Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Blog Posting (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Blog Posting (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Google Forms for Formative Assessment

This past week, I helped present a webinar on using Google Forms for formative assessment. Because they are so simple to setup and manage, I hope our teachers see its potential. My teammate, Maria Tenny, came up with some excellent samples of different ways Google Forms could be used. So here we go!

Reading Record - This form is great for tracking student reading, whether that be independent reading or group literature. So often, teachers cannot check in with every student each day. By using this form, the teacher can have a record of student reading progress and a different question could be answered each day. The data from the form can be sorted so a teacher can look at all a student's entries right in a row.

Prior Learning Assessment - This form could take the place of a KWL chart. The great thing about this form is that it is individually done and everyone gets an equal voice. With the data from this form, a teacher could see what the student interests are, what questions they may have, and what knowledge they already possess. This information can be used to differentiate and make better instructional decisions.

Project Progress Form - This form could really come in handy when you are doing group projects with your students! You try your best to check in with every group but sometimes things just happen in the classroom and you don't get to spend enough time with a group. By using a form like this, you can monitor a group's progress and make instructional adjustments accordingly.

Homework Check In - Spending class time checking homework is probably not the best use of time. With this form, you can have the students input their answers before class begins. With this information, you can see trends about particular questions or concepts that are an issue. You can also see which students are having issues. In addition, using the Flubaroo script will allow you to have the homework graded! With this information, you can make better instructional decisions in the classroom.

Google Forms are a great tool for formative assessment. Start creating today!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

So Why BYOD?


Teaching and learning is happening in every classroom. Some of these classrooms are using methods honed from years of experience, some are using the same packets and PowerPoint presentations year after year, and some are attempting new ways to increase student learning. No matter which camp you find yourself in, all of these methods are being disrupted by our world and the innovation that occurs everyday. With this innovation comes new challenges and at the same time new opportunities, both being exhilarating and scary to teachers, parents, and administrators. But there is no escaping the fact that our world is one of connectedness, information, and fast-paced change. The pressures of our technology-driven world are being felt in our schools and the BYOD movement seems like it is moving full speed ahead. 

My district is officially going BYOD for the first time this year. And as the first day of school arrived, you can feel some of the anxiety and excitement around this issue. So is BYOD the right answer...I think yes. Why?

1. School should not be an isolated place detached from the real world - The world is run by connecting technologies and the rate of connectedness only seems to be growing. Schools need to reflect the world for which they are preparing students to thrive in and succeed. Within the standards and curriculum, personal technology can be one more tool that can aid a student in their learning journey. Would we deprive a student of a learning aid if it were supplied by the school? No...so should we deprive that student of a learning aid if it is student owned? I say no to that one too.

2. BYOD begins to level the playing field - One of the arguments I often hear against BYOD is the issue of equality. Doesn't BYOD just widen the digital divide? In my opinion, BYOD actually closes the digital divide and makes technology more available to students. A given classroom might have access to 10 devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, etc.) and with classes of 25 - 30 students, we have around a 3:1 student to computer ratio. Now let's say 10 students bring in their own device. With those 10 students using their own devices, the 10 district owned devices can be shared amongst the remaining 15 -20 students. That classroom is now operating at a 2:1 ratio for those students who did not bring in devices. We are closing the digital divide, at least at school. I will fully admit that there is not equality in this example. For there to be equality, we would need to operate at the level of the lowest common denominator...that would mean no BYOD. Looking at the math above, I don't feel that is a sound decision.

3. Fear of change is not a valid excuse - There is a certain amount of fear and anxiety that surrounds BYOD. Student devices bring about a new set of challenges to teachers. This was probably no different from when the dreaded calculator started making its way into the classroom! A successful BYOD classroom puts a premium on good classroom management. Clear expectations, consistent procedures, and appropriate consequences must be in place for success. Funny thing is...this sounds like the characteristics of a well run classroom (BYOD or not BYOD). Teachers who struggle with classroom management will struggle with BYOD too but that is no reason to disallow student owned devices. Procedures and classroom expectations will need to change for a BYOD classroom. No longer is ok to require every student to create that PowerPoint, or write that book report. Students need the freedom to use their devices in a way that best shows their learning. All of this change brought about by BYOD can be frightening but fear should not be an excuse to limit students on their learning journey.

So as the BYOD debate rages on and as we roll out our program this year, I am excited to see the change. I am excited to work with teachers in creating a successful BYOD climate in their classrooms. But my greatest excitement is for the students, and I hope they take full advantage of this opportunity.

The world is changing quickly. Innovation will continue to grow and grow. If are not ready for student devices in school now, what will we do in the near future when the cutting edge becomes the norm?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/76/Google_Glass_detail.jpg/800px-Google_Glass_detail.jpg



Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Do You Ever Look at the Terms of Service?

Whether you agree or disagree with the level of blocking on your school network, most of us work in an environment of filtered internet access in our schools. There are many times that I wonder why a particular site is being blocked because it offers a potential to enhance learning in the classroom. What I found out was quite interesting...one of the factors we take into account is the terms of service. When you are evaluating a website, do you ever go look at the terms of service? Within the terms of service, there is usually an age requirement or a parental consent requirement. Let's look at a couple terms of service from two popular websites. 

Example 1 - Minors under the age of 13 not permitted. If the laws of your country of residence so permit, minor children may utilize a Prezi account established by their parent or legal guardian, with such parent or guardian’s approval. If you permit your minor child or legal ward (“Child”) to use the Service, you hereby agree to these Terms of Use on behalf of both yourself and your Child. You further agree that you are solely responsible for any and all use of the Service by your Child regardless of whether such use was authorized by you.
Use of the Service by Minors 13 and Older. Users must be 13 years of age or older to use the Service. By using the Service you represent that you are 13 or older, and that you will not permit a minor under the age of 13 to use the Prezi Service, your Prezi account, or otherwise interact with the Service. Prezi will never knowingly solicit, nor will it accept, personally identifiable information from visitors or users known to be under thirteen (13) years of age.
As you can see, students using this service must be 13 or have parent consent. If you read through the above text, you see that these terms of service come from the popular presentation website Prezi. Have you seen students under 13 using Prezi? I know that I have and I wonder if they had parental permission. Something tells me no. 

Example 2 - If you are under the age of 18, you should review this Agreement with your parent or guardian to make sure that you and your parent or guardian understand it.
This one was a bit of a surprise to me...this is from Storybird. Storybird is a great tool for students of all ages. It is a great tool for authentic learning, but even it has age restrictions. Many other popular sites have age restrictions such as Voice Thread, WeVideo, and more. Does this mean that students under the age of 13 cannot use these websites? Absolutely not. Teachers just need to communicate with parents about the website and how it will be used. A hassle maybe, but you are modeling the ethical use of Internet resources. Whenever we can model positive digital citizenship, that is a plus for our students.
So the next time you find a great web resource, make sure to check out those terms of service. With all this being said I don't believe in blocking just because of the terms of service but that is a debate for another day and another blog post! 


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Blog Posting (weekly)

  • tags: link sharing sharing

  • tags: photos image

    • everystockphoto.com is a search engine for creative commons photos, located in Vancouver, BC. We aim to be a community for designers, developers, photographers and other media publishers who want better, easier access to license-specific media on the web. - post by rebuscador
    • free photos - post by Kelley
    • Search engine for stock photography - post by Sameer Ahuja
    • フリーで使える写真検索 - post by genki katsutani
    • free photos - post by Tapir
    • There are some questionable pics here. But still good resource for us to use in helping students find pics. - post by k5tech
    • June 1 brought the announcement from your former employer of their pension buyout plan. This plan is projected to reduce General Motors pension liability by 26 billion dollars, but how do the choices impact you? You can read the free white paper further explaining the topic at http://gmpensionbuyout.info; it goes into detail about the options you find yourself facing. On top of educating yourself, it's advisable to seek the advice of a professional financial planner. There are many factors involved in determining which option is best for you and your family, but only days until your decision deadline of July 20, 2012. Make sure you get the help you need to make the right choice. - post by mohdshawon mohdshawon

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Taking Your PLC To The Next Level

After unplugging for a couple weeks, it is time for my first training session this summer. Blogging before a workshop always helps me prepare and get ready. Our workshop is about taking your PLC to the next level with technology resources. My district has made PLCs a major focus for the past two years and many functional PLCs are working. Others are in neutral and some need a kick start. All of these groups could utilize some of the resources we will be sharing.

Organizing Resources
With so many resources available online, organizing and curating resources is a vital skill for all educators. In terms of PLCs, having an individual and shared space to collect resources can be a valuable tool. Teachers can collect resources individually and share them out or the PLC can save all resources to the same place. Here are some resources that can help in this process.

Diigo - PLCs could create a group where all members could tag resources for further use. Individual members could also collect resources and then share the links to their Diigo library. Using the Diigo extension makes collecting web resources a breeze.



Evernote - PLCs can use Evernote to take shared notes or for resource collection. Notebooks can be shared with all members and collecting resources is a breeze with Evernote Web Clipper.



Pinterest - Pinterest is highly popular inside and outside education. Because many people are using this personally, the learning curve is usually none! This helps get over the initial stage of learning a new interface. Users can jump right in to creating boards to house their online resources.

Google Drive - As my district moves to Google Apps for Education, I think we can utilize this for PLCs. PLCs could setup a shared folder where they can save documents, videos, etc. for use as a PLC. Google Docs could be used for shared meeting notes and there could be shared documents that are used for resource collection.

Best Resources for Personal Learning Networks
The collaboration in PLCs brings the collective wisdom of the group together for the good of all students. While this collaboration is great, it is limited in its scope. Sometimes we only see how things are always done in our schools and it gets hard to see other possibilities. By starting a personal learning network in online spaces, you see other points of view and ideas. Additionally, you now have infinitely more educators to learn with every day. So instead of collaborating with a PLC of maybe ten members, you now can interact with thousands. During the course of these interactions, you can bring back ideas and resources to your PLC. These resources are a great place to get started.

Twitter - The number of educators on Twitter is growing everyday and there is every type of educator to follow. Everyday, educators are sharing resources, journal articles, blog posts, etc. There are also a number of organized chats happening on Twitter. These chats allow educators to discuss ideas and find solutions to the problems in education. PLCs can bring back what they learn from their Twitter use or they can create a common hashtag to use for tweets pertaining to their PLC.



Follow Educational Blogs with Feedly - Blogs are a great source of information on many educational topics. But to effectively use blogs, you should use an RSS reader to collect the newest posts on the blogs you follow. By using a reader, you never need to visit the blog site but instead any new posts are delivered directly to you. Feedly is a great resource for collecting these feeds because it can be used with any connected device. PLCs can use resources from blogs to help solve PLC goals.

Google+ - More and more educators are starting to use Google+ as a personal learning resource. The circles feature has great potential for PLCs. All the members of your PLC could be in one circle. This would make resource sharing among PLC members very easy. PLC members could then follow other educators based on their interests.

Web Conference PLC Meetings
For some teachers, meeting with a PLC group can be difficult. An example would be the middle school drama teacher. He/she might be the only drama teacher in their building. It would be great for them to meet with the other drama teachers but the travel might be an issue. With web conferencing software, these "singleton" teachers can meet their PLC from anywhere. There are many software choices for web conferencing such as Microsoft Lync, Google Hangouts, or Skype.

There has never been a greater opportunity to collaborate and to find resources to help students learn. These online resources can take your PLC to the next level!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

If You Are Not Moving Forward, You Are Moving Backwards


The art of teaching is an evolution, a process of failure, success, introspection, and refinement. The art of teaching is not laminated, carved in stone, and the same year after year. No classroom is a "well oiled machine" that can run itself year after year. To hear words like this can make my blood boil. 

The highly effective teacher is also a highly effective learner. The teachers I respect the most are never satisfied and always looking for ways to improve student learning. Learning and sharing has never been easier with online tools such as Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc. These resources help making learning a year round expedition. Sadly, not all educators know about or are comfortable with this style of professional learning. For many, the traditional summer workshop is the time for some personal learning. Summer also provides teachers the time to decompress, reflect on the school year, and the time to learn something new! 

No matter what you do this summer, take the next step in your learning journey. Sometimes when you take that first step on the escalator, it might feel uncomfortable with that sense of uneasiness. But once you take that first step, you are on your way up to your destination. Learning something new is no different. The first step is always the hardest but things have no where to go but up after that!

Always keep moving forward. If you choose to stand still in your learning, those who are moving forward will pass you by. In essence, you are moving backwards by merely standing still. You and your students deserve better than that. Rest and relax this summer but don't forget to take a few steps forward. Read a blog, get on Twitter, attend a professional development workshop/class/conference, read a book, or simply collaborate with others. No matter what you do, do something.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lessons Every Teacher Can Learn From Walt Disney


On a recent trip to Disney World, I found myself completely unplugging (except for my Disney lines app) and getting away from my work. As we arrived home, my mind went straight back to work. As I was looking back at photos and reflecting upon the trip, I immediately began to make connections between the life of Walt Disney and education. The lessons of Walt's life can be applied to the learning of our students.

Lesson #1 - Failure is part of the process to success
For as successful as Walt Disney was, his life was filled with failure. Walt failed at several jobs and had setbacks along the way, but he learned to persevere through those troubling times. The lessons learned from failed business ventures and jobs taught him lessons that were applied later in life. When we think of Walt Disney, we perceive him as a success! This statement is true but there were plenty of times he was considered a failure too.

Education Connection: Do we allow our students to fail and do we model for them how to deal with failure? I often wonder in this era of character education and trophies for everyone if we have done a huge disservice to our students. When we are learning about successful people in all subject areas, do we take the time to show how they failed before they succeeded? When students get frustrated in class, do we model how to persevere and work through the tough times? I remember back to my days as a 4th grade teacher. In this one math activity, I would provide the students with one, high level math problem. It was their job to solve it but I would not tell them the right answer. Instead, they needed to confer and build consensus with a group. At the beginning of the year, several students really struggled with the lack of help I would give them and they really struggled with not being given the correct answer by me. There were a couple of occasions where tears started to flow. As the year went on, these episodes nearly disappeared. Together, the entire class learned how to deal with failure and difficulties. This lesson was probably more important than any lesson they learned in math that year. So how can we use failure as a motivator to succeed?

Lesson #2 - A certain amount of risk is necessary for success
Walt Disney took huge risks throughout his entire career. Walt experimented with different animation technologies never knowing whether they would succeed or fail. Walt mortgaged his future to start his own studio. The building of the Disney parks was a huge financial risk too. He could have very easy taken the easier, more conservative route but instead he trusted himself and took personal risk to succeed. Without those risks, the Disney name would probably not be what it is today.

Education Connection: Do we provide our students the opportunity to take risks or do we control every facet of the learning experience? Students will never learn how to take risks unless we hand them some control of their learning. By simply giving them some choice in assignments or giving them the chance to express themselves freely, we are fostering a learning climate that encourages risk taking. Along the way, we can be there to help them through any bumps in the road. With risk comes personal responsibility and that is a lesson and skill all students should experience on a daily basis. These risk opportunities are nothing compared to Walt Disney, but we need to start somewhere.

Lesson #3 - Follow your passions
Walt Disney had a passion for art and later animation. At that time, animation was not the big business that it is today. Walt put animation on the map and he did this by following his passions. Walt's father did not want him to pursue an art career but Walt followed his passion. Many times passion brings on innovation which in Walt's case was totally true.

Education Connection: Do we cultivate our students' passions and integrate them into classroom learning? Within most curriculums, there is potential to integrate students passions into the learning process. Examples might include but are not limited too: allowing students to write on a topic of their choice while working on particular writing skills, encouraging students to make connections from classroom learning to student passions through blog writing, allowing students to pick reading material while working on non-fiction reading skills, incorporating the "Genius Hour" concept into your classes learning centers, etc. No matter the method, students will be more engaged in learning when it is connected to ideas for which they have passion or interest. Allow students the freedom to own some of their learning and incorporate their passions.

Thoughts???

Sunday, April 28, 2013

2nd Graders Creating with Make Beliefs Comix: A PD Success Story

Last week, I had the privilege to visit and work with a group of 2nd graders. Going into classrooms and teaching students is always the highlight of my job. These students were learning how to create a story in Storybird. They were excited and seemed to pick it up very quickly. As I left the room, the students wanted me to look at their bulletin board in the hallway. They created comics with Make Beliefs Comix to show their understanding of books which had just been read. The students told me about how easy it was to use and how they enjoyed creating their comics. You could see the pride in their faces as they talked about this project. I was really happy that their teacher decided to give this resource a try. But that is only half the story...

The Instructional Technology team that I am a part of decided to try a new way to deliver some staff development. We created our first department newsletter. This newsletter contained tips and tricks and short tutorial videos about a variety of resources. We sent this out to all our teachers and the response was very positive. Because of this newsletter, those 2nd grade students were able to create and show the understanding of the books they read. Their teacher was able to pull this off just from watching an 8 minute tutorial video. I gave them no help or instruction. This was a success story all around and I think we will continue this newsletter next year! This is technology PD that works!




Friday, April 5, 2013

Getting Creative During the Testing Season

Hurrah spring is here! The weather turns warmer, the grass is growing, and unfortunately the anxiety in classrooms is growing too...it is TESTING SEASON! Those high stakes tests are fast approaching and teachers everywhere are preparing. Part of the preparation is planning learning activities during the weeks of testing. We want learning to continue learning but want to keep any homework to a minimum. Perhaps you should use this time to try something new in your classroom. Engage your students natural creativity and let them create! A variety of technology resources for creating are available to you and your students.

Storybird - www.storybird.com

Your students have been working on their writing skills all year. Storybird provides a great opportunity to put those skills to the test. With Storybird, students can create their own books with wonderful illustrations. No artistic talent is needed! Just select the art work you want to use and begin writing. Once completed, your students' stories can be posted online to share with the world. Students also have the option to buy a printed copy of their book.



A variety of skills can be integrated into a Storybird project such as:
  • Descriptive language
  • Sentence structure
  • Plot
  • Setting
  • theme
  • and more!
If you are interested, check out the video below for setup instructions!


Photo Story
Photo Story from Microsoft is one of those "oldie but goodie" resources that teachers still love. With an easy to use interface, Photo Story can be used by students at just about any grade level. Students can locate their images and save them to a folder. This also provides a great opportunity to discuss digital citizenship when citing sources. Then students upload them into Photo Story, add their narrations, tweak the motion, and add music. That is it! Photo Story can be used in any subject area and at any level. To increase the students' audience, upload the finished products to the teacher website, YouTube, SchoolTube, or any other video hosting site. 

Students could create a movie in Photo Story to:
  • create book trailers
  • create documentaries
  • create persuasive videos
  • demonstrate a concept
  • summarize a story or historical event

Want to give it a try? Check out the video below.

 

Make Beliefs Comix
A really fun website that has several curricular connections is www.makebeliefscomix.com and it is definitely worth checking out. With no sign in required, students of all ages can create comics using an assorted of backgrounds, characters, and props. Curricular applications range from simple vocabulary and storytelling to creating political cartoons. The website also contains links to teaching ideas and specific lesson plans. If you want to learn more, check out the tutorial video below.



These resources could be used all year long but maybe this time of year is a good place to try it for the first time. Let students create and show you what they know and are able to do!

Do you have a favorite resource that your students use? Please share that resource here or tweet me @itechbob.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why Twitter...Expert Access

In our connected society, Twitter is one of those tools that makes entering this connected world so easy. In education, Twitter is a powerful tools for teachers to incorporate into their professional learning and in their classrooms. When I talk to educators about Twitter, one of the ideas I stress is that Twitter allows us access to experts. A recent example from my PLN showcases this access.

While going through my Twitter stream, I came across a tweet highlighting the tweets from Thomas H. Marshburn (@astromarshburn). What i saw was amazing. 
https://twitter.com/AstroMarshburn/status/314731244317446145/photo/1
https://twitter.com/AstroMarshburn/status/315245598221684738/photo/1
Thomas Marshburn is an astronaut who is aboard the International Space Station. As you can see, he is posting pictures of Earth from the space station. With Twitter, you and your students can now have access to an astronaut in space. By simply following him on Twitter, you can see the photos he is sharing and hear about his work on the space station. If my students are studying Earth, space, geography, etc., I think this type of real world access can inspire students, peek their curiousity, and provide a great learning experience. 

You will not find this type of learning in a textbook and it is simply just a few clicks away. Twitter can be a great equalizer with everyone having access to experts. No matter if you are in a small rural school to a large urban one, the opportunity is the same. 

Want more information about using Twitter, check out the videos on my YouTube channel.





Sunday, March 17, 2013

Non-Traditional Professional Development in the Digital World


Fair or not, professional development gets a bad name with many teachers. Why is this? One size fits all sessions with little differentiation? Professional development that feels more like a staff meeting? Teacher input not being considered? Whatever the reason, this needs to change. Professional development is more than a summer workshop, a PD day, or an after school session. Professional learning should be continuous with each teacher leading their own professional development. With social media and web 2.0 resources being readily available, this is the time to make the change. This is the time to embrace these new non-traditional professional development resources.

Tomorrow, I will be presenting at the Show Me Professional Development in Columbia, Missouri. It is my goal to share some tools and strategies for using these internet resources for professional development. Everything I am sharing can be found here: https://staff.rockwood.k12.mo.us/deneaurobert/Pages/showmepresentation.aspx

I am looking forward to a great day of learning!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

It is OK to Celebrate Your Success



Educators are interesting in so many ways. We give a bit of ourselves to do a great job for our students. We spend countless hours grading, planning, learning, and grading and planning some more. We look out for the welfare of our students when maybe nobody else is. And we do all of this with a humble attitude, never trying to draw attention to ourselves. This needs to change. We need to celebrate our successes and know that it is ok.

Why do teachers shy away from promoting their success? In the quest to create a cohesive team, have we succumb to the idea that every teacher is equal? I find this completely incorrect. Each teacher probably has a unique skill set. Some connect better with hard to reach students. Some excel at integrating technology in the classroom while other may just be better teachers in a particular subject. As teachers, we must realize that it is okay to be better than our teammates in certain areas. On top of that, we need to be able to accept any accolades and recognition without feeling guilty. As I work in classrooms and see an awesome lesson, I always share that with the building administration. The administration needs to know the great things that are happening in their building. Many times the teacher will shy away from this recognition when they should be embracing it with a smile. There is no need to gloat but be proud of what you do well! Your teammates most likely will celebrate that success with you. If someone cannot handle other's success, that is on them. Don't let the fear of upstaging someone keep you from celebrating your success in a respectful way.

Now I must admit, I am in this situation now. I received an award from my school district and I am trying to follow the words just stated above. I was flattered and thankful when I received notice of this honor. Receiving this award would not have been possible without the help of my teammates. They are a great group of people to work with and learn from every day. I know that they play a big role in my success and for that I am truly thankful.

For the past week, I have received emails from the teachers I work with to congratulate me. Rather than shy away, I always respond with a thank you and I express that fact that I am proud of my accomplishment. It does not always feel right but I think it is okay. We should take pride in our accomplishments and not hide from them. This can be done without bragging or gloating. It feels so unnatural, but to feel pride in yourself is uplifting.

So I write this blog post for two reasons.
1. To thank my team for all that they do for me. You guys rock! I cannot think of a better group of people to work with every day.
2. It is okay to be proud of your accomplishments. By being proud, I am not saying that I am better than anyone else. I am just taking pride in my work. Being proud can be done with class, without showing arrogance.

Educators - It is okay to take pride in your work and show it. Be proud of what you do because your work is amazing and touches lives in ways almost no one else can!

Note: It felt weird even writing this blog post but it is out there for the world to see and judge. 

I pose this question to all of you: Do we (teachers) allow ourselves to take pride in our accomplishments? I would love your thoughts as mine seem to be evolving as I write this post.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Do our assignments destroy our students' love of learning?

The first two weeks of February are always filled with an abundance of learning from Edcampstl and the Midwest Educational Technology Conference (METC). When reflecting back on these events, I always look at the big picture. Many of the sessions I attended focused on student assignments, student projects, and student centered instruction. Are we doing a good job in these areas or are we assigning work that is destroying the love of learning for our students?

BYOD - This was a big focus for me this year as my district is looking at beginning BYOD in the near future.  Can BYOD help restore our students love of learning? I think YES! The power of BYOD lies in all students having greater access to technology resources and students working with devices for which they are familiar. As students learn the potential of their devices (they do more than just access Facebook), they will be more likely to create with these devices on their own time. Creating is a powerful force that can enhance our students ability to communicate in a variety of forms. As teachers, we need to harness the potential of student devices and quit assigning our students the same work with the same tool. WE need to let go of complete control of the learning process. WE say that teachers should facilitate learning but are we really doing that? Do our students have any control over how they learn content or show understanding of content? BYOD could be a tool that makes this easier for us. WE don't need to be the expert at everything (and in the technology world it is almost impossible). Let our students use the tools and apps for which they are the expert. I think we will be surprised on the products we receive.

But what about those students who do not have their own device or are not allowed to bring it to school? For them, they have greater access to the classroom technology. Give a student a computer with an Internet connection and watch how they can create too! Give these students the same choice on how they learn and show what they have learned. WE need to design lessons and projects that are not program specific. Everyone does not need to create a PowerPoint or a Photo Story. I am sure it is easier from a management standpoint to have everyone do the same thing but is it fair to the student? When we take away choice, we slowly destroy the love of learning.

Project Based Learning - At METC, I attended several sessions and presented one session that delved into project based learning. When students are involved in a well designed project based learning experience, their motivation is through the roof. A well designed project takes time to setup, but it pays big dividends by tapping into multiple subjects to cover multiple standards. And when presented with an authentic experience, you never know how far our students will run with their ideas. My co-presenter, Jason Sinden, discussed how this very thing happened in his classroom. Mr. Sinden used a zoo field trip as an entry event into a project based learning activity about endangered species. One group of students were so involved in this project, that they independently started collecting money to help their endangered species. Would this ever have happened if the class read about endangered species in their textbook and did a worksheet?

Project based learning is the ultimate example of being a facilitator of learning. Instead of being a presenter of knowledge, you are intervening with your students throughout the process. By facilitating, you can differentiate by jumping in when you are needed. This differentiation could be to assist a student who is struggling or to accelerate if they can take their learning and their project to the next level. Knowing the skills and content you want your students to experience, you can build in structures for success (knowing that these structures should be different for each student). In my district, we have the Center for Creative Learning where PBL is happening everyday. Often times I hear teachers say that they wish they could teach like our "CCL". I think they can and Project based learning is the answer. So when we only teach according to the directions of our curriculum guides and textbooks, and when we assign everyone the same projects, are we destroying our students love of learning? Could infusing PBL into our teaching help restore that love of learning? For more information on PBL, check out the Buck Institute for Education.

Passion based learning - As a subset of project based learning, I am intrigued by passion based learning. By involving student interests and passions into our students' learning, we are immediately giving students more control, voice, and responsibility to their learning. Josh Stumpenhorst, who blogs at "Stump the Teacher", shared how he is using this approach in his 6th grade classroom. Two years ago, Josh started Innovation Day at his school. During this one day, students had all day to learn about a topic of their choosing and then share that learning. He has continued this and is evolving the concept into a weekly activity where students spend one day a week during language arts class working on a "passion project". This concept fascinated me because of its potential. When students are learning about topics of their choosing, their motivation has to be through the roof! But what about our standards? I content that you can tie many of the Common Core ELA anchor standards into a passion project. Language arts is a great for including student passions. Students could write about their passion, persuade others about cause, or create some sort of visual presentation about their passion. Would students rather write on the topic you choose or choose their own topic? Should students be forced to write the five paragraph essay or could the writing be incorporated into a visual media?

Everyday I walk into classrooms and see the hard work being put forth by teachers. Teaching is hard work and it gets harder everyday. We teach more than content. We teach social skills, technology skills, thinking skills, and the list goes on. But even with our best intentions, are we destroying our students love of learning by:
- assigning the weekly homework packet?
- assigning everyone the same assignment/project?
- give students little to no choice in their learning?
- controlling every aspect of the learning experience?
- living and dying by the textbook, scripted curriculum guide, and our beloved PowerPoints?

Restore the love of learning, give your students some control and create experiences for them that are authentic. When students have that love for learning, teaching becomes more fun, more fulfilling, and more satisfying. Don't be a dictator of learning.