Empowering Tech (with ❤️️)- 8/7/19
As a tech coach, I spend a lot of time talking about giving students opportunities using technology that transform learning. I love helping teachers use technology to power up their lessons with choice and voice. So when I started reading this book, Tech with Heart, by Stacey Roshan, I was hooked. So hooked, that I read the book in the period of 2 days, eagerly highlighting passages as my rising freshman daughter watched and asked," Are you annotating? Why would you do that during the summer?"
The answer was simple. I love learning. I am a lifelong learner and I have been waiting to read this book all summer and I didn't want to miss anything. It was as if Stacey and I were sitting and having a discussion about the power of educational technology, when she started sharing her super power, using technology to create more responsive classes and I jumped in and said, sign me up!
What I loved most about this book is that Stacey is an educator, like many of us. She is human and freely shares her struggles, but more than that, she took something she and her students were struggling with- anxiety and the rushed pace of content- and used technology to transform her classroom. Often when people hear about edtech, they think the students are sitting mindlessly consuming materials. We know that isn't the case and Stacey's book shares how if anything, her students found that they were even more engaged. Learn more by watching this video:
In my opinion, there is nothing better than finding new ways to use old tools. None of the three main tools Stacey mentionned were new tools to me; however, her approach to using them was a novel way to activate the super powers of these tools.
In the forward of her book, Stacey shares, "My classroom continues to evolve as I more thoughtfully consider ways technology allows me to redesign lessons to give all students a chance to actively participate." Having our students be active participants in their learning seems like it would be a given; however, that is not always the case. It takes thoughtful planning with our learning goals in mind to make that happen and that is exactly what Stacey did in this book. When trying to determine whether or not to use a tool, she asks herself these questions:
I love these questions because they really address the impact of the tool. Our goal with educational technology should not be substitution or just doing electronic worksheets on PDF. We can use it for so much more to transform our classrooms. In a world where many people feel disconnected, we can use technology to forge connections. When I was a guest on Get Inspired and Innovate a few weeks ago, Lance Key, one of the hosts shared this quote. It resonated with me then and as I read Tech With Heart, it circled me back. Our students' voices need to be heard, all of them, and using edtech empowers every student to speak up in the way that is best for them.
In Tech with Heart, Stacey discusses several tech tools that passed her 3 questions. Although she teaches in a private high school setting and I teach in an public elementary school setting, these tools are truly golden in working with learners of all ages. They give students the tools to be active participants in their learning and are some of my favorite tools.
So how can this be accomplished with edtech? Using programs like @Flipgrid, @EdPuzzle and @PearDeck, we can help activate learning.
Yes, I am Flipgrid biggest convert ever- I even became a Flipgrid Ambassador a few weeks ago, but the reason why is I truly believe in their product and how they support educators. To see even more of my Flipgrid 💚, check out my 4/23/19 post and my 7/21/19 post.
Stacey used Flipgrid to help her students share their thought processes and reflect on their learning, She shares how using Flipgrid helped emphasize "process over product" for her students and also gave her a private communication channel with her students. With Flipgrid's new Shorts Camera, this will be even more powerful.
I love EdPuzzle! Like Flipgrid, this company pays attention to educators and is consistently raising their game. In fact, this week, they just announced a new update: Live Mode. In Live Mode, you can show a video to the whole class, while allowing all students to share their answers on their own devices. But EdPuzzle does more than that, it takes any video and lets teachers customize it using editing, recording, cropping tools and even add interactive questions. This way, the students can be in control of their learning and as the teacher, you can use the analytics to guide classroom discussions and individualized instruction.
PearDeck is one of the newest tools in my toolbox. In fact, it is so new that I was lucky enough to go to a Pear Deck training just last week. Before that, I had tried Pear Deck a few times, but now I plan on using it even more. As Stacey describes, Pear Deck is an interactive presentation tool that allows every student to contribute to class discussions. One of my favorite Pear Deck features is definitely the drawing feature, but I also like the ability to send student takeaways after the lesson and share responses anonymously.
So next time, you want to engage ALL of your students and customize class to what they need, provide empathy and much more, check out this great book and begin using Tech With Heart.