Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Maybe it's the sunshine!

Maybe it’s the sunshine, or the rumble of others chatting at the coffee house but I am feeling the energy of summer just around the corner and think it is a perfect time for retrospection. 

Today is the last day of May, I am looking into the final week of school after having a wonderful year and thinking what is it I learned this year.  How can my experiences or learning help others?  I figure the first step is to establish what it is I have in fact learned this year.   
·      Trial and error is a must
·      Kids can and will impress you with their knowledge
·      It's okay to start slow and build

I realize all of those are generic and could apply to any topic, but here is how I think they apply to blended learning/personalized learning for me this past year.     

You don’t know what you don’t know until you do it.  Going into blended learning this year, I knew it was about introducing my students to technology as an opportunity to give them more personalized attention, but what I didn’t know was how…    What I learned was that blended learning is so much bigger than technology that using technology is one approach to personalization and that students can do and show incredible learning with the tool, but in the end it is just a tool.  I had enough practice with various tech devices I knew that for the age of my students iPads were going to be a great introduction.  But how was I going to take it beyond playing games and “expensive worksheets”.   This is where it’s okay to start slow comes in.  I started with filling my iPads with to many apps, to many games and to little direction.  Honestly, it was that expensive worksheet I mentioned before, and I am at the point where that was okay.  The students were able to enjoy the devices.  They were engaged in the practice or skills that each app asked of them.  They were able to get to know how to use them if they didn’t have prior experience and they were able to get feedback that a traditional worksheet doesn’t provide when they got an answer right or wrong.  Yet the personalization was minimal

So my next step was using the iPads in group lessons.  I used the app nearpod which is a presentation app that allows for information to be presented as well as questions and responses so that you as the teacher get instant feedback.  There are many other apps that function in similar ways this is just one I found to work for me.  It allowed me to build a lesson for my students and provide them visuals as well as use the feedback in my teaching.  I knew instantly who understood and who needed some additional time with the material.   It was through these lessons that my thinking shifted and it allowed me to see iPads as a much greater tool than I had previously been using them.  The icing on the cake was my students loved the interactive quality of the lesson rather than just sitting and getting and then going back to complete the task I had asked of them.

Yet I tried then to take my personalization one step further.  This is where I am currently working and where I will start of next year in trying to become even more effective.  Again I used a presentation app called educreation but this time my students were creating the lessons themselves to show their leaning.  After teaching a mini lesson on needs and wants I sent the students back to make educreations.  They filled them with pictures and were able to use speech to show me they understood the material.  I feel the work I got from my students was something I could not have gotten without the use of the technology and it was truly authentic.

Where I fall on the SAMR model is often in question in my mind, but I think I was able to make some good strides this year in my use of technology and hopefully in providing my students a more personalized education.