We had a tremendous amount of excellent questions this week, and we tried to work through as many as we could, balancing out questions from within district and those coming from Twitter. We touched on upgrades to laptops, installation of new interactive projectors, and Pete got to actually work with students!
We also had a thoughtful response to our discussion about cell phones in the classroom that we had in a previous episode. One of our high school teachers is taking a much more practical approach to student devices in the classroom and wanted to share his experiences. Realizing that not all learning activities will require the use of devices, but that students still wanted to have access to their music or phones while they work in groups or independently, he's devised a simple check at the end of each class to ensure that the students hit their learning targets and the devices didn't interfere with them being successful. It's an interesting take on the issue, as often many want to focus solely on the direct use of the device in as many lessons as possible, or completely restrict it as it can be too tempting. This teacher uses student devices as an incentive to work productively in a comfortable environment, and it's paid off very well for him!
It would seem those asking questions are telepathic as we had a similar question from Twitter about using personal devices in the classroom, and another question dealing with creating transformative learning experiences with technology to empower students. While we didn't quite have the time to address this fully, it's right up our alley! Both Pete and Ben completed their Master's of Education through a program that required us to design, implement, and reflect on a large project that had global reach. We could have spent hours talking about how to go about creating learning environments with technology to help students see a "bigger" picture than just the four walls of the classroom, but we focused on advising any teacher to bring their passion into the classroom first. People can recognize when you're passionate about something, and doggedly pursuing an interest that fully engages students in the learning process that amplifies your passion for teaching will have a far greater impact on learning than trying to be "innovative" with a wide range of technologies. In short, be your best self and find a way for technology to amplify that; it will serve as the best possible model for students to see how they can in turn use technology to amplify their voices and efforts for learning.
Timestamps for this week's questions:
1:02 What has Pete been up to?
1:10 Pete left his laptop at home!
3:12 Pete got to work with students!
3:40 A teacher in the district wants to know, should I upgrade to Mac OS X El Capitan?
4:52 Brian wants to know, when will the Epson interactive projectors be installed in the Middle and High School?
5:58 Nancy from Twitter wants to know, why can’t I use the device(s) I’m most comfortable with in my classroom?
10:30 @kttasch from Twitter wants to know, what have you seen that transforms classroom instruction and enhances student voice, empowerment, and global citizenship?
15:10 We revisit the conversation about cell phones in the classroom thanks to an email from one of our high school teachers.
19:38 Stump Pete!
20:56 Brian wants to know, solid state or tube amplifiers?