Do you remember the first iPad you ever touched? No, neither do I. As evidenced by the whorls and loops that form a polka-dotted haze across my computer screen, it's hard to remember first learning to use a finger to swipe across the smooth glass of an iPad. I can't even put my finger on the memory of that first time I ever tapped on the Home button. And downloading an app? Haven't we done that our whole lives? The answer is NO. Even though using an iPad seems to many of us like second nature, there are actually many people in the world who have no concept of any of these first-world tasks. One such population is the great-grandparent group.
I was recently asked to lead an iPad basics class for a group of Foster Grandparents. When I gladly agreed to do it, I was thinking quite optimistically - I figured I would just pare down the typical iPad course I do for teachers when they get their first devices. As the day approached, I kept thinking about my dear, sweet mother-in-law, just one generation ahead of me, and how she struggles to even use the TV remote; I decided that I would need to take a different approach. I woke up extra early this [Saturday] morning, went to Albertson's to purchase some donut holes and a traveller of Starbucks coffee, then headed over to our Gear Up Lab to set up for the 2-hour training. True to their generation, my group of grandmas started showing up respectably (30 minutes) early, ready to start learning.
Throughout the 2-hour training, they were amazingly good sports! And why wouldn't they be?! These ladies practically volunteer their time (they make barely over $2.50 an hour, just enough to cover the cost of their transportation) to work in classrooms all over Billings and beyond. They model fluency for emerging readers, they help little fingers assemble projects, they check for signatures in assignment notebooks, and now, in the age of 21st Century learners, they are being asked to assist with technology they barely understand.
Using Nearpod to get to know them (and to help them get comfortable with the devices), I asked them to draw a picture of themselves in their classrooms:
As it always turns out, my "students" weren't the only learners today. These ladies reminded me that, even though I may not recall a time when technology was a foreign concept to me, I can't just assume that everyone knows the lingo, the buttons, the settings, or the gestures needed to be successful with a brand new tool or piece of equipment. In helping someone to learn something new, we need to exercise patience, allow for extra think and work time, build in plenty of time for questions, and most importantly, opportunity to work and even play with the device.
And so, for all my grandmas and the iPad newbies of the world, HERE are the basics of the iPad Basics:
AAAAAAGGGGHHHH!!! How did we ever teach without the Internet?!?!
Thank you for allowing me to get that out of my system. To clarify, our city has been experiencing a crisis of epic proportions (ok, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration… but not much) in that our local cable and Internet provider (who shall remain nameless, but feel free to look them up) is in the midst of some kind of major issue that is causing people to try to remember what it was like to live in the days before we had instant access to information as quickly as we could think of it.
This is definitely not the ideal day for THE INTERNET to be down, as I have posted myself at a local elementary school to provide some “Geek on Demand” training. I plotted out a series of emails that would be scheduled to send (thanks to Active Inbox) every 45 minutes, with enticing little tips and tricks that would draw my victims, er, “customers” down to the closet/office for some one-on-one tech time. It was working beautifully until the crisis occurred. Now, here I sit, hidden away in a little hallway closet, Mimio Votes, iPad, computer, and cookies at the ready, and no Internet. What to do?!
Seriously, are you old enough to remember teaching before the Internet? It wasn’t that long ago. It makes me think about how technology has changed the landscape of what we do and how we do it. Are we honestly so reliant on technology that we just shut down when such a crisis occurs? Or are we perseverant problem solvers who have the skills to just figure out another way? I’m banking on the latter.
As I take a break and wander the halls of this building, I see and hear teaching still happening. [How is this POSSIBLE?! Don’t they know I’m suffering in here with no way to communicate with the world?!] A first grade teacher is modelling fluency, expression, and how to define vocabulary in context through a read aloud. A second grade teacher is using a dice game to reinforce basic multiplication facts. A third grade teacher is working with differentiated groups on reading skills. A fourth grade teacher is using his interactive projector to record a number talk. A fifth grade teacher is using iPads to model the construction of robots. A sixth grade teacher is using her document camera to display a formative assessment on scientific notation. And NONE of this is falling apart because the Internet is down.
Meanwhile, here I sit, in my little temporary cloffice writing a blog post… with no Internet. How is this POSSIBLE?!?! Again, Internet schminternet. It’s like somehow “they” knew that this might happen, and companies like Google allowed for offline access so we could still be productive. In scenarios like this, where teachers are trying to accomplish something, we find ways to make it happen. These are the skills of problem solving and creativity that we want our kids to have in this crazy, connected world of the 21st century; if “opportunities” like a school-day Internet crash never came up, how would we ever teach our students that they actually need these skills? Score one for the [lack of] Internet!
So what if the power was out, too? How would those intermediate teachers ever cope?! My guess is that they just would. They are resilient. They are persistent. They are creative. And they realize that technology is just a tool. What comes first is the kids. The kids will eat up whatever learning kibbles we provide - the tastier the better of course, but when it comes down to it, even dry toast serves its purpose. As I mentioned in a previous post, the lesson is the focus, and the technology is the sprinkles (Captain Crunch?) on top.
Internet or no Internet - electricity or no electricity - it’s the persistent, creative, and problem-solvey teachers who just push ahead do it anyway, and they do it very well!
This day was just SWEET! It started off with a trip to Voodoo Doughnuts, where I spent $12 on delights with names like Captain my Captain, the Loop, Voodoo Doll, Raspberry Romeo, Portland Cream and Bacon Maple Bar (yes, I bought all of these). Mind you, I didn't eat them all in one sitting (in fact, they are sitting here on the desk beside me in a lovely pink box that humorously explains the ABCs of good doughnut making); but as I sit here thinking about how much I'd like to tear into one, I realized that this was actually a perfect analogy for my day.
I was recently reading a blog post by one of my favorite geeks, Alice Keeler, in which she argued that there should be an O appended onto the acronym for the SAMR model (making it officially Irish, as in "O'Samr"?).
Think of a lesson like a Voodoo doughnut: The lesson itself is the cakey goodness. You mix the ingredients together (think Madeline Hunter - all the parts of any good lesson, regardless of the tools used), let them rise (wait time), then bake them in just the right shape (standardization), at just the right temperature (intensity) for just the right amount of time (differentiation). Alone, it's delicious: sweet, soft, chewy, and perhaps even forgivably flaky, right?? I'd choke that down! But we all know it's missing something. So you add some icing (pedagogy) to sweeten it up just a bit. Yummy. Wonderful. But it needs a bit of crunch. So you add the toppings (technology). It takes that already delicious thing, and takes it from good to great. Using an interactive projector might be like adding bacon to a maple bar: crunchy, soft, salty, rich AND sweet = engaging, differentiated, rigorous, rich, and fun. On the same side of the fryer, just getting iPads in your classroom because all the other kids are doing it could potentially be like putting sugary cereal on top of a frosted doughnut: crunchy (unless you've let it sit in a box all day), soft, sweet, and more sweet = good+good+good! All of these individual components are yummy enough to stand alone, but I'm here to tell you that too much of a good thing kills the doughnut. Only about half of that cereal topped, frosting slathered thing made it into my tummy - it was just TOO much! Now I'm not saying that doughnut wasn't absolutely delicious, and I'm DEFINITELY not saying that iPads don't do amazing things to enhance classroom instruction, but I am saying that it's all about the balance. A little bit, in just the right proportion, goes a long way. And just like Alice pointed out, sometimes the technology actually stands in the way of a lesson that would have been even more delicious on its own.
Now that I have sufficiently blended those metaphors, let me get aROUND to the point: what I learned today.
Some of the stuff we try is going to fail.
As speaker Tom Daccord pointed out in his session, "School Leadership & Social Media," it's ok NOT to get it right away. He was referring to Twitter, and the value of observing and listening while starting out, but "IT" could be anything we do (especially when it comes to integrating technology). Just like our students, we're not always going to pick things up right away; we might be reluctant to step out of our comfort zones, or buy into the newest trend in education, and for the most part, that's ok. We have to be willing to fall - flat on our faces - when the bike hits the train track (or the curb, or whatever that crazy image depicts).
Here's the big but, though: observing, listening, and simply collecting information are all forms of lurking. Whether that occurs in social media or in real life, innovation doesn't occur by lurking. True engagement comes in the form of asking, answering, and sharing. It's ok to try, and it's ok to fail, but our students' future depends on us not being lurkers. The world is changing fast, and we need to be willing to change with it. As presenter extraordinaire Jeff Utecht put it (his session, "Moving from Consumers to Producers of Knowledge" was incredible, by the way!), "The world has changed from having an “on/off” switch to simply being always on." We are constantly connected (as evidenced by the iPhone propped on my keyboard so I can continue to watch my Twitter feed and type this at the same time!), and this has changed how things are happening around us; we, as a society, expect to be connected. If we, as educators, don't engage in that world ourselves, we are robbing our students of the opportunity to learn how to navigate it safely. If we don’t allow them to make mistakes now, how will they learn to recover from them when they attempt to navigate the world (both real and digital) on their own? And should we not give ourselves that same permission?
The moral of this part of the story, IMHO (take a chance - look it up), is not to be afraid to fail. We would never get good at anything if we didn't know what it was like to not get it right. As my friend and colleague Jamie Jarvis says, to FAIL is just to make a First Attempt In Learning!
Sharing is caring!
Here's another thing I've learned here: we have some pretty amazing things going on in Billings Public Schools! We have been a Google Apps for Education district since 2009 - believe it or not, there are MANY people here, at the National Council for Computers in Education, who didn't even know there was such thing as a Google Document! Thanks to Desiree Caskey, we have had a phased, scaffolded model for technology integration (TILT) since around 2005 - my first session yesterday was presented by a team who just started something similar within the last two years! We have classrooms with 1:1 devices, we have teachers using web 2.0 tools regularly, we have access to YouTube, we have a filter that allows us (as teachers) to communicate and collaborate via social media . . . we are so lucky! When I look around at people's faces during these sessions and see how they are flabbergasted by the new information they're hearing, it truly hits home that we don't even know how good we have it!
One of today's sessions, "30 in 50 Tech Savvy Tools," by Jason Neiffer and Mike Agostinelli, "introduced" 30 (actually I only counted 26) of the newest and most promising websites and applications they had found for 2015. Out of all of these, I had only actually used or heard of 7 of them! This made me extremely happy because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE learning new things. Here's the thing, though - teachers in Billings are using 7 of the 26 NEWEST AND MOST PROMISING WEBSITES AND APPLICATIONS out there this year!
What I love even more, though, is that I get to come home and share the other 19 of them with YOU - and that makes me very excited! One of the other powerful things I realized here is that it's GREAT to share and that we all need to do it more often! Teaching and learning are reciprocal; sharing not only reinforces my own knowledge of the tools and resources, but I get the opportunity to learn from those with whom I share because of the experiences they bring, the questions they ask, and the new information they share with me. This is good for all of us! When you get your hands on that list of 26 cool tools, you're going to add to it, because you will have heard of or used something similar. You will [hopefully] share the list with someone you know, who will add to it because of what they know - and this, my friends, is learning.
Yea, we might screw it up, and yea, we might show it wrong, but that's learning! We're nervous, we're self-conscious, and afraid to do something that might make us look silly or unprofessional, and therefore it's easier just stay in our little walled gardens and keep things to ourselves. But then who would ever get to learn anything? First attempts in learning benefit all of us. Those failures are what make us better learners - and isn't that why we do what we do? So to the sharers, keep sharing, and thank you for what you do! To the lurkers and the consumers, consider allowing yourself to step out of your comfort zone and take a risk - you all have something SWEET to share . . . and I might just bring you back a doughnut for trying!
Let the adventure begin! Thanks to a generous donation of a free registration and a gracious grant from MCCE, my Tweep Shaundel Krumheuer and I loaded up our carry-ons and headed to Portland for the annual conference of the National Council for Computers in Education!
We got up early this morning (after a truncated sleep due to time-zone change) and trekked (or more like aimlessly wandered) the 6ish blocks to the Oregon Convention Center, where geeks from all corners of the who-knows-where convene to talk tech. After gathering our registration goodies and scoping out the coffee situation, we found our rooms and started up our computers. Poised on our keyboards . . . ready to learn . . . for you! Here's what you missed:
Revolutionary Googling, with Scott McDaniel & Evyan Wagner
G O O G L E
G - go on the computer
O - online safety
O - open GAFE
G - got email?
L - learn about apps
E - extend your learning
I love this model for the Google Rollout! The acronym is contextual, but also purposeful! To make this process most effective with 9-year-olds, Cheryl makes sure to focus first on standards, keeping in mind the SAMR model of technology integration. Working from this foundation, Cheryl builds her lessons so that the technology she uses enhances what she's already teaching. The lesson provides the contextual framework to make the technology meaningful - not the other way around.
Students generate the suggestions, then Cheryl makes and shares the menu live; her students take these to their centers, and voila! Mission accomplished!
I have several trainings coming up that I needed to plan, so I was going to be working on them at my desk all day. To accomplish this, I could have planted myself in my boring little cubicle at the Lincoln Center, but I had a brainstorm: I decided that instead of doing my office hours at my office today, I would do them at a real live school. I sent out an email (ok, more like 10 of them) to the staff offering my "services," and telling them that I would be working in the lab if anyone wanted to come and see me.
Did you know that you can set up contact lists to quickly email your colleagues, teaching besties, students, and even their parents? It's easy, and I can show you how to do it! Just come visit me in the Gear Up Lab any time today. I'll be here, along with these:
Did you also know that you can set your account to filter annoying messages like these and keep from being bothered by obnoxious, persistent emailers? Just so you know, I will be pestering you with these messages all day, so you might as well get it over with and come visit. See you soon!
Check this out: You can use Google Sheets and a tool called Flippity to create a custom Jeopardy-style quiz on any topic! Here is one I made for the 4th grade Lead 21 unit on Space: http://www.flippity.net/qs.asp?k=1ElcUNTbx45yxh24k68mr5WqX44Z8yUPZ_MSSmfU8k9k
Go ahead - try it out with your class, then come see me to find out how to make one of your own!
In a world where iPads exist... there were movie trailers. Like this one:
Produced on an iPad in 5 short minutes by Ann Brucker at Orchard Studios . . . and you can do this, too. You know where to find me (and my stash of chocolate).
Sick of me yet? Too bad you didn't come find out how to set that filter!
DID YOU KNOW that you can pin tabs in your browser to keep you from accidentally closing them?
And what's even better is that, even if you do accidentally close a tab, there is a magical keyboard shortcut (command+shift+T) that will allow you to reopen it! Come see me, and I'll show you how to do it!
Yooohoooo!You know that seemingly lame little program that opens up documents and images on your computer? Its name is Preview, and it does so much more than just allow you to view stuff!
You can annotate images with shapes, colors, and lines; highlight; insert text (great for filling out forms!); sign documents (with your own real signature!); crop images; remove backgrounds . . . and so much more!
Stop by the Gear Up Lab and I'll give you a preview of Preview!
Do you bookmark useful sites so you can come back to them in just a click? If so, maybe your bookmarks are a bit out of control? Clean those babies up!
Right click on a bookmark (or ctrl+click) to open the menu, then click Edit. You can either rename the thing to something shorter, or just delete to get rid of the name all together! This is super easy when the bookmark has an easily-identifiable or unique icon (like eBay or Twitter). Just ask Linda Auch, just one of the many great people who came to see me in the Gear Up Lab earlier!
If you use Chrome (ok, ok, or even Firefox), you can make your browser look cute, cool, techy, slick, pretty, funny, or even just awesome using Themes. Here are some samples from the three (yes, three!) Gmail accounts I manage:
Want to add a theme to your browser? Come see me (yup, still in the Gear Up Lab) and I'll show you how!
We're in the home stretch now! Hey, speaking of "HOME," did you know that you can set a series of tabs to always open as home pages every time you launch your browser? Yup! I have mine set to open my email, Calendar, Drive, website, and eBay (yes . . . to get through the filter) every time I open Chrome. PLUS, I pinned those tabs so I can't accidentally close them!
All of this and more, just sitting here waiting for you in the Gear Up Lab.
PS - there are still cookies left.
Did you notice how well-paced all of these annoying message have been all day? Think that was just a matter of my impeccable timing and diligence to the clock? Nope. It's because of a handy-dandy tool called Boomerang for Gmail. I can pre-write all of these messages whenever I want, then set them to send at specific times throughout the day. This is awesome when I don't want anyone to know that I actually wrote this message in the middle of the night because I couldn't sleep. To you, it looks like I wrote and sent it at 3:15 PM!
Hey Orchard - you have been such good sports! You have taken one of 3 routes today:
Have a great week, Orchard! It was fun working with you today!
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