Thursday, January 31, 2013

Effective Change through SCRIPTS

I recently wrote this post for

We have waded deep into the waters of change at Mercy High School (Farmington Hills, MI,).  We discontinued a 1:1 PC laptop program which yielded mixed results and little passion. Our new program called Mercy 2.0 brought major disruptions:  1:1 iPads, Google Apps, Apple TVs, new computer labs and more.

Despite challenges, Mercy 2.0 has been embraced  with enthusiasm. Some of this success may be attributed to the following SCRIPTS for change:

Seek input.  Before embarking upon change we queried all stakeholders.  Staff participated in detailed surveys about tech usage, and committees made up of varied personnel thrashed out issues.  Focus groups were held for parents and students.  Not only did the results of these inquiries provide valuable guidance, but the process itself conveyed an openness and inclusion.

Create excitement.  iPad and Google “stars” were brought in to demonstrate techie razzle dazzle. We held fun open houses for students and parents.  In short, we worked hard to create a buzz. Before long “stars” of our own were demonstrating some cool features of the apps and devices that fit perfectly into our instructional program.

Creative Commons Photo by Himalayan Trails
Require basic implementationWe decided it was necessary to make everyone accountable for mastering basic practices such as using Dropbox, photo editing, setting up Google Calendars and creating iPad documents. No more urging, scolding, and begging resisters to make use of basic computing tools.  This time around the rubber met the road.

Include everyone The project was termed no less than “culture change” and everyone was asked to “buy in”. Even non-teachers were given iPads and training, thus Mercy 2.0 even appeared pervasive.  We’ve reached out to parents with a variety of events, allowing them to interact with those of us most enthused about change.

Pool resources.  Best practices were quickly identified.  Staff trainers came forward to assist peers at drop-in summer “labs.  We also reached critical mass for online staff forum, allowing staff to pose questions or share techie tips.  We are now bringing students into this collaboration.

Transparency. Communication has been a critical element at every stage. We explained the rationale for decisions and acknowledged mistakes. We repeatedly asked for input and used it to change course at critical junctures. I’ve blogged continually through the process.

Support people. Long before the iPads physically arrived we plotted a multi-faceted professional development plan.  This included after school workshops and orientations long before the new toys were deployed to the students.  We held six drop-in labs and put our new staff through a three day “boot camp.” Of course our required in-service days were also utilized to train and entice.  Most recently we have extended an enrichment program to students. They were invited to become “iWizards”, choosing their name and developing a service mission at an all day work shop.

Of course, I do not suppose that a set script would necessarily suit your school community, but I believe the elements identified here as SCRIPTS can help you effect positive change!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Shakesperience, ADEs on iTunes U, the Public Domain, and More

Deep Learning vs. Surface Learning: Getting Students to Understand the Difference
Most teachers . . . recognize that test formats directly affect the choice of study strategies. We are committed to preparing questions that require higher level thinking skills. Our students discover they can't answer those questions with the easy information bits they've memorized and so they start studying differently. The problem is that without teacher guidance, students end up selecting deep learning strategies more by accident and less by design. 

Creating A Culture Of Innovation
This iTunes U course provides a wealth of interviews and instructional materials that can help teachers create a culture of change. Designed for K-20 educators, the assets guide the user through self-directed professional development. Work through each asset one at a time to create your class website, author a multi-touch book, develop a visual mission statement for your classroom or school district, use videoconferencing to bring outside experts into your class, and much more.

iBooks Author Goes Beyond Textbooks
Link to USA Today
Raccah said she’s focused on . .  producing “an experience or solving a problem,” not just adding “bells and whistles” to backlist print titles. That’s what drove the creation of the Shakesperience, a series of enhanced e-books created with iBooks Author that use multimedia content to transform how students as well as theater professionals read, study, and learn about Shakespeare’s plays. 

Should Students Use Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is a tool, just like a lot of other things. It can be abused or it can be used for the good of mankind. Really, it isn’t much different than the information you would find in a textbook. Perhaps in the early days of Wikipedia, there was some unreliable stuff in there. However, I think that Wikipedia has matured enough that you won’t find too many seriously wrong things in there. You still find incorrect things in textbooks, so … not much different.

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2012 . . .
Under the law that existed until 1978
Current US law extends copyright protection for 70 years after the date of the author’s death. (Corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication.) But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years. . . .Under those laws, works published in 1955 would be passing into the public domain on January 1, 2012.

RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms
This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin award.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

iWizards on a Mission

A group of Mercy's iPad toting ninth graders have been molded into iWizards. They developed the following mission statement at their November work shop:

The Mercy iWizards assist, serve, and encourage the MHS community to integrate iPad technology into their lives. Our purpose is to learn about mobile technology and to help promote, technology use to the fullest advantage, As a student-run technology group, we vow to provide a helping hand to every student and teacher. We have a special interest in introducing new students to the iPad. The iWizards are here to help.

Three of them describe their ambitions for the group in this one minute video:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Googling, CBL, and the Value of Mistakes

The Value of Mistakes
If we don’t allow students to fail in the classroom we are setting them up for failure in the real world.  If we see knowledge as just enough to “pass a course” then we miss the point of learning.  Sure, students might get the ‘right answers’ on an exam but know little about solving problems. 
(By way of Joyce Rosario)

Why “Googling It” Is Not Enough
Young people who’ve grown up in the digital age often have the impression that everything anyone needs to know is located somewhere on the web—so devise assignments that show them it isn’t so. Ask them to find a book in the library that hasn’t yet been scanned by Google Books; require them to consult with a research librarian, who will give them a sense of how many and varied non-digital resources are available; have them conduct an oral history project, collecting stories from living people that can’t be found on a website.

CBL and the Common Core
While the Common Core documents adamantly state that the standards do not dictate how teachers teach, they have naturally resulted in important discussions about how the teaching and learning process needs to change to address the "shifts" inherent in the standards. This becomes particularly apparent when reviewing the College and Career Readiness anchor standards embedded within the Common Core. Developing students who are self-directed; demonstrate discipline-specific expertise; comprehend and critique; appropriately respond to their context; and back up their opinions with evidence demands a much more experiential and interactive learning environment than is currently found in many schools.

"Library of Congress" CC photo by mateoutah
Library Of Congress Unveils Massive Common Core Resource Center
Like a superhero, the U.S. Library of Congress has just swooped in and unveiled an enormous new (and free!) resource that’s all about the Common Core. It’s located at and worth checking out.

Igniting Change from the Middle
1. Act before talking. Model the way. Do what you hope others will do.

2. Don’t ask do. Push the edges of your authority and responsibility. Don’t wait for permission.

3. Don’t tell. Stop telling those over you what they should do. They resist when they feel pushed. Do it yourself.

Five Critical Mistakes Schools Make With iPads (And How To Correct Them)
The most common mistake teachers make with iPads is focusing on subject-specific apps. In doing so, many completely overlook the full range of possibilities with the iPad. I think of a Latin teacher who declared the iPad useless because he couldn’t find a good Latin app.
It simply didn’t occur to him use the VoiceThread app to record his students speaking Latin, or perhaps create a collaborative discussion of Cicero. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Fallacy of Information Overload and other Matters

The Fallacy of Information Overload
Creative Commons photo by kk+
The sensation of being overwhelmed by information has been linked to every media revolution. With every new innovation and the mass adoption of disruptive technology, the volume of information available to us grows exponentially. With media now so pervasive and portable, information, of any focus, is available, on demand, and more importantly, resides in our hands to create and consume at will. We are, for better or for worse, always on. And this is both part of the problem and part of the solution for how we evolve as individuals and as an information society.

How to Use Creative Commons Visuals on Your Site
Tracking down quality visuals to accompany stories and blog posts can be difficult. Luckily, there are more than 200 million free photos on the web that are available for almost anyone to use -- as long as they follow the tenets of Creative Commons licensing.

An iPad Workflow for the Classroom Using Google Drive & Pages, Keynote or Numbers
The Google Drive iPad app is not yet all that we might want it to be, but it is definitely moving in the right direction. A recent update included the ability to create and edit spreadsheets, but it also added something equally useful – the ability to upload files from other apps to Google Drive via the “Open in” function.

For the Future Student, Higher Education Will Be Redefined
Not too far in the future, students may be faced with an entirely different set of choices than they do today. No longer might college or career straight after high school graduation be the two only and divergent paths in front of them. No longer may a four-to-six-year commitment to a highly esteemed institution be the fastest way to a fruitful career or a rich network.

The state of Utah announced in February its plans to build open textbooks for high school-level math language arts and science. The math and science books were to be remixes from CK–12, and the language arts books were to be developed locally. The state said the books were expected to cost $5 each (compared to roughly $80 for a “standard” textbook and even the $14.99 Apple boasted at its announcement in January).

Engaging iPad Activities for Teens

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dispelling Myths, Whither the E-Book Price War?. . . . .and More!

Dispelling the Myths About 1:1 Environments
Many talking heads, whether on Twitter or at conferences, feel the need to validate technology integration by deeming it necessary for the next phase of students' lives.  . . . . For many students, they will travel off to college, sit in a giant auditorium and listen to lectures. Most of their assessments will be done on Scantron forms and offer no project-based alternative. The most technology that students will encounter in college will be email, word processing . . . and social media outlets for socializing.

Little Sign of a Predicted E-Book Price War
“A lot of these e-book consumers aren’t behaving like lab rats at a feeder bar,” the analyst said. “We have found that at any given time about a third of e-book users haven’t bought a single title in the last 12 months. I have a feeling it is the digital equivalent of the ‘overloaded night stand’ effect; someone isn’t going to buy any more books until they make a dent in reading the ones they have already acquired.”

Creative Commons Photo by NASA
Student Research: The Right Information at the Right Time
If you can learn the art of the keyword search, along with a handful of other Google tricks and tips, you can usually find what you need, or at least where to look next. But the whole "universe at your fingertips" is unhelpful in this sense: what you'll actually find when you look is strangely limited.

6 Must-Download iPad Apps for Tutors
There are a lot of teaching tools out there you could use during your tutoring sessions, but none is as portable, as powerful and useful as the iPad. Here are a few must-download iPad apps for tutors that you can use to make your tutoring sessions more stimulating for your student without losing site of the traditionalist inside you.

5 Reasons Why BYOD is a Bad Idea
When I first read about the idea of BYOD programs in schools, my initial reaction was that it is certainly one way to get technology in the hands of all students in a school or class without having to find lots of budgetary funds to do it. . . . While the financial incentive is an attractive upside to this idea, it doesn’t take long for a technologist to start to realize that the drawbacks inherent in this approach make it highly questionable.

NASA Earth As Art 
In 1960 the United States put its first Earth-observing environmental satellite into orbit around the planet. Over the decades these satellites have provided invaluable information, and the vantage point of space has provided new perspectives on Earth. This app celebrates Earth’s aesthetic beauty in the patterns, shapes, colors, and textures of the land, oceans, ice, and atmosphere.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Best To-Do, iTunes U, and other Whoop-te-do

Why (And How) Teachers Should Start Using iTunes U
Duke University at iTunes U
A quick search of the iTunes U catalog reveals many incredible courses full of engaging educational materials and resources. I believe it is through avenues like iTunes U that schools will learn to help our students see learning in new and exciting ways while at the same time opening our classrooms and homes to a wide array of exciting new educational opportunities.

Five Best To-Do List Managers
Earlier in the week, we asked you which to-do list app you thought was the best. You weighed in with hundreds of nominations. We tallied them up, ranked them, and looked into the top five to see why they're the best of the pack. Here they are:

Google Apps Challenging Microsoft in Business
“Google is getting traction” on Microsoft, said Melissa Webster, an analyst with IDC. “Its ‘good enough’ product has become pretty good. It looks like 2013 is going to be the year for content and collaboration in the cloud.”

Bring the noise: has technology made us scared of silence?
Beginning at infancy, the constant media soundscape has provided the background noise either side of bassinet, kindergarten, school and university. It is little wonder many of my students feel agitated and ill-at-ease when there is not at least one portal providing background noise.

3 Ideas That Will Not Transform Schools
I wanted to share a couple of ideas that I think get way too much attention and definitely need some tweaking.  Although there is merit for each idea, they do little to transform the culture of a school yet I have seen many jump on their individual bandwagons.

23 Ways To Use The iPad In The 21st Century PBL Classroom

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