Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thankful Thoughts: The Gift of Professional Learning and Growth

I was fortunate this Thanksgiving Holiday to spend time by my parents; I am ever indebted to them for all that they have done for me and continue to do.   Of course, there are many other things that I am thankful for in my life. One of them is having the gratitude for my ability and openness to learn and grow as an educator.


Being a reflective practitioner is easier said than done. It requires constant meta-cognition as I need to realize what I have accomplished thus far as an educator, what I want to accomplish, and how I will get to that point.  Education is dynamic as it is constantly evolving.  Our jobs as educators are to continue to learn and change in order to meet the needs of our students.  Many educators realize this and recognize the value of professional learning.  Other educators are unfortunately stuck in the 1980’s.   Why should I change?  It’s our students that need to change!  Entering a classroom with that belief is completely futile.  Neither the educator nor the students will benefit from such a situation.  


I could not have reached the point where I am today without the guidance and support of many of my colleagues.  Challenging my thoughts and beliefs about what education is and what it should be has definitely opened my mind and has left me with the desire to continue to learn and grow.  Inspiring me to become vulnerable, stepping outside of my comfort zone and to take risks as I try new things, has tested my self-esteem as well as my patience.  Whether I fail or succeed, what I have learned during the process is more important than the actual outcome itself.  


I have learned so much from participating in PLNs (Professional Learning Networks) and PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) over the past several years.  Being able to communicate and collaborate with each other - whether face to face or virtually, has enabled us to tackle important issues in education at hand as a group and learn from each other at the same time.  We might have different opinions, and that’s fine.  When we disagree with each other, we do so with respect.  Whether this has taken place on Twitter, Google+, Moodle, or another form of social media, I cannot underestimate how much I have gained professionally by learning in these groups.


Another driving force of my professional learning and growth during the past several years has been SMART Technologies. Yep, as hard as it is to believe, an educational hardware and software company has definitely pushed me towards greater heights in my professional learning.  As a SMART Exemplary Educator, I don’t view SMART as merely a company that is trying to sell hardware and software.  Rather, I view SMART as a company that wants to support teachers in making a positive difference in their students’ education.   Teachers extend their students’ learning as they empower their students to become natural, authentic learners, discovering more about their world each day.  


Last but most definitely not least, I am thrilled to be participating in a school leadership during the course of this school year.  I have never viewed myself as a leader before.  Because of my experience in integrating technology in education, I have been fortunate to be able to coach other educators in this area as well, making a positive difference in their instruction and in their students’ learning.  This has definitely boosted my level of self-confidence as I learn how much of a positive impact Educational Technology can make in students’ learning when it is integrated properly in classroom instruction.  Aside from learning how to be a school leader and coach in the area of Educational Technology, I have been fortunate to learn with experts in the field of education about many other important educational topics, including but not limited to:
  • Type and Temperament for Leadership
  • Time Management
  • Supervision and Evaluation
  • Instructional Vision
  • Curriculum Goals and Outcomes
  • Student Support
  • Alternative Models of Education
  • Change Management
  • Leading From Within


For someone who never dreamed of working in the field of education - and even more so, in the area of school leadership, I must say that overall it has been a bumpy yet enjoyable ride.  I have been fortunate to teach in a variety of school settings, each with its own culture and morals.   Though I do not know where my educational journey will take me next, I am sure that it will be somewhere that I can continue to learn and grow professionally.  And I am grateful for that.








Thursday, November 12, 2015

Do YOU Know Where Your Students Are Online? The Importance of Teaching Digital Citizenship

You've got some downtime for some of your students since they finished their work early.  Rather than giving them a book to read or another activity to complete, you give them permission to "play" on a computer or another mobile device in your classroom.

Before you allow your students to use the technology, it would be a good idea to think about the following questions.

  • Do you know what website your students are using?  
  • Do you know what your students are doing online?  
  • Do you have a proper filter installed?  
  • Is social media allowed or blocked?  
  • Do your students have the ability to communicate with others online?
  • Do you have Google SafeSearch or another safe search engine enabled?  
  • Are there inappropriate ads on the websites that your students are using? 
  • Last but not least, is there someone in your school who can guide you in taking the proper steps to ensure that your students are using their devices appropriately?

If you answered "no" to one or more of the questions above, it would be a very good idea for you to learn about Digital Citizenship, why it's important, and how you can provide your students a safe and responsible use of technology.

So, what IS Digital Citizenship? Digital Citizenship is the understanding of human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and the advocating and practicing of safe, responsible and ethical use of digital information and technology. (ISTE, 2007)

As educators, teaching our students social skills is not enough anymore.  In the 21st century, we need to teach them how to embrace the online world responsibly too.  Our students are not only communicating and collaborating with others face to face, but they are doing so with others whom they encounter in the digital world.  Digital Citizenship reflects the world that our students live in and we want to be able to understand the lives that they lead.  In addition, teaching these skills to our students allows us to address things and to be proactive as opposed to reactive.   Students have so much more engagement now with the digital world, and as they are doing that, sometimes they don't make the right choices.  Students sometimes don't really know what they are doing or the effect of how they are communicating with others.  We want to make sure that our students know how to use technology wisely and safely.


So HOW, do we teach them Digital Citizenship?  We do this in the following three ways.
1) We DISCUSS the concepts and importance of Digital Citizenship with them.
2) We MODEL proper use of digital tools - even to our youngest learners.
3) We PROVIDE our students with the necessary tools and experience so they receive practice in performing good Digital Citizenship skills.

I have spent the past few years teaching Digital Citizenship to students in elementary grades.  When I first started, I absolutely had no idea where to begin.  I was fortunate to learn about Common Sense Media's Digital Passport Digital Citizenship curriculum.  The program includes many educator materials, resources, interactive games for students, and it's FREE.  This past year, Common Sense Media released a Digital Citizenship curriculum for students in middle school entitled Digital Compass.  I'd highly recommend you checking out these resources if you have not done so already.





The information below serves as a guide to teaching students about Digital Citizenship and its importance.  This was developed by Mary Beth Hertz (@mbteach).  You can find the original document at http://mbteach.com/phillyteacher/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/K-8-Technology-Scope.pdf.  I have found this resource very useful in teaching students various Technology Skills.



      K-8 Technology Curriculum Scope: Digital Citizenship
  • Kindergarten: What information is safe/not safe to share online?
  • First Grade: What information is safe/not safe to share online? How do people use online tools safely to communicate?
  • Second Grade: How do people use technology communicate responsibly?
  • Third Grade: How do people use online information responsibly?
  • Fourth Grade: How do people use online information responsibly and respectfully?
  • Fifth Grade: How do people use technology responsibly?
  • Sixth Grade: How do people use technology responsibly for research and communication?
  • Seventh Grade: How do people use technology responsibly for research, communication and collaboration?
  • Eighth Grade: How do people use technology responsibly for research, communication and collaboration?



Here are some great resources for teaching Digital Citizenship:
Common Sense Media
NetSmartz
Brainpop
InCtrl
What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship, by Vicki Davis
Edutopia lists many resources on its website too.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

How To Get Students Started With SMART amp

In my role as an Educational Technology Coach, I am always searching for high quality digital tools and apps that will not only assist in engaging and enhancing student learning, but will also assist in extending it; enabling students to accomplish tasks they could not do beforehand.  Too many apps have been designed like worksheets; they are pure drill or reinforcement of the content and/or skills that have been taught.  The problem with this is that although they show what students are able to "spit back" or recite, it doesn't necessarily show what they have learned, and it most definitely does not allow students to express their creativity by giving them the chance to take the content they have learned to create something new.  

We know that learning should be visible; it's important that teachers have evidence that their students are learning.  This evidence is not limited to the students' marks on a paper.  Teachers need to understand, document, and support individual and group learning in their classrooms. Evidence of student learning can - and should - include:

  • the ways the learning affects the students' social and emotional growth
  • the purpose the learning serves (what does the student gain from this and how/why it is relevant)
  • how it empowers the student  
 This is the learning that will help in preparing students to become responsible members of society.

If we want our students to become empowered in their own learning, then we need to provide them with learning opportunities through which they can do so.  This may include opportunities in which students will exhibit:

  • collaboration
  • communication
  • critical thinking
  • creativity
Are you looking for ways to spark your students' creativity?  Have you tried using SMART amp?  I am proud to say that using SMART amp can empower our students in their learning as it encourages them to collaborate, communicate, think critically, and create.  By being provided with a SMART amp workspace in which which they may express their own ideas, the students are not limited and the possibilities are endless as they think "outside the box."

Here are some tips in getting students engaged in the SMART amp workspace:
  • Explain what a workspace is and how it is different from a SMART NB presentation file
  • Model the use of a workspace to create something new 
  • Allow the students to explore the various tools in the SMART amp workspace and create content on a given topic
  • Have students work with their peers in small groups to foster collaboration
  • Encourage students to present their content to the class
Based on my previous experience in grades K-8, when using SMART amp appropriately, the results of student learning will be fantastic.  It is an amazing accomplishment when students learn naturally and authentically which empowers them to learn about their world.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Success in Education: Marc Prensky and the Future




On July 19, the first evening of the 2015 SMART Global SEE (SMART Exemplary Educators) Summit, SMART Technologies offered the participants a real treat. We were privileged to hear from the one and only Marc Prensky who spoke about what success in education means in a new, emerging context. Those of you who attended ISTE 2012 in San Diego remember him as a keynote speaker along with Sir Ken Robinson and Mayim Bialik.
Prensky's topic was "Expanding Minds for the Third Millennium: The Future of Education and Teaching."

In this keynote session, Prensky discussed some important ideas and new perspectives about success in education connected to the future of our kids, the future of technology, and the future of education. This is all part of a new paradigm with a new goal, a new pedagogy, and a new curriculum.




Prensky states, "I try hard to see the world – and education – from the perspective of young people!"

We all know that our students will do better if we are preparing them for the future, but how many of us are actually doing that? Unfortunately, not many, because this curriculum does not yet exist. Will it come from technology? We know that technology amplifies human desires; but the solutions lie within people – their hearts, minds, and will – technology alone cannot prepare our students for the future.

Prensky explained that we live in a new and changing context - a world moving at an accelerated pace with a population rising dramatically. This combined with quickly evolving new attitudes towards many important things is leading to rising levels of anxiety. Technology can help us keep up with our ever changing world. But to be successful, we must prepare our students to become globally empowered by connecting them with real world problems and real world solutions. Kids today have extended brains connected by a worldwide Internet - and they know it. Technology does not do the job; rather, it merely amplifies what people are doing and their human desires.



"If I lost my mobile phone, I lose half my brain," said a high school student.


Think of today's kids as extended brains, all networked together. If we are treating them what they were 50 years ago, then we're not treating them what they are.


Prensky explained, "Kids are adapting to the future much faster than many of us. Kids grew up in one culture – a digital culture so they are all digital natives, where adults grew up in a different culture and are immigrating to another culture."

"The new technologies – potentially – enable our kids to do new and powerful things in the world, and do them, earlier, faster, and in far greater quantity."

We will have globally empowered kids if we do our job right. Our kids need, with our help, to develop the "heart, mind, and will" to use technology wisely, to accomplish positive things. Technology should be used for things we couldn't do beforehand – not for trivial things.

We don't know how to educate anymore – a new context requires a new education. We are currently on the cusp between two educational paradigms: one old, one new, and the merging. The old paradigm is "Education as Learning." The new emerging paradigm is "Education as Becoming."

We need to ensure our kids become good, capable, and world-improving people. The best means of becoming is real-world accomplishment.

"Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment," said Thomas Carlyle.

Education is not about the grades they get today, but a resume of real-world accomplishments. Our current curriculum provides an education useful for the context of the last couple of centuries – but not the 21st century. Success in education means teaching our students effective thinking, action, relationships, and real-world accomplishment. That's what will improve the world as we prepare our students for the future.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Learning to Program with Kodable

Of the six strands in a Technology Skills Curriculum (Online Safety/Digital Citizenship; Programming; Digital Storytelling; Office Tools; Research; Basic Technology Concepts and Operations), the strand of Programming can easily be the most difficult to teach - especially to younger children.  When people learn that my profession involves working with computers, they automatically assume that I have a background in programming.  To their dismay, programming would be the last field that I would choose as a focus.  I once took a computer science course in college and most of the focus was on programming.  Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the course as I found the specifics of programming and coding to be so abstract that I just could not relate to it.

It's so important that when teaching students skills such as computer programming, that it's done in a concrete manner.  They need to learn the content and skills in a way that is engaging as well as relevant to their own lives.  As much as we think that the technology skills are important to learn, we need to remember that the technology is a tool and it's all about the education and skills that students will gain from learning the those skills.


Towards the end of the school year, the first grade students at my school were fortunate to have a visit from Neal Rooney and Gretchen Huebner, the developers of the educational curriculum Kodable.  Kodable is an award winning game that is designed to teach the basics of computer coding to children ages five and up.  Kodable is available in both the iTunes App Store for iOS devices and the Google Play Store for Android devices.  It works on any web enabled device.


In addition, Kodable is aligned to the Common Core and has an accompanying curriculum through which students learn the fundamentals of every modern programming language in a fun and inviting way.  This includes but is not limited to the following skills and concepts:
  • Sequence/ Order of operations
  • Algorithmic operations
  • Conditional logic statements
  • Problem solving skills 
  • Higher level thinking skills 
  • Collaboration skills
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Common Core Standards
  • CSTA Standards
  • English Computing Targets and Programs of Study
As mentioned above, many of the skills above are more abstract rather than concrete.  Second, some of the skills cannot be taught; rather they must be modeled or learned through experiences that are provided to the children.

With that in mind, Neal and Gretchen first provided the children with activities to help them understand the background of computer programming.  They taught them that computer programmers use combining languages to program computers.  The language of code is made of numbers and is known as Binary Coding.  Although the children were familiar with the word "program," they did not understand what the word meant.  In order to make the learning concrete, engaging, and relevant to the children's lives, the developers selected one of the students to act as a robot which the students in the class would program without the use of technology.  Programming the "robot" was easier said than done.  Not only did the students have to be well versed in their directions, but they also had to apply their knowledge when they programmed the "robot" to move in different directions and angles not necessarily at the same direction where the students were facing.



After the class participated in this activity, it was time for them to apply these skills by doing some programming on their own using the Kodable game.  The objective is for the students to program the furry alien Fuzz to reach the end of each maze.   Aside from being child friendly, the game is engaging, attractive, and very easy to follow.  This is great way to teach students how to follow directions as it must be completed within a specific sequence.  Those students who have difficulty with following directions will have a bit more difficulty with the game.  This is a perfect way to teach them how to read the step by step directions and take their time in order that they will be able to succeed at the game.


We were so fortunate to have the Kodable app developers visit our school.  The students were able to connect with them and learn more about computer programming and why it is important to learn how to do it.  The students love using the Kodable game and I look forward to using it with more students at my school next year.  Grechen and Neal, thanks for visiting us.  You definitely impressed our students and instilled a love of computer science within them!


Monday, May 11, 2015

First Graders Can Conduct Research Too!

When I was in first grade and had computer class, we spent time playing games on our Apple II-E computers;  games such as Space Invaders, Monopoly, and my favorite, Mickey's Space Adventure.  Of course, our sessions were fun, but there was no carryover to what we were learning in our other classes.  Fortunately, times have changed.  Instead of students visiting the computer room, devices are used in their own classrooms so technology skills can be integrated in their learning to redefine instruction.  One of the strands that is taught is research.  Ordinarily, I think of research being taught in middle school.  However, this past year, I had the pleasure of working with the first grade teachers and students in my school to learn how to conduct research on a specific topic.

In a first grade classroom, the skills that are important to teach students include:
  • What is research?
  • Why do people research?
  • Using a website to learn about a topic.
  • Finding information about a topic on a website.
  • Communicating findings orally or in writing.
As I mentioned above, never in a million years would I expect first graders to know how to research topic using books or the Internet.  One class is researching the seven continents and the other two classes are researching animals.  At first, I had no idea how to help these teachers and students conduct research and report their findings.  The teachers grouped the students and each member of the group will be researching a subtopic of the main topic.  In order to be successful at this endeavor, I needed to accomplish the following tasks:
  • Find a tool that would enable the groups to collaborate and communicate with each other, as well as work independently
  • Find a tool that is child friendly and safe online
  • Find a tool that is cloud based so that students can use on any device and therefore they are not limited to using the same device each session
  • Find a tool that can incorporate child friendly websites for conducting research.
After conducting much research myself, I decided to use SMART amp.  Winner of recent awards including 2015 Bett Awards, 2014 eSchool News Top Education Products,  and a finalist for the 2015 SIIA Education CODIE Awards, SMART amp was designed with the purpose to be used on any device, anywhere, at any time.  I am fortunate to be a SMART amp Champ and therefore I received advanced training from SMART Technologies enabling me to mentor other teachers in using this software with their students.  

Now that I knew what tool we would use to conduct the research project, it was time to train both the teachers and their students in using SMART amp so they would be comfortable in using the software independently.  Instead of the students visiting the computer lab, I bring devices - either Chromebooks or iPads into the classrooms.  This way, the students are using the devices as a part of their learning experience in their own classroom setting.  With all tools, practice makes perfect, so it did take some time for everyone to learn how to use the software.  Once the students learned how to use the software, they were very comfortable using it and enjoyed using it to learn.  In addition, I teach the students while the teachers are in the classroom.  This way, I can collaborate with the classroom teachers while modeling it for the students.  Our students need to learn how to collaborate with each other and the best ways to teach them are by modeling the skills as well as providing them with opportunities through which they can do so.




Now that the students are broken up into their respective groups, it's time for them to conduct their research.  Each group will be responsible for conducting research and communicating their data on a continent or an animal.  Within each group, each member will be responsible for specific subtopics of their continent or animal.  For instance, if a group is researching the Continent of North America, each member in the group will be responsible for researching specific attributes about North America.  The students will use a combination of books and a child friendly research website, Ducksters to research their information.  Since SMART amp enables web content to be integrated and embedded within the workspace, the students do not need to browse the web externally.  They will report their findings within their very own SMART amp workspace.  They will collaborate with each other on their findings.  At the end of the research project, they will present their findings and what they have learned to the class.  

Below are examples of what the students will be researching for the topic of continents.  




I am so amazed by what the first grade teachers and students are doing.  Through collaborating, communicating, creating, and thinking critically, we are preparing our students for a better world.  









Sunday, May 3, 2015

Using Educational Technology to Improve the School-Home Learning Connection While Strengthening Parental Involvement


Parent engagement in the school . . . is defined as parents and school staff working together to support and improve the learning and development of students. Research has shown that the education benefits of parent engagement have: better behavior, better school attendance, higher academic performance, high school completion rates and enhanced social skills.  We know parents are busy; many homes now have two full-time working parents instead of just one.  Other homes just have one parent who might be working full time.  As educators, we need to think of creative ways to engage parents in their students' education.  Fortunately, the use of Educational Technology can most definitely assist with that, making the job somewhat easier.  Therefore, many schools have adopted a LMS (Learning Management Systems) such as Google Classroom, Edmodo, or Haiku, to help keep the lines of communication open between teachers, students, and parents.

                               

At the same time, educators are using technology not only to engage their students, but to enhance and extend student learning.  There are great things happening in your classroom, but do your students' parents know about it?  You probably send a newsletter, an email, or post a blog on your school's website, but do you ever give your student's parents a chance to experience what and how your class is learning at home?

Introducing SMART amp Winner of recent awards including 2015 Bett Awards, 2014 eSchool News Top Education Products,  and a finalist for the 2015 SIIA Education CODIE Awards, SMART amp was designed with the purpose to be used on any device, anywhere, at any time.  Because students can learn anywhere on just about any device that has an Internet connection, learning can extend to their homes affording parents the ability to be actively involved with their children's learning.  Parents will be able to see what their children are doing with SMART amp and how they are using it to learn in ways that they could not do beforehand.  When using SMART amp, the possibilities are infinite as the learning extends beyond the walls of the classroom as doors open up to the outside world.  The concepts that students are learning are presented in a workspace that is easy to navigate.  Whether it's collaborating with peers, teachers, or researching information, students will have a richer, more meaningful experience on their devices. In addition, there is an assessment component that teachers can add into their workspaces; parents can receive automatic feedback on whether their children have demonstrated mastery of the material in the workspace.



Because SMART amp is Google Apps for Education (GAFE) based, parents simply need to login to SMART amp with their children's GAFE accounts and then they will be able to access their children's workspaces.  They will be amazed at all of the features that are available as the workspace is like one big canvas that can be filled with their children's creativity.  One of the many features is the ability to insert images into the workspace.  They do not need to be concerned with their children searching for images in the workspace since SMART has set Microsoft Bing's Safe Search to conduct the search - and this filtering will be applied wherever the students use SMART amp. However, it is still advisable that parents supervise their (younger) children using the Internet on devices and they should not be left unattended.  There is also a YouTube search feature which can be used to search for videos and embed them into the workspace.  It is important for parents to recognize that YouTube should be set with safety on and/or they should use another filter to block inappropriate content.  There are many web filters available, such as K9 Web Protection which is even free.

With that mind, we know how important it is for our students to learn digital literacy skills in school to be proper digital citizens.  SMART amp helps them to accomplish this.  Parents need to remember that they themselves are "digital immigrants," while their children are "digital natives as they are growing up in a digital, media-saturated world and require a media-rich learning environment to hold their attention." (Marc Prensky, 2001)  In addition, parents will learn that by using SMART amp, the students are being prepared for the future. They are learning how to collaborate with each other as well as work independently, which are crucial in today's world.



A SMART amp workspace with activities that children can use to learn at home.


And SMART amp just keeps getting better and better.....during the past year, significant improvements have been made to the software in the areas of technical aspects as well as user ability.  The SMART Technologies Team is in constant touch with SMART Exemplary Educators (SEEs) to inquire how to continue improving the product.  After all, at SMART Technologies, education comes first!

After educators provide parents with the opportunity of using SMART amp at home with their children,  they can ask parents to visit classrooms in action to observe the class using SMART amp as a learning tool.  Parents can also serve as school volunteers for the library or lunchroom, or as classroom aides, which affords them with a greater amount of "hands-on" time with their children's learning.  Further, when a class is conducting a PBL (Project Based Learning/Problem Based Learning) unit, educators can inspire collaboration by inviting a parent who is an expert in that field to come and speak to the class either face to face or virtually.

Many parents at are on their school's Executive Board and therefore they are involved in decisions related to the school's operating budget.  Parents want to do what is best for their children.  They also want to know where their tuition dollars - or tax dollars - are going.  If educators would like parents to help them in soliciting funds for Educational Technology, then they need to make sure that the parents know about what they are using as learning tools in their classroom and how it benefits the students.



Thursday, April 2, 2015

SMART kapp - The Reinvention of the Dry Erase Board

"You mean I actually don't have to take notes?  You're going to do it for me?  Wow, that's so cool!"  Those have been the responses I have been receiving from both teachers and students alike whom I teach at my school using SMART kapp, the new Digital Capture Board developed by SMART Technologies.  SMART kapp makes it easier for them to focus on the learning by not having to write everything down.  And using it could not be any easier since no installation is required.

Robin Gossett, a PE teacher in my school, uses SMART kapp to take notes on a collaborative project using SMART amp software. 



I first learned about SMART kapp when I saw it being used at SMART Technologies' headquarters in Calgary this past summer.  Knowing that it was developed for the business world, I still thought that there would be ways it could be used to benefit the education world.  As an innovative educator, I am always eager to learn and try new things.  I therefore approached Warren Barkley, the Chief Technology Officer at SMART, and inquired about the possibility of piloting SMART kapp at my school.  Several months later, I was thrilled to discover that I would have the chance to do so.

SMART kapp is not an interactive whiteboard and was therefore not designed to replace the SMART Board.  Rather, it captures digital notes that one writes on the board.  I vividly remember my days in middle school and high school, specifically in classes such as algebra, chemistry, and physics, that the professor would speak so quickly and would expect me to take notes just as fast.  I dreaded the classes since not only could I not keep up, but I couldn't relate to the content being taught.  One of two scenarios happened during each class.  Either I would copy the notes from the board and I wouldn't be able to process everything the professor was saying, or I would listen to the professor's lecture, try to understand it, and then copy the notes from the board.  However, by the time I would start copying the notes from the board, the professor would be erasing them.  It was a Catch-22 and there was just no way out.  I wished things could have been easier and that I would be able to pay attention to the lecture and not have to worry about taking the notes.  SMART kapp now makes this possible.

There is clearly a need for SMART kapp in the K-12 education world and even beyond.  For students who have special needs, Executive Functioning disorder, and difficulty with taking notes due to delayed fine motor skills, SMART kapp can help both the teachers and students tremendously.  The device is not limited to the classroom.   The device is perfect for small classes, small group meetings, and for the Teacher's Lounge.

Using SMART kapp could not be any easier.  Just plug it in, download the free app in iTunes or Google Play, then capture, save, and share.  Notes can be saved as snapshots on a mobile device and to your Evernote™, Google Drive™, Dropbox™ or other storage accounts for easy sharing.









This blogpost has been cross posted at edcompassblog.smarttech.com.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

If Change is So Good, Then Why Do So Many Resist It?

There have been many instances in my professional career when my colleagues, superiors, and I have been faced with the opportunity to change and try something new.  This change could be a new method in teaching, or simply a change to a school program or calendar.  In any case, I am usually open to change that will enable me to grow professionally.  I have found that at many times when I was enthusiastic about change, specifically opportunities that would foster my academic and professional growth, others were resistant.  If change is a good thing, then why are others resistant to it?

It's all about vulnerability.  When I take on a new a challenge - specifically one that is innovative and has not been accomplished by many, I am forced to step outside of my own comfort zone.  When I do this, I am faced with many unknowns; what do I need to do in order to be successful with this challenge, what is considered success in this challenge, and what will be if I am not successful with this challenge?  Further,if I  am not successful the first time, can I try again?  How many times can I try until I have tried enough?

In my position which is a Middle Leadership role, I am constantly interacting and trying to build positive relationships with many educators at my school.   At times, I need to step out of my comfort zone and become vulnerable.  Becoming vulnerable leads me to trusting my colleagues as well as teaching them that they can trust me.  Sometimes, due to lack of confidence, this might be difficult for me. Being vulnerable can easily lead me to taking things personally when my colleagues are resistant to me bringing about change.  However, being a reflective practitioner, I must remember that I am working towards a goal of improving the quality of learning for both educators and their students.

I honestly have not thought about all of this now.  I have learned that becoming vulnerable can be a positive trait; if it is done for the right reasons.  Becoming vulnerable enables me to try new things and learning from them.  After all, it's not about the outcome of the challenge.  Rather, it's about the learning process and taking what I have learned and applying it in the future.