1:1, Kuwait

Medieval Medley – a MYP Humanities Summative

In April, our two 8th grade MYP Humanities teachers approached us to collaborate on their upcoming summative. Students were able to pick a person, place or event, do research and then present their information to the class in a variety of ways. The teachers had already given students options for steps 1 to 3s. It took many meetings to come to a mutual understanding of what they wanted from us and how technology integration might look throughout the process. My biggest concern was that we keep the summative as inquiry based as possible (following what they had already created). I wasn’t a big fan of giving them a list of technology options with examples for each – I wanted students to be creative, not me. We ended up coming up with a variety of ways that students could use technology to create presentations from step 3. When I was contemplating the list, I made sure to start with the task (step 3) and then create a list of technology options.

Each tech coach took a couple class sections and attended three of their work sessions (after their research was complete). During the first session, we introduced a couple of the technology options.My goal was to focus on technology tools that they probably hadn’t seen or used before and talk about the task.

For the next 3 class periods, I circulated the room asking students how they had chosen to present (step 3) and giving advice/tech help where needed. Although there were still many students who simply used a PowerPoint or Keynote to give a lecture, there were a few who had some really great products. My favorite non-tech project was a medical time capsule. The student went all out and was completely committed to his project: he introduced it by saying he found this box while on vacation in Italy. It was quite creative!

Some of my favorite projects (using technology):

Overall, the project was further proof to me of how much work we “tech integrators” have to do to help people (students and teachers alike) understand the power of meaningful integration. I am not impressed by Keynotes with distracting transitions – what does this do to make a project BETTER, to increase learning? We need to get away from the flashy and encourage quality based in curriculum and pedogogy. It also struck me (again) that students have no concept for copyright. I used my COETAIL learning to talk to students about using images that they are allowed to use as I circulated the room. Next year I would suggest that a short lesson on copyright and creative commons is done before students start researching. Since the only criterion that was being assessed was D (Communicating) I would also suggest doing more with that – what makes good presentations, how can students best communicate their learning? Christina and I even thought the MYP Design Cycle might be able to be used 🙂

This was a good learning experience for me and I look forward to seeing what happens with the project next year!

COETAIL, Course 2

Breaking the law is easy

While at the NESA Spring Educators Conference in Bangkok 2 weeks ago I heard about the University of Kentucky School Technology Leadership Masters. The more I talked to Scott McLeod, Dana Watts and Jayson Richardson about the program, the more I knew it was something I needed to do. Since then I’ve been reading my Google Reader through leadership-tinted glasses. After writing my post a couple days ago about digital footprints in education, I had another thought today. My post focused on how administrators judge potential hires based on their online activity…but what about vice versa? There are several connected administrators that I would love to work for (Eric Sheninger, George Couros, Chris Lehmann, & Steven Anderson to name a few). When I’m job-searching & interviewing in several years I will be looking at THEIR digital footprints…the superintendents, the principals, the school, etc. Connected teachers need to turn the tables and actively pursue jobs that we want with admin we want to work for!

On to some copyright laws…
Easy on the I's (eyes)
Forgetting about copyright is just too easy. It’s no wonder that laws are broken on a daily basis – other people’s work is constantly at the tip of our fingertips. It’s senseless and relatively guilt-free (read: anonymous). It takes a lot of effort to find Creative Commons images instead of just Google searching and using the first one you like. So how do we teach this idea to kids? I think it’s a difficult concept to teach in the US, let alone in the rest of the world.

As far as I know there are few (copyright) laws in Kuwait. We have DVD guys that sell ‘pirated’ copies of TV shows & movies, stores that will jailbreak your iPad…and so much more (…was I supposed to say that?!). As we roll out our 1:1 program with iPads, I consistently witness students breaking copyright “laws.” Usually it has to do with music and/or images. It’s just too dang easy to save pictures and rip audio/video. Kids don’t even think twice about using other people’s work and most definitely don’t consider it plagiarism. So I guess that’s my solution – get them thinking. Ask them how they would feel if someone else stole their work (and didn’t give them credit). Help them understand Copyright and Creative Commons and the difference between the two. [I really like Doug Johnson‘s idea to change the focus to what is permitted, not forbidden.] Encourage students to share their work using Creative Commons licenses. Know the answers to their questions. Encourage students to create their own material (music, photos, images, etc). If students absolutely must use other people’s music & images, make sure that they have the right tools to find content and cite it. Integrate digital citizenship into your curriculum. Be role models (this might just be the hardest one).