While attending the recent CEESA Conference here in Prague, I was inspired by several presentations and during discussions about using iPads as book logs and for reading reflections. My class has access to 12 iPads once or twice a week with use of my own iPad throughout the day. I decided to introduce 3 iPad apps to my readers that they can use to reflect on books read and for a prewriting activity.
Morfo was used to take a photo of a character and then record your voice speaking as that character telling others about him/herself. When using books without a useful illustration, the reader can draw their own portrait of the character to use. Other applications would be for the reader to share that character’s point of view regarding an event or another character.
We used PicCollage to insert book images and text telling about the book. Like with Morfo, if illustrations are not available original drawings or images could be used. Here is a sample by Philip:
Finally, my writers used Popplet to create a story web before beginning their original realistic fiction stories. These web files were emailed to me when completed and I saved and dropped them into their Google folders so they could refer to them when writing their first drafts. Below is one example:
- Ongoing sharing and reflecting on the quality of book and character reflections to improve communication and thoughtful reflection
- Where to post reflections so the readers and writers have an audience for sharing their ideas and original work?
- Create a class list of ideas to apply these apps to other areas of learning and sharing
Two months ago I read Daniel Pink’s Drive. In his book, Pink focuses on 3 elements that drive us and allow us to create fulfilling life experiences: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. And not only do these ideas arise in Pink’s book, he focuses on and discusses them so clearly, but since then I have seen some or all of these aspects discussed as necessary for a quality life in several other books. They also arise in conversations, articles and blog posts. When an awareness surfaces it can stay there and open up deeper connections each day.
When I think about it personally, my most meaningful experiences and deepest desires in life have centered on one or more of these aspects of action:
Autonomy: I have almost always wanted to “do it myself” or learn by doing because I gain a deeper understanding and pride in what I have learned. This doesn’t mean learning independently- just being able to have a hand in what I am learning.
Mastery: I am passionate about anything related to the three most important roles in my life as a parent, teacher and lifelong learner and I am continually learning through reading, thinking, trying, experiencing and reflecting. Ironically, I’ve never thought it possible to master any of those roles, but the pursuit of mastery is what makes them so rewarding and interesting.
Purpose: It’s that question of “why?” that helps me persevere during challenging times, find the means to solve a problem or motivate a learner and also act based on essential beliefs and values. I’m currently rereading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and he discusses the necessity of not just purpose but a meaningful, rewarding purpose.
Now that I have autonomy, mastery and purpose always in the back of my mind personally, I am focusing on them and reflecting in these areas currently as a tech integration specialist and in planning for my classroom next year. Building a sense of ownership, meaning and mastery for the learners in my classroom will be the litmus test for creating and maintaining my classroom. Marco Torres talks about focusing on the verbs, not the nouns. But when viewed as qualities, autonomy, mastery and purpose can be the nouns we focus on that lead to the verbs we manifest in our lives and classrooms.
As a tech integration specialist I am surprisingly never asked “why” should we try to integrate technology into our classrooms. Perhaps colleagues think it would be too rude or direct. But I’ve always answered it this way when I have been asked. Generally, I’ve noticed that it is attractive and motivating for all students, particularly the reluctant learners, and it allows us all to learn in ways never available before. One specific example is that I really became excited about podcasting as a third grade teacher when one challenging, reluctant student who hated writing began asking to stay in at recess to finish writing a piece he wanted to podcast and post on our blog. Publishing his writing as an audio file gave him a meaningful audience (not limited to the teacher and classmates) and motivated him to work towards mastery and own his writing and ideas.
Please share how you create ownership, meaning and mastery in your classroom or school…
Apple’s VP of Education, John Couch closed the conference by discussing the challenges that we face in creating change and growth in education:
- Our current mode in education is like a steam engine pulling horse carriages
- Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. (Steve Jobs)
- Technology as a tool v. technology as environment
- Substitution v. transformation
Whenever I feel homesick and miss my family and lifelong friends, I remind myself of the opportunities that I have had since becoming an overseas educator. This conference was one of those opportunities. The participation of students, infusion of learning through the music/arts, brilliant presenters and the location in a beautiful, enchanting city and a school that has a vision for the future made it one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve had.
My questions to keep in mind:
- How can I assist and challenge each student to learn and grow?
- How can I assist in transforming schools?
- How can I inspire and help other educators to learn and grow?
Tags: Collaboration, growth, kinderKidsDraw, Shift
I should be baking candy cane cookies right now but while mixing the dough I was thinking about the past 2 weeks at school and how encouraged I feel about the growth taking place.
First, I’ve been invited to help in Kim’s classroom with her center-project-based approach to student learning about the Rainforests. I’ve been helping out 2-3 hours a day, three days a week with students in groups, mainly the PPT group. I bring my laptop with me so I can work on my own things if I’m not needed. There are Kim, one or two parents and myself responding to student questions as well as observing and asking questions to help them self-discover an answer or find the best direction to follow. These projects require students to understand the content in order to share creatively what they have learned. Kim noted that it took a good deal of work to plan and set up, but it has been worth all the effort. On a side note, nothing settles restless 4th graders like Holiday or Celtic music or Bob M. and the Wailers.
Secondly, I asked all grade level teams to meet with me now or after the holiday break to reflect with me on what is working and not, what they need, and what dream projects or activities they would like help developing. So far I have met with the kindergarten and first grade teams and our meetings were very positive and gratifying. Beside the suggestions and problems noted to be addressed I have 2 larger projects I’m excited about.
Kindergarten teachers would like to use the classroom desktops more and need to know what software is on them, what can be added and they want drop-in help during centers to introduce students to online activities related to current classroom content. This is one of my dreams- to see students using the classroom desktops as much as any other classroom learning tool. Also, a second Kinder teacher is interested in participating in KinderKidsDraw!
For the first grade team, I am investigating a long-term project linked to their curriculum that we will co-plan and teach starting in January. They will be studying continents so I am developing a 4-6 week project with a continent focus that incorporates the language study, writing and math skills also being taught at that time.
My position as ed-tech specialist is much less lonely this year as I am in classrooms more (not just in the lab) and have built relationships with teachers. The kids greet me by name in the hall and I’m even getting handmade holiday cards this year (with my new name, Momaly). Yea!
Lastly, and not related to my own campus. For several years I’ve learned so much by searching online to see what other educators are doing in their classrooms and regularly reading some favorite blogs. I have also collaborated with other classes one-to-one. But within the last year I’ve moved from being a blog and Twitter lurker to a contributor. It takes some getting used to, mostly stepping away from brutal self-judgement, and to build relationships but I enjoy connecting and contributing so much more than merely taking and one-to-one collaborations.
So, if you are reading this I want to wish you a wonderful holiday and vacation- I’d share my Candy Cane cookies with you if I could!
Tags: beginning, mosaic, reflection
I love mosaics, the way broken bits and random pieces can be artfully put together to form a beautiful image. Various instances in my life have made me who I am today and I am a work in progress. Some days I literally feel disjointed and others I feel like a picture coming together. Teaching is also a work in progress- a day is planned and revised as we move through each part of the day. Pieces are eliminated and others that weren’t there at first are added to make the day successful.