Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Help students raise new kinds of questions"

“I have yet to have a student tell me they can't use technology in class because they haven't received any PD on it. -- Sean Junkins

“With one online class, I received more feedback on my class ideas that I had in my whole career of teaching." -- Mitch Duneier (Princeton)

‘A good educator is a tour guide of learning possibilities. They should learners the possibilities and then get out of the way.” -- via Jackie Gerstein.

"The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don't tell you what to see."  -- Alexandra Trenfor

“Educators should help students understand the change process through their own understanding - intellectually and passionately.” -- Tony Wagner

“One of the great secrets to fostering deep learning is the ability to help students raise new kinds of questions that they will find fascinating. Sometimes that means beginning with the questions that are already on their minds and helping them see how those inquiries lead to new puzzles.”  -- Ken Bain


Photo Credit: syrsln / ibo guido via Compfight cc

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Arc of Mercy's iPad & Google Apps Training

I hosted visitors from another high school, recently.  Since our adoption of 1:1 iPads, this has become a frequent experience. I was explaining how much emphasis we had placed on professional development with Mercy 2.0.  This caused me to consider how our P.D. process had evolved over the past one year.  Fortunately, we did not try to predetermine every step.  Some of the best features of our training have been based on the feedback we received along the way:
Workflow Analysis -  Our consultant, Lucy Gray, urged us to begin the staff development process by focusing on "workflow".  Lucy and administrators held conversations with members of every academic department, discussing how the new tools could accomplish and improve the way they conducted their classes on a daily basis-- assigning, collecting, and evaluating student work for instance.
Unboxing- We had a special "unboxing" basic training event for the staff when they received their iPads.
Super Tuesdays- Our own advanced teachers conducted voluntary after school workshops on key apps  like DropboxEvernote, and iAnnotate PDF.  These were extremely well attended.
Creative Commons photo by jeanbaptistparis
"Ten Things" - We wrote learning modules for ten activities that would serve as milestones for staff technical competency.  The activities were required and included using Google Cals, Evernote, iMovie, Moodle, iPhoto, Dropbox and Explain Everything.
Summer Labs
In order to support the quest for the "Ten things", we hosted several drop-in "labs" during the summer.  These were staffed by volunteers, whose only reward was a free lunch.  The turn-out was terrific.  and by summer's end some of the learners had become trainers.
Boot Camp
Our ten new staff members attended three summer mornings of "boot camp", specifically designed to raise the technology bar high for our newbies and to give them a head start on  the iPad.
Rock Stars
For a full day of August in-service we flew in Cheryl Davis from California to give us a keynote address on "retrofitting the Classroom for the iPad."  She, Lucy Gray and some of our in-house technology exemplars conducted workshops through the day.
Design Foundations
All ninth graders were required this year to take a course called Design Foundations.  Much of their time is spent in our new Mac Lab learning how to use photoshop, design web pages and edit using FinalCut Pro X.  Next year we will be offering a Set Design course and a video editing course which have been made possible by this introductory curriculum.  We will also have a second Mac lab next year.  The entire staff was given a presentation on Design Foundations.  The Curriculum Council is exploring ways for courses of all disciplines to reinforce the skills learned in our new course.
Our focus on training has shifted to utilizing student expertise.  We have identified, trained and branded a group of iPad users named iWizards.  They will assist in tutoring all members of our community in iPad skills.
Ninth Grade Tech Orientation
The iWizards will be spending a full day together with Lucy Gray at their elbows, creating the Curriculum for this year's Ninth Grade Tech Orientation.  They will create multimedia tutorials to support their presentations on topics like Dropbox, iPhoto, Pages, and iAnnotate PDF.  You will be reading more about this activity on these pages after March 4.
Surveying the Staff
The staff have not even had their iPads for a year, but it is not too early to plan more professional development with them.  Before long we will return to where we started, surveying them to discover what they need to rock their classes with the iPad and Google Apps for Education.  After all, for all the great technology, the teachers remain the key to great instruction.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New iWizard Logo

We have a Logo Design for our iWizards!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Partnering with Parents on Digital Citizenship

Last month the IT Team hosted and evening for parents called, "Partnering with Parents on Digital Citizenship".  We had about forty parents in attendance. The program was laid out, thus:

* The School's new policy on interactions and communications - Larry Baker, Associate Principal Operations and Apple Distinguished Educator

* Mercy's approach to "filtering" - Tom James, Director of Information Technology

* Tips for parents - Gary Bank, Systems Administrator

Here are the slides I created for my piece of the project:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Students Doing the Teaching

A special group of ninth grade iWizards has been meeting weekly in order to develop the August Class of 2017 Tech Orientation.  Currently they are organizing them into project teams to develop the different modules of instruction.  They have identified what they deem essential knowledge for using the iPad at Mercy.
On March 4 they will be devoting their day at school to creating multimedia materials for the tech orientation.  Once again, Lucy Gray will be their visiting guide, but other adults will be dropping in to consult. Our new 26 seat iMac lab will be their play pen for the day.  
Presently, we are identifying the "trainers" who will be project leaders for the creation of instruction and supervise the training in August.
By the way, class of 2017 students will get to meet iWizards when they pick up their Mercy iPads this summer.   We also hope that they will be assisting in  the service area of the IT Department which will be relocating (More on that later!).
It won't be long before we are recruiting the new freshwomen to become new iWizards.
The iWizard Trainer Application

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Location, Location, Location!

M-Hub is a student operated online database which enables members of the Mercy community to share their knowledge with current students. For example, students can search for Mercy community members based on various areas of expertise -- such as professional titles, hobbies, college alma mater, community service or location -- and then connect with them to gain information.
In order to spread the good word about M-Hub the girls are producing a one minute movie that will concisely communicate their mission.  They are looking for locations and actors to depict . . . .
* A scientist addressing the camera from her lab.
* An artist addressing the camera from her studio.
* A businesswoman addressing the camera from her interesting-looking place of business.
If you can help us get access to these types of well-lit locations or spokeswomen who can perform these roles, please contact Larry Baker at
2012 M-Hub Members

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Coming to Terms with Digital Interactions and Communications

Creative Commons Photo courtesy of Haleyface
After some very hard work, the administrators and counselors at our school produced a Policy on Interactions and Communications which was recently shared with the school community.  Speaking for myself only, the task of devising such a policy at first seemed extremely daunting.  Like many schools we sought to address the hot issue of "bullying".  But at the same time were trying to address issues related to negative online behavior stemming from messaging, Tumblr, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.

How could a single policy encompass behavior as diverse as physical intimidation and "mean" online chat?
Certainly, we did not pretend we could or even should monitor all kinds of communication.  Also, usually school rules apply to behavior in the building or at sanctioned school activities.  However, a traditional approach does not suit online behavior.  And just as certainly, not all "mean" behavior qualifies as "bullying."  With new apps and forms of social media popping up every day, how could we write down rules today that would apply tomorrow?

Fortunately, after we had spent some time on our project, we realized that the school already had a wonderful template for organizing our guidelines: the Mercy values of human dignity, mercy. justice, service, and option for the poor.
For example, the value of "human dignity" helped us to to craft the following definition:

Hateful or derogatory speech is defined as written or oral communications 
intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a 
person or group of people.

Consequently, sharing with friends an uncomplimentary photo of a classmate or bashing an athletic coach on Twitter would both constitute attacks on human dignity.  Though neither behavior would probably be considered "bullying" or "hate speech", both clearly violate our policy as derogatory and degrading actions.

The values also served us well in presenting our new policy to the students.  Instead of stressing what they shouldn't do, we could called ourselves to live up to these find standards set by the Sisters of Mercy.  And fortunately we have many positive examples of individuals in our community exemplifying those qualities.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

IWizards Rock the Open House

The ninth grade iWizards demonstrated our iPad technology at the January 27 Open House.
Abigail and Isadora demonstrate for a family at Open House
The most common questions the IT Team fielded were . . . . .
Q. Do all the teachers "require" the iPad?  Answer: We are seven years into one to one computing.  The iPad is used across the curriculum.  Many of our teachers are very highly skilled at technology.  They present at conferences and challenge their students with innovative instructional methods.
Q. Do the iPads come loaded with books?  Answer: No, but they come loaded with apps, and a nominal app fee charged at purchase pays for all instructional apps for four years.  We offer as many digital books as we can and provide this information at the school web site.
Q. How will the students learn to use their iPads?  Answer: We offer a short orientation session at iPad pick-up , and a far more intensive learning experience during the first week of school.  The iWizards will assist as trainers at these sessions.
Q. Does the Mercy iPad come with a keyboard?  Answer: No. We think this is a matter of personal preference. About 60% of our students use one, and they vary greatly in style.  The Mercy iPad comes with a case and the Apple Care + warranty (both significantly discounted).
Q. Can I use notes created on my iPad with my PC at home?  Answer: Absolutely. There are many ways to do this and the teachers will guide the students as classes begin.
Q. How does someone become an iWizard?   Answer: We will be taking applications to join from the class of 2017 sometime in the Fall.

Blog Archive