Thursday, August 31, 2017

No App for Pedagogy

So, you’re back in the swing of things in class.  Routines and procedures have been communicated and your class is rolling right along.  Now it is time to take a breath and think about how you can go about incorporating technology in more meaningful ways.  Here are a few tips that can help make sure the technology is truly enhancing the learning for your students.

It is important to remember that your goals for what students should be doing in your content area is not the goal - the goal remains focused on the learning objective of your lesson.  That being said, appropriately placed technology in a lesson can highlight the learning in new ways, making it more interesting or accessible for students.

Often times, looking at the wording of the standard, indicator, or learning objective can be a great approach to choosing the appropriate technologies for student work.  Take a look at the following example:

The following is a South Carolina College and Career Ready standard for math in grade 6.

6.EEI.7 Write and solve one-step linear equations in one variable involving nonnegative rational numbers for real-world and mathematical situations.

Let’s assume that students can write the equations and now the class is working on solving the equations for real world situations.  

A teacher could choose a website like IXL where students can input answers and get immediate feedback from the site about where they may be stumbling - additionally the website does include some skill-building reminders for students.  

With a little more planning, however, teachers can choose to have the students use technology in a less passive way that allows the teacher to have a deeper glimpse into what the students know and where intervention must take place. First we must pull out that students need to write and solve math equations from the real world.  So, building off those key terms...

What if teachers provided kids with a choice of real world examples that relate to linear equations as the first slide in a group of Google slides presentations?  Students could choose which example interests them the most and then fill subsequent slides with the steps for solving the linear equation.  This would allow teachers to see exactly where in their computation mistakes are made (if they are made) and engage the student in technology creation rather than consumption.  Students could then use a tool like WeVideo to narrate how the equation was solved and a small video library of tutorial videos could be build for the members of the class, school, or community.  Additionally, this shift in how the technology is being used allows students to practice literacy skills as they write their script for solving the problem and practice speaking clearly as they record their narration.     

The key to making this shift is zeroing in on the language of the standard: write and solve and reflecting about what web apps can be used to show writing and solving.  The same process can occur when students are asked to model, analyze, classify, or compare.    

Monday, August 28, 2017

Being Responsible Digital Citizens

Who is responsible for teaching Digital Citizenship? We all are: educators, parents, Administrators and Instructional Coaches. We all live in this interconnected digital world and must teach, model and talk with our students about what is safe, legal and ethical when it comes to using computing devices. We can no longer assume that someone else will cover digital citizenship. We all need to become proactive and embrace the skills on a daily basis. It's never too early or too late for teachers to embed this in their content. Kids as young as first grade or as old as 12th grade can benefit from these practices. Rather than teaching digital literacy concepts in isolation there are a few ways you can embed these skills into your content.

  1. Model the process. While you are discussing facts about the Reconstruction Period, Genetic diseases or the history of a mathematical formula conduct a brief research with your students and talk through the process. When you are post on Twitter, talk through it with your students and discuss the purpose of the post. Explain what you post and why you are posting the content.  
  2. Explain why Digital footprints can never be fully erased. Have the conversations with students about the words, activities and actions they conduct online should remain positive at all times. Locating and referencing current events for examples can provide the students with meaningful and relevant discussions about online safety and etiquette.
  3. Use the language. Become familiar with the digital literacy lingo and what it means. Common Sense Media and NetSmartz has some great resources.

CC Graphic by Sylvia Duckworth

  1. Have examples. Start by including the resource page with the cited sources you used for a presentation done for the class. List the name of the website you used when you included an image in the presentation.
  2. Provide Opportunities Students need to learn and practice digital literacy skills on a daily basis. Provide opportunities for students to use the tools and skills appropriately, with the guidance of you. If students are working on the same document in class but sit on opposite sides of the room, allow them to use the chat feature within the document if they have quick question for their partner.
  3. Freedom to Fail. We all make mistakes; we are human. Let’s capitalize on the opportunities and learn from them. If a student makes a mistake, discuss, learn and move forward.

Essentially, we all have the same goals for our children and students. We want them to become responsible citizens in this world, whether they are online or not. Provide them many opportunities to create the positive digital footprints and practice appropriate online use...daily.


If you are a Richland School District Two employee we have a deeper learning experience for you! We have developed an online course called Becoming A Digital Literacy Agent, with the outcomes for you to develop the foundational digital literacy skills in order to seamlessly integrate and model these skills into your curriculum on a daily basis. Ask your Technology and Learning Coach for more information.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Global Collaboration Day - September 21st

Why is it important that our student see themselves as Citizens of the World rather than citizens of Columbia, SC?   On September 21st, students all over the world will engage in Global Collaboration Day.  The hope is that during this day:
  • Students will understand the power of global connectivity in classrooms, schools, institutions of informal learning and universities around the world;
  • Students can experience collaborative tools, resources, and projects that are available in today’s classrooms;
  • Teachers focus attention on the need for developing globally competent students and teachers throughout the world.
This blogpost will provide you some ideas on how to connect globally.  
First, check this website out for many resources that range from global digital citizenship to project examples.  To receive full access to a host of events and information, register here.
Classrooms on the East coast of the US can participate with  Here you will see a hashtag to use on social media and a link to a FlipGrid for students to share their thoughts individually or in groups.  There are many prompts about big ideas and small ideas where kids can have choice in what they talk about.
Want to participate but unable to do so on September 21st?  Or maybe you don’t want to be so official but you’d like to expose your students to the idea of global citizenship?  Consider hosting a mystery skype or following a class on Twitter of the same grade level as you but in a different country. Another option is to join Google+ Communities. I can suggest Connected Classrooms Workshop and Connected Classroom Community as two great communities who have educators seeking meaningful connections with other classes daily.

Using technology to show our students how big and diverse the world is can enhance any content area.  If you are interested in global collaboration in your classroom, contact your TLC.  Remember, collaboration can happen any day - not just on Global Collaboration Day.   

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Keeping those devices working!

Integrating technology into your instruction offers lots of exciting opportunities for both teachers and students. Ensuring that all the students are prepared to learn with a working device is important for these lessons. Though the ultimate responsibility lies with the student to take care of their Chromebooks responsibly, teachers can help emphasize how best to handle the devices.
  • Teachers can model behaviors for students.  Students watch and look up to  teachers.  If teachers carry devices properly (closed with two hands), students will be more likely to follow suit.
  • Use a case, every time.  Students should be in the habit of moving around the school with their device in a case.  When students stick to the routine every time, accidents are less likely to happen.  When students leave the classroom with their devices to go to other classes, see the Technology and Learning Coach, or visit the library, require that they use a case.  
  • Engage students in a conversation about why it matters.  Spend time talking to students about why chromebook procedures are important.  When students understand the reasons behind the procedures, they will honor them.  
A little attention paid at the beginning of the year to ensure students understand why and how to properly handle their chromebook will pay off in the long run when it comes to keeping devices in the hands of students for learning.  And, just as important as telling students what to do is modeling those very actions ourselves.   

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tech Friendly Classroom Culture

As you build your culture in your classroom with your students, take a moment to think about how you will build a safe digital learning environment. It is critical you start from day 1 and stay consistent with the procedures you establish. Let’s review some tips that teachers have used in the past.

  1. Keep Learning First When you are designing your lesson or unit, keep the learning goals and outcomes at the forefront of the planning. If it’s determined that technology will be a tool to use, be sure it aligns with those predetermined standards, learning goals and the skills your students will be using during the application. The TPACK framework can give you more information and guidelines when designing your lesson.

  1. Technology can enhance direct instruction. Technology is a learning tool that should also engage the student in the learning. There are ways that you can engage them during direct instruction through sharing the presentation using Pear Deck or having conversations through back channels like TodaysMeet. Even better, begin Blending your classroom, creating a student centered learning environment.

  1. Simplify the workflow. Use an LMS, learning management system, to house your materials students must access. Google Classroom is free for Google Suite users and is simple to use.

  1. If they must bring it, use it. If students bring devices, make it an expectation that the device is there daily and charged, but use it daily. Students are less inclined to forget their device or bring an uncharged device if they know it will be used almost every day.

  1. Treat technology use like any other classroom routine. Establish acceptable guidelines or procedures when using computers in your classroom and be consistent. Hang them up in the room for reference.
    1. Getting computers
    2. Putting them away
    3. Where to put them when you are not using them
    4. Closing a lesson
    5. “1 2 3 eyes on me”, having an audio or visual signal for when devices are used and not used.

  1. Digital Citizenship is relevant in every content area. Teach digital citizenship skills daily and seamlessly into your content. Common Sense Media is a great start to learning about digital citizenship if you are not familiar with it.

  1. Make expectations clear. Review the RUP with your students in the first week of school. Make sure they understand each component by having a conversation about each strand.

  1. Stay visible to keep students on task. The saying “Out of your seat and on your feet” is necessary and is just good practice.  The best way to monitor your student’s computer activity is to walk around the classroom while they are working.

  1. Make routine activities easy for students. If you only have computers in a center, create a launch page for the curriculum sites your students will use. An easy and free website you can use is Symbaloo.

Some of these strategies will work in some classrooms and some will not.  The important part is to spend time finding what works for your classroom environment and staying consistent with expectations.  If working in a team of teachers where students rotate through classes, consider making team expectations so that students are not required to remember different rules for each classroom.  Have a great year!

The Influential Parent - Episode 9

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