Monday, May 28, 2012

My Life as an EduPirate: Our Minecraft Server Arrives

Last fall I began exploring game-based learning. Today we reached a milestone: our Minecraft server arrived thanks to some Humber College students and the Ken Spencer Award.  I blog about Minecraft on: My Life as an EduPirate. Info on our server can be found there.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

This Magazine: Why Can't Johnny Blog?

Last fall independent journalist Barbara McDonald visited Dundas Central and spoke with many teachers and students about our work with technology. Her article in This Magazine came out yesterday and takes a look at the state of technology integration across the province. It made realize how luck we are to have WiFi and BYOD.

http://this.org/magazine/2012/05/25/why-cant-johnny-blog/

We're in Full EQAO Mode

We're in EQAO mode at our school and although only grades 3 and 6 write the language and math assessments, the impact is felt across the entire school.  The computer lab shuts down for several weeks as the computers are set up for assistive tech and we can't risk problems.  Our hallways and alternative work spaces that are usually brimming with activity fall silent.  Resource support is unavailable during test writing periods. Gym classes remain inside. The mornings announcements and bells are not heard.

In the weeks leading up to EQAO we play guess the possible phrasing of the questions and spend a great deal of time practising short answer responses, as well as reviewing genres and test writing techniques.  We revisit previous tests and practise many, many questions.  Each year I try to anticipate how wording might interfere with comprehension. One year I taught "important idea" because that had been the phrasing on previous tests only to have the students hit with the word "theme. The next year I taught "theme" instead of "important idea" and hoped they didn't switch back. Another year I spent a great deal of time on grammar only to discover that the grammar questions had disappeared from the test.  You'd be surprised how little details like this can throw students and cause sections to be left blank even though students are quite capable of answering the questions.

Someone has just informed me that it is better to spend time on multiple choice training as this has greater impact on the scores. I've spent less time on this and more time on communicating fluently in writing, but I no longer lose sleep over these kinds of discussions. When I first began teaching grade 6, EQAO was terrifying and the pressure to have kids perform was and continues to be enormous. The relentless pressure from the Ministry of Education causes lost sleep, anxiety and even stressed family and professional relationships. There is a personal cost to the well-being of teachers and administrators that is not accounted for in the decision to pursue standardized testing.

Our rooms get stripped bare. Learning supports such as charts and visual aids that students use throughout the year but might remind how to answer questions are removed or covered up. By Monday, my room will look like our year is over.  And of course, we are back in rows, which some students see as a novelty and are enjoying. Other than the assistive tech, there is no differentiation for learners on the test although throughout the year we are expected to differentiate. Every student must write the test and all scores are counted. For language, writing in sentences is the only acceptable way to demonstrate learning. One year a child with Downs Syndrome who was just learning the alphabet, wrote in scribbles and smiley faces. The score was counted.

All this makes me take the scores with a grain of salt.  When results are released everyone scrambles to interpret and shifts up or down are treated as statistically significant when they're not. Scores are released without the qualifier that there is a range of acceptable movement. Each minor shift is interpreted as meaningful.  The number of folk interpreting the data with no training in statistics is huge - the results are public after all. It is the broad scores that interest the province, however, this doesn't stop institutions like the Fraser Institute from publicly ranking schools and by default, teachers. No other profession is subjected to this kind of exposure. It makes us feel very vulnerable to attack. And no other teachers except those in grades 3 and 6 who administer the tests risk losing their jobs for helping children.  We are not allowed to provide any assistance which causes a great deal of agony for many teachers. It is difficult to watch an overwhelmed child cry during the test because they can't cope or worse sit frozen - their body language saying, "I am defeated."  There are also academically talented students who breeze through the tests and remain confident. They are a pleasure to watch. And of course, there are those who breeze through the test each day in 30 minutes, say "That was easy!" and you just know that the quality of work is poor.  It is always a relief for grades 3 and 6 teachers when academically strong groups enter our classes in September because we know what that will mean for our scores.

Most students, I think, don't actually mind the tests, especially the ones who get to write in the air-conditioned library. Snacks and drinks are provided which are seen as a treat. In fact, if you were to ask students in grade 6 what they remember about the tests in grade 3, most will talk about the food.

From the province's point of view the scores have been useful. It has helped identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement .  A fortune has been spent training teachers in new methods and putting literacy and math resources into schools in response to our scores.  It has been a deliberate decision to focus on language and math as these two subjects are the foundation for all other subjects;  some would say this has been done at the expense of other subjects. The rationale for EQAO can be found here. http://www.eqao.com/pdf_e/12/PowerOntProv_TestingProg_en.PDF

Although we have been told that we shouldn't be "teaching to the test". We all do.  It is not worth risking the wrath that might occur if scores drop. Small drops that would not cause blinks in the pure sciences cause blinks in education.  It is expected that our scores move in one direction only, up.  So, we teach to the test, we run after school prep programs, we practice tests from previous years; we focus on writing genres that have appeared on tests in the past. What has been the effect of this emphasis of  teaching to a standardized test? Students are reading better but liking reading less.
http://www.guelphmercury.com/living/familyparenting/article/637998--ontario-students-reading-better-liking-it-less

Are the millions of dollars spent on EQAO worth the cost? Finland spends 0 dollars on standardized testing yet they rank 1st in the world when it comes to international test scores. The decision to allocate dollars to testing rather than direct supports for struggling learners is a  decision we've made that does have more serious consequences. Every dollar spent on testing means that it is not spent on programs. We have many children in our schools with mental health issues, learning disabilities and behavioural challenges who receive no support because there is no money to service their needs.*  We currently spend about $35 million annually to administer the test, but that does not count the amount of money spent by individual schools and boards on programs and supplies aimed at improving test scores.  It doesn't include the after school test prep programs that run for several weeks in advance of EQAO that are funded directly out of board budgets.

It should be noted that the Teachers' Federations have proposed a different approach to large scale testing that is more meaningful than the current format. http://www.otffeo.on.ca/english/media_room/briefs/new_vision.pdf

As a stage in the evolution of our education system, the tests have been useful. I cannot deny that my practice has improved. Do they continue to be necessary? We know what practices lead to learning, the research is clear, and the Ontario school system is at the forefront of implementing the techniques and these techniques have been developed by our teachers based on our exposure to the research.  Given that the province is under stress financially perhaps testing is the area where cutbacks could be made. Perhaps it's time for the province to trust our highly educated and well-trained teachers to do our jobs and think of alternative ways to spend that money that would support the students whose needs continue to be unmet.

The group missing in this conversation about standardized testing, of course, is the students themselves. There has been no broad conversation with our students provincially asking them if this emphasis on teaching to a standardized test has served them well.  Until we solicit their point of view we are swimming in the dark.  Something to think about.

*This came out on CBC today: Ontario is knocked for failure to adequately service special needs learners. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2012/05/28/ontario-special-needs-students-review-called-by-people-for-education.html?cmp=rss


















Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Different Way of Being in Our Learning Spaces


This came via twitter.

Christmas in May!

Two prizes from our Mind Share Learning award came today. It's Christmas in May.
Thank you Pearson for the books And Smart Technologies for all those boxes!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Edcamp Hamilton

Our first planning meeting for Edcamp Hamilton is tonight, May 23, at the West Town on Locke St at 7 pm. Anyone interested is welcome. Curious? What's an edcamp? Here's some info for edcampto in Toronto last year.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Visit From Clive Thompson

This week we had a visitor in Room 208 who made me pause in wonder at just how much my world of teaching and learning has changed since taking the decision to reinvent my practice and document this process on my blog. On Monday, Clive Thompson, columnist for Wired Magazine and contributing writer for the New York Times, spent the day with us at Dundas Central.

I first ran into Clive on the pages of Wired Magazine and never imagined that one day our paths might cross, that we would engage in an extended conversation on education and learning, or that he would be standing in my classroom demonstrating his very cool pencil sharpener to my grade 7 students. As I've said previously, all social media paths lead to twitter and it was there that Clive came across one of my early blog posts in which I recognized that my days of teaching content were over. Clive is working on a book on how technology affects thinking and contacted me through email curious about the post and my thoughts on this changing world of education. Since then he's followed the work that we do

Friday, May 11, 2012

Moving More Deeply into Critical Thinking

After spending a great deal of time this week simply observing how students are using the iPads, I now have a better understanding of how to structure processes that incorporate these devices. Today was my first attempt to bring formality to learning using these tools.

By chance a resource to prompt deeper critical thinking was shared on twitter this week and I decided to use it as a tool for a guided inquiry on homelessness using our iPads.

I began by asking the students four questions:

1. Who are the homeless?
2. How can you tell someone is homeless?
3.What do homeless people do all day?
4. Why do people become homeless?

Partners were assigned and given paper and a marker.  They had 10 minutes to complete their discussion and task. The goal for this kind of activity is to get all beliefs out on the table and to have all learners involved in the discussion.  This is feature of  Accountable Talk, a high yield strategy that we are expected to use in our programs in Ontario.











After 10 minutes we regrouped, posted the papers and discussed the results. Perceptions of homeless people were consistent across the class: poor, dirty, beg for money, torn clothes, look through garbage, alcohol/drug addiction. One student proposed that the ideas we were discussing were stereotypes; several students nodded but no one took the discussion beyond that point. The class giggled uncomfortably when hobo was said aloud. When I asked why, they identified it as having a negative connotation indicating judgement and inferiority.

I next asked students to think about where their ideas about homeless people come from. They weren't born with the concept "homeless person" in their heads, after all. It had to come from somewhere. The majority of the class based their labels on experience. Only 1 student mentioned media - he had seen it in a Spongebob episode.





We then turned to the Agree/Disagree line. At one end of the classroom is the word Agree, in the middle - Not Sure and at the other end Disagree.  For each of 3 statements students were asked to place themselves on the line.

1. It is their own fault that people are homeless.
2. It is easy to recognize a homeless person.
3. If a homeless person really wanted to, he could do something to improve his condition.

Many students felt that homeless people had caused their own demise and they were confident they would recognize a homeless person. At this point I didn't ask students to justify their position on the line, I just wanted them to be aware that there were varied opinions and to observe where they stood on the line.

I then showed Eve Bunting's Fly Away Home from the Reading Rainbow series. I started the video at the actual story and watched to the end. It was interesting to note the expressions on their faces as the film progressed. At the end of the film I asked what had surprised them most.

"there are many reasons why people can become homeless"
"it can be because of just something that happens. It's not their fault."
"these are people just like me - except they're homeless"

They had many questions - it was time for the iPads.  We wanted more information on homelessness and to know if people really live in airports. This was true inquiry. The students knew that they had to stay on topic, other than that they were free to explore. Partners were scattered all over the room. Students read, watched and as they found information shared their learning. They went in different directions.  One student found the story of a man who had lived 12 years in an airport. Another found that over 100 people live in Heathrow Airport. Another found out that people who live in airports have a greater risk of getting cancer, which led him into an exploration of cancer rates around airports.
For the entire time the whole class was engaged and the atmosphere felt very natural. Two of my students who do not perform well in a typical classroom learning environment were actively searching, reading and sharing as they constructed knowledge and gained insight.

At one point I stopped the class to have them observe how different our approach to learning is now that we have tablets. They acknowledged a difference, but one student said it best, "This is ... it's really ... this is useful!"

We regrouped one last time to close the lesson. I asked one question, "Who experienced a shift in their thinking about homelessness?"  Heads nodded and all but 1 hand flew up.





Thursday, May 10, 2012

Welcome to Hamilton CBC

Growing up in Scarborough, CBC meant one thing and one thing only in our house - sports. Hockey Night in Canada and the Olympics reigned supreme.  It wasn't until I reached university that I discovered a whole other CBC realm. Radio. And my life was changed.  CBC radio taught me about place and country. My country. Morningside with Peter Gzowski carried me from coast to coast. I learned of the crisis in the Cod Fisheries of the East, and where the best blueberry pie in Canada can be found (Sioux Lookout, Ontario) and why there is a separatist movement in the west, and issues that First Nations people face in our country, and ... and ... and.    I can still hear the voice of Lister Sinclair, "Tonight on Ideas ..."  And of course, Stephen Lewis, Dalton Camp and Eric Kieran's debates on politics were some of most engaging, thoughtful, respectful and civilized conversations ever.

Really, my degree should have a CBC stamp upon it. As we sat around the table drinking coffee at our student house at 196 Napier St., discussing what we heard, we learned as much, perhaps more from CBC than we did from our lectures.

It is with great delight that I welcome CBC's new digital media service to Hamilton. This service is reinventing media using the communication tools of today and creating a digital space for community voices that will connect us in new ways. I look forward to the evolution of the concept and wish us (it belongs to all Canadians, afterall) nothing but success.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What Does a Globally Connected Classroom Look Like?


I remember when I first began my blog and was thrilled when an actual visitor appeared on the analytics. 
I remember the sense of awe I had that I was now connected to another educator somewhere else in the world. These are the analytics from Wednesday May 9 2012. They are shown in a variety of ways. I am still in awe of what it means to be a globally connected teacher.

Visitors this week.



Cluster Map of Visitors From the Start of My Blog Until March:









Saturday, May 5, 2012

Do You Understand the World For Which You are Preparing Students?

I worry sometimes that my colleagues and administrators do not really understand the world for which they are preparing children.  I know that many wonder at the urgency and pressure to switch to a collaborative, problem-solving, inquiry model of education.  I know many who feel that their methods are effective, they see learners learning to read and write. Their students produce beautiful work that meet or exceed expectations.  Their students are polite and obedient.  They just don't see a problem.

Yet a problem this is, because what they are producing are instruction followers rather than problem solvers and the world of work is no longer looking for that kind of thinker.

Some concrete examples of how collaborative inquiry is the new model of work might assist teachers in understanding why and how they need to shift their practice. I've put together some tools to help develop understanding.

The first is an article outlining how even competitors within fields have begun collaborating in recognition that this leads to greater success for everyone. Some traditional competitors have even begun sharing work spaces to encourage employees to cross-pollinate ideas.
http://collaborationblog.typepad.com/collaboration/competition_and_collaboration/  .

Collaborative Work Spaces are springing up around the world.
http://www.collaborativejourneys.com/great-collaborative-workspaces-are-designed-with-diversity-in-mind/
http://www.coworkative.com/


The next is a white paper from IBM released in 2008 that explains the new culture of collaboration. http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/cio/pdf/new-collaboration-white-paper.pdf

This article from the Globe and Mail describes the Montessori approach to learning and how it is being applied in the workplace. (caveat lector: not all Montessori programs are equal)  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/growth/maria-montessori-guru-for-a-new-generation-of-business-innovators/article2398113/page2/  What I found interesting is this description outlining the new employer/employee relationship.

“Rather than interfering, micromanaging and putting boundaries on colleagues,” he says, “I prefer to hire the best people with the best attitudes towards personal growth and allow them to mould themselves into the roles and responsibilities they enjoy the most.” Mr. Gokturk does hire people for specific positions, but in lieu of a formal training process, all new employees, from sales to tech support, are set free “to play with our systems and discover things on their own through intuitive use. And we encourage criticism and identification of weaknesses they see and their recommendations on how to address, improve and fix."

The reason for an interdisciplinary approach to inquiry and problem solving can be found in this working paper from the Harvard School of Business. "The further a problem is from the solver's area of expertise, the more likely they are to solve it." http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/07-050.pdf

Eli Lilly recognizes this.  They Crowd Source their problems. Problems their chemists are unable to solve are put out to the public.  One of their unsolvable problems was solved by a physicist. Open Source problem solving is one of the most exciting developments of late. http://www.innocentive.com/  Given that many of the very serious issues our world is facing are wicked problems it is incumbent upon educators to foster learners as problem seekers and problem solvers.

Creating a culture of leaders and risk takers allow employees to have control over their own processes which lead to more responsive organizations. This post describes that culture and makes some very interesting points about freeing up employees to generate and implement ideas. http://www.leadersbeacon.com/are-you-building-a-leadership-culture/

I hope this helps.

Additions to this post June 7.The rise of the post-industrial economy. http://www.fastcoexist.com/1679903/the-rise-of-the-micro-entrepreneurship-economy

Future work skills 2020: http://apolloresearchinstitute.com/research-studies/workforce-preparedness/future-work-skills-2020













Tuesday, May 1, 2012

We Made an Impact at OPSOA!

We've received very positive feedback from our presentation at OPSOA, including this post. Nice work Bianca, Ryan G, Taylor and Dexter!
http://blogs.hpedsb.on.ca/ec/excellenceequityengagement/

Give Students Something Worth Thinking About and They Will Think

If there's one thing I know as a teacher and parent - until learners have had a chance to explore and play independently, there is no point in attempting to "teach" them anything.  So upon opening our boxes of iPad2's, we played. It's all we did.  They are highly engaging devices and there was no shortage of ideas on how to use them.  A great deal of laughter and enthusiasm ensued.

On the second day, though, I began to feel unsettled by these devices. I realized that I didn't really know how to integrate them effectively into my program and my students were being far from productive.  They were drifting to the gaming and assembling apps and not engaged in meaningful learning.  Yes, they were highly entertained, but this was not what I envisioned when I ordered them.

This brought me back to my first attempt at blogging with students.  Another teacher had introduced blogging to his class and I thought I should do the same.  Students opened accounts, created blogs and then the whole thing went flat. Because I did not understand blogging as a genre, because I did not understand the logic and the text features of blogs, because I wasn't even a reader of blogs, I couldn't guide my students.  The project was abandoned.

In order for effective integration of the iPads to occur, I would have to learn  them as genre.  I took the iPads home, went through all the settings, explored the logic of the apps, and began to think about how we might use these.

Today I entered the class with a much clearer idea of where to begin.

My 7's have been learning about Quebec history - both the founding of New France and modern day issues.  Our launch into the subject was the October Crisis, the assassination of James Laporte, and the implementation of The War Measures Act that temporarily suspended civil rights in Canada.  We've been looking at Quebec history through this lens.  What would cause a people to be pushed to such a point that violence and a referendum on separating from one's country seem the only options?

Our second lens has been the Quebec student strike which is now into its third month. 175 000 students are marching through the streets of Montreal daily to protest an increase in tuition fees which will still be the lowest in North America.  It was shocking to my students to learn that as Ontario students their tuition will be over $8 000 per year while Quebec students will pay $3 625 to attend university.

To introduce the topic,  I used the projector and pictures from Google Images https://www.google.ca/search?rlz=1C1SNNT_enCA402CA406&ix=aca&q=quebec+student+protests&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=cWagT7a-JMWBgwfA7qyhAg&biw=1138&bih=549&sei=dWagT-W4Cenu0gGehZ2kAg

My 7's were somewhat surprised by the images and the willingness of students to be so visibly present in the streets.  We wondered about the cultural differences between Quebec students so willing to protest and Ontario students who passively accept tuition increase after tuition increase.  Students began to ask many questions, including how does our government choose to spend its money and why isn't education cheaper in Ontario?  Oh, what I wouldn't have given to have iPads at that moment. They had a compelling question that involved math, social studies, media literacy and language  ... and ... I had to say, "That's a good question, you should look that up later."

We entered into a discussion: what is the responsibility of the older generation towards the younger? Should education be free? Is it our responsibility to provide free education in order to launch young adults? Is education an investment that youth need to make in order to have a higher standard of living?

Yesterday, we had computer lab time. I knew that with iPads we would be able to return to blogging which I had abandoned a few months ago because it was too tedious to try to get to the lab, log on and post with only 1 50 minute period per week. I used the lab time to refamiliarize students with their blogs. They were to explore the topic, write a post explaining the protest, include media (pictures, video and links ) and give their opinion.

Today when we met, we discussed what was learned the previous day in the lab.  Students shared and we realized that some key information was missing from their posts.  Why was tuition being raised? What was the government's point of view?  IPads were distributed and the students began searching.

Ipads change everything! Students had their blogs open while they searched. They moved fluidly through sites. They followed individual paths. As they found important facts they shared orally and I posted them on the board.  As they learned, they had more questions so they searched more. They truly constructed knowledge and formed opinions as they moved deeper into the topic.

Inquiry on a tablet is just so different from using a stand alone or laptop.   Students used all of the critical thinking skills in The Thinking Matrix; they used high yield strategies; they used media literacy skills; they were fully engaged throughout the 100 minute period and it occurred in such a natural way.

They were very aware that the learning environment had shifted drastically because of the iPads.  I asked them to articulate what was different.

It easier.
I feel that we're more productive.  It's more efficient.
We're learning more.
We can get more done.
It's fun.
Everyone has a computer, we don't have to go searching for one in the lab or another classroom.

For me it was the culmination of all that I have learned over the last two years about technology, student-directed learning, inquiry, collaboration, facilitation, critical thinking, media literacy and student engagement. It was a powerful moment.

Two last points ...

1. Throughout this unit I have avoided giving my own opinion or attempting to influence theirs.  I haven't always done this as an educator.  There was a time when I thought it was my obligation to tell students what their opinion should be. As facilitator it is my job to ask questions, to provoke, to prompt, to guide to point and to discuss so that as they construct knowledge, whatever critical stance they choose to take, it is informed by research and most of all is open to change should new information be revealed. They must remain flexible and adaptable in their thinking.

2. This topic is compelling enough that my students are bringing it up for discussion at home.





-once 
If there's one thing I know as a teacher and parent - until learners have had a chance to explore and play independently, there is no point in attempting to "teach" them anythng.  So upon opening our boxes of iPad2's, we played. It's all we did.  They are highly engaging devices and there was no shortage of ideas on how to use them.  A great deal of laughter and enthusiasm ensued.

On the second day, though, I began to feel unsettled by these devices. I realized that I didn't really know how to integrate them effectively into my program and my students were being far from productive.  They were drifting to the gaming and assembling apps and not engaged in meaningful learning.  Yes, they were highly entertained, but this was not what I envisioned when I ordered them.

This brought me back to my first attempt at blogging with students.  Another teacher had introduced blogging to his class and I thought I should do the same.  Students opened accounts, created blogs and then the whole thing went flat. Because I did not understand blogging as a genre, because I did not understand the logic and the text features of blogs, because I wasn't even a reader of blogs, I couldn't guide my students.  The project was abandoned.

In order for effective integration of the iPads, I would have to learn  them as genre.  I took the iPads home, went through all the settings, explored the logic of the apps, and began to think about how we might use these.

Today I entered the class with a much clearer idea of how to begin.

My 7's have been learning about Quebec history - both the founding of New France and modern day issues.  Our launch into the subject was the October Crisis, the assassination of James Laporte, and the implementation of The War Measures Act that temporarily suspended civil rights in Canada.  We've been looking at Quebec history through this lense.  What would cause a people to be pushed to such a point that violence and a referendum on separating from one's country seem the only options?

Our second lense has been the Quebec student strike which is now into its third month. 190 000 students are marching through the streets of Montreal daily to protest an increase in tuition fees which will still be the lowest in North America.  It was shocking to my students to learn that as Ontario students their tuition will be over $8 000 per year while Quebec students will pay $3 625 to attend university.

To introduce the topic,  I used the projector and pictures from Google Images https://www.google.ca/search?rlz=1C1SNNT_enCA402CA406&ix=aca&q=quebec+student+protests&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=cWagT7a-JMWBgwfA7qyhAg&biw=1138&bih=549&sei=dWagT-W4Cenu0gGehZ2kAg 

My 7's were somewhat surprised by the images and the willingness of students to be so visibly present in the streets.  We wondered about the cultural differences between Quebec students so willing to protest and Ontario students who passively accept tuition increase after tuition increase.  Students began to ask many questions, including how does our government choose to spend its money and why isn't education cheaper in Ontario.  Oh, what I wouldn't have given to have iPads at that moment. They had a compelling question that involved math, social studies, media literacy and language  ... and ... I had to say, "That's a good question, you should look that up later."

We entered into a discussion: what is the responsibility of the older generation towards the younger? Should education be free? Is it our responsibility to provide free education in order to launch young adults? Is education an investment that youth need to make in order to have a higher standard of living?

Yesterday, we had computer lab time. I knew that with iPads we would be able to return to blogging which I had abandoned a few months ago because it was too tedious to try to get to the lab, log on and post with only 1 50 minute period per week. I used the lab time to refamiliarize students with their blogs. They were to explore the topic, write a post explaining the protest, include media (pictures, video and links ) and then give their opinion.

Today when we met, we discussed what was learned the previous day in the lab.  Students shared and we realized that some key information was missing from their posts.  Why was tuition being raised? What was the government's point of view?  Ipads were distributed and the students began searching.

Ipads change everything! Students had their blogs open while they searched. They moved fluidly through sites. They followed individual paths. As they found important facts they shared orally and I posted them on the board.  As they learned, they had more questions so they searched more. They truly constructed knowledge and formed opinions as they moved deeper into the topic.

Inquiry on a tablet is just so different from using a stand alone or laptop.   Students used all of the critical thinking skills in The Thinking Matrix; they used high yield strategies; they used media literacy skills; they were fully engaged throughout the 100 minute period and it occurred in such a natural way. Every student met with success. Not once did I have to redirect a student.

They were very aware that the learning environment had changed drastically because of the iPads.  I asked them to articulate what was different.

It easier.
I feel that we're more productive.  It's more efficient.
We're learning more.
We can get more done.
It's fun.
Everyone has a computer, we don't have to go searching for one in the lab or another classroom.


For me it was the culmination of all that I have learned over the last two years about technology, student-directed learning, inquiry, collaboration, facilitation, critical thinking, media literacy and student engagement. It was a powerful moment.





-once 

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