Saturday, August 30, 2014

What's Your Plan B? #vted #edchat

While watching an observation training video, I noticed the teacher accidentally turned off the projector and then did not get it going again for a while. The technology failed (sort of), and the teacher kept on teaching with little disruption to the lesson.
While this shows a fairly strong set of classroom/lesson management skills, it also shows that the tech was not particularly important. As I watched the rest of the lesson, I hoped to see something more than failed Substitution (learn more about Substitution and SAMR).
Setting my critique of the level of technology integration aside, I was reminded of my first edtech lesson from the week-long SummerCore in 1997: always have a plan B. In other words, be prepared in case the technology fails. At the time (and still, unfortunately) tech failed pretty often.

In other other words, if the lesson is only about the tech, it might not be a great lesson.

As for having a plan B, in the fall after that summer course, I was trying an Interactive Slide Lecture (from History Alive). I'd planned to show a slide (not a powerpoint slide, a real slide) and then switch to a graphic organizer on the overhead to model note-taking. In the course of the first 10 minutes, I blew the bulb in the slide projector and then in the overhead. Forget plan B, I needed plan C.

Have you ever needed a plan B during a tech filled lesson? Let's hear about it.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Leadership Day 2014 #leadershipday14

Technology use at my school can best be described as nascent. However, it was a very prolonged labor to get this far. My mostly veteran staff has been reluctant to embrace much in the way of Modification or Redefinition in their use of tech. When I arrived a few years ago, there was little more than some word processing going on. The staff had been scared by a recently-retired tech guy so that they barely touched the five year old laptops they had. The interim principal before I arrived had begun to modernize with a new laptop cart, document cameras in most rooms, and a Smartboard in one room. Slowly, over the these last last three years, the new tech guy and I have added laptops, iPads, and (soon) some chromebooks. We believe that different students at different ages with different tasks need different tools.

With some small exceptions, most of the technology use at my school is very basic substitution with a bit of augmentation thrown in of or good measure. Tech activities like math games on iPads or spelling sentences on google drive offer little new (other than exposure to technology) over their analogue counterparts. We are hoping to get teachers to move their practice by changing small pieces of their tech integration. For example, last year, one teacher started having students type spelling sentences into google drive. Once her students got the hang of it (and we ironed out some tech wrinkles), the tech guy and I pushed the teacher to allow the students to comment on each other's sentences back and forth before students submitted to the teacher. This modified the spelling sentence activity because the students in that class had never shared their sentences with classmates before.

I would love technology use in my school to redefine learning for every student. To get there, we are growing one unit, one level of SAMR, at a time. Just like our children gradually grow and mature, so to is our technology integration.