By Mark Winegar on Thu, 01/24/2013
"A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it." - John Steinbeck
"Today's work was an affirmation for some and an "aha" for others. Much like students in a classroom, any professional development experience with a staff is related to working with individuals with varying abilities. By providing us with time to create our products, our staff members were able to identify different formats, different methods, each other's creative flair, and so on. Staff feedback I received early in the year asked that they had to time to work with each other during inservice experiences. We were able to achieve this through our product creation. What you helped facilitate today was a model. Models help us identify ways to accomplish tasks and solve problems. Not only do models help identify performance standards, but also the use of models helps each participant build his/her own background knowledge.
I would characterize your work today as beneficial because of the positive tone you generated, the potential created for transfer (e.g. our March work), and because you guided us through a model of how to promote higher-level thinking skills.
Again, thank you for your time and efforts.
I would gladly speak on your behalf to any other interested districts or academic institutions."
Beresford's teachers asked me to do a workshop on engaging students in higher order thinking with iPads and I couldn't have been more pleased.
I spent much of the past decade trying to engage college freshman in expressing higher order thinking in 500 words essays on a general education course on computer skills. My objective then was to teach them how to properly format college papers in the MLA format using Microsoft Word but they needed something to write about.
I decided to pick current issues being discussed on National Public Radio like terrorism, the Iraq War, healthcare reform, or whatever was the hot topic of the time. Students had no problem finding sources for their papers and they liked epressing their opinions. Grading was based solely on how well they followed the MLA rules.
There were a few speed bumps along the way but this was a highly successful strategy. One freshman acutally won the annual essay contest with her paper!
So I decided to treat the workshop participants to the same type of experience.
I began by publishing a series of posts here for participants to read prior to the workshop knowing our time would be short. Small groups were assigned topics ahead of time to research. They were ready to go to work when I arrived!
Their videos creatively expressed their ideas. While the podcasts I shared ahead of time featured the iPad's built-in camera app one group decided to use iMovie instead. Another group incorporated Keynote slides. A third wrote their statements on white sheets of paper to be read instead of heard. We were all impressed during our time to share!
I asked the teachers, "What was the easiest part of your assignment?". "Making the video!", they replied. One young man said he had no idea what the Dream Act was until he had to research it. Another teacher said he couldn't wait to try this with his class.
I think we all had a great time and the teachers were well satisfied with what they learned.
I am ready to do it again!
ps: A survey from published by ASCD SmartBrief today asked educators, "Which one of the following ed-tech topics would you like to explore most in 2013?" The responses were:
Using technology to create authentic learning experiences 44.96%
Transitioning to digital textbooks 18.24%
Flipping the classroom 13.89%
Making bring your own device (BYOD) work in the classroom 13.04%
Using social media for professional development 6.15%
Learn more at The Mobile Learning Studio.