June used to be the slow month. School got out. I’d grab a book and a cool beverage. Play some softball. Do a little life guarding at the pool. Drive to the mountains for a week. If you’re old enough, you probably remember that sort of summer.
June is a busy month for many educators. Conferences. End of the year professional learning. Curriculum alignment. Standards training. In my case, June is full of mobile devices training. Over the next six weeks or so, I get the chance to spend time with a variety of folks around the country, working with schools that have latched onto the idea of tablets, clouding computing, and educational apps.
But in the rush to get the latest shiny tools, I think it’s easy sometimes to forget that the end in mind is teaching and learning, not the gadgets. So today a few things to remember when using apps in the classroom: Read more
I think Microsoft hit a Google nerve. Just weeks after Microsoft posted new mobile tools for its office suite, Google comes back with handy mobile apps for each of its Google Drive tools – Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
The Drive app is still around and still a handy place to store your stuff but the individual mobile apps make it easier to find, edit, and create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Starting today, you can download standalone mobile apps for Docs and Sheets – with Slides apparently coming soon.
So. Need to mess with a document? Read more
It’s been a fun couple of months since the holiday break. I’ve had the chance to spend time with a variety of folks doing all sorts of cool stuff. A group of us have been struggling to write questions for the social studies state assessment pilot due out this spring. (Spoiler alert: more on that later this week.)
I’ve spent time with teachers discussing social studies best practices that are aligned to the state’s recently adopted state standards. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of teachers as we shared ideas and discussed ways to integrate technology into instruction.
It’s all part of what is perhaps the best job in the world. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy themselves spending time with dedicated, amazing people who literally are changing the world?
But . . . Read more
More and more schools are integrating iPads into classrooms. And while there are tons of apps designed for social studies teachers that encourage quality teaching and learning, new tools always create unexpected consequences. One of the things that I constantly hear from teachers is that their students are easily distracted while using iPads.
It’s easy to say that it’s simply a matter of designing engaging lessons to keep kids on task. But we all realize that the iPad, and all of its bells and whistles, can be hard to resist. You might have one or two students who are always off-task no matter what is assigned. So teachers keep asking
Is there some sort of management tool that I can use to keep that one kid where he belongs?
And the answer is Read more
It’s Digital Learning Day.
Isn’t celebrating Digital Learning Day a bit like observing Black History Month?
I mean, shouldn’t we be teaching teaching black history (and women’s history and Latino history and Asian American history and dead white guy history and Native American history and . . . well, history history) all year long? I can certainly understand the sentiment – for far too long, it was just Dead White Guy History.
Black History Month was a way to encourage teachers and kids to learn more about a part of who we are that was often pushed to the margins. The hope was that these critical pieces of US history would be incorporated throughout the instructional year. The problem? Too many social studies teachers still use February to have kids memorize random black history facts and call it good.
I get the same sense about Digital Learning Day. Not that there is anything wrong with the idea of a Digital Learning Day – the folks over there seem very concerned about best practice and argue that digital tools should be embedded into instruction as part of everyday practice.
But . . .
Back in the early days of my informal tech integration training, I heard Alan November share his thoughts on how schools could begin the process of embedding technology into instruction.
At that time, he talked about three different levels of integration that seem to make sense to me:
The goal was to move from using technology to complete tasks we’ve always done to using technology for tasks that have never before been done. From using a computer grading program to speed up the scoring of multiple choice tests to using a mobile app to create an interactive and collaborative e-book.
November suggested that we need to move beyond thinking about the tool and think more about the task. Decide first what we want to accomplish and then select the tool:
No one who ever bought a drill wanted a drill. They wanted a hole.
It’s the end result that matters, not the tool.