eMINTS Conference: Session 2 (Friday)

Design Patterns 2.0

Our good friend Bernie Dodge presents on how the best WebQuests are those built around tasks that resemble the authentic work that people do outside of school. Design patterns provide us with a way to describe that work and make it easier to create WebQuests that better prepare our students for life. This session will be the world premier (since yesterday’s session) of a new set of design patterns that will kick lessons up a notch.

Journals, Blogs and Wikis to Enhance Reading and Writing

Presenter Denis Knight provides participants an opportunity to gain a better understanding of various web-based instructional opportunities to use to enhance reading and writing skills. Participants learn how to use online journals, blogs and wikis to develop innovative ways to not only communicate with students, but provide an avenue for creative written expression. Teachers can generate online journals for students to reflect on classroom activities; blogs for addressing constructive response questions and article reviews to address reading comprehension. Participants learn to create a classroom wiki to provide opportunities for interactive discussion and peer evaluation. When used with appropriate assessments, these online sources can give teachers the flexibility to use internet sites as a way to move from the paper and pencil past to a new and exciting learning experience.

Personalize Your PD

Presenter Stephanie Madlinger helps teachers expand and take ownership of professional learning by creating a PLN (Personal Learning Network). Having a PLN allows one to learn and share with others around the world, 24/7. A PLN is a reciprocal network created and based on your interests and needs. Generate multiple opportunities to learn from, connect with, gather information and resources, then create and share with people like you. Participants learn which online tools to use to personalize their own PD. They explore online learning communities like Google Groups and SchoolTown; social networks like Facebook and Twitter; and social bookmarking like Delicious and Diigo.

Put Some WOW into Your Website

Krissy Venosdale of Hillsboro R-3 School District helps teachers explore ways to use the classroom website to enhance the learning environment. Using various Web 2.0 tools, sprucing up certain areas of one’s site, and encouraging interaction on the classroom site will enhance learning both in and out of the classroom. Digital portfolios, online projects, and weekly contests can all be used to engage students in a site and most of all, in learning.

Class, get out your cell phones please for bellwork. Seriously!

Presenter Roger Brallier of Mexico Public Schools help participants learn how to use cell phone technology to add an extra spark to bell work or preassessment in the classroom. Roger demonstrates how to reduce “under the table texting” and unlock the power of the cell phone (which may be greater than some of our older computers). Additionally, participants learn the basics of “Poll Everywhere” – a free online tool that shows real time results using the texting feature of a cell phone. Even without a phone, one can still use a webpage link.

The Flipped Classroom Approach in an eMINTS Classroom

Presenter Melody Paige of Monett School District presents a flipped classroom approach that entails “flipping” instruction in which students watch and listen to lectures for homework or at other non-instructional times. This gives learners control to pause or rewind lessons for understanding. Precious class time is then used for what typically was done as homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, creating, collaborating and researching. The concept is simple; but how does one make the “flipped” approach work in the real classroom? What software is needed? In this session, teachers watch videos of this concept in action and provide many resources for creating flipped content. There are many free completed lessons and videos ready for use in the classroom.

Friday keynote – The Power of Student-Made Questions Bernie Dodge

From the conference description…

The air in school is filled with questions. They’re asked by teachers, they’re found on tests, they’re written on the white board. The most powerful questions, though, are those that come from students themselves. How can we use technology to encourage, organize and improve student-generated questions? We’ll offer some practical suggestions.

Inquiry is a key piece in the eMINTS instructional model. So, Bernie’s talk on student-generated questions is right up our alley. He begins with the idea of the ideal classroom versus one situated to only respond to a teacher’s question. Participants reveal visions that match our model as well of student activity and engagement. Bernie’s talk covers student-generated questions, something new called the Questions Formulation Technique, WonderPoints, WHex, CircuitBoard Games, WebQuests vs SGO, and so what?

Bernie adds a new book to add to everyone’s reading list: Make Just One Change. From the book, Bernie latches onto the idea of teaching kids to generate their own questions; this one simple shift is all we have to do. The authors of the book have established the Right Question Institute. The technique they promote is to establish a question focus, including rules for generating questions. Have students generate questions, categorize between open and closed questions, improve the generated questions, and prioritize those questions.

Bernie demonstrates a process in which questions are acknowledged, lists of questions are compiled, lists are refined and questions are categorized as open vs. closed. Then, students experiment to see how questions can be altered. Once this process is started, it builds on itself.

Bernie introduces Project nGage, promoting smartphone use in schools. His student teachers in Sand Diego use smartphones in the classroom as do their students. Bernie makes a clear distinction that these smartphones are not to deliver learning. Rather, their purpose is to help create an environment for learninng to take place. The idea is to think of them as advanced devices for taking in information, not delivering it.

This initiative is developing an app called WonderPoints where students identify location and boundaries, recording all kinds of data. Students can use the app to post questions for discussion.

Even with such a great tool, open-ended wonder is a hard sell. As with anything in education, it’s an easier to sell when there are boundaries. So, the easy fix is for teachers to limit what students do with these great mobile tools by simply narrowing the questioning focus on particular topics.

Overall, it’s great to have Bernie back once again. We look forward to seeing him at future conferences!

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger with the eMINTS National Center.

HD_Links: Smartphones

Eirikso tester tidlig smartphone-prototyp

Luckily, smartphones are easier to carry than this. - Click for source.

Cell phones and smarthones are seeing an increase in educational applications these days. In general, American consumers are expected to flock to smartphones in record numbers in the coming year. This piece of technology is taking society by storm and schools are joining the party.

For those just starting with smartphones, check out the links below for some helpful resources:

Apps, short for applications, are what really set smartphones apart from regular cell phones. These small portals and tools have revolutionized mobile devices. Below are some guides for the best apps for educators:

Of course, once we accept the use of smartphones in our schools, we have to find classroom applications and methods for getting the most out of these tools. The following links are a great starting point for incorporating mobile devices in your classroom:

  • Teach Paperless suggests that it’s not necessarily the device that’s the issue. Instead, we must consider the context.
  • One Minnesota teacher allows smartphones in his classroom with some success.
  • This Mashable piece discusses how higher education is utilizing mobile technologies, but some of the lessons could easily apply to the communities at primary and secondary schools.
  • Another Mashable post makes the case for why education needs to meet kids where they are digitally.
  • Blackberry has its own site focusing on educational issues and applications.
  • Project K-nect seeks to improve math skills among struggling learners by engaging them through smartphones.
  • Can smartphones make kids smarter? [Education.com]

How have you been able to use smartphones in your classroom? What are your reservations about bringing mobile devices into the schools? What are some great apps you’ve found in your smartphone use?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center and an avid iPhone user.