Saturday, April 27, 2013

#TCRWP - Cornelius Minor Session on the BYOT Movement

This is another post with my notes from a session I attended at the March 9th Teachers College Readers and Writers Project Saturday Reunion.  This session took place in the afternoon and was conducted by Cornelius Minor.  It was entitled, "That's the Way of the World: The Bring-Your-Own-Technology Movement and What It Means for Reading and Writing Workshops."

First let me say that Cornelius Minor is a fascinating guy and you can get more insight into his work and passions on his blog: Kass&Corn.  As I mentioned in my last post on #TCRWP, I am fond of the bullet point when I take notes. The notes begin with some background and information regarding the movement and then some practical ideas for implementing, starting, and fostering use of technology in Workshop and beyond.  I have cleaned up the notes a bit, but they are mainly in their raw form.  My comments are at the end.  If you
have any questions or would like to discuss further, please leave a comment.
Cornelius Minor

  • What is the BYOT Movement?
    • The movement has always been around
    • Socrates had a stick and that was high tech at the time
    • Movement has begun to shift from legislating what comes into the classroom to building teaching around it
    • Modern BYOT has been around for about 5 years
    • The Digital Divide has been changed by mobile devices
      • There are more ways to have access
    • It is important that kids know how to leverage the technology they have (xbox?, etc.)
    • Those who know how to use tech tools well are the most economically successful in our current economy
    • Who you are as an economic being is cemented by age 14
      • Producer
      • Consumer
    • We need to invite technology into our classrooms so we can help teach kids how to use it so they can go out and feed their families
    • We need policy to shift  to relieve teachers of the legal responsibility for student devices if brought in for BYOT
  • Resources and steps
    • Get smart on using various items
      • cell phones
      • tablets
      • Google Suite of applications
      • blogging
    • Do schools have a point person for all of this stuff?
    • We should be thinking about hiring people who know how to "speak the digital language."
    • We have to have a decent classroom culture in place
    • We have to have high expectations in place
    • We need to welcome kids to our classes with their devices
      • How do I get the devices out of pockets and onto desks and back?
        • This is basic classroom management - but updated!
        • Should take 3-4 days to teach
    • Make sure you have a way to reach each child
      • Many districts have student email addresses
      • If not, collect them.
    • Make sure kids know how to check email
      • mini-lesson
      • assignment
    • Make sure kids understand that the work of tech in the classroom has wider implications in the outside world
    • The idea is not for everyone to have "one of those" devices
      • It is to know how to get access to "one of those"
      • "Part of teaching technology is teaching the hustle"
    • Curricular Stuff
      • 1st 5-8 days are more procedural and cultural than curricular in a BYOT program
  • How does tech find its way into the workshops we discuss each day?
    • Writing
      • In the traditional analog version, the process is thus:
        • collecting - 4-6 days
        • rehearsal/draft - 1-2 days
        • revision - 4-6 days
        • editing - 4-6 days
        • publish/share - 1 day
      • In the technological version:
        • publishing/sharing is the most important thing
          • How can i position that published piece in the world so that people this kid cares about have access to it? (younger kids = teacher, older kids = peers, etc.)
            • Teacher blog?
              • post student work
              • get it in the world
              • parents need to sign a form
        • C. Minor feels that the best thing he has done is to publish his kids to the world.
        • Don't "select the best work" to go online
          • There is no community in that
        • Publish 3 pieces per month
          • provides consistency for student and readers
          • 3 imperfect attempts is better than one perfect attempt
            • Learning is in the attempts
        • Use pseudonyms for writing
          • then only those who know the pseudonym (classmates, families, etc.) know who wrote the piece
            • greater safety
            • targeted audience
Time ran out on the session; I could have participated for several more hours in this discussion.  Cornelius Minor helped me to see that BYOT is not simply a high school idea that does not translate to elementary schools.  As an elementary principal I am seeing more and more children come to school with some sort of device (eReader, smartphone, iPod touch, handheld games with wifi, etc.) and I hear stories of their game systems, computers, and devices at home.  With all of this technology at their fingertips, it seems almost wasteful to ignore the potential of using them for greater learning opportunities.

Recently, I listened to my daughter and her friends at her 7th birthday party discussing how I should put the video I was taking on YouTube.  They commented that it would probably get 100 hits or 1000 hits and they would be famous!  This idea of "being out there" on the Internet is the modern version of mom and dad posting our work on the refrigerator for all who visit the house to see our accomplishments when we were kids.  The suggestions that Cornelius Minor provided in this session were practical and safe ways to do this.  

As educators we need to use the tools at our disposal to continually improve the way that we meet our educational goals while connecting with the modern child.  This is not to say that at times Socrates writing in the dirt with his stick is not effective; however, I believe that if Socrates had access to what we do, he would have taken his questioning digital.

Once again, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

#TCRWP Saturday Reunion - March 2013 - Laurie Pessah's Workshop

It has been several weeks since the Teacher College Reading and Writing Project Saturday Reunion at Columbia University; however, I am just getting a chance to sit down and write some of my reflections on the sessions I attended that day.  This first post is about a session by Laurie Pessah.  The full title of the session was Systems and Structures that Administrators and Literacy Leaders Can Put in Place to Create School-Wide Change: Learning Walks, Feedback, and Other Supports.  It is quite a mouthful and the session was full of practical ideas that can be implemented immediately.
Laurie Pessah

Laurie began with a focus on walkthroughs indicating that traditional ones have been used by administrators for evaluation and supervision purposes.
  • Walkthroughs should be done by a teamTeams should consisted of teachers, administrators, and coaches
    • There should be a teacher from every grade level
    • More people=Better Conversation
    • They should not be about supervision, but about Vision
She talked about three types of walkthroughs: Common Core Curriculum Walkthroughs, Bottom Lines Walkthroughs, and Environmental Walkthroughs.  I have summarized my notes below.  In case you were wondering, I am fond of bullet points in my note-taking.

Common Core Curriculum Walkthroughs
  • CCSS are meant to push students and teachers higher
  • Guiding Question: "Is our school teaching high enough to the CCSS?"
  • Walkthrough observers walk around with common core sheets/rubrics
  • Administrators need to learn the standards by grade level
  • The same lessons often occur in 1st grade and 4th grade
  • We need to look at how the 4th grade lesson deepens the learning.
Bottom Lines Walkthroughs
  • These walkthroughs are designed to see where professional development needs to be directed.
  • The walkthrough team is looking to see that foundational Writers Workshop skills are in place
    • Is it happening every day?
    • Is conferring occurring?
    • Are conferring records being kept?
    • Is there a place for meeting to confer? as a group?
  • Looking at the classroom through this lens will assist in seeing what essential Workshop skills need to be reinforced through PD.
Environmental Walkthroughs
  • These walkthroughs are about the patterns seen in the rooms throughout a school
  • The entire staff can/should participate in these walkthroughs
  • The group goes into different classrooms and walks the rooms
  • The group looks at the things that go into each room
    • Is there a writing center?
    • Are desks arranged to support conversation?
    • What do kids leave outside?
  • It is surprising what teachers learn from each other's rooms
The next portion of the session focused on Learning Walks.  These are a bit different than the various walkthroughs discussed above.

Learning Walks
  • These walks can be done twice per year for maximum goal setting
    • Sept/Oct and May/June
  • Teams should be inclusive
    • 8-10 people
  • Member roles
    • Each person has a focused "look for"
    • The areas of focus depend upon what the school is working on
    • The members only look at that one thing with "tunnel vision"
      • sped modifications
      • teacher language
      • cooperative structures
      • etc.
  • The team decides upon topics for the walk and assigns each member's focus before the walk
  • These walks are non-critical
  • Having members from different grade levels gives more perspectives in the discussion
The final major structure that Laurie Pessah discussed during this session was Feedback.  Her contention was that feedback is the most important component to student success in the classroom; more important than class size, student-teacher relationship, explicit instruction, socio-economics, and inquiry instruction.  She showed a video of Lucy Calkins giving feedback to a child and then discussed the following principles of feedback.

Principles of Feedback
  • It doesn't allways need to be about something new
    • can continue something old
  • We should do research to know the bigger picture
    • what is teacher working on?
    • stay longer to figure out
  • We should give direct and honest feedback
    • it is not negative to redirect in the moment
    • it should be based in evidence
  • Always compliment
    • this makes conferree more open and receptive
    • make a practice-focused compliment
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