See You At integratED Conference #iPDX14

I’m looking forward to presenting at integratED Portland 2014 February 26–28, 2014
Sheraton Hotel Portland Airport Portland, Ore. It’s a premier edtech conference features active hands-on sessions with an impressive team of presenters. I’m honored to be doing two workshops.

integratED Portland

Getting Started with iBooks Author
You’ll leave with workflow secrets for using iBooks Author, confident in your ability to create and share your own iBook. Here’s your chance to see how easy it is for students and teachers to create multi-touch iBooks using iBA. We’ll demonstrate the key steps in designing an iBook that can be published to iTunes or shared within your school. BYO Mac loaded with iBooks Author and some content you’d like to work with (text files, images jpg or png, Keynote decks, video m4v, audio m4a). You’ll learn efficient workflow strategies for creating and sharing your own multi-touch iBook. You’ll leave with a demonstration iBook and the confidence to keep going.

Right From the Start: Infusing Tech and PBL in Teacher Prep
Many are critical with the quality of teacher prep in the US. Here’s my attempt to get it right by infusing his University of Portland social studies methods class with practical tech applications and community-based PBL projects. Students utilized tech tools to support instruction and collaboration – LearningCatalytics, WordPress, Evernote, Learnist.

They served as consultants to the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center – a Japanese American History Museum in a variety of projects – designing curriculum for traveling exhibits, building an online museum, and a iPhone app walking tour of Japantown PDX. (In collaboration with PDX mobile app developer – GammaPoint) Student also collaborated on developing an iBook showcase of their work. Some of the grad and undergrad students will be on hand to discuss their reactions to the course and lead participants in a LearningCatalytics – powered reflection on their own teaching prep experience.

Digital History Workshop – Tech Meets Critical Thinking

I recently spent a few days working with the middle and upper school history department at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, San Juan Capistrano CA. Shout-out to James Harris (chair) and the department for being great hosts and invigorating to work with.

Photo – teachers are challenged to design Yes-No Decision Diagrams and experience the difference between creating a sequence and merely memorizing one.

yes-noOur goal was a practical hands-on workshop that fused technology, critical thinking, and strategies for students to be the “historian in the classroom.” SMES has implemented iPads at the middle school, and they’ll will be following 9th graders to the upper school next year. We were focused on ways to use iPads for content creation, feedback and reflection. Throughout the workshop, teachers used their iPads to respond to activities via LearningCatalytics (LC) and had guided practice in producing and delivering LC questions. iPads plus student response via LC is a killer app for student engagement.

I created a resource website that gives all the details of the project – but here’s some highlights.

  1. How to select and craft historic documents into DBQs. Key takeaway – use documents that students can interpret with minimal background knowledge, or your just giving them another reading assignment with illustrations.
  2. Summarizing and comparison strategies that work. Key takeaway – are you really asking students to present what they think is important, or are you merely asking them to “guess what I’m thinking?”
  3. How to craft the iPad DBQ. Easy: Haiku Deck. Harder (but worth it) iBooks Author.
  4. Effectively curating information and sharing it with your team – How to use Evernote in the classroom.
  5. How to integrate statistical analysis into the history / social science classroom – nGram Viewer and GapMinder.

By the end of the workshop teachers had created a variety of DBQs using Haiku Deck and iBooks Author. Lots of ideas for using HistoryPin, Evernote, nGram Viewer and GapMinder. While it wasn’t a definitive tech training, I think they left with critical lens to reflect on their practice and enough knowledge about the programs to see their feasibility for use in their classrooms. Not to mention “high-fives” when they got to show off the first iBooks they created.

Photo – teacher demonstrates her newly created iBook on US Imperialism.
ibook-test

Here’s a few comments from the participants:

  • All of the examples and learning experiences you chose for us were right on the mark. They were relevant and forced us to reflect on our practices and the students’ experience when in our rooms. I have a lot to think about and a lot to change! Now if only it was the summer!
  • Liked the interaction and really appreciated the hands on aspects of the training. I appreciate that you focused on higher- ordered thinking because I think that sometimes I hear some folks talking about iPads as if they (in and of themselves) are going to foster higher levels of thinking. In my experience, you still have to work really hard to make sure the kids are engaging in meaningful ways!
  • Loved learning about learning catalytics. I will definitely start using this with the next unit, especially to focus on building reading comprehension skills with my sixth graders. The haiku deck will work to introduce units in a visual way and to have students demonstrate understanding. The main thing I focused on yesterday though was the need to be more deliberate in providing rigorous higher level thinking activities for students. I think I do a good job of this, but I want to do an audit on the curriculum to see where exactly I am providing these opportunities for students.
  • I am really enjoying so many aspects of this. It would be great for more SMES teachers to be involved. It’s practical and philosophical. The tone is upbeat and helpful and the flexibility of meeting us where we are at is terrific. There are certainly a few things I’ll do differently.
  • I really liked all of the concrete ideas of apps and teaching strategies I can use in my classroom. I feel energized to go back and change all of my units, which does feel quite overwhelming though! I feel like I am doing so much wrong, but then again, I am grateful that I have ideas for where I need to go.
  • I especially liked discovering Learning Catalytics and Evernote. I could see both being very applicable to the classroom. Learning Catalytics is the tool I have been needing in order to keep middle schoolers engaged. I have been looking for ways to help them become more active learners, and this will be an excellent tool for that purpose.
  • Really great day- I so appreciate your conversation about analysis! I am now thinking about new ways to increase rigor and I actually think it will make my class more enjoyable. This line stuck with me, “When do we stop modeling for students… and have the courage to be less helpful!?” I feel like I am always answering student questions with, “I don’t know… can YOU?” or, “I really hope you figure that out!” I know it makes my students uncomfortable, but I THINK it makes them uncomfortable in a way that helps them learn to be problem solvers. Thank you for sharing strategies with my colleagues to empower us to be more courageous in the way we deliver instruction to help foster more divergent thinkers

As James Harris, the department chair, later wrote me in an email - 

At dinner on Sunday, as we discussed the school, the department, and the needs of both, you mentioned the danger of “shiny objects” – educational technology pursued solely for the sake of it. I’ve always considered myself wary of ed. tech reps and their products. So often, in my opinion, the costs of hurriedly implementing their products – “critical thinking” activities over true analysis, etc. – often far exceed the limited gains they may bring. That is why I was so pleased with our time together and with the message you brought to our faculty. When you said that you were “all about what is simplest and most effective” to aid student learning, be that “a paper and pencil” or programs such as Learning Catalytics, I knew we were in great shape.

In following up with the department over the past 48 hours I can say confidently that your time here was a success on a variety of levels. First, and perhaps most importantly, you gently challenged us all to reflect on our own teaching practices and reconsider our definitions of “analysis”, “student learning”, and “rigor”. It is quite easy to fall into a pattern after several years of teaching with a certain model and our discussions this week on how best to challenge our students forced us all to reflect on our own strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, your modeling of programs such as Learning Catalytics and Haiku Deck opened my eyes to one of the simplest, most reasonable fusions of traditional / technological pedagogy I have seen to date. Our faculty left so excited about the possibilities ahead of them yet reassured as to the value of their previous best practices.

WebEx and LearningCatalytics Create a Virtual Keynote

Learning Catalytics BYOD

“Loved it, very interactive and would love to implement it in my class.” ~ teacher attendee

I recently was asked to keynote at the MicroSociety annual conference in Philadelphia. While my schedule prevented me from appearing in person, I thought it was a great opportunity to see if I could scale up my small group webinar model into a conference keynote.

I used WebEx as my platform and attendees brought their own web-enabled devices to respond to my questions and prompts via LearningCatalytics.

Carolynn King Richmond, President & CEO of Microsociety was so pleased with the results that she sent me this kind thank you testimonial:

“This year our organization celebrated 20 years of disrupting education’s status quo…two decades of innovation in the face of tough times. We commemorated this milestone by hosting our annual conference in our home base of Philadelphia with attendees traveling from as far as California, Canada, and Colombia, South America to join us. Over the four day span, our overarching goal was to both revisit our roots and explore new directions for growth. We wanted to present our diverse body of educators with the strategies, tools, and visions they would need to expand their minds and their MicroSociety learning environments; a new sense of directionality. As our flat world becomes immersed in this digital age of connections, it is critical that our schools travel the same trajectory.

When it came time to choose our speakers, something we did with great intentionality and purpose, Peter immediately came to mind. We were first drawn to him last summer after coming across his blog, Copy/Paste, and quickly discovered that our key tenets and philosophies were closely aligned. We had several conversations…on rigor meaning far more than increased importance on testing…on relevance being a critical piece in empowering our students to become lifelong tinkerers and seekers of knowledge…on reflection as a learning optimizer for adults and students alike. Although it would have to be delivered over WebEx, Peter’s workshop, “Rigor, Relevance, and Reflection” seemed to be the perfect fit for our conference theme and 5 minutes into his presentation my confidence in him was confirmed.

Peter used the BYOD platform Learning Catalytics in his presentation, engaging audience participation through individual’s own web-enabled devices. This enabled him to get immediate feedback and sense audience perceptions as if he were in the room with us. He provided attendees with many “light bulb moments”, as well as opportunities to examine their own practices and offerings of techniques to deepen them. It didn’t matter that Peter was in Oregon. He had our audience at “Hello.” They were captivated from the start

We cannot thank Peter enough for his contribution to our annual conference. We know that the conversation and ideas generated by his workshop will lead our team into our next phase of growth.”

Flipped My Keynote

Tech.it.U is a premier educational technology conference (and Penn State grad course) designed to inspire and generate practical classroom ideas that “will help you teach with power and focus to impact students’ futures.”

“Thank you for making us think. You taught by example.”

I was asked to give the closing keynote on my Taxonomy of Reflection at this year’s, week-long conferenceKeynoters typically show up, explain their model, answer questions, etc. If all goes well, folks leave with an understanding of the ideas you pitched to them.

Transfer of content is easy in the digital age, it’s processing the learning that’s the challenge. So I elected to flip my keynote. Why not use one of the strategies I recommend to teachers? (My slide deck on flipping your class)

To flip my keynote, I gave Tech.it.U participants some advance reading about my taxonomy. Then I used my two hours – not to present, but to put them through a variety of experiences to provoke their reflections. For example, we studied a mid-19th century primitive painting to see how students “feel” when they are asked to construct meaning when they lack background knowledge. LearningCatalytics, a BYOD-based response system, made it possible to harness the power of peer instruction and compare our reflections. 

So how did “flipping” my keynote go? I asked participants to reflect on the experience. Here’s a few of their responses:

  • What a great end to the week. You had me engaged throughout the presentation. The hands on activities with partners, the discussions or arguments with peers, and the videos were perfect. Each of these items had me analyzing, applying, understanding, and evaluating information.
  • Wow! I loved how interactive this keynote was. My brain is on overdrive trying to think of all the amazing things I want to try first. You bring a plethora of fresh ideas and thoughts.
  • I truly appreciate that throughout your presentation you modeled the kind of instruction you proposed we use with our students. That is my favorite way to learn!
  • Very inspiring presentation. Great thoughts on ways to flip the instructional model. … My head is spinning with ways to implement some of these strategies.
  • What an engaging presentation! Learning catalytics is wonderful! I had so many “aha!” moments and it triggered many engaging lesson ideas.
  • I wish more people would champion the idea that students should be responsible for their learning and that teachers should be the facilitators of or catalysts for this to happen.
  • Wow, what a great thought provoking presentation. I love the idea of turning the responsibility of learning over to the students. I am going away with multiple ideas on how I can recreate myself as an educator for my students.
  • Thank you for making us think. … You taught by example.

Learning Catalytics: BYOD Managed Student Centered Learning

I’ve long held that staff development should model what you want to see in the classroom, and for that reason I wouldn’t do a workshop without using a student response system. (SRS)

I’m not interested in using a SRS to pose objective questions or host a “game-show” style workshop. I see a SRS as a discussion catalyst and a tool to model instructional strategies. For example, I can ask a Likert scale question, post the audience results, and ask them “Does anyone see any patterns in the data?” I get responses and discussion that I never got in my pre-SRS “raise your hand and tell me what you think” days. Likewise, I can easily model a problem-based approach and give teachers first-hand experience in what that type of learning “feels” like to a student.

My favorite “clicker-based” SRS is TurningTechnologies‘ TurningPoint system. It’s been a central feature of my workshops for many years. But my quest to develop a more highly-interactive webinar PD model led me to investigate “bring your own device” (BYOD) web-based SRS systems. My goal was to offer webinars that rose well above the typical “listen to the presenter’s voice while you look at their PowerPoint” model.

Learning Catalytics kept us engaged more than simply sitting and consuming. You modeled everything you were suggesting we try.

Thus I found Learning Catalytics – a powerful BYOD-SRS system. After getting great reviews in my webinars, I thought I’d give Learning Catalytics a try with a live audience of about 100 secondary teachers at a recent workshop I gave at the Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School (MICDS) in St Louis. (I’m still using TurningPoint clickers. I bought along a set to use in a separate session with about 50 MICDS elementary teachers.)

I thought I share some observation from my experience with Learning Catalytics to encourage other educators to give it a try. Learning Catalytics is currently running a free 30-day trial for use with up to 100 students.

Learning Catalytics is a web-based system that allows the teacher to create a wide variety of open-ended responses beyond the usual multiple-choice, priority, and ranking. Creating new questions is easy and the system allows for copy / paste of text – it even lets you use that function to paste in multiple responses to a question in one action. There’s also a growing (and searchable) library of questions to draw from. Teachers deliver questions and manage the presentation via the web from their laptop (or tablet).

… appreciated the modeling of Learning Catalytics – great examples of how to use it across different disciplines. ..the idea of placing us in our students’ shoes – which felt very uncomfortable at times – was really useful in the end.

The system has an array of powerful response monitoring and reporting tools, and it’s a stand out at fostering peer discussion. Teachers can easily create a student seat map and use it to quickly see who “gets it.” Learning Catalytics can review student responses and direct them to discuss their answers with nearby peers who may have different views. It even send out a message telling them to talk with specific class members. “Cameron turn to your right and talk to Zoe about your answer.” Questions can be asked multiple times and students can teach their peers before the next re-polling. Collaborative learning is one of the driving principles behind Learning Catalytics.

Students can use any web-based device they already bring to class to answer questions – laptop, tablet, smartphone. You don’t even need to project Learning Catalytics on the presentation screen since all questions (including graphics and results) get pushed out to the student units. (Note: I’m already testing an iPad + Apple TV approach to integrate presentation and SRS in a wireless delivery model.) The system ran flawlessly on the MICDS wifi network. (The internet bandwidth we were pulling during the polling sessions was about 30MB for about 100 participants.)

Our workshop at MICDS explored teacher and student perceptions of “Rigor, Relevance, Reflection: Learning in the Digital Age.” Learning Catalytics’ great variety of question formats spawned some lively group discussion and teacher reflection on those themes.

As a defining exercise I posed the following: “The MICDS mission statement notes that ‘Our School cherishes academic rigor.’ Write 3 words (or phrases) that you associate with academic rigor. 

While Learning Catalytics can gather short or long responses as a list, I chose to have it create a “word cloud” out of participant replies – imagine the power of instant “Wordles.” (See resulting word map left)

Learning Catalytics provides a “composite sketch” question. Students can use their mouse or touch screen to indicate a point or draw a line on their device. The results are aggregated into a single response by overlaying all the individual responses. To emulate a “classroom walkthrough” I shared a sample lesson and asked teachers to plot their perceptions of its rigor and relevance on an X / Y axis. The resulting overlay graph of the variance in their responses (below) was a powerful discussion starter.

There’s other question formats that add interesting functionality, and teachers can incorporate graphics to create more engaging questions. For example: Students highlight words in a body of text – the frequency results become a “heat map.” Students indicate priority or sequence by promoting or demoting choices – the results show the relative strength of each choice. Students indicate a region on an image by touching or clicking on a point – the results aggregate on a “regional map.” I’m still exploring Learning Catalytics and I give a big hat tip to Brian Lukoff, it’s CEO and co-founder. He’s helped me translate my instructional goals into interesting questions and has been very open to my suggestions for new formats and control panel features.

To round out my post, here’s some MICDS teacher responses to a few of my evaluation prompts:

To what extent did the workshop model effective instructional techniques?

  • Finally a presenter who modeled what he preaches.
  • It was interactive, engaging, and collaborative.
  • Learning Catalytics kept us engaged more than simply sitting and consuming. You modeled everything you were suggesting we try.
  • Asking us to be in position of actual learners was a good reminder of what students feel and suggested ways to promote actual learning.
  • I thought it was interesting how you tried to manage speaking and teaching 100+ adults with minimizing the lecture format. I was impressed at your use of think/pair/share.
  • It provoked my reflection on my teaching, i.e. students take ownership evaluating and sharing.

What, if any, impact will this workshop have on your practice?

  • It reassured me that I’m on a good track in terms of relevance and innovation.
  • I will look to use more driving question, more peer sharing, and more student choice.
  • The workshop makes me seek ways to develop and practice student to student conversation.
  • I am going to immediately revamp how I plan to intro the genetics experiment and make it more open ended and student centered
  • Reinforced my call for increased relevance to student world and understanding the skills that students need to operate in the digital world.
  • I would like to give students more control over their work.
  • It has caused me to think about giving students more responsibility for their learning.

Any comments on the Learning Catalytics response system? 

  • Love the Catalytics…
  • I really liked it–very intuitive, very useful in creating class feedback and interaction.
  • I liked how the Wordle was embedded in the presentation. It was automatic and quick. I would like to be able to do that in my classes.
  • I like the Learning catalytics system as a way to engage everyone, with immediate access to the results. I like the open-ended questions.
  • I liked how the technology was used to get our feedback. There was collaboration, discussion and evaluation happening.
  • LOVED LC. In love. I wanna use it.
  • I particularly appreciated the modeling of Learning Catalytics – some great examples of how to use it across different disciplines. Also, I think that the idea of placing us in our students’ shoes – which felt very uncomfortable at times – was really useful in the end.
  • I liked seeing others responses. I always appreciate immediate feedback.
  • Love LC!!!!
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