Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions at GPPSD Tech Mentorship Session

On Tuesday February 21, 2012, it was again my pleasure to spend some time with our first and second year teachers and their mentors as they attended one of their four district mentorship sessions. We spent an excellent morning talking about ways that technology can (a) support their professional practice by helping with organization, etc., and (b) support student learning in their classrooms through integration into their instruction.

After discussing how tools like Evernote, Diigo, DropBox, and Outlook can help with organization, note taking, research, etc., we moved into discussion of practical ways to integrate technology into our daily instruction. We very briefly looked at the TPACK framework, where technological knowledge must overlap with pedagogical knowledge as well as content knowledge.

We also reinforced that technology is a tool, appropriate in some places and not the best tool in others. Providing students with choice, multiple means of engagement, and multiple means of representation is an important practice in our district, and technology has a role to play in helping prepare and engage students.

The bulk of our time together was spent looking at the essential 9 instructional practices identified by researcher Richard Marzano as having the most significant impact on student achievement. For those who might not be familiar with Marzano's research, and excellent summary of the tools is available HERE.

Teachers worked in small groups to identify different strategies that could be used for three of the strategies identified by Marzano as having a significant influence on student learning. The strategies we looked at today included Identifying Similarities and Differences, Note Taking and Summarizing, and Non-Linguistic Representation. The different strategies shared by teachers were OUTSTANDING! It was very affirming to see the creativity, passion, and engagement of our teachers today! A summary of the primary tools/strategies identified during the session, with links to videos or text-based introductions for each, is available on my slideshare account HERE. It is also uploaded to our district mentorship portal site HERE (note: accessible only to GPPSD staff).

At the end of the session today, protégées and mentors completed an exit slip. The FAQ (frequently asked questions) arising from those exit slips are addressed below. I hope they help. If you have additional questions, please email me!

You mentioned our GPPSD WIKI on Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety. Where can I find that again? Check it out HERE. Excellent resources and lesson plans for you to use in your class next week....for all levels! Use it. Add to it.

Where do I find the time to learn all this stuff? The best advice I can give is to approach learning about what is out there, and how to bring it in, the same way you eat an elephant. One small bite at a time. Check for local PD sessions, attend tech learning link sessions, hit up the sessions at convention, and most importantly, talk with others and learn from your colleagues! It is important, as we talked about today, so try give it some small amounts of your attention on a regular basis.

Wow. The pace of change re: Tech is something else. How on earth can we stay current? Unless you are prepared to make some big sacrifices in your personal time, this is a challenge. I highly recommend EMAIL. Subscribe to receive email updates from the following sites, and you will get the best of the best shared with you on a regular basis. If you have time to read the email, great. If not, delete it without guilt and try again when you receive the next one. They will come to you automatically.
  • FreeTech4Teachers - This is an EXCELLENT blog with many practical strategies shared on a regular basis. I recommend this site above all others to those wanting to learn more about a wide range of tools. Sign up for email updates HERE.
  • Vantage - An excellent resource sent out monthly by the 2Learn Education societ, it is focused on levels, on themes, and it always includes French resources as well. Sign up for it HERE. Sit back, and revel in the quality resources that will be sent to you forever, with nothing required on your part. :)
  • Ask a Tech Teacher - I don't receive the updates from this site, but I've heard people like it, and when I looked at it tonight I saw some decent-looking tips. Scroll down the left hand side of THIS PAGE to receive email updates.
And remember....if you don't like what you receive....unsubscribe! These three should be a good starting point though! For the more advanced among you, you might also want to look into RSS feeds and Google Reader to stay current. Google it. You know you want to....

What do we do if we don't have access to computers, labs, etc.? This is our reality. As good as we have it with respect to technology, we don't have enough. I'm not sure there is enough, until every student has a device with them all day. Focus on small and simple tools (digital cameras, a school netbook, the SMART Boards most of our rooms have) and use them as much as possible. When good enough is not possible, go for the best you can do. We will continue to advocate for increased technology spending and/or flexibility through the district budgeting process!

We did not talk about SMART Board Resources. Where can I find more of those? Google SMART resources and you will find a lot of sharing sites. One of the best I find for beginners is the SMART Exchange on the SMART Technologies website, HERE. You can search by level, by grade, etc. You might also check out my diigo links on interactive white boards (IWB) HERE, as I've saved many resources over the years.

Hey! You mentioned a cheap, effective USB document camera for under $100. Where did you find that? I ordered the Ipevo Point 2 View document camera online from I've not used it myself, as I shipped it off to a school for testing as soon as it came in, but I hear it is simple and reliable. Which in the world of tech = good news! KISS, right? Keep it simple s-----.

You talked about simple ways to create animations. What was the extra-something? I was referring to xtranormal. Here is an example, it is my introduction to our digital citizenship and internet safety wiki.

There are other great sites for helping kids create animations as well. Learn more about those sites, including Xtranormal, HERE.

We did not talk about web pages, but the topic came up. What is an easy way for kids to build pages? This is actually pretty easy for most students, and I think they will take to this quite easily. My son in grade 8 recently built a web page for an inquiry project instead of writing a paper. He built a Weebly site, and you can check it out HERE. For a description of some of the more common tools available, I'm going to give the last word to Richard Byrne, from FreeTech4Teachers HERE.

If you're still reading. Thanks. If you were at the session today, thanks. If you have any questions, drop me a line. If you have anything you'd like to add (note: I haven't even mentioned Edmodo yet) please consider leaving a comment in the comments box below!

Talk to you later.



Malcolm said...

You eat elephants?

Mr.Potosky said...

Thanks Sandy, congratulations on the new position

Mr.Potosky said...

Thanks Sandy, some good stuff. Congratulations on the new position!