How do you envision technology in your classroom?
How do you utilize technology with your students to promote deeper learning, critical thinking, and creativity?
How do you see technology enhancing your teaching goals?
Technology is transformative. It is more than an instructional tool. Teachers need to decide for themselves the technology tools they should use for instruction to benefit student learning. Today is about understanding the possibilities and gaining more knowledge for teachers to embed technology more fluidly into their daily classroom practices and curriculum.
Where better to help answer these questions, learn from edtech leaders, and be inspired to integrate technology in meaningful and creative ways to support our students as learners and digital citizens than the International Society for Technology Education Conference (#ISTE17).
This year, #ISTE17 was held in San Antonio, Texas with 18,000 attendees and more than 5,000 edtech companies, start ups, and industry leaders (Google, Microsoft, Apple). The conference was jam packed for five days of workshops, panels, key notes, playgrounds, poster sessions, and exhibitors.
Here are five key ideas, themes, and takeaways I found dominating the event:
3. Maker Everything. Makerspace is here to stay and it is only getting bigger. Makerspace is not just tinkering but teachers are using it as a way for students to deepen their understanding of a concept, lesson, and idea. Makerspace does not have to be a stand alone club or activity, many educators shared their integration of maker space across the curriculum.
One of the coolest Makerspace ideas I saw at a poster session was shared by Heather Lister and Michelle Griffith of Brannen Elementary in Brazosport ISD. Their poster session was jam packed with maker space ideas, suggested supplies, challenge cards, and project examples. Heather shared a World War II Map of Allied and Axis Powers that could light up with copper sticker tape and LED circuit stickers.
4, Next Generation Learning NOT 21st Century Learning. Let’s eliminate the saying 21st Century Learning. What does that mean, anyway? It is 2017 and we are almost 20 years into the 21st Century. Here are 8 habits of Next Generation Teachers as defined by Andrew Churches. How would you rate yourself?
Adapting the curriculum and the requirements to teach to the curriculum in imaginative ways.
Being visionary and look ideas and envisage how they would use these in their class.
Collaborating to enhance and captivate our learners. We, too, must be collaborators; sharing, contributing, adapting and inventing.
Taking risks, having a vision of what you want and what the technology can achieve, identify the goals and facilitate the learning. Use the strengths of the digital natives to understand and navigate new products, have them teach each other.
Learning and continue to absorb experiences and knowledge to stay current.
Communicating and fluent in tools and technologies that enable communication and collaboration.
Modeling behavior that we expect from our students.
Leading is crucial to the success or failure of any project.
5. Sketchnote It & BookSnap It, Blog It, Podcast It, Vlog It. Because we live in a visually rich digital culture there are so many different ways to share, reflect, and show our understanding and learning. People are sharing through Twitter, Instagram, Podcasts, Blogs, and Videocasts. Sketchnoting and BookSnaps are additional ways to help present learning and thinking. Sylvia Duckworth shared a Sketchnotes for Educators Workshop at a playground session I attended and Tara M. Martin, Booksnaps founder, presented an Ignite Session on Booksnaps for learning. Sketchnoting is a great tool that I have shared with my students to showcase their learning and understanding. In the new school year, I will offer Booksnaps as an option for students to share their reading and thinking about a text. The booksnap below was created by Tara M. Martin.
ISTE, Capstone, Amplify & School Library Journal are collaborating and hosting a webinar on how to leverage technology to help new and struggling readers.
I am honored to be part of this panel discussion along with
K.C. Boyd, Lead Librarian, East St.Louis (IL) School District
Cynthia Merrill, Literacy Consultant
and Moderator, Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor, School Library Journal
During the webinar I will be sharing strategies and technology tools to aid struggling readers.
Technology tools that I use in my classroom to help support the diverse readers in my classroom include the reading platform Actively Learn. Actively Learn is an online tool with a library of thousands of texts and Common Core-aligned lessons that both teachers and students can interact with in real-time. In the reading platform, teachers assign pre-existing Actively Learn materials to students or upload their own content, then track student responses and activity using data tools within the platform. Students can interact with a text by digitally highlighting and annotating, responding to embedded questions and content, and leaving feedback and comments for peers. Students can translate the text in their home language and define unknown words within the platform. Students can mark their confusion within the text and the teacher is able to annotate the text with additional links for clarity and deeper meaning to support student reading. In my classroom I utilize Actively Learn weekly for Articles of the Week in order for students to make connections across texts and address current events.
Audio books are another tool beneficial to struggling readers. I love my Audible App on my phone and listen to books every chance I have including my commute to work and home. Listening to a text while reading can help students visualize and comprehend complex text. Students are using different skills when they are listening versus reading but research shows that students have a higher listening comprehension than reading comprehension. In addition, podcasts are great texts for students to listen to explore concepts and ideas. My favorite include NPR’s Radiolab podcasts and any podcast from author of Tools of Titans (2016), Tim Ferriss. Check out Tim’s Podcast with YA author Soman Chainani.
Two great resources with more about technology tools and strategies to engage diverse student learners include Jules Csillag‘s Differentiated Reading Instruction and Robert Furman‘s Technology, Reading & Digital Literacy: Strategies to Engage the Reluctant Reader.
The following post is a guest blog post I wrote for ISTE’s EdTekHub and was published on 1/5/2017.
Many of our students are among the 155 million Americans playing video games regularly, and you might be, too. That’s a good thing. When my 11-year-old is playing video games, he’s using many skills – facts and information are tools to solve problems in context, and he gains actionable feedback he uses to win the game. When he fails to level up, he doesn’t give up, but continues playing until he progresses to the next level. He also seeks information online to help him find Easter eggs hidden throughout the game. He teaches his friends how to power up with each level of the game. Failure is a source of feedback and learning, collaboration is necessary, and learning and assessment are tightly integrated.
How can we use this pervasive and engaging gaming phenomenon to redesign and supercharge the learning experience?
Here are five ways to gamify your classroom to boost engagement, collaboration and learning:
Gamification is about transforming the classroom environment and regular activities into a game. It requires creativity, collaboration and play. There are numerous ways to bring games and game playing into the content area classroom to promote learning and deepen student understanding. Whether teachers are looking to bring some aspect of gaming into their class or use a game platform across the curriculum, they can use gamification elements to enhance learning and student engagement, tap into Common Core State Standards and address the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students.
The following post was written and published for ISTE Project ReimaginED.
Gamification is about transforming the classroom environment and regular activities into a game. There are numerous ways to bring games and game playing into the content area classroom to promote learning and deepen student understanding. Whether teachers are looking to bring in some aspect of gaming into their class or utilize a game platform across the curriculum, they can bring in elements of gamification to enhance learning and student engagement, tap into Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and attain ISTE Standards.
I first gamified my middle school English class last year and I have continued this quest for a second consecutive year. The response from my students has been positive and enthusiastic. Participation has increased among my students and students are inclined to do additional work for the game. Within my classroom I have eliminated homework grades in lieu of game points and on a weekly basis I have students battle each other for powers and privileges. Privileges include asking the Gamemaster (aka, the teacher) if her/his answer to a question is correct on a test and getting an extension on an assignment. Students earn points by being positive and hardworking in class, correctly answering a question in class, or helping another student. At the same time, students can also lose points by disrupting the class or coming to class unprepared. I am currently using Class Craft, an awesome gaming platform that has allowed me to turn my classroom into a role playing adventure. My students sign a “Hero Pact” which articulates the rules and goals of the game and they have Avatars. As the Gamemaster, I am able to customize the rules to fit my students needs.
Good gamification promotes problem solving and collaboration and failure is an essential source of feedback and learning. Gamification is not worksheets for points; facts and information are used as tools for learning and assessment. Effective games are customized to different learners and students are encouraged to take risks and seek alternative solutions. In classrooms today, it’s not only about learning content material. Students must experience and build the necessary skills to be creators, innovators, and problem solvers in order to develop critical thinking and improve academic achievement.
Here are some ideas to promote transformative learning experiences with gamification.
Collaboration & Teamwork
The Beatles sang, “I get by with a little help from my friends,” and I transfer this principle to my classroom with gamification. Learning is not an isolated task. When students work collaboratively, there is more ownership of the material and more opportunities to contribute in class. In my classroom students are assigned a team. Each team comprises four or five students, depending on the class size. Students work both independently and cooperatively within our gaming structure to earn powers than unlock privileges. Because I teach English, the team names are based on genres, authors, and book titles from Young Adult Literature. For example, in one class, team names are based on current fantasy based young adult literature—Potter, Eregon, Everlost, and Land of Nod—and in another class team names are based on contemporary YA dystopian texts—5th Wave, Divergent, Legend, Matrix, and Rook. Teachers can have students pick their own team names for ownership in the game.
ISTE Standards for Students #2, Creativity and Innovation, states: “Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively … to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.” Working collaboratively helps students enhance their oral communication skills and meet the Common Core State Standards for Speaking and Listening (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1). Students meet this CCSS by working in cooperative groups and teams, and then participating in “conversations and collaborations with diverse partners.” Teamwork and collaboration requires students to listen to one another and broaden their roles as dominant speakers in the classroom, rather than a teacher presenting and students only listening. As teammates, students “work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.B) Working with student teams also requires teachers to model and practice how to work well with one another and resolve conflicts in positive ways addressing ISTE Standards for Teachers 1.d: “Model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments.”
Challenges & Quests
Design a quest or challenge that sparks learning and engagement. While my students are reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, I have them complete a “Mockingbird Amazing Race” QR Code Quest. Each team of students is given a map with QR codes that takes them around the school to complete text based activities. Students use their mobile devices to read the QR Codes at the different stations and complete the challenges. I designed the Mockingbird Amazing Race for students to “apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and synthesize information” (ISTE Standards for Students #3, Research and Information Fluency) about the text and and standards.
World History teacher Michael Matera uses simulations as a teaching tool with his sixth grade students. He designed a China Silk Road Simulation to bring to life entrepreneurship, supply and demand, the power of negotiation, and the costs and benefits of technology for society. He describes all the ingredients and directions for the simulation on his blog. The goal of the simulation is to have a rich product diversity without conflict. Throughout the simulation, Matera stops to ask questions to the groups about their choices and their connections to the learning objectives.
Some students are motivated by badges or points. In my classroom, points unlock powers. Powers are important features that represent privileges players earn as they progress in the game. Some powers are cooperative where others only benefit the individual player. With Class Craft, players must level up to earn Power Points so that they can unlock new powers. Once a power has been learned, they can use it for the rest of the game. Some individual powers have nothing to do with English but they are still fun. When my first ten students earned over 1,000 points, I brought in doughnuts for them to eat during class. Many of my students are working towards the power that gives them access to their notes during a test. The key is that leveling up, badges, and points track mastery. Students can even contribute to how they earn the points and suggest powers or privileges. Gamification facilitates more responsibility on the part of the student to take charge of their learning.
Wheel of Destiny
Want to inject a bit of a lottery system or the selection process from the reaping in The Hunger Games, but with less deadly consequences? Utilize a Wheel of Destiny or Random Name Generator to select students to complete a mission or answer a question. Students will be sitting on the edge of their chairs, but the spontaneous, random events/selection gets everyone involved. Good games are not predictable. And as with all games so too in your classroom: predictable can quickly become all too boring. Keep students on their toes and engaged in the game with random selection and events.
Transform assessments with Boss Battles. A “boss” in gaming is a villain who the hero must face and defeat to save the day. Think of the monster at the end of each level in the original Super Marios Bros. who must be defeated before moving to the next level. The boss is the final challenge a player faces and utilizes his or her skills and abilities to defeat the boss. Boss Battles can be used as reviews or as a test. Check out how Mallory Kesson of Gamindex uses Boss Battles in her classroom by posting multiple choice questions on the SMARTBoard and giving students 30 seconds to select the correct answer. If the student answers incorrectly, the boss will attack. If a teammate has the correct answer, a student can dodge the attack, but if you miss, the entire team takes damage and loses points. When Boss Battles ask higher order thinking questions, students are “using critical thinking skills to plan and solve problems, and make informed decisions,”thus meeting ISTE Standard for Students #4, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making.
Teacher as Gamester
Gamification can be lots of fun for students and teachers alike. At the same time, gamification can help students build skills and confidence. In gamifying one’s class, the learning goals and objectives should be the guide. Think about how you will assess your students and help them meet the learning targets. Gamification privileges and powers have replaced extra credit in my classroom. As a reminder, homework in my class is not graded, but students earn Class Craft points. All tests, quizzes, and assessments that measure learning goals are uploaded onto Class Craft for additional points. Students are not penalized grade-wise if their work is late because they are graded based on the standards; however, in the game they deal with the damage of that lateness and can fall in battle. As the Gamemaster, one must be consistent and fair, adjust settings for different groups of students, and create flexible learning goals to meet the needs of all students. Effective Gamemasters “model and apply the ISTE Standards for Students as they design, implement, and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning.”
If you are considering implementing gamification into your classroom, check out Class Craft or read Michael Matera’s book, Explore Like a PIRATE: Gamification and Game-Inspired Course Design to Engage, Enrich and Elevate Your Learners. As the Gamemaster, you have the ability to transform your classroom with games, quests, and adventures that can inspire and empower student learners.
A follow up to my last blog post, here are the presentation slides for the webinar I lead for ISTE on 12/3/2015. To listen the the webinar Click Here.
List of resources mentioned in the webinar are below:
James Paul Gee’s article on Elements of Good Games to model as Educational Tools
Michael Matera’s Entering the Realm of the Nobles
Education Arcade (MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program)
I am by no means a gamer nerd but my evolution of the use of games in my classroom has gone from power point Jeopardy Games and Amazing Race QR Codes to a full on gaming platform, avatars, Boss Battles, and strategizing my lessons for student opportunities to level up.
On December 2, 2015 7:00 PM EST I will be leading a webinar for ISTE’s Professional Learning Series addressing gamification as a tool for classroom learning.
Gamification, the application of game playing, is all the rage in classrooms these days. There are numerous ways to bring games and game playing into your content area classroom that promote learning and deepen student understanding. Whether you are looking for engaging gaming tools like Kahoot! or are interested in introducing a game platform like Classcraft Games into your classroom, join this webinar to learn about what gamification looks and examples how teachers are using games in classrooms today, how you can implement a variety of games and game based learning into your classroom, and gain additional resources to level up your teaching.
Gaming offers so many positive opportunities for students and teachers alike to increase engagement, content learning, and problem based learning.
New to gaming, here are some tips and tricks to getting started:
Looking for more information about Gamification in the classroom, check out the following resources:
I have just arrived home after attending the ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) annual Convention. The conference is an incredible opportunity for teachers, administrators, and anyone working in technology and education to see amazing speakers, innovative technology for the classroom, collaborate and be inspired. Below is a list of all the super cool technology tools that were shared (new and old). I have organized them according to the Common Core Standards to help think about how to use them in the classroom. The key idea of the conference is that it is not about the tech tool but building relationships, engaging students, teaching skills that will help students think deeply and succeed.
Reading & Writing
ThinkCerca – Reading & Writing Tool
Actively Learn – Reading & Annotation Tool
Wonderopolis – Reading & Research Tool
Buncee – A Writing and Creation Tool
Popplet – Storyboarding & Semantic Maps
Pixton – Storyboard & Animation Tool
Wordle – Word Generator
Tricider – Collaborative Polling Tool
iMovie Book Trailers
Big Huge Labs – Create Movie Poster
Twitter – Conversation Tool
Padlet – Collect Student Responses
Socrative – Polling Tool
Easel_ly – Create Infographics
Evernote – Curation and Writing Tool
Edmodo – Collaborating, Communication, & Curration Tool
Trello – Visual Organization Tool
Speaking & Listening – Presenting Tools to Build and Present Knowledge
Prezi – Digital Presentation Tool
HaikuDeck – Digital Presentation Tool
Animoto – Movie Making Tool
Glogster -Digital Posters
MovieMaker – Create Movies
PowToon – Animation Tool
GoogleDocs – Collaborative Writing & Individual Writing
Google Slides – Google’s Power Point
Smore – Digital Newsletters
PodBean – Podcasting
ThingLink – Visual Curating Tool
Classcraft – Game Platform
Kahoot! – Easy Polling & Assessment Tool
This upcoming Sunday I will be hosting a Twitter Chat for the ISTE Literacy PLN as part of Connected Educator Month. Please join us as we discuss literacy, technology, and ISTE. Below are the questions to facilitate the chat. We hope that you can join us for an interesting and resourceful conversation.
Q1: Introduce yourself, where you are from and your role in education.
Q2:. How do you define literacy?
Q3: What does literacy in the content areas mean to you?
Q4: What does literacy in the content areas look like in your classroom/school? Please include a grade level and subject area.
Q5: What are you “go to” tech tools to promote literacy in the content areas?
Q6: How do you see technology supporting literacy in your content areas classroom?
Q7: Where do you learn about and or find inspiration for literacy and technology?
Q8: How can ISTE’s Literacy PLN support your needs to meet the literacy and technology standards embedded throughout the Common Core Learning Standards?