Here is a copy of the opening letter to BPS staff regarding our opening Professional Development Conference which starts Monday, August 27th.
A look back to look ahead…
As I gather my thoughts for this year’s Leadership Day blog contribution, I thought I would take a look back at my posts from the past two years to evaluate my efforts. Back in 2010, my post Leadership Day 2010 – Two Of My Goals For This Year focused on connecting with my my administrative colleagues in Massachusetts and getting out and showing them the ways in which digital tools could help them to connect and collaborate within their schools, their communities, and beyond.
“Some environments squelch new ideas; some environments seem to breed them effortlessly. The city and the Web have been such engines of innovation because, for complicated historical reasons, they are both environments that are powerfully suited for the creation, diffusion, and adoption of good ideas.”
The main point again was that school leaders need to take the lead due to the fact that public schools tend to stifle new ideas. I concluded with the following words:
Of course order to do this we need to get more school leaders on board using them. As has always been the case, our schools need to teach literacy, citizenship, and responsibility. However, the playing field has changed and we now need to embrace the digital realm as well. If we do not accept this, we will shortchange both our students and ourselves.
As I think about my focus on school leaders and teachers over the past two years, I feel fortunate to have made so many connections with passionate educators who have started to embrace the power of digital resources to engage students in meaningful ways. However, I also have been frustrated at the limited movement I have seen among educators in adopting resources which I see as beneficial in the creation of more relevant learning environments for students.
This year, I propose a change in focus, or better yet, an additional focal point in the effort to create learning environments that will better prepare our students for the growingly complex world that they will enter when they complete their formal education. It is time to go all-in with that group of people that many educators tend to avoid…the parents. We need to engage the people that care most about our students and engage them in a meaningful dialogue about the schools their students need.
|Parents play a key role in our move to create more engaging classrooms.|
We need to have real discussions about the fact that the classrooms that our students enter are amazingly similar to the ones that their parents and grandparents entered decades earlier despite the fact that the world outside of those classrooms is in many ways unrecognizable from the world of school children at those times.
Here are a couple of reference points that will help us lead this conversation:
|ipads with students (Photo credit: patricklarkin1967)|
Literacy Uses: Student uses are described as technology storiesAdaptive Uses: Learning is telling the same stories with new toolsTransforming Uses: Learning is creating new stories with new tools
It is exciting to see that we seem to be moving well into the adaptive uses in just one year. While it is important that we look for an even higher percentage in this area in year two, the focal point also must move to transforming uses and ensuring that we are supporting a learning environment in which these types of opportunities will be prevalent.
It reminds me of an excerpt from Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It:
“What if instead of telling (students) what they should know, we asked them?”
We need to continue to learn from and with our students as we continue to seek to maximize the potential of our devices. While some people are quick to question the cost of an iPad and whether our money was well spent, I believe they are missing the point if they are only focusing on the technology.
This quote about iPods could easily be transferred to our iPads initative:
“The iPod experiment was not an investment in technology. It was an investment in a new form of attention, one that didn’t require the student to always face forward, learn from on high, memorize what was already a given, or accept knowledge as something predetermined and passively absorbed.”
As we begin to look at the data from our students at BHS on their thoughts on year one as a 1:1 school, I thought it would be interesting to look at how teachers and students from other schools who also just completed a year of 1:1 felt about the impact made by putting a web-enabled device in the hands of each student.
I found the following information which was posted by Ian Jukes on the 21st Century Fluency Project’s blog very relevant:
Data Brief (from Digital Wish):We surveyed 30 teachers and 465 students participating in 1:1 computing initiatives this year:
- Student Engagement – Student engagement increased 140% in word processing and writing, creating presentations, and video production. 52% of teachers now feel that the majority of their students are highly engaged as opposed to only 37% pre-initiative.
- Problem Solving – Students who say they can “figure out just about anything on their own” increased from 38% to 51%, a 134% increase. The number of students who say they have participated in ten or more technology projects that required them to solve a problem, gather information, or draw a conclusion, has nearly doubled, from 23% to 42%.
- Creativity – Teachers now say that 46% of their students are experts or peer coaches in creating a new idea or original project using technology, a value that almost quadrupled the pre-initiative’s mere 12%.
- Students becoming Tech “Experts” – The majority of students say they are experts at digital media, word processing, making presentations, safely and responsibly using the internet, solving problems using technology, and researching a topic on the Internet. At the beginning of the initiative, almost 50% of students said they didn’t know how to do these things.
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.
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:
The iPad Initiative Did it Make the Grade – Burlington Wicked Local
7 Habits of Highly Effective Tech-Leading Principals – THE Journal
Schools Abandon Textbooks To Go All iPad – WBUR Radio
How Students View Digital Citizenship – Edudemic
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
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)
Boston Globe – School Plans to Provide iPads
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Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) – Part One
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.
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