Tag: technology





In an earlier post, I shared 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. The post outlines some of the biggest reasons to use social media as an educator. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another the way we do now. Email is becoming less prevalent while social media platforms are becoming stronger even for professional communications. I’ve been thinking about one other reason to use social media, but before I get to that, I want to share 8 ideas your might want to try to incorporate social media into the life of your school. I included links to lots of examples and resources in this post. I hope you find them helpful.

1. Tell your story



More and more schools are using Twitter or Facebook, and even Instagram and SnapChat to share positive moments and student successes. Social media is a great way to connect with your community and showcase the great things happening in your school.



2. Share information



Social media can be a great way to share your monthly newsletter or an upcoming event, like parent open house or the school musical. Canva is a great tool to create social media images to use to promote different events.



3. Student takes over the school Twitter for a day or even a week



We’ve done this a handful of times, and it’s been a fun thing to do. We just ask a responsible student if they would like to tweet out their day through the school account. We make some announcements leading up to it and give them some ideas of things to tweet about. It’s a good way to encourage student voice and build trust with students. 

4. Snow day chat



Last year we didn’t have many snow days at all. In fact, it was an extremely mild winter. But two years ago, we had a really fun snow day chat with lots of students and teachers participating. We joked around some, but we also discussed some important topics like helping friends overcome challenges. Just because we’re not at school doesn’t mean we can’t connect and learn. And students joined in just for the experience. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that I said school would be canceled again the next day if we had 100 participants. 🙂



5. Teachers tweet out from other teachers’ classrooms



We did instructional rounds using Twitter to share out the great stuff happening in classrooms. Teachers were invited to visit other classrooms on their conference period. The idea was to tweet out the great things happening and really lift each other up and make learning visible. If a teacher preferred not to have visitors, they just posted a note outside of their classroom. 



6. Social media kindness campaign



Last year our Character Council partnered with several other CharacterPlus schools to do a social media campaign to promote kindness and acceptance. The students in the group wrote positive messages on sticky notes and placed them on every desk in the school. When students arrived at school, everyone had a positive message. Students were asked to tweet out the messages using #StartsWithUs.



7.Twitter scavenger hunt



We had a couple of Twitter scavenger hunts, one for faculty and one for incoming freshmen. They are great team builders, but you can also use them to accomplish tasks in a fun way. For instance, one of the faculty challenges involved learning about different Twitter chats.



8. Play games



Sometimes we use Twitter to give away prizes or play games during Spirit Week or any other time we want to spice things up. We had a mystery teacher game where we tweeted out clues about a teacher and students had to guess who it was.



9. Host a Twitter party



We haven’t done this…yet. But we are planning something similar. Jennifer Hogan shared this idea on her blog. It’s a great way to introduce newbies to Twitter and encourage teachers to use social media. It really looks like a lot of fun. For all the details, check out Jennifer’s post: Kickstart your school’s social media use with a Twitter party.



The opportunities for using Twitter or other social media platforms are really endless. It’s a great way to build community, generate school spirit, and promote creativity and whimsy.



But I also wanted to share one more important reason to use social media with your students. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I believe in sharing what students are learning on social media for this reason: I believe what students are learning is important enough to share with the world. It matters. 



Students deserve to have their learning celebrated. Tell your students the quality work they produce deserves to be shared beyond the school walls. It’s a great message to emphasize that learning isn’t just for the classroom. It should be shared widely.



Question: What ways are you using social media in your classroom or school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Read More One More Reason to Use Social Media in Your School

A colleague of mine and her Kindergartners were busy exploring where an egg comes from. “Was it born like a baby? Does it grow on its own? Where do they…

Read More Hal is in the house



We’ve started a series of weekly discussions in our building about life in our increasingly digital world. I guess you could call it Digital Citizenship. I prefer to call it Digital Leadership. We have a half-hour academic support time built into our schedule four days a week. This past Thursday during that time we had our first lesson. We provided teachers with a couple of choices for activities that were pretty easy to implement. We showed a video of interview clips with our own students sharing some thoughts about how their digital life impacts their overall life. And then we discussed the upsides and downsides to technology, for us personally, for our relationships, and even for our nation. 



In my visits to classrooms, there were lively discussions during this time. These are relevant issues that kids really want to discuss. They want to hear different ideas, share their experience, and wrestle with how to successfully navigate this complex world. 



But there were also some challenges to making this happen. Our teachers and students are accustomed to having this academic support time for tutoring, making up missed work, and other important tasks. There were some legitimate concerns where the loss of the time was going to impact the academics of students. They really needed to retake that quiz or there was a study session for a test the next day. And so, I let the teachers decide. If you feel the academic need is pressing, then skip the Digital Leadership lesson this time.



Even my daughter, Maddie, was disappointed she wasn’t able to use that time for academics. She is playing tennis and has missed a ton of school for matches and tournaments. She’s working hard to get caught up and values Liberator Time to get stuff done. She was concerned about the loss of that time.



As I’ve thought about how this has all played out, my biggest question concerns our priorities. Are we really paying attention to our students’ needs? There is no question that preparing students academically is important. But if we aren’t preparing students for life in a world that is rapidly changing, will the academic knowledge really be that helpful?



Each year, I hear stories from heartbroken parents and see shattered lives because of decisions that were made online. I see the impact of all sorts of digital miscues, small and large. Besides the tragic circumstances that arise, there are also less obvious consequences of failure to navigate a digital world successfully. Who is helping kids figure this stuff out? 



One teacher commented that parents should be doing more to monitor and support their own children. I don’t disagree with this. I think parents can do more to be aware and help meet these challenges. That’s why we’ve hosted parent workshops and provided information in our newsletters to help parents in this area.



But what I don’t agree with is the idea that it’s completely the parents job to address these issues. Our school does not exist in a vacuum. We MUST address the relevant issues of our time and partner with parents to help students be successful. Our school motto is, “Learning for Life.” That points to the need for learning that really matters, that will help students be successful, not just on a test, but in living a healthy, balanced, fulfilling life.



In our school, every student must have a device for learning. They can use a school issued Chromebook or they can bring their own device. But using a device is not optional. I think this ups the ante for us in our level of responsibility on these issues. It’s important no matter what. But when our school is so digitally infused, we must work to educate our students about the challenges they will face. And we must educate them about the opportunities that digital can provide, too.



We are so focused on our curriculum and meeting standards I think we can forget to pay attention to our students and their needs. We aren’t thinking deeply about what is most useful to them now and in the future. We see them as just students. It’s all about academics. We are completely focused on making sure they are learning science, history, math, literature, etc. Are they college and career ready? Did they pass the state assessment? 



And the one overarching question, the elephant in the roomare you teaching content or are you teaching kids? Cause there’s a difference. The best teachers are always ready to teach the life-changing lesson. They understand that’s the stuff that really makes a lasting impact. Students will forget the foreign language they took in HS, they probably won’t ever use the quadratic formula in real life, and reading Victorian literature isn’t likely to spark a passion. 



I hope you get my point.



We can’t afford to not make time for Digital Citizenship, or just plain citizenship. 



Question: How is your school addressing the relevant issues of our time? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Do We Really Have Time for Digital Citizenship?



We’ve started a series of weekly discussions in our building about life in our increasingly digital world. I guess you could call it Digital Citizenship. I prefer to call it Digital Leadership. We have a half-hour academic support time built into our schedule four days a week. This past Thursday during that time we had our first lesson. We provided teachers with a couple of choices for activities that were pretty easy to implement. We showed a video of interview clips with our own students sharing some thoughts about how their digital life impacts their overall life. And then we discussed the upsides and downsides to technology, for us personally, for our relationships, and even for our nation. 



In my visits to classrooms, there were lively discussions during this time. These are relevant issues that kids really want to discuss. They want to hear different ideas, share their experience, and wrestle with how to successfully navigate this complex world. 



But there were also some challenges to making this happen. Our teachers and students are accustomed to having this academic support time for tutoring, making up missed work, and other important tasks. There were some legitimate concerns where the loss of the time was going to impact the academics of students. They really needed to retake that quiz or there was a study session for a test the next day. And so, I let the teachers decide. If you feel the academic need is pressing, then skip the Digital Leadership lesson this time.



Even my daughter, Maddie, was disappointed she wasn’t able to use that time for academics. She is playing tennis and has missed a ton of school for matches and tournaments. She’s working hard to get caught up and values Liberator Time to get stuff done. She was concerned about the loss of that time.



As I’ve thought about how this has all played out, my biggest question concerns our priorities. Are we really paying attention to our students’ needs? There is no question that preparing students academically is important. But if we aren’t preparing students for life in a world that is rapidly changing, will the academic knowledge really be that helpful?



Each year, I hear stories from heartbroken parents and see shattered lives because of decisions that were made online. I see the impact of all sorts of digital miscues, small and large. Besides the tragic circumstances that arise, there are also less obvious consequences of failure to navigate a digital world successfully. Who is helping kids figure this stuff out? 



One teacher commented that parents should be doing more to monitor and support their own children. I don’t disagree with this. I think parents can do more to be aware and help meet these challenges. That’s why we’ve hosted parent workshops and provided information in our newsletters to help parents in this area.



But what I don’t agree with is the idea that it’s completely the parents job to address these issues. Our school does not exist in a vacuum. We MUST address the relevant issues of our time and partner with parents to help students be successful. Our school motto is, “Learning for Life.” That points to the need for learning that really matters, that will help students be successful, not just on a test, but in living a healthy, balanced, fulfilling life.



In our school, every student must have a device for learning. They can use a school issued Chromebook or they can bring their own device. But using a device is not optional. I think this ups the ante for us in our level of responsibility on these issues. It’s important no matter what. But when our school is so digitally infused, we must work to educate our students about the challenges they will face. And we must educate them about the opportunities that digital can provide, too.



We are so focused on our curriculum and meeting standards I think we can forget to pay attention to our students and their needs. We aren’t thinking deeply about what is most useful to them now and in the future. We see them as just students. It’s all about academics. We are completely focused on making sure they are learning science, history, math, literature, etc. Are they college and career ready? Did they pass the state assessment? 



And the one overarching question, the elephant in the roomare you teaching content or are you teaching kids? Cause there’s a difference. The best teachers are always ready to teach the life-changing lesson. They understand that’s the stuff that really makes a lasting impact. Students will forget the foreign language they took in HS, they probably won’t ever use the quadratic formula in real life, and reading Victorian literature isn’t likely to spark a passion. 



I hope you get my point.



We can’t afford to not make time for Digital Citizenship, or just plain citizenship. 



Question: How is your school addressing the relevant issues of our time? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Do We Really Have Time for Digital Citizenship?

17,000+ emails in a year. That’s not a guess, that’s how many emails I had in my inbox for one calendar year. That doesn’t include a few hundred deleted items. It also doesn’t include emails to my gmail account… 17,000+ is a total for just my work email. Excluding holidays and weekends, that’s about 85 emails […]

Read More 17,000 Emails



What are some things you use every day? I bet I can predict with great certainty a few of them. Let’s see. I’m guessing you use your toothbrush every day. How about water? Electricity? Hopefully clothes, unless you are appearing on the reality show Naked and AfraidGood grief. What will they think of next? 



Umm…I’m guessing you use a bed every day (or night), probably a car, and you can’t forget this next one. It’s very important. You probably use a toilet every single day. It’s necessary, right?



I’m sure you’re amazed right now at my ability to know you so well. It’s almost like I know everything about your daily life. You might be a little creeped out. Has that crazy Twitter principal been stalking me? 



But wait, I’m not done yet. There is one more thing I bet you use every day. In fact, I think you might be using it right now. Most of us use one or more of these nearly every singe day. If you are a teenager, you might have confused it with one of your other four limbs.



That’s right. You guessed it. It’s a connected device. For you teenagers, that doesn’t mean it’s connected to your body. It could be a mobile phone, a laptop, a Chromebook, an iPad, or one of the many other varieties out there. We like to connect every day.



I’m guessing many of you even use several of these devices during your typical day. You probably have a couple at home, at least one at work, and a smartphone that goes with you everywhere. 






I just ran around our house and did a quick audit. Drum roll please. I counted 29 web connected devices in our home. We need to have a garage sale. Of course, who would buy a Palm Pre smartphone? It was a great device in 2010. Just shows how irrelevant a device can be in just six years. The Palm brand has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Extinct.



So last year was the first year our school was 1:1. Every student had a Chromebook to use for learning every day. One of the reasons our school made this move was because we all use technology in our everyday lives, so why should school be any different?



Before 1:1 came to Bolivar High School, using technology was not necessarily an everyday thing. We had computers in the library, in computer labs, a few scattered around in different classrooms, etc. But there was not consistent access. Some students rarely used a device for learning.



As we made the transition to 1:1, we knew every teacher was in a different place in terms of their comfort and skill with using technology. Of course, we are always striving to increase the comfort and knowledge of our staff. And we like to nudge people out of their comfort zone, too.






But since everyone was in a different place, we didn’t set any universal expectations. There weren’t any quotas or mandates on how to use the Chromebooks. Every teacher is unique, and the curriculum they teach is unique too. So we didn’t expect everyone to use the Chromebooks in the same way, or equally as often.



We simply asked everyone to look for ways the technology could provide value and enhance learning for students. And I believe every single teacher in our building used the Chromebooks to support learning in one way or another. That’s a good thing.



But even though all of our teachers were open-minded and supported the need to go digital as a school, some just didn’t see the relevance as strongly for their classroom. I’m guessing there were a whole variety of reasons the devices were used or under-used in each classroom.

But consider these questions. Do you have multiple devices in your home? Do you rely on a device daily? Is your ability to connect important to your learning? Do you feel your ability to connect is empowering to you? If you are a digital learner, I’m guessing you answered yes to those questions.



Even if you didn’t answer yes to all of the previous questions, consider the following. Do most professionals use devices every day? Are the most successful people connected learners? Is our world becoming increasingly digital? Will more opportunities come to those who are competent digital learners?



It just seems obvious to me that our students will need to be digital learners to be successful in the future. Heck, they need to be digital learners now in order to get the most from their school experience. There are tools and resources available online that far exceed the resources we could provide otherwise.



And almost every school has realized this to some extent. I haven’t visited a school yet that isn’t using computers or digital learning in some way. 



But technology should be an every day thing. It shouldn’t be a special event, a remediation strategy, a canned learning program, or an enrichment activity after the real learning is done. It should be an authentic part of learning. It should empower us, connect us, and give us new opportunities. It should stimulate curiosity, creativity, and help us solve problems.



Technology can be used to support learning, but it can also be used in ways that transform learning. And it is far more likely to be transformational when it is used regularly. It just becomes a normal part of learning and not an add-on or special event.



Now you might be thinking that using technology in every class, every day sounds rigid. And don’t we sometimes need a break from tech? Don’t we need to unplug occasionally? Aren’t students using technology every day anyway? Some students are probably using technology too much, right?



We absolutely need to keep some balance in mind. Too much screen time can be bad for us. We need to unplug from time to time. I took a month-long break personally in July 2015. There are benefits to pausing and stepping away from devices.



But that’s not a reason for limiting tech in the classroom when it could be so helpful. I recently learned about the Project Red research study, a large-scale look at practices in 997 schools across the U.S. The report includes seven key findings about the effective use of technology in schools. One of the key findings was related to the importance of daily technology use:




Schools must incorporate technology into daily teaching to realize the benefits. The daily use of technology in core classes correlates highly to the desirable education success measures (ESMs). Daily technology use is a top-five indicator of better discipline, better attendance, and increased college attendance.

The Project Red report shows how powerful technology can be when it is used effectively. There were all sorts of positive outcomes in schools that implemented technology well, including the benefits found from daily use of technology instead of intermittent use.



So I would challenge you to consider how you are using technology in your classroom. Is it an every day thing? Even if your students don’t have access to school-issued devices, what can you do to help them develop as digital learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or TwitterHere we grow!

Read More Technology Is An Every Day Thing



What are some things you use every day? I bet I can predict with great certainty a few of them. Let’s see. I’m guessing you use your toothbrush every day. How about water? Electricity? Hopefully clothes, unless you are appearing on the reality show Naked and AfraidGood grief. What will they think of next? 



Umm…I’m guessing you use a bed every day (or night), probably a car, and you can’t forget this next one. It’s very important. You probably use a toilet every single day. It’s necessary, right?



I’m sure you’re amazed right now at my ability to know you so well. It’s almost like I know everything about your daily life. You might be a little creeped out. Has that crazy Twitter principal been stalking me? 



But wait, I’m not done yet. There is one more thing I bet you use every day. In fact, I think you might be using it right now. Most of us use one or more of these nearly every singe day. If you are a teenager, you might have confused it with one of your other four limbs.



That’s right. You guessed it. It’s a connected device. For you teenagers, that doesn’t mean it’s connected to your body. It could be a mobile phone, a laptop, a Chromebook, an iPad, or one of the many other varieties out there. We like to connect every day.



I’m guessing many of you even use several of these devices during your typical day. You probably have a couple at home, at least one at work, and a smartphone that goes with you everywhere. 






I just ran around our house and did a quick audit. Drum roll please. I counted 29 web connected devices in our home. We need to have a garage sale. Of course, who would buy a Palm Pre smartphone? It was a great device in 2010. Just shows how irrelevant a device can be in just six years. The Palm brand has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Extinct.



So last year was the first year our school was 1:1. Every student had a Chromebook to use for learning every day. One of the reasons our school made this move was because we all use technology in our everyday lives, so why should school be any different?



Before 1:1 came to Bolivar High School, using technology was not necessarily an everyday thing. We had computers in the library, in computer labs, a few scattered around in different classrooms, etc. But there was not consistent access. Some students rarely used a device for learning.



As we made the transition to 1:1, we knew every teacher was in a different place in terms of their comfort and skill with using technology. Of course, we are always striving to increase the comfort and knowledge of our staff. And we like to nudge people out of their comfort zone, too.






But since everyone was in a different place, we didn’t set any universal expectations. There weren’t any quotas or mandates on how to use the Chromebooks. Every teacher is unique, and the curriculum they teach is unique too. So we didn’t expect everyone to use the Chromebooks in the same way, or equally as often.



We simply asked everyone to look for ways the technology could provide value and enhance learning for students. And I believe every single teacher in our building used the Chromebooks to support learning in one way or another. That’s a good thing.



But even though all of our teachers were open-minded and supported the need to go digital as a school, some just didn’t see the relevance as strongly for their classroom. I’m guessing there were a whole variety of reasons the devices were used or under-used in each classroom.

But consider these questions. Do you have multiple devices in your home? Do you rely on a device daily? Is your ability to connect important to your learning? Do you feel your ability to connect is empowering to you? If you are a digital learner, I’m guessing you answered yes to those questions.



Even if you didn’t answer yes to all of the previous questions, consider the following. Do most professionals use devices every day? Are the most successful people connected learners? Is our world becoming increasingly digital? Will more opportunities come to those who are competent digital learners?



It just seems obvious to me that our students will need to be digital learners to be successful in the future. Heck, they need to be digital learners now in order to get the most from their school experience. There are tools and resources available online that far exceed the resources we could provide otherwise.



And almost every school has realized this to some extent. I haven’t visited a school yet that isn’t using computers or digital learning in some way. 



But technology should be an every day thing. It shouldn’t be a special event, a remediation strategy, a canned learning program, or an enrichment activity after the real learning is done. It should be an authentic part of learning. It should empower us, connect us, and give us new opportunities. It should stimulate curiosity, creativity, and help us solve problems.



Technology can be used to support learning, but it can also be used in ways that transform learning. And it is far more likely to be transformational when it is used regularly. It just becomes a normal part of learning and not an add-on or special event.



Now you might be thinking that using technology in every class, every day sounds rigid. And don’t we sometimes need a break from tech? Don’t we need to unplug occasionally? Aren’t students using technology every day anyway? Some students are probably using technology too much, right?



We absolutely need to keep some balance in mind. Too much screen time can be bad for us. We need to unplug from time to time. I took a month-long break personally in July 2015. There are benefits to pausing and stepping away from devices.



But that’s not a reason for limiting tech in the classroom when it could be so helpful. I recently learned about the Project Red research study, a large-scale look at practices in 997 schools across the U.S. The report includes seven key findings about the effective use of technology in schools. One of the key findings was related to the importance of daily technology use:




Schools must incorporate technology into daily teaching to realize the benefits. The daily use of technology in core classes correlates highly to the desirable education success measures (ESMs). Daily technology use is a top-five indicator of better discipline, better attendance, and increased college attendance.

The Project Red report shows how powerful technology can be when it is used effectively. There were all sorts of positive outcomes in schools that implemented technology well, including the benefits found from daily use of technology instead of intermittent use.



So I would challenge you to consider how you are using technology in your classroom. Is it an every day thing? Even if your students don’t have access to school-issued devices, what can you do to help them develop as digital learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or TwitterHere we grow!

Read More Technology Is An Every Day Thing



What are you preparing your students for? College or career? The next grade level? Standardized tests? Or something more? We can’t afford to be shortsighted in these challenging times. But is it even possible to predict what students will need to be successful in the future? The world is changing at such a rapid pace, the only constant seems to be rapid change and increased uncertainty. 



In fact, one report estimated that 7 million jobs will disappear globally within the next five years. The same article reported over 2 million newly created jobs will help offset that loss. These new opportunities will emerge in technology, professional services, and media. These extreme shifts are happening because of advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology.



Of students entering primary schools today, 65% will someday work in jobs that don’t yet exist. That is staggering to contemplate. You can even use this handy calculator to find out the likelihood your job could be automated in coming years.


LinkedIn published a list of jobs advertised on its site that barely existed five years ago. 8 of the 10 jobs on the list belong to the digital world—Android developer, digital marketing specialist, cloud services specialist—to name a few. It’s easy to see examples of how technology is changing the workplace.


Beyond the implications for employment, changes in population, politics, culture, climate, diversity, etc. will also present significant challenges in other areas of life. Being ‘future-ready’ goes beyond just ‘college/career’ readiness, because life extends beyond our need to earn a living. 



Tragic events in just the last few months illustrate the magnitude of the problems we face in our contemporary world. Just last night there were the Dallas Police Shootings, preceded by the Philando Castille shooting in Minnesota and Alton Sterling shooting in Louisiana. This summer we’ve had Brexit, more ISIS bombings, the Orlando night club massacre, and more bad news about rising ocean levels and climate change.



While the future should be viewed with optimism, the current headlines are warnings of the need for change. To navigate the challenges of these disruptive times, we need the mindset of adaptable learners. It’s the ability to adjust to meet the needs of the future by learning, unlearning, and relearning. We must develop the ability to quickly learn the knowledge and skills needed to survive and ultimately thrive.





The list below includes 15 skills that will help your students adapt and be ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.


1. Problem-Solving



It’s not enough to know information. You must know how to apply information to new contexts and use reasoning and critical thinking skills to find solutions.


2. Creativity 



The ability to develop new ideas is extremely valuable. People will create value by divergent thinking and seeing problems in completely new ways. Creativity is art, but it’s not just art. It extends to every area of life and thought.


3. Communication Skills



Both written and verbal communication skills are needed to express ideas and create content. 


4. Taking Risks



Adaptable learners are willing to take risks to try new things. They step out of their comfort zone to pursue learning and innovation. Fear of failure doesn’t hold them back.



5. Continuous Growth



It’s not enough to develop expertise in an area and then ride the wave the rest of your life. Constantly growing and learning and building on expertise is the wave of the future.


6. Recognizing Opportunities



Adaptable learners see new possibilities and seize them. They don’t wait on the sidelines hoping things will work out for them. Instead, they jump into the game when a great chance comes along.


7. Building Networks



Being connected is critical for adaptability. Learning is multiplied when you draw on the power of your network. Networks are a source of help, support, encouragement, and ideas.


8. Utilizing Teamwork

Teamwork involves shared ownership of goals, tasks, and outcomes. Together we are able to achieve more. A high-performing team is characterized by positive interdependence of team members. Or in other words, you have each other’s backs.



9. Leveraging Resources



An adaptable learner uses available resources to the maximum. As future resources become scarce, it will require wisdom for how and when to use resources to provide the greatest value to self and others. 


10. Managing Change



Change can be unsettling and even frightening. The learner who will thrive in the future won’t deny change or simply react to change. With the right mindset, it’s possible to shape and influence change while remaining flexible. 



11. Interpersonal Skills


Learners need skills to relate to others positively. Our success in life is tied closely to our social skills. Empathy, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness characterize the adaptable learner.



12. Embracing Diversity



Globalization continues to make our world smaller and more interconnected. Diversity will be more evident in every aspect of life. As a result, there will be even greater need to work effectively with others who have racial, cultural, religious, and political backgrounds different from our own. 



13. Life Mission/Purpose


When learners recognize a purpose for life beyond themselves and work to make the world a better place, everyone benefits. A future ready learner recognizes the need to give back.



14. Sharing Knowledge



Adaptable learners create value, not by storing up knowledge, but by sharing it with others. Being recognized as an expert comes from the influence of sharing what you know and the ideas that identify your brand.


15. Perseverance



Perseverance is perhaps the most important skill of all. The future will demand the ability to stay with problems longer, to be persistent, and to never give up.



Question: What skills would you add or remove from this list? How are you helping your students become adaptable learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 15 Essential Skills Your Students Must Develop Now To Meet The Challenges Of An Uncertain Future



What are you preparing your students for? College or career? The next grade level? Standardized tests? Or something more? We can’t afford to be shortsighted in these challenging times. But is it even possible to predict what students will need to be successful in the future? The world is changing at such a rapid pace, the only constant seems to be rapid change and increased uncertainty. 



In fact, one report estimated that 7 million jobs will disappear globally within the next five years. The same article reported over 2 million newly created jobs will help offset that loss. These new opportunities will emerge in technology, professional services, and media. These extreme shifts are happening because of advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology.



Of students entering primary schools today, 65% will someday work in jobs that don’t yet exist. That is staggering to contemplate. You can even use this handy calculator to find out the likelihood your job could be automated in coming years.


LinkedIn published a list of jobs advertised on its site that barely existed five years ago. 8 of the 10 jobs on the list belong to the digital world—Android developer, digital marketing specialist, cloud services specialist—to name a few. It’s easy to see examples of how technology is changing the workplace.


Beyond the implications for employment, changes in population, politics, culture, climate, diversity, etc. will also present significant challenges in other areas of life. Being ‘future-ready’ goes beyond just ‘college/career’ readiness, because life extends beyond our need to earn a living. 



Tragic events in just the last few months illustrate the magnitude of the problems we face in our contemporary world. Just last night there were the Dallas Police Shootings, preceded by the Philando Castille shooting in Minnesota and Alton Sterling shooting in Louisiana. This summer we’ve had Brexit, more ISIS bombings, the Orlando night club massacre, and more bad news about rising ocean levels and climate change.



While the future should be viewed with optimism, the current headlines are warnings of the need for change. To navigate the challenges of these disruptive times, we need the mindset of adaptable learners. It’s the ability to adjust to meet the needs of the future by learning, unlearning, and relearning. We must develop the ability to quickly learn the knowledge and skills needed to survive and ultimately thrive.





The list below includes 15 skills that will help your students adapt and be ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.


1. Problem-Solving



It’s not enough to know information. You must know how to apply information to new contexts and use reasoning and critical thinking skills to find solutions.


2. Creativity 



The ability to develop new ideas is extremely valuable. People will create value by divergent thinking and seeing problems in completely new ways. Creativity is art, but it’s not just art. It extends to every area of life and thought.


3. Communication Skills



Both written and verbal communication skills are needed to express ideas and create content. 


4. Taking Risks



Adaptable learners are willing to take risks to try new things. They step out of their comfort zone to pursue learning and innovation. Fear of failure doesn’t hold them back.



5. Continuous Growth



It’s not enough to develop expertise in an area and then ride the wave the rest of your life. Constantly growing and learning and building on expertise is the wave of the future.


6. Recognizing Opportunities



Adaptable learners see new possibilities and seize them. They don’t wait on the sidelines hoping things will work out for them. Instead, they jump into the game when a great chance comes along.


7. Building Networks



Being connected is critical for adaptability. Learning is multiplied when you draw on the power of your network. Networks are a source of help, support, encouragement, and ideas.


8. Utilizing Teamwork

Teamwork involves shared ownership of goals, tasks, and outcomes. Together we are able to achieve more. A high-performing team is characterized by positive interdependence of team members. Or in other words, you have each other’s backs.



9. Leveraging Resources



An adaptable learner uses available resources to the maximum. As future resources become scarce, it will require wisdom for how and when to use resources to provide the greatest value to self and others. 


10. Managing Change



Change can be unsettling and even frightening. The learner who will thrive in the future won’t deny change or simply react to change. With the right mindset, it’s possible to shape and influence change while remaining flexible. 



11. Interpersonal Skills


Learners need skills to relate to others positively. Our success in life is tied closely to our social skills. Empathy, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness characterize the adaptable learner.



12. Embracing Diversity



Globalization continues to make our world smaller and more interconnected. Diversity will be more evident in every aspect of life. As a result, there will be even greater need to work effectively with others who have racial, cultural, religious, and political backgrounds different from our own. 



13. Life Mission/Purpose


When learners recognize a purpose for life beyond themselves and work to make the world a better place, everyone benefits. A future ready learner recognizes the need to give back.



14. Sharing Knowledge



Adaptable learners create value, not by storing up knowledge, but by sharing it with others. Being recognized as an expert comes from the influence of sharing what you know and the ideas that identify your brand.


15. Perseverance



Perseverance is perhaps the most important skill of all. The future will demand the ability to stay with problems longer, to be persistent, and to never give up.



Question: What skills would you add or remove from this list? How are you helping your students become adaptable learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 15 Essential Skills Your Students Must Develop Now To Meet The Challenges Of An Uncertain Future



A few years ago our school went through a very difficult time with technology. Nothing worked. Nothing. At least that’s how everyone felt. I knew it was bad when students were hammering on stone tablets in classrooms!?!



There were several factors that created the problems we experienced, and even though I’m sort of a techie principal, I felt helpless to address all of the issues we faced. Our network was a mess. Computer labs didn’t work properly. It was impossible to print anything. Our limited tech support staff was overwhelmed.




Image retrieved: http://leadkrabi.com/services/computer-consulting/

Thankfully, we are far past those days now. Just this past school year, we made a significant digital conversion by placing Chromebooks in the hands of each of our 800+ students. Although there were a few issues, overall our network is strong and most of the time the Chromebooks worked great. Teachers were singing the Hallelujah Chorus.


And for good reason. 



Technology failure can be one of the most frustrating things a teacher can face in the classroom. It can leave you feeling helpless and embarrassed. In fact, the fear of a technology fail is one of the main reasons teachers are hesitant to try new things with technology. What if it doesn’t work? What if something goes wrong? What then?


It doesn’t help that in far too many schools, technology is not adequately supported. Computers are old. Networks are slow. Students don’t have much access to a device except when a teacher schedules a trip to a computer lab. And just showing a video or having students comment on a blog post can be almost impossible as a result of the blocks and filters that are in place. It seems there can be so many barriers to using tech in the classroom. 


Another reason some teachers don’t use technology is they are afraid they will do something wrong. Technology can seem impossible and scary. Some aren’t sure if they have the skills to succeed. Or they believe they will mess it up. And when your confidence is wavering and you don’t feel successful, it’s really hard to take risks and learn more. By the way, educators should always remember some students probably feel this way about learning reading, math, or grammar. But that’s a topic for a different blog post.


Instead of seeing technology failure as failing, what if we embraced technology failure as an opportunity to learn? It’s great when students see teachers modeling perseverance, flexibility, and problem-solving. All of these qualities can be on full display when something goes wrong with technology in the classroom. It’s a great opportunity for the teacher to take on the role of learner. I believe we need more examples of teachers learning right alongside their students.


I mentioned earlier that our Chromebook launch this year was successful. It was definitely not a tech fail. However, I promise you there were more technology failures than ever before in our building, because students and teachers were using technology more than ever before. But what a great opportunity to teach problem-solving and perseverance. I often write about how important it is to be adaptable as a future-ready skill. Being adaptable with technology is extremely valuable in a world where technology is changing so fast and is such an essential part of how things get done.


So how do we handle the inevitable technology failures we are bound to experience? Should we just play it safe and only use technology in ways we feel most confident? Or just copy another stack worksheets instead? Absolutely not. Embrace failure. Expect it. Nothing works right all the time. Don’t let problems with tech keep you from using it in your classroom.






If you get frustrated every time you have a problem with technology, you’re either going to be frustrated all the time, or you’ll just give up. It would be a shame if you didn’t use technology because of your personal fears or preferences. It’s so important for our students to have experiences using technology as a learning tool. So make up your mind before you start that technology failure is possible and prepare for how you will respond when it doesn’t work right. Even though technology itself won’t make your class great, it can contribute to a more relevant and effective learning environment. Ultimately, technology is awesome in the classroom where there is also an awesome teacher, like you!


Using Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn
Here are 11 tips for dealing with tech failure in your classroom.


1. Plan for it. Don’t be surprised when tech fails. Expect it.


2. Think in advance about what could go wrong. This can help prevent some problems in the first place. It’s great to test the technology in advance if possible to make sure it works. 


3. Talk with your students up front about how technology sometimes fails. Explain what will happen in your class when something doesn’t work. Teach students in advance the mindset you want them to have. Let them know we will find a workaround and press on. It doesn’t mean the lesson is over or learning stops.


4. Enlist students to help solve the problem. The smartest person in the room is the room. Alone we may be smart, but together we are brilliant. Your students can be a great resource to help correct a tech fail.


5. Build your own technology skills so you have more knowledge to draw on. Try to overcome your fear of technology. No one really taught me how to use tech. I just click on stuff to figure out what happens. You can do this too.


6. Send for support. You may have a technology coach or technician in your building who can offer a helping hand.


7. Use Google, or YouTube, to search for answers. When I’m faced with a technology problem, I can almost always find a solution online. 



8. Don’t allow the limitations of technology in your school keep you from doing what you can. I mentioned how bad technology was for a while in our school. Many of our teachers still found ways to use technology as best they could. We have to do our very best to create an up-to-date classroom even if our tech isn’t up-to-date.



9. Model risk-taking and problem-solving for your students. “We’re going to try this to see if it works. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. We’re going to figure this out!”



10. Always have a Plan B for your lesson. If the tech doesn’t work and troubleshooting doesn’t result in a quick fix, it may be time to move forward with the lesson in a different way. Be adaptable. Thank anyone who tried to help fix the problem and then give clear directions about what will happen next.



11. Don’t apologize. Usually tech failures just happen and aren’t anyone’s fault. It’s Murphy’s Law, right? If it’s not your fault, don’t apologize to your students for the problem. If you feel you must apologize when you see those sad eyes staring at you, only do it once. And then move forward.






One thing we are doing in our school to help address tech failures is empowering students. We created a student tech team to support all things related to digital learning in our school. They call themselves the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology). The group was organized last school year, and they’ve already provided PD to teachers on Chrome apps/extensions, held a tech night for parents to showcase how digital tools are being used in the classroom, and visited our middle school to share about our high school 1:1 program. Our goal is for this group to take on a greater role in sharing Chromebook knowledge and responding to tech failures when they occur.  



Question: What’s your worst technology fail? How do you respond when technology fails in your classroom or school? Are you open to taking risks and trying new technology? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Seeing Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn



A few years ago our school went through a very difficult time with technology. Nothing worked. Nothing. At least that’s how everyone felt. I knew it was bad when students were hammering on stone tablets in classrooms!?!



There were several factors that created the problems we experienced, and even though I’m sort of a techie principal, I felt helpless to address all of the issues we faced. Our network was a mess. Computer labs didn’t work properly. It was impossible to print anything. Our limited tech support staff was overwhelmed.




Image retrieved: http://leadkrabi.com/services/computer-consulting/

Thankfully, we are far past those days now. Just this past school year, we made a significant digital conversion by placing Chromebooks in the hands of each of our 800+ students. Although there were a few issues, overall our network is strong and most of the time the Chromebooks worked great. Teachers were singing the Hallelujah Chorus.


And for good reason. 



Technology failure can be one of the most frustrating things a teacher can face in the classroom. It can leave you feeling helpless and embarrassed. In fact, the fear of a technology fail is one of the main reasons teachers are hesitant to try new things with technology. What if it doesn’t work? What if something goes wrong? What then?


It doesn’t help that in far too many schools, technology is not adequately supported. Computers are old. Networks are slow. Students don’t have much access to a device except when a teacher schedules a trip to a computer lab. And just showing a video or having students comment on a blog post can be almost impossible as a result of the blocks and filters that are in place. It seems there can be so many barriers to using tech in the classroom. 


Another reason some teachers don’t use technology is they are afraid they will do something wrong. Technology can seem impossible and scary. Some aren’t sure if they have the skills to succeed. Or they believe they will mess it up. And when your confidence is wavering and you don’t feel successful, it’s really hard to take risks and learn more. By the way, educators should always remember some students probably feel this way about learning reading, math, or grammar. But that’s a topic for a different blog post.


Instead of seeing technology failure as failing, what if we embraced technology failure as an opportunity to learn? It’s great when students see teachers modeling perseverance, flexibility, and problem-solving. All of these qualities can be on full display when something goes wrong with technology in the classroom. It’s a great opportunity for the teacher to take on the role of learner. I believe we need more examples of teachers learning right alongside their students.


I mentioned earlier that our Chromebook launch this year was successful. It was definitely not a tech fail. However, I promise you there were more technology failures than ever before in our building, because students and teachers were using technology more than ever before. But what a great opportunity to teach problem-solving and perseverance. I often write about how important it is to be adaptable as a future-ready skill. Being adaptable with technology is extremely valuable in a world where technology is changing so fast and is such an essential part of how things get done.


So how do we handle the inevitable technology failures we are bound to experience? Should we just play it safe and only use technology in ways we feel most confident? Or just copy another stack worksheets instead? Absolutely not. Embrace failure. Expect it. Nothing works right all the time. Don’t let problems with tech keep you from using it in your classroom.






If you get frustrated every time you have a problem with technology, you’re either going to be frustrated all the time, or you’ll just give up. It would be a shame if you didn’t use technology because of your personal fears or preferences. It’s so important for our students to have experiences using technology as a learning tool. So make up your mind before you start that technology failure is possible and prepare for how you will respond when it doesn’t work right. Even though technology itself won’t make your class great, it can contribute to a more relevant and effective learning environment. Ultimately, technology is awesome in the classroom where there is also an awesome teacher, like you!


Using Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn
Here are 11 tips for dealing with tech failure in your classroom.


1. Plan for it. Don’t be surprised when tech fails. Expect it.


2. Think in advance about what could go wrong. This can help prevent some problems in the first place. It’s great to test the technology in advance if possible to make sure it works. 


3. Talk with your students up front about how technology sometimes fails. Explain what will happen in your class when something doesn’t work. Teach students in advance the mindset you want them to have. Let them know we will find a workaround and press on. It doesn’t mean the lesson is over or learning stops.


4. Enlist students to help solve the problem. The smartest person in the room is the room. Alone we may be smart, but together we are brilliant. Your students can be a great resource to help correct a tech fail.


5. Build your own technology skills so you have more knowledge to draw on. Try to overcome your fear of technology. No one really taught me how to use tech. I just click on stuff to figure out what happens. You can do this too.


6. Send for support. You may have a technology coach or technician in your building who can offer a helping hand.


7. Use Google, or YouTube, to search for answers. When I’m faced with a technology problem, I can almost always find a solution online. 



8. Don’t allow the limitations of technology in your school keep you from doing what you can. I mentioned how bad technology was for a while in our school. Many of our teachers still found ways to use technology as best they could. We have to do our very best to create an up-to-date classroom even if our tech isn’t up-to-date.



9. Model risk-taking and problem-solving for your students. “We’re going to try this to see if it works. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. We’re going to figure this out!”



10. Always have a Plan B for your lesson. If the tech doesn’t work and troubleshooting doesn’t result in a quick fix, it may be time to move forward with the lesson in a different way. Be adaptable. Thank anyone who tried to help fix the problem and then give clear directions about what will happen next.



11. Don’t apologize. Usually tech failures just happen and aren’t anyone’s fault. It’s Murphy’s Law, right? If it’s not your fault, don’t apologize to your students for the problem. If you feel you must apologize when you see those sad eyes staring at you, only do it once. And then move forward.






One thing we are doing in our school to help address tech failures is empowering students. We created a student tech team to support all things related to digital learning in our school. They call themselves the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology). The group was organized last school year, and they’ve already provided PD to teachers on Chrome apps/extensions, held a tech night for parents to showcase how digital tools are being used in the classroom, and visited our middle school to share about our high school 1:1 program. Our goal is for this group to take on a greater role in sharing Chromebook knowledge and responding to tech failures when they occur.  



Question: What’s your worst technology fail? How do you respond when technology fails in your classroom or school? Are you open to taking risks and trying new technology? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Seeing Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn

One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another as we do now. I can only imagine what might be next! As a result, our students need skills to win at life in a digital world. The ability to use social media to support life goals and possibilities can be a game-changer. I know it has been very powerful for me in my professional life.



But one story is truly remarkable. I stumbled across Marc Guberti on Twitter and was immediately interested to learn more about this young man. His bio describes him as an 18-year-old entrepreneur and social media expert. He now has over 290,000 Twitter followers and over 250,000 annual visits to his blog. No doubt he has created a powerful presence online. But he also shared this part of his mission:

“This isn’t just about being successful and having financial flexibility. This is about creating a movement. I want to prove to other teens that it is possible to become successful at a young age. In a world where teens are increasingly going to drugs and drinking as a way to make themselves feel good and student debt keeps on rising, there are resources available that can allow any person of any age to become a leader and create a tribe of people that matter.”

While every student may not want to build a social media empire like Marc, everyone wants to be part of a tribe of people that matter. And as educators, we want every student to have the opportunity to reach the maximum of their potential. In today’s world, the ability to connect productively with others through social media can increase opportunities for college admissions, job opportunities, entrepreneurship ideas, and more. 



I believe helping students use social media effectively starts with educators and schools modeling the use of social media and inviting students to use social media as part of their education. When students see ways social media can be used for learning and professionally, that is a powerful message. We should also model and discuss the safe and appropriate use of social media to help our students avoid situations that could be damaging to themselves or others.



So here are 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. Feel free to download the infographic below to print or share as you wish. I hope this information helps your school or team.



1. Engage Parents and Community

Social media is a great way to connect with parents and community. Every classroom and school has a story to tell. Social media allows educators the opportunity to make visible the great things that are happening.

2. Share Student Work

Sharing student work on social media instantly creates an authentic audience. It’s possible to share examples of digital products, projects, artwork, writing, and just about anything else.

3. Teach Digital Citizenship



There is so much to know to be a safe, responsible user of social media. We must teach digital citizenship. When we regularly use social media in the classroom, it provides more opportunities for learning about safe and responsible use.

4. Make Global Connections

Give students a sense of learning beyond classroom walls. Social media allows connections across the globe, perhaps with another classroom. These connections help students to see different perspectives and cultures.

5. Prepare Kids for the Future



Social media continues to grow and is now an excellent way to learn, build a professional network, and even get a job. Our students will be better prepared for future opportunities if they have experiences with social media that are for learning and professional reasons.

6. Promote Positive Messages

There are so many negatives on social media. That’s one reason some educators have been reluctant to engage. However, schools have an opportunity to lead to create a positive presence and help students create a positive presence. Make the positives so loud it drowns out the negative aspects of social media.

7. Connect with Experts




We don’t have to be dependent on textbooks anymore for information. It’s possible to connect with experts in every discipline. Classrooms are interacting with authors, scientists, astronauts, activists, and entrepreneurs. These connections are inspiring and authentic.




CLICK ON THE INFOGRAPHIC TO SHARE THIS ON TWITTER.

      

Read More 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School (INFOGRAPHIC)

One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another as we do now. I can only imagine what might be next! As a result, our students need skills to win at life in a digital world. The ability to use social media to support life goals and possibilities can be a game-changer. I know it has been very powerful for me in my professional life.



But one story is truly remarkable. I stumbled across Marc Guberti on Twitter and was immediately interested to learn more about this young man. His bio describes him as an 18-year-old entrepreneur and social media expert. He now has over 290,000 Twitter followers and over 250,000 annual visits to his blog. No doubt he has created a powerful presence online. But he also shared this part of his mission:

“This isn’t just about being successful and having financial flexibility. This is about creating a movement. I want to prove to other teens that it is possible to become successful at a young age. In a world where teens are increasingly going to drugs and drinking as a way to make themselves feel good and student debt keeps on rising, there are resources available that can allow any person of any age to become a leader and create a tribe of people that matter.”

While every student may not want to build a social media empire like Marc, everyone wants to be part of a tribe of people that matter. And as educators, we want every student to have the opportunity to reach the maximum of their potential. In today’s world, the ability to connect productively with others through social media can increase opportunities for college admissions, job opportunities, entrepreneurship ideas, and more. 



I believe helping students use social media effectively starts with educators and schools modeling the use of social media and inviting students to use social media as part of their education. When students see ways social media can be used for learning and professionally, that is a powerful message. We should also model and discuss the safe and appropriate use of social media to help our students avoid situations that could be damaging to themselves or others.



So here are 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. Feel free to download the infographic below to print or share as you wish. I hope this information helps your school or team.



1. Engage Parents and Community

Social media is a great way to connect with parents and community. Every classroom and school has a story to tell. Social media allows educators the opportunity to make visible the great things that are happening.

2. Share Student Work

Sharing student work on social media instantly creates an authentic audience. It’s possible to share examples of digital products, projects, artwork, writing, and just about anything else.

3. Teach Digital Citizenship



There is so much to know to be a safe, responsible user of social media. We must teach digital citizenship. When we regularly use social media in the classroom, it provides more opportunities for learning about safe and responsible use.

4. Make Global Connections

Give students a sense of learning beyond classroom walls. Social media allows connections across the globe, perhaps with another classroom. These connections help students to see different perspectives and cultures.

5. Prepare Kids for the Future



Social media continues to grow and is now an excellent way to learn, build a professional network, and even get a job. Our students will be better prepared for future opportunities if they have experiences with social media that are for learning and professional reasons.

6. Promote Positive Messages

There are so many negatives on social media. That’s one reason some educators have been reluctant to engage. However, schools have an opportunity to lead to create a positive presence and help students create a positive presence. Make the positives so loud it drowns out the negative aspects of social media.

7. Connect with Experts




We don’t have to be dependent on textbooks anymore for information. It’s possible to connect with experts in every discipline. Classrooms are interacting with authors, scientists, astronauts, activists, and entrepreneurs. These connections are inspiring and authentic.




CLICK ON THE INFOGRAPHIC TO SHARE THIS ON TWITTER.

      

Read More 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School (INFOGRAPHIC)





“Is there really a difference in student performance with technology compared to without technology? My students seem to be doing just fine without it.”



I guess that depends on how you define student performance and success. If success is measured only by a test score or by mastery of content, then perhaps students are successful without technology.



“My classes are always engaged and seem to do just fine without technology.”



I guess that depends on how you define engaged. I think it’s important for students to do things that reflect the world we live in, not the world we grew up in.



“I want to see the proof that technology improves learning before we purchase any new tech.”



Whether technology improves learning or not isn’t about the technology itself, but how teachers and students use the technology to improve learning. 



I hear many stories about failed technology initiatives in schools. The technology was not used to the fullest, or worse it was not used at all. The narrative is all too familiar. Little was done to gather input or get buy-in from stakeholders up front, and little was done to support the implementation after the fact. How many smartboards in this country are being used as glorified projector screens? Almost always, these types of failures are avoidable with proper planning and ongoing support. 



But is it really worth it to invest thousands for technology in schools. Is it reasonable to provide a connected device to every student? For years, I’ve asked my graduate students to think about technology purchases in their own schools. Did it really pay off to buy the technology? Did the technology allow something to be done that couldn’t be done before? Was the total cost of ownership considered? 



After all, most studies I’ve encountered don’t really support the idea that technology raises student achievement. Of course, student achievement in these studies is usually narrowly defined by test scores. One study I read concluded that technology even widens the achievement gap. It found that more privileged students tend to use the devices more often for learning, while less privileged students tend to use the devices for entertainment. 



In spite of these discouraging reports, I believe we need to look further before concluding that technology isn’t worth it. As schools consider spending for new technology, there needs to be a clear vision of what success will look like. We need to really explore why we are doing what we’re doing. In addition to the questions mentioned before, I would also suggest the following as food for thought.



1. Can we afford NOT to place up-to-date technology in the hands of our students?



Technology is how things get done in our modern world. We aren’t preparing students for the world we grew up in. We aren’t even preparing students to be successful in the world they grew up in. Our world is changing so fast, our students are going to have to be prepared for anything. That requires adaptability. And it will certainly also include adaptability with the use of technology. Those skills aren’t measured on standardized tests. They are measured in authentic situations where real work is being done. 



2. Is technology being used in ways that give students greater ownership of learning? Does technology result in a shift in agency to the learner?





It’s wise to think of technology in terms of value added. How does technology allow us to do something better than before? And, how is it allowing us to do something we couldn’t do before? There are many ways tech improves things we do or allows for new things. But some uses of technology take learning to the next level. These uses are game-changers.



I would like to see technology being used to create big shifts in learning. One of the biggest shifts is to create more authentic, student-driven learning experiences. Technology is a game changer when it is used to shift agency to the learner. It’s a game-changer when students take greater ownership of their learning.



So let’s consider interactive white boards. They have some possibilities for student agency I guess, but they are probably used more often for direct instruction, led by the teacher. That doesn’t mean we should stop using these tools altogether, but I do think we should strive for technology to be used in more authentic ways, where students are given voice and choice and are creating and solving problems.



The most powerful potential for a shift in agency is for students to have access to a connected device in a BYOD or 1:1 scenario. But access is not enough. Just like there are lots of interactive white boards being used as glorified projector screens, there are also lots of laptops being used as overpriced word processors.



To use technology to the fullest, we need leaders in our classrooms and schools who can facilitate a pedagogy that creates greater student ownership of learning. How we use the technology is the critical issue that determines whether the investment pays off or not. So whether you invest in iPads or Chromebooks or some other device, the key question to remember is how will this technology improve student learning?



Question: How do you know technology use is successful in your school? Is it worth the cost? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More Making Technology Pay





“Is there really a difference in student performance with technology compared to without technology? My students seem to be doing just fine without it.”



I guess that depends on how you define student performance and success. If success is measured only by a test score or by mastery of content, then perhaps students are successful without technology.



“My classes are always engaged and seem to do just fine without technology.”



I guess that depends on how you define engaged. I think it’s important for students to do things that reflect the world we live in, not the world we grew up in.



“I want to see the proof that technology improves learning before we purchase any new tech.”



Whether technology improves learning or not isn’t about the technology itself, but how teachers and students use the technology to improve learning. 



I hear many stories about failed technology initiatives in schools. The technology was not used to the fullest, or worse it was not used at all. The narrative is all too familiar. Little was done to gather input or get buy-in from stakeholders up front, and little was done to support the implementation after the fact. How many smartboards in this country are being used as glorified projector screens? Almost always, these types of failures are avoidable with proper planning and ongoing support. 



But is it really worth it to invest thousands for technology in schools. Is it reasonable to provide a connected device to every student? For years, I’ve asked my graduate students to think about technology purchases in their own schools. Did it really pay off to buy the technology? Did the technology allow something to be done that couldn’t be done before? Was the total cost of ownership considered? 



After all, most studies I’ve encountered don’t really support the idea that technology raises student achievement. Of course, student achievement in these studies is usually narrowly defined by test scores. One study I read concluded that technology even widens the achievement gap. It found that more privileged students tend to use the devices more often for learning, while less privileged students tend to use the devices for entertainment. 



In spite of these discouraging reports, I believe we need to look further before concluding that technology isn’t worth it. As schools consider spending for new technology, there needs to be a clear vision of what success will look like. We need to really explore why we are doing what we’re doing. In addition to the questions mentioned before, I would also suggest the following as food for thought.



1. Can we afford NOT to place up-to-date technology in the hands of our students?



Technology is how things get done in our modern world. We aren’t preparing students for the world we grew up in. We aren’t even preparing students to be successful in the world they grew up in. Our world is changing so fast, our students are going to have to be prepared for anything. That requires adaptability. And it will certainly also include adaptability with the use of technology. Those skills aren’t measured on standardized tests. They are measured in authentic situations where real work is being done. 



2. Is technology being used in ways that give students greater ownership of learning? Does technology result in a shift in agency to the learner?





It’s wise to think of technology in terms of value added. How does technology allow us to do something better than before? And, how is it allowing us to do something we couldn’t do before? There are many ways tech improves things we do or allows for new things. But some uses of technology take learning to the next level. These uses are game-changers.



I would like to see technology being used to create big shifts in learning. One of the biggest shifts is to create more authentic, student-driven learning experiences. Technology is a game changer when it is used to shift agency to the learner. It’s a game-changer when students take greater ownership of their learning.



So let’s consider interactive white boards. They have some possibilities for student agency I guess, but they are probably used more often for direct instruction, led by the teacher. That doesn’t mean we should stop using these tools altogether, but I do think we should strive for technology to be used in more authentic ways, where students are given voice and choice and are creating and solving problems.



The most powerful potential for a shift in agency is for students to have access to a connected device in a BYOD or 1:1 scenario. But access is not enough. Just like there are lots of interactive white boards being used as glorified projector screens, there are also lots of laptops being used as overpriced word processors.



To use technology to the fullest, we need leaders in our classrooms and schools who can facilitate a pedagogy that creates greater student ownership of learning. How we use the technology is the critical issue that determines whether the investment pays off or not. So whether you invest in iPads or Chromebooks or some other device, the key question to remember is how will this technology improve student learning?



Question: How do you know technology use is successful in your school? Is it worth the cost? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More Making Technology Pay

In a previous post, I shared some thoughts on technology integration and how tech in the classroom is too often an add-on or extra and not part of an authentic learning experience. In fact, technology is so vital in today’s world that it’s on par with the school library. It’s that important. Your community would never support getting rid of your library. Yet, some schools still don’t fully accept technology for learning. Some even ban it from the classroom.



But having technology is not enough. There are millions wasted every year on technology that goes largely unused or is implemented in ways that don’t really transform anything. 



Like the teacher I spoke with who had iPads available in her classroom, but hadn’t even turned them on. She didn’t know what to do with them. It would be easy to criticize her for allowing this to happen. But where was the support to help her know what to do with them? Who was there to work with her to learn about using them?



In most classrooms, the available technology is actually used, but not in ways to really transform learning. At best, it’s used as a hook to achieve greater engagement. At worst, it’s a canned program that simply delivers content. Neither of these scenarios results in a shift in agency to the learner. It doesn’t transform learning. If we want adaptable, self-directed learners, students need opportunities to use technology in authentic, transformational ways.



7 Ways Technology Can Transform Learning



1. Authentic Audience



It’s really sad that most work students do in school ultimately ends up in a trash can. The audience for their efforts is usually the teacher and maybe their classmates, but rarely is work shared beyond the school walls. By using digital tools it is possible to share work to a potentially unlimited audience, and it’s possible to curate the work so it’s available forever. Say goodbye to the trash can finish.



When students work for an authentic audience, it is potentially a game changer. Instead of just completing assignments in a manner that is “good enough” they now want the work to be just plain “good.” And how the work is received can provide excellent feedback. An authentic audience multiplies the possibilities for feedback. As any blogger can attest, having an audience changes everything, and really makes you think about your ideas.



2. Creativity



While technology is not necessary to be creative, access can facilitate many new ways to express ideas in original ways. Digital content is easily captured, shared, and combined as an outlet to creative thought. In short, digital tools give rise to more possibilities for creation and innovation.



3. 24/7 Learning



Access to a connected device makes it possible for learning to continue beyond the classroom. Sure I guess that sort of happened before. You took your textbook home to study, right? Well, some people did. But now learners have the sum of human knowledge available on their smartphone, anytime, anywhere. When I need to learn just about anything, one of my top sources is YouTube. It’s helped me repair our vacuum and help the kids with algebra homework. It’s a shame it’s blocked in so many schools. 



4. Global Connections



We learn so much more when we connect and share with others. Now we can connect with anyone in the world with minimal effort. It’s possible to learn directly from experts in the field. Classrooms can connect across oceans. Global connections allow us to see diverse perspectives and understand problems with implications beyond the local community.



5. Learner Agency



Technology provides opportunities for individual learning paths. Not everyone has to learn everything in the same time, in the same space, with the same lessons. Students can learn about things that are important to them, in ways that they choose. Technology allows for students to take greater ownership and be more self-directed. Learning is more meaningful when it is personal.



6. Collaboration and Communication



Technology is tranformational when it allows learners to work in teams, share ideas, and collaborate on new projects. Learner can work together and share ideas even when they are apart. Digital tools allow for amazing new ways to connect around sharing ideas and tasks.

7. Curiosity and Inquiry



Technology allows students to pursue answers to their own questions. True understanding doesn’t happen by memorizing facts or seeking right answers. Understanding is developed by developing questions, interpreting information, and drawing conclusions. Curiosity taps into a sense of wonder and makes learning come alive. Technology provides access to information and inspiration to magnify curiosity and inquiry.



Question: How will you use technology to transform learning in your classroom or school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 7 Ways Technology Can Transform Learning (INFOGRAPHIC)

In a previous post, I shared some thoughts on technology integration and how tech in the classroom is too often an add-on or extra and not part of an authentic learning experience. In fact, technology is so vital in today’s world that it’s on par with the school library. It’s that important. Your community would never support getting rid of your library. Yet, some schools still don’t fully accept technology for learning. Some even ban it from the classroom.



But having technology is not enough. There are millions wasted every year on technology that goes largely unused or is implemented in ways that don’t really transform anything. 



Like the teacher I spoke with who had iPads available in her classroom, but hadn’t even turned them on. She didn’t know what to do with them. It would be easy to criticize her for allowing this to happen. But where was the support to help her know what to do with them? Who was there to work with her to learn about using them?



In most classrooms, the available technology is actually used, but not in ways to really transform learning. At best, it’s used as a hook to achieve greater engagement. At worst, it’s a canned program that simply delivers content. Neither of these scenarios results in a shift in agency to the learner. It doesn’t transform learning. If we want adaptable, self-directed learners, students need opportunities to use technology in authentic, transformational ways.



7 Ways Technology Can Transform Learning



1. Authentic Audience



It’s really sad that most work students do in school ultimately ends up in a trash can. The audience for their efforts is usually the teacher and maybe their classmates, but rarely is work shared beyond the school walls. By using digital tools it is possible to share work to a potentially unlimited audience, and it’s possible to curate the work so it’s available forever. Say goodbye to the trash can finish.



When students work for an authentic audience, it is potentially a game changer. Instead of just completing assignments in a manner that is “good enough” they now want the work to be just plain “good.” And how the work is received can provide excellent feedback. An authentic audience multiplies the possibilities for feedback. As any blogger can attest, having an audience changes everything, and really makes you think about your ideas.



2. Creativity



While technology is not necessary to be creative, access can facilitate many new ways to express ideas in original ways. Digital content is easily captured, shared, and combined as an outlet to creative thought. In short, digital tools give rise to more possibilities for creation and innovation.



3. 24/7 Learning



Access to a connected device makes it possible for learning to continue beyond the classroom. Sure I guess that sort of happened before. You took your textbook home to study, right? Well, some people did. But now learners have the sum of human knowledge available on their smartphone, anytime, anywhere. When I need to learn just about anything, one of my top sources is YouTube. It’s helped me repair our vacuum and help the kids with algebra homework. It’s a shame it’s blocked in so many schools. 



4. Global Connections



We learn so much more when we connect and share with others. Now we can connect with anyone in the world with minimal effort. It’s possible to learn directly from experts in the field. Classrooms can connect across oceans. Global connections allow us to see diverse perspectives and understand problems with implications beyond the local community.



5. Learner Agency



Technology provides opportunities for individual learning paths. Not everyone has to learn everything in the same time, in the same space, with the same lessons. Students can learn about things that are important to them, in ways that they choose. Technology allows for students to take greater ownership and be more self-directed. Learning is more meaningful when it is personal.



6. Collaboration and Communication



Technology is tranformational when it allows learners to work in teams, share ideas, and collaborate on new projects. Learner can work together and share ideas even when they are apart. Digital tools allow for amazing new ways to connect around sharing ideas and tasks.

7. Curiosity and Inquiry



Technology allows students to pursue answers to their own questions. True understanding doesn’t happen by memorizing facts or seeking right answers. Understanding is developed by developing questions, interpreting information, and drawing conclusions. Curiosity taps into a sense of wonder and makes learning come alive. Technology provides access to information and inspiration to magnify curiosity and inquiry.



Question: How will you use technology to transform learning in your classroom or school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 7 Ways Technology Can Transform Learning (INFOGRAPHIC)



What is your school’s mindset surrounding technology use in the classroom? If you’re like a lot of educators, you are probably working to integrate technology into instruction. You might even be discussing the merits of blended learning. But what does it mean to integrate technology? And what is blended learning?



I think those terms are used similarly and seem to indicate a desire for technology to be used more effectively in schools. A fairly common definition of blended learning is an education method in which a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place path, or pace. The increased student agency is the most important part of the entire definition to me. 



And yet, I think many schools claim to have blended learning while maintaining a teacher-directed approach. The part about giving some element of student control gets lost in the shuffle as teachers use a variety of ‘cool’ tools in an effort to add pizzazz to the same old lessons they taught before.


Most teachers feel like they need to use technology in their classroom. They are aware of the “technology push” in schools. Everyone seems to be calling for more technology in schools. In fact, spending on K-12 education technology is nearly $10 billion a year. That’s a significant push! But to what aim?


Most teachers (but not all) have come around to the idea that it’s important to use technology in the classroom. However, far too many think using a PowerPoint and a projector equates to being a forward thinking teacher. If you ask teachers why technology is important, you will hear a variety of responses. But one common response I hear is that kids are interested in technology, so using technology will help make kids more interested in learning.


There is an element of truth to this. Some kids do seem to prefer learning that involves digital opportunities. Technology can support student engagement. But it can also support student empowerment. And there’s a distinct different. A student who is engaged wants to learn something because it’s exciting or interesting to them. But a student who is empowered wants to learn something because they find inherent value in the learning for themselves and others. They are choosing to learn because they find meaning in what they are doing. It is more than a fun activity, it’s an important pursuit.


If we are using technology to shift agency to the learner it can truly be transformation. By the year 2020 there will be nearly 6 billion smartphones in the world. We all know smartphones continue to get more powerful each year. A connected device gives its owner access to the sum of human knowledge at his or her fingertips. If your students aren’t empowered learners, how will they use this access to reach higher in a world that is rapidly changing?



Technology should not be an add-on to learning in the classroom. It shouldn’t even be an extension of learning. It’s just how we learn in a modern world. One way. Not the only way. But one very important way. I recently heard George Couros speak and he remarked that “if I told you the library in your school is just an extra, and I am going to remove it from your school, you would be outraged. Your community would be outraged. You would never allow that. Technology is just as essential to learning as your school library.



I enjoy gardening. This year I’m trying to raise my game and make my garden the best its ever been. So I worked extra hard to prepare my soil, select my plants, and find out what great gardeners do differently. I think that might be a great title for Todd Whitaker’s next book! I talked to friends who are good gardeners, and I regularly conducted research online to answer questions that arose. 



And check this out, I am cutting-edge here…I am integrating a shovel, a hoe, and a water hose into my gardening. I went to a garden conference, learned about some cool tools, and have now decided to integrate these tools into my garden plans. What the heck, you say?!? You would never say that you’re going to integrate essential tools like a shovel, a hoe, or a water hose into gardening. They’re essential. You just use them.



As I used technology to research my garden, I watched YouTube videos and read various blogs and articles to learn more. And it’s funny, never once did I think “I’m now going to integrate some technology into my garden project.” I viewed the technology as a helpful tool, a very powerful tool, a potentially transformational tool, to help me be a better gardener. In the same way that my shovel, hoe, and water hose are essential tools to gardening, technology is an essential tool to almost every kind of learning.



At the typical edtech conference, there seem to be a lot of sessions on the what and how of using tech tools in the classroom. Someone will also be sharing the latest version of a cool app, game, or platform. But I contend that we must always start with why. I learned that from Simon Sinek. We must understand why we are using technology in the class and have a clear vision of empowering students as as adaptable learners. They will need these skills in a world where there will soon be 6 billion smartphone users.



Question: Are you integrating technology as an add-on, or is it just an essential part of learning in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.























      

Read More Is It Time To Move Past Tech Integration?



What is your school’s mindset surrounding technology use in the classroom? If you’re like a lot of educators, you are probably working to integrate technology into instruction. You might even be discussing the merits of blended learning. But what does it mean to integrate technology? And what is blended learning?



I think those terms are used similarly and seem to indicate a desire for technology to be used more effectively in schools. A fairly common definition of blended learning is an education method in which a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place path, or pace. The increased student agency is the most important part of the entire definition to me. 



And yet, I think many schools claim to have blended learning while maintaining a teacher-directed approach. The part about giving some element of student control gets lost in the shuffle as teachers use a variety of ‘cool’ tools in an effort to add pizzazz to the same old lessons they taught before.


Most teachers feel like they need to use technology in their classroom. They are aware of the “technology push” in schools. Everyone seems to be calling for more technology in schools. In fact, spending on K-12 education technology is nearly $10 billion a year. That’s a significant push! But to what aim?


Most teachers (but not all) have come around to the idea that it’s important to use technology in the classroom. However, far too many think using a PowerPoint and a projector equates to being a forward thinking teacher. If you ask teachers why technology is important, you will hear a variety of responses. But one common response I hear is that kids are interested in technology, so using technology will help make kids more interested in learning.


There is an element of truth to this. Some kids do seem to prefer learning that involves digital opportunities. Technology can support student engagement. But it can also support student empowerment. And there’s a distinct different. A student who is engaged wants to learn something because it’s exciting or interesting to them. But a student who is empowered wants to learn something because they find inherent value in the learning for themselves and others. They are choosing to learn because they find meaning in what they are doing. It is more than a fun activity, it’s an important pursuit.


If we are using technology to shift agency to the learner it can truly be transformation. By the year 2020 there will be nearly 6 billion smartphones in the world. We all know smartphones continue to get more powerful each year. A connected device gives its owner access to the sum of human knowledge at his or her fingertips. If your students aren’t empowered learners, how will they use this access to reach higher in a world that is rapidly changing?



Technology should not be an add-on to learning in the classroom. It shouldn’t even be an extension of learning. It’s just how we learn in a modern world. One way. Not the only way. But one very important way. I recently heard George Couros speak and he remarked that “if I told you the library in your school is just an extra, and I am going to remove it from your school, you would be outraged. Your community would be outraged. You would never allow that. Technology is just as essential to learning as your school library.



I enjoy gardening. This year I’m trying to raise my game and make my garden the best its ever been. So I worked extra hard to prepare my soil, select my plants, and find out what great gardeners do differently. I think that might be a great title for Todd Whitaker’s next book! I talked to friends who are good gardeners, and I regularly conducted research online to answer questions that arose. 



And check this out, I am cutting-edge here…I am integrating a shovel, a hoe, and a water hose into my gardening. I went to a garden conference, learned about some cool tools, and have now decided to integrate these tools into my garden plans. What the heck, you say?!? You would never say that you’re going to integrate essential tools like a shovel, a hoe, or a water hose into gardening. They’re essential. You just use them.



As I used technology to research my garden, I watched YouTube videos and read various blogs and articles to learn more. And it’s funny, never once did I think “I’m now going to integrate some technology into my garden project.” I viewed the technology as a helpful tool, a very powerful tool, a potentially transformational tool, to help me be a better gardener. In the same way that my shovel, hoe, and water hose are essential tools to gardening, technology is an essential tool to almost every kind of learning.



At the typical edtech conference, there seem to be a lot of sessions on the what and how of using tech tools in the classroom. Someone will also be sharing the latest version of a cool app, game, or platform. But I contend that we must always start with why. I learned that from Simon Sinek. We must understand why we are using technology in the class and have a clear vision of empowering students as as adaptable learners. They will need these skills in a world where there will soon be 6 billion smartphone users.



Question: Are you integrating technology as an add-on, or is it just an essential part of learning in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.























      

Read More Is It Time To Move Past Tech Integration?





I’ve been reading The Passage of Power: the Years of Lyndon B Johnson by Robert A. Caro. It’s the fourth book in a series of autobiographies by Caro tracing the life and political career of LBJ. It’s a fascinating read, named one of the 10 best books of 2012 by the New York Times.



In the 1960 Democratic Primary Elections, John F Kennedy utilized television to his incredible advantage. Johnson was hesitant to enter the race, even though he badly wanted the nomination, largely because he feared the possibility of defeat. He wanted it almost too badly, and would not publicly announce as a candidate. His fear of losing and fear of being humiliated in defeat paralyzed him until at the last moment, he declared. But it was too late.



While Johnson had been reluctant to take a risk, Kennedy was developing a highly effective campaign machine. He traveled the nation building support, but even more importantly, he leveraged the power of television to his great advantage. Every chance he got, he was in front of the American public, in their living rooms, connecting with them through their television sets.



Johnson thought television was a waste of time. He thought Kennedy was too flashy and that he lacked substance. Johnson was proud of his accomplishments as leader in the Senate. He blasted Kennedy for his weak record as a senator, noting that JFK had accomplished very little as a lawmaker. Kennedy rarely even showed up for work. He was too busy running a campaign for President. 



Regardless of his Senate record, JFK won the nomination. In a strange twist, he invited LBJ onto his ticket as his vice president. Begrudgingly, Johnson accepted the offer to be Kennedy’s running mate. Kennedy went on to win the election in 1960, beating Republican Richard Nixon.



In the same way Johnson failed to recognize the power of television, too many educators today are not adapting to the digital transformation of the modern age, a revolution even more powerful than television. They are struggling to adapt to these new literacies. They think of social media and other digital tools as optional at best, and at worst they completely reject that these tools have any merit for learners.



Some pay lip service to the idea that technology is important, but they do very little to model the use of digital tools, in their own lives or in their classrooms. They rarely use technology for learning, and when they do it is such a special event that it is more of a gimmick than a way of doing business. They cling to their content as if it must be the most important thing for their students to know, without ever questioning how irrelevant it might be for some.



Do reading, writing, and math skills still matter? Absolutely. Every person should have skills in these traditional literacies, but we can’t stop there. Those skills are just the beginning. Students need to also know how to apply these basic skills in ways that generate value in today’s world. They need to practice these skills in modern applications. Learning digital literacies is not about learning gadgets or gimmicks. It’s about learning how to collaborate, communicate, create, and think in a connected, information-rich world.



So instead of writing that research paper, ask students to create blogs. Incorporate social media into studies of literature and history. Reach out to experts in various fields to demonstrate the power of connections. Examine how modern films, music, and art impact the world of science and social science. Develop a classroom culture that goes beyond memorizing and testing. We need students to develop the skills of makers, designers, and innovators.



If we are slow to respond to how our world is changing, we are doing our students a disservice. We can’t afford to make our own comfort and preferences the priority, now when seismic shifts are happening all around us that demand we change. If we want our students to win at life in a digital world, we have to act as if it’s that important. Our students are counting on us. We have to lead.



If educators fail to adapt to the rapidly changing world, our students will suffer. Someone else will get the job. Someone else will solve the problem. Or even worse, the problem won’t get solved. We will limit the possibilities of our most important resource, our children. simply because we didn’t take a risk, try something new, or continue to be a learner. Like LBJ, if we are slow to adapt, it will result in failure. We all stand to lose.



Question: How are you adapting as an educator and as a learner? What have you done to step out of your comfort zone? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More If We Fail to Adapt, Our Students Lose