As a School of Innovative Learning and Technology, our Site Plan calls for innovative, technology-embedded programs and experiences for our students. Does that mean that everything we do needs to be surrounded with technology? When is digital the right choice?
The use of digital resources in instruction needs to support best instructional practices, further your learning target, and promote deeper learning. We have amazing digital resources literally at our fingertips every class period, but not to use merely because they’re present.
Digital resources do have the ability to increase personalization, aid in differentiation, provide immediate formative feedback, increase engagement, and provide access to authentic materials (VanderArk & Schneider). Research shows that digital learning can increase achievement by as much as a grade level (Anderson). Thoughtful implementation is essential (Schapiro) in the planning process for this to occur. Merely using the technology without monitoring student use does not increase student achievement (Jacob). Our instruction has to be founded in best instructional practices. Technology shouldn’t replace the teacher, the standards or the learning targets.
As we move forward on our 1:1 journey, consider the instructional practices you are using. Is there a digital alternative? Is that alternative a substitution? Does that substitution offer additional possibilities for differentiation and application? Does that alternative actively engage students in the learning process? Does that alternative encourage collaboration? Does it encourage students to build upon prior knowledge? Does it provide for an authentic experience? Will you receive timely formative feedback through its use? Is it an additional activity or something embedded into your lesson?
Do you need help answering these questions or knowing what possibilities we have? Let’s work together with your collaborative teams to explore the possibilities.
What is digital learning? As a 1:1 school, it’s a necessary question to ask. The day-to-day of digital learning may appear different in different content areas, with different teachers, and in different grade levels, but the foundation is still the same: instructional strategies using various technologies that strengthen the student’s learning experience.
This is not using tech, because we have it. This is not about an “iPad lesson.” No. This is about effective strategies and practices that allow for deeper learning, real-world experiences, collaboration, individualized instruction, real-time feedback, equitable access to learning anytime and anywhere, and access to authentic materials.
As a School of Innovative Learning and Technology, we have a mission which calls for innovative, technology-embedded programs and experiences, Alongside our mission, we have a Digital Vision driving us to deliver experiences where our learners investigate, collaborate, create, innovate and demonstrate. Our digital tools serve to support and advance those learning experiences. Foundational are the instructional strategies which foster them.
As we take our next steps on this 1:1 journey with our mission and vision as our guide, we will work in collaborative teams to build that pedagogical foundation, increase our efficacy and craftsmanship, and add to our toolbox.
History, Resources, and Direction for 1:1 at Pine Creek
We know that many of our students have iPads. We know that all of our students will have iPads next year. We know we have an iPad Cohort. The question that many of us have is why? Why are we doing this?
If you’re asking that, you aren’t alone. That’s why we took time in January to talk about the history of this program and dip our feet into some next steps. But perhaps we need more details regarding those statements above.
Pine Creek was the dedicated “tech” high school from the beginning. Technology has always been a part of what we do. 1:1 is a next step. From personal laptops, to tablets, to smartphones, it’s where our students are and we are meeting them there. The particular device that’s been handed to us - the iPad.
We aren’t running iPad classes, we are teaching kids. The iPad is another tool in our box to further our goals. What’s great about this journey is that we have a device to hand out to our students - all of them next year.
Yes, all of our students will have an iPad next year. Some of them will have been using them in the classroom for as many as 3 years. That can sound a bit intimidating, but you have resources and you have help.
The iPad Cohort has been working on this for the past three years. They represent all the curricular areas and all the areas of the building. They have tried, tested, learned and improved their practice over the years. They are here as experts in your curricular area and close resources in your area of the building. They are here to help.
It is from the Cohort and their experience that we determined our why which lead to our vision:
“The vision for digital learning at Pine Creek High School is focused on students as learners and teachers as their partners in the learning process. Here we use digital tools to create products, innovate design, collaborate with others inside and out of the classroom, and demonstrate learning. Our learners will be globally connected creators, communicators, collaborators, contributors, and constructivists.”
Note how the vision says digital learning, not iPad learning. We are more than an iPad school. We have amazing programs in Computer Science, Computer Programming, Graphic Design and Tech lab, too.
Visit a teacher. Listen to their digital learning stories. There are great things happening in this building!
Partnering to Create Stories and a Wonderful Experience
“Here we use digital tools to create products, innovate design, collaborate with others inside and out of the classroom, and demonstrate learning.” That’s part of our Vision for Digital Learning at Pine Creek and it’s wonderful when we can see that in action.
Linda is currently partnering her ASL 3 class with a 1st and 2nd grade class from The School for the Deaf and Blind. In small groups, her students are writing stories using the app called Book Creator. When finished writing their stories, the 1st and 2nd graders will then illustrate them. The final product comes to life as the ASL students learn to sign their stories to the 1st and 2nd graders. How wonderful is that!
Her students are creating physical and signed products; they are innovating the design of their final product; they are collaborating with others inside and out of the classroom; and, they are demonstrating their learning.
There are many classroom stories to tell; too many for this medium. Share your stories with each other (and with me). Talk in the pods. Visit each other’s classrooms. There are so many amazing things being done with our students. Let’s celebrate these moments!
Having a vision provides direction for this journey of ours. That doesn't mean that the path will always be clear and smooth, but it does mean that we have a map to guide us.
We have spent years diving into our 1:1 Mobile Learning Initiative: trying, testing, curating, and creating. We've seen what we like and what we don't like. We've expanded our boundaries and ideas to what digital learning can be. Finally, it was time to out into words where we are going on this journey.
"The vision for digital learning at Pine Creek High School is focused on students as learners and teachers as their partners in the learning process. Here we use digital tools to create products, innovate design, collaborate with others inside and out of the classroom, and demonstrate learning. Our learners will be globally connected creators, communicators, collaborators, contributors, and constructivists."
Perhaps it sounds obvious, but until you have a vision, you don't really know where you're going. Our vision provides a measure to which activities, learning and resources can be gauged: do they further our vision for digital learning? The clarity is amazing!
Different people are at different places along any given journey. Some start at different times, some move at different speeds, some venture differently. That's where our group is. Whether it's how many of our classes are 1:1; how many of students have devices; how paperless we might be; or, how transformed our instruction might be, we are at different places and have different needs.
Because of this, we turned our time to looking at just that: where we individually are and what are needs are. We created a Padlet and added some examples of what we are doing in our classes, spotlighting high points and celebrating our successes. There are some great examples here! We also filled out a " needs assessment." This was so that our time together can really be meeting everyone's needs. We included our individual goals for the program, long- and short-term so that we could have some targets to aim at.
If you haven't seen our Padlet (spotlighting practice), please visit it and add a classroom experience of your own that we can help you celebrate. Additionally, please visit your Google Drive folder and fill out your own Needs Assessment. Let's continue to work together and grow by sharing and celebrating even if you are unable to attend our gatherings.
Why? Why digital learning? That's the first question we are exploring together. Students and teacher won't listen what we do, but they will listen to why we are doing it.
Simon Sinek explored that question with his "Golden Circle" theory.
Karl Fisch and Scott McCleod talk about preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist in their "Did You Know" video. Just as our lives are even more different now than the movie Back to the Future could have predicted, our students' lives will be more different than we can now imagine.
We need to examine the "why." Why are we doing what we are doing? In our case, why digital learning?
Simon Sinek, The Golden Circle, Ted Talk
Karl Fisch, Did You Know, version 5
I am a Digital Learning Coach by title, but lifelong learner by practice. An Apple Teacher, Google Certified Educator and Microsoft Innovative Educator, my goal is to assist educators in investigating, exploring, and investigating resources to embed in their instruction. I also hope to be a part of their journey toward an innovative and transformative practice that empowers learners and strengthens their own craftsmanship. I spends my free time with my family, my dogs and a good cup of coffee.