Education for the iGeneration

If we define today’s world in one word, it would be “change.” The 21st century is truly an age of change and if the education system does not change according to today’s needs, it is sure to collapse. As pointed out by Sir Ken Robinson, a creativity expert, we have to “change paradigms” in order to cater to the educational needs of the 21st century. For this reason, I think most of the countries today are thinking of reforming their public education system. Educating tomorrow’s children, with yesterday’s methods is not at all a good idea.It is true that a change in our education system is the need of the hour.

A quote from the article.

 The reason for this need may be the economic efficiency of our students or the ability to be a global citizen who still has a hold on his/her cultural roots. The iGeneration is the first American generation to be born, almost literally, with a smartphone in hand. Today, our children are flooded with information coming to them through technology. They have access to endless information at their fingertips. We, as educators, can use this for our advantage or this can actually become a distraction for our students and a problem for us. It is due to this, that more and more schools are shifting their curriculum and methods to incorporate technology and media in everyday instructions.

Some schools are providing technology and some schools are following the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policy for this. According to Project Tomorrow’s annual Speak Up survey, fifty-eight percent of high school students in a national survey said they use their own mobile devices for learning in school, and 47 percent of teachers in the survey reported that their students have regular access to mobile devices in their classrooms. Along with this, most of the schools also provide chromebooks, ipads or some other device with wi-fi connectivity from the school, for most of the core classes, and students can use these on a daily basis in the class.

Due to this, digital literacy has become very important for all of us. As Eric Sheninger pointed out in his article, The Need for Digital Literacy, “although technology enables students to access more information in much less time, it does not always foster learning. Teaching digital literacy helps to manage all of the benefits of technology while helping students understand how to safely weed through the vast amounts of information online.”

 

This vast amount of information online is the number one distraction for our students these days because they find it interesting and engaging as compared to the traditional and “boring” class work. We need to make our lessons more challenging and engaging for today’s generation. Otherwise, we will and we are losing our students to the more magnetic digital world of technology. This has been rightly pointed out by Marc Prensky in his article, “Engage me or Enrage me.” The students who are truly self-motivated are rare in today’s classrooms. We usually have students who go through the motions and think that they know how to manipulate school work, to get a good grade or we have students who “tune us out” because we fail to engage them and their senses in the class work. Technology can come to the teacher’s rescue here. It can make the lesson not only more interesting, but also challenging enough for our students to perform to the best of their abilities.

But this brings up another problem and I have personally faced this in my class and this problem is of digital equity. Forty-seven percent of surveyed school and district technology leaders said digital equity and students’ out-of-school internet access are among their most challenging issues. “Today, as many as 7 in 10 teachers, assign homework that requires access to the internet and broadband,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC Commissioner, at the Congressional briefing. I am also one such high school teacher. But we need to remember that as many as 1 in 3 households in this country do not subscribe to broadband and this leads to what is called the ‘homework gap.’ I have students come to me and say that they could not finish the homework because they do not have access to the internet or a computer at home. To tackle this problem, I give more time and opportunity to my students to work on these assignments in the class, using the school chromebooks and assign homework which can be completed without the use of technology. This can be an example of using “Blended learning,” and it is showing positive results like the forty-five percent of surveyed districts, where blended learning programs are showing positive results.

Online and blended learning can increase self-directed learning even outside of the classroom, foster divergent thinking and creativity as well as develop and maintain trusted collaboration among students. Collaboration fosters learning, innovation, and development. According to Burns, Crow, and Becker, “collaboration spurs innovation because bringing together groups of people who have different ideas, approaches, experiences, and areas of expertise creates a fertile environment for generating new concepts and methods.”

We need to stop alienating our children from who they actually are and what they are actually interested in. We need to use their interests and capacities to challenge them to improve, learn and innovate. The “factory line” system of school can only create a generation of students who are clearly uninterested and find school boring and irrelevant. This will keep reinforcing our idea of “Fictitious ADHD epidemic” that we think is responsible for our students’ lack of interest and ultimate “failure” at school.

Using technology, along with divergent thinking and creativity, is one of the most important 21st-century skills that our students must have. For developing this skill, we should be using technology more and more in our classrooms for challenging our students’ capacities and engaging them in the process of learning. For this educators should become more digitally literate themselves and then use this knowledge for the benefit of the students of the iGeneration.

A Few Modest Goals

drizin3

Welcome to my first blog for SUSD Site Tech Cadre (STC). I have been tasked with keeping a blog as a member of the STC and I have been struggling with what to contribute. I am embarking on new adventures in technology and looking for destinations unknown. I am just getting started on this adventure and feel that I really have a great deal to learn and very little to share. I have set a few modest goals for myself this year:

  •       Tech up my ELD classes.
  •       Retool my Graphic Design Pathway to better meet industry standards
  •       Create collaboration opportunities among the CTE (Career and Technology Education)  and core teachers.
  •       Build lasting bonds between middle schools and high schools.
  •       Strengthen CTSOs across the district

drizin2

My first goal is to introduce more technology into the ELD curriculum. I noticed almost immediately that my ELD students were disengaged and bored when interacting with the curriculum; if you are not engaged, you are not learning. My first adaptation was to incorporate Google Drive, Google Classroom and Google Docs for Joint Construction Paragraphs (JCP). JCP involves students working together as a class to construct a paragraph on a topic about which they have just learned; students dictate while the teacher writes out what they say on chart paper.  The process allows students to contribute what they have learned without the pressure of writing alone. It works well if you are not a member of the legibility challenged (I am the in the Hall of Fame), and if your students are not timid when it comes to participation (A persistent challenge in any class but even more acute in ELD). A quote from the textAs a replacement for writing on chart paper I started to use Google Applications for the JCP activity. I created a folder in Google Drive, a shared link which I posted to Google Classroom and then added a Google Document in the folder for students to enter in their contributions. This allows the students to add without having to raise their hand and be singled out. Students’ contributions appear on the document as they type, each having their own color allowing the instructor to see who is participating. Additionally, the instructor can see who is logged in and contributing at the top of the page. I went from about 20% participation to about 90% participation. Students edited as we discussed, correcting spelling and grammar for each other, shifting sentences up or down for continuity and adding ideas freely. When we debriefed after the lesson they unanimously agreed that it was a great deal more fun than watching me writing their ideas out. It was the first time in the class that the majority of students had been genuinely engaged and participating all year. I am now looking for the next upgrade.

Here Is Where You Come In

As I embark on each one of these goals, the first improving the ELD experience, I will share the journey and look to you, the reader, to help direct my course. I would like to hear how you apply technology in your classes or about the challenges you are facing that might be solved by applying technology. Please email me at Doctor.Izzn@gmail.com and I will share your contributions (anonymously if requested), questions and potential solutions here on the blog. I may not be able to find all of the answers but perhaps we can solve them together.

Let the adventure begin,

Dr. Izzn

About that monitoring software…..

+This year Stockton Unified has deployed a software program that allows teachers to see on the teachers’ computer monitor what the students in a class have on their screens.  Teachers have expressed frustration with keeping students on task when there are so many easily available distractions online. Last year a few sites piloted a couple potential solutions, and NETOP became the obvious choice.  The software is easy to use and seems rather intuitive. It does require that the teacher uses Google Classroom, the teacher must have a Google Classroom with a roster for each individual class session. That GClassroom roster is what NETOP uses to decide which students to monitor. If students transfer out of a class the teacher needs to drop that student from the GClassroom so the student can become available to the teacher that is receiving the student. To set yourself up with NETOP, follow the handy dandy user guide here:  NetopVisionforChromebooks_UserGuide Teachers

Pic of teacher and students

Netop software provides a number of sound tools to the teacher, but nothing beats moving around the room working with the kids.

While many teachers have stated that they are looking forward to being able to see what is on students’ screens, but that is far from the most powerful aspect of this software. This software allows the teacher to broadcast content to individual Chromebooks, solving the problem of weak projector bulbs or no projector at all. Instead of trying to see what the teacher is projecting across the room, the student will be able to see it on their own Chromebook! This alone can be a gamechanger for many classrooms!

This tool supports a number of powerful learning strategies but sitting at the desk playing gotcha is not one of them. We suggest when you first start using the tool that you project all of the students’ screens up on the wall, mention that you CAN monitor what they are doing, and then go about your business, moving through the room delivering solid instruction, because, at the end of the day, it is solid instruction that matters.

 

Desmos in the Classroom

I would like you to go to www.student.desmos.com and type in the class code: D7YNE5.  This card sort will help students convert between fractions, decimals, and percents.  In addition, students will visualize these representations using an area model.

This card sort is just one type of interactive activity that teachers can find or create on their own to engage students through the use of this online application. Not only can teachers get students to be more engaged but teachers can monitor and control the flow of the lesson from their dashboard. Teachers can see in real time what students are doing on the activity. This is not just a high quality graphing/scientific calculator! Of course, we do want our students to know the ins and outs of this calculator tool since it is the one used on the CAASPP (SBAC Exam). To get a teacher account, go to www.teacher.desmos.com To use the calculator, go to www.desmos.com And, it’s all FREE!!!

ren2Okay, a little background on my journey. This is my second year playing with this online application. I was exploring it last year and used it here and there with what I could find online to supplement lessons in my classroom. I did not learn how to create my own activities. I found it extremely limiting but wanted more because I saw the potential of such a program. This year, I went to my second training at the annual ETC Conference in Stanislaus. I took the wrong class because it was meant for 5th grade and I teach high school. However, I did gain lots by getting resources to libraries created by other educators for Desmos! I was excited about that. Still, it did not satiate my need to create my own activities. Finally, I went to another training that same day that was meant for high school or intermediate level. Once the instructor directed us that way, I continued. He did not give time for going beyond but I dived in and continued and played with all the tools till I finally understood what I needed in order to start creating. I created my first activity and I was so excited to bring it back to my classroom.

Ren1I went back to my classroom and I implemented lesson after lesson ranging from basic warm-up activities to two days in-depth analysis that had my students creating, modeling, and analyzing all in the program. Students were highly engaged, even the ones that try to get away with not doing work. Browse through the teacher page and tools and you will find many interactive, fun, and enriching activities for your students that are common core aligned.

I came across not just an application, it became a pedagogy. This is a dynamic resource that we can utilize to meet the needs of our students from many different backgrounds. The pictures below are my students’ answers and work. I have students with special needs and students who are newcomers to the USA as well. It is amazing to see the progress they have achieved this year just by reading their reflections.  Take a chance and take that leap. Discover. Ignite that fire in your students that captures their minds and makes them want to learn again. Do something different. I teach high school math but you can make anything yours, you just have to put in time and love.

Here are some screenshots of what my students worked on from my teacher dashboard. I anonymized everyone so they are all famous mathematicians for the day! 😊

 

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We grow at one rate and technology grows a thousand times faster!

I have to be honest. Lately, I feel like I’m the teacher that is afraid to turn on the computer. OK, it’s not that bad but I do feel like I can’t process one more thing. Since I need to know and I truly want to know it stresses me not being able to keep up. If I’m feeling that way, I can’t imagine how some teachers feel.

Keeping up with technology can be a challenge for many teachers especially teachers who only use technology in the classroom. Even more so if the teacher only uses it to take attendance or give MAP testing. Although I must say that by now we’ve been testing with MAP for over 8 years and you should at least know how to log-in! Sorry, I digress.

Considering everyone learns at different paces, and taking into account the less you use it the more you are likely to forget, it has been brought to my attention that it would make my life easier if I made “cheat sheets.” The cheat sheets should be printed on bright colored paper, laminated, and made in double quantity. My goal for this summer is to take some of the programs, reports, assessment, and anything else that I get called to help with and create the sheets. If anyone already has a few sheets to share, please do. The first one will be “What to check if nothing turns on” (Yes, there are times when I get called and all I do is plug something in).

The teachers that are new coming straight from college, for the most part, seem to have a handle on most of the basic technology needs. It is great when they help other teachers. One of the things, as we build our PLC community, is getting everyone comfortable with helping each other. I don’t always have time to help teachers when they need it which sometimes causes them more stress. But as they work with each other and they grow as professionals they all become more comfortable with at least clicking on the blue link.

One More Thing

Do you ever feel like you have to give your students one more thing? Whether it be
a survey, an assessment, etc.? Do you ever feel like there is one more computer
program that the students just “have” to use for them to see their test scores
soar? Imagine Learning? Mobymax? ST Math? Khan Academy? No Red Ink? Quizlet? Kahoots? The list seems to be never-ending and continues to grow. I know with my students the last thing they need is #onemorething. They, just like us, will become overwhelmed (and just maybe frustrated) with #onemorething.

Image of a quote in the textI understand that we are trying to move away from paper and more towards being paperless, but I think Alice Keeler said it best when she said that “paperless is not a pedagogy.” Alice Keeler! Thee Alice Keeler said that ‘paperless is not a pedagogy.’ For me, I think what I need to focus on the most is finding what works for each of my students and make those accommodations and/or modifications necessary for them to be successful and not just #onemorething. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that we can’t explore other, or even more educational programs, but I think we need to know when to say enough is enough and when to follow the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

 

Image of a tweet from Alice Keeler

If you don’t follow @alicekeeler on Twitter, you should.

I am writing this just in case there are others out there, who like me, are feeling a
tiny bit overwhelmed and are feeling as though you’re being pulled in every direction when it comes to #onemorething. You’re not alone, and we can get through this together. We need to do whatever it takes for our students to be successful. If one student sees success on Imagine Learning but not in Mobymax, then we need to find out why that is and tweak it. Make it work for your students and you. Not every kid learns the same nor do we. If we keep that in mind then we might be able to get through the rest of this year and all the other years more than just by the skin of our teeth.

Now if this post isn’t relatable to you or you need someone to blame, you are more
then welcome to #blameitonprescott, I’m fine with that.

A Research Graphic Organizer That Will Save You a Lot of Headache

At the beginning of the school year, my 5th graders were asked to do a research paper- a task the students and I both dread for different reasons. To put it simply, they didn’t like doing it because it was a lot of work. I, on the other hand, worried about them using online sources and plagiarizing from them. To solve our problems, I created a graphic organizer on Google Docs that saved us all a lot of time, stress, and even managed to make the whole learning process much easier.

image of graphic organizerStarting off, the graphic organizer doesn’t look that impressive, but as I tell my students the boxes will expand based on how much information they input in there. Also, I did notice that they didn’t feel overwhelmed starting this project because the graphic organizer just looks like a small worksheet that they needed to fill out. Them feeling that way is already a good starting point to this whole research process.

Step-By-Step to Using the Graphic Organizer

Anytime I am doing a research paper, I find myself having the most trouble doing the introduction paragraph since it is the paragraph that grabs the readers’ attention. With that at stake, I told my students to save that paragraph for later and to work on their three supporting paragraphs, which according to the graphic organizer,  are the reason 1, 2, and 3 draft boxes. Once they understand the task, they come up with three reasons to build their supporting paragraphs. For example, one of their tasks required them to write an opinion piece on who they believe is an important figure. That important figure should get the honor of having a monument made of himself or herself. With that understanding of the task and after deciding who they will research about, the students then come up with their first reason.

Let’s examine Justine’s research process to better understand what I am talking about. Justine’s first reason about why Dr. Seuss deserves a monument was because he was a good writer. She simply writes “good writer” in the same line that says “Reason 1 draft”. After that, she researches online about what makes Dr. Seuss a good writer and would then copy and paste that information into the “Notes” box as well as copying the website’s address into her “Source” box. Next, she reads and underlines the part that provides the evidence showing how he’s a good writer. After the underlining, she makes three brief bulleted notes using short phrases all in the “Notes” box.Image of a completed graphic organizer

The next step is developing her first supporting paragraph which becomes a challenge because she has to paraphrase her research to avoid plagiarism. From a teacher’s perspective, this organizer helps me to better understand her progress because I can see right away how her sentences are constructed as compared to the original source. It saves me time from having to research where she got her information and whether she copied the source. She then goes through the same process for developing the other supporting paragraphs and after all the research, she has a clearer vision of how she will develop both the introduction and conclusion paragraph. Once the whole organizer gets filled and approved by me, she cuts and pastes her paragraphs and formats them to look like an essay or in this case, a letter.

Image of a completed graphic organizer

Image of a completed essay.

Doing a research essay can be a very daunting experience for many students but using this graphic organizer has been a much easier process for all of us. It was definitely less of a headache to track them through the whole process, and I liked that it made learning more engaging and smoother for them.