Sunday, May 29, 2016

Kindergarten Goes Googly!

Don't underestimate the growth of a kindergarten student!

Mooresburg kindergartners have been on a fun-learning adventure! I was blessed to work with Jessica Drinnon (teacher) and 29 students as they fully embraced technology during the 2015-16 school year. The journey included Google docs to type stories & find supporting pictures, Google forms for assessments & data collection, QR codes for centers, Google Classroom to complete assignments & answer class discussion prompts, virtual reality with NearPod, and Padlet for Q&A, brainstorming & communication with other students. 

Is your head spinning?? Yes, kinders used all of these technology tools to support learning goals and no they are not privy to a full technology classroom. Full disclosure & the amazing part...
  • students are in a rural, low socioeconomic school (Title I)
  • majority of the students DO NOT have computer access at home
  • majority had never used a keyboard until entering kindergarten
  • classroom IS NOT 1:1 (1 device per child), in fact this is not even in the ball park
  • teacher had daily access to 5 computers in her class and a few iPads
  • students rotated to utilize technology
  • teacher scheduled the computer lab & used it when it was available
I point all of the above out because I have often heard...
  • I can't use a computer with young students because I don't have enough for all of them
  • the computer lab access is limited because I'm not a tested area
  • my students don't have computer skills
  • my students don't have technology access at home
  • my students lack keyboarding skills
  • my students are in a poverty area and learning to use technology is not feasible
  • I simply don't have time to teach by students technology integration because I have to teach my content

    Kinder group proves that lack of technology skills, limited access, and socioeconomic constraints aren't issues as long as a motivated teacher provides the inspiration and expectation!

As an Instructional Technology Specialist, I have goals for technology integration. They always start with the motivation level of the teacher because it takes a motivated teacher to integrate technology to support learning goals. Jessica probably thought I had lost my mind when I suggested Google Classroom. Yet, we grew together because she was willing to work with me and invite me into her classroom. She found a balance and infused technology to create a blended learning environment.

The students amazed us by taking each new learning activity in stride. Barriers were not a problem because the teacher didn't let them stop her from working with the students until they overcame them. The students encountered a few bumps along the way but you'd never know it because they persevered.We discovered that technology skills are developed when students regularly use technology as part of the learning process. Honestly, we never dreamed the students would do as well as they did but they rose to the expectations set by the teacher. More importantly, the teacher never gave up. This is significant because she chose to embrace new techniques and adjust pedagogy methods to include implementing technology. She didn't get discouraged and she gained inspiration from the students. 

Looking back, I can say the kinderpups rose above every challenge and embraced new learning ideas. All students were engaged in learning! They loved to "type" instead of "write". Did it take longer? Absolutely! Was it worth it? Absolutely! The kids were PROUD of their work! They were excited to demonstrate their Google skills during Camp Google on May 25, 2016. Plus, several ask their parents to let them use Google Classroom this summer. Yes, they want to "type" (aka write) over the summer! In my opinion, blended learning leads to engaged learners!! I was blessed to be a part of the process!

Read about Camp Google at:  

Thanks PCS for the kinder shirts & David Pauley/Greeneville City Schools for the Twitter cookie cutters that were used at Camp Google!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Top 5 Thoughts of Teacher vs I.T.S.

#1 Teacher: I'm well seasoned & you don't want to work with me...

I.T.S.: Age and years of experience truly don't matter to me! I want to work with a motivated educator who is open to suggestions and growth. The only educator that is to old to learn is one with a closed mind...age doesn't impact growth but mentality does hinder/support growth.

Teacher: I can't use technology because (enter tons of excuses)...

I.T.S.: I hear tons of excuses as to why people won't (not can't) use technology. I'll be honest and tell you that I nod and say I understand but I really want to say "can't never could but we can try together". Would we let a child who can't read make an excuse to never pick up a book? Bear with me, I'm not being ugly but I believe in being solutions oriented. Instead of being negative, let's work together to find a tool to enhance learning for your students. If you feel overwhelmed with what I suggest, stop me and say this is to much. I won't be offended. In fact, I'll appreciate the feedback because it let's me know that you are embracing a growth mindset that includes technology.

#3 Teacher: I'm terrible with technology, you'll think I'm stupid...

I.T.S.: Ignorance comes from an unasked question not from a lack of comfort. No one is innately terrible at using technology. It's easy to let fear or lack of exposure hold us back. It's hard for some educators to admit they struggle with technology because they fear they will look inept. You must practice to become comfortable with technology. I constantly tell teachers that they are the content experts because I freely admit that I lack the knowledge to know K-12 content in every classroom. Together, we make a great team! I honestly say that I'm good at what I do yet I'm constantly behind...after all, with technology, I wake up behind every morning. Since I freely admit it, does this make me inept? I don't think so, I think it makes me transparent. We are all good at some areas and we can all improve and grow together in other areas.

#4 Teacher: You grew up with technology which makes it easy for you to...

I.T.S.:  Unless you count the walk-man, I didn't grow up with technology. I do have an interest in technology and that means it stimulates me to learn and grow. As a parent, I see the world changing for my son. As a educator, I want students, like him, ready for their future. I want them to be able to register for college, participate in an online learning environment, and work in at a future company that may require technology access. This mindset motivates me to do my personal best to work with educators to introduce technology. I firmly believe we should meet students in the world they are growing up in and this means meeting their individual needs in a digital world. Students are entering schools accustomed to technology. They don't see technology as optional but it is becoming an expectation and we should meet them with a mindset open to new teaching method that infuse technology.

#5 Teacher: You don't want to work with teachers who struggle with technology...

I LOVE working with all levels of teachers, especially those that are changing pedagogy to infuse technology. I offer each teacher a suggested technique that I think will meet their needs. Once you master it, you'll see me again because my goal is to scaffold professional development to enable all of us to grow and that means I'll add to your technology knowledge base. I'll take any motivated educator...age and experience aren't relevant but motivation is the key!