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Teaching the iGeneration - Jackson County Schools

Page history last edited by Bill 9 years, 12 months ago

Teaching the iGeneration - Jackson County Schools

Friday, October 4, 2013


Direct link to today's session materialshttp://bit.ly/jcsoct13 


Brainstorming corkboard for today's sessionhttp://padlet.com/wall/jcsoct13 


Backchannel for today's session:  http://todaysmeet.com/jcsoct13 



You know what the iGeneration looks like in your classroom: iGeners are plugged in, having inherited a world with almost universal access to the Internet. Earbuds hang from backpacks, and cell phones are stuffed in pockets. Text messaging has replaced telephone calls, streaming video has replaced waiting for television shows to start, Wii has replaced Atari, digital photography has replaced film, and cable Internet has replaced dial-up modems.


But iGeners aren’t always the best students. Working quickly instead of carefully, they “info-snack” their way through class, flitting from instant experience to instant experience. Reading deeply, considering multiple perspectives, and interacting meaningfully with others are pushed aside in a race for instant gratification.


Moving learning forward, then, begins by introducing teachers to ways digital tools can be used to encourage higher-order thinking and innovative instruction across the curriculum. Today’s students can be inspired by technology to ponder, imagine, reflect, analyze, memorize, recite, and create—but only after we build a bridge between what they know about new tools and what we know about good teaching -- a process introduced by full time classroom teacher Bill Ferriter in this one day workshop.




Today's Slides


You can download today's slides in PDF format here.  They are also embedded below.






Session 1: Introduction to the iGeneration


In February of 2010, Dan Brown dropped out of college, arguing that schooling was getting in the way of his education and that if educators aren't ready to change, society will move on without them.  Watch Dan's Open Letter to Educators and use this handout to reflect on his core argument that schools are failing to prepare kids for the world that they will inherit.




Session 2: Managing Information


In this section of the presentation, participants will explore the key elements of information management in the 21st Century. Specifically, we'll examine how Twitter's Search feature can help teachers find resources and ideas that will challenge their practice.  We will also examine Google's Reading Level feature (a feature that gives kids instant access to content that is at their reading level),  Instagrok (a tool designed to help student researchers sort and filter content), and Scoop.it (a tool that gives students the opportunity to practice identifying reliable web-based content).



Introduction to Twitter Search



To find an exhaustive list of educational hashtags, check out this page from the Cybraryman's website or this infographic sharing popular Twitter hashtags found on the EdTech blog.  Specific hashtags that the teachers of the Jackson County Schools might find useful in supporting their STEM and PBL work are:


#pblchat - a collection of resources connected to project based learning.

#stemchat - a collection of resources connected to STEM education.

#stem - a companion hashtag often used by teachers who are interested in STEM education

#edtech - a collection of resources being shared by teachers interested in using educational technology in classroom instruction.




Introduction to Mastery Connect  and Knowmia




Sometimes, the first step towards learning more about helping STUDENTS to use digital tools to manage information is helping TEACHERS to find digital tools to manage information.  When teachers use digital tools to be more efficient and effective in their professional work, they are far more likely to be convinced of the importance of helping students to find digital tools that make learning more efficient and effective.  That's why session presenter Bill Ferriter likes to introduce participants in Teaching the iGeneration workshops to both Mastery Connect and Knowmia


While neither tool is automatically designed to give students the chance to create content and publish to audiences beyond their school and community, Mastery Connect and Knowmia are both tools that will save teachers a TON of time.  


Developed by a team of former educators, Mastery Connect's goal is to make formative assessment -- measuring progress by student and by standard in a timely fashion -- doable.  The free version of the tool allows teachers to create, administer, score, record and report the results of 10 question assessments that are tied either to state standards or to the Common Core in minutes using nothing more than the webcam of your computer.  


And named one of Fast Compay's Most Innovative Companies in 2013, Knowmia is designed to help teachers incorporate more video-based instruction in the classroom.  Teachers can easily record presentations using an iPad App that include simple assessment questions to measure student mastery of content.  What's more, teachers can track the lessons completed by individual students and can send and receive feedback to students electronically.  One of the best parts of Knowmia, though, is that it is completely free.  While you won't be able to see the interactive elements of Knowmia lessons until you start to experiment behind a username and password, you can view lessons by topic in their video library without logging in here.




Exploring Google's Reading Level Feature


One of the greatest challenges for student researchers is finding resources that are at an appropriate reading level.  That's where Google's Reading Level feature comes in.  With just two clicks, Google will automatically sort search results into basic, intermediate and advanced categories. Teaching students to use the Reading Level feature can help them to quickly find content that they can actually read -- which will help them to be more independent, successful readers.  To learn more about the Reading Level Feature, consider exploring this video: 




InstaGrok Can Help Student Researchers find Starting Points


One of the greatest challenges that student researchers have is finding starting points when working on projects.  Because they lack background knowledge on many of the topics that they are studying, they simply can't formulate effective searches in popular search engines.  The result is the helpless hunting and clicking -- called 'fortuitous searching' - that you see when students are working on the computer. 


To help students search more efficiently, introduce them to Instagrok:


Instagrok - Instagrok is a tool that will automatically generate an interactive web for any topic that can point student researchers to related topics.  What makes it especially valuable is users are connected to external links on the topic that can be sorted by reading level.  Instagrok also automatically generates a glossary for important terms related to the topic of study. This handout can be used to introduce students to InstaGrok.



Using Scoop.it to Practice Content Curation


Another interesting tool for experimenting with content curation is Scoop.it -- a service that allows users to curate public collections of weblinks around individual topics. 


What makes Scoop.it unique is that it automatically searches for new content that users might want to add to their public collections and then makes adding that content -- along with a short description of why it is useful -- easy.  Recently, two of Bill's students used this handout to create a public collection of resources related to the New York City soda ban.  Bill recently wrote about that experience here.


Public Scoop.it pages give students opportunities to practice managing multiple streams of information and evaluating the reliability of online sources -- two additional skills that define literate 21st Century citizens.  Curating public Scoop.it pages also gives students opportunities to raise their voice on issues that matter and to have their thinking affirmed and/or challenged by commenters.


For many teachers, Scoop.it is a great way to create public pages of resources that students can use when reviewing content for classes.  Here are two examples of how session presenter Bill Ferriter is doing this in his classroom:


Matter Videos Scoop -- A collection of videos that Bill's students can use to review concepts covered in their matter unit.


Integer Review Videos Scoop -- A collection of videos that Bill's students can use to review concepts covered in their integers unit.


While both of the videos above were created by Bill Ferriter, a nice student-driven activity would be to ask kids in need of enrichment to create similar collections of resources for their peers.  Doing so would force them to make careful decisions about the content that they are incorporating, ensuring that each resource introduce concepts accurately and in a way that would engage their peers. 



Session 3: Exploring Visual Persuasion


In this section of the presentation, participants will explore the key elements of visual persuasion. We’ll be looking at statistics connected to the increasing role that visual influence is playing in our world. We’ll also be looking at the characteristics of persuasive images and video. Finally, we’ll be looking at the process for creating persuasive visual images and/or videos using PowerPoint and Animoto -- a web-based tool that makes video production easy.



Exploring Memorable Messaging Efforts


In order to explore the characteristics of memorable messages, let's take a quick look at three of the most memorable visual persuasion campaigns in recent memory: The Will it Blend channel on YouTube, the Pouring on the Pounds video created by the New York State Department of Health, and the Trunk Monkey commercials produced by the Suburban Auto Group.  Use the Exploring Memorable Messages handout to guide your thinking while viewing these videos.



Student Samples of Visual Persuasion


Now that you've learned more about the characteristics of influential visual images, explore the two samples of student projects below and see if you can identify the essential skills that students had to learn in order to create their final products. 







PowerPoint Image





Using Creative Commons Images and Music


One of the best parts of teaching students about persuasive visual images is that you can also teach students about the importance of using Creative Commons Images.  Creative Commons is a new form of copyright that the creators of content—music, images, text—are using to license their images.  Creative Commons licenses are designed to encourage others to use content freely in new creations. 


Watch the video embedded below to learn more about the logic behind Creative Commons licensing and content.



So where can you find Creative Commons content? 


While there are a ton of different online sources for content that creators are sharing freely, my favorite is Flickr Creative Commons mostly because Flickr is such a popular photo-sharing website that there are almost always dozens -- if not hundreds -- of really good pictures to choose from no matter what topic I'm building a presentation around. 


Of course, Flickr is also almost always blocked at schools.  That makes Morguefile , Fotor's Free Stock Photo Collection and WP Clip Art useful.  While the collections at Morguefile and WP Clip Art aren't nearly as large -- and the quality of photos isn't nearly as high -- at least they're not blocked by school Internet filters, right?  Of the three services, session presenter Bill Ferriter likes Fotor the best simply because it automatically generates a citation for every image returned in its search results.


The Search feature on the Creative Commons website is also incredibly useful simply because it allows users to search for Creative Commons content in several of the most popular online warehouses.  While it's not TECHNICALLY a search engine itself, it will automatically send your request for Creative Content to search engines like Google and return results in a new window.  And finally, Larry Ferlazzo has put together a fantastic collection of the best photo collection sites on the web


And how do you create a citation for Creative Commons images?  


Just because Creative Commons content is free to use without asking for direct permission from content creators DOESN'T mean that users can take Creative Commons content without giving credit to the original creator.  Just like content created with traditional copyright protections, citations are required whenever using Creative Commons content.  This infographic from Fotors details the steps users must take in order to generate proper citations for Creative Commons Content. 



Supporting Visual Persuasion Projects with Digital Kits


When session presenter Bill Ferriter tackles visual persuasion projects in class, he ALWAYS gives his students digital kits -- simple collections of Creative Commons images, quotes and statistics that they can draw from when assembling their final product.  Doing so frees students from the time-consuming search for potential content, freeing them to spend more time thinking about the message that they are trying to create.  Doing so also means that students can create higher-quality final products in a shorter period of time, increasing their motivation. 


Examine the digital kits below to get a better sense for just what they look like.  While exploring, discuss whether or not you believe digital kits are a good idea:


Bullying Digital Kit:   PowerPoint Slides     Collection of Quotes and Statistics

Created for use with a Stand Up to Bullying effort in Bill Ferriter's school.


21st Century Learning Digital Kit:   PowerPoint Slides     Collection of Quotes and Statistics

Created for use by teachers and students developing short videos that detail the changing nature of teaching and learning in today's world.



Session 4: Exploring Verbal Persuasion


No matter what happens in our digital world, learning the skills of verbal persuasion -- being able to influence others with carefully crafted words -- will remain important.  These resources and materials may be useful to teachers who want to introduce their students to strategies for being persuasive in writing.  Being persuasive in writing is particularly important for students who want to do work that matters Using simple digital tools to raise awareness about causes in a process dubbed clicktivism, any class can draw attention to the issues that they care about easily. 


While many question whether clicktivism is a productive form of activism -- clicktivists often have short attention spans and issues don't draw attention for long enough to result in sustainable change -- for kids with few real options for "making a difference" simply because of their age, using digital tools to get behind causes can be incredibly rewarding and productive.


Verbal Persuasion Student Sample


To see just what clicktivism can look like in action in a middle school classroom, explore the following two resources:


#SUGARKILLS - After spending a part of the school year studying the New York City soda ban, students in session presenter Bill Ferriter's classroom decided that they wanted to use their voices to raise awareness about the amount of added sugar in the foods commonly eaten by teens and tweens.  The result:  A pretty engaging blog that is attracting the attention of teachers and students worldwide. 


An Interview with the #SUGARKILLS Gang: This link connects to an interview that Bill's #SUGARKILLS students conducted with Middleweb magazine.  Listen to their voices and identify the skills that his students are learning by participating in their attempts to change the world around them for the better. 



Classroom Blogs as a Forum for Verbal Persuasion


One of the best tools for giving students the opportunity to practice verbal persuasion are blogs.  Blogs are powerful because they provide students with a transparent forum to reflect around the issues that they care about.  More importantly, they provide a very public audience and a sense of empowerment and voice that resonates with kids.  Finally -- like collaborative conversations -- blog comment sections provide opportunities for authors to have their thinking challenged by readers. 



Three Tips for Structuring Successful Blogging Projects


For session presenter Bill Ferriter, there are three basic tips that every teacher interested in starting a classroom blogging project should follow:  Create ONE topic-focused classroom blog, develop a list of other classroom blogs that students can read during silent reading and actively recruit commenters for the content that your kids are creating.


Learn more about the hows-and-whys of these tips in this post from Bill's blog:




Be prepared to share what you learn with your peers.





Blog Services Worth Exploring


While there is no single blog service that is perfect for every teacher in every school, several are popular with educators.  Here are three worth considering:



Wordpress -- Wordpress is one of the most popular blogging services used both in and beyond schools.  It's got a ton of really clean themes and layouts which authors enjoy and appreciate.  It also gives students experience with a tool that is widely used beyond school for publishing. 


Blogger -- Blogger is Google's blog service, which makes it another tool that is worth introducing to students who are likely to spend their lives working with Google's products.  While Blogger has many of the same features of both Posterous and Wordpress, the visual layout of Blogger blogs is not as polished or interesting as the other two services.


Kidblog -- Kidblog is a blog service that is specifically recommended by and for elementary school teachers.  One of the primary advantages of a service tailored for younger students is that you can find sample blogs worth exploring and the safety features are customized for individual age groups.  Here are some step -by - step directions for getting a Kid Blog off the ground.



Additional Resources for Structuring Student Blogging Projects


Like any other digital project, classroom blogs require structure in order to be successful.  Simply creating a blog and then keeping your fingers crossed hoping that kids will create the kind of content that you can be proud of is a strategy that is bound to fail.  The following handouts and resources can be used by teachers to provide structure to classroom blogging efforts:


Teacher Tips for Blogging Projects : Over the course of his time blogging with students, session presenter Bill Ferriter has learned a TON of lessons about how to successfully manage classroom blogging projects.  This handout details 10 important tips that you might want to consider before starting your own classroom blogging projects. 


Tips for Leaving Good Blog Comments : One of the mistakes that teachers make when setting up blogging projects is overlooking the role that comments can play in the blogging lives of their students.  This handout is designed to help students find ways to contribute to classroom blogs through comment sections. 


If you teach elementary schoolers, this video on composing good blog comments made by Linda Yollis's second and third graders may be an even better resource to explore.  It makes the principles of good blog commenting approachable for younger audiences.  


And if you teach middle grades students, you might consider sharing this reflection on the characteristics of bad blog comments written by a fifth grade student named Max in Pernille Ripp's classroom.  Written in an engaging style that will resonate with students, Max's post reminds readers that "cool" isn't a comment worth responding to!


Blog Entry Scoring Checklist : This handout is designed to help teachers -- and potentially other students -- to spot the kinds of traits that define the best blog entries.  It is useful for helping to define the characteristics of quality content for students in the early stages of their blogging lives.


Annotated List of Classroom Blogs to Explore - For many teachers, imagining the role that blogging can play in their instruction is difficult simply because they haven’t seen enough samples of what classroom blogs look like in action.  This annotated list of samples -- developed collaboratively by Bill Ferriter, William Chamberlain and Pernille Ripp -- might make a good starting point for teachers who are curious about just what a classroom blog could be. 


Pernille Ripp's Classroom Blogging Resources - One of the most articulate advocates for classroom blogging is Pernille Ripp -- a fifth grade teacher in Madison, Wisconsin.  Her professional blog -- called Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension -- is full of practical ideas, suggestions, strategies and tips for making classroom blogging projects work.  If you're new to classroom blogging projects, you might dig this bit sharing six tips or this bit sharing fourteen steps for structuring successful blogging projects.


Comments4Kids Project - For teachers interested in making blogging a bigger part of their classroom practice, the Comments4Kids project -- and its Twitter Hashtag -- can be an invaluable source of inspiration. Visit the site to find a TON of sample blogs from across grade levels and curricular areas.  Just as importantly, visit to find blogs for your students to read and comment on as they learn more about the power of blogging.




Session 5: Exploring Collaborative Problem Solving


In this section of the presentation, participants will explore the characteristics of collaborative problem solving efforts. Specifically, we’ll be looking at how wikis can help students to work together to craft convincing solutions to Type 3 problems—or problems with no clear answers.


Structuring Student Problem Solving Efforts


While collaborative problem solving is the best way to come up with innovative solutions, students in school need structures when evaluating problems and their potential solutions.  They need to understand that good problem solvers always build their background knowledge and sense of context before brainstorming solutions.


These steps to problem solving are often ignored in schools. We want students to come up with innovative solutions on their own instead of exploring an issue thoroughly ahead of time.


The following documents  are designed to structure student problem solving efforts.  Review them and determine just how valuable they would be in your work with students.


Understanding the Problem

Evaluating Potential Solutions

Rating Potential Solutions



Exploring Wikis in Action


Often, the most challenging task for teachers interested in starting classroom wiki projects is imagining what’s possible. Without a clear vision of how wikis can be used to facilitate the work they are doing with students, teachers can end up struggling to structure a successful wiki experience. Use this handout to evaluate several examples of student wiki projects and to collect ideas about the kind of projects that you’d like to pursue.


You may be particularly interested in this wiki, created by session presenter Bill Ferriter's sixth grade students during a study of global warming. 



Structuring Student Wiki Work


Working with a partner, explore the Characteristics of Quality Wiki Pages, Wiki Roles for Student Groups, Wiki Tasks for Student Groups and Wiki Scoring Rubric documents in your session handouts.  What are the strengths of the documents? Weaknesses? What would you change about the documents?




Planning Your Own Project


While there won't be time for participants to begin planning and preparing for their own digitally-enhanced classroom project during our time together on October 4th, the following resources can support teachers or technology facilitators who want to begin driving positive digital change in their classrooms and/or schools.


Evaluating Your Current Reality


Working with partners, use the Essential Skills Check to identify the kinds of technology integration projects that are likely to be worth pursuing in your buildings.  When you’re finished filling out your survey, record your responses in our group survey found here: http://bit.ly/igenskillschec


Creating a Digital Project Plan


Using the information that you generated while completing your Essential Skills Check, begin crafting a new digital project.  Use the Blueprint for Building Digital Projects handout in your session materials to guide your thinking and planning.


Optional Activity:  Technology Vision Planning


Instead of planning a classroom-based technology integration project, school leaders in the audience might be more interested in working through the Technology Vision Statements, Technology Planning Guide and Technology Planning Scenario activities. These tasks are designed to result in a meaningful vision for technology integration at the school level.


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