I missed sharing this post last week as I decided to take a Sunday off from everything and just watch some football 🙂 There is a ton of great stuff and the article this week really pushed my own thinking about what can be happening in schools right now to push what we do in schools.
1. What it might be – As our own school division embarks on the second year of digital portfolio implementation, I really enjoyed this post by my friend Jabiz Raisdana who shares not only some thoughts about student blogging, but shares his own experience with blogging as well. I really believe that if we are to be effective with kids in teaching this skill, we must not have knowledge, but also some experience with it as well. Whether that is in a personal blog or a classroom blog, seeing both the benefits and negatives is powerful.
I think back to my own experience blogging and how I started off with the idea of “blog as a portfolio” but really started to fall in love with the writing process. My style has developed over time and now I find that blogging is crucial to my own learning, both personally and professionally.
Jabiz ends the post with some great advice for students to get into the flow of blogging:
If you want your students to blog effectively, give them the freedom to experiment and write about what interests them. Stay away from portfolios and forced reflections on their learning, at least until they get the hang of it. Wait until they find a voice, find an audience, and become involved in the conversations around ideas, before you push your agenda of meta-cognition and reflective learning.
Seriously, read the entire post.
2. 5 Critical Mistakes Schools Make with iPads – Too many times, I watch schools/organizations focus on the tool as opposed to the learning. That has led several schools to buy mass amounts of hardware (including iPads) and have many teachers not understand what their purpose is or see it as an add-on. Many school leaders may not think that, but if you talk to their teachers, they may have a different point of view. That is I have found this Edudemic article such a great guide to start for implementation of iPads (or any technology) in a school. The last point in the article is the most important in my opinion:
5) Failure to communicate a compelling answer to “Why iPads?”
Many school administrators simply fail to communicate to their constituents why they’ve purchased iPads. As a result, many initiatives face resistance from teachers, parents — and even students – who don’t understand why these devices are being introduced into their classrooms. Letting the purchase speak for itself isn’t enough – districts need to explain why they’ve invested in these devices.
I encourage you to read this before you implement anything in your school. If you have already done so, still read it and ask yourself, “what have we missed?”
3. Learning Today Looks Nothing Like in the Past – Karen Lirenman, a grade one teacher in Surrey, BC, shared some of the things that she is doing in her classroom and when I read her post, my jaw literally dropped. It is amazing what a grade one classroom can look like now but is this the norm? Is it even something that many are aspiring towards?
Some of the things that Karen listed in her post that she does…Quad blogging, Skyping, blog for classroom collaboration, high school/elementary school collaboration, global read aloud, and much more. This is in a grade one classroom!
So a couple of things popped in my head while reading this.
a. When I hear teachers in elementary classrooms say that kids are too young for technology, I can easily send them to this post (and I probably will).
b. Many may take Karen’s post as that she is not doing some of the traditional “literacies” in her classroom and think it is technology focused. I saw Yong Zhao this past summer and he said something that stuck out to me.
“Reading and writing should be the floor, not the ceiling.”
Karen is shooting for a much higher ceiling then she probably has before, probably because of all of her own learning that she has done. A master teacher always grows and Karen is exemplifying that in her work.
c. What happens to these students after Karen’s class? What is her admin team doing to ensure that these types of activities are continued after next year with this group of students? What is Karen doing with the teacher’s of the next grade? It has to be a team effort in a school where we must all push each other’s learning to do what is best for kids, not just the sole responsibility of the “admin team”. This is where we go beyond “classroom teacher” to the notion of “school teacher”. Leadership can come from many different avenues in a school.
Hopefully you have some food for thought this week from these posts. I know that definitely with these three articles alone, my thinking has been stretched significantly so I hope they have given you some food for thought as well.
Just as an “extra” share, I wanted to share this awesome song by The Avett Brothers. I love their music and just started listening to their new album (is that what you call it nowadays?). Below is my favourite song from it.
Have a great week!