Monday, December 10, 2012

Integrating Technology in the Classroom

Using Screencast-O-Matic and Windows Live Movie Maker, here is a "quick" tour of how I integrate technology in my classroom.  Be sure to check out the complete list of projects and resources by clicking on the Integrating Technology tab.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Online Book Discussion: Rewired

My group and I read Rewired by Larry Rosen and discussed it via a group on Edmodo. 

Rosen provides definitions and distinctions of people in terms of their generation and technological knowledge and use: Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, Net-Geners, and iGeners all use technology in different ways. It is obvious that students of today are not like the students of yesterday. In order for teachers to be effective in the classroom, teaching methodology needs to meet the needs to of the iGeneration. Rosen also explains the thirteen distinct traits of iGen students. 

Excerpts of the conversation are shown below.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Notes on Classroom 2.0 - Technology and the Developmental Needs of Adolescents

As a 14 year veteran of teaching 9th grade, there have been times when I get caught up in the curriculum and keeping pace with standardized testing, but Stephen Davis, the Featured Teacher for the November 17, 2012 Classroom 2.0 LIVE show,  has numerous links to resources for meeting the Technology and the Developmental Needs of Adolescents in and out of the classroom.

What are the developmental needs of adolescents?

    Developmental Needs = PIES

  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Emotional 
  • Social

All lesson plans take into account the PIES because as Davis explains, "Focusing too much on state standards created lessons that are like a museum: perfect and static." Consider the layout of the classroom and the activities within the lessons: teachers do not have to present themselves as perfect because that is not reality. Using the PIES, "creates lessons that are like a house that is lived in: comfortable and realistic."

To meet physical needs in the classroom:

  • Use SCVNGER to go on a scavenger hunt
  • Use You Tube to watch and mirror movements in plays, sports, dancing, and musicians
  • Use Nike BOOM and iFitness to workout or lift weights

To meet intellectual needs in the classroom and execute abstract thought processes:

  • Veritasium - showing science concepts to people on the street 
  • The Onion - experience and learn satire (not all age appropriate)
  • Philosophy- play games that are philosophical in nature

To meet emotional needs of adolescents and deal with the paradox of trying to be an adult but stay relevant to peers:

  • Deviant Art - artistry, but not all school appropriate
  • Jammit - learn an instrument, download music from favorite band and have music notation on computer and can play along (can also slow down pace without affecting pitch & even isolate one instrument)
  • Instagram - photography, use filters to represent tone & mood in one or a series of pictures-- can see patterns of emotions in photographs (reflect to see the pattern)

To meet the social needs of adolescents who want to be alone, yet also want to be part of a group:

  • Social Voice - student writing on controversial and debatable issues
  • Instagram - moments become memories
  • Wallwisher - for exit slips 

Why do teachers need to meet the needs of adolescents? According to Davis, he is ....

                "Trying to effect change not demand change"

                                  "Helping the students equip themselves"

                                                  "Bring[ing] back humanity to education"

When students feel that they are seen as humans and not some repository for information, a cup to filled, and they have a personal connection to their education, they will do more than just earn an A+.

Howard Gardner 15 years Later

With all the focus on standardized testing and the discussion of the flipped classroom in education today, it is interesting to return to Howard Gardner's interview with Edutopia in 1997 and reflect on then and now.  

Talk about RELEVANCY!

Consider these questions:

  • How do digital tools tap into students' multiple intelligences?
  • How is assessment still mystified today?  Do digital tools take the mystery out of assessment for students?
  • How do digital tools help in the transition from a teacher-centered to student-centered? Or do they hurt?

Collaborative Digital Information Projects

My students used their phones to create voice recorded projects and I'd like to continue evolving their skills into eventually being comfortable doing collaborative digital presentations. Technology can easily be used to facilitate student presentations and overcome the fear of public speaking and provide valid opportunities for reflection and collaboration.

In this video, Kate Summers explains how her science students use collaborative tech tools for creating projects that teach concepts to other students.

In order for this project to work, students need access to tech and inter-personal skills to effectively and efficiently work with others.  With our Google integration almost ready for roll out in the coming month, I could have students engage in such activities and have them post the projects to Edmodo for sharing and review.  

In the Spring, we will be working on Homer's The Odyssey and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, both of which are heavy with historical information. In the past, I've divided students into groups and they would research a topic and then later jig-saw to share the information. Completed using paper and having students present in class, time constraints and preparation became an issue. By digitizing the projects, students can work in or out of class and presentations can be viewed multiple times online ensuring all information is absorbed.

My EdcampNJ Highlights

On December 1st, 2012, educators from NJ and surrounding areas congregated at Linwood Middle School in North Brunswick for EdcampNJ's free day of professional development.

This is me talking about
during the Smackdown.
Photo Credit: Kevin Jarrett

High & Low-tech for Optimal Learning

Not only teachers able to share ways to integrate technology in the classroom, but I also learned some low-tech techniques as well. There is something for everyone at

Cellphones in the Classroom

For those of you looking for online organization of students using cellphones in class, take a look at I use a mix of devices with some days in the class being BYOD and others using the school's computers and netbooks (as available). I already use Edmodo as my online hub, but looks worth exploring more in depth.  I also use QR Codes, Socrative and InfuseLearning for other BYOD activities, and Today's Meet for backchanneling. 

Storytelling in the Classroom

Following the rule of two feet, I only caught the last 10 minutes of this session, but I wish I had caught the whole thing. Led by Bill Krakower's mom, Elsie, this session focused on story telling techniques for encouraging student presentation skills. For high-tech story telling, Skype with other classes or have students tell and record stories using their devices.

Rubber Bands for Desktop Alignment

The desks in my classroom are the kind with the chair attached to the desktop and are arranged in a modified U-shape with desks in the center in front-facing lines. The set up works well for a mix of classroom activities from partner work to group work to direct instruction, but by the end of the day, the desks have migrated out of formation because every time a student slides into his/her seat, the desk gets slightly pushed to the right. By the end of the day, the entire room is shifted to the right wall-- as if there were a gravitational force. Using rubber bands around desk legs may keep them better in line. Keep those eyes peeled at Edcamp-- resources can be found anywhere!

Body Talk

Paul Bogush (@paulbogush) lead a session on body language in the classroom, including teacher and student postures. I caught the last 20 minutes of this and I wish I had been there for the whole session. In addition to the collaborative notes on the session, Jerry the Cybraryman, has complied a list of additional resources on his web site. As one who can usually read people, this was a fascinating session!

How To Run Your Own Edcamp

I enjoyed listening to Kevin Jarret and others discuss the structure and design of Edcamps and how to start Edcamps as PD in one's own school.  Edcamp-type sessions can start as small as having a discussion over lunch where teachers share ideas or having a once-a-month "unmeeting" where teachers show and share best practices.  Here are additional links on how to run an Edcamp.