Hello everyone, my name is Brad Flickinger, with SchoolTechnology.Org - and welcome to Step 4, which is “Determine Grade-Level Artifacts”. So thank you for sticking with us through this series. I hope that it has been an enjoyable and an educational experience for you, because we have really enjoyed putting it together on our side.
So let’s get right into these grade-level artifacts. Before we show the actual digital artifacts, we need to understand this Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy - and there is a link in our Resource Section on this page that will take you to this so you can really see it up close. But basically, Bloom’s Taxonomy was all about this higher level of thinking; going from a low level to a high level. Well, the Digital Taxonomy is from just basic level of remembering things digitally, to actually the top one is “Creating things”. So really think “creating”; that is the making a Podcast, and making a blog, and a Wiki. Really creating digital products is the highest level on Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. So this is just fantastic, the things that we are going to be talking about.
Now, before we actually pick the grade-level artifacts, we determine what skills are the priority for our building. And you will be doing more of this in the actual Action Guide - and that is below this video here.
So I just want to introduce what these concepts were; and then you are going to actually do them. So, in my building, I had to come up with the priorities first for the students. And the number one priority was keyboarding. Now, I teach at an Elementary school; so K through 5, the number one priority when they graduate Fifth Grade and go on to Middle School is they have got to keyboard well, because it is no longer taught in Middle School or High School, and they need to be great keyboarders to be able to do all their work.
Now, also they need to be excellent at word processing. So much of the work they do - both in the business world, when they graduate school, but also academically - is with a word processor: writing reports, doing those types of things. So they need to really know their way around inside of a word processor.
We also felt it was a great priority for them to be great at presenting ideas; to be good at influencing their colleagues, their fellow students on different ideas and concepts. So we wanted them to be great presenters. And that, again, will play well when they go off into Middle School.
They should have a general understanding of how email works so they can correspond one with another - not a lot, since we only really bring it in in Fourth and Fifth Grade; but, you know, how to forward an email, how to reply to an email, how to use a list - those types of things.
And then also they need to be excellent at doing online research: how to use multiple sources when they do research, and how to find the credibility of a website; to pull information out of it. They need to be great experts at online research for when they go off into higher levels of school.
Now, you notice that we didn’t talk yet about anything like creating a Podcast or anything with those students - because that comes later; that is the actual digital artifacts. These are just the skills that were a priority for our students.
Now, for our teachers, in my building and in our District, their priorities are a little bit different. The number one priority is that they obviously should know how to use the District email so they can get correspondence from their Principal and their Superintendent and those types of things. So that is pretty easy; most people generally have an understanding of how to use email. So a couple of little tweaks on how the District email works - but it is pretty easy to do.
Now, second - and this is a really high priority to us - is that they need to be expert (well, not expert) but they need to really be I guess fluent in using Atomic Learning, because we use Atomic Learning for all of our other training. So rather than having to spend tech hours in having to sit down with somebody and say, “Okay, this is how you do this in a presentation software; this is how you create a Ning” or these types of things, they just go to Atomic Learning, they search for it; and then they might watch a two-minute video or a three-minute tutorial on how to do something. And that is where we have got the big savings from, as far as man hours and time, being able to do it. And they can do it from home, or wherever.
So we give them a great lesson on how to be great Atomic Learning subscribers. So they can go in, and they can find information quickly; find 21st century lessons if they want them, and how to adapt them to their own classroom and their own students. So we give them a course on how to be great at using Atomic Learning; because when we spend a few minutes on that, we save hours on the other side - so we don’t have to take the calls saying, you know, “How do I do this?” or “How does this happen?” So we make them really good at that.
We also make sure that teachers know how to use all their current classroom techs: so if they have a document camera, they know how to use it; or a projector, or a laptop - those type of things… an interactive whiteboard. We make sure that if they have it in their classroom they know the ins and outs of using it so we are not wasting anybody’s money.
We also make sure the teachers have a classroom website that is effective, and that they maintain; and which teachers, and parents, and students all use. So we really sit down with them, make sure that they have a great website.
And also that they have the Google Docs Account set up, which is an excellent collaborative tool between teacher and student, and teacher and parents, and teachers and teachers, teachers and principals - all these people collaborate. And the reason why we picked this photograph is that you can do it from home; suddenly you can be on there and you can be working with a fellow teacher; or taking a look at a student’s work - all just so easy because it is all just in the Google Docs cloud. And that is what is fantastic.
We also ask our teachers to have an ePals account. And they don’t use it a lot; they use it only a few times a year. But they all connect with a classroom from, say, Venezuela, and they will do like a poetry project. And it really helps their students think outside of their own little suburb or their own little State, and really think more globally, because they have this fellow classroom somewhere else in the world that they look up and, you know, they can see all this stuff about them.
Which also brings us to this point here: is that teachers need to understand how to use Google Earth; because so many of the things that they might talk about will have some type of geographical I guess twist to it. So, you know, you are talking about kangaroos, and it is like, “Okay, well let’s put it up on the big screen and let’s see where Australia is” - and so the kids really get a relationship about where they are currently on the earth, and where other things have happened - whether in the past or are happening right now - those things, they are great. So we give them a rundown on how to use Google Earth effectively.
So that kind of covers what the teachers need to know in my building, and the students. Now, these are the priorities that I thought of, working with teachers and watching what is going on there. And you are going to have to do the same thing. And we are going to talk about that in the Action Guide.
Now, try to limit your bias. Don’t be going, “Well I love spreadsheets - let’s make sure everybody does spreadsheets!” Well, no, I mean we don’t work in spreadsheets in Elementary School because we looked at the reality of that and said “No.” We touch a little bit on it in Fifth Grade, but not very much time is spent on that. So really try to limit your bias and not be headstrong one way or another - but try to be best for the student.
I am sorry if I am going through this rather quickly, but we have a lot of slides to cover in this compressed little ten-minute slot that we have to talk about here.
So, next thing I do is I assign those grade-level artifacts. I am going to show you what those look like right now. And understand that learning always follows interest, and interest always follows fun - especially when we are talking about students. So I try to make these ideas seem as fun and as great as possible, because then they REALLY want to do them. And that kind of drove me when I came up with these ideas, working with teachers, to what the digital artifacts were going to be.
So in Kindergarten they create a digital drawing; and then it goes all the way up to Fifth Grade where they do a documentary video - and I want to kind of show you a photograph of each one of these things to give you an idea. So here are some examples of these lessons.
So here we are. Kindergarten: he is doing - it looks like it is a Big C / Little c; and he is drawing I think that must be a cat, a cake, a car and possibly a cookie on there. But they are doing digital drawing; they are learning how to draw on a computer - and it’s great. And so they will have a whole Alphabet book when they are done at Kindergarten.
The students in First Grade start right off into using a document; and so this student is just working on a little document - look how relaxed he is, like, “Yes, you know, I’m just putting a document together here, in First Grade.” And so they start being able to press the Enter button, and Bold something, and Shift to get a capital of something; and so they really start working inside documents.
And then in Second Grade they do a slideshow to start getting their skills on being great presenters - and that is very important to us.
And you have got to understand that all of these projects involve all of those skills we talked about: so it will involve the keyboarding skill, the word processing skill, the presenting skill - all of those things that we felt were very important, every one of these digital artifacts is just dripping with those skills in it; as well as all those 21st century skills, of being creative and collaborative and all those things.
So in Third Grade they create a book. In Fourth Grade they do a Podcast. And in Fifth Grade they do a documentary video.
Okay, so that just gives you an idea of where everything is at in my building.
So in the next thing, in the Action Guide, we are going to talk about that plan that I use, that I just keep repeating over and over again with my teachers, on how to really get these skills into everyday lessons and those types of things. But you, as the tech person for your building, need to come up with what the skill priorities are, and also what the digital artifacts should be; and then work with your teachers to build those. So that is what we are going to be talking about in the Action Guide, is how you can do that.
So I will see you in one more video down, and we will get going on the Action Guide.
The Action Guide
Alright! Welcome to the Action Guide for Step 4, which is “Determine Grade-Level Artifacts”. Now, I am not going to lie to you: this Step is going to take a lot of time. There is a lot of work to do in this Step and I hope that you (it has been building up to this) that you have been doing all the other things from the other parts of the Action Guides from the three previous Steps. And what we have said before is don’t go on unless you have done it - because nothing is going to make sense.
So I hope that you have ordered those books from Amazon and you have kind of looked through them, because in the upcoming lessons we are going to be doing actual chapter assignments. I hope that you have been participating in the Nings, and got a quote from Atomic Learning.
And it is because, you know, I use Atomic Learning to split myself up, you know, twenty-two different ways, so that I can get all this work done; so that I am not having to sit down individually with each teacher and say “Okay, this is how you can adapt this 21st century lesson; this is how you need to do to make a Ning” - those type of things. It is so valuable to what we do that I hope you have gotten a quote back on it so you understand, you know, where it can fit in with the budget in your school. And it is Brad’s, you know, “lazy way of getting it all done” - but it is also the only way that I can comprehend that it gets done.
Okay, I have got my notes here, and I have also got my slide editor up on the screen, so we can kind of review where we are at.
The first thing you need to do is determine your skills priority for your school or your building or your District. And, you know, don’t put this out to committee after committee; I mean, maybe bring in a couple of colleagues that you trust and can work with, that you respect - and you really come up with… I mean, most of this is just logic; which is why you don’t want to be having too many little fingers in the cake here!
So when I looked at it for my Elementary School, these are the ones that came up:
- word processing
- online research.
And I think most people will agree with that; and maybe add or subtract one or two things. But, you know, I don’t have on there “spreadsheets”! That is going to be done in Middle School, okay? It is not a big priority for me.
So you have got to look at also the age of your students and say “What are the most important skills these students leave my building with?” And put them out into the workforce. And we are not talking the 21st century skills, because those are going to be all mixed in - so creativity and collaboration - those types of things will all get mixed into it. These are the actual skills sets that are today.
And then also determine what the skills are for your teachers. What has been bugging you about what the teachers can and cannot do? And that is really where we came up with this other list, saying, well, you know:
they have got to know how to do District email
they have got to know how to use Atomic Learning
they have got to know how to use everything in their classroom
Those type of things. And that is really our priority. And these things change from year to year. They have got to be very fluid because it is hard to predict - and we try to go as broad as possible to make them more universal, so it is not just like a “flavor of the month” - but you have also, every summer, got to take a look at it and say, “You know what? We don’t use ePals any more; let’s cross that off the list and use the new XYZ system that has replaced it” or whatever. So really reevaluate each one every summer so that you are always staying fresh.
So that is assignment number one: you sit down and you look at both your students and teachers; and bring in, like I said, some trusted colleagues - and you come up with these priorities.
Now let me scroll down here to the other part, when it comes to grade-level artifacts. Okay. Now, keeping in mind the idea of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, which creating is the highest level of thinking; also keeping in mind the “Six 21st Century Skills” as published by ISTE, I really - and these also are very fluid, so they change from year to year - but these are the things that we work on in our building and these are the things the students work on almost for the year; they work towards these culminating activities.
And sometimes we cut ourselves off short, because the kids LOVE to do big projects - and then they want to share it with the world. And sometimes they just share it with their teacher. Well, I’ve got to tell you; these things are shared with the world! So if you want to see some of these things, I have got a link down in “Resources” for the website that showcases my students’ work; and it is called HighTechElementarySchool.com. Go there and check out their Podcasting and those types of things. Because we are going to be putting more and more of this online; and you are going to be blown away by the things these kids are able to do. So go check that out.
And so this is what we have really come up with; with working, you know, kind of, KIND OF with the teachers, you know; and it is not that I want to force this on them but, you know, the teachers don’t know the tech stuff like you and I know it! And sometimes they get nervous, like “Wait a minute - you want me to do a documentary video?” Well, the thing is, what we do is we take out the old “assessment” idea; so, maybe they are going to study the Renaissance - and the old way was for them to take a test. Well, we take that part out and we say, “Well, let’s add a new assessment in there: let’s have them do a documentary video on the Renaissance. And here is the rubric you can follow; I’ll take care of the boot camp that will train them how to use the little inexpensive video cameras; and we can do all this - and it’s great!”
And it ends up the teachers love it, the students love it - it is unbelievable and it is just great to do!
So that is the second part. And it is a lot of work to do. But you have got to sit down and say, “Okay, what is age appropriate? And what is going to make it fun, for the students to want to do; easy for the teachers to be able to take care of and manage?” And also “Is it affordable for your building?” You have got to look at that as well. And so those are the things you have got to look at, saying, “Okay, what is the big culminating event, or the digital artifact for each Grade to make?
So those are the two big parts to the Action Guide.
Now, there are other things in here that I want you to do - let me just refer to my notes here. I am going to have a couple of blogs listed in here that I want you to bookmark and start to follow. And so those are listed just down in the Action Guide part. As well as two videos I want you to go see. And they will kind of get you pumped-up a little bit. Maybe you have seen these before; you know, there are some pretty good propaganda about bringing technology into schools, and some pretty interesting things to kind of get you going. So go take a look at that.
There are a couple of other things; I am going to move those over to maybe another day or another Step, so that you aren’t too overwhelmed with what you have got going on right here.
So, get that done: figure out your skills priorities; figure out your grade-level artifacts; and then check out these blogs and these two videos - and that should probably keep you busy!
So I will see you in Step 5.
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