Thursday, April 30, 2015

Technology Integration at Talahi: Now and Looking Ahead

Photo from @hollyclarkedu

I recently attended a great session at the iOS Summit Minnesota at Hopkins High School. At one session Holly Clark spoke about how she view technology integration through three lenses: making thinking visible, student voice, and sharing work. Her idea struck a chord with me, and I started reflecting on how these three concepts look here at Talahi. I found that we are already doing some fantastic things in each area, and of course there is also room to grow. Here are some of the current practices that fall into the three categories, as well as, some possible next steps for our school.

Making Thinking Visible
There are many low-tech ways to make student thinking visible including asking for drawings, diagrams, and pictures as a way to solve problems. Other teachers do a great job of using dry erase boards while conducting formative assessments for students. However, if we step up into the SAMR model levels of Modification and Redefinition, we can look even deeper into our students' understanding.

One great tool that we have been using is Educreations. Educreations allows us to record what students write and say on an interactive whiteboard. The next step with this is sharing it either on a blog or over Airdrop with the teacher. Teachers can show exemplar videos to the class and diagnose where other students may be struggling. Talahi's next step will be to see if Book Creator and Explain Everything can add even more depth to students' explanations.

Student Voice
Every student needs to feel like they are heard and their opinion matters. Student voice can be the difference between an active, engaged student and an aloof or, even worse, disruptive student. Teachers use great no-tech ways to give students a voice through classroom jobs, student-led announcements, Morning Meeting rituals, and so much more. Through technology, our Talahi teachers are amplifying student voice in many ways. Our kindergarten and grade 1 teachers have used Skype in the Classroom to connect with authors and play games with other classes. 4th grade students have created anti-bullying presentations on Adobe Voice.

Our next steps may include, creating a student technology team, developing more student projects, teaming with experts within and beyond the community, letting students explore problems in our makerspace, and so much more. Talahi has amazing students, and we need to help the world hear their voice. 

Sharing Work
Currently our school Facebook "Talahi Community School" and Twitter account @talahi_twolves give the broader community a look into our school. These social media outlets allow us to show some of the amazing things our students and staff are doing. We've also had a push to keep the local media informed about what is going on at Talahi. Our Hour of Code event was featured in the St. Cloud Times and on WJON. Look for upcoming stories from both media outlets on the tree planting event at Talahi.

Our next step in sharing work will be part of a push to use Kidblog in the 2nd - 5th grade classrooms. Kidblog is a great platform for students to publish their writing, pictures, projects, and videos. There are so many ways that blogging will give students a much larger audience. These blogs will become a "digital portfolio" that will follow them from grade to grade. How powerful will it be for a 5th grader to look back at her work as a 2nd or 3rd grader to see how much she has learned. Kindergarten and 1st grade will test out Easyblogger Jr. to see if it is a productive way of sharing student work with other students, teachers, and parents.