and Learning
Sylvia’s challenge was a great message, but more importantly, she did a great job of helping everyone in the room find ways of amplifying their teaching and learning. Since not everyone is comfortable with the same tools, Sylvia spent the morning part of the day going through various channels that teachers can use to share their own ideas. Before we knew it, within an hour we had a backchannel Twitter stream going using the hashtag #edweeksjsd. We also had a live discussion on Today’sMeet. We also had a third discussion going on using a Google Doc. Sylvia also brought up a great instruction model by assigning someone in the room to be the “moderator” of each backchannel. Sylvia talked about how within the classroom structure, those are great ways to involve kids who may not be the most outgoing or vocal. Teachers can assign a kid the job of being the class blog “moderator”, or someone to “clean up” a Google Doc discussion thread, or simply post questions on a discussion thread on Twitter. What a great way to get kids involved.
Documenting, Sharing, Connecting
One of the other challenges that Sylvia issued to the group came from a blog topic written by Edna Sackson at her blog What Ed Said. To paraphrase both Edna and Sylvia, the challenge was: it’s okay if you don’t use Twitter, blogging etc to share with other educators but it’s NOT okay to not be sharing. So…if you don’t use Twitter, blogs, etc, then how do you share your ideas with other educators? It’s a great question. Many of us are good about getting our ideas and thoughts written down somewhere. Whether it’s handwritten notes, word documents, old lesson plan idea, etc, we all write down our thoughts. The next challenge, though, is how do you share those ideas? More importantly, do we have a responsibility to share those ideas? For some great thoughts on that question, I’ll refer to my colleague Sean Nash who wrote an excellent blog post on that topic.
Another great point that Sylvia brought up was the difference between Automating and Transforming (otherwise known as the SAMR model). Automating is just using technology to do a task you would have done manually. Taking notes on an iPad instead of a spiral notebook is automating a task. While there is nothing wrong with automating, how do we move to transforming our teaching? In other words, using technology to do something we could not have done manually.
What a great springboard to our afternoon discussion of using iPads in classrooms…
Are you using a device for Consumption? Creation? Discovery?
Sylvia showed a short video of the Orion iPad Pilot Project. It was a short video that showed a teacher in a classroom using iPads. The question arose, though, about whether what we saw in the video was Automating or Transforming? The same question was used as we watched a video that Sylvia shot at a school in Wuhan, China. Both videos were a great opportunity to see how iPads could be used in varying degrees of instruction.
Now it was time to turn the students (teachers) loose to play with iPads. Sylvia challenges the teachers to see how they could take something they already teach in their classroom but make it transformative by using the iPad. She took the group through a tour of several iPad apps that allowed for transformative teaching in the classroom. The teachers then had a variety of projects to choose from to work on transforming a lesson from their world.
I played around with using a couple of apps. I will admit that I was looking at these apps in my iPad from the lens of a parent of two elementary-age children. My 8 year old daughter would love the app Book Creator. This app was a very easy-to-us tool that students can use to create their own books. Great for school projects or simply the budding young author in the family (that’s my daughter).
I also explored using the app DoInk (pronounced “Do – Ink”, not “Doink”). This app allows kids to create custom animation with their own drawings. Think the old-school flipbook drawings where you drew a new, slightly different, picture on each page and then flipped the pages of the book really fast to create “animation” . I went back to my childhood and created an animation of a stick figure dunking a basketball. It took me about 5 minutes to create but easily took me back 25 years to my elementary school days of doodling in class instead of whatever else I was supposed to have been doing.
When everyone was done trying out the ideas, we shared them with Sylvia who posted them on our Wiki space for all to see (and mock).
Overall, what a great day of discussion, learning, collaborating, and exploration. And really, for a day of free PD, how can you aks for anything more.