While cleaning out my work mailbox the other day, I found this email I sent our eLearning (previously known as ‘Tech’) team. Please read on and I’ll explain why it was so important (although risky) for me to share.Date: February 8, 2012
A while ago I made a video for students, which explains how to look for information online in different reading levels and for ELLs to search in their L1 (first language). After sharing it with other teachers and students, I’ve found that a quick video like this can have such an impact if shared at the right time. I recently resent it to G5 students to help them in researching for a Social Studies project.
Feel free to share this video with your students and colleagues. The target audience is grades 4-5, but could be helpful for grades 3-8.
“…It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” -Ecclesiastes 1:9, NLT
Yes. I just cited Scripture, The Bible, The Good Book, The Word of God. Why? Because when reading Shaping Tech for the Classroom by Marc Prensky of Edutopia, this verse kept swirling around in my head. Doing old things in old ways, doing old things in new ways, doing new things in new ways… what does all this mean if there truly isn’t anything new under the sun?
Mark P. said it best “For the digital age, we need new curricula, new organization, new architecture, new teaching, new student assessments, new parental connections, new administration procedures, and many other elements.” Period. We need new.
For the past few days, I’ve been looking at how I’m using technology and how our students are adapting to the use of their devices. I decided to write my reflection based on my observations, although I’m not sure I’ve categorized them properly. I welcome your feedback in comments section!
Old Things in Old Ways (or as I call it, An Oldie can be a Goodie)
While conferring on a writing piece, I asked a high needs ELL (English Language Learner) to revise his word choice by looking at synonyms for some words in his writing (i.e. What’s a stronger word for ‘happy’?). I also asked him to to figure out a strategy to look for synonyms without using his iPad. He put his iPad down and didn’t even flinch. He went over to the shelf where all the classroom thesauri are
gathering dust located, and searched for synonyms. I later gave him some app suggestions where he can do the same (Dictionary.com & Merriam Webster are pretty good, and free!) on his device.
Here’s a picture of how our ELLs are juggling the old and the new.
**Disclaimer: This picture was taken by Rosana Walsh, G4 teacher with whom I collaborate, and this is not the student I refer to in my example, rather a representation of my experience**
Old Things in New Ways (or, as I call it, My Everyday Teaching Life)
Everyday, myself and the teachers I work with try old things in new ways. We have to! Disruption has become our teaching philosophy. From the moment our G4-5 students started using 1:1 self managed iPads, we’ve had to learn right beside them. Because ‘for true technological advance to occur, the [devices] must be personal to each learner’, students are making individual choices about how to do old things in new ways. For instance, they now use Evernote instead of paper notebooks, they make Glogsters to make poster projects, blogs to write daily learning reflections, and ShowMe to show their understanding of big concepts. All of their learning, like mine, is now condensed into one device.
New Things in New Ways (or as I call it, The Next Step)
This year, I have been exploring how to best support my ELLs within the Reading & Writing Workshop, especially when they are beginners to English. Classroom teachers make anchor charts about their teaching points, and I wondered how I could make differentiated anchor charts for ELLs without interrupting the teacher’s mini-lesson. I want ELLs to use what they can do to meet the standard of a writing piece. So today, I conferred with a student about her ‘Migration Story’, how she came to be here in China from her home in South Korea. After the teacher’s mini-lesson, I conferred with the student and used InkFlow to create a differentiated anchor chart for her to revise her pre-write. We built it together and we focused on the grammar she needed to use to tell her story. We also determined which details might help her tell the story better, and listed which apps might help her in her writing (Korean-English Translator, Pages & a Dictionary app to help with her word choice). So how is this a new thing in a new way? Well, it was certainly a new way of thinking for me! Personalizing anchor charts, building them together one on one based on what the student can do and how she thinks she can grow as a writer, and of course, sending it to her digitally (InkFlow allows attachments as PDFs or JPGs), so she can build an anchor chart bank in her iPad. Here’s a picture of our work I tweeted earlier today:
Experimentation is a good thing. I have found that all of these experiences, both successful and others less so, have empowered me as an educator and my students as learners. Is the learning taking place different than it was before? Of course! Is it still valuable, authentic and relevant? ABSOLUTELY. So maybe that’s what is meant by ‘nothing new under the sun’… learning will always be. It’s just that over time, it has gone from being a fish, to having legs, and maybe someday in the 22nd century, wings.
Here’s a WMC (Weapon of Mass Collaboration, loving this term!). I created an interactive wall for “messing around” 🙂 I used Padlet (aka Wallwisher). Give it try! Let me know if there are any bugs. While you’re using it, think of many ways you could use this to collaborate, learn & share with others. How can you use this tool in a team meeting? How about your classroom?
Too small for you to type? Click here for the direct link to the wall.
That’s the first time I hear this term. And I love it. I’m currently on holiday, on a remote little island in the Philippines, sitting by the ocean, feeling the breeze, hearing the waves, and using a collaboration tool where readers from different parts of the globe will (hopefully) read this post. This is a perfect example of how learning, sharing & collaboration has evolved in the past few years. We are indeed in the Collaboration Age.
As I reflect on Will Richardson’s ‘World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others’, I think of the role I’m partaking in this age of collaboration. As an educator, it’s imperative that I not only think about it, but that I adapt to it. How can I become a better ‘connector’ for my students? How can I “model my own editorial skills” while still stick to ‘what should be taught’? It is all about willingness to share, as Will points out, but it’s seen so rarely. How can I start? And how can I serve as a model to others?
I’ll start with this: I will take risks and allow myself to make mistakes. I will share with others what I’ve experienced, and hope my experiences guide others to achieve their goals. I will think of my peers and students as collaborators to my learning. I will use these ‘weapons’ in my favor and see where it takes me.