COETAIL, Course 4, Professional Development, Uncategorized

Flippin’ Classes and Studying with Games

Image courtesy of Eric Dufresne from Trois-Rivières, Canada – Flickr

I’m not sure what to make of the flipped classroom model and teaching classes designed as video games.

Flipping

It seems as though the purists’ model of a flipped classroom puts the classwork at home and the “homework” in the classroom. The students get their lectures online and then come to practice under the guidance of their teacher while they are at school.  I like the idea that students are getting more time in class to practice skills with the help of their teachers.  I don’t like the idea of students sitting in front of their laptops watching Khan Academy lectures at home.  But the model on Mind/Shift only has students watching 3 teacher-created videos per week, and the prescribed length is 5 to 7 minutes long.  What is the great advantage to freeing up 15 minutes of class time a week?

I’ve also heard and read about the changing role of the teacher in the classroom.  We are no longer dispensing education, we are guides and coaches. I personally think that it is a good idea to lecture in class.  I don’t think that you should lecture all the time, but I also don’t think you should rely on internet videos to do all your lecturing for you.  I think that students can be motivated when they see their teacher speaking about topics they know a lot about.  Students are impressed by my co-teacher because he worked on a nuclear submarine. There’s no doubt in their minds that this guy knows a lot about science.  It is his passion and it comes through in his teaching.

In short, I think that we should have a mixture of mini in-class lectures and practice/workshop time. Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t think that completely eliminating direct instruction from the classroom is the best idea.

The Gaming Classroom

Complete Honesty: I won’t be turning my classroom into a video game.  The whole concept really turns me off.  I like video games but I don’t play a lot of video games.  I have felt the pull and have been “addicted” to video games in the past.  This is one of the reasons I actively avoid them.  If I allowed myself to start playing video games they would end up eating a lot of my time. This year, I’ve seen some kids who are seriously addicted to gaming.  They can be seen playing games between classes and in the cafeteria during lunch. They talk about games with their friends incessantly and they watch Youtube videos of other people playing video games. Again, call me old-fashioned but I don’t think that inserting MORE gaming into their lives is the best idea.

Also, isn’t the gaming classroom relying a little too much on extrinsic motivation.  Will the students only be interested in creeping up the leaderboard?  Will the teachers be trivializing their content?  It seems like the gaming classroom is a LOT of work for the teacher, but also really LAZY.  Laying the gaming framework in the classroom seems like it requires a lot of setup and establishment of rules, adding to the already packed teacher workload.  However, I say that it is lazy because teachers are resorting to turning their classes into video games (A surefire HIT with the kids!) instead of inspiring a real love of learning in the purest sense (Ideal… but really hard to pull off.)

One last poo-poo in the face of the gaming classroom; are the hardcore gamers sold on the idea of the gaming classroom or are they just counting the minutes until they can play a REAL video game?

Closing

This premature curmudgeon must end on a positive note.  Although I am against the idea of modeling a class after  a video game, I think iPad apps and online educational games DO have a place for reinforcing/teaching skills.

Although I have some doubts about the flipped classroom, I am definitely FOR supervised practice/exploration/workshops in the classroom.  I just don’t think a little lecture here and there really hurts.

Everything in moderation, right?

COETAIL, Course 4, Professional Development, Uncategorized

PBL or CBL or… PBL?

Brett (AKA:Mr.T) supervises a challenge.

In reading through the materials on project, challenge, and problem based learning, I’m not sure I see a real distinction between the three.  I’m not sure that I am supposed to see one at all.  I do see the appeal of setting goals for students that are based on real-life situations.

This year was the first time I spent all of my time in math and science classrooms.  Prior to this I taught third grade, ESL, and world language classes.  Teaching grade three probably gave me the best chance to engage my kids in some PBL/CBL-style situations, but I was too wrapped up in teaching reading and writing that I may have missed my shot.  I feel pretty confident saying that the grade 8 students at our school will tell you that they’ve been engaged in a lot of problem solving and project-based learning this school year.

They’ve generated electricity using steam engines constructed from soda cans.  They’ve modeled true situations using their knowledge of exponential growth.  They’ve build windmills from paper and currently they are analyzing the methods used in the ongoing search for the missing Malaysian airliner for the science unit on waves.

A lot of these ideas were generated by my co-teachers, who have put a lot of effort into giving our lessons context.  I really respect them for this.  I can’t take credit for cooking up these schemes, but I have put my efforts into making these lessons as accessible as possible for our English language learners-and it hasn’t been pretty.  In fact, the whole process has been rather ugly.  The three of us have been learning how to present challenge/problem/project based lessons as we go.  There have been some pretty tense times throughout the course of the school year, but I’m glad that we have continued to attempt to provide genuinely engaging lessons and eschewing paint-by-numbers teaching as much as possible.

I know that I have been referencing my co-teachers a lot on the blog, but co-teaching is my reality.  So, once again… thank you Brett and thank you Ryan.  You have taught me as much as you’ve taught the students this year.

COETAIL, Course 4, Course 5, Kuwait

Looking ahead to course 5 – MYP Design & Art

Background
The specialist classes in the middle school (French, band, art, drama) previously met 3 days during an 8 day cycle. This year they now have .5 credit (3 out of 8) and 1 credit classes (6 out of 8). In an attempt to give middle school students more flexibility in their schedule, our MS principal decided to pilot incorporating the MYP Design Cycle into the full credit specialist classes. This makes it so that not all students have to take a formal Design Tech class. Two units in each of the specialist classes during the 2013-14 school will be assessed on both subject and design criteria. It was agreed last year that the technology integration coaches (there are 3 of us PK-12) would be the ones to assess the design cycle criteria.

I have been assigned to work with the French and art classes. During a meeting with the MS principal (Dave Botbyl) and the art teacher, Dave suggested that I use a unit in art next semester for my COETAIL final project. Genius! 🙂

We are using the the ‘old’ design cycle and not the new one from the next generation materials.

Ideas
I have shared the course 5 final project details with Lindsay (our MS art teacher). Next semester her classes will be doing a unit on photography. It is a brand new unit that she will be building from the ground up. She has agreed to let me write the unit with her – yay!

After learning more about problem-based learning, I’m excited to incorporate the design cycle into art. I think there is a lot of potential! But it is also a lot of pressure…a brand new unit with a brand new concept. Solving problems with design and art just makes sense. Lindsay is currently doing a unit on logo design with her 8th grade visual arts class. It looks like a great unit and I’ll be eager to see the results.

I’ve started brainstorming for the photography unit but Lindsay and I haven’t sat down together to plan yet so it’s all pretty rough. A recent presentation to Language B teachers about visual interpretation had me mulling over how these tools might be applicable to the photography unit. When I think about SAMR and redefinition, the ability to collaborate, share and learn from others around the world is where my mind goes. Below is a working list of ideas. I’ve shared the document and made it open for comments – I’d love any input from YOU!

COETAIL, Course 4

Problem-based learning = IB MYP design cycle?

Problem…or Project?
I recently mentioned the variety of X-based learning vocabulary that has invaded the education world. When I first saw PBL for this week’s blog I had to do a double take – I thought the P stood for ‘Project.’ So I needed to do a little research to understand the difference between Project and Problem -based learning.

In Project Based Learning (PBL), students go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem, or challenge. Rigorous projects help students learn key academic content and practice 21st Century Skills (such as collaboration, communication & critical thinking). (source)

 

In a problem-based learning (PBL) model, students engage complex, challenging problems and collaboratively work toward their resolution. PBL is about students connecting disciplinary knowledge to real-world problems—the motivation to solve a problem becomes the motivation to learn. (source)

Twitter and Google searches also helped aid my understanding between the two models. John Larmer contends that problem-based learning is a subset of project based learning and provides a helpful table to differentiate between the two. In Geoff Krall‘s opinion the two biggest differences are time and order and he also provides a great pie chat of the differences and similarities.

With a clearer picture of what these two models actually are I definitely see advantages to them. Just as I do with several of the other X-based learning models (game-based learning, challenge-based learning…).

IB MYP design cycle?
One of the features of problem-based learning is the ‘steps that can be repeated and recycled.’ The inclusion of authentic problems and the prescribed steps remind me of the IB MYP design cycle (and design thinking).
MYP Technology Design Cycle

 

The core of why I like the MYP design cycle, and all the X-based learning/thinking, is that they are student centered and move the teacher from the sage to a guide. What is best for my students is the question I always want to be reflecting back on. Are these models (or a hybrid or them) best for my students? Probably!

As for technology’s role this these models – it becomes a tool for learning, not the base of all learning. You could actually go through the entire design cycle without once using technology. Would it help facilitate the cycle? Most likely. But is is absolutely necessary? Not always. Design and X-based learning models have the potential (if done right) to give true meaning to technology integration.

Disclaimer: I don’t actually teach the MYP design cycle nor have I received official training. I’d love to hear opinions from any of you that do teach it / are trained!

COETAIL, Course 4

A short answer & a long one too

Will education as we know it change because of technology?

Short answer. Yes, ABSOLUTELY. (I really enjoyed the way Rebekah put it.)

Longer answer. It might be slow and it might be painful but education SHOULD change because of technology. The students that are coming to schools now live in a different world than students 20, 30 or 100 years ago. If students are changing but school isn’t, we have a problem.

As I discussed way back in Course 1, my favorite uses of technology are connecting and collaborating. You might have also seen my pleas for collaboration and input that I occasionally post on this blog. Technology allows us to truly make the world flat so that we can learn from anyone, anywhere. My ideal classroom of the future would follow a curriculum in which students learn both content and skills. Instead of being confined to only working with and learning from others in the classroom, students would be able to collaborate with students (and experts) around the world. Truly interdisciplinary units would allow connections and collaboration without thought to time or space. This isn’t to say that teachers should be a thing of the past or that MOOCs should come to K-12 education. I envision an education system where Flat Connections and Web 3.0 are the norm, not something special that costs educators money.

A word about MOOCs. When they are defined like this and are not simply online classes, I think they sound pretty cool. Thousands of free courses to choose from at top universities around the world? Sounds great. A bunch of adults who are intrinsically motivated to learn, who do all the work for the course with no real extrinsic reward at the end? Wow. Like I said, I’m not really into flipping the classroom…for K-12 education. But at the higher-education level where many classes are lecture based anyway, maybe reverse instruction can work. And in MOOCs where adults are choosing to take the class and do all the work associated simply because they want to learn something and connect to others who want to learn the same thing…sounds pretty fantabulous to me. BUT…how do we translate THAT to public education? MOOCs should not be simply be adopted by K-12 institutions. But MOOCs have a few things figured out (like intrinsic motivation). So how do we learn from them in order to make K-12 education better? One idea is the OPEN piece. If we make leadership, educators and school more open…what would happen?

I don’t have all the answers…how do you think we can translate MOOCs to K-12 ed?

COETAIL, Course 4

THE essential question: Is it best for my students?

Justifying why I’m a skeptic took a lot of energy last time…I promise this one won’t be as long-winded!

I want to make it clear that at the center of my thinking is always student achievement. I’ve just been much more data-driven since starting UKSTL. I want to see the tangible evidence for how [insert name of latest educational technology trend] is affecting student learning. With that said….here goes on flipping!

Photo Credit: jared via Compfight cc

My thoughts on reverse instruction vary considerably based on how it’s being defined…

If students are reading chapters of a book (or article, etc) and then discussing in class…that’s been happening for years in education (at least I was expected to do that in high school 10+ years ago). Is it better now because we have a fancy name for it?

If students are watching recorded lectures at home and doing homework in school…I might be able to understand the rationale. Your kids are missing lots of class time due to sporting events? Okay, I get it – you’re trying to help students learn in a slightly different format because of extenuating circumstances. However this makes a couple assumptions: students are going to watch the lectures at home and the teacher is going to have enough time in class to work with & challenge all students equally while they do their homework. That’s what I’m not so convinced about. I had to heavily adapt my homework policy while teaching French in South Carolina because my students simply wouldn’t/couldn’t (they worked, they had to take care of their siblings because their parents worked, etc) do their homework before they came to class. What is going to make them take the same amount of time to watch a video? Is a recorded lecture inherently more engaging (than a live lecture)? Is doing practice problems in school inherently more engaging (than doing them at home)? They’re the same thing we’ve been doing (page 65)…simply reversed. I’m not convinced that makes students more engaged or improves the learning.

If the in-class time is being used for projects and other learning experiences that are enhancing and transforming the learning, I’m all for ‘flipping.’ The ability to differentiate in-class time and achieve mastery of content are also worth flipping for (mastery motivates).

Now that you’ve freed up class time, you need to use it productively. This can be a challenge. You’ve spent all of your time and energy developing your lectures and now you don’t have the time/energy to develop new, innovative, interactive classroom activities. This is where I need to improve. It takes a while! (The Electric Educator)

I understand that the first and second definitions might also be stepping stones to the third, to actually redefining the classroom and education. But those periods of growth need to be short in order to, ultimately, create the classroom that John R. Sowash described above.

Like any new ‘solution’ to ‘fixing’ education, I’m a little skeptical and wary.

  • Who has the most to gain from flipping? The students? The teachers? Or the businesses and organizations trying to make a profit off their videos and resources?
  • Done poorly (first 2 definitions), flipping doesn’t seem to aid in student achievement and could actually be detrimental (talk to the kids in classes who never get to work with the teacher 1-on-1 while doing homework). Technology integration isn’t easy. And neither is flipping. Teachers hoping to make their lives easier…stop right there. Teachers should be making the video lectures in order to tailor specifically to their curriculum and students. The Flipped Class should be challenging and increase student engagement and learning.

At the end of the day we should all be asking “What is best for the students in my classroom?” If flipping is the answer, use it wisely like you would any instructional strategy or tool. If it’s not, don’t.

p.s. just found a draft of a flipped classroom post that I started…and then forgot about! I had noted two posts from Dan Meyer on flipping: a discussion & Khan doesn’t like flipping either. Also, a reminder that technology integration is NOT replacing a teacher with a computer.

COETAIL, Course 4

Gamification: why I’m a skeptic

Pixar's Up :Carl Fredricksen by Imaginesto

Just get started already…
I’ve been contemplating this post for a couple days. Now it’s time to stop the researching and thinking and just write. We’ll see how this goes! [This post got LONG…sorry!]

Gamification vs Game-Based Learning
There’s a difference. And neither are particularly new.

Learning through games is not a novel approach. Elisabeth Corcoran (Corcoran, 2010) claims that there are at least 3 types of games used in education: the classic edu-tech games, games developed by students themselves like Scratch and the last approach gamified courses, meaning adding game mechanics to various applications, tasks, etc. Whether offline or online, games have helped scholars reach their educational goals in a more engaging way. Nevertheless we must note the difference between the so called “educational games (serious games, simulators)” and the gamification of e-learning. While the first employs a bigger quantity of resources, game design knowledge and graphics, the second one does not engage as many resources or a special design. (Muntean, 2011)

Go read Corcoran’s article. There’s a difference. However my point of view is a little different than Corcoran’s. I prefer how Glover put it…

Educational Gamification is not to be confused with Game-based Learning, Simulation, or Serious Games. These focus on creating games (and game-like experiences) which impart an educational benefit, and includes software such as simulators. This is the direct opposite of educational gamification, which seeks to add game-like concepts to a learning process.

Game-based learning is using (video) games to learn content. Gamification is adding game elements (competition, achievement, etc) to non-gaming situations.

Gamification
[Warning: I’m about to be honest.] I don’t love the idea of gamification. In fact I kind of hate it.  I wouldn’t mind being convinced otherwise but I’m having a hard time seeing how it’s going to make education better.

Games make use of many different reward mechanisms, depending on the context, but three main categories typically evident: Leaderboards, Prizes, and Achievements. (Glover, 2013)

Hold on…hasn’t education already been ‘gamified’? Students do work. They get letter and/or number grades based on their work. They tell all their classmates what their report cards say (leaderboards). If they get a certain GPA or make honor roll, we give them prizes (my last school gave cupcakes to freshmen on honor roll; Family Video gives free movies for A’s…). And if they pass enough classes they move on to the next grade level and eventually earn a diploma (achievements). Most people agree that extrinsic motivation is not the type we should be striving towards in education. So we’ve shined it up and put a new label on it…and now it’s okay?

Gamification Part 2 – Motivation
motivation

I struggle too Rebekah. It seems to me that it’s already a battle to intrinsically motivate kids…so why add gamification and make our job even harder?

Gamification seeks to increase motivation by providing extrinsic recognition and reward for completing activities, however there is the possibility that such rewards can serve to de-motivate learners with an already high intrinsic motivation (Groh, 2012). This psychological concept, particularly evident in gifted children, is called the ‘Overjustification effect’. In fact, a negative correlation between extrinsic motivation and academic achievement can sometimes be observed; that is, increased extrinsic motivation, such as rewards, reduces learning and achievement (Lepper, Corpus, & Iyengar, 2005). In order to mitigate the potential negative effects of Overjustification, it is therefore important to make the gamified elements of a learning process optional. This will allow those learners who are already motivated to remain so, and provide motivating elements to the remaining learners. (Glover, 2013)

Optional. Okay – but then I have to create two lesson plans? How about if I just try out gamification for awhile. What happens if I decide it’s not the best thing for me and my students?

Thom, Millen and DiMicco (2012) investigated how removing gamification elements from a social networking system in a large organisation would affect levels of interaction and found that, without the extrinsic incentives, participation was dramatically reduced. However, analysis of the comments and posts on the system showed that the overall quality of the interactions was lower when the gamification elements were being used. This suggests that, without careful consideration of the rewards for interaction, gamification can be counter-productive and give tacit approval of distracting and time-wasting activities for some individuals. (Glover, 2013)

Uh-oh. So experimenting with gamification could actually be detrimental to the quality of learning and reflection in my classroom? No thank you!

Gamification Part 3: Girls
In my former school district, we had a single-gender magnet program. I didn’t teach in it but I was able to attend a couple professional development sessions on single-gender strategies. One of the big ideas that has stuck in my mind is that boys thrive on competition while girls thrive on collaboration. However UKSTL has me on this data kick so I wasn’t comfortable discussing single-gender strategies unless I could find some evidence to back it up.

Our experimental evidence suggests that women seem to be shying away from competition, as also shown by other studies. However the bulk of our evidence suggests that a girl’s environment plays an important role in explaining why she chooses not to compete. We have looked at the choices made by girls from single-sex and co-ed schools and found that there are robust differences in their behaviour: girls from single-sex schools behave more competitively than do coeducational girls. Furthermore being assigned to an all-girls group affects the decision a girl makes, even when controlling for composition of he group to which she is randomly assigned for the experiment. We also compared girls’ behaviour with that of boys from single-sex and coeducational schools, and found that girls from single-sex schools behaved more like boys. (Booth & Nolan, 2009)

Most girls are in coeducational settings. These girls aren’t very comfortable with competition (compared to boys in the same setting). By introducing gamification, are we actually negatively affecting girls motivation and learning? We need to be careful. (more resources: single-gender best practicessingle-gender classrooms)

One time…
I haven’t participated in team sports since I quit playing AYSO at age 12. I’m not, and have never been, a gamer (although I do play Plants vs Zombies every once in awhile). Maybe that’s why I don’t like gamification? But I am competitive. I ran track for 9 years and cross country for 3. Put me on a track or in a 5k and I want to beat people. But I compete just as hard against myself. Here’s a story of when using a few gamification mechanisms actually worked on a whole group of high school girls [warning: this may be a little long]: I started running cross country in 10th grade because I didn’t want to be in marching band anymore and because I wanted to stay in shape for my true love (track). I was pretty bad and completely unmotivated to do better. Three years later during the banquet my senior year I balled while giving a speech to the team (actually I might shed a few tears now just thinking about it). During those 3 years I fell in LOVE with cross country and found the balance between having fun & being motivated to run! Why? A few ideas: first & foremost I was competing against the clock and myself. For each race, our coach gave us a small slip of paper with the splits she wanted us to run. If we ran a Personal Record (PR) we earned a small pin that our coach’s art students made.

PR pin

This little guy was the ultimate prize. I cherished those pins and (10+ years later) still have them in a box in my parents house (as do many of my former teammates). That pin meant that I had accomplished something I wasn’t always convinced I could. I was MOTIVATED to get that special PR pin (prizes). Secondly, we became a team. From the 1st to the 25th runner, we were there for each other. No matter who was on Varisity (top 7 runners) and who wasn’t (junior varsity = Jarsity) we ran together at practice and supported each other (leaderboard). Those girls MOTIVATED me because they cared. This ‘gamification’ of running lead us to the state championships my senior year…where the top 7 girls ran their way to an MHSAA Division 2 State Title (achievement). By 38 points. Our championship t-shirts had every girl’s name on it (I still have it btw).

Gamification Part 4: What I’ve Learned
However. That was a sport. Not school.

It is important that gamification elements such as leaderboards and points are completely divorced from the formal assessment of learning, and that the learners understand this to be the case. Gamification should only be used to increase motivation and should not be another mechanism by which to grade learners. It is not a paradox that the person at the top of the leaderboard might also be the lowest achiever in formal assessments, but it would suggest that the gamification choices need to be refined. (Glover, 2013)

School has already been gamified and we’re all trying to find a way to make it better (because it’s a little broken). Gamification enhances external motivation while running the risk of squashing kids’ natural internal motivation. Competition (=gamification) can be detrimental for girls. Gamification elements should be completely separate from assessment. So remind me…WHY?

Game-Based Learning
My husband is what I would call a “gamer” and has been talking to me about (video) game-based learning for several years. One of our middle school humanities teachers is extremely enthusiastic about MinecraftEdu and has created the World of Humanities. I’ve been skeptical. Then I really started thinking and reflecting on my why. [See Glover‘s quote above, page 2000]  I’m all for learning through play in early childhood education. Is game-based learning the older sibling? My favorite reason for using technology in education is to connect people around the world that otherwise wouldn’t be able to communicate/collaborate.

Another way games can be helpful in simulating situations is when recreating real situations is too expensive or dangerous.

van de Pavoordt goes on to give two examples of using simulation games:

For example, if you want to teach students about how to handle with toxic chemicals by using expensive equipment. In a real life situation this would be too expensive and dangerous, however the game Environmental Detectives lets teachers recreate these situations by using augmented reality.

 

In Revolution each student takes on the role of a townsperson in a colonial Virginia community in which they take on events leading up to the American Revolution. The game combines research and role-playing in teaching history. It is not a simple visit to a “living history” museum, but the players personally experience the events leading up to the American Revolution.

Game-based learning has the potential to give students experiences that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to have. Wouldn’t you say that that is an instant when technology has the potential to redefine education? I might be able to get behind this (if it’s done right).

Done Right
I wouldn’t consider using ‘existing commercial games for learning’ game-based learning. Finding something cool and trying to pigeon-hole it into education isn’t technology integration. The examples above are games specifically created for/by students.

Finally the study showed that the students were very enthusiastic about using games. They found that it was not like a boring lesson, they had actually fun and at the same time they learned something. Also more than half of the teachers were enthusiastic about using games for their lessons. And among younger teachers the numbers were even higher. (Glover, 2013)

That’s great that kids are more enthusiastic. But where’s the data showing the benefits to learning, the increase to achievement? Because that’s what matters to me. Here’s a start at least.

_____-based learning
This seems like it’s become a catchphrase in education.
-based learning

Glover asserts that

As learning is a participatory process, it follows that there could be greater benefits from incorporating games concepts with education than with these other, passive activities.

Why is the solution gamification? All of these you-name-it-based learning approaches actively involve students.

After all of that…
I’m not convinced by gamification. I still need to be talked into game-based learning. But I’m open-minded…I just want to see the proof.

p.s. Did anyone else find Glover‘s article contradictory? He discusses game-based learning and gamification, brings up valid criticisms and then goes on to tell us how to gamify our classrooms. I don’t understand. (pages 2003-2004)

p.p.s. Watch Dan Pink talk about Drive. Interesting things motivate us – autonomy, mastery & purpose (not external factors). How do those sync with gamification?

COETAIL, Course 4, Professional Development

Technology Integration = Challenging

Frustrated
I spent 3 years in South Carolina teaching French and trying my hardest to meaningfully integrate technology into my curriculum. Sometimes it worked really well. Other times, not so much. Sometimes lessons were redefined. Other times the tech was just a substitute. No matter the lesson, technology integration wasn’t the easy way out. It was frustrating, difficult and usually took more time. But the learning experiences that were created made all the hard work worth it.

146/365 square peg into a round hole
I’m now a Technology Integration Coach helping teachers meaningfully use technology in their classrooms. It’s actually been an even harder job. [Many] Teachers want the easy way out: they want me to hand them ready-made materials or ‘have an app for that.’ Technology integration needs to be more thoughtful than that and should be about choosing the best tool to fulfill lesson objectives. I see my job as continually challenging teachers to change the way they teach. As long as technology is seen as an extra, integration is not happening. Every single teacher in the entire world should read What is Technology Integration? (or “What Technology Integration is NOT”). That might sound a bit dramatic but this is pure gold:

I strongly believe that SAMR, TPACK and the TIM should be used together in order to guide teachers and leadership on effective technology integration. We have started slowly introducing SAMR to our staff and have created a resource page for teachers to access. One thing I like to stress to our teachers is that SAMR isn’t a hierarchy and not all of their lessons are going to be redefinition. My long term goals would include introducing TPACK and TIM to our staff as well.

Integration is an instructional choice that generally includes collaboration and deliberate planning – and always requires a classroom teacher’s participation. It cannot be legislated through curriculum guides no will it happen spontaneously. Someone with a vision – an administrator, a teacher, or a specialist – needs to model, encourage, and enable integration, but only a classroom teacher can integrate technology with content-area teaching.

Although I’ve learned about TPACK, I hadn’t read Mishra and Koehler’s article. These guys are cool. My two biggest takeaways that could benefit all educators:

  • “We would argue that almost everything that is artificial … is technology, whether low tech or high tech.”
  • Repurposing these cool tools for educational purposes, however, is not simple. If educators are to repurpose tools and integrate them into their teaching, they require a specific kind of knowledge.”

Technology is all around us and we need to be working hard and working smart in order to choose the best tool for the job. Technology isn’t a fad…it’s been around for centuries. But we, as educators, are continually being challenged to purposefully and meaningfully help our students learn with technology. Technology can most definitely make our job harder…but can’t it also make it better?