Friday, August 22, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Set-Up Students for #EdTech Success in Week 1

Here's my plan to set up my students for the content, collaboration, and creativity that technology will allow in our (ironically) history classroom:

Day 1: Inform Students and Parents

  • It will all start when I show students this video from November Learning to spell out my mission: give them to tools to be doers.

  • Next I'll let students know that every final creation they produce will be published to the world, not just to me. They need to make it relevant and interesting. More importantly, it needs to be something they are proud to connect with their name online.
  • Of course, I'll send home electronic and paper notices (the first and last paper notice of the year) to parents to let them know the same information and to assure them that they will have full access to all of their child's class materials and work in real time.  Grade data will also be available online, but with password protection.
  • Sharing my own published work with both parents and students is essential. The goal is to let them know I walk the talk. I'll encourage them to check in on my blog, Twitter feed, LinkedIn or any other social network contributions I make. I have been and will be modeling the power of publishing to the world.

Day 2: Start Publishing

  • Once again, I'll show students my blog. It's meant to model and encourage kids to share their learning with the world, too.
  • Students will start a new blog or share the URL of their existing blog with me. I'll provide only minimal suggestions and resources needed to do this but no step-by-step instructions.  Then, I'll watch to see how they cope. Do they turn to me? Each other? Their phones? How do they accomplish the task? Once I've seen how they already know how to use technology, I will know where we will be starting together. These blogs will be the central location for publishing their final creations and I'll subscribe using Feedly.
  • Before leaving, the kids will start to write a one paragraph reflection of their experience in class. What did they already know about blogs? Did they already have one? Was the process of creating one and getting it up and running fun? Frustrating?  If necessary they can finish up at home.

Day 3: Problem Solving

  • They will get started on important web literacy activities from resources like a Google a Day to teach them how to search and problem solve together using the boundless resources available online.  I think I might even make a Google a Day into a contest between 5 teams of students in each class.
  • When the teams have all done their thing, I'll ask how many of them noticed this little helpful pop-up:
Click here to see it for yourself!

  • Tonight their post will be about the struggles and thrills of the competition. They will write what they learned about working together, about their own strengths when combined with their classmates strengths. They will write about what they learned of how to really harness the power of the information available online.

Days 4 & 5: Apply

  • Now that they've learned that the web and their classmates are powerful resources, we will really dive into our curriculum. I'll give each student one of 5 a document excerpts. They'll have to find out which classmates have the same documents and then work together to do the sourcing using just their newly found skills and their mobile devices.
  • Each group will carry out the sourcing, create a quick presentation, share it with the class. Together we will look for commonalities between the sources and see if we can develop an essential question for the unit. I suspect this process will take 2 class periods, but I wouldn't be surprised if they end up working on it overnight even without an explicit assignment for me, since they will be accountable to their group mates and classmates in the end.
Check out SHEG for more resources.

  • A blog post following this will include their presentation, either embedded or in the form of images, and a reflection of what they learned about the history and significance of the primary sources by going through this process.

By the end of our first week... 

students will have learned that they are in charge of their learning, they are powerful enough to find out anything they want to know, they can work together to solve problems, they will have created something new and important about a historical document, and published their creation to the world.

By the end of our first week... 

I will have read three separate writings from each of my 125 students. I will know how they are feeling about their first history classes, about investigating historical evidence, and about creating and publishing to the world.  More importantly, I will have read their writing and seen their creations. This is just the beginning of the incredible skills they'll build this year. (So exciting I can barely stand it.)

Not bad for week 1, right?

How will you set your students up for #EdTech success?