November 13, 2014
12 Common Mistakes Schools Make With Their Websites—and How To Avoid Them
With more than four million English Language Learners (ELL) – and growing – in U.S. schools, districts across the country are struggling to find effective, affordable solutions that promote achievement for non-native English speakers. Many ELL programs fail students by only focusing on the integration of content and language while ignoring the cultural and socio-economic challenges many of these students face on a daily basis.
This session, led by renowned ELL expert Jim Cummins, will discuss effective digital and classroom-based solutions that balance proven ELL curriculum modules with a deeper understanding of how to overcome the cultural challenges facing new arrivals to our country. The presentation will also include concrete examples of these successful strategies that teachers and administrators can apply to their own ELL programs.
T.F. Meeting Dates for the month of November
November 21st - Elementary
For technical issues please go to the following google doument and enter issues.
ITF agendas and notes are housed at the Instructional Technology Facilitator course in Schoology.
Today's 5 biggest ed-tech conversations
1. Google is everywhere. Glancing at the conference schedule, observers might be forgiven for wondering whether Google is now the new Apple. Although that claim may be tenuous at best, given that Google, in one way or another, has always been a classroom mainstay, there were an uncanny number of sessions devoted to Chromebooks, Google Classroom, Apps for Education, and deep dives into niche tools (think Google Drawing or the social studies godsend, Google Tours). More than a few hours were devoted to picking apart every facet of Google Apps for every conceivable classroom environment. Simply put, a solid integration framework across a range of platforms seems to be pushing Google into more classrooms and onto more educators’ lips than ever before.
2. But the iPad isn’t going anywhere. Given that, at last count, schools have invested more than $400 million getting iPads into student hands, it would be rash to expect them to drop of the radar so precipitously. Now that the initial gold rush has died down, educators are looking at more intentional uses. Some speakers hailed from districts with renowned iPad success stories and were eager to share their stories; others promoted sessions that went “beyond giving you a shopping list” for apps. These days, educators appear likely to embrace the iPad’s strengths, accept its weaknesses, and engage in thoughtful discussions on finances and the merits of sharing devices.
3. Games have arrived—-in a big way. Gaming and gamification have bubbled just under the ed-tech surface for years, even cropping up on the New Media Consortium’s trendsetting Horizon Report from time to time. The snowball growth of Minecraft in the classroom, however, may finally be helping to tip the scales. While Minecraft was on many educators’ minds at the conference, attendees also listened raptly to a teacher speaking in a large auditorium who described infusing her middle-school classroom with “XP” and level-ups—-terms closely associated with role playing games. Indeed, GameDesk’s Lucien Vattel, a conference keynote speaker, built his talk around the benefits of experiential learning, the brain science behind fun and lasting memories, and gaming’s facility for teaching difficult concepts to students while removing what he called the “fear of failure.”
4. Reaching students outside class. Curricular shifts—-such as the Common Core and a greater emphasis on STEM skills—-have made learn-by-doing technology a relatively easy sell for educators, and much was made of novel ways to reach students through after-school clubs and passion projects. Trendy tech and buzzworthy terms-—think maker spaces and 3D printing—-certainly commanded their share of airtime, but educators also discussed coding clubs, robotics competitions, and ways to engage girls in STEM subjects. Adapting famous concepts from tech behemoths was also a hit, and educators learned how to apply Google’s 20 percent time idea in the classroom, and training students to staff school Genius Bars, as a way to teach students valuable skills and relieve beleaguered IT departments.
5. The focus is still on students. At a time when so much technology and potential for learning is at students’ fingertips, speakers and attendees kept consistently focused on how technology can best benefit students. Keynoter and educator Diana Laufenberg pushed her audience to think creatively and critically about their strengths as educators and how they can use those strengths to best reach students through inquiry-driven, project-based classrooms. Elsewhere, educators discussed how best to engage students in learning in ways that were both authentic and relevant to students, and which taught them how to apply the skills they were learning to real-world situations. That last point was an idea later echoed by Laufenberg in her closing keynote. “It’s not what you know,” she told attendees, “but what you can do with what you know.”
Stephen Noonoo, Contributing Editor, October 30th, 2014, e-school news
What Does “Personalized Learning” Look Like?
In this Education Week article, Sean Cavanagh reports that personalized learning is a hot topic that’s getting lots of attention from foundations, tech companies, and schools. Cavanagh says it can be seen as differentiation with the added element of student agency – “giving students more power through either digital tools or other means, accounting for how they learn best, what motivates them, and their academic goals.” However, says Theresa Ewald of the Kettle Moraine schools in Wisconsin, “Nothing replaces the teacher, and [a] teacher’s ability to know a student and what they need. You can’t get that from a piece of software.”
A consortium of organizations (the Gates Foundation, the Dell Foundation, and EDUCAUSE) has suggested that personalized learning should rest on four pillars:
• Learner profiles – Each student has an up-to-date record of her/her individual strengths, needs, motivations, and goals.
• Personal learning paths – All students are held to clear, high expectations, but each student follows a customized path that responds and adapts based on his/her individual learning progress, motivations, and goals.
• Flexible learning environments – Student needs drive the design of the learning environment. All operational elements – staffing plans, space use, and time allocation – respond and adapt to support students in achieving their goals.
• Competency-based progression – Each student’s progress toward clearly-defined goals is continually assessed. A student advances and earns credit as soon as he or she demonstrates mastery.
“‘Personalized Learning’ Eludes Easy Definitions” by Sean Cavanagh in Education Week, October 22, 2014 (Vol. 34, #9, p. S2-S4), www.edweek.org
Choosing the Best E-Texts
In this Kappan article, Bridget Dalton (University of Colorado/Boulder) says digital content offers students new possibilities for engaging in texts – especially students who struggle with printed material. Dalton believes digital texts, at their best, fulfill the three principles of Universal Design for Learning:
- Providing multiple means of representing the “what” of learning – for example, students being able to hear the text as they read it and see individual words defined and broken into animated, decodable chunks;
- Providing multiple means of action and expression, the “how” of responding to texts – for example, writing, drawing, or audio-recording;
- Providing multiple means of engagement, the “why” of learning – such as setting a goal of becoming a journalist and investing effort in pursuing that goal.
But not all e-texts are high-quality, says Dalton. She offers the following suggestions for picking the best materials:
• Look for e-texts with audio narration that provides access to the general education curriculum. Students who are below grade level can access challenging text and build their vocabulary and comprehension when they listen to voice narration.
• Select e-books with meaningful enhancements for vocabulary comprehension. Buyer beware, says Dalton. “Be alert for distracting media enhancements, such as illustration hotspots that conflict with, are irrelevant to the story line, or contain unrelated games.” All these interfere with students’ focus and comprehension, and make texts less suitable to shared reading with an adult.
• Teach students how to use e-text features. Explicit instruction is often necessary for students to get the full value out of digital enhancements.
• Create an e-reader community. Get students sharing “good reads” and effective strategies with each other.
• Organize professional development and technical assistance. “Teachers need time to collaborate with colleagues on developing grade-level plans to integrate e-books reading into the curriculum and standards,” says Dalton. “There is a rich array of online communities and Internet resources including tools for reading e-text and authoring customized e-books.”
“E-Text and E-Books Are Changing the Literacy Landscape” by Bridget Dalton in Phi Delta Kappan, November 2014 (Vol. 96, #3, p. 38-43), www.kappanmagazine.org; Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.