Do you C what I C?

There are multiple ways to use a blog, one of which is to show cool new tools and features of products. I’ve steered away from that at this point because there are so many people already doing great work on this. I’ve aimed more for identifying broader trends I’ve seen with the amazing educators I get to work with.
What do you C? This month, I’ve seen lots of folks doing cool things with technology, but one area of growth potential I’ve noticed is the 4 C’s of 21st Century Learning: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. Yes, I see students communicating and collaborating with each other, thinking about their assignments, and drawing pictures and cutting and gluing as they each make their designated elf. However, I think this is simply the low-hanging fruit, and doesn’t really exemplify the spirit of what these 4 C’s are really aiming for. This is the 20th Century way of implementing these skills. We want a 21st century version because that is the world our st…

Design Constraints

“I can’t use technology, and this is why.”
This concept is the refrain that is starting to become more and more common as I go into classrooms. I’m very blessed to work with folks who truly do want to use technology to help their students learn, but based on their constraints, they don’t feel like there is any way to make it happen. Specifically in my setting, I have a group of teachers who teach in our Structured English Immersion program (which means a strict number of minutes have to be applied to language instruction during the day--i.e., most of them) in addition to being required to teach our adopted Engage New York curriculum, to the letter of the script. These two things together take essentially all of the time in the day, and they feel like there is no way to incorporate technology in addition to their other requirements.
Teachers as Engineers As I’ve pondered this conundrum, and witnessed teachers in other rooms doing amazing things with technology DESPITE these challenges, i…

Diving Deep

I think most educators today would acknowledge that they feel like they are almost required to graze the surface of many topics, because of pacing guides, testing, etc. Diving deep into a subject is rare, or if it does happen, it’s by mandate and to the exclusion of deep work anywhere else. That’s sort of from top-down perspective. However, on the flip-side we tend to do the same thing to ourselves by getting sucked into the lists of “Top 30 apps for Number Fluency” or “50 Amazing Literacy Websites,” etc. and then using many of them with our students, so that they never get a chance to actually fully explore the features and benefits of the given tools. I know I have certainly been guilty of it.
As I was leaving a classroom one day, a teacher told me that she really liked a particular app, but felt that it was a deep app, and felt bad that she wasn’t using it to it’s full potential. That phrase really struck me: “deep app.” I’d never heard that term used before, but I think it’s absolu…

Switchboard Operator

Last week was the first week that I felt like I was actually doing the entirety of my job, because up until now I’d been doing all the other parts except going out to teachers’ classrooms to work with them. I’d previously spent the entire last three weeks scheduling the 55 teachers I am lucky enough to collaborate with on a monthly basis. I am supposed to be in their room when students are there for 30 min and ideally back it up to a one-on-one setting with the teacher during a non-student time, which is a lot to manage to collaborate when also considering the 1-5 other teachers I need to see at that school and trying to minimize driving. Anyway, after much shuffling and coordinating, I got it set up and I finally started to get out to room last week.
Having been in about 20 classrooms in that time, I’m starting to realize a few things. We have fantastic teachers in our district! Our kids are so lucky :-) Teachers will never truly know all the amazing things they do with students on a…

Making PD Happen

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to attend a workshop on Makerspaces sponsored by Verizon Innovative Learning and facilitated by MakerEd. In the same general time frame, I was planning my first major event as a Technology Integration Collaborator. As I began planning the event (our beginning of the year Boot Camp for teachers in our tech cadre called ITECS), I planned a series of activities meant to focus on the larger picture of why we teach with technology as well as drilling down into some best practices of edtech and the finer details of our specific program.

When I had a completed agenda of the day, I realized that I had created an event that definitely skewed toward the maker mindset (I wasn’t too upset about that!) Based on responses, participants enjoyed it as well!

These were some of the activities:

What does technology create in your classroom? (answer with playdough, take pic and add to collaborative slideshow with explanation)

Create an ideal process for implementing a new…

Parenting Behind the Screen

I just finished all of the following: attending ISTE, meeting and reconnecting with lots of awesome people, and reading Carl Hooker’s book Mobile Learning Mindset: The Parent’s Guide to Supporting Digital Age Learners. All of these were great experiences, but right now I’m going to reflect on the book. As I’m sitting on the airplane, I literally started this book when we took off, and now the pilot just told us we’re landing in 30 minutes (San Antonio to Chicago), so it’s a quick, easy read. However in under 120 pages, he hits on some extremely vexing problems, including everything from screen time, to reading your child’s text messages, whether or not to take away the phone, and digital wellness.

After consolidating our life into less and less rooms, as children have required more and more space, my husband and I have parted ways with many books and adopted a pretty strict “no purchasing books” policy, particularly if 1) it can be found at the library, 2) it’s a very difficult-to-fin…

What Drives You?

I recently picked up the book Drive by Daniel Pink, a social psychologist. (I’m not sure why I thought I’d have time to read during the summer with three small kiddos at home, but I had to take the car to get a screw taken out of the tire so I actually got some reading time in.)   
I picked this book partly because I like this kind of research and how it relates to the brain, but a few days later, I got an email from my new boss asking me to figure out how to motivate our teachers to submit their paperwork on time documenting the work they have done introducing their colleagues to new types of technology.
Full disclosure: I haven’t finished the book. The main thrust of the book though is that the old carrot-and-stick method of motivation is more forcing people to do things and intrinsic motivation is the only thing that truly helps people accomplish creative things of value.
However, as we know, there are definitely things that have to be done, want to or not. To that end, there is a s…