Tuesday, March 1, 2016

2016 Digital Learning Month Comes to a Close

Another successful Digital Learning Month has come to an end. Thank you to all of the wonderful bloggers who shared their digital learning stories and to all the readers who joined us in our Digital Learning Month journey. Hopefully you all found at least one resource that you've been able to try in your classroom. Please continue to visit the blog and comment about how you are using these different resources. Be sure to connect with us through our website and social media.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Moving Forward With Digital Citizenship

Happy Leap Day! To celebrate this extra day we have a special blog post from the Office of eLearning's Michelle Green.

Today concludes a full month of celebrating Digital Learning in Indiana classrooms. It also marks the fifth year this blog has featured posts from educators around the state sharing the ways they are integrating technology into their instruction. Over the years, our shared learning has moved away from the how to do it aspect of technology integration and delved into addressing why we are embracing digital learning. It is exciting to see the growth and development of educators--especially since our bloggers exemplify what it means to be lifelong learners. And as a reader, you are no different.

This year’s bloggers have shared such a vast array of lessons, and as I read over the posts again, it strikes me how many ways Indiana students are digital learners. A couple of weeks ago, eLearning coaches from around the state came together for Coach Edcamp. As part of that day’s self-directed learning, Sara Hunter offered a forum on the ISTE Standards for Students Refresh. In the draft, the standards are identified as Empowered Learner, Knowledge Constructor, Innovative Designer/Maker, Computational Thinker, Creator and Communicator, Global Collaborator, and Digital Citizen. It occurs to me that they are not so much describing what students will be doing, so much as who students will be.

What does this mean for our students who are essentially digital citizens by default given the access they have in the classroom and at home on personal devices? Take for example, Amy Murch’s students. They are computational thinkers and empowered learners as they work through the process of directing their Spheros on a path. Not only are her students individually learning computer programming in an engaging way, when they work in groups they are practicing brainstorming and problem-solving. The same could be said for Katie McLaughlin’s students. I loved how McLaughlin pointed out the importance of giving students “time for play” when introducing these types of learning experiences. Given the nature of the Makey-Makey kits, it seems this would be a given. But are we open to that mindset when we introduce our students to tools like online discussion forums or virtual communication tools like Skype and Google Hangouts?

Valarie Anglemyer’s post detailed how she extends her students’ learning using a variety of tools. The Verso app caught my attention because it provides a means for students to post anonymously while the teacher can view authorship in a format that emulates social media. Envision scaffolding for the development of ethical and valuable contributions in a public forum. For the same reason, Therese Drista’s post on Today’s Meet made me consider the number of opportunities we have on a daily basis to help our students navigate their digital world.

I began to look at the last month’s worth of posts and think about the various ways that these lessons are avenues to teaching digital citizenship. I encourage everyone to make the leap. In the same way that educators have always prepared their students to be effective citizens and contributors to society, let’s parallel how our students can be safe and responsible citizens in the connected world.

Perhaps you want to learn more about what it means to be a digital citizen yourself. Common Sense Education provides a comprehensive curriculum on all the different aspects associated with being safe and responsible online. Would you like to connect with others and have a place to raise questions and share lessons on a regular basis? Consider yourself invited to join the Office of eLearning’s Digital Citizenship community of practice. No matter how small a step you take, it is a big step in the right direction! In order to capitalize on the real potential of technology for learning, we need to invest ourselves in this work. In fact, save the date for the first Indiana Digital Citizenship Week: September 12-16, 2016. It will be a week devoted to beginning a new school year with an emphasis on developing digital citizens.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Indiana Students Walk on the Moon

Today's blogger, Katie Reel, teaches 6th and 7th grade digital learning at Clay Middle School. You can find her on Twitter @ReelMission.

Scuba diving in the Caribbean Sea. Climbing to the Mount Everest summit. Walking on the moon. These one-in-a-million experiences that we all dream about became a reality for my 7th Graders within the walls of our own building. What was to be a normal day in dreary January proved to be a thriller through Google Expeditions.

Google Expeditions is a virtual reality platform built specifically and effectively for the classroom. GoogleEx takes students on journeys to places they may never encounter in real life and explore geographies and experience history in ways we only hope to cover in our lessons.

As a teacher, goal one is to provide my students with relevant activities that enrich lessons, engage learners, and align with standards. While the use of technology has consistently helped, finding the right digital resources among the vast available is difficult. The implementation may be time intensive or sometimes cost prohibitive. However, this one is a game changer.

I work to engage my students in every lesson. Technology is the content and I believe I reach most of them daily, but I work to reach all of these students, not most. I want my students to come away excited to share their explorations with a student in the hallway or at a dinner table how the class impacted them. I want students ready to learn to enter and inquire about what’s on queue for the day.

That happened January 27th. There was a buzz in the hallway as students entered the classroom after seeing a snapshot of what the daily lesson encompassed. The anticipation grew as each student was handed a viewer. Then, amazement took place, with the click of a button I took them half way across the world. Immediately they stood trying to touch what was in front of them, prompting others to look left and right. I had lost them in the depths of their own learning. This was true engagement. I had every student asking for more, inquiring about the locations in front of them, disappointed when the lesson was over. I can definitely credit the tech that they held in their hand as one point of engagement. It was new and the wow factor was prevalent, however at my core I believe the relevance of this lesson was what hooked students. Technology remains the tool, while the lesson and delivery captivates.

Google Expeditions for the classroom exceeded our expectations. The program has approximately 100 journeys ready to explore with more in development. Google’s partnerships with teachers and content providers have allowed them to detail each journey so that teachers can share intricate details with the students as they explore. I urge you to check this out as a resource for your classroom!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Canvas - Using Modules for Engaging, Independent Practice

Today's blogger, Carissa Holloway, is a 2nd Grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom at Pleasant View Elementary, Yorktown Community Schools. You can find her on Twitter @HollowayKids.

Canvas, a learning management system, provides one of my most favorite tools for engaging, meaningful, independent practice. Modules within Canvas allow you to compile resources, instruction, and activities for student access. This open-ended tool for compiling digital content can be extremely powerful to you and your students.

Using Canvas modules in a 1:1 classroom provides various opportunities for independent practice. I love using Canvas to create a module that guides students in review and practice of reading skills. I’ve also found it beneficial to create multiple modules for focused, digital literacy centers. There are benefits to both. For young students, like my second graders, one module is ideal at first. This minimizes the time spent navigating and increases time spent on task. If you have a lot of content to present, breaking up the content into separate modules/centers is less daunting for students. With practice and consistency in where you place the resources, students quickly get the hang of navigating the LMS. Eventually, it’s no longer a time-consuming event. Instead, it becomes second nature and part of everyday learning.

Most recently, I created 5 modules to serve as literacy stations. There was a need for reviewing a few reading skills from previous weeks. I also wanted to provide resources for students to review and practice our current phonics and language skills.

Our theme that week had been groundhogs and the skills for the modules were as follows:
  • Reading #1: Character, Setting, Plot
  • Reading #2: Fact and Opinion
  • Word Work: -tion and -sion
  • Language: Suffixes
  • Writing: Support Response with Reasons 
In a typical module for independent practice, you’d want to consider including the following:
  • A reteaching piece 
    • Authentic teacher-created video created using various tools, like Explain Everything, PowToons, screen capturing software, etc. 
    • Embedded resource from YouTube 
    • Directions for accessing video on outside sites, like BrainPop Jr. 
  • Content & practice activity ○ Directions/Pictures for accessing content on other sites, like myOn, Pebble Go, Epic, Raz-Kids 
    • Include choice as often as possible - students as creators 
    • Differentiate resources/tasks as needed 
    • Add voice/video directions as needed 
  • Teacher example 
  • Directions for sharing finished creations 
    • Twitter 
    • Seesaw 
    • Padlet 
    • Upload to Canvas 
Using modules provides you with the opportunity to “clone” yourself onto each device available in your classroom. It prevents the need for repeating directions and allows students to listen to your reteaching piece as many times as necessary. Students who tend to work at a slower pace can do so. Students who work at a faster pace have the ability to go on as well. As a teacher, you have the opportunity to meet with individual students or groups and progress monitor knowing your students are engaged in meaningful, independent work. My students know not to interrupt for help when working on a module. They know I will say, “Have you looked back in the module or problem-solved with your friends?” ;-) Modules have taught my students so much more than the content presented. My students have been provided with opportunities to be problem-solvers (and finders!), collaborators, and communicators - all while facing challenges and developing a growth mindset.

Within your modules, you can also provide opportunities for choice and voice. Meet students where they’re at, allow them to show their creativity, and let them share their knowledge in the way they feel most comfortable. You may even start to realize that some of your quiet ones actually have quite a bit to share. Incorporating this type of learning can give your quietest students a voice. Students who are often overshadowed by their louder peers and tend to shut down during in-class group activities suddenly become the most vocal and involved. How empowering!

Even primary students, like my second graders, can fully utilize and benefit from an LMS. This type of tool provides opportunities for learning to happen anytime and anywhere. Your resources can be differentiated. Student pace and product-creation can be as well. An LMS is not too advanced for your younger students. It may very well seem like chaos at first. Logging in and navigating can be tricky. Taking the time to allow students to log in and explore is key. Provide guidance when necessary, but be sure to give them the challenge of figuring things out for themselves (even if it interferes with some of your other plans for that day). Primary students can and will figure it out. Like I mentioned previously, it will become second nature...even for your young learners. Just like anything else, it takes time. You will be thankful that you took this time and embraced it.

Whether you are 1:1, 2:1, or have few devices available to you, modules can be designed to meet the needs of your unique classroom. Though difficult to do, it is crucial to accept that not everyone will be doing the same thing at the same time. They may not be using the same apps or resources. At times, some may not even be on a device if you’re not 1:1. To be honest, some may not completely finish the tasks you’ve provided. As long as they are on task, it’s all about the process and the journey. An LMS is an amazing tool, but the outcome of using one is even more incredible. It may seem like chaos at times, but a tremendous amount of learning is happening!. Whether you’re using Canvas or a similar LMS, the concept of modules is transferable, and it is powerful!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Power of Making

Today's blogger is Leslie Preddy, library media specialist at Perry Meridian Middle School, Perry Township School. She is the 2015-2016 President of the American Association of School Librarians and a Past President for the Association of Indiana School Library Educators (AISLE). You can reach Leslie at lpreddy@perryschools.org or find her on Twitter @lesliepreddy.

School libraries are powerful places of thinking and learning. It is the place where curricular needs and personal interests are expanded and cultivated. It is where students can think, share, and grow knowledge. With the expansion and incorporation of makerspace thinking, along with equipment, tools, technology, supplies, and resources, the learning also expands to creating and doing. This is when scholarship is taken to the deeper and more personally invested level of learning we educators are always seeking for our students. Making takes the traditional learning and mental thinking into real-world application with hands-on development and action. As Dr. David Sosby of the Northwest Invention Center stated, “Research and experience consistently show that learners stay engaged, exhibit more curiosity, and learn more effectively when they are addressing challenges that they meet with kinetic action.” This is the power of making.

Building understanding as a maker is intellectual flexibility while learning from experts by reading, seeing, and consulting before doing, contributing and sharing. So the question becomes, how do we do this in a school setting? How do we grow a maker environment? How do we teach the next generation to not just be consumers of information, but contributors as well? This can be done by developing intentional levels of learning and support through makerspace opportunities: guided, independent challenges, and self-directed.

Guided: Learning and Building Knowledge
I often say, “Students don’t know what they don’t know.” A young person needs to know something exists, something is possible, so I start by exposing them to tools, ideas, and resources. Before student makers can become independent, they need guidance, direction, and training. Often, students need developmental, lower level, basic skills experiences to broaden their horizons, develop a core base of skills and understanding, and learn about things they otherwise may not even know exist. This is where there is a very specific activity. Everyone does the same thing with a predesignated outcome. Students sample skills and experiences while basic skills for the concept are introduced. There are step-by-step instructions with personal guidance and training throughout. For example, to introduce electronics, all participants make a greeting card with LED lights and while doing so learn the basics about electrical polarity and conducting electricity.

Independent Challenges: Deepening Knowledge and Advancing Skills
Once a student has established basic skills through a guided project, she is ready for an independent challenge. In a challenge task, a student takes what has already been learned to further develop related skills and deepen knowledge on the subject through research and completing another make presented by the makerspace coordinator. The challenge is phrased as a task with a final goal in mind, as well as some recommended, preliminary resources. For example, digital learning pathfinders to facilitate personal growth can be made through digital tools like Symbaloo. From there, it is up to the student to research how and what to do, work out necessary steps, plan for tools and supplies required, and experiment with thinking and making. Taking learning to the next level, the student may successfully complete the make, or may fail, but learn from that failure in order to try again. To see examples of makerspace pathfinders for a variety of topics, click here).

Self-Directed: Experimentation and Personal Inquiry

Key to the evolution of successful learning and development as a maker is a self-directed make. At this phase, the student is ready to generate their own ideas and set an independent project goal. Learning continues through personal inquiry, designing and creating a product of personal choosing, and creating through creativity, inventiveness, experimentation, further development and improvement of skills, and trial and error. The student has grown completely autonomous throughout the development of the concept, goal setting, learning and research, and making. He still needs mentoring and guidance but is making many personal choices independently, including setting a personal plan of inquiry. Thinking like a scientist or researcher, this personal plan includes a timeline, budget, resources, and hoped-for learning outcomes and make construct. The student will problem-solve, troubleshoot, and stretch creatively. He will build on previous make and learning experiences as he expands his knowledge base to make new thinking and knowledge. He may even share his new expertise and mentor other students.

According to a 2013 Gallup study, “Nearly half of America's students say they want to start their own business or invent something that changes the world” and yet students say they have very few opportunities “to develop their entrepreneurial energy.” Through the prospects of learning a school library makerspace affords, students can actually think, learn and practice by doing, which increase the brain’s ability for that specific thing, task, and skill. Check out the uTEC Maker Model here to better understand how students begin by using, but with the right resources, guidance, and mentoring, can progress toward tinkering and experimenting. With a lot of hard work, passion, and support, some students may even achieve the level of creating and contribute something new and purposeful to the world.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Making Learning Fun with PicCollage

Brittany Banister is a kindergarten teacher at Vienna-Finley Elementary School in Scottsburg, IN. Brittany’s classroom has been 1:1 for two years with iPad minis. You can follow her on Twitter @KindergartenVF, Instagram @mrsbanisterskindergartenkids, or on her blog at http://iheartkindergarten.blogpost.com

Integrating technology in the kindergarten classroom can seem daunting on the surface, but in reality, even the youngest of students can use technology in effective and meaningful ways using simple apps.

In the two years of being 1:1 with iPad minis, my kindergarteners have a favorite digital tool even at five and six years old: The camera! Not only is it easy for kindergarten kids to use, it is also free. The camera is a tool that many may not consider when first thinking of purposeful ways to use technology, however, using the camera can be a great way for pre-readers and writers to express their thinking.

In our kindergarten classroom, we use the free app PicCollage to organize our thinking by using photographs. While PicCollage wasn’t created to be used in an academic setting, the possibilities are endless.
Yellow day
Blue day

PicCollage can be used in any subject. In math, students could use PicCollage to show their thinking. One of my favorite lessons using PicCollage is a measurement lesson where students sort and order objects from their art boxes from longest to shortest.

Measurement Activity
We love to get moving during lessons by going on scavenger hunts! PicCollage makes organizing materials simple.

States of matter sort
Students can also use drawings that are saved to their camera roll in PicCollage. Text can also be added to collages, making graphic organizers more appealing to students.

With PicCollage the possibilities are endless. Whether you teach kindergarten or high school, I am positive you will find this digital tool useful!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sphero: Using Robots to Code, Problem Solve, and Create

Amy Murch is a 4th grade teacher at Brooks School Elementary in Hamilton Southeastern Schools. She is a HSE 21 Technology Coach and teaches in a 1:1 ipad pilot classroom. You an connect with her on Twitter @TeamMurch4 and on Skype at Mrs.Murch4.

My students have been using Sphero robots this year for math, science, art, social studies and coding. Sphero, an innovative company out of Boulder, Colorado, has created a robotic ball that is not only fun but also facilitates learning in multi-curricular areas. Students control these robots with their devices, using several apps and a web platform for intentional instruction. Last summer at the Hamilton Southeastern Learning Fair, the company sent representative and presented on this new inventive and creative tool that can be used in classrooms. Teachers from all over the district were ignited with new ideas for incorporating this device into their classrooms for the upcoming school year.

This fall, I had the opportunity to collaborate with our art teacher, Mrs. Flynn, on a painting project with these robots. We decided to investigate the capability of the Sphero being waterproof and virtually indestructible. Students learned about Jackson Polluck, an abstract expressionism artist who is known for his drip paintings. We set up large pieces of wood that served as barriers for the paper canvases; students designed their color schemes and explored two different apps (Sphero Draw N' Drive and Sphero) that would control the robot while they painted. It was magical. We were hooked on the possibilities of this device.

Sphero Macrolab offers students the opportunity to learn to code. Students decide what commands they want the robot to perform; they have to test the speed and direction in Macrolab in order to drive the Sphero. In math, students were learning about area and perimeter. Student groups were given the area of different rectangles and had to find the perimeters for each one. Students were given two essential questions: Can 2 rectangles have the same area but different perimeters? Can you design a program that will make the Sphero drive the perimeter of your rectangle? Once groups found all the ways they could calculate the area, they had to pick one length and width to program for the Sphero. Students then had to decide the speed, distance, and degree of turns for their shapes. Each group had several “jobs” to help keep the group on task. These jobs included a programmer, a student who used Macrolab to program the rectangle’s sides. An architect, a student who created rectangles on the floor using masking tape and yard sticks and lastly the instructor, a student who created a Show Me to document the progress during the project. Show Me is a whiteboard app that allows students to take pictures, videos and articulate their thinking via an audio recording.

It was incredible watching their hard work and problem solving strategies for these rectangles. Most groups were successful in programming their Sphero to drive their rectangles’ dimensions. You can visit the Sphero Sprk Lightning Lab at https://sprk.sphero.com/dashboard for other activities and projects created by educators from around the country. Both of these projects are featured on the website with photos, videos and step-by-step instructions for implementation into your classroom.