The staff at Pacific Way Elementary spent the Pro D day learning about technology. The school, through the assistance of the PAC, has purchased Apple iPads and the day was developed to learn some of the basics features of the iPad and some apps to enhance student learning.
The day began with a TED talk by Shawn Achor, the talk focused on the happiness factor that is created when individuals meet with success. That hard work just for the sake of hard work does not equate to greater understanding or foster a love for learning. Achor embraced the outliers and challenged listeners to not just settle for being average but reaching higher to improve the average for everyone.
Teachers then went on a discovery mission to learn some of the features of the apple devices, how to multi gesture swipe, close programs, operate the camera, turn on the speak selection features. Everyone seemed to learn something new and enjoyed the exploration on their own or with a partner.
The first app that was featured was explain everything. This is a great app for students to use to explain just about everything, The features of the app were highlighted then teachers were given a math problem to solve and explain to others through the app. This was a challenging task as the teachers had to solve the word problem and solve how to use the technology, after some time and many questions they were ready to present. It was amazing to see the variety in the explanations and to hear the struggles as they learned how to explain how to do the math, not just find the answer.
With the introduction of technology it was important to highlight the why portion of the task. Why is technology being used and how does it improved the lesson or task being taught. Teachers were asked to create a list of tasks that have been taught this year and group them into the SAMR framework. SAMR is a model for reflecting and planning the use of technology to ensure that the technology is enhancing the lesson. I think of it as a measure of thinking and creativity, the four steps in the ladder are all important but your teaching should include some of each step and not just one level. It would be difficult to teach only using the redefinition level and it would not be challenging enough to only use substation a good balance if important to including technology in your teaching.
The discussion with staff on the task that they wrote on the chart paper was excellent it was emphasized that there was no wrong answers and that the explanation of why they thought the task fit that area was the most important piece. The dialogue and rich discussion that followed was impressive, it was encouraging to hear the reflective thought that went with why technology was being used for each task.
Armed with a better understanding of the SAMR model, teachers were given time to search for apps that seemed interesting and may be of use on the classroom, these apps were then collected into the framework of theSAMR model and teachers were given time to give a quick review of one of the apps that they had selected.The afternoon was devoted to book creator, an app that allows the user to create a ebook in a quick and efficient manner. The tools were highlighted briefly then teachers were given a mission to create a book with certain features. The results were amazing and the books created included humour, a moral message, and were extremely creative. In less then thirty minutes the groups had created something special with meaning and were proud to share with the class.I think this was the kind of success that Achor discussed in his talk. That feeling that you created something that you were proud of and wanted to share, a feeling that encourages the growth mindset and the love of learning.
The day was a success in that people were motivated to learn, enjoyed the collaborative nature of their learning, and were able to create and have choice in their learning. Many elements of effective teaching were modelled during the day. This day centred around introducing technology (iPads, apple tv, wireless, apps) but again that was just the topic of the day, the success was framed around tasks that had meaning and value, and an approach to learning that encourage exploration and risk taking over listening and memorizing.