Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Observations of a Elementary Principal in a Digital High School

I had the opportunity to go to a neighbouring High School last week and take a Learning Walk through many classrooms during morning classes. Over the course of the morning I was blown away by so many amazing things that I saw. I would like to share some of my observations that I made over the course of that morning.

Classrooms were filled with all sorts of technology and the students were making use of it in many various ways. Some of the things I saw were:
  • personal laptops
  • students on Smart Boards
  • iTouches
  • iPads
  • Smart phones
So many educators are worried that if you give students unlimited wireless broadband and allow them to use their personal devices that there will be many problems. However, I witnessed the exact opposite. The was a culture of digital responsibility at this high school and every student I saw was using the technology to further their knowledge and to complete the given task.

This visit was quite exciting for me. I could actually see what perhaps our school will look like in as little as two years. We are already wireless, have iPads, a Net Book Cart and quite a few Smart Boards.

Will we get to the point where students bring their own devices to an elementary school? This is a question that I would like to explore further.

If anyone has any experiences with this I would be very interested to hear how it went.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Why Moblie Devices in Schools?

In My Classroom?

Arguments are raging across the country as to whether or not mobile devices should be in the classroom.

I think that there is quite a bit of apprehension about this because using this type of technology is not the way that we learnt in school. The reality is that more and more students have these devices every single day in our schools.

Students that use these devices are more engaged in the classroom and bring in an incredible amount of knowledge to the classroom. These devices have become the dictionary's, the encyclopedias, the Atlas's of this generation. Let's not kid ourselves. They are not going to pick up a heavy resource book when they have everything they need on a device that is in their pocket.

The skills that students need are very different than they were a generation ago.

Students have to become:

  • critical thinkers
  • problem solvers
  • collaborative learners
  • analytical thinkers
  • evaluators
Our students are being trained for jobs that don't even exist in our society right now. Why make them learn specific skills and why not teach them to be learn adaptive skills.

Here is a great clip that outlines some on the skills needed. One of the things that jumped out at me was that kids like digital media because they want to be analysed and evaluated because they want to know if they are doing things right or not. They want to be measured to see how they are doing and where they can improve.

Quotes that spoke to me:

"I want to be measured because I want to know if I am learning."
"Don't abandon traditional learning but get the students working together in a more coordinated way."

Please feel free to post comments and let me know what you think are the most important 21st Century Learning skills we have to teach today. 

Asking Effective Questions in the Classroom

I came across an article the other day that talked about asking effective questions in the mathematics classroom. It really opened up my eyes to many of the things that happen in classrooms that are obstacles to student learning and thinking and not promoting learning.

In classrooms today students are expected to create their own learning more and more. In this constructivist classroom the teachers questioning is critical for students to see where they are in the thinking process, see the connections between ideas and to build on their new understanding. They have to do all of this in a way that makes sense to them.

When I was in the classroom I never thought about questioning and this was something I did when I was working with a small group or helping a student that needed a little bit of help. Today, we have to think about the questions that we are going to pose to the students where we are planning the lesson, before we teach the lesson.

Here are eight tips for asking effective questions:

  1. Anticipate student thinking
  2. Link to learning goals
  3. Pose open questions
  4. Pose questions that actually need to be answered
  5. Incorporate verbs that elicit higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy
  6. Pose questions that open up the conversation to include others
  7. Keep questions neutral
  8. Provide wait time
If you are interested in reading further or want to see some examples and tips to get started follow the link below.

Asking Effective Questions

Critical Literacy in a Technological Age

Critical Literacy

Critical Literacy is one of the most important skills that our students need to have when they graduate from our school systems.
 But what exactly is critical literacy? This is how I see it. Critical Literacy is a lens by which we see texts and how we interpret them. With the Internet as the number one resource today, critical literacy has quickly become a skill that our students cannot live without.

For more information check out: Critical Literacy

21 Century Skills

Our students need to have certain skills.

• be able to assess information research using the Internet
• work collaboratively with peers
• communicate effectively
• think outside of the box

"Let Learning Happen"

A colleague passed this video on to me a couple of weeks ago and I was blown away by the contents.

It really speaks to how children are 'wired' today and how they learn. For the first 10 minutes of the video I was feeling a littler nervous in regards to how he was presenting the role of teachers today. However, as the video went on the role of the teacher in the digital and technological age became clearer and clearer.

The educational researcher is Prof. Sugata Mitra and he gave access to high speed Internet to children in various parts of India where there was no computer access. For more on the experiment check out:

Wikipedia - Prof. Sugata Mitra

Here are the Self Organising Systems for Schools he identified:

  1. Groups of 4-6
  2. One computer per group
  3. Unrestricted broadband
  4. Interesting questions
  5. eMediation if required
  6. Discussion allowed
  7. Changing groups allowed
  8. Watching other groups allowed
  9. Leave them alone!

Hope people find this as interesting as I did.

The Shift to Digital Classrooms

With every passing day it is becoming more and more obvious that the traditional classroom is changing just as fast as everything outside of it. The roles of the student and the teacher are going to change ver quickly over the next short while.

Some of the major changes that I see happening that are a direct result of technology and digital learning are the following:

  1. Large group instruction is going the way of the dodo bird. Interactive learning, mobile devices, differentiated learning are all going to drive student learning in our classrooms.
  2. As educators we are going to have to collect more data on our students. Having this information will allow us to program for their individual learning needs.
  3. Quiet seat work will take a backseat to collaborative, team based learning with the teacher acting as the facilitator and moderator.
  4. Students will bring in their learning resources from outside the school and create meaningful learning opportunities for themselves with the guidance of their teachers.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Student URL Mistakes

And I thought it was just me........

I do not know how many times I have been frustrated by this when working with students with computers.

I read this and then I saw some ways around it. If only I say this a few years ago. I guess I will pass it on ...

Check it out!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Visual Bloom's for Learning Technology

I've often struggled with where does everything fit in to the classroom, curriculum, teaching and learning in regard to all of the technological tools that are out there. Yesterday I found a site that gave me an, "Ah ha....." moment!

This is what it was:

A Visual Representation of Bloom's Taxonomic Hierarchy with a 21st Century Skills FrameYou can find it here: think these diagrams are amazing and I am excite to share them with teachers here at school.

Day 1

This is the first day that I have tried this.

I am interested in sharing information about 21st Century Learning and learning how to help implememnt technology into our classrooms.