February 2012


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February 2012

  1. 1. CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF ALBANY ter l te ch Newslet In structiona Volume 11 Issue 6 February 2012W h at a r e yo u d o i n g o n T u e s day ?Support group has sorted projects folks where support group Inside this issue:been buzzing along just need help with. is held. Black History Month 2all semester. We Redefining Instruction 3have worked exten- You are free to join You can email her at Biomimicry 4sively on the Smart- us at any time. Youboard. We had folks can determine what spa-who worked on their you want to work ben@albany.k12.ny.usclassroom wikis. One and how you wantgroup is using their to pursue it. Wewiki as an electronic have the tools andportfolio. We have the help you need.videos that docu-ment student work Just let us know youand how they are are coming as we al-progressing. ways have food. Just drop us an email.We have the usual Sandy is located atprojects such as web Abrookin now inpages and other as- Room A09 which isVirtual Field tripsIt is not often that we has access to virtual coming field trip to Ellisfind a great site field trips. There are Island and archived onesworth saying it’s upcoming ones as with RL Stine.worth putting in the well as archivedtime on. events. They are http://www.scholastic.com/ worth taking a look livewebcasts/webcast_tips.htm? eml=TNL/e/20120131///However, Scholastic at. There is an up- February_Update///
  2. 2. PAGE 2 INSTRUCTIONAL TECH NEWSLETTER Black History Month 2012 Once again we have http:// Smithsonian collected a list of sites to www.africanamericanhistorymo nth.gov/ Always a favorite site with use this month with ac- amazing resources. Very much tivities for your students. Scholastic worth the time to visit. They run the gambit of topics and reading lev- Always a good site for teaching http:// els. resources. This month they www.smithsonianeducation.or have 13 ways to celebrate Black g/educators/resource_library/ Every year there is a History Month that crosses sub- afri- theme for Black History ject areas. can_american_resources.html Month. The 2012 theme for African Ameri- http://www.scholastic.com/ Reading Rockets can History Month is teachers/article/13-ways- "Black Women in Ameri- celebrate-black-history-month A site that lists books, authors can: Culture and Histo- and activities to use in the class- ry." Center for Civic Education room. Biographies This site has lesson plans all http:// done for teachers to use. www.readingrockets.org/ For Black History Month calendar/blackhistory/ 2012, the Maynard Insti- http://www.civiced.org/ tute for Journalism Edu- blackhistorymonth/? cation website cele- gclid=COWR1M_Pjq4CFSIRNAo brates 28 individuals. dZBp6iQ http://mije.org/features/ Teacher Vision black-history-month- This used to be a favorite site un- 2012?gclid=CKbj- til they started charging a sub- fnMjq4CFYgRNAodjXLL scription fee. However, you can hA still get five downloads for free. Most Comprehensive http:// Often there will be a site www.teachervision.fen.com/ that we tag” if you only black-history-month/teacher- have time to visit one resources/6602.html site, visit this one.” This is it.
  3. 3. VOLUME 11 ISSUE 6 PAGE 3 Redefining Instruction With Technology: Five Essential Steps By Jennie Magiera http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/01/25/tln_magiera1.html?print=1This month’s article reminded me a great deal of all the things we learned during our SCALE project lastyear. But, here is food for thought as we add more technology.In the fall of 2010, I was awarded a grant that brought 32 iPads to my classroom. I had high hopes that thiswould revolutionize teaching and learning in my class. These devices would help me to create a magical, col-laborative learning environment that met all my students’ individual needs. These seemed like lofty goals —but they all came true. Eventually. First, I had to learn a hard lesson: Just bringing new technology in yourclassroom and working it into day-to-day routines isn’t enough.The iPads arrived two days before my students, and I quickly made plans to integrate them into our curricu-lum. Despite my high hopes, the next two months were less than successful. A casual observer would havewitnessed a sea of students glued to glistening tablets, but the effects were superficial. The iPads were nothelping my students make substantial progress toward self-efficacy, academic achievement, or social-emotional growth. Around the end of September, I took a step back—it was time to evaluate and reflect onwhat was happening.The problem, I began to realize, was my own understanding of how the iPads should be utilized in the class-room. I had seen them as a supplement to my pre-existing curriculum, trying to fit them into the structure ofwhat I’d always done. This was the wrong approach: To truly change how my classroom worked, I needed atechnology-based redefinition of my practice.Here are five lessons I’ve learned about redefining classroom instruction with technology —whether iPads orother tools.Break down to rebuild. As terrifying as it may sound, the first step is to take a proverbial sledgehammer toyour existing classroom framework. This realization was a turning point for me. I would have to be willing todepart from what I had "always done" or "always taught." I needed to review my program with the power ofmy new tools in mind. By setting aside my pre-conceived notions of how my classroom "should" look, sound,and feel, I was able to transform my practice from the ground up.Redefine with a goal in mind. When rethinking your curriculum and classroom, identify the goals you havefor yourself and your students. I focused on two important goals: increased differentiation and robust, effi-cient assessment. Next, I asked myself, "Can the iPads help me reach those goals?" Realizing that theycould, I redesigned my classroom practice around the goals, with iPads as the infrastructure. Here are a fewexamples:• I created interactive video mini-lessons to increase differentiation.• I used online student surveys and audio/visual apps such as Toontastic to allow my students to voice theiremotions, curiosities, and academic goals in private.
  4. 4. CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF ALBANY Biomimicry A teacher was looking for information on biomimicry. Biomimicry is the examination and mimicry of natural systems by engineers, scientists and inventors The ex- ample probably most familiar to most people is the howCommunity Technology Initiative nature inspired the creation of Velcro. There is an en- tire area of study that looks to solve problems throughIf you would like to contact us: the use of this method.Sandy Paben441‐5605 (cell) Ask NatureSpaben@albany.k12.ny.us http://www.asknature.org/article/view/Emer Geraghty what_is_biomimicry605-1229egeraghty@albany.k12.ny.us What is Biomimicry? What can engineers learn from nature?http://webhelp.albany.k12.ny.us/ http://biomimicryinstitute.org/about-us/what-is-Instructional biomimicry.htmlPAX ScientificExamples and Case Studies to http://look and study science.howstuffworks.com/ environmental/life/evolution/http://www.paxscientific.com/ biomimicry.htmtech_bio.html BioneersSan Diego Zoo A new term that deals with us-This is always a good site for ing the biology of the environ-resources. ment to solve problems.http://www.sandiegozoo.org/ http://www.bioneers.org/conservation/biomimicry/biomimicry/what_is_biomimicry TED Talks A great site in general, but this is a great interview.How Stuff WorksA good site that starts with the http://www.ted.com/talks/basics. ja- nine_benyus_biomimicry_in_a ction.html
  5. 5. • To redefine assessment and differentiation, I employed websites such as Google Docs and Edmodo to cre-ate a faster feedback loop. These sites utilize color coding, instantaneous feedback, and automatic studentgrouping to allow me to immediately analyze data. I can enact same-day differentiation—no need to spendan evening reviewing paper-and-pencil exit tickets.Get more app for your money. I also asked myself the question: "What can I do with these devices thatwould be impossible to do without them?" In other words, I was hoping to create new teaching methods ra-ther than just replacing old ones. I moved away from content apps, such as Rocket Math or Math Ninja,which are very engaging but only address a handful of standards. Once a student has mastered the relevantstandard(s), such apps only serve as practice—and the data I can collect from them is limited.Instead, I focused on student-creation apps. Moving beyond replacing paper math games with flashy mathapps, students are now creating their own math videos, writing math blogs, and conducting challenge -based-learning math projects. For example, the app Educreations allows students to record notations on a virtualwhiteboard along with their narration, generating a multimedia lesson or problem explanation. This app canbe used to address standards in all subjects and engages students at the highest level of Blooms Taxono-my: creation. Other versatile creation apps and programs include Toontastic, iMovie, Garage Band, Paper-Port Notes, Kabaam, Popplet, and Aurasma Lite.Embrace failure. Last year gave me an invaluable lesson in celebrating failure. When the iPad integrationdidn’t go as I’d initially hoped, I had the rich experience of reflecting and restarting. I teach my students toevaluate their own incorrect math strategies to better appreciate the beauty of one that works. Similarly, Ihad to fail—and take a good long look at that failure—to truly understand why what Im doing now works. Tobe honest, I know that I still have a lot of room for improvement. Im sure I have more failure in my nearfuture and I can’t wait.So if you begin to implement a new app in your classroom and it falls flat, react by asking yourself whatyou’ve learned. Welcome your students into this culture of learning from adversity. By creating a safe, openenvironment and by being clear that this endeavor is as foreign to you as it is to them, you encourage risktaking—and greater achievements.Enjoy the results, reflect towards the future. After redefining my classroom, the iPads were out all day,every day. They were being pushed to their limit so that my students could be pushed to theirs. This effortpaid off: 10 times as many of my students scored at the 90th percentile or above on the 2011 state test ascompared to the 2010 state test. I saw students become active agents in their own learning —because theynow had choices about the methods that worked best for them. Kids who’d professed to hate school werenow eager to engage in the classroom. One student wrote in her daily reflection, "[iPads] make me want tocome to school every day because I know that Ms. Magiera has a lesson just for me."These "wins" were a source of euphoria for me as an educator, but I also know that there is more to do,more to learn, more to try. Our classrooms must grow and evolve to meet the fluctuating needs of our stu-dents and take advantage of the ever-changing array of technological tools.Someone recently asked me, "What do you predict the classroom of the future will look like?" I had to say, ifI could predict whats in the future classroom, I’d be sorely disappointed. I love being surprised by new de-velopments in technology and pedagogy. Classroom redefinition is an ongoing process, and I can’t wait todiscover what tomorrow brings.