Webwise Parents

As part of the Parent Coffee Morning Series at my school I prepared a presentation on being a “Webwise Parent” and to begin a conversation about tools and strategies to help support parents in dealing with digital media.

The response to this was very positive and it seemed like it is a topic that many parents would like to discuss further.


Stop Motion Animation, Inquiry, and Metacognition

At integratED PDX, I attended a workshop called Making Thinking Visible with iPads facilitated by Michelle Cordy. Michelle teaches Grade 3/4 with 1-to-1 iPads. One of the ideas that I got from her workshop was about the use of stop motion animation apps such as iMotionHD in order to allow students to record their learning process and then think metacognitively about their learning experience.

The example that Michelle provided was students who were engaged in a bridge building activity. After they were completed the activity, the students were able to explain their strategies for building their bridge and draw on top of the photographs to show specific elements that they had identified. Being able to record and document the learning and thinking process, is such an authentic form of assessment that provides meaningful feedback for the student and teacher. This was such a powerful example of how an app like stop motion animation can be re-purposed for another use and redefine (R-in SAMR) the learning experience.

I think that the application for this type of learning activity is limitless in the K-12 environment. The stop motion apps are very easy to operate that even very young students would be capable of recording their learning process. The set up is also very minimal (a stand for the tablet or device with the app on it), and does not distract students during the learning experience. Most apps will allow you to adjust the amount of time between each picture being taken so depending on the length of the activity the appropriate time can be selected.

Some examples that I can think of are:
– recording science experiments
– recording group work
– process of creating a piece of art work
– solving math problems with hands-on manipulatives

When I got back to my class, I did a little bit of experimenting with this concept. I had not had time to have the app installed on my class set of iPads yet so I had my students take pictures manually and strung them together with Animoto. When my students were exploring various rocks and mineral samples, I had 1 member of each group take photos and upload them to Dropbox and then I was able to post the Animoto videos on my classroom blog, and students were able watch the video, reflect and to make comments about the learning and activity.

This is an example of the video that I produced for my students:

Where are the women?

Last week, I attended integratED PDX in Portland run by OETC. It was a great conference and one of the unique components of the conference was the last 2 sessions were set aside for “Room to Grow.” The concept was that during the first session, participants would breakout into different rooms and work with the conference presenters/facilitators to work on developing an idea or project that they had been thinking about over the course of the conference. Then during the second session, 10 participants would be selected to present their idea or project to the entire conference group in the main ballroom. I thought it was a great idea and I was excited to hear what people had come up with or been inspired to think about over the course of the conference.

When the presenters were called up to the stage area, the small group of people sitting at my table all made the same observation. Where are the women? Out of a group of around 10 people, there was only 1 women in the group. I was quite surprised because it seemed like there was a good balance between men and women at the conference, which is sometimes not the case at technology conferences. The one women who was sitting at our table, send a text message to the organizer, and he made an announcement that all who volunteered to present where given the opportunity.

So that leaves me with the question, why was there not more women who were interested in or willing to present?
Do women not like making impromptu presentations?
(The 1 women who did present, had a presentation that she had prepared before the conference that she used about introducing coding in her school. It was great!)
Did the women at the conference, think that there was something ‘right’ that they needed to present?

What would have made more women at the conference willing to share? 

Would more women have shared if it was in the small groups that we were working in during the first session?

All of these questions are great, but WHY DID I NOT VOLUNTEER?

I have been thinking about this a lot since the conference. I have presented at conferences before, done faculty PD, and I really enjoy presenting … but I didn’t step up this day. One ‘easy’ reason that I didn’t volunteer was that the form you needed to complete to volunteer required you have a cell phone number for a text message and because I was traveling in the US and my cell plan doesn’t cover that area – I didn’t bring it with me. But really that is a poor excuse.

Then I thought about maybe I was out of touch with what the teachers in Oregon are going through. After all – I teach in another country, a different curriculum, different pressures, and I didn’t want to seem out of touch with what they are going through. Listening to some of the challenges that those teachers face on a daily basis, is always a good reminder of the situation I find myself in. But really that is still not a very good excuse.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I was afraid that what I would say just really wouldn’t be all that impressive or interesting to everyone. I think that for so long, I have tried to share my passion with people that I teach with, and no one really is very interested or has time to be interested that I have gotten use to just sharing my ideas with myself or on my blog (and not really getting any feedback or comments). But really that is still not a very good excuse.

I think that after all of this, I wish I had have been a risk taker (in IB language) and shared my “Room to Grow” project on workflow/appflow on the iPads. I really missed a great opportunity. So – the next time you are in this position, in the words of Sheryl Sandberg – LEAN IN, take the chance, don’t worry about what others will think.

If you were at iPDX I would be interested on if you have any idea about why more women did not volunteer? How can we encourage more women to feel safe presenting.

iPDX14 Takeaways

This past week, I had the opportunity to take part in integratED – Portland organized by OETC.  This conference has a different feel than your regular education conference as it brings together facilitators from across the United States and Canada, to run hands-on workshops where participants are actively engaged in exploring, creating, and playing! One of the great features of this conference, is that there is often multiple sessions that you want to attend at once, so the organizers created a collaborative notes document for participants to share their learning from each session in. This way, you are able to access information from multiple concurrent sessions.

Some of the highlights of the conference for me were:

Opening Keynote – Mark Frauenfelder, Editor-in-Chief of Make Magazine  (Twitter @Frauenfelder)
– As the cost of goods has decrease, society has become more disposable
– Design has changed to be disposable. It is much cheaper to buy a solution to your problem than to make a solution to your problem.
– The internet has allowed the common person, to be able to collaborate with people around the globe to expedited the speed of iteration and respond to changes faster than larger corporations/organizations can.
– Important for everyone to learn that mistakes are part of the design process/learning process. The more you make mistakes earlier in the design process they easier and cheaper they are to correct.

Workshop 1 – Create More, Consume Less – Nancy Mangum, The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation (Twitter: @nmangum) – Key Apps – Pic Collage, I-Nigma (QR Code Reader), Stop Motion Studios, Tellagami, Videolicious, 30 Hands
– The affordances of iPads allow students to capture and create works of media
– When working with content creation apps, the ability to export to the camera roll is essential
– Importance of creating emotional responses during the learning process, reference to John Medina author of Brain Rules
– Tasks must be designed carefully to allow students to explore and create, resulting in multiple ways to express their understanding

Workshop 2 – Making Connections: Supporting Education Technology as a Building Leader – Tricia George, Director of Technology, North Clakamas Schools,  (Twitter: @kicking333) and Tim Lauer, Principal, Lewis Elementary School (Portland) (Twitter: @timlauer)
– Participants were broken down into small table groups for a round table discussion
– People are struggling with the SAMR model; many people are still finding technology being used in the “substitution” realm
– Integration happens after you build capacity within the system; identify a cadre of teachers who you can bring together on a regular basis to build capacity and identify mentors for others
– Importance of having information easily accessible and transparent (for all stake holders)
– Stress the importance of your staff using email properly – establish clear expectations for the use of email. There are better ways to communicate!

Workshop 3Play is Hard Work – (Twitter: @Budtheteacher)
– Trust is so important in building community – whether with a class of kids, or a department of teachers
– Find ways to express that your classroom/school is a place where people are supported to ‘play’, explore, learn from mistakes, grow. One example that was given, was having LEGO available during a meeting to build and tinker with. – Adults/Teachers sometimes need a reminder of the power of play.
– The further you go in school the more you lose the ‘play’ culture; perhaps, it could be suggested the more it is even needed!
– There are many constraints within the school system that we do not have control over; by looking for ways to incorporate play/improv it allows us to move within the constraints in the best possible way
– instead of saying “yes, but…” try and rephrase into “yes, and..”

Workshop 4 – Networking!

Workshop 5Let Students Be Amazing – Ben Grey, Chief Innovation Officer (Twitter: @bengrey)
– The tools and technology that we have today allow us to re-conceptualize what learning can look like. The landscape has changed and we need to adapt.
– Leadership within his school district will have spent 7 full days (63 hours) developing capacity to think beyond the traditional models of learning
– Our students are empowered to learn with or without us. They are clearly very empowered to learn outside of the classroom. How to do change the ‘classroom’ to make sure they are empowered to learn there as well.
– Control is something that all teachers struggle to give up – We all live in the “what if …” – as an institution are we prepared to deal with these questions
– We often discourage or protect kids from experiencing hard things. We want to save them from having negative experiences.
– The amplification of the internet – ideas now can be shared so much faster and further.

Workshop 6 – Visible Thinking with Apps – Michelle Cordy, Thames Valley District School Board (Twitter:@cordym) – Keys to utilizing iPads effectively – App Flow, Assessment, Workflow
– App Flow – many apps are highly specialized, getting more than one app to work together is called ‘App Flow’ or ‘App Smash’, want to create content utilzing different apps and be able to stitch them together
– Assessment – being able to collect student work, annotate it, provide feedback and return it to students
– Kids can feel bogged down with the learning process, need to streamline it as much as possible so they can be metacognitive and learn about how they learn
– Mindset is key when having kids use iPads – need to prepare them for the eventuality that everything won’t work all the time- great analogy “You have to sharpen your pencil just like you might have to restart your iPad app”
– iPads (current technology) is the worst technology these kids will ever use in their life -> It will only get better from here!
– Apps need to be ankle high to get started, but unlimited possibilities of what you can do with them
– Great application of Stop Motion Animation in documenting the learning process (detailed post to follow)
– Great ideas for Book Creator app (detailed post to follow)

Closing Keynote Speaker – Scott Berkun (Twitter: @berkun) – The future of work is going to look very different from today
– Work has changed from meaningful survival tasks, to now tasks that allow us the funds in order to be able to do those things that we consider meaningful
– Interesting to think about the lack of engagement in the current workforce and what role students moving through school unengaged results in them moving to the workforce unengaged
– There are lots of cultural traditions around work that are not productive; There are lots of cultural traditions around school that are not productive or may not be the best option
– Progress is messy
– Innovation is a catch phrase – better to say ‘significant positive change’
– Much faster to skim text than to skim video -> Interesting connection to the ‘flipped classroom’ -> mostly video based -> perhaps to limit skimming?
– Email empowers the sender
– Blogging/chat feature empower the reader

The Benefits of Video Analysis

With the ease of access of video recording equipment (iPhones, iPads, built in webcams on laptops, digital cameras), helping students to use these tools effectively to develop their metacognitive skills is one strategy that I have been implementing over the past few years. What initially started as a great way to share student performances in class with parents has turned out to have other benefits for students’ metacognitive development, and assessment and evaluation purposes.

Throughout the school year, students are provided with multiple opportunities to make oral presentations to their classmates. While students are preparing to present, I encourage them to record themselves practicing and watch back their preparations and self-identify strengths and weaknesses. This helps them to focus in on what they need to practice prior to the actual presentation. Often students are surprise when they look at themselves because they have habits that they do not realize. We have discussions about self-assessment and assessment for learning throughout the process.

On the actual presentation day, I have 1 student who has the task of being the ‘videographer’. This is a great task for students who need a meaningful job during presentations or they may drift off or cause disruptions. Depending on the grade level of your students, you can discuss camera angles and get into fancy post production; however, in Grade 4 I tend to stick with the straight forward video camera.

After the presentations, I find it helpful to be able to re-watch performances to look for specific elements (i.e eye contact, posture, gestures) and be able to provide detailed feedback to students. I provide students a copy of their own video on a USB stick to watch at home and share with parents/caregivers. I have found that USB sticks limit privacy concerns as there is really no need for other people to be able to watch the videos. While they are watching their performance, I ask them to identify things they are proud of and areas of improvement. Following this step, I am able to conference with students, compare our assessments, and if necessary show them a certain section of video to help explain to them their assessment and discuss next steps.

Eventually, students develop a portfolio of their performances over the year and they are able to look from September to June and see their development. As some other teachers also use these strategies, students will be able to compare their development year over year as well.

As a teacher, having a library of previous performances also assists in developing ‘exemplars’ and providing students with examples of approaching expectations, meeting expectations, and exceeding expectations.