Give a Learner an iPad, Task, and Let Them Teach

IPad VoiceThread 1

Ms. Donnelly’s class has had an assignment this week that asked them to create tutorials on how to use the iPad, Apps, and other things that teachers should know.

“One minute presentation about specific topic related to Evernote, Voicethread, Google Docs, or the iPad.”

I prompted her to do this with her students as I think our school is going to move ahead with an iPad program for Middle School students. There are still many details to be worked out, but the energy is moving in that direction.

This is one example done on an iPad at school with more then one student working on the project. It also took multiple attempts since even though the apps and technology worked very well, there were limitations to what the students could get off of the iPad because of the setup and the file structure that is not apparent or familiar with the iPad. Perseverance and a growth mindset proved successful.

Dan Meyer – A Few Words – Says A Lot


I enjoy reading Dan Meyer’s blog as he is both a deep thinker and a great writer. He is also a teacher in his core fiber no matter where he finds himself these days. I thought this post was both thought provoking as well as summed up well the description of the role of a teacher in today’s classroom. Well said Dan, well said. Emphasis is mine.


Khan Academy acknowledges the difference, though, and attempts to split it by saying, in effect, “We’ll handle the math that plays to our medium’s strength. Teachers can handle the other math.” So Khan lectures about things that are easy to lecture about with computers and his platform assesses procedures that are easy to assess with computers. Teachers are told to handle the things for which teachers are a good medium: conversation, dialogue, reasoning, and open questions.


Students Writing and Teaching While Looking for an Audience


Image: Apple\’s Eyes Studio /

Over the last few weeks, more students are looking for audiences for their writing and stop animation movies. Mostly the avenue chosen is to send out email messages individually to students and teachers or to a conference where all students can read the request. I think this is a great indicator of the changes that are taking place not only with our students but also with teaching and learning. As the Innovation and Learning Cohort continues to discuss the book: The New Culture of Learning we run into this shift in each chapter. While we could feel threatened by it, I think we need to realize the power this affords us in our classroom. We no longer have to be the smartest person in the room, but do need to be the wisest. This wisdom will allow us to guide the learning, asking questions that allow learners to go further in their thinking and learning as well as modeling that learning is something that does not stop. The changes taking place in education are thrilling even when I am not sure what comes next.

There will be those who read the student writing below and wonder why the writing is not essay or formal quality. I believe this is a new informal writing that is more conversational then it is formal so while I too cringe at some of the errors, I also believe that we have to allow the students to own their learning and at times learning is, well messy.

I asked the students if it was OK to blog their requests so here they are. If you have a moment, add a comment and let them know what you think.

Ashwin writes:

MORE!!! A observation on blogging by: Ashwin S.January 9th, 2012  Tagged blog, more, personal I’ve noticed over the time I’ve been blogging that most people have the same overwhelmingly feeling. That they want more comments more replies or as I phrased it in my title they want MORE!!! Well you think that I am stating the obvious because who wouldn’t want people to see what they were writing that’s the whole point of blogging isn’t it? Well I think that a lot of people want more comments because of human nature. The more people pay attention to you the better you do in life. Even I am feeling like I want more comments (So please comment) it’s just the way we are. A common phrase I say is the perfect way to describe this observation. That phrase is “That’s just life”.

Students in sixth grade have really taken to blogging as you can see from some of their posts. I hold great hope that we can begin to see more teachers use this method of authentic writing with their classes.

Alex G sent out this message to a select group of people both at our school and outside of our school:

You may have already gotten an email message like this from me (Alex G.) or Gus L. but we’re just really trying to spread our stop-motion videos to the world. Me and Gus make LEGO stop-motion on imovie and are going to start using ikitmovie (agreat stop-motion sowtware) which I got a few days ago. I’m currently putting my BEST VIDEO YET on youtube so it will be visible probably tommorrow (thurs. january 12). It’s called The Gang, a LEGO STOP-MOTION and don’t worry none of our or my videos are inappropriate unless you say clay blood  or lego guns are but if i can stand watching it, you probably can too. I’ve sent this to my advisory and many other 6th graders and 5th and 6 grade teachers

If you go to youtube or google (and yes, google) just look up in search: “stopmotionbro alex lego” and some of my videos will come up and in the description of the video, if it says stopmotionbro (me) and doofuzz123 (that’s gus) that means we bothmade it. We’ve only made a few together though. I make them on my own out of lego, clay, caplas, puppets, and on paper. My best Videos will say in the description, used IKITMovie.

This is not chainmail but it would be great if you did send this to or tell other people about our videos. thanks and enjoy the videos!
ps, I CURRENTLY HAVE 999 VIEWS FROM 2 MONTHS OF POSTING VIDEOS SO I ATLEAST WANT 1000 BY THE END OF THE DAY but i don’t need to worry because i get about 50 views a day.
Alex G. 6th grade student

Gus and Ian sent out this message. Clearly Gus is working with many students so must be a good collaborator.

Ian L. and I created a youtube account. It is IGLProductionz. We are uploading videos DAILY, and we hope that you subscribe, as it means a lot to us and will encourage us to make more videos!

So when you hear about how teachers need to harness the passion of their students, this, I believe, is the passion we are talking about. What would happen if these students were directed to create videos for subjects and concepts in the classroom as well as the ones they are passionate about like stop animation and Minecraft? Besides, these students are learning about copyright, fair use, Creative Commons and other 21st Century issues.

Since YouTube is blocked at school, all of this work is taking place outside of school and with their parents knowledge and support.

Here’s to a bigger audience for your teaching and learning.

Instruction, Teaching, Learning, Change in 1806 Minutes



Atlas, it’s time for your bath’


I read Sarah Hanawald’s post on why are we teaching this stuff and was intrigued. I am in my second rotation of my new Digital Learning class for 5th graders. I calculated how many minutes of face time I have with them to be 1,806 minutes. That is based on meeting 5 times in a rotation of 7 days. The last rotation is just 2 days. There are 9 rotations to a trimester. On average, classes meet for 43 minutes. All of this added up gives me 1,806 minutes of face time or what I have thought of as instructional time. Why do I look at it this way? Is it habit as I my class flows with the others being offered. Is it because I am afraid to try something new? Is it because students have different tools at home and I cannot trouble shoot the issues? Is it because it takes less time to do it the way I am familiar with teaching? I am sure it is a bit of all of these things since I am a human being. Is it the best way to deliver the content to my students by using only the 1,806 minutes allotted by the schedule? Clearly it will not work much longer as I am painfully aware of all that I am not able to teach or expose my students to since the clock is ticking on these 1,806 minutes. I am working on devising the curriculum, projects, and other aspects of the Digital Learning class for 6th graders as I want to adjust it for the older students. How can I maximize the time best and still not burden them with outside work or homework?

There is no way that I can cover all of the topics and skills, nor can I address all of the literacy needs in the 1,806 minutes. What do I cull from the list? How do I help my students be both learners and active instructors in the coursework? I read Jonathan Martin’s post about Reverse Instruction. Perhaps that is the solution or at least a part of it. Could my students create tutorials as part of learning tools? How would that change the nature of the course? Would the work overload their schedule? Lastly, like Sarah mentions, what would happen if I gave my students 5% (90 minutes), 10% (180 minutes) or even 20% (360 minutes) of the class time to create or follow their interests and create learning objects for the class? Would their intrinsic motivation be enough? It might be worth trying a Flip in my 6th grade class. Stacey Roshan has even more flipping going on.

Updated 1/26/2011
I have thought more about how to flip my class around and wonder if it would be worth the time and effort as I teach a course that has a short life span. Tools I teach with today will for sure evolve or go away in a few years. Here is what I mean. I used to teach HyperStudio to teachers from around the state as well as students. While the program still exists, I no longer use it. I need to focus on flipping the broader skills and not the finite skills of how to use the File Menu of software X. The skills of telling a story are as vital as the many other skills that go into using any one piece of software, and have a longer shelf life. I think what I need to flip is telling helping students to tell the story of what they are learning instead of how to use software X. Of course, blended into all of this will be digital literacy skills but not tool skills. Last week I asked a student Kit M. (who I have blogged about earlier) how she learned to make movies. She told me how her brother is into extreme sports and she became the videographer. She then needed to edit the movies so she taught herself iMovie and then Final Cut Express. When I asked who taught her Final Cut, she looked at me, you know the look I am talking about. Uh, no one I taught myself. Exactly my point. I also read a great post from the Electric Educator on flipping your classroom.

Today I got this video link from my director. It shows how Duke is flipping, and I mean flipping.

By the way, if you are interested Jonathan will be the Keynote Speaker at NCAIS INNOVATE 2011

The North Carolina Association of Independent Schools Commission on Technology is pleased to announce:

NCAIS INNOVATE 2011: Thursday, April 7th and Friday, April 8th 2011 at Saint Mary’s School (Raleigh, NC)

Keynote Speaker: Jonathan E. Martin, Head of School, St. Gregory School, Tucson, AZ | “Innovative Schools make for Innovative Students”

An independent school head since 1996, Jonathan holds degrees from Harvard University (BA); Starr King School for the Ministry (M.Div., Unitarian ministry); and the University of San Francisco School of Education. He is a member of the board, and Program & Professional Development Chair,  of the Independent School Association of the Southwest (ISAS). A prolific blogger, Jonathan contributes to his personal blog, 21k12 as well as for Connected Principals and the Daily Riff. Jonathan has presented on 21st century learning for the Independent School Association of the Southwest (ISAS) Heads, the Arizona Association of Independent Schools (AAIS), and at many Rotary Clubs in Arizona and California.  He has upcoming presentations on 21st century learning at the US Department of Education’s ONPE Annual Private School Leadership Conference and the Annual Conference of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).