It seems hard to believe that the first full month of school is over. No matter what your role is- whether you are an administrator, technology coach, teacher or instructional assistant, there is no doubt that the start of the school year has been super busy as you try to juggle many balls in the air. Remember that you can do this- but more importantly, you are not alone. There is a community of educators out there ready to support you. Reach out and find them to support you in your journey. Not sure where to start? You are in the right place. As always, it is my goal as always to share with all of you ways that you can use technology to amplify learning. Feel free to reach out to me- send a DM, email, or a tweet.
What are the ABCs of Transforming Learning?
With all of the things that can overwhelm us, we need to be strategic and focused. When I thought about how to do this, going back to basics kept going through my mind and from that thought, the ABCs of Transforming Learning were created. Three weeks ago, I started at A for Amplifying Student Voice in my bimonthly newsletter. Then, the following week, I shared a blog post highlighting ways and applications that you can use to better amplify your students' voices which focused on two of my favorite applications: Wixie and Book Creator and how they promote Universal Design for Learning.
This week, we will focus on B = Building Connections Between Icons and Content. For those of you who have followed my journey, you know that this is a topic that I am very passionate about. I present often on it and write about it. So this week's post will take you deeper into this work and give you concrete ways to build these essential connections.
B= Building Connections Between Icons and Content
It seems impossible to write about this important topic without sharing that this journey started from my frustrations when I began as a tech coach. I was working with my young kindergarten students and no matter what I did, as soon as I helped one student, another one would pop up. I affectionately call this time. "Kindergarten Whack-a-mole" (perhaps you have played it too?) I was frustrated and exhausted but I knew that there had to be a better way to reach my students. After listening to a podcast where Pana Asavantana was interviewed about how she determined that she needed to give her students handles for learning and that icons helped build that digital literacy, I was excited to explore the world of icons with my students. Listening to that one podcast and reaching out to Pana afterwards began this amazing journey for me. In the past five years, I have gone even deeper into this work, making it my own and sharing it with other educators who want to stop playing whack-a-mole with their young learners.
Why are Icons Important?
Icons are all around us. Whether or not, we realize it or not, we use these symbols to help us navigate our world. The same is true when our students work with digital tools. We need to teach the "language of technology" and by explicitly teaching icons, we do that. This enables our students to develop agency over their use of digital tools and building their digital literacy muscles.
As I begun this journey, I worried too much about my students knowing the proper names for these icons. What I learned was that the name didn't matter as much as the function of the icon. For example, whether students call an image a picture or an image doesn't matter- what matters is that they know that they can click that button to add a picture or graphic. Check out the icons to the right- do you know them all? How can they help you to better navigate our use of technology?
How Icons Can Supercharge Rubrics- The Edurubricon Origin Story
This past year, I embarked on my ISTE Certification journey. As I write this, I know that I need to get my portfolio finished and submitted, but just going through the coursework, I learned so much. One huge takeaway for me was that I needed to add rubrics back to my toolbox. I rocked the world of rubrics as a classroom teacher, but as a tech coach, not so much. I started to experiment with adding rubrics back in, but it just wasn't working. Then, it hit me- I added icons in on the left side and paired them with the criteria for success on the right side. This was truly magical. When my students could identify what icons they needed first and match them to what was expected of them- amazing things happened.
Let's Build Connections Together!
After realizing the word rubricon would not work (it's a military term), I decided to call it an edurubricon. The amazing part of using an edurubricon is three-fold.
Students can use the icons to help them navigate the text.
When students can see the connection between the icons and the content, it empowers them and provides them agency.
Once you teach your students how to use an edurubricon, you can use it for almost any task (whether analog or digital).
Would you like to further explore and build connections between icons and content? Sign up using the form on the right to get more detail on an upcoming free master class where I take you through the process of creating an edurubricon step by step..