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Showing posts from December, 2013

High School Students as Professional Education Consultants

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Last week my students helped me explain how we use smartphones, tablets, and laptops in our class daily to learn in new ways.  I had to opportunity to present to a group of teachers and administrators at the Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence conference in Disney World (where is was 75 degrees) while still at Reading Memorial High School in Massachusetts (where it was 12 degrees). Thanks to some fine work by many members of our technology staff, we were able to video conference with the professionals in Florida along with Jennalee Anderson's 7th grade classroom nearby in town using Cisco's Jabber software.

My students used iPads, iPad Minis, iPhones, Surface tablets, or any other device they bring to school and use on our BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) wifi network.  They talked about how we used their devices in class the day before to learn about the Temperance Movement in the early to mid 19th century.
QR Codes: They demonstrated how they use QR scanning apps to access all the …

Yes, my classroom is paperless. No, you don't have to buy your kid an iPad.

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My classroom feels different than ever before.  It's more vibrant.

My relationships with my students are different than ever before.  They're better.

I'm in the midst of my 12th year of teaching, and I have the idealism and workload of a first year teacher all over again.

Why?

Because BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) along with a few supplemental devices has empowered me as a teacher and my students as learners.  I'm planning everything I've taught before in brand new ways.  While we are in class for 55 minutes together, I'm doing less teaching and my teenage students are doing more learning.  And I don't use paper. At all.  Sound suspicious? Unorthodox?  Do you have concerns?

*** Concern #1: I know it seemingly goes against everything we've been taught as parents to take the plunge and purchase a breakable piece of technology worth hundreds of dollars and hand it over to a 14 year old.  They're irresponsible, distracted, and materialistic.

Response:  Us…

The Power of One

I let my students decide again.  I asked them if they believed that one person can make widespread change. Their answers were mixed.

I showed them this commercial from YouTube.


Then I decided to trust them to choose a 19th century social reformer and how they would present that reformer to the class.  The only parameters:
It had to be inspiring, touting the power one individual can have to make real change.It had to use and cite primary sources. This is what they looked like while working. Every group seemed to choose a different combination of applications.  They were even testing new ones that I haven't introduced yet like Doceri and Haiku Deck.

 This is what my classroom looked like ten full minutes after the last bell of the day had sounded on a Friday!  For real, people, these are 15-16 year olds who have been through a full 5 day week of classes, and the first week of winter sports tryouts in many cases, and they stayed after on a Friday for a history project. Whaaaat?


Their…

Confessions of a Public School Teacher

Here goes...

1. I spend way more time communicating with students, parents, and community members outside of the school allotted conference time than within it.  Those communications happen when the students really need them, too, instead of when the school has deemed communication appropriate.  They are more constructive, build more relationships, and are a better way for me to get to know my students and their families than the artificial 10 minute presentation I give on Back to School Night or the rushed 10 minute one-on-one meetings on Parent Conference Day each December.  The natural communication that happens through nearly weekly grade updates, emails, and phone calls are more relevant, more timely, and more personal.  They show that I'm in touch because I want to be, not because I have to be.  Nearly every teacher I know communicates with families in this way as well.  Forced Parent Conference Days seem unnatural, impersonal, and kind of pointless when it comes to really h…