Bloom’s (Revised) Taxonomy with Apps

Today, I came across a fantastic graphic combining 21st century learning skills, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and the SAMR Model.  I wanted to press print to share it with my teachers next fall, but then I noticed that my elementary district shared just a couple of the apps listed on his wheel.  So, I decided to make a similar graphic using the apps on our teachers’ iPads – only the apps assigned to all teachers, no matter what grade they teach.

Bloom's_Tax_w_Apps

5 Quick Lessons on Character Analysis and Predicting using iPads

 

 

whattheteacherwants.blogspot.com

whattheteacherwants.blogspot.com

Since this month’s focus is ‘Teaching Reading with iPads,’ our weekly ‘Techie Lunch’ iPad/tech training session concentrated on Character Analysis and Predictions.  We have already covered Active Reading for Main Idea and Sequencing.  The educators in attendance during their lunch period were 2nd and third grade teachers, so we had a conversation geared toward this level of students.

After some discussion about Bloom’s Taxonomy, and the importance of students being able to show understanding by accessing the higher levels, we came up with some ideas for lessons on Character Analyis:

1.  (Character’s Description) – Whiteboard, Doodle Buddy or Jot!  – Students draw a picture of the main character using a whiteboard app.

2.  (Character’s Language/Dialogue) – PaperDesk, NoteMaster, ScreenChomp, Skitch or Notability – Students take a picture from their printed story, and then highlight something that the character said that illustrates one of their character traits.

3.  (Other Characters’ Reactions to Character in Question) – ToonTastic or PuppetPals –  Have students assign characters from their story to figures in the apps.  Have them re-enact scenes from memory from their story.

For Predicting, students have to understand all the elements of the story AND have a good grasp on human nature in order to predict what will happen next in a story, which is why active readers should always be pausing to try and figure out what will happen next, just as we try to solve the case in less time than it takes Bones and Booth.

1.  (Predicting Character Actions)  – ToonTastic or PuppetPals – Similar to #3, above, but give them a situation NOT in the story, and have them show you how the characters in the story might react to the new situation, or if you are only part way through the text, what they think the characters might do next in the story.

2.  (Predicting Plot) –  iBrainstorm, Popplet or Corkulous – Plot out main parts (even as simple as beginning, middle, end), of the plot on either poppies or sticky notes, and put them in the right order.  Change the color of the notes or popples and have them continue on with the story sequence.  They could even then change the colors all back to the original color, exchange iPads, and have their neighbor put them all back in order, changing the color of the predicted ones once they get there (so you know they know which parts haven’t really happened yet).  If the students understand cause/effect the plot so far, and any characters involved, they should be able to put them all back together.

What other lessons have you found to be successful?

 

Importance of Focusing on the Big Picture in #EdTech

I’m in a bit of a quandary right now.

photo: strategydriven.com

photo: strategydriven.com

It’s (almost) the end of the year, and planning has started for the next.  At this point, I’m feeling like I need to be more effective – to work smarter, and to focus myself so that I can focus others.   In order to achieve this goal, I find that the first step is to focus on the bigger picture.

Like many others with the title ‘Technology Integration Specialist’ (or something similar), I came to this new (for my district) position last year in a round about way.  For me, the idea of being the person to define a brand new position was too enticing to pass up.  So, after several years in the classroom and several years in administration, I became the District Technology Integration Specialist.  About 4 weeks before school started, the superintendent told me that I would also be teaching elementary kids Monday – Wednesday, reducing my time for interacting with teachers to two days each week.

Planning for next year has started, and I won’t be teaching any more (as of now).  I’ve sent out Google Forms to see which apps should be put on the iPads going out to our next school with the tech upgrade.  I’ve sent out a Google Form to obtain information on how people like to receive their PD.  I’m glad I sent those out.  The results are not what I expected (that’s a whole other post!).

I feel like this year has been kind of the shotgun effect.  I tried many different methods of trying to spread the edtech word: weekly disctrict-wide emails, personal conversations, weekly Techie Lunches in my computer lab, random emails to people who would appreciate different resources I found on Twitter (thanks, PLN!), etc.   Somehow I feel like the 80/20 rule can be applied here somewhere, and I’m looking forward to going through my survey results in a couple days when the window closes.

To be honest, our district is WAY behind where it could be.  We are still proud to be moving into using PowerPoint instead of an overhead, and yet as the only connected educator in my district,  I am on the Internet seeing classrooms like this one where 4th and 5th graders are backchanneling a Skype conversation with Twitter and GDrive, while others are preparing a blog post and still others recording the whole lesson.

So.

I put on my administrator hat, stepped back, and looked at the whole picture.  I dug around on the website and found our Technology Vision Statement.  The good news is that it’s decent  (The bad news is that I had to dig for it).  I then searched for other people in my position on the Internet.  I found good stuff from Bill Ferriter, Kim Cofino, and Nancye Blair, just to name a few.

Then, based on my personal reflections and what I learned from others, I came up with the skeleton of a plan:

1.  Start by communicating the big picture.  Share the district’s vision for technology integration, and share instances of some other classrooms around the world who are practicing our vision to the nth degree.  “This is what’s out there folks, and this is where you COULD be if you want to.  And I will help you get there.”  [I know, the whole buy-in piece is missing.  I’d like to be able to work on this for a good bit of time with the staff as a whole, but I’ve been told that time is limited; this year alone, I had at least a day and a half of School Improvement time rerouted from tech to something else!]

2.  Continue to build relationships with teachers.  Fortunately, that’s always been pretty easy for me, and I can enumerate dozens of examples where the relationships I have nurtured have paid back huge dividends.

3.  Model good teaching.  Start where the student (in this case the teacher) is, set attainable goals, and keep planting those seeds for their next step while fully supporting and celebrating their current efforts.  Realize that not everyone is going to jump in with both feet (as I tend to do!).  Use baby steps, and have the teachers become familiar with that one puzzle piece before showing them another.

I’m interested to see what others have to suggest.  I am passionate about education and helping people be the best they can be.  I also strongly believe that technology can take us to levels we haven’t even dreamed of yet in education.  Please comment or email with your insights!

Creating Monster Aliens

20130305-203936.jpgWhat happens when you work in an open-space building where your computer lab is surrounded by 4th and 5th graders taking their annual NCLB-mandated standardized test?  You get booted, of course!  I took the opportunity to wheel my cart into the 2nd graders’ classrooms and try out some collaborative work.  For the last 25 (or so) minutes of class, I split them up into 2 or 3 groups (depending on class size and layout), I told them their job was to make a robot/alien/creature using a particular whiteboard app (“Whiteboard” by Green Gar Studios – the one with the smiley face).

20130305-204016.jpg

That’s it.  They had never used this app before, but since I don’t ever explain how to use apps, I didn’t worry about that (adults seem to be the only ones that need me to explain apps to them).  It was interesting to sit back and watch them work.  Some groups started out with organization, others did not.  In the end, they all laid out their iPad into the desired shape, assigned roles, and then drew on them, sometimes several people drawing on the same iPad at once.  They thought it was extra cool when I turned out the lights and went around photographing the final products.

20130305-204028.jpg

Over lunch, I took the pictures off my iPad and forwarded them to their parents, teachers, and administration so that they could be a part of the kids’ coolness.  And now you are part of it too!

What other ideas do you have to creatively collaborate with kids and iPads?

Writing with iPads Pt1: Brainstorming & Organizing

StoryStarters

Using iPads for writing instruction can be
intimidating.  Just remember that you don’t have to do all of
it at once.  Choose one app or one step in the writing process
with which to begin your infusion of technology.  Of the apps
I experimented with, these are the ones I found to be the
best:


Story
Dice
is a simple app that can be used to come up
with topics for all ages, even the youngest kids who can’t read
yet, since it’s all in pictures.  Simply select the number of
die you would like to have showing, shake, and roll.  Kids
could each make a story using the same die rolls, and then could
vote on which had the best character, plot, overall story, etc.

Shake-a-phrase has three
parts:  Shake It!, Story Starter, and Quiz Me!  Shake It!
generates silly, random sentences where you can tap words for
definitions.  Story Starter gives a ‘what if…’, ‘Imagine
if…’, ‘What would happen if…’ sentence that would get students
writing.  Quiz Me! gives a silly sentence and asks the
students to tap a certain part of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives,
prepositions, or conjunctions).  You can choose from all or
just one to differentiate.
Idea Sketch allows you to
mind map your writing with curved lines and Idea Sketch allows you
to mind map your writing with curved lines and different colors.
It allows you to rearrange them, too.  You can only
share by sending to email, FB, or to your camera roll (which would
allow you to save it for later projection or viewing on the same
iPad). photo copy 8 Popplet
Lite
is another version of graphic organizer
that allows mindmapping.  Export features include emailing as
a .pdf or .jpeg, or it can be saved as a jped on the iPad.
photo copy 4
iBrainstorm looks like
post-it notes on a Masonite board.  You can change the color
of the Post-it squares and you can draw on the board with different
colored markers.  Exporting options are sending in an email
and saving to photos. iBrainstorm Corkulous
is similar to iBrainstorm.  You cannot write on the
board, but there are a lot of different shapes that can be
attached, and you can change the color of the post-it notes.
Just use the file drawer at the bottom of the page. Corkulous In Part 2, I’ll go over apps which are good for
making the ‘Sloppy Copy’ and for editing.  In the meantime,
try one or two of these this week.  No one expects you to
adopt all of these at once (although you are more than welcome
to!), but the only way you will become comfortable and familiar
with them is to play with them on your own and use them with the
kids.

#Eduwow From Today’s EdTech Conference

BEING TECH SAVVY IS A STATE OF MIND, NOT JUST A COLLECTION OF SKILLS.

After two full days of talking, listening, and digesting, the biggest ah-ha moment for me was when this hit me like the proverbial dumptruck of bricks.  

ImageThe best part was that Sean Nash, our presenter, didn’t come out and say this.  After actively participating in his exercise and really thinking about what everyone in the session said, this phrase just popped into my head.  I’m not even really sure that others came to the same conclusion.  

I am sure, however, that this will change the way I manage and plan Professional Development in my district.  It will change how I view teachers and their skill sets, and it will affect how I view my own progress this year.

Attitude really is everything – even when it comes to being labeled as ‘Tech Savvy’.

Thanks to presenter Sean Nash (@nashworld) and his thoughtful presentation and effective use of the Fish Bowl technique!

Why Kids Need Tech Class in School

Crosspost of my January column for my school’s PTO Newsletter:

Over break, I cleaned out our burgeoning bookshelves, and decided to get rid of our single-volume encyclopedia and our unabridged dictionary.  I can’t remember the last time I used them, even with two students in the house.  New technology is everywhere.  Careers and life and more and more tech-based (even 5 years ago, I never thought ‘technology integration’ would be part of my resume!).  Past columns have discussed 21st century learners, and how preparing our kids for jobs which are cutting edge, or even for those that we can predict is doing them a disservice.  We need to be using new teaching standards, such as the Common Core, to teach them how to work well with others, be curious and how to find, manage, and manipulate information – all with this omnipresent technology.

dictionary picMany of the “Top 10 Issues” lists for education in 2013 mention technology.  The trick -the real issue – is actually twofold: teaching teachers how to integrate technology, so that it becomes part of the curriculum, not the curriculum itself, and second, how to teach kids to use technology responsibly.  Just because they are ‘digital natives’ and have grown up surrounded by technology does not mean they know how to efficiently find information, evaluate its relevance, and then how to use it constructively to create something new.  This is one of the school’s new responsibilities.

Hopefully, all of you have been receiving my weekly emails letting you know about what’s going on in computer class.   It has been my goal this year to start integrating my class’s curriculum into that of their regular classroom teacher.  Basically, my goal is to use technology to reinforce topics covered in their other subjects.  We often work on word processing skills by writing with their spelling words or reinforce math by playing money counting or time telling games.  Perhaps you read or heard about plotting the Iditarod’s trail on Google Earth before reading their story in 5th grade?  The kids probably don’t know it, but by teaching them technology skills when they NEED to know them makes them much more memorable than teaching them out of context or ‘just because that’s what was on the syllabus to teach you today.’

But I can’t get it all done in a year.  It is vital that this technology education continues throughout their schooling, partly because I can’t cover everything in 40 minutes per week, and partly because the relevant skills I’m teaching today will probably be obsolete in a couple of years.  It is my wish for all our kids that they receive every opportunity to become successful individuals – in grade school, high school, college, and into their careers.

Maybe next year when I go to clean the bookshelves, I’ll get rid of all of them, because who really uses physical books anymore?

Tech Rant #1

from itineraryforvision. wordpress.com

FACT:  Almost two months ago, I joined Twitter and started blogging.

FACT:  I have now connected with more than 200 other educators around the world and have taken advantages of experiences I would not have had otherwise.

Have you ever notice that once you do something you automatically assume that everyone else is or at least should be doing the same thing?  You start dieting, and…how dare they bring in brownies – don’t they know we are ALL being ‘good’?  It’s worse when you accept change faster than most people (my other half calls this trait ‘fickle’ – ! ).  You find yourself surrounded by people who are so…so…so flip phone!  And if you aren’t on Twitter or FaceBook, (I can’t even think of an appropriate metaphor).  Clearly, I love my technology.  I love the cool things my toys can do, but most of all, I’ve finally found the power of using technology as a tool to become a connected learner.  I’ve had my epiphany; why hasn’t everyone else had theirs?  Why do my teachers look at me with their pitying/condescending/he’s-totally-crazy look when I start soapboxing about Twitter?

My month-old desktop computer may already be outdated, but technology itself is here to stay.  The internet is not a passing fad.  Landlines will never be back in style.

And so we must embrace technology into the classroom.  When we ask kids to unplug and power down before coming into class, we are not meeting them where they are.  We are asking telling them to meet us where we are.  1950.   Dial tone and 45’s.

When I hear other educators talk about how we need to keep YouTube out of the classrooms because kids may make inappropriate comments, or that we need to make a rule that all cell phones must be turned off and in their lockers because they may text each other, or that we can’t access Facebook because they may connect with each other or with other peers during school, I cringe.  I, then, become afraid – scared that we are making school policies based on fear.  Fear of what MIGHT happen.

I am not advocating that we ignore the inevitability that kids will make poor decisions.  They will.  And so will we.  They will abuse the privilege, and we will not support them properly.  But we cannot let our fear of what may happen lead us to extinction.  Darwin theorized that species that survived did so because they adapted – they changed.  Our problem is that we have a forebrain that lets us think, and realize we are changing, and then it tells us that we shouldn’t like all that change.

Rather than listen to our forebrains, let’s trust the kids to do right.  Let’s embrace the inevitabiltiy of change, and  realize that technology is here to stay, and it’s here to help.

~Matt

Storybird: Writing Children’s Stories Just Got Easier

Just how easy is it to write a children’s story with Storybird.com?  Ridiculously easy – and ridiculously addictive.  I learned about this on twitter from @Lyn_H and have been cursing her ever since!  Check out this 3-minute screencast introducing http://www.storybird.com:

http://www.screenr.com/embed/OV3s
The first night I found this program, I wrote two books (click on the image to read them on Storybird.com).

             

Children’s literature can be used in the classroom to teach a wealth of topics:

PLOT:  As a Language Arts teacher, I often had the kids write a children’s story as we discussed plot.  Well-written kids’ books have all the aspects of a well-developed plot in a novel or a short story:  the character is introduced, the conflict between the main character and whoever (or whatever) is then explained, often all on the same page.  Conflict keeps building until the end, when there is resolution, and the message/moral of the story becomes clear.

VERBS:  To make an interesting children’s story, the verbs have to be unique but not too difficult to read.  It’s a great way to have young writers find just the right verb to replace ‘be’, ‘got’, ‘have’, etc.

FUN STUFF:  Many kids’ books have wonderful examples of onomatopoaeia, personification, alliteration, and rhyme.  In order for these techniques to be seemlessly woven throughout a book takes a skillful writer.  I always had my students made a diagram of their plot, figure out their characters and conflict, and then once they had finished the ‘meat & potatoes part, then they could ‘accessorize’ with all of the ‘fun stuff’.

Storybird offers an additional challenge to the writer.  While the traditional process is to write and then illustrate, with Storybird, there is a finite set of illustrations that the writing must then fit.  I think it would be fantastic to have an entire class use one artist’s work, and show the kids just how many DIFFERENT stories can be created.  Discussions on creativity, and how inspiration and creativity are different for each person, and how a person’s creativity depends so much on past experiences, etc.  I’ll bet kids could even make pretty accurate guesses if all their classmates’  names were kept off the books, and the students were then asked to match authors to their stories. I think they would discover that every author leaves a bit of them behind in their story.

(Of course this would then lead to lessons in author’s voice…)