Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) Part Four

During the course of the year, we talked to students and staff and asked them to share some of their thoughts on the iPad initiative at BHS. Here is a glimpse of what some staff and students say about the iPad initiative thus far.

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Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) Part Three

One of the positive things about our iPad initiative has been the positive recognition that our school has received due to the efforts of our staff in undertaking this exciting work. The Boston Phoenix published an article this week that highlighted the work of BHS and other schools integrating the use of iPads.

I do want to say that I am not a fan of the headline – iPads Innovate Education in Massachusetts Schools because I think we need to continue to be clear that technology does not innovate by itself. It is thoughtful practitioners who know how to integrate the right tools at the right moment who are innovative.

Here are some of the other articles and that have been done on our efforts at BHS due to our wealth of innovative educators who are willing to take risks and integrate new technology in order to create more engaging classrooms:

July 2012

The iPad Initiative Did it Make the Grade – Burlington Wicked Local

June 2012

7 Habits of Highly Effective Tech-Leading Principals – THE Journal

March 2012

Schools Abandon Textbooks To Go All iPad – WBUR Radio

November 2011

How Students View Digital Citizenship – Edudemic


September 2011

How Steve Jobs Transformed The Classroom
How Steve Jobs Influences BHS – WBZ News
A Student’s Tweet Lands Me On Fox News
BHS Featured on WGBH TV


August 2011

Associated Press – Many U.S. Schools Adding iPads, Trimming Textbooks
Daily Times Chronicle – iPad Program Drawing Attention For Burlington High
Boston Globe – Leading The Way To Cyber-Learning
T.H.E. Journal – When Students Run The Help Desk
Fox 25 Boston Checks Out Our iPad Deployment
USA Today – Students Cast Wide Net For Mentoring With PLN’s
Edutopia – How My School Is Transitioning to Digital Textbooks (Organizing: Step 1 of 5)
Edutopia – How My School Is Transitioning to Digital Textbooks (Organizing: Step 2 of 5)
Edutopia – How My School Is Transforming to Digital Textbooks (Process: Step 3 of 5)


July 2011

Edutopia – Creating ePubs: A Model for Multi-District Collaboration


February 2011

Boston Globe – School Plans to Provide iPads

Previous Posts On This Topic


Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) – Part One

Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) – Part Two


 




Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) Part Two

One of the big questions that is asked about our iPad initiative at BHS is – What are the goals of the initiative and how do you know if it is successful or not? My response to this question is not meant to be evasive, but I do think if this question is being asked too much that we did not do a good job communicating up front about this initiative.

The biggest point we want to reiterate is that technology by itself will not have a significant impact in our schools. I mentioned this last week in a post referring to Jim Collins’ book Good to Great.

Technology alone is not going to move an organization or an individual from Good to Great. However, technology that is thoughtfully deployed can help us move a bit faster. “

We continue to focus on higher levels of student engagement as a primary target in all classrooms and our work in this area will continue. We believe strongly that students having access to a web-enabled device will allow us to increase the qualities of an engaged classroom as described by Phil Schlechty (below).

  • Personal Response – More than one right answer
  • Clear/Modeled Expectations – Student knows what success “looks like”
  • Emotional/Intellectual Safety – Freedom to take risks
  • Learning with Others (Affiliation) – Learning has a social component
  • Sense of Audience – Student work is shared
  • Choice – Students have meaningful options
  • Novelty and Variety – Learning experiences are unusual or unexpected
  • Authenticity – Connections to experience or prior learning

It is important to note that this is work that started well beyond the distribution of iPads. However, we feel that the access that is no provided opens up a number of additional access points to these engaging qualities.

Previous Posts On This Topic

Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) – Part One

The Technology Is Easy But The Teaching Is Still Hard

I remember not to long ago when the integration of technological resources into a lesson plan required a great deal of planning and support (at least for me).  So as I struggle to see why technology is not being integrated into our schools and classrooms as quickly as it could be, I am reminded of the words of our Superintendent of Schools (Dr. Conti).

I have heard him speak to educators numerous times on the topic of integrating technological resources into schools. His comment that resonates for me is as follows:

“The technology used to be hard and that has changed, but the teaching is hard and it will always be hard.”

Keeping this in mind and the whole idea that searching for technological tools and resources has been compared to taking a sip of water from a fire house,  we have what appears to be a difficult task in front of us.  How do we best conquer this two step process of showing teachers how easy these tools are to use and then help them to navigate the seemingly endless number of resources available?

It makes me think that the fact that we have so many options makes the technology hard again, albeit in a different way than in the past.

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A Great Way To Approach Technology – "Pause — Think — Crawl — Walk — Run."

One of my favorite leadership books of all-time is Good to Great by Jim Collins.  He captured my attention three sentences in with the following statement:

“We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools.” 

It is ironic that when I first read the book shortly after its publication in 2001 I skipped quickly past Chapter 7 which is titled “Technology Accelerators.” At the time, I was in a place where technology purchases were few and far between and that was fine with me as I dealt with so many of the overwhelming details of being a brand new Principal.  Another reason for my jumping past the chapter was that Collins said the following about technology:

 “Technology and technology-driven change has virtually nothing to do with igniting a transformation from good to great” 

I have to admit that my perception of the situation was that we had a great deal of work to do in creating a more student-centered approach and coming to agreement on learning expectations. So, I was happy to put technology discussions on the back burner and have one less thing to worry about.

Fast forward to Burlington in the present and I have a different view of Chapter 7 from Good to Great.  The quotation from Collins about technology has become a “yeah, but…” for me. While I know that technology alone cannot change an organization, it is now clear to me that technology when deployed thoughtfully can bolster improvement efforts. It gets to the heart of what is intended in the quote from Sheryl Nussbaum Beach above. Technology alone is not going to move an organization or an individual from Good to Great. However, technology that is thoughtfully deployed can help us move a bit faster. 


Great schools and teachers will share that traits of the great companies that Collins described by selecting and focusing solely upon the development of a few technologies that are fundamentally compatible with their established strengths and objectives.”  They will not fall in love with the newest or shiniest toy that the vendors are peddling.  I can’t help but wonder how many millions of dollars have been wasted on Interactive White Boards in schools that did not first consider how they would be used or if they fit well with the goals and objectives of teachers who received them. 

As we receive visitors, calls, emails, etc here in Burlington about our iPad initiative, I caution schools to employ Collins approach to adopting technology  – “Pause — Think — Crawl — Walk — Run.” 


Here is my interpretation of each term:


Pause – Don’t get caught up in the initial wow factor of a new resource.


Think – How would this support current objectives and initiatives you are currently working on? 


Crawl – Have some teachers start to utilize the resource on a small scale and provide school-wide feedback to all staff. Also begin staff training on use of resource in the classroom. 


Walk – Get a whole department or cohort going with the resource and have them report out to the entire school community staff members on how the resource is impacting learning outcomes. Ramp up training. Ensure all staff have access to differentiated training.

Run – Continue to ensure that there are frequent opportunities for learners (all school community members) to provide feedback on best practices. These opportunities should extend to other school communities doing similar work.

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Villalta and Kikuchi Recipients of BHS First Annual Innovation Awards

From The BHS Principal’s Blog:

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BHS Principal Mark Sullivan (left) and Robert Buckley (right) present the First Annual BHS Innovation Awards to Jessica Villalta and Walter Kickuchi. 

Congratulations to BHS Class of 2012 graduates Jessica Villalta and Walter Kikuchi who were the first recipients of the BHS Innovation Awards sponsored by Riemer and Braunstein. Jessica, who is headed to Bryn Mawr, and Walter, who is headed to Brown, each received $4,000.00 for this honor.

 The criteria which applicants were judge on are below:

  •  A demonstrated commitment to understanding and addressing difficult social issues
  • Leadership and a dedication to community action
  • Leading other students to new approaches to old problems
  • business plans for fundraising
  • Innovative community service
  • after-school activities
  • uses of communications tools such as chat, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc
     

Please check out their video submissions below!


We are proud of Jessica and Walter for achieving this honor! Thanks go out to Robert Buckley, a Senior Partner at Riemer and Braunstein, for his support of this award and his commitment to continue the award next year!

We can’t wait to who off more of the amazing work of our BHS students!

More Thinking About Balance And When To Unplug

Having played a big part in the fact that there are over 1,000 students in Burlington walking around with web-enabled devices, I do spend a great deal of time thinking about how to continue the important conversation of maintaining balance with regards to the use these devices. I wrote a post on this a little while back in reference to my own device use, which I admit is sometimes imbalanced.

Adding to my anxiety on the topic is the fact that there are articles with misleading headlines like this one – Many Teens Tell Survey They Are Addicted To Social Media, Texting – which recently appeared in the Washington Post.  While the headline is a bit disconcerting, the content of the article makes it clear that this there is a lot more here that we need to discuss. Check out a few of the excerpts I think we need to focus more on and decide or yourself whether the negatives really outweighing the positive.

“Two-thirds of respondents said they text every day and half said they visit social networking sites daily. One-quarter of teens use at least two different types of social media a day.”

“Three out of 10 teens said social networks made them feel more outgoing, compared to 5 percent who said they felt more introverted.”

“Still, half of all respondents said real-life communication is the most fun and fruitful for their relationships. Only 4 percent prefer to talk on the phone.”

As I see my own tweens spending more and more time using their devices to interact with their friends, I can’t help but think of the quote below by Danah Boyd. Is it really the devices and the social media platforms that they are addicted to or is it the communication with their friends? 

It brings me back to Clay Shirky’s thoughts on this topic from his book Cognitive Surplus: Creativity And Generosity In A Connected Age.  I agree with Shirky on the following:

 “when we talk about the effects of the web or text messages, it’s easy to make a milkshake mistake and focus on the tools themselves…But the use of of social technology is much less determined by the tool itself: when we use a network, the most important asset we get is access to one another.” 

I think the thing that our children need help with is learning when disconnecting is necessary to refocus and refresh. In addition, we need to be sure that they are getting plenty of technology-free opportunities for the rich face-to-face interactions and experiences that are so beneficial. This point is clearly articulated in a recent post by John Spencer titled What We’re Missing In Acceptable Use.


What we need to understand is that our children are connecting and collaborating in ways that we were never capable of.  Or as Shirky puts it:

“Although so much of what kids are doing online may look trivial and frivolous, what they are doing is building the capacity to connect, to communicate, and ultimately, to mobilize…The old idea that media is a domain relatively separate from the ‘real world’ no longer applies…”

The bottom line here is that we are never going to be in a comfortable spot with our children if we do not continue to have discussions on this topic. We need to encourage our children to use these  resources wisely and have balance, but we also have to understand that the way they communicate with one another not going to look like the same as how we communicated with our friends back in the day…and that’s OK!

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