I was interested this morning to find out about and watch the new video (posted to the Province of BC’s YouTube channel on October 27th) by the Ministry of Education, entitled, “BC’s Education Plan”. I was also very intrigued by George Couros’ opinions on the new plan on his blog, “The Principal of Change“. I had the pleasure of attending George’s presentation to teachers in Kamloops last spring and of a more leisurely professional chat with him afterward, and I have a lot of respect for his philosophy and thinking.
I particularly liked George’s comment about the “disconnect between what we are saying and what we are able to do”. I think this all relates very well to my previous post about teaching the skill of technology. He also poses some interesting questions about similar plans rolled out in other provinces, and how they have often failed to come to fruition. I wonder what elements of the system are creating the disconnect between a good “plan” and the ability to follow through with it successfully. What do you think? Please watch the video and share any comments that you may have on the topic!
A colleague recently shared a Will Richardson quote with me: “How successful would pen and paper be for our students if they had teachers who couldn’t read or write? Same for computers.” Thought provoking stuff.
Yesterday, I came across Jeff Utecht’s awesome blog post which took this idea even further. Jeff talks about how we are well into the 21st Century, and that any “21st Century skills” we should be focusing on as a result should be well-embedded into our curriculum by now. Good point – we are only months away from being 12 years into the 21st Century. 1.2 decades. Hmmmm….
Jeff also mentions a shift that needs to take place – from thinking of technology less as a “tool” to use and more as a “skill” that we need to teach and that students need to learn. We should be teaching students the skills they need to use technology – any technology they choose – in powerful ways to enhance the teaching and learning situation in their classrooms. This makes a ton of sense…. but going back to the Richardson quote at the beginning of this post – how many teachers actually feel that they possess the skills they need to be able to teach these same skills to students effectively? Do our B.Ed. programs focus on teaching these skills to pre-service teachers? Do our school districts provide adequate support for training teachers to make this shift? Can our school and district technology infrastructure handle the demands that will be placed on them if all (or even many) classrooms start utilizing technology on a regular basis? If the infrastructure can’t handle it, is there appropriate funding in place to make sure we can upgrade until we can?… and how long will it take to get there?
The last couple conferences I have attended have had a variety of options for topics. The sessions on technology seem to be very full. Nobody can deny that teachers are interested in the topic and are showing up to learn about it in large numbers. Nevertheless, many seem to leave the sessions with many “That makes sense, but…” , or “I would do this in my classroom, but…” comments. We just can’t seem to get away from the “…but” at the end of the sentence. Some have expressed that most sessions focus on the “why” aspects of seamless technology integration, but not the “how”. Despite terrific resources like P21.org and their document “P21 Common Core Toolkit” that outlines what lessons at a variety of grades and content areas look like when technology is a skill that needs to be taught and used, and not an “add on” to the curriculum, we still seem to be lacking a definition of what this looks like in a typical classroom.
I am left wondering, if teachers WANT to find ways to start teaching technology as a “skill” and not just as a “tool”, why is there still such a disconnect? As a school district, what can we do? As a technology coordinator, how I can I help with this change? Your comments are appreciated. Please join the discussion by posting your thoughts below.
September and October have gone by very quickly. Halloween is coming up in just over a week, and I know that many teachers will be looking for some fun activities to do with their students – especially since Halloween is on a Monday this year! Those little goblins will be bursting with Halloween excitement and will need to kept very busy at school that day!
I have compiled a list of terrific, interactive resources that work well on the SMARTboard (but also in the computer lab, mobile device/tablet, or just projected onto a screen) that all have to do with the Halloween theme. Many of these are great to tie in to literature or other activities in your classrooms. For example, yesterday I read a class the book, “Pumpkin Heads” by Wendell Minor, and to follow up did a pumpkin carving activity on the SMARTboard using a site where we “carve” pumpkins electronically and light them up for Halloween. Lots of fun!
Find the complete compiled list of interactive Halloween resources (and tons of other great stuff!) on the Smart Resource wiki. Please consider joining this wiki and adding great sites of your own that you think would work well on SMARTboards and link to the BC Curriculum.
Alan November lists “Global Communication – starting with Kindergarten” as one of the top three 21st Century skills. If you are looking for an easy, fun project that is adaptable for any age level – from Kindergarten to high school learners – that allows students to work together with another classroom anywhere around the world (time zones permitting!) then consider an exchange project.
There are many different types of exchange projects, but the basic premise is generally the same. Usually two classes form a collaboration team, and each class presents to their partner class about something they’re learning. This can be a Science experiment, weather exchange, explanation of Math topics, cultural sharing, descriptive writing, etc. Each class gets approximately 15 minutes to do their respective presentations, and then there is a Q&A time where each group can ask each other questions about what they’ve shared. Interaction can be increased by sharing content in the form of game show-type questions, clues for solving a mystery topic, or by creating something together.
Even the youngest students love participating in projects where they are asked to create a project based on their partner class’ descriptions. Examples of this are “Monster Match“, “Turkey Trade” or “Snowman Exchange” projects. Students in each class create a 2 or 3 dimensional monster, turkey, or snowman (depending on the time of year) using a pre-set list of materials. Each class writes a description of how to replicate their creation. This description is shared with the partner class either by email or by posting to a project wiki. Each class tries to replicate their partner class’ creation by following the directions that have been sent to them. The project culminates with a live videoconference where the classes meet, compare projects and see how well they followed directions. The results are often surprising! 🙂
Exchange projects are a great first step in trying out classroom collaboration projects via interactive videoconferencing (IVC). If you want some support planning your project or finding a partner class match, please contact me at the HGEC and I’d be happy to help!
Please join us for the District Coordinators’ Open House – this coming Monday, October 3rd. Click on the link below for information!
Welcome to the first post on my blog! I am hoping to use this as a place to post great tips and tricks, share terrific links to resources and articles, and as a forum to discuss different topics in the area of educational technology integration. Please feel free to share your own thoughts, ask questions, or join in the discussion by commenting on any of my posts.
Integration of technology into the classroom can be fun, exciting, and invigorating, but I know for some people it can also be somewhat intimidating too. I will do my best to post “small bytes” of information that you can easily digest, process, and try out in your own teaching practice. Start with one piece that you want to try, build your confidence, and soon you’ll be testing out all sorts of new tools and sites. Your Ed Tech “recipe box” will grow quickly and your students will love you for providing them with a whole smorgasbord of great tools for accessing, creating, and sharing information!
I am here to support SD73 staff in my role as District Technology Coordinator. Please feel free to contact me at the Henry Grube Center or by email at tpoelzer (at) sd73.bc.ca I look forward to working with you!