Teaching with iPads: PD Course

#edtech #mlearning #ipaded

As I work on my new professional development course "Teaching iPads," I have come to realize that iPads are not only good for teaching 21st-century skills but also assessing 21st-century skills. For example, during a recent lesson on the Renaissance I had students develop their 21st-century skill of communication and collaboration by working together in groups of three on one iPad as they used collaborative apps to help them plan a script for a video that they would later shoot with their iPads.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School

 

 

Summer Training Sessions on Atomic Learning Available

#edtech #edchat

"Integrating technology" is often talked about, but not always taught about... what are effective strategies for integrating technology, where's a good place to start, and how can Atomic Learning help?

Atomic Learning customers are invited to this free online training session to learn more about the key features of Atomic Learning for professional development, how-to training, and classroom tech integration. This session will cover:

- How to access just in time training

- An overview of professional development tools

- Resources to integrate today’s technology into your curriculum with one easy search

Learn how our resources can assist with all curriculum areas at each grade level, and share with you tools to enhance and build your classroom into a 21st century-rich learning environment.

Register for a session now by clicking a date below:

Mon, May 14, 2012 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM CDT

Finding Lessons with 21st Century Standards

#edtech #edchat I know that it is 12 years into the 21st Century and you would think that my lessons would be full of 21st Century Skills, but I still need help with a few lessons. So the other day when I was logged into Atomic Learning I noticed that they had an area where I could search by state standard or, hold on to your seat, by 21st Century Skills.

So I searched for the standard I was stuck on...

Use digital-imaging technology to modify or create works of art for use in a digital presentation.

Sure enough, the search came up with a few different lessons that I could do.

I had totally forgotten about PhotoStory3, so I checked out what they had and it worked perfectly with what I needed.

No. 14 on my 28 item to-do list is now done. Now if only I could get Atomic Learning to do an oil change on my car, I could get another thing done.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary

Teaching Young Students to use Technology Responsibly

#edtech #edchat #mlearning 
 

We need to prepare our students to act responsibly when the moment of stupidity arrives. We should not just hand students technology and expect them to use it responsibly. They are kids after all.

Here is a fictitious story to show my point: imagine three fifth grade students check out a Flip video camera to work on a class project during lunch recess. They want to show the principle of an arc by showing a student swinging on a swing. So here the three of them are out on the playground using their “21st Century Skills” to make an awesome little video that will help their classmates learn a new concept. The teacher back inside eating her lunch could not be prouder -- she incorporates tech into her lessons.
 
The shots get made and the three budding filmmakers go back to their regular recess play, with the Flip video camera tucked safely into one of their pockets.
 
However, a few minutes later a classmate slips in some hidden mud on the playground and she is now covered down her side in mud and crying, her pretty new jeans and jacket wrecked.
 
Grasping at the moment of opportunity, the one student with the Flip video camera starts to film the misfortune of his classmate. The mud covered girl runs inside to her teacher sobbing and humiliated. Minutes later the boy with the camera has a crowd around him as he replays the scene over and over again of the muddy girl for those who might have missed it. All the while commenting how he can't wait to get it on YouTube.
 
You can now imagine the scene over the next few hours: parents and students in the principal's office. “What were you thinking?” being said by parents, teachers, and administrators. And a young girl who never wants to come back to school. I think you get the picture.
 
How could something like this happen? What would make normally good students do something so bad?
 
Conditioning.
 
For years our children have been conditioned that if you really want to be popular with video (most views) then you need to show something embarrassing or rude. YouTube is full of these types of videos and there are even TV shows dedicated to this genre. I believe that part of teaching students how to use technology is to teach them how to use it responsibly. This goes for everything from blogging to video sharing. Aren't we all sick of people making rude comments on blogs and news stories? Don't get me wrong, I like a funny video just like the next person, but as we teach our students at our school; something is only funny if everyone involved thinks it is funny. We need to teach students that quality work can be popular too.
 
Sure there are Hollywood movies that are funny and rude and make a killing at the box office. But the movies that really move us and change us for the better are the really great movies. Funny is easy, but quality is hard. Our students can do quality work, we just need to teach them how and then expect them to do it.
 
Now back to the story fo the three fifth grade filmmaker. What can be done to prevent things like this happening in your school?
 
Here at Bethke Elementary students can only use technology without direct supervision of their teacher if they have a BETHKE STUDENT TECH PERMIT. I know it sounds very formal, but it is an easy to use document that helps to remind students to use tech responsibly. Our staff is trained that if they see a student using tech away from their teacher, they are to ask to see their permit.
 
You can see from the copy of our permit that the student must initial the statements that help them remember to use technology responsibly...
 
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Teaching Kids with iPads - Part 4 of 5

#edchat #mlearning #ipaded

Some times when I am speaking at a conference about iPads in education teachers will share a concern that they have about every student getting an iPad. They are worried than the students will just work in isolation and our society will become even more fractured and self-centered with students never learning to work together.

They imagine a room full of kids with headphones on just plugged into their iPads like a room full of zombies. I had this same concern when I started to design my lessons that used iPads. I made sure that most of the lessons involved team work and collaboration (a 21st century skill).

Take a look at these photos for proof.

How do you know so much about filmmaking?

#edtech #edchat #FETC After my recent presentation at FETC, I got the usual question, "How do you know so much about filmmaking?" My answer is simple, "Atomic Learning."

Years ago when I first wanted my elementary kids to make their own movie I turned to the Video Story Telling Guide at Atomic Learning. Back then we barely had anything -- a flip video camera, a tripod and our school had a subscription to Atomic Learning. That was it, but it was plenty enough to make a movie. The first movie I made was "Dude! Where's My Pencil?" Thanks to what I learned about filmmaking from the video tutorials I found on Atomic Learning, So began on my path to student filmmaking and I haven't looked back since.

I look at the lessons on Atomic Learning as just tools that help me get to where I want to be as a 21st Century educator. Since my first film, I moved on into podcasting with young students, and many other projects. Projects that help my students become better prepared for the modern world that they live in. Projects that I was able to do because of the lessons I found on Atomic Learning.

The latest thing I had to take on was the iPad, more and more students are using them and I want to make sure I was ahead of the curve so I turned back to Atomic Learning and did a search for iPad and I got 192 lessons! I scanned the lessons and soon for the ones that I needed to stay ahead of my kids.

At a modern educator I need every tool that helps me stay on top of my profession, so it is nice that I don't have to go all over the web looking for help.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School

Harnessing the Power of Autonomy

#edtech #edchat

One of my favorite books is Daniel Pink's Drive: the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. And speaking of motivation, I was movitated to read his book after watching the animation of a talk he gave. I must have watched that video three or four times before getting online and ordering his book, and after devoring his book my mind kept thinking, "How can I use these ideas in my classroom?"

One of the real big things that stuck in my mind was the idea of autonomy -- or having the freedom to choose how we do something. He explains how this can be one of the biggest reasons why people succeed at a given task. The problem was that when I went back through my lesson plans I didn't see any autonomy for my students. Every one of them were step-by-step tech projects. So over the summer I started to revamp some of my lessons to include student autonomy.

Take for example my fourth grade U.S. Constitution Podcast project. The original lesson plan was very rigid on how students were suppose to do things. But after my autonomy re-do I had changed a few parts to "student choice." Students were now free to choose to do their podcast on whatever part of the Constitution they chose rather than being assigned. They then were free to choose their own characters and story line.

I have to admit, it was a little more chaotic to watch them work on this project, and at first they were lost with this new found freedom. "So I can do my podcast on anything I want?" But once they got used to a little "structured" freedom they did way better this year on the project.

If creativity is a 21st Century Skill that we want our students to develop, then how could they possible develop this skill without the freedom to choose for themselves how they do certain parts of a project? So take a chance and add a few elements of autonomy to your lessons, cross your fingers, give a little guidance and advice and then be prepared to be shocked by what your students do.

U.S. Constitution Team 3

 

 

 

Learning.com Review: EasyTech

#edtech #edchat #elearning

For years I have been all alone in teaching my elementary students about the world of technology, I've made all my own lessons from scratch as I tried my best to give my students the tech skills that they so desperately need in this new world of the 21st Century.

That was all perfect until I came across Learning.com this summer at the ISTE conference in Philadelphia. I just wandered into their booth drawn by the free candies that they prominently displayed at the back of the booth. "Candy," I thought in my head, saying it like I was Homer Simpson. I was just inches away from my reward when I was approached by a rep from Learning.com who asked me if I would like a demonstration of their products.

Busted!

I was beat and needed to sit down so I agreed.

The first product they showed me was their web based tech training for elementary students called EasyTech.

"This should be good," I sarcastically thought to myself believing that I had the best tech lessons on the planet..

I watched as they demonstrated how easy it was for students to log on and then follow along with an animated lesson about certain tech subject.

Learning.com blew me away with EasyTech.

Animated Lessons

Learning.com EasyTech

The lesson I watched was done with a cool animated character named Lukas Blackwell, a young rocker who is on a european tour and wants to stay connected to his friends and fans so he starts his own blog. I was pleasantly shocked at how much detail this little lesson covered, they really went into all of the deeper aspects of blogging, not forgetting to cover Internet safety all along the way.

The animation and narration of EasyTech is top notch and it is not just a "sit and watch" lesson, on every other slide the student needs to interact with the lesson to make sure that they are understanding the content that is being presented. Learning.com has got strong academics backing these lessons -- something that caught my eye from the first of the demo.

Here is a link to the same lesson on blogging that I saw at their booth in Philadelphia.

http://www.learning.com/easytech/

Just click on the Curriculum link and then Grades 6-8 Sample.

Offline Work

The other half of the EasyTech program are the lesson plans for teachers to use once the online lesson is over. This is usually a PDF that has it all spelled out for the teacher. Here is a quote from the blogging assignment:

In this activity, students create and respond to blogs as they read and write about literature. To begin, the class is divided into two teams. Each team brainstorms prompts about the current reading and theme for the other team. The teams then break into pairs to respond to the prompts in their blogs. Students post blog entries in first person as one of the main characters, and respond to other students blogs in their own voices. In a culminating project, students watch a modern-day movie version of the literary work and blog a final movie review essay that compares and contrasts the movie to the original work and provides a movie review.

Learning.com's EasyTech is a fee-based subscription service that is for the K-8 market. They also offer other products like: Aha!Science and Aha!Math, which I will review at a later date.

Here are some photos of my students using Learning.com's EasyTech on their netbooks:

EasyTech lessons are aligned with the ISTE NETS-S standards (something that I strongly believe in), and that they are available in both Spanish and English.

What really ticks me off about this particular EasyTech lesson on blogging is that I worked for years to develop and refine my own blogging lesson and in the end I didn't cover half of what was covered by Learning.com And what really hurts is how my kids think that the rocker character "Lukas Blackwell" is so much cooler than me.

I should have never fell for the candy!

- Brad Flickinger, Bethke Elementary School

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Teaching Tech at my Summer Academy

#edtech



This past January I got the strange idea to start a Summer Academy at my elementary school, I wanted a chance to step outside of the regular curriculum and do something different with my students -- take some chances. It wasn't long before I had my principal on board and the wheels were in motion.



The first thing I had to do was to decide what courses I was going to offer, I remember my mind filling with cool, new and techie ideas. Today I would like to tell you about two of them...



LEGO Animation: I did a little research online and it turns out that this is a really big thing with a lot of people -- there are websites dedicated to this so it was easy for me to get up to speed with the art of stop-frame animation. I then went to Toy-R-Us and picked up the LEGO series called Pharaoh's Quest (6 different sets) because it looked fun and I felt that we could come up with a great "Indiana Jones" type of a story for my students to tell. I then built 4 sets to be used for filming, painted some back-drops and bought the software called SAM Animation.



LEGO Mayan Adventure: this course I based on the book with the same title by James Floyd Kelly. His book follows the story of a boy named Evan who is with his uncle at an archeology dig site. The book has different challenges to solve with LEGO NXT robots to get to the next level of the Mayan temple. To do this right I took a trip to my local lumber yard and ended up building some sets for these challenges, I then painted them to look authentic so that my students would really get into the story.



The Summer Academy starts next Monday, so I will take lots of photos and keep you posted on how my students do. I am excited about the possibilities of the 21st century skills that my students will gain from these courses. Besides, how can you beat playing with LEGOs all day?

Blended Learning is the Best of Both Worlds

#edtech #edchat #elemchat This past week I started to facilitate another blended learning course about integrating 21st Century Skills into the classroom. Blended learning, if you don’t already know, is a little online instruction mixed with a little offline (or traditional) instruction.

Let me explain a little bit about how the course I am facilitating works…

Participants, which in this case are teachers from a district in Washington State, sign up for the course which has a specific start date. They get a welcome email and a “kick-off” conference call to let everyone know that the course has begun. Then the participants are on their own for the first part to gain the background knowledge for the course.

In this case, they are learning about 21st Century Skills. There is some reading, some video to watch on YouTube and some tutorials to watch on Atomic Learning. During each part of the course the participants use a cycle of Learn – Do – Share.

Learn – they learn a new concept like what a Personal Learning Network is.

Do – they set up a Twitter account and find 10 people to follow.

Share – they then share things that they have learned in the course forum so that other participant can learn from what they have done.

Description unavailable

Two weeks after the course begins, I come to the school in person to meet with the participants face to face. We talk about the things that they have learned and then put them into practice. This is more like a traditional workshop except for one big advantage – all of us are on the same page because of the work that has been done in the previous two weeks.

The course concludes with a little homework where they get to apply in their classroom what they have learned in the course.

To me and my students (teachers) blended learning truly is the best of both worlds.

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Teachers Liable for Student's Online Work?

#edtech #edchat #elearning #elemchat Are teachers liable for the work that students post online as part of a class project?

The other day I got a tweat from a colleague asking me if teachers are liable for the online work that students do? She had overheard a teacher union rep tell a teacher, "Never allow your students to put things online -- because you can be held liable for it."

There went the baby and the bath water.

Just to be clear, I am not talking about things that students do online that are not connected to school. Things like Facebook and such that are not part of school work and have no connection to the teacher are not relevant for what we are talking about here. What I am talking about is student's online work that is part of a classroom project.

Here is an example...

Let's say you start an 8th grade classroom blog about the Civil War. You have each student start their own blog account with, let's say Blogger, and then you start each student blogging about the Civil War as you give them weekly assignments. Soon your students are having a great time blogging and commenting on each other's blogs and you feel like a great teacher -- giving your students 21st Century Skills.  A few weeks into the project you are asked to come to the principal's office to meet with some angry parents who have just found out that their daughter has been cyberbullied by students in your class with posts that they have made on their blogs, their Civil War blogs. Or should I say -- your Civil War blogs. They threaten to sue the school and you.

What do you do?

Does that mean we should never allow online classroom projects?

Here is what I think about it...

I think of student using the Internet like students using power tools, let me explain.

  1. Get Parent Permissions: I would never allow students to use dangerous power tools without getting their parent's permission. So do the same with online projects. Send home a parent permission slip explaining the project and the risks that are involved. Invite the parents to be involved with online projects.
  2. Educate the Students: Don't let a student use a table saw without explaining how it works and the safety rules. Train your students how to properly do work online, teach them about Internet Safety and how to be good digital citizens. Teach them about the rules -- spell them out for them so they clearly understand. The school I teach at has a very clear policy on cyberbulling and my kids know it.
  3. Monitor Student Work: Watching students with power tools, keep them following the rules. Make sure to check in on what your students are doing online. Comment on their blogs, let them know you are watching and taking care of them online -- just like if they were on a field trip. Don't allow them to wander off and do other things, keep them close and focused on the project.

This is just simple "due diligence" on the part of the teacher when it comes to online classroom projects, this will keep you and your school out of a lot of how water. And most importantly, it can save a student from getting hurt online.

What do you think?

 

 

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What's For Breakfast? Atomic Learning Project

#edtech #edchat #elearning Today I would like to tell you about an incredible project I did with my 5th grade students last year. Like many of you, I was struggling to find great tech projects that are full of 21st Century Skills, to solve this I turned to Atomic Learning. Soon I was searching through their ready-made lessons that are full of 21st Century Skills. It wasn't long before I found a project that was age and tech appropriate for my students.

The project was called "What's for breakfast?" and here is the description from the Atomic Learning website:

This project promotes health literacy and supports awareness of global health issues, through the exploration of how to make sound nutritional choices about the foods we eat for breakfast. The example project shown here was created using Excel 2007; however, any spreadsheet application would work just as well. We will be creating a spreadsheet to track and compare three breakfast menus. We will begin by searching for and evaluating Web resources about nutrition. After we input nutritional data into our spreadsheet, we will compare the nutritional value of different choices through the use of graphs and charts.
Can you see why I loved it? It had everything I was looking for -- global awareness, spreadsheet skills, and 21st Century Skills.
 
After a few quick modifications to their lesson plan I was up and running -- teaching my students 21st Century Skills. The students loved the project and I can't wait to teach it again this year (I'll start in mid-March).
 

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Implementing Atomic Learning: Day 1 - #edtech

Last week I got the email back from Atomic Learning saying that all of my teachers have been added to their database. It took them less than 24 hours from when I sent in my list of teachers and email addresses to being up and running. They said it might take three days, so I love it when a company gets things done quicker than expected. Tom, my rep with Atomic Learning, sent me an email that outlined how to get things started with my teachers. I had to put all of this aside for a week while I got through the rush of back to school, but now my classes have starting to flow smoothly so I can shift my focus back to Atomic Learning.

So the first thing I did this afternoon after I logged in was to go to the Support section and then to Getting Started. I found toturials and training on how to implement Atomic Learning in my school. Tom did a good job with his training so I sailed through the video tutorials.

The next thing I did was print out the 21st Century Skills Professional Develpment Worksheet. It is a simple one page worksheet that took me less than 5 minutes to fill out. I probably could have breezed through the worksheet in 90 seconds, but I want to do this right, so I spend a little time on each question to makes sure that I knew where I wanted all of this to go. The worksheet asked questions like: "Who will participate in the program?"

Next up; a poster to promote using Atomic Learning. I printed up a bunch of their ready-made full-color posters and filled in blanks with my school's information. I am planning on putting one of these in each teacher's mailbox on Monday.

The final thing that I did today was to open on of their sample emails to introduce Atomic Learning to teachers. I copied it and I am planning on emailing it to every teacher this Monday morning. I decided that Friday afternoon is not a good time to introduce and new idea to tired teachers.

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Student: I Hope I Get a Great Teacher This Year - #edtech #teaching

Last week when our family was returning back from the annual pilgrimage to Walmart for back to school supplies I over heard my two teenage children talking in the back seat of the car. At first they were discussing all the new binders and pens they had just got but then my daughter said a really interesting thing.

Wal-Mart location in Moncton
Image via Wikipedia

"I hope I get a great teacher this year," she said.

"Yeah, me too," my son replied.

As a teacher, that hit me hard. Are my two children the only ones who think this way? Or are children all over our country hoping for the same thing? Do our students really start off each school year hoping to get a great teacher?

And now for even tougher questions...

Am I going to be a great teacher this year?

How to I become a great teacher?

Can I be a great teacher for all students?

I hope you noticed that my children didn't hope for the fun teacher or a goofy teacher or a let-you-get-away-with-anything teacher -- instead, they want a great teacher. You see, both my children were in the same math class last year, and they experienced what it is like to truly have a great teacher. This math teacher is so passionate about her subject that it become infectious to her students, both of my children love math now because of a great teacher. And now they want more.

As an elementary tech teacher, I want to be that great teacher. I want my students to be excited about school technology as I am, I want them to develop life-long 21st Century Skills that will help them in a future that I cannot even pretend to understand.

Let's do it! Let's all be great teachers!

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Teachers Must Do a Tech Inventory - #edtech #elearning #teaching

When it comes to teachers and integrating technology, it is all about what you have -- not what you don't have. But some teachers get hung up on the later. "But I don't have any Flip video cameras at my school, so my students can't make movies."

BERLIN - SEPTEMBER 04:  Visitors look at minia...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Teachers need to do a tech inventory to see what is available for them when they go to integrate technology into their lessons and projects.

There are three specific areas that teachers must do a technology inventory...

  1. The Classroom: Write down every piece of technology you have in your classroom. ie: teacher's computer, one student computer, tv, etc.
  2. The School: Now go and find all the technology in your school. ie: 1 laptop cart with 28 laptops, 5 digital cameras, computer lab with 32 computers, student response system (clickers), etc.
  3. The District: Some districts have technology just lying around for teachers to check-out. ie: video cameras, USB microscopes, etc.

Now that is a list you can work with! Now you can begin to integrate technology into your lessons and projects.

And for the teacher that said she doesn't have any Flip video cameras, it turned out that she could just use the 5 digital cameras in her school in "movie mode" to record video or check-out a video camera from the district. And she thought her students couldn't make movies.

Let's not fall into the trap of thinking; "I would teach my students 21st Century Skills and technology, but I just don't have the equipment." Look around you, you might be surprised at how much technology is in your classroom, school, and district.

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As they say in Singapore "Teach Less, Learn More." - #edtech

Yesterday while I was re-reading 21st Century Skills by Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel I came across a section that I had highlighted the first time I had read the book but I had forgotten. The selection I highlighted was about how Singapore was very successful in updating and modernizing their educational system. They had chosen to focus on 21st Century Skills as the backbone to their overhaul.

The deputy director of Curriculum Policy and Pedagogy, Tay Lai Ling, is quoted as saying:

We have come a long way in changing our teaching and learning methods, but our teachers and students still have farther to go. We have a new slogan at the Ministry that will hopefully encourage further change. The new slogan is "Teach Less, Learn More."

After reading this quote I really started thinking about their slogan. What the crud does it mean to teach less and learn more?

What it means to me is that teachers need to slide over from being just the teacher and take on more of a role as coach and trainer. Which got me really thinking about the new curriculum I have designed for my school technology class for this upcoming year. I started to look at each lesson through the eyes of teaching less -- what I started to see was amazing. Soon I was scribbling notes on my lesson plans, ideas that would allow my students more freedom to direct their own learning. Less time with me lecturing and more time with me helping to "direct" their learning.

What can "Teach Less, Learn More" do for you?

#edtech - 21st Century Skills need 21st Century Assessment

When teachers shift to teaching 21st Century Skills in a more student-centric learning environment, they need to rethink the idea of assessment -- or testing to see if students are understanding what they are suppose to be learning. In fact, 21st Century Skills should replace the need for tests and examinations as we know them. The reason we have tested students in the past is to not only determine the extent to which students have understood a given subject to see if they should move on, but also to compare a student to their classmates to see where they might "rank" in their classroom.

The problem with this system is lag-time. The time it takes from when the student takes the assessment to when the grade is given. Days, if not weeks, have pasted and the students have all moved on regardless of the results of the assessment. What I like about project-based learning and 21st Century Skills is that most of this lag-time problem is eliminated. Using school technology in student assessment is one of the great keys to success in our future classrooms and schools.

Take for example; learning to add fractions in the fourth grade. When 21st Century Skills like creativity an innovation are added to the process, problems like lag-time are reduced. In this case students were taught the concept of adding fractions with a simple computer game using slices of pizza. A computer game which gave the students IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK, they knew instantly wether or not they understood the concept and the game would not let them move on until they had mastered the skill. After the initial concept was understood the students then had to create their own video game to teach about adding fractions using the Scratch programming language. So instead of just the vain repetition of adding fraction problems on a worksheet, students kept practicing the skill of adding fractions as they tested their video game, and as they tested each others (communication and collaboration).

So the point is that as we think of teaching 21st Century Skills to our students, we need to always be thinking about 21st Century assessment as well. The two are dove-tailed together.

#edtech - School Technology Survey Shows Slow Growth

The recent Vision K-12 survey given by Software and Information Industry Association shows only a margin of growth by our schools in our students acquiring 21st Century Skills (overall less than a 1% improvement). This got me thinking about my own elementary school and how we would fair in this survey. The survey tracks five different areas of school technology progress by using 20 questions to get a national average of what is happening in our schools with regards to technology and 21st Century Skills. I now want to take a lot at each area to see how my school might fit it.

21st Century Learning Tools: We have worked hard this past year to embed and integrate 21st Century Skills into our lessons. This next year we plan to use Atomic Learning to help fill in any gaps that our teachers might have in their general tech skills. (My score: B+)

Anytime/Anywhere Access to Technology: We are really fortunate in my school that all of our students have access to computers at home. And since we have moved over to using Google Docs, our students can now get to their work from any computer in the world with Internet access. (My score: A)

Differentiated Learning: The teachers in my school have a strong focus on differentiated instruction, it is part of our teaching culture -- so we have no problem with this one. (My score: A)

Assessment Tools: In the past we have done nothing but now that we have subscribed to Atomic Learning we have access to both their teacher and student 21st Century Skills assessment so we hope that this one will be improving this next year. (My score: F)

Enterprise Support: I am going to interpret this area as the support systems for both teachers and students learning these edtech skills. We are working hard in my school to make sure that teachers have access to online professional development that they can access anytime or anywhere that they need, as well as good one on one training to ensure that they use their current classroom technology correctly -- like SmartBoards and document cameras.

Admittedly, I do not have access to the real 20 questions, but the survey did cause me to pause and reflect upon my own school and plan for some improvements.

What do you think of this survey and how would you score your own school?

Teaching Creativity Through Projects

Today I would like to focus my blog post on what I believe is the best what to teach 21st Century Skills and school technology to our students -- projects. The school I taught at before coming to my current school was a PBL or Project-Based Learning school. This meant that most of the concepts and skills that were being taught to students were part of a larger projects -- students love to learn this way. Although most schools really do work this way, this school had made it part of it's formal identity. Just to be clear, my current school teaches a lot through projects as well.

Here is a rough idea at how project-based learning works...

Step One: Define -- give your students a real-world problem or process and ask them to make things better, easier, faster, cheaper, more effective or more enjoyable. This is usually done through a question. For example, in fifth grade this coming year my question might be: "If you lived during the Renaissance, what would you have done to get your work noticed? So that people would be talking about your work hundreds of years later."

Step Two: Plan -- students need to take time to understand information about the subject, through study and research students can use school technology to be better equipped to answer the above question.

Step Three: Do -- using different techniques students then do the project, in the case of the Renaissance question, I will ask my students to produce a podcast.

Step Four: Review -- student finish the project by reviewing each others work and by posting their projects online for the world to see.

If has been my experience that project-based learning can be one of the best ways to teach 21st Century Skills and technology to our students. Rather than just teaching them a random skill like how to edit audio -- just make learning the skill part of a much larger project.