Placing Value On Fluency

In a recent classroom experience I found myself discussing what I felt I really looked for in student success with learning and technology,after a brief moment I commented that I felt that student being able to develop a level of new fluency with tools and learning was paramount. I chose this because even though students can develop a variety of products and skills using technology software,tools and interactive experiences I felt a real mark of their learning is the development of fluency with tools to meet the individualized needs of the student.

When teaching an entire class a single tool or component of software all participants enter the experience at a variety of levels and experiences. It is in this phenomenon that the assessment of the individuals level of fluency of the tools they are using and the products they are creating becomes paramount. In my recent experiences the ways I have been assessing this outcome is the creation of screen casts by the students which asks them to provide the language,presentation,knowledge of tools and descriptions of the context of use. Students can describe entire portfolios or individualized approaches to projects.

What is revealed is the individualized approach to learning. Each students can describe the benefits of the experience and elaborate on their creations. It is in descriptions and planning that students begin to place the context of their understanding in proper light. The videos are also opportunities to critique in a positive way the work of others or to better define their goals in a real time presentation.

Fluency has a whole can be a difficult outcome to nurture in one class using specific tools of technology learning, but it is the role of the educator to teach students an approach to become lifelong learners who can find purpose in their learning and develop deeper learning experiences. To develop fluency you need to provide opportunity to refine practice and better understand specific approaches. Self analysis is critical to this process and enabling students to engage with their own record of engagement helps them learn from their learning experiences.

Flipping My Technology Classroom

It happened almost by accident. I had made tutorial videos before but had only used them in Photoshop or lessons which use Powerpoint or videos.  I had some videos on Youtube but was not employing it as a tool in my classroom all the time. Just as my students were finishing a web design assignment focused on the basic core components of our lessons I decided that I wanted a way to have students describe verbally and also show the
process of their learning in a live way. I then organized my classrooms into pairs and created an order for two studnets at a time to sit down with a written plan and decribe the components of their websites with a recorded screencast.
     The results are very interesting little videos which help identify the strengths of each students understadings of the assignments and also the collaboration skills of the studnets in their paired groups at explaining their content. It was key for students to take some time to plan their videos before they made their video. In some cases they made elaborate notes and planning sheets. The exercise became an opportunity to have students describe verbally and show graphicall their learning process.
     Based on this experience I became involved in making my own videos for the class. So far I have made playlists of videos for three classes. In my Web Design 1 course I have currently made 13 videos for the first module in the class. The videos which are mainly 5-10 minutes long have walked students through the construction of a 5 page website using HTML and CSS. Students work swiftly through the lessons and helping students dissect problems with their process or understanding has become  easier to do. Students have remarked that it saves time and also allows them to move them at their own pace. As a teacher it allows me to move through the room and assist immediately with issues and problems. It also gives me time to create videos and also to move my curriculum ahead with research on the subject matter being taught.
     In the past couple weeks I have better developed the annotations,timing and organization of my videos on to the YouTube page. I have found the page easy to organize and to tag. I hope in the next couple weeks to expand my videos into my other courses and look forward to doing more assessment with video screencasts.

High School 1:1 Technology Initiative

The school I work in is currently in the beginning of a 1:1 initiative. The theme that keeps coming back to me as we meet and discuss the possible changes to our high school learning is the necessity to really take the time to implement a team approach to curriculum development for this initiative.

I recently attended a Leadership Conference for Technology Leaders in Massachusetts and a dominant theme in conversation was the necessity for getting staff on the same page with curriculum. The thing that struck me the most about the attitudes of leaders was the pre-planning and professional development which was necessary to get teachers prepared for 1:1 technology initiatives.

What Is Project Based Learning?

This blog is my attempt to capture the experience of my research into Project Based Learning. Over the past two years I have been participating in coursework and professional developement with a focus on project based learning and collaborative learning environments. My research has led me to investigate 21st Century Learning Initiatives as well as the proper integration of technology and Project Based Learning curriculum into the classroom.