In a world where facts are now free, what do we do with students?
For example, the other day I was on a tour of a “high-tech” middle school and I walked into a classroom to see students filling out an online quiz on the rivers of South America. Since the students weren’t allowed to use their technology to find the answers, they had to regurgitate their answers from memory.
So here was a classroom full of students with iPads staring up into space hoping that they could recall from memory some basic geography facts.
Why on earth did these students need to memorize the names of the major rivers of South America?
Facts are free, they could find these answers in seconds using Google.
The teacher was proud that his students were using technology in his classroom but is this really the best we can do?
For students to not just survive, but thrive in this new world, they need more than facts. Anyone can get facts. They need to be thinkers and creators.
But as teachers, most of us teach facts. So what are we to do?
This is why I changed my whole approach to teaching and came up with a badge program that not only motivated my students to learn, but it also forced them to think and to create projects using just their iPads.
I remember after the first iPad project I heard a student talking to his partner saying that he had no idea that his iPad could make animations.
This is why badges are so important; we have students that think that technology is only for entertainment and teachers that think technology is only good for looking up facts. My badges allowed both groups to move beyond these basic rudimentary objectives and do so much more. I don’t want to sound sensational, but the badges allowed students to literally change their world for the better.
When I first started to consider an essential question for my tech classes, I must have tried seven different ones before settling on the one above. The first one I tried was “How can I use technology to make my world better?” but I did not like how sounded so selfish — with a single student in mind. I knew from the onset of this system that I wanted students to work together and collaborate. So I soon changed the “I” to “We” and the “My” to “Our” so that students knew from the beginning that they cannot do it alone.
When my badges system was being peer reviewed, I had one colleague suggest that I remove the word better. He said that it suggested that our world was broken — I ignored his suggestion — because the world is broken. If fact, the world is so broken that I started this whole system based on two facts that were so obvious that I could not ignore them anymore.
Here are those two facts as I see them…
Fact A - I realized that we could not wait for this techno-generation to grow-up before they make a difference. They had to be taught at a young age how to improve their world. We need changes to start now, not 10 or 20 years from now.
Fact B - This generation is stuck in a technology rut. Most of them have settled on just using their technology for just gameplay and entertainment. They need to learn that technology is a tool that they have the ability to change the world with.
At one time, I was going to drop the word technology from the essential question, but I felt that, as a technology teacher, I should keep it. I guess if I was a math teacher, I would change the word technology to math. But that would be a different book entirely since I have no idea how to use math to make our world better. This also means that you as the reader, know that this blog is about how students use technology to improve their world.
As I walk the hallways of the MET I am constantly being stopped by the students and asked about the rules we have for the MacBooks and iPads. Since I was the one in the video, I guess it is only fair that I get all the questions.
"Mr. Flick," they start, "why can't I change my background image?"
The technology rules are a culmination of the collaboration between the IT department, administration and the teachers. We looked at anything that might impede the educational work here at the MET and then we tried to improve things so that nothing gets in the way of great learning.
Now I know you are probably thinking to yourself, how on earth does a background image slow down the educational work of a student at the MET?
By allowing students to make changes to the settings, three things happen:
1. Students start to get the impression that the piece of technology somehow belongs to them and not to the school. They then want to start installing personal files, music, etc. Which then fills the tech with non-academic files, and then when they go to save a research paper -- there is no room left on the device.
2. Some students change their settings daily, they are always trying to find the funniest of trendiest background to show off to their friends, and then their friends all want to change their background images to keep up. Hours are wasted each week as students get stuck in this endless cycle.
3. When IT comes to work on a device, they can wast hours trying to find the problem due to all the changes that have been made to the device. So to make things easier for IT we try to keep each device the same.
So there you have, the reasons why students can't change their background image.
I have been interested in 3D printers for my school for years, but I've been singing the U2 song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." I sing this because no one has really ever shown me WHY my school needs one. Sure, people show my all the chachkies that they can make with them: chess pieces, key chain FOBs, etc. I have been to a quite a few maker faires that have a lot of 3D printers that are churning out a lot of crap. Crap, by the way, that takes hours to print.
So when I stumbled into the 3D printer area of CES I was pesimistic of what I might find. But at the first booth I stopped at, BQ Witbox, there they had it, a robotic kit that students "print" all the parts to make a robot, attach the sensors and such to, then program the robot. Now I was getting excited. It was explained to me that students can modify the robot in any way they want before printing. (See photo below)
Then a couple of booths over I came across STEAMtrax, who make 3D printer curriculum for schools. Finally, I found the reason to have 3D printers in schools. 2 minutes into their presentation I was sold. All the time and expense to get to CES was now worth what I have just found from these two vendors.
A 3D printed robot.
Each year that I come to the Consumer Elecectronics Show (CES) I try to find those new and upcoming products and ideas that I could use in my classrooms in the years ahead. The problem is that CES is just so stinking big. It is literally the size of many football fields, so it takes a lot of planning and running around to find those products that would do best in the classroom.
The first strategy I use is to steal clear of the acres of TVs. This year I am focusing on 3D printers, wearable tech, and textile tech.
I will keep you posted as to what I find.
Looking for the needle in the haystack.
#edtech #ipaded #mlearning
Back in 2010, just after I had returned from working at an orphanage in Nicaragua, I started to think about how I might involve more students in the world around them. At the time a new word had entered my vocabulary; social entrepreneurialism. People who build businesses, successful businesses, whose purpose is to now only make money but also to improve their world. This concept captured my imagination as an educator and I wondered in some of these same ideals could be included in what I do as an elementary school technology teacher. That was when I coined a new word; Social Learner. A student who learns how to improve their world while at the same time learning the regular academics.
I remember at the time worrying about how I would find time to squeeze in any more learning into an already completely booked day? But over these past years I have learned many tips and tricks as I designed my Elementary School iPad Tech Curriculum. The turning point came when I finally learned that the trick was not to add more to my teaching schedule, but instead I learned to replace most of the subjects I was teaching with new "social learner" centered topics.
In the weeks ahead I will share my experiences as I explain how I ended up now living in Panama City, Panama, as I pursued my dreams for students to learn how to improve their world.
T-shirts designed by students to support sea turtles.
The nice thing about coming to a new school is that it gives me a chance to see if the success I was having was based on kids just signing up because they knew me and trusted that it would be great, or if I can really get kids to do amazing things with technology because of the subject itself, independent of who the teacher is. To tell you the truth, I was a little apprehensive of the answer.
The great success of the new MET Studios at my new school has affirmed it that "If you build it they will come." If you truly offer projects that are interesting enough coupled with an authentic audience, kids will sign up.
For sometime I have been considering the power of a student-run broadcast studio. In my past school the student ran a very successful podcasting studio that had nearly 10,000 subscribers on iTunes, and now in my new school I have built a full-featured broadcasting studio. In my previous studio we could only publish audio webcasts and my new one allows for video as well.
By adding video, things got a lot more complicated but also better. Video allows so much more expression. We can now feature so much more student-made content. Yesterday we finished episode 9, but already the kids are getting the hang of it. You can check out our YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClHZH6_37RQBGzHVdrPiC5g
Now about it being the vehicle for learning. You see, by having this broadcasting studio, the students here at The Metropolitan School of Panama have access to a much broader audience than ever before. In fact, that is the whole point of it. By publishing on the web, students want to do their best work. It allows them to really raise the bar of what is possible with student produced work. Teachers will soon start to use the studio as motivate for the best possible work, because this generation loves to have their work online.
Already, with just nine episodes under our belt, I am so pleased with the work of these young students. But just you wait to see what is coming next...
#edtech #mlearning #atomiclearning
Their content library is comprised of more than 65,000 videos. So if you are wondering where to start, I can help! They have started reviewing their internal data and found some of their most frequently viewed training. This post focuses on their most commonly viewed digital content on mobile learning. What is it?
- Planning for Success: Professional development to start planning a mobile initiative. Key topics include: setting a vision, planning the infrastructure, and gaining buy-in.
- iOS 7.1 - What's New? Training: Get to know the ins and outs of your iPad in this how-to series!
- Adapting a Lesson: How can some of your favorite lessons go mobile? This course will help make sure your tried-and-true classroom experience can be enhanced when students have access to mobile devices.
- Evernote Training: Evernote is a favored tool by many educators. This how-to training will get you up to speed on how you can use the note-taking and memory-enhancing app to share your notes across devices or with others.
- Edmodo Training: Do you like the idea of bringing social media into your classroom, but don't know where to start? This content is focused on utilizing Edmodo for collaboration on assignments, sharing resources, posting polls and quizzes, and more!
When it comes to mobile initiatives, it's hard to know where to start. This list can help you find the Atomic Learning training that is useful, when you need it. Want to learn more about Atomic Learning resources? Request more information!
#edtech #atomiclearningYesterday the iBand members had to come dressed in their 80's attire ready to rock their songs. The songs sounded great and they are ready to perform and next week's Kids Can Make a Difference Festival where they are raising money for the Libraries for All organization. This festival is the culminating event for their tech badges they earned using lessons from Atomic Learning.
For my second badge I have my students work on their tech basics. These are things like how to open documents, the difference between save and save as, and how to save files to our school server. Most of my badges build upon the badge before. So as you can see, now that the students know how to use their Netbooks, now they need to know how to do work on them. I store all of the lessons (videos) on our Atomic Learning account.
I start with Netbook Basics as my first tech badge because my students need a solid understanding of how their main piece of technology works before they can do anything else. For this badge the students review all the parts of the netbook so they know what everything does, they also must know the proper name for everything. There are no "do-hickeys" or "thing-a-bobs," they must use the correct name. It is so much easier when a student comes and asks me for a VGA cable instead of; "You know that thing that connects to that other thing." Students also learn the Netbook Rules, so that we can minimize damage and mis-use. Although students would love to jump into filmmaking, first they need to know how to run what they already have. -Brad Flickinger, tech teacher, Bethke Elementary
This week I had some visitors at my school who were checking out the badges program that we use in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. They were amazed at how effective the program was, but were shocked that the students could use Atomic Learning. They thought that Atomic Learning tutorials were just for teachers.
I showed them one of the badges for Graphic Design where a student has to design an event poster for our school. They use Microsoft Publisher and in the instructions it simple says that if there is anything they do not remember or understand about using Publisher, they are to use Atomic Learning.
This is a huge time saver for me as a teacher, and if a 3rd grader can use Atomic Learning effectively, then none of us have an excuse.
#atomiclearning #edtech Atomic Learning has just released two new trainings...
In the fight between old and new, there is only one app this online training course will use: iMovie®. With the release of Mac® OS X Mavericks®, there’s a new iMovie, and it’s pretty cool. Along with some interface changes, we’ll check out how to create movies and trailers, how to use the new iMovie Theater, and the different ways to share your iMovie creations. After we cover the new stuff, look for future releases, where you’ll learn more about how to get up and running with iMovie, from importing and sorting media, to adding effects, titles, and transitions.
Mac® OS X 10.9 Mavericks® is the totally free update to Apple’s® Mac OS X operating system. In this online training series, we’ll hit on some of the most popular new features first, checking out how to use tabs in the Finder and consolidate Finder windows by merging them into tabs, as well as reading books in iBooks® for Mac, and searching for and sharing Maps locations and directions. After those bases are covered, watch for deeper dives into how to get started using Mac OS X, including using the Finder and Dock, tagging files, using Notification Center, integrating Facebook® and Twitter™ into the OS, and using Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Messages. Although many changes are subtle, the powerful Mavericks moves you one step closer to total integration with all your devices through social networking and iCloud®. Check out this series to learn how to get started.
Not an Atomic Learning subscriber? Learn more.
Is your district struggling to understand the basics of the Common Core State Standards and how to prepare students with special education needs to meet or exceed those standards? Atomic Learning's new series by Amanda Peters focuses on new challenges and opportunities presented by the Common Core for learners with disabilities. Check out the video intro below.
This course can be useful for all educators who need to understand the Common Core, not just special education teachers. It provides an overview of standards that call for technology, something every educator working on helping students reach the Common Core Standards needs to know. This training also provides helpful suggestions on assistive technology that may be used to help students with disabilities. Key ideas addressed in this video:
- Standards related to technology within the Common Core
- Preparing for assessment with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers
- English language arts assistive tech solutions
- Math practices and assistive tech solutions
This course will be available for customers subscribing to Atomic TechCore and Atomic Assist. Don't have access? Request more information about how your school can prepare students with special education needs to master the Common Core State Standards.
My friends over at Atomic learning recently added a training series that helps educators flip their classrooms. Flipped teaching has become a popular practice in which students learn new content online by watching videos, usually at home, and the classroom time then offers teachers more personalized guidance and interaction with students, instead of lecturing.
This online training series provides educators an overview of what flipped learning is and provides tips and tricks for creating videos for use when flipping a classroom. The training can be found at http://www.atomiclearning.com/flipped-classroom-training.