Posts Tagged socrative
A Note from Tim: Forsyth County Schools in Georgia is beginning its sixth year in implementing Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). The first year was spent on developing the infrastructure, and the last four years have focused on piloting the initiative, developing personal and professional capacity, and eventually spreading the practice of encouraging students to learn with their personal technology tools throughout the district. In this post, fourth grade teacher, Brooke Hagler, shares her experiences of facilitating BYOT within the framework of the Thinkers Keys.
When I began the journey of implementing Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) in my classroom, I wanted to make sure it had a positive impact on student learning, rather than just for presenting information or playing games. Don’t get me wrong these aspects of BYOT do have their time and place in a classroom. I just did not want them to be the only ways my students used their technology. With the potential of technology for engaging students and preparing them for the future, I wanted to make my students truly think beyond what our culture tells them is possible. This capacity creates the future adults who test, question, and invent for the next generations to come.
In order to create deep thinkers in my classroom, I use a resource called the Thinkers Keys developed by Tony Ryan. The keys are twenty strategies that can be used to help students think critically and creatively. As you learn how to implement each key it becomes very clear that they are an easy resource to use in all areas of learning. You can find more about the Thinkers Keys and Tony Ryan at his website.
The Thinkers Keys with BYOT
I began to integrate the Thinkers Keys by introducing the students to one key at a time as it fit into the curriculum. I modeled the key with students by using Socrative or join.me. The students participated and collaborated using BYOT, school technology resources, whiteboards, or paper. By using Socrative and join.me, I was able to model a key for the class as a whole group or in a small group and receive instant feedback about who understood the content we were studying at a deeper level. Another reason I used these websites is because the person answering could be anonymous to the other viewers, so the students who would never answer before felt free to take risks and give answers.
Once students became familiar with the key I incorporated it as one of their centers with any content. They could choose how they to turn something in. They often chose to use technology to complete the assignment and either printed out their work or emailed it to me. Not all of the keys involve writing down answers; however, sometimes students had to build models and then used their devices to take pictures to explain what they built. Other keys encouraged students to conduct research, and students would use kid friendly websites on their technology tools to find more information. After conducting research, students created presentations. I did not limit the students’ choices about how they chose to show what they had learned, and they often chose to use ActivInspire, PowerPoint, Prezi, or Wixie. My rule for presentations was as long as students knew how to use the technology and could meet all requirements of the rubric for the assignment, then they were encouraged to create with whatever medium they liked.
Thinking Differently with Thinkers Keys
Here are some Thinkers Keys that I used regularly in my classroom. I used the Consequence Key during our class meeting time and with our ecosystem unit. During our class meeting time, we discussed possible scenarios and the students had to respond with their own consequences. For example, I asked them how bullying affects everyone when a student picks on someone on the bus. They continued giving consequences until they saw that not just the bully and bullied student are the only ones affected. Then, I carried this same thinking into our ecosystem unit. After students learned about different ecosystems, they used BYOT and school technology resources to go to Discovery Education for science explorations and virtual experiments. They were asked to explore what consequences population growth and decline have on a desert environment. Once they viewed the explorations, they presented their group’s findings. Then the group completed a virtual lab and predicted what the consequences for a fish population would be by placing a hiking trail, parking lot, or playground around a pond. The students wrote a lab report at the end of their experiment that explained if their findings agreed or disagreed with their prediction. The simple fact that students understood that consequences can have a ripple effect could them academically and also socially.
Another key that I implemented was the Question Key. It caused students to think backwards through a process, which I found out for my fourth grade students was not easy. I used this key in all content areas, but I liked using it the most in math. It let me know quickly if students truly understood a concept or if they just went through the motions of completing the math process. I gave the students an answer like seven thousand, three hundred forty-eight and asked them to write five problems that reached this answer. To make it more challenging, I set guidelines. They had to have at least one addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problem. Three of the problems had to be written as a word problem. And finally one problem had to have multiple steps to get to that answer. In the beginning, this assignment blew my students away, but with repeated modeling and practice they were able to write and solve word problems more easily by the end of the year. Not only could they solve math problems with more ease, they were using their ability to think backwards in all academic areas. To think backwards through a process is a hard but valuable skill that we, as adults, take for granted, but it can be taught to students and then they will have that skill for life.
The keys can be taught in isolation, like above. However, they are ultimately designed to get students to work with them in connected sequences. I do not recommend beginning with sequencing the keys until you as a teacher have a full understanding of what each key is designed to do. When students use the keys in sequence, they are designed to help them solve problems, analyze, etc. I have been working with the Thinkers Keys for two years now, and this past year was the first year that I used the keys in a sequence. Here is the first rubric I created and used this year with sequencing the keys. It was a very powerful learning experience for my students and me, and I still have much to learn and experiment with this step myself.
The Thinkers Keys allow you as a teacher to tweak them and make them useful for your classroom. Just stay true to what they ask the students to do so that they keep their power. I could go on forever about how powerful the keys in combination with technology are as learning tools. They don’t just help the students learn the content in the classroom. They help them prepare for life in our competitive society. They prepare them to be our future leaders and thinkers of the digital age.
As an Instructional Technology Specialist at a Title 1 elementary school, one of my roles is to coach teachers on how to integrate technology into the curriculum. In our current digital age, this is not optional. Classrooms must reform to prepare students to become successful for careers of the future. We are already 13 years into the 21st Century!
So how do we get all teachers on board? The first step is to build community within the school and within each classroom. This is the foundation to getting any program to work – especially something as new as Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). Everyone should be comfortable learning as they go, and knowing that mistakes are okay, as long as knowledge is gained from them!
The next step is to focus on instruction – technology should always come later! Providing professional development on higher order thinking, project and inquiry based learning, differentiated instruction, flexible grouping, driving questions, different levels of technology use, the 4 C’s of digital age learning, etc… is the most important step to ensuring that technology integration is being utilized to enhance instruction and take kids to places they’ve never been before! After educators have solid instructional skills, technology integration will truly be effective.
Providing professional development opportunities for teachers such as using the latest tech tools, doing walk throughs into other classrooms to see BYOT in action, and having people walk through their rooms and provide feedback are essential! Having administration, other teachers, and instructional technology specialists walk through classrooms and give honest feedback and suggestions has been a huge catalyst for change! Let teachers know it is okay to learn from the students. Encourage the students to show what their devices can do, while the teacher focuses on the curriculum. Teachers who focus on the devices and feel like they must know how to use it before allowing it into the classroom will always be swimming upstream. Devices and software change constantly. Teachers must accept that and let that fear go. Educators will be amazed to see how much easier t eaching becomes when control shifts and students are allowed to have choice to be the experts of their own devices.
Technology in the classroom is one of the fastest growing movements that have ever occurred in education. When it is utilized appropriately, children are truly becoming prepared for the real world, and isn’t that the purpose of school? The BYOT train is only going to go faster, so it’s time to jump on, or risk being stuck behind while everyone else has reached new places!
A Note from Tim: Forsyth County Schools in Georgia is in its fifth year of implementing Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). The first year was spent on developing the infrastructure, and the last four years have focused on piloting the initiative, developing personal and professional capacity, and eventually spreading the practice of encouraging students to learn with their personal technology tools throughout the district. In this post, teacher of the gifted, Abby Keyser, shares her experiences with using BYOT to teach gifted students.
We are making a WHAT? With WHOM? These are the questions I was asked by my students after I explained our new project called the River Xchange. I registered my students to participate in creating a wiki with a high tech pen pal class in New Mexico. What was I thinking? I had never made a website, let alone used Wikispaces. Yet, here I was facilitating this project with my fifth graders, praying it wouldn’t turn out to be a disaster. The key word is facilitate – to make easier or help bring about. This word does not entail planning or leading through every step. It simply involves guidance along the way; nudging back towards the path, but not fearing a branch in a different direction that could lead to the same destination.
I took a deep breath and gave them the web address to the Wikispaces wiki. I gave them some freedom to try out the site while I monitored. They navigated with ease, figured out how to use all of the tools and even learned editing from an Apple device. This all occurred within about 20 minutes. All while I was imagining the hours I would have spent trying to make sure I knew how each tool worked and how to teach it to the kids. Pretty soon, my entire unit revolved around the Wiki. The students were in charge of their own learning. I would enter a few HOT (Higher Order Thinking) questions each week with related sites to use for research and they were off! I started to see improvements in the voice of their writing. Jaded, disengaged students started jumping on laptops to see how their pen pals had responded to their writing from the previous week. A few girls who were interested in photography created a photo gallery to share pictures of our local watershed with our new pals in New Mexico. Next, they were asking if they could upload crossword puzzles and Zondle quizzes to test their pen pals’ knowledge of our local watershed. My classroom was alive with excitement created by making connections to the world beyond our school walls.
Global Passions Unleashed
Projects like the River Xchange give gifted students a chance to expand their audience. So many of my students are passionate about current events or issues bigger than what’s being served in the lunchroom. School newspapers are a great idea, but if you really want to engage the hearts and minds of our gifted population, you are going to have to give them a larger audience. Try asking them to create a persuasive argument on their opinion of American soldiers in Afghanistan. Half of them will lean their heads on their desks and whine, while others will drudge through the task. Then try telling them that they could video their argument to post on Edmodo for their classmates and parents to view. A glimmer of interest shines out in a few. Better yet, tell the students they can post their argument on Teacher Tube and email the link to a few choice state and federal politicians. Now you have everyone in the room furiously trying to get their notes down on paper, so they can film . They want to get their point across to someone out there. They want their voice to be heard. Oral presentations to a class of 25 or 30 just aren’t enough anymore. Empower them; give them global access.
Teaching Gifted at a Title I school has its pros and cons. On one hand, you have access to many federally funded BYOT devices. On the other hand, you generally don’t see a high gifted population at a Title I school. Is it because the abilities just aren’t there? Or is it due to a lack of exposure to environments and experiences that higher socio-economic populations generally have? I believe the latter. This is where BYOT devices are going to swing the pendulum. Imagine teaching a child how to use a device appropriately to access information from places all over the world. That would give him/her a whole new world to explore, tapping into the abilities already in place and expanding the child’s schema. In the past, a gifted mind might have been stifled and unidentified in this environment. Now we are able to compensate for a lack of exposure and expose their potential through the use of BYOT devices.
What We’ve Been Waiting For
In education, we hear a lot about student choice. The gifted students in my classroom all but demand it. Not only do they want to choose the format in which they prove their learning, but now they want to give input on what apps, programs, or online resources we use to address a new concept or topic. They are essentially writing my lesson plans for me! By allowing the students to have a choice in how they will receive information and how they can show their mastery, we not only give them ownership of their academic success, but we also propel them into being able to make good choices in their future careers. My first step in planning a new unit is, now, to meet with the kids for an exploration session. We use BYOT devices to research our topic and pinpoint the aspects they are most interested in studying. The students then find apps that may aid in our learning. We always end with a discussion of how they would like to present their knowledge gained and who they would like the audience to be. Without BYOT, this would most likely be limited to boring PowerPoint presentations to the class, or worse, tri-fold posters!
Finally, here is a story of an overexcitable child. Like many gifted minds, Michael just couldn’t sit still and never seemed to be focused on what I was saying in class. He was constantly fidgeting in his bookbag with something, folding origami, solving his Rubik’s cube or throwing karate kicks across the back of my room. No matter how many times I asked him to sit down and pay attention to what I was saying, he was always getting off task. I found myself wondering how I could harness his mind’s bouncy nature. He seemed to always be doing five things at once. That was it! I needed to teach him how to effectively multitask. This is where BYOT has saved my sanity and reigned in my kids whom I could never seem to engage. I started by getting Michael to use Join.Me on my whiteboard during any direct instruction. This enabled him to not only view what was happening on the board through his device, but he could frequently type in his thoughts or questions in the back channel discussion log. This gave his mind something to engage in actively while still focusing on the topic at hand. Now, Michael is always the first to request that I add the use of Socrative to our persuasive debates, as a discussion question board to review what we learned in the last class, or as a backchannel to blog while we watch a video. Multitasking may be something that we do out of necessity as teachers, but our gifted students are born needing to engage in this way. BYOT has connected me with my students in a way that I never thought possible. It really is the perfect fit.
A Note from Tim: Forsyth County Schools in Georgia is in its fifth year of implementing Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). The first year was spent on developing the infrastructure, and the last four years have focused on piloting the initiative, developing personal and professional capacity, and eventually spreading the practice of encouraging students to learn with their personal technology tools throughout the district. I have been so impressed with the dedication of our teachers to transform their classrooms with BYOT! Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of their experiences from different grade levels in their own words.
Guest Post by Erin Curry @ecurry07
Third Grade Teacher – Chestatee Elementary School
After listening to the information regarding BYOT, my initial thought was that my students were probably not responsible enough to be entrusted with the devices. I also questioned my own ability to utilize them effectively in a classroom setting. I was not at all opposed to using technology in the classroom; in fact, my research paper for my master’s degree focused on the potential positive impact of employing technology in an inclusive classroom. However, the thought of my students bringing in outside devices greatly concerned me. I was worried about the possibility of the devices getting stolen or ruined. Were my students ready for this responsibility? I also worried about my students losing focus on me and becoming distracted by their devices. Lastly, I wondered if I was prepared and equipped to effectively use the devices in my classroom.
Despite my concerns, I decided to dive in and I asked my students’ parents to join me on this unfamiliar journey. I worked with the parents to ease the children into their new responsibility. When parents felt that their child was ready, they could send a device to school a few days a week with their child to use. It took a while for many of the parents to get on board with this, but once they learned what we were doing with the devices, they slowly became more comfortable with this new approach. By January 2013, 75% of my class was bringing in some type of device to enhance their learning.
When it came to helping my students become familiar with this new technology, I started slowly. I found an app that we could use on my IPAD–the Socrative app–and we practiced using it for about two weeks. Socrative allowed me to do a question/response type assessment with my students. Once I felt my students were comfortable with this app, I began integrating more apps into our lessons. They soon learned how to use the devices effectively at center time (reading and math app games), during writing (recording and listening back during editing and for voice dictation for my struggling students), for research, and for small student presentations.
This journey has undoubtedly led to more engaged learning opportunities in my classroom, but more importantly, it has propelled my students to become more responsible learners. Unlike I originally thought, my students’ focus has not strayed, but rather improved. They are more excited about our lessons and the role that they are able to play in their own learning process. I am thankful for this opportunity and I honestly cannot imagine my classroom without BYOT.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills identified 4 critical areas of learning for students that include creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. In Forsyth County Schools, we’ve been working hard with parents, teachers and students to embrace learning with student-owned technologies; something we call Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). What we know for sure is that BYOT is really more like Bring Your Own Learning because we’ve discovered that it is NOT about the technology – it IS about the learning.
The video, Above and Beyond, by Peter H. Reynolds and produced for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, is a wonderful illustration of what is possible when students are given the freedom to personalize the learning experience for themselves.
As you watch the video, you might consider the following questions:
- What happens when designers of learning recognize that students are always volunteers in learning?
- How can designers of learning create a “kit” and still allow students the freedom to produce individualized results?
- In a world where we feel pressured to cover everything within a given time frame, how do we schedule innovation and deeper learning?
- How do we honor each child’s strengths and still nurture collaboration?
- How would the meaning of the story change if Maya and Charlie were to lose the race?
We have spent a great deal of time watching BYOT unfold its wings in the classrooms around our district. And we’ve seen so many great strategies that support the 4 C’s of creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. These strategies are ageless and cross all content areas. We teach them in our professional learning sessions and coach teachers to consider these as they begin to incorporate BYOT themselves:
- Backchanneling while watching a video: In this way the teacher is able to foster collaboration and communication by having students answer questions and post observations as the video proceeds.
- Take a picture or create an image which demonstrates understanding of a concept: This is a powerful way to encourage creativity as well as critical thinking. A variation on this strategy is having students annotate on the image using an app on their device.
- Arrive at consensus and submit one answer per pair: It’s not necessary for every student to have a device. In fact it’s preferable that students are forced to collaborate on their thinking and agree on the answer that will be submitted via a student response system like Socrative. This strategy enhances critical thinking as well as collaboration.
- Sharing tools for learning: There is a magical thing that occurs when BYOT is first introduced in a class. If a teacher encourages students to share their devices with each other while talking about the ways in which the apps and device can be used to support learning, the great ideas flow and student excitement about learning blossoms. And meanwhile students are thinking critically, collaborating, communicating and getting creative.
- Demonstrating how to do something: We’ve seen some fantastic examples of critical thinking where students are using screen sharing apps to demonstrate how to solve math problems. We’ve even seen some examples where students have to incorporate a mistake into the problem and show why that mistake is incorrect and how to fix it – requiring some creativity to communicate as well.
- Turning a standard into a driving question: When teachers gain some comfort with implementing BYOT and have begun to give up some of the control in the classroom, this strategy works very well. The teacher will share a particular standard with students and together they will write a question that is compelling, asks “so what” and results in a product that useful and beneficial beyond the classroom. This strategy definitely addresses all of the 4 C’s in the process!
- Finding a new way to show what you know: Another great strategy to use once students have become comfortable in the BYOT classroom is to ask them to demonstrate their learning in an innovative way. Students cannot repeat any of the previously used strategies as a way to represent learning. Students are forced to think critically about ways that they can demonstrate their mastery and to do so creatively.
- Building a community bank of ways to show what you know: The teacher has to utilize the ingenuity and critical thinking of the students in the classroom for instructional and technical support. By suggesting ways to learn with their technology tools, students begin to own their learning. Teachers can posts these ideas throughout the classroom or online in a wiki, so students can use them as creative resources and communicate with each other for additional expertise.
Implementing the above strategies can strengthen the learning community of the classroom. The real transformation begins to occur as teachers realize that they can and should learn alongside their students to explore new ways to utilize personal technology. Not only do students strengthen their digital age skills, but they also feel more connected to each other, their teachers, and their learning. As shown in Above and Beyond, our students will one day truly take flight, and hopefully their experiences today will successfully pilot them in their different directions.