Friday, April 19, 2013

Data Driven Classrooms with Socratic

     Ever wonder how you are supposed to use student data to drive instruction daily?  One thing to consider is the fact that not all data has to be gathered from a formal assessment.  Too often though, we are mislead during informal assessments such as class discussions, and often think our whole class understands a concept that really only a few have mastered. That's where Socratic can come in handy.  Fashioned after student response systems, Socratic can turn any device into a "clicker."
     When teachers log in to the Socratic iPad app, they are given several choices. They can begin a quiz that was precreated, ask an exit slip question, or choose to ask questions verbally and have kids answer in multiple choice, true /false, or short answer formats. The teacher is then given a classroom number.

Students go to and use the teacher's classroom number to sign in and answer questions.

     The best part about the whole system is that you can get immediate feedback on short answer responses, which questions your students are getting right, the number of kids who picked each answer choice, etc. depending on which type of quiz you choose to give.

     I personally can't wait until next year when all of my students are 1:1 and I can truly put this tool to the test. It will provide an easy solution to that ongoing problem of gathering data to drive my instruction.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Moving in the Matrix!

     "The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know."  Most of you have probably heard that quote before.  I have no idea who said it, but it has never rung more true than it does for me at this moment.  I am NOT technology illiterate.  Teachers in my building come to me when they have questions.  Our technology director comes to me whenever he wants a teacher to try something new.  My students expect to use computers throughout the year in my classroom.  I obviously, however, have a ways to go.  Now, in my defense, I'm not 1:1 yet.  Next year all of our students will have iPads which will move me further along in the matrix.  I'm ready to take baby steps and try at least one assignment that is student driven and see how it goes.  I hope that when all of my students have a device in their hands, that I'll be able to try at least one unit that is goal-directed and progress from there.  I would love to eventually figure out how to meet the Transformation box requirements, while still meeting the Common Core requirements.  I doubt that will happen completely next year, but I plan on trying.  For now, I'll probably coast these last few weeks within my Active Adaptation box, while planning bigger things for next year.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Walls Come Tumbling Down!

     Every day, in every classroom, there are obstacles that we teachers must overcome.  Whether the obstacles are related to a child's intelligence, experiences, interests, attitude, socioeconomic status, etc., we are expected to achieve the same outcome - learning.  Although some tools of our trade might actually create the walls that build up between our students and our goals, blended/online learning is one strategy designed to help tear those walls down.  In my somewhat limited experience with blended learning, I've found that students who are used to a brick and mortar classroom are immediately interested when first introduced to asynchronous learning.  For example, when first exposed to My Big Campus, students will get on and look for things to do.  After the first day of introducing the site to my students last year, I actually had one student comment on MBC, "I wish I had something to do on here."   His wish was granted in record time!
     Besides getting unmotivated students interested in learning, blended/online lessons can help with other obstacles as well:
  • Students who are interested in what they are learning, or how they are learning it, naturally have improved attitudes about the process.
  • Blended/online learning can make resources available to students and parents 24/7.  Whether a student has been absent, disorganized, forgetful, or just plain lazy, any resources posted for students can be accessed any time, any place.
  • Technology provides another modality of learning that will appeal to multiple intelligences/learning styles that are not always stimulated in traditional classrooms.
  • Integrating technology prepares students to use tools that will obviously play an important role in their futures, inside and outside the workplace.
  • The internet can provide a window to the limitless knowledge that schools cannot begin to print and put on the shelves of their libraries.
  • 1:1 initiatives can force teachers to move up the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy and force kids to use information rather that regurgitate it.
     Like most educational initiatives, blended/online learning isn't the end-all answer to every obstacle in education.  Like many educational initiatives, however, it has true merit; and when combined with other educational best practices, the walls will start tumbling down.