Featured Post

ISTE 10 Recap: From Add-on Technology to Essential Technology: Constru

One of the sessions I attended at the ISTE 10 conference was Elliott Soloway and Cathie Norris’s entitled: “From Add-on Technology to Essential Technology: Constructing 1-to-1 Aware Curriculum”.  It is hard to go wrong with a session by Elliott Soloway, his humor is contagious. I was interested in this session because I am currently working on a proposal for a 1-to-1 iPad pilot program and study for next year.  I came away with some new perspectives on mobile technologies that I will share at the end of the post.  To begin, here is the gist of the session: “Within 5 years every child in every grade will be learning with mobile technology, it will be bigger than the Internet”- Elliott Soloway There are 7 billion people on the planet and 4 billion mobile devices. The greatest challenge we face as educators is to teach ALL kids.  We need to teach kids “brain jobs” not “back jobs”.  This is 21st Century skills and content. “Right now looking at all the school data is just like moving deck chairs around on the Titanic.” – Elliott Soloway Mobile technology is the game changer. In Singapore, Nan Chi Primary school saw a significant increase in tests scores after introducing smart phones in the 3rd grade science classroom. In a classroom using 1 to 1 mobile devices, not a single child failed to turn in a single homework assignment all year.  Why did that happen? Because they are engaged. Time on task = success The tools have to be used as essential tools, not supplementary.  Supplementing with technology doesn’t move the needle.  Essential means that technology is in hand 24/7 students have complete access to the tool.  Essential means that students are actively engaged in doing and creating.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other tools being used. Most things can be done on a mobile phone device. Mobile devices connect students to the real world.  Learning doesn’t end when school does. When you look closely at the studies that show that technology has no impact, you will see that it is because technology was used as a supplement. Technology should be like oxygen, invisible but essential. Mobile devices like the cell phone are ideal because the cost of the device is $0 and what you pay for is the connectivity.  It is a cheap solution. It is about the kids, not the technology.  Let them use their own tools. Mobile devices are growing at a rate of 50% a year, this is the fastest growing technology.  We used to tell teachers to get on the technology bus, now we have to say get on the technology bullet train because it is moving! Elliott mentioned that he doesn’t think that the iPad has a place as a learning device.  His reasoning is that it isn’t what kids are using.  He argues that kids are using cellphones and mobile devices, that the iPad isn’t natural for them. Elliott was an excellent presenter.  He made some great points about using cellphone technology in the classroom.  I have to disagree with his assessment that the iPad isn’t a good device for kids.  While I like the idea of using cellphone technology and just paying for connectivity, it isn’t what every classroom needs.  The conclusion that I kept coming to is that no classroom situation is the same.  While an inner city school with low access to technology and resources might benefit best from a smart phone for learning, it might not make the same sense in a suburban school with more ubiquitous technology access.  In a poorer neighborhood you will find homes that lack wireless Internet access, putting an iPad in the hands of those kids might not be as successful as giving them a cellphone that they could use to access a cellular data network.  But in a wealthier, suburban neighborhood where wireless Internet is around every corner, an iPad is the perfect device.  What I realized is that there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to education.  One solution isn’t going to solve the education problems of the world.  We need to look at each population and each classroom and choose the solution that makes the most sense for that instance.  Education has to be tailored to the individuals, not the masses. Soloway is right, we keep trying to make the data tell us a new story.  Policy makers implement new standards and tests as a way to save education.  But that is like moving deck chairs around on the Titanic.  Sure things look different, but it is still a sinking ship.  We need to cut our losses and build a new ship all together.  That new ship should be tailored to fit the needs of the students who are boarding it.  For some that means mobile phone technology, for others iPads, and for some netbooks.  I can argue all day long for the benefits of the iPad in learning but when we get right down to it, the reason I hold that view is because it is perfect for the student population I work with.  It makes sense in our situation.  That may or may not be true of you. To learn more about the session visit here. Ten Ways to Boost Learning with Technology

Read More

The Future We Will Create: all the in-between important stuff

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Inquiry, inspiration, Middle/High School, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 20-03-2013

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


A few years ago I watched the documentary TED: The Future We Will Create.  Being a fan of TED talks, I was curious to learn more about the behind the scenes of TED talks and how the conference came to be.  I had heard snippets here and there that the TED conference was like a boys club…you had to have money and “be” somebody to get into a live event.  The documentary pulled back the curtain a little on the intentionality of the way that TED conferences are set up.  They are intentionally packed with entrepreneurs and successful people from various walks of life to bring together change makers.  The actual speakers may not be well known (at least not prior to the talk), they have a limited time to speak, and they share an inspirational message.  But TED isn’t really about the talks, TED is really about the talks that happen in between the talks.  It is about those serendipitous moments that happen when people are exposed to a shared inspiration and then have opportunity to dream about it together.  The magic is in those moments when people with different perspectives come together and share their thinking from that unique vantage point.  It is really about the in between moments, that seemingly empty and unimportant time.  TED does something else that I wasn’t aware of, they offer one TED speaker a “prize”.  Only the prize isn’t really a prize (not in the way we typically think about prizes), instead it is that this person gets to make a wish.  They get to cast a vision and a “what-if.”  They get to challenge the audience to solve a problem that matters to them.  Then comes the incredible part- these people actually use their unique gifts and talents and perspective to help make it so.  World changing.  A future that we create.  Together.


As I was pulling together resources for our current inquiry block about “sharing the planet,” I came across several fantastic TED talks that could act like a catalyst for deeper thinking and additional curiosity.  As I watched each video, I kept thinking about the behind the scenes, the in-between talks that aren’t documented.  The change happening as a result.

Then it hit me, we could do this at Anastasis.  We could watch these talks together, and then allow for the in-between talks.  We could be intentional and let our students engage in the discussion, the serendipitous moments of one thing leading to another, and another.  We could give our students time to just talk and wonder and discover together.  We could narrow it down to 3 or 4 TED talks and provide our students with serendipitous in-between.  We could open up the opportunity for our students to come up with the “wish” or challenge that the others would work to make happen.  We could empower our students to go through this same process and then watch them use their unique perspective, gifts and talents to find solutions and dream up new possibilities.

I’m excited to try this.  I believe that we are in the midst of genius every day at Anastasis.  These kids are really incredible.  I want to see what unfolds when we offer just a little inspiration related to our inquiry and then give them some space to just explore and talk.  I want them to see that when hunches collide, BIG world changing ideas happen.  I want them to understand that they are world changers.

Has anyone else done this with students?

I think that this will be a starting point.  For now we will watch talks.  Next year, I would love to have our students plan their own talks.  I want to invite the best-and-brightest from around the world to come listen to our talks.  I want to provide the in-between moments where change is enacted.

Stay tuned…

Comments (2)

Thanks so much for the behind the scences of TED information. That puts such a different perspective on how the video can be used. I love the idea of trying it with a class. Very interested as to how it goes and the chatter you observe from the students.

YES! I did TED talks with my 2nd/3rd graders this year. The 4/5 class did it as well. It was an amazing experience. My reflection on the process can be found here: http://bit.ly/Y5lZWo

I actually have an idea to collaborate with another school – feel free to contact me if you’re interested.

Write a comment