Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Breaking Down to Rebuild: Redefining the Innovative Classroom

Recently, I’ve been talking to other school districts about our iPad program and the process by which we began to integrate these devices. At each meeting, I’ve been avidly referring to the SAMR model, an innovation continuum developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. This model describes the various levels of your technology innovation: Substitution > Augmentation > Modification > Redefinition. Think of it as the Bloom’s Taxonomy of innovation. The highest level, redefinition, is of course our goal. However the question becomes – how does one redefine a classroom?
My next suggestion has been met with mixed reactions. I tell everyone that what we've realized seems so simple yet so scary at the same time: to rebuild, one must first do some demolition. By this I mean, you have to be willing to set aside, even discard, your previous understandings of what assessment, differentiation and instruction look like, sound like and feel like. You have to be willing to start over with the new building materials available: i.e., iPads. Instead of trying to insert iPads into an already-existing structure, you must start over and rebuild a structure that utilizes the iPads in the most effective way – to redefine the way your classroom functions.
To illustrate this, I show the following graphic I created explaining my understanding of SAMR. Note that the substitution bubble is the largest, yet still does not outweigh the redefinition bubble. This is meant to demonstrate that while you may create 10, 20 even 30 lessons on the substitution level, their sum effect on your students' learning can still be less than that of 1 lesson on the redefinition level. 
As an example I go back to my argument about apps.  Content apps, like Rocket Math or Math Ninja, while very engaging only address a handful (if not only a single) set of standards. Once your student has mastered that standard, they only serve as practice. Even then, data collection from these apps is limited and the level of student cognition is often low. Consider then, a creation app like ShowMe. This app can be used to address a wide range of standards from math to science to literacy - and will engage students at the highest level of Bloom's Taxonomy - creation. Relating this back to SAMR - the content apps are all substituting or augmenting pencil and paper learning. A creation app such as ShowMe is redefining teaching and learning. Thus one redefined lesson outweighing dozens of substitution or augmentation lessons.

While the concept may seem simple, the execution is anything but. Teachers need to be inspired, then supported, then supported some more. It is frightening to be risking not only your comfort, but your students' success on something you've never tried. I always recommend that school leaders begin by taking their teachers to visit schools who are doing this well- who have already made the journey through the SAMR model - or are currently doing so.

After your team has been inspired to take a sledgehammer to their proverbial classrooms and start anew, school leaders must be ready to help the teachers pick up the pieces and support them in rebuilding a new, more innovative classroom. Frequent and relevant professional development, release time to plan and fostering active learning communities are a few of the supports that have helped me to be successful in my first year of redefining my classroom.

While this may seem a daunting task no matter the hat you wear: district leader, school leader, coach, classroom teacher - consider the reward at the end of the day. Consider what redefining your classrooms will mean to the students who learn in them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Kids Write an App (Sort of)

This year, we have continued to try out new apps and ideas for using iPads in the classroom. Recently, we have been experimenting with three annotation apps. One of these apps had particularly caught my eye for its unique ability to screencast student annotations with audio narration of their thinking. After playing with it for a few hours, I blogged great excitement for it, immediately purchased 32 Volume Purchase Program licenses to sync it to all of my devices and mapped out a lesson to introduce it to students.

Sometime that evening, I realized that I was ignoring my promise to myself: test apps with a small "focus group" of students before unleashing it on all of my kids. However, I had already paid for 32 licenses... I crossed my fingers and prayed that a small group of students would love it. They had to; the app was amazing!

The next day, my students responded with pure venom. The app was out.

I blogged about their reactions in a post about my students' reactions to three annotation apps to share and solicit feedback from other teachers. To my surprise, the app developer himself not only responded, but requested an audience with my student reviewers! His sole intention was the improve the apps and show the students that they could have an influence on the world around them. How amazing.

The students got permission to stay after school and organized their thoughts to Skype with the app developer. The day of the Skype arrived, and my students came in quite excited. One student shared on her mood check in:

I was worried that my students would be too nervous or intimidated to give honest feedback to the developer. I should have known better - they're never shy! The students openly critiqued the app, giving specific feedback and notes about its functionality and aesthetic.  They were both polite and excited to meet with him.

After the discussion, the app developer generously agreed to update his app with many of my students' suggestions. The students smiled, said goodbye, but didn't seem to truly swallow the enormity of what they had accomplished as 9 and 10 year olds.

Apparently a good night's sleep aided in the digestion of this idea. All of the students returned to school the next day bouncing on their heels to talk to me. They pulled me aside and said, "Ms. Magiera! Do you know what we did?! We got to MAKE an app! We told the INVENTOR what to do! And he LISTENED!" They continued, beaming about how they felt "important" and "famous". One asked if they have classes in "app cooking" in high school.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I love You(Tube): The Mathademics Channel

In the previous post, I wrote about my new math differentiation model. Today I've been putting together materials for next week's groups (specifically creating/finding videos for the flipped classroom video groups) and have been perusing the Mathademics YouTube channel. After about 15 minutes of downloading videos using www.savevid.com (our district blocks YouTube), I am hooked.

This YouTube channel features screencast lessons made by real teachers like you and me. I've been making all of my own for the past year - and while not too difficult, this can be time consuming. Here I've found a great host of videos to download, free and easy! What's more, they are sorted into channels according to teacher (if you find someone who has a similar approach to teaching as you, and want to find more videos by him/her) or by math strand (number sense, geometry, algebra, etc.)!

You can even make your own channel to share your own videos (something I plan to do when I have a free weekend).

Check it out!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Differentiated Math, v5.2

In the years that I've been teaching math through differentiated groups, my routines and strategies are ever-evolving. Each summer I spend time reflecting on how the year went, pouring over data and student anecdotal feedback to determine what could be improved the following fall.

Ever since injecting my classroom with a rush of technology, I've found myself having these reflection and rebuilding sessions more often. Currently our school is on a 2-week fall intersession. This time off has encouraged me to consider how our new tech-niques (get it? tech? techniques? ha!) and the introduction of the Promethean board can positively impact the routines in our classroom. In this first quarter of school, we have been refining several new math activities and routines using the iPads; now I'm ready to consider how we can make them a more effective and efficient part of our math period.

After a lot of brainstorming - considering what would be best for the students yet manageable for me as their teacher, I came up with a rough draft of a plan. Below is the latest version of math grouping in room 313. As this is my fifth year of differentiated math grouping and the second iteration of the model this year, I have dubbed it version 5.2. 

I invite any comments, questions or ideas for further improvement and promise to write more as I see successes and... less than successes. Special thanks to Autumn Laidler for being a thought partner and to Dan Meyer - whose blog reminds me to try and keep it real when teaching math.

Differentiated Math, version 5.2

Math Block: 70 minutes, daily
Number of teachers in the room: 2
Curriculum: 4th and 5th grade Everyday Mathematics (EM)
Number of Students: 32

Everyday Math Lesson (30 minutes)
> EM Mental Math & Reflexes Routine - iPads as slates w/ MentalNote App (2-3m)

> EM Math Message (5m)

> EM Lesson & Math Discussion (15-20m)

> Exit Ticket / RSA - EM daily formative assessment (3-5m)

Differentiated Groups (40 minutes) 
> Teacher Center 1: EM Lesson Targeted Review
- Who: Based on Exit Ticket; teacher will use the Google form's conditional highlighting to determine which students need to be in this group immediately after they submit their responses
- Length: Two to three 10-20 minute centers
- Where: Tables 1 and 4 - at Promethean Board
- What: This is the part of the lesson that most teachers continue to teach whole-group... so their entire 60-minute block is a mixture of whole-group instruction and workbook practice. I've found that breaking up the group after half an hour and doing this more focused differentiated instruction is more effective for my students. During this group, I will teach content from lesson objectives utilizing the Promethean Board's interactive features and student iPads / SplashTop app.

> Teacher Center 2: Strand work 
- Who: Students will be able to work on math strands in which they need extra practice. This will be informed by their MAP test RIT score and daily formative assessments from class.
- Length: Two to three 10-20 minute centers
- Where: Meeting Table
- What: Teacher creates five word problems to address strand content. The first word problem will be a "Do Now" for the students to work through collaboratively (and will be a pre-assessment to help gauge student learning during this center). The second will be a "I do" model problem. The third and fourth problems will be "We do" problems for the students to "chew" through concepts. The fifth problem will be the exit ticket formative assessment to determine if the student gained any understanding from the group.

> Student Independent Work: Personal Learning Plan
- Who: All students not working at a teacher center
- Length: Full Differentiated Block
- Where: At seats
- What: Personal Learning Plan will follow the same four activities weekly. PLP to be distributed through Edmodo.

Student Personal Learning Plan (M-Th); Friday is self-assessment day 

> Goals of the Personal Learning Plans:
- To increase student self-efficacy
- To increase student curiosity in and enjoyment of math
- To support our school in its quest to increase student test scores (Regardless of personal beliefs, this is a task that must be addressed as a high needs school in a large urban district.)

> To be assigned weekly - students work through plan at their own pace.

> To be assigned to students via Edmodo (student completes Edmodo reflection after each activity)

> Each student will be assigned variations on the following four activities, weekly:
1- Instructional Level: Flipped Classroom - Content Videos Students watch content videos on their iPad for further practice in week areas. Then they complete a short assessment on Study Island to assess whether the video had a positive impact on their understanding. Initially these videos will be assigned, but my hope is that my students can eventually self-select videos based on their own understanding of their learning needs.
2- Instructional Level: Real-world math problem posed by photo or video (see Dan Meyer's blog for examples) - Students will work out their thinking aloud and on the virtual whiteboard using ShowMe, then type up an "extended response" version of their thinking on Edmodo (they will also link their ShowMe to their Edmodo extended response)
3- Grade Level: EM Math Boxes using the free PaperPort Notes App
4- Instructional Level: Math Choice Board 
- Everyday Math Project
- Respond to real-world problem on math blog
- Create math story on Toontastic for your own real-world problem
- Math Games (prescribed math games apps to strengthen student understanding)


Student Peer-Assessment
> Show Me Review (ON FRIDAYS)
- Display student video on the board
- Students respond via "tweet stream" on Edmodo
* First time, students submit responses through "Turn In" button (so only teacher can view comments)
* Teacher will review and display exemplars
* Once students have "mastered the art of feedback" students can respond via the "Reply" button so all may see their comments
* Students can eventually self-select their own videos from the ShowMe site to provide feedback to their classmates

> Math Boxes Self-Assessment (ON FRIDAYS):
- Teacher places corrected math boxes in DropBox
- Partners correct classmates' work (by pulling them up from Dropbox)
- Students address mistakes in their own corrected Math Boxes
- Students fill out reflection on Edmodo regarding their mistakes/learnings

Teacher-Driven Assessments
> Study Island Assessments

> Written Extended Responses on Edmodo (response to math problem)

> Teacher Center exit tickets and work

> Math Choice assignments

Roll-out / Implementation Plan

I do realize that someone reading this draft plan may be thinking... "My goodness... this crazy woman is biting off far more than she can chew." Perhaps. However, my students already have the requisite skills to all of the above activities in isolation. They may just need some scaffolding to get into a daily routine. Therefore we will take the next week to model expectations for what this looks like in an individualized and self-directed setting. We will discuss methods for getting support when the teacher is working with a small group as well as strategies for self-assessment of effort and work. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Resources for Evaluating EdTech Integration

Much appreciation to Ray Nashar, an ADE from Mount Saint Joseph Girls' College in Australia, for sharing this great resource bundle. This page shares evaluation tools for your edtech integration projects. The SAMR (Substitute --> Augment --> Modify --> Redefine) model is especially interesting to me as that is the thinking I've been experiencing as I progress through my iPad project (i.e., create new opportunities vs. simply replace old ones).

Also of note is his video regarding the "3 Carriage Train" - an interesting lesson through metaphor of how to go about inspiring innovation amongst educators. Thanks, Ray, for sharing and creating these!