Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Kid-Friendly Version of our Technology Integration Framework

The past decade has seen huge changes in the types of technology standards that most schools have. Even two years ago the SAS technology standards were lists of concrete skills organized around types of tools such as word processors, spreadsheets, and desktop layout programs. Depending upon grade level, the standards looked something like this:
      Insert header and footer into a Word document.
      Create a graphic in a paint program and export it as a JPEG file.
      Convert spreadsheet data into a bar graph.

In January 2009 SAS adopted the Technology Integration Framework: Grades K-12.1 (Please see details at end of this post.) The framework is based on the National Educational Technology Standards for Students or (NETS-S)2. The International Society for Technology in Education who developed the standards, explains them in this way:

NETS are the standards for evaluating the skills and knowledge students need to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly global and digital world.

Simply being able to use technology is no longer enough. Today's students need to be able to use technology to analyze, learn, and explore. Digital age skills are vital for preparing students to work, live, and contribute to the social and civic fabric of their communities.3

The adoption of the SAS Technology Integration Framework marks two major shifts as described below. 

Shift from...

Shift to...

      isolated technology skills        
      technology skills embedded into 21st century learning skills such as creating, communicating, collaborating, and problem solving
      stand-alone computer classes 
      technology integration in every grade and in every content area

Our framework is well written, but it is not written in kid-friendly language.  We use the terms 4 below to make it more accessible to our students. I’ve also listed a few examples in each section.

Make It!

Use technology to show your creativity.

  • Art students creating stop motion movies to animate their art.
  • Grade 3 students creating digital posters to explain the board game they designed.
  • Grade 4 students creating a collage or scrapbook page with photos from the year.

Say It!

Use technology to communicate.

  • Grade 3 classes Skyping grandparents to learn about inventions.
  • Grade 4 students working on oral fluency through choral reading podcasts.
  • Grade 5 students Skyping family members to give them a weekly update on their activities and progress.

Share it!

Use technology to collaborate.

  • Using the comment feature in Google Docs to give their writing partners feedback on first drafts.
  • Using Mind Meister mind mapping software in our Google Apps suite to collaboratively reflect on story elements.

Find It!

Use technology for research.

  • Our librarians Kate Brundage and Rosa Shin-Gay teach search skills during library classes. Students apply these skills in the classroom with the assistance of teachers.
  • Exploring fake websites to learn how to check the validity of web site sources.

Solve It!

Use technology to think critically, solve problems and make decisions.

  • Grade 3 students gather data and analyze data on developing and developed countries.
  • Grade 4 play the Great Ocean Rescue computer simulation to gather information, think critically and make decisions to solve problem affecting our oceans.

Protect It!

Use our core values whenever using technology.
·       Grade 3 students learn to be responsible for keeping their password and other personal information safe online.
·       Grade 4 students are respectful when they leave appropriate comments on each other’s blogs.
·       Grade 5 students learn about their digital footprint and put those skills to use as they start using school email and blogging.
·       All grades learn about their responsibility to help stop cyber bullying and the compassionate way to treat students who are being bullied.

Use It!

Use technology devices and programs to improve your learning.
·       Students in all grades learn a wide variety of technology skills as they complete classroom projects. These skills include but are not limited to word processing, typing, movie making, podcasting, desktop publishing, graphical design, graphing, mind mapping and using spreadsheets.
·       They use a variety of devices including computers, ipads, cameras, and digital microscopes.

Technology Integration Framework: Grades K-12

Standard 1: Creativity and Innovation
Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.

Standard 2: Communication and Collaboration
Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

Standard 3: Research and Information Fluency
Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

Standard 4: Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.

Standard 5: Digital Citizenship
Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.

Standard 6: Technology Operations and Concepts
Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.

For more detailed information visit: http://bit.ly/UPx9Mi.

2 NETS for Students, International Society for Technololgy in Education (2012). http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/nets-s-standards.pdf?sfvrsn=2

3 NETS for Students, International Society for Technololgy in Education (2012).

Technology Builds Excitement for Learning in Grade 5

The excitement in each Grade 5 classroom has been palpable this year as students have been taking delivery of their new MacBook Pros. Three of the thirteen Grade 5 classes are piloting a 1:1 program and the remaining ten classes are 1:2.  It is all part of the intermediate school’s investigation into the best model to achieve individualized learning for our students.

Each homeroom is becoming familiar with their new MacBooks as well as being introduced to Google Apps for Education. The hardware and software combine beautifully to enable students to develop effective communication and collaboration skills and to provide them with an opportunity to create authentic, relevant learning experiences.

Another exciting initiative is each student’s electronic portfolio, or e-portfolio, using Google’s blogging platform, Blogger. The e-portfolio will contain posts of work samples along with reflections about their learning. The process of reflecting enables students to become more successful as they know how they learned and can identify what they would have done differently.

One of the first posts that Grade 5 will complete is to assess their reading fluency. They will use an online tool to record as they read an extract from their 'just right' book. After listening to the recording they self assess using the following guiding questions:
  • Did I quickly self-corrected mistakes or omissions?
  • Did I stop to take a breath where there was no punctuation?
  • Did I follow the punctuation signals such as commas and periods?
  • Did I read with expression that conveyed meaning?
Students should be able to identify what they did well along with areas for improvement. The recording is embedded within a post along with their response to the guiding questions.

Weeks later, after completing their second recording, the structure of the blog enables them to easily return to their original post. Students will replay their initial ‘reading fluency’ recording and compare it to their latest attempt. It is here that the greatest potential for learning occurs! During conferencing, each student can compare and determine if they did, in fact, improve. Students can refer back to their reflection where they identified their areas of strength and weakness. Is the weakness still there? What strategies did they employ to improve? Providing students with evidence of growth, or lack thereof, allows them to see the value of responding to feedback. They learn to set achievable goals, outline strategies to achieve those goals, and to be held accountable for achieving them.

The e-portfolio will stay with them during their time as an SAS student, providing them with a perfect picture of their growth and experiences as a learner. Along with the technical skills required to set up, post and embed work samples onto their blog, students have discussed and agreed upon a set of responsible and ethical behaviors necessary to build a positive ‘digital footprint’. They have been asked to consider the additional audiences for their posts: friends; teachers; parents; extended family; even universities and future employers! There are coming to grips with the fact that their digital footprint starts now. What do they want it to say about them in the future?

iPad, iLearn

By Robin Pearson,  Primary School Educational Technology Coach

Last school year was the pilot year for iPads in the Primary School. Both teachers and students had first hand experience using iPads as a learning tool in class.

This year the Primary division launched sets of iPads in each primary classroom. On average, two teachers now share a cart of 12 iPads allowing teachers and students multiple opportunities to integrate it into daily lessons.

First Graders working on posters
When it comes to integrating technology in the primary classroom, teachers have one main goal. Whatever the learning activity is, it must add value to a student’s learning. The class set iPads have applications that specifically target key learning areas. From a technology point of view, there are also apps that allow students to create and communicate. Apps such as Pages, Keynote or iMovie are important applications because they provide a platform which allow primary students to create projects with minimum ease.  

Using Pages in First Grade
Last school year, for example, all first graders created a Keynote, Apple’s powerpoint. This year, students will be creating much more. Posters in Pages, a math problem in a screen capture app or a simple iMovie.

Technology can now be seen in all facets of the Primary School and it is not just iPads. The new World Language classrooms are also designed to allow teachers to seamlessly integrate technology. Just like class teachers,  they are supported by a technology integrator. The new Promethean Interactive Whiteboards are a feature of the new language rooms along with Voicelift, a device teachers can wear enabling them to be heard wherever they are in the room.

Zhang Laoshi teaching Chinese
Regardless of what technology is employed in a class, the goal is the same. To advance a child’s learning whilst recognizing the importance of digital learning.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I'm not texting. I'm tweeting!

"I saw you texting during the keynote speech." A couple of teachers whispered this to me as if I had been naughty. I just smiled.

We had just listened to a fantastic opening session by Dr. Austin Buffum, an expert in the Professional Learning Community (PLC) process. Of course, to many people it did look like I was busily sending text messages to one of my friends. Of course, that is exactly not what I was doing. I was tweeting!

There is an important difference between texting and tweeting. Texting is a private message between two people. A tweet, on the other hand, is a public message that is broadcast out to whomever follows you and has an interest in what you are saying. You have 140 characters to get across a short, sweet point that is tweetworthy.

Many people do not yet see the point of tweeting. "Why would I care what someone eats, or if Ashton Kutcher is having coffee." I agree! For me, however, it is the most valuable professional development tool in my bag of tricks. Who you follow, what you contribute and the conversations that you have are the secrets to the effective use of Twitter.

The list of people I follow is mostly comprised of other educational technology coordinators, coaches, administrators and techy teachers. We all share something in common...the desire to share and a passion for good teaching. Most of us tweet out photos, quips, links, experiences, struggles and celebrations. These tweeps are my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and we all grow from what we share, even though most of us have never met.

So what was I doing during Dr. Buffum's opening address? I was having a rich conversation with other members of the audience who were also tweeting, such as Heather Dowd, Tim Stuart, Anthony Selley, Shaun Kirkwood, John Gaskell and Jemma Hooykaas. We shared the bits that resonated with us and recorded the experience as it happened. This is the way I take notes now during many conferences. Several more SAS faculty in the room were following along with what we were saying, lurking and learning. We used the #sasedu hashtag to tag our school-related tweets and #atplc when referring to PLCs.

Not only were people in the room learning from each other, there were thousands of other Twitter users reading what we were sharing. Kerri-Lee Beasley, a Digital Literacy Coach at UWC was following along. She tweeted:

The power of Twitter comes from the connections we make. It takes time to build up a good list of people to follow and you have to contribute to the conversation to get people to follow you. Once the ball starts rolling, however, it can be one of the most professionally rewarding things you can do.

If you really want to see what I was doing with my nose in my phone and my thumbs frantically tapping away? Check out my Storify round-up of the Twitter action from Day 1: http://storify.com/jayatwood/plc-institute-sas. The next time you see someone on their phone during a workshop ask them, "Were you tweeting?!"

PLC Institute Tweets via Storify