Kyle B. Pace

Tag: edtech

Giving Students The World

Over the last few weeks in my district we have had The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program visit one of our middle schools and one of our elementary schools. I appreciate having one of our teachers and one of our library media specialists and their administrators invest the time to bring this experience to students. It’s still a really new program that Google is taking to various locations around the country to test it, as well as raise awareness about it. If you’re wondering, when they visit your school they bring everything necessary to give your students the Google Expeditions experience: about 30-60 Google Cardboard viewers, Android phones (and chargers), Nexus 9 tablets, and they even bring their wireless network. The entire experience is guided by the teacher using the Nexus 9 tablet. The teacher takes students on a virtual field trip with about 140 locations worldwide to choose from. The teachers push the expedition to the Cardboard viewers and guide students to various points at each location. The teacher can even see where students are looking from the tablet app. It’s definitely something you have to experience first hand to fully understand how it works.

During the day yesterday I noticed that my friend Devin from Council Bluffs was also watching students have the exact same experience at the exact same time. We both were tweeting/instagramming (is this a word now?) pictures throughout the day. Devin wrote a reflection post called Oooh and Ahhh Moments.  Devin and I were on the same wavelength with our respective posts I think.

Watching students have a learning experience like this should be cause for reflection. Their excitement and engagement for learning in this particular instance was infectious to be around. We can all remember (hopefully) a learning or teaching experience like this. Yet, we still are so ingrained with learning being all too static of an experience. Am I saying that we all run out and buy this set up (you can’t yet by the way) and make everything into a Google Expedition? Of course not. My point is, that with all the access and devices we’re providing students, are we truly stopping and reflecting deeply about teaching and learning? All the access and all the devices in the world aren’t going to change a thing. It will be our leaders and teachers that make the time for thoughtful reflection and conversation about what’s best for kids that will. Then it’ll be those same leaders and teachers that are willing to make big changes necessary to truly move us forward.  Learning is not confined to a physical space or a given time frame any longer. The world is out there, and our students can be taken to it in an instant.

Here’s a short recap of some of our 2nd thru 6th graders’ day with Google Expeditions. Enjoy.

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Everyone Takes Care of Everyone

I was at a restaurant recently, and while waiting for a table, I saw on the wall the company’s philosophy of how they strive to provide the best customer service possible. One of the points that stuck out to me was the idea of “everyone takes care of everyone”. I read on to find out that it is normal to have more than one person taking care of you during your meal because they believe a team effort will always provide the best experience possible. They were right, because the service was outstanding!

This led me to think about the culture of learning in our schools, particularly for our teachers in their professional growth. If we are going to promote the idea of always keeping a ‘learner first’ mindset; a growth mindset, then why are we not providing our teachers more time to learn from each other? We have brilliance right within our schools; those that have the knowledge and capacity to lead their colleagues because of the great things happening in their classrooms. We don’t tap into this enough. When I look at it through the lens of edtech and what true technology integration is, there is tremendous benefit for teachers to be able to spend time in other teachers’ classrooms.

We had one of our elementary schools try a new spin on this recently. They had what they called a “tech bubble day”. Teachers were charged with stepping out of their comfort zone, and trying something new with technology on this particular day. The school’s technology committee were all provided subs for the day so they could visit all of the other teachers’ classrooms throughout the day. However, they wanted it to be clear that this was not meant to be an evaluative visit to their classrooms, but to be a supportive one. The members of the technology committee (colleagues) were also there to provide any kind of support the classroom teacher needed to be successful. Teachers were given permission to take a risk (and potentially fail) and allowed to learn from each other during the school day.

Everyone takes care of everyone.

We need to see the value in and make the investment in this model of professional learning for our teachers. It’s not about finding the time to do it, it’s about making the time.

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Desire vs. Obligation

What’s your most memorable learning experience? Is it something from a long time ago or did it happen more recently? Were you in a traditional setting like a classroom or at a conference? Were you at an edcamp?

Next, think about what made it memorable. What are the key ingredients that brought it all together to make it a rock solid learning experience? Do you think of things like:

physical environment
people
format
content
lead presenter(s)
technology

Or is there something else that really gave it that “umph”?

Now, did you have a role in making it a memorable learning experience? Was it time, energy, or resources that you put in that made it significantly better?

https://www.flickr.com/people/thenext28days/

https://www.flickr.com/people/thenext28days

Were you there out of obligation or out of a genuine desire to be there?

If you have a true desire to learn something I think it’s safe to say our personal investment is much higher rather than, say, we had it prescribed to us. Is it possible to garner genuine buy-in from teachers or from our students when we tell them exactly what they’ll learn about and when they’ll learn about it?

Do we want our students love of learning born out of desire or do we just keep throwing content and hoping it sticks? How do we build a culture of curiosity among our adult and student learners alike?

The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.
~Confucius

Why do we keep teaching in ways we, ourselves, would never want to learn?

Lots of questions to think about.

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