Tag Archives: ECE_iPads

Shared Visioning in Action

I recently started a new job: Policy Director of the Learning Through Technology Team (LTTT) at the Maine Department of Education. It’s essentially the state tech director position, and its largest responsibility is managing the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI – 1to1 in 7th & 8th statewide – since 2001! – and making it easy for districts to buy in at other grades), and supporting schools as they think about how technology can support learning.

I have a small (but awesome!) team of 7 colleagues that help make all this happen. If you follow this blog, you already know I’m a strong believer in “Leading Beside” which includes both shared leadership and working from a shared vision. So it won’t surprise you that one of the first things I did with my new team was set aside a morning for us to build a shared vision.

We used the same process that Bette Manchester introduced to districts at the very beginning of MLTI: To think of a preferred future for young people we care about (the Preferred Future), then think about about what students need to start doing today to get ready for that Preferred Future (the Vision for Learning), then think about what teachers, schools – and the Learning Through Technology Team – need to do today so students can do what they need to do (the Strategic Plan). (A process Bette would credit to Bruce Wellman’s work.)

Building a Preferred Future

We started by thinking about a young person we care deeply about. Then thought out into the future, beyond middle school, beyond high school, beyond college or job training or military, and then a few more years, until that person was getting settled in their jobs and, perhaps, their family.

And then we thought about three questions:

  • Where would we like them to be able to work?
  • Where would we like them to be able to live?
  • Where would we like for them to be able to learn?

Here’s what the team generated:

These charts represent the Team’s Preferred Future.

 

Identifying Our Shared Vision Vision for Learning

The next step was to think about these same students today. If the charts above represent our preferred future for these young people, what do they need to do today to get ready for it?

Here is what we generated:

So, these charts represent the Team’s Vision for Learning.

 

Creating Our Strategic Plan

So, if this is what we believe students need to start doing today to get ready for the Preferred Future, what do do we believe teachers need to do, so students can do what they need to? Our thoughts:

 

And then, what do we believe schools (principals, tech directors, district administration, etc.) need to do so teachers and students can do what they need to? The Team’s lists:

These charts represent what we hope teachers and schools might adopt as their strategic plan.

But they also lead us to think about our own work and responsibility for making our Vision for Learning a reality. What does the Learning Through Technology Team need to do to support the work of students, teachers, and schools?

 

Prioritizing

Accomplishing 3 pages of strategic steps is a daunting task! (Actually, self defeating! We need a little focus!) I gave each Team member 6 dots to place on the charts. The prompt was, “Which are the most important pieces for us to work on right now.” All of them are important, and should be tackled as some time, but we needed to identify where to start. Team members could distribute their dots in an way they wanted (all 6 on one item, or spread out across items, etc.), but they each only had the 6 dots.

You can see where they placed their dots above.

That translates into the following as the Learning Through Technology Team’s Strategic Plan for the coming year:

  • Collaborate with our Vendors/Partners to give life to our Vision
  • Foster Postive Collaboration with School Leaders
  • Know the Field – where are their successes and challenges?
  • Improve Communications (Organizations, Schools, Partners)
  • Capturing data / Evidence of Impact

 

Where We’ll Go Next

It’s not enough to capture a Vision on paper. It needs to be used as a filter and a compass.

In order to do that, we’ll have to polish our Vision for Learning into a shareable document (it’s a little too rough for sharing in this current form), and create a mission statement. Then we can put together a “Compass and Filter” document (that includes our vision, mission, and strategic plan goals). We will use it to help us decide how to prioritize and do our work, and help us decide which new opportunities to take on. We can also share it with the schools, organizations, and other partners we work with (or might start working with) to see where there is alignment between our work and theirs.

But I’ll save that for future blog posts…

 

Benefits of Attending Auburn’s Leveraging Learning iPad Institute

Auburn Schools (ME), an early adopter of 1to1 iPads in primary grades, hosts the annual Leveraging Learning Institute on the topic. Registration for the Nov 12-14 Institute opens at noon (ET) on August 21.

Dr. David Murphy, RSU 44 Superintendent (Bethel, ME), has sent a team to the Institute every year. In this video, he discusses both what his district has gotten from attending the Institute, and the benefits of sending a team of teachers, administrators, tech integrators, and technicians.

 

Registration is limited to 135, so be sure to register early. Districts are encouraged to send teams, and the Institute is structured to support teamwork (but individuals are welcome, too!).

This year, we are expecting the Institute to be internationally rich! More than a third of our participants are likely to be educators from outside the United States. What a great opportunity to share your experiences and learn from educators from across the country and around the world!

Learn more by visiting the Leveraging Learning Hold the Date Page.  We hope to see you at the Institute!

 

Is Our Phases of iPad Integration Ready?

(Note: Cross posted to the Distribute PD Project)

Last August, one of our Auburn-and-friends work groups developed a draft Phases of Tech integration.

Draft Phases of iPad Integration

We wanted to think about developing teachers’ skills at leveraging iPads for teaching and learning beyond just googling topics and word processing. Beyond just projecting material. Beyond just thinking about getting good at various tools. Beyond just using apps connected to the curriculum.

We wanted to think about technology as a tool to help us customize learning. We wanted to focus more on pedagogical goals than technological goals. And we wanted to think about where technology could take us that we couldn’t easily go without technology.

So we set up our professional learning continuum, our phases of implementing technology integration, to be similar to our Phases of Implementing Customized Learning, and how such a structure helps support plementation and teachers. (Driver 1)

And we based it on our current thinking about powerful uses of technology for learning. (Driver 2)

And we tried to think about how the SAMR Model might inform our work. (Driver 3)

Now, we don’t believe any of our work is permanent. We know that as we get better at what we do, we’ll figure out how to improve our models. After we use this Phases of Technology document for a while, it will be ready for a revision.

But right now, we’re wondering if our draft is developed enough to be the one we live with for 12-18 months before we revise it again…

So, as you look at our draft,

  • Does the document adequately reflect our three drivers?
  • Does the sequence of the phases seem right? Does the progression make sense?
  • Does each phase seem to have the right elements for demonstrating mastery and moving on to the next phase? Does it adequately outline advancement (recognizing there will be plenty of support documents)?
  • Is anything missing? What should be added?
  • What needs to be edited or revised?
  • How do we make it better before living with it for a while?

We don’t need “perfect.” We’ll learn a lot by living with the model for a while. But we want to kick the tires on this version a little, and insure it is “good enough” to live with for a while.

So, what do you think?

 

The Real Power of Technology in Schools – Focusing on the Right Thing

I worry when I hear schools talking about their (often new) technology, and simply describe the tools (word processors, blogs, social networks, apps, etc.) that they are teaching their students to use.

And I fear that they have wasted their money, because they have totally missed the point about technology's role (and potential!) in school.

The true value of technology lies not in learning to use the technology, but in using the technology to learn.

Early on in MLTI, Maine's 13 year old statewide, middle grades 1to1 initiative, there was a discussion about the focus of our PD. Should we have workshops on spreadsheets, for example. But we decided, instead, that we would do a data collection and analysis session, and participants would leave also knowing how to use spreadsheets.

After all, why bother creating spreadsheets? Certainly not just for the sake of creating spreadsheets. They are a tool in service to some other purpose.

As an aside, I have heard some make the “prerequisite argument,” that is, the need to learn spreadsheet creation in order to be able to analyze data. But that's using logic when we should be applying psychology. Because the irony is that people learn better, understand better, can apply better, and remember longer skills they learn in the context of some immediate, authentic need, rather than in the absence of any context other than the abstract (and uncertain) “you'll need it in the future.” I have had to reteach too many lessons when the students now had an actual need to know, that I had already taught once “in case” they needed to know in the future… How'd that work for me? “Need” first, “tool” second, not the other way around.

So I am thankful to kindred spirits, such as the author of Technology Is a Tool, Not a Learning Outcome, (and is credited with the image in this post) who also work to insure that we focus on the right thing when we bring technology into our schools.

So I wonder, when districts struggle with their technology, like LA Unified has recently, if they are focusing on the right thing…

 

Screen Time Revisited

Recently, I posted about screen time. It seems to have become an even larger concern since the introduction of tablets, perhaps because they are becoming even more ubiquitous than laptops; perhaps because they are being used widely with young learners…

But, in my view, it is largely a misplaced concern. It is worrying about the wrong thing.

And I recently came across this article that seems to have similar views.

The article's author, Lisa Nielsen, is frustrated by recent research focused more on the devices than on the teaching strategies:

Conducting device-focused research makes as little sense as doing research on pens, papers, folders, book-binding, and three-ring notebooks. Where are the papers, studies and statistics on the negative impact of chalk dust, calling for blackboards to be limited? We must understand that it’s not about “the thing;” It is about what we do with the thing and what the thing can do for us.

She takes on several of the supposed concerns about screen time and students using technology, including childhood obesity:

It’s not the screentime that causes obesity! When we have kids locked up in classrooms all day, and locked inside with homework at night, how can we possibly blame the screens? If we want our kids to be fit, we can rethink homework, bring back significant recess, and let kids go out and play.

Much more in the full article, here.

 

Not All Screen Time Is Created Equal – Young Children and iPads

Having a 1to1 iPad initiative in Kindergarten for almost 3 years (and currently in 1st & 2nd, as well), it's not surprising that we have heard a lot of comments and questions from parents about screen time.

The concern, of course, is that by having iPads in the primary grades (and especially 1to1, not just shared) young students are getting too much screen time.

It's understandable given the screen time research that has been around for a couple decades, mostly focused on children's television watching habits.

But in 2010, David Kleeman, President of the American Center for Children and Media, wrote, “A Screen Is a Screen Is a Screen'” Is a Meme, putting forth the idea that not all screen time is the same. Kleeman comments on at least two distinguishing factors. The first is the quality of the content. Certainly watching Sesame Street is of a different value than watching Tom & Jerry cartoons.

The second is how active (mentally or physically) the screen time is. Using educational or creation/productivity apps might be a better use of screen time than watching certain videos or playing certain games. Or as Kleeman points out, “David Pogue says, 'You can't play Kinect sitting down, and that's a plus.'” Kleeman refers to these as “lean forward” and “lean back” screen time. Lean back screen time is passive, while lean forward is active.

In fact, most of the screen time research and position papers seem to predate any significant introduction of the iPad, it's child-friendly touch interface and the plethora of educational and creation/creativity oriented apps (e.g. Kaiser Family Foundation 2010; American Academy of Pediatrics 2010; Common Sense Media 2011). It is easy to forget just how new an educational device the iPad really is!

There is a more recent position statement, jointly from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, which brings a balanced (or at least timely) view to the potential role of technology in educating young children.

The paper includes these position statements:

“Effective uses of technology and media are active, hands-on, engaging, and empowering; give the child control; provide adaptive scaffolds to ease the accomplishment of tasks; and are used as one of many options to support children’s learning.”

And…

“When used appropriately, technology and media can enhance children’s cognitive and social abilities.”

To be clear, no one is arguing that there is no need to be thoughtful about how we leverage iPads for young student learning, nor is anyone arguing that iPads should replace hands-on, active learning (both are fears I sometimes hear expressed).

But I do want to state explicitly that the current screen time research does not contradict the (thoughtful) use of iPads with primary grades students, and in fact, there are productive, educative, developmentally appropriate uses.

 

I want to add as an aside the importance of training and professional development for teachers and other school leaders, if we are going to make primary grades iPads work. If the secret is “thoughtful” use of iPads as a learning tool, and where this post is directed to those who may want to respond to (erroneous) claims that screen time research suggests that young children should not be using iPads, I want to also share another position statement from the NAEYC paper. Educational leaders who recognize the educational value of primary grades iPads need to fully support teachers striving to meet that vision:

“Early childhood educators need training, professional development opportunities, and examples of successful practice to develop the technology and media knowledge, skills, and experience needed to meet the expectations set forth in this statement.”

 

Thanks to Sue Dorris for her contributions to this post.

Another Wonderful iPads in Primary Grades Institute Completed

It has been a (VERY) busy fall, but the (wonderful!) culmination of it all was last week's Leveraging Learning Institute.

This was Auburn School Department's third year running the institute focused on lessons learned from our first-in-the-country iPads in primary grades initiative. We had about 130 participants, mostly from across Maine, but also from North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

We had some nice press coverage:

Look over the whole Institute website here, but you might be especially interested in the resource documents from this year's sessions (we're still posting resources, so check back in a week or so to see what other resources are shared) or info about our presenters.

We don't have any details for you yet, but we have already started planning the next Leveraging Learning Institute…