Sunday, February 24, 2013

Internet Searches - Developing Web Literacy

I was recently asked about internet search tips teachers might integrate into their lessons so students might become more effective at internet research. There is quite a bit written about understanding URLs as a method of weeding through search results, an important skill needed by those who don't quite have the web literacy to specifically search for information on the internet. Teaching web literacy - the ability to discern how and why you are getting the results in which you search, provides students the tools needed to research topics from all points of view and retrieve requested information specific to a query.

I'm a HUGE fan of Alan November. His website, November Learning, is chock full of resources on web literacy. Take the quiz yourself and see how you do before teaching to students.

Below is a Tricia Campbell's slideshare related to November's most recent book - Web Literacy. You could share this with your kids and not have to recreate the wheel.

Another excellent resource for google search tips is Teach Hub.  This links to 100+ Google Search Tips for Teachers.  Note this page suggests a method for getting around blocked sites, so be mindful when sharing with students. Not that they couldn't get that information on their own.

A list of web country codes is useful to find websites, etc... on similar topics from other countries.  This gives students different perspectives on topics and moves us beyond US bias.

Research Beyond Google - Vicki Davis recently shared a link to a post on her blog along these lines titled Researching Byoned Google.  This post lists alternative search sites to Google.

A few years ago I created a lesson for my students on internet search basics.  The premise of this lesson is to provide an explanation of the differences between search engines, directories and meta-search engines.

Lastly, because I am a big advocate of Alan November's Digital Learning Farm, (I've written about it before,) and feel we would do well to incorporate the concept into our classrooms.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Apple Distinguished Educator

I am thrilled to announce I have been selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator in the Class of 2013. I realize, and respect, that being selected for this award would not have been possible without the great efforts of all the people I work with daily. So, a public thank you to all for making this award possible.

The application periods vary by regions. In North America, the application process opened in November and closed January 15th. After submitting an application that consisted of answering several questions and creating a short video, the wait is finally over. I've been selected!

The Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Program began in 1994, when Apple recognized K-12 and higher education pioneers who are using a variety of Apple products to transform teaching and learning in powerful ways. Today it has grown into a worldwide community of over 2,000 visionary educators and innovative leaders who are doing amazing things with technology in and out of the classroom.

Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) are part of a global community of education leaders recognized for doing amazing things with Apple technology in and out of the classroom. They explore new ideas, seek new paths, and embrace new opportunities. That includes working with each other — and with Apple — to bring the freshest, most innovative ideas to students everywhere.

The community of Apple Distinguished Educators has been amazing already. On the day of the announcement I had many new twitter followers and invitations to professional development events current and past ADEs are running. They certainly are a welcoming group.

So, I'll be headed to Austin this summer to participate in the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute. There I will have the opportunity to meet innovative educators and learn amazing things as I participate in a week chock full of professional development, content creation and collaboration. Austin, here I come.

Monday, February 4, 2013

K-4 iPad Parent Meeting

We hosted our first iPad parent meeting on January 30th in the school auditorium for those parents wanting to learn more about the K-4 iPad pilot program initiated in January at MSES.  We had an excellent evening.

Key points reviewed:

Why iPads? 
Manitou School District Vision Statement:   "Our whole children are Empowered personally to lead and to serve, Equipped intellectually to shape their future, Enriched creatively to flourish lifelong." 

iPads offer another powerful tool to students to achieve those whole-child ends - a medium our digital natives find both natural and intuitive.

Most of us have heard the term "digital native" used to describe children born in the high-tech world that we adults have grown up into - a world far more connected and fast paced, for better or for worse, than when we were in elementary school.  Technology is a part of many of our students lives already - and will be a significant part of their schooling and work world going forward.  That presents many challenges to parents and educators.  While technology offers new power in the learning process, it raises concerns for us, not just as parents, but as a society about the effects of this power in our lives.

We have had computers in classrooms for over 15 years and linked to the internet for just as long.  We have already seen kids' natural connection to technology in their learning and thinking.  Now, the iPad has entered the scene and causing to address this issue from a personal point.

We have been saying for several years now that it's on our watch as parents and teachers to address the implementation of 1:1 technology in the classroom.  We have a desire to put this power for learning in the hands of our kids on a continual and individual basis.  We have accomplished this by increasing the number of computers available to students in the classroom and in computer labs.  We also notice a continual increase in the number of devices students bring to school with them on a daily basis (smart phones, iPads, computers.)  Schools are in constant competition with these devices and need to address the "check in, unplug, check out" attitude students bring to school each morning.

Initial 1:1 Pilot
As a response, two years ago fifth grade along with middle school implemented one to one iPad program.
  • iPads are not a new way of learning or a revolution in education, they are a powerful tool in the classroom and, for many students, at home.
  • Higher engagement
  • Longer, more focused basic skills practice
  • But also great creavitity in publishing their knowledge and more empowered research.
iPad Brochure
Russ shared the iPad Brochure with everyone.  It is available here for download. IPAD BROCHURE

Last year, as we piloted this program, Debbie Heidenreich’s husband, Dan, made a Video that illustrates these points in the words of our own students and teachers.
iPads Invade the Fifth Grade at MSES

Interactive Example
We then shared an example of an interactive electronic book to show some of the power of digital learning for younger kids.  The book, though powerful, is not intended to replace the power of a child sitting on an adult's lap while being read to or the feel and interaction of a great paper book.  The electronic book has distinct advantages we want to capitalize on in the classroom and at home when the parent or teacher is working with others.

User Agreement
An overview of the Elementary K-4 User agreement was presented.  This agreement outlines general care and use of the iPad, insurance policies and the opt in/opt-out agreement.
User Agreement K-4

Take Home Preparations
The next couple of weeks involve final preparations for students to bring the iPad home.  While we feel the iPad is a powerful learning tool, we also recognize and respect the choice of some who would choose not to have electronics enter the home environment.  The Opt-In/Opt-Out agreement form allows for parents to express their iPad home front preferences.

Classroom Visits
The meeting then adjourned to classrooms where the children and teachers shared some of the exciting new uses being pioneered for the iPad in various grade levels over the few short weeks the iPad has been in use.  The principal and I were on hand in the auditorium with questionnaires for those who wanted to share feedback.

Future Conversations
In addition, parents and school staff will meet on the second Tuesday of each month to address iPads in the classroom.  The first meeting will be February 11th at 3:00 PM at MSES.

More information about iPads at MSSD may be found on the MSSD14 iPads Wikispace.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mystery Skype

Mystery Skype has hit classrooms worldwide and if you teach Social Studies might prove to be an engaging interaction to offer to your students.
Basically, teachers connect with another class somewhere in the world.  They then determine a time for their classes to Skype with each other and offer clues as to where they live.  Students must piece together clues to determine the location of the call. 
There are a variety of jobs in preparing for the skype call and during the skype call that allow for each student to be actively involve with the conversation even though they may not be speaking at the time. 
Mystery Skype also provides the opportunity for a little global interaction and communication that a class may not ordinarily have with the outside world.  On top of all that, it's fun.
Read more about it in Learning and Leading with Technology.