Posts Tagged ‘1:1’

So, I’ve been thinking about the gathering I hosted on Friday.

At the encouragement of a colleague I invited all my teaching colleagues to a 1:1 What’s Working gathering on Friday after school. I know it sounds like a terrible time, but students get out early on Friday and we (faculty) aren’t really supposed to leave right away. I sent out an invite of sorts and promised food. I got a handful of acceptances right away. Then on the morning of the gathering I sent out this picture of the cake I made for the event. I got some more people with that.


So, I think what’s working is cake. This chocolate sour cream bunt cake from Cook’s Illustrated (January,2004) never disappoints.

I expected folks to stay 30 minutes, maybe 45 minutes at most. A number of people came and went as they needed to. Totally fine. I didn’t want this to be some serious meeting with an agenda. I took notes so that people could just listen and talk. But then, it turned out people stayed. And stayed longer. At the hour and a half marked we had to call it an afternoon.

What was exciting was having people come together to share the positives. I get plenty of complaints from people. I don’t think I’m in danger of not hearing the negative stuff. Hearing about all different things that are working for particular classrooms and courses was so interesting. It’s always so great to hear the excitement and enthusiasm people have for what they are doing. I can’t help but be excited too.

So, what did people share? Here’s a quick link to my notes. Feel free to read through, take what you need, ask any questions in the comments, suggest your own favorite classroom tech use, share a recipe.

I am curious about how other schools and tech coaches engage their colleagues generally. Our Middle School Tech Coach, @Betny802, has been hosting weekly Tea and Tech gatherings for a number of weeks. She sends out a note with the menu (1 beverage, 1 food item, 1 tech thing) in advance and has been getting a few people at each tea. She’s building momentum. Our Lower School Technology Coach, the very connected @TeacherDebra, sends out regular digests of ideas with shout outs to particular teachers. She is also in and out of classrooms all the time. In high school I don’t think that teachers expect or would take well to me wandering in and out of rooms during class. We have a mid-day break time that is a possibility, but I have not had any luck with that as a gathering time, except to trouble shoot, hence the Friday option.

So, moving forward, I want to continue our gatherings. I plan to stick with the Friday time for right now. Here are my questions:

  • Every week seems too frequent, but once a month might not be enough. Every other week?
  • Do I try to sneak in a little something in particular, or just let the sharing take its course?
  • Maybe on alternate Fridays have a learning session that comes out of ideas that were shared the week before? Too much?

I’d love some thoughts.


creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Matt Peoples:

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Matt Peoples:

So, I’ve been thinking about victories–small and large.

My school is in the process of transitioning to a 1:1 learning environment. Our middle school went 1:1 this past fall, upper school (high school) will be 1:1 next fall. One of the things I am responsible for is preparing our faculty and students for this transition. Really, faculty members are responsible for themselves, but I’m responsible for helping them help themselves. As you might imagine this is not all hearts and rainbows. However, I have a success story to share. It is not my success; it’s another teacher’s success. I am so excited for her.

She sent me this email:  . . . that was my first use of the computer that changed the experience for the classes!

So, here’s what happened. She tried something and her classroom was instantly transformed.

HA! No. That’s not how transformation happens, silly. Think again.

She has been testing out some new strategies and tools for a awhile. She has wanted to try things, and sometimes I have had to say, “No you don’t need another tool here. You need to think about your classroom goals first.” We have spent a lot of time talking about classroom teaching about writing, about whether google docs will make students better writers. (Spoiler alert-it won’t.) We talked about my class too, which has been really helpful for me.

It was mid-March when I got this email. This conversation has been going on since last school year. This year she really committed to making some changes from the beginning of the year. She has taken charge of her own professional learning–summer work, meeting with me, trying things. Most importantly, she has kept at it. Initially, we were talking substitution, maybe augmentation on the SAMR model *(See below for more info.) And, that was fine. Totally fine. Using technology is not always wow-y. Wow-y is possible, but it takes time to get there. A lot of time it’s not even possible to imagine wow-y at first.

If you look at the SAMR model, transformation is the wow-y level. Transformation consists of both the modification and redefinition levels. Modification is defined as tech allows for significant task redesign. Redefinition is defined as tech allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.

So, if we go back to my colleague, she didn’t get to start above the line in the transformation zone. No one does. She had to start down there at substitution and augmentation. Looking back, she may even think she had to spend more time that she would have liked wading through those levels. I would say that part of what wading around does is provide time to get used to each step. There isn’t a set amount of time you have to spend at each level before moving on. It’s all personal. So, the more you engage in that thinking, the more you have those conversations and begin to be willing to look at your discipline differently, the sooner it is that you will get to transformation. You can’t get there by hopping on the train and waiting for the stop to be announced. Just like our students, we must work for it.

I think there are a lot of ways in which we aren’t that different from our students. Who doesn’t like a victory?


* The SAMR model is a framework developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura that helps teachers evaluate technology use. There are four levels of technology integration. First is substation, then augmentation. These are both in the enhancement group. Next are modification and redefinition. These two constitute the transformation level. Check out Kathy Schrock’s website for more info and a good image.

So, I’ve been thinking about what makes for a productive visit for colleagues looking at 1:1 learning. I have visited four different schools this year with my colleagues. Each school has 1:1 laptop program yet there was wide variety not only in the schools but in the length of time they have been teaching and learning in this environment.

My conclusion: there is no perfect visit that fits everyone. Surprise. Just like Goldilocks, I was looking for the porridge that was “just right” for each person in my group. As the person bringing my colleagues, I was more anxious than I anticipated being. I wanted the school to look good, to show its best self, to reassure my colleagues if they needed reassuring, to inspire them if they needed inspiration, and to sing with them if they just needed a choir. Not too much, right?

Tourist Alert

Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user Scazon

One high school we visited was honestly a mess. They do great things at this school, and I would be thrilled to have my kids there, yet neat and tidy are not words I would use to describe it. Also, we didn’t end up seeing a lot of tech use, which was why we were there. Turned out the colleague with me didn’t need that. He valued the experience of talking to the students and other teachers. He was taking a broad view. Phew.

We also visited a school that specializes in students with learning differences. Our visit there gave my colleagues some reassurance that the laptops did not need to be out all the time, that meaningful work was happening, and that management was doable. It also gave them the idea that class size of 10 would be great. Keep dreaming, my friends!

A day long visit to a very similar school where we got to talk to lots of teachers, administrators, and tech folks gave my colleagues some perspective on the journey of change and transition. It was helpful to hear from people in a very similar school. Plus, we got to see the students in action and talk with some of them about their experience. We lucked out in terms of seeing some classes that particularly resonated with my group.

Finally, a small group went to a local high school. We were in and out quickly, which meant that it wasn’t a huge time commitment, always helpful for teachers. As we walked around, there were computers in use here and there and it just seemed to be an easy integration. Plus, we got to visit 4 different classes where technology was being used very differently. What made it so useful was that several of the uses we saw were very reasonable for my colleagues. These were uses that made sense in the classroom and which did not present an intimidating model. They were doable now! And, given the super short drive, we could go again.

In all of these examples, one of the things that was valuable was the conversation during our travel time which ranged from 8 minutes to 2 hours. Each time it gave me a chance to put into perspective some of what we had seen, explain a technical thing or two, and listen as others imagined how something they saw might translate at our school. On each visit I also go a chance to observe what grabbed each colleague’s attention so that I can personalize my support for that colleague.

So, I’m thinking about all of these visits as I think about planning more experiences like this for other colleagues. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • If it’s not a big production with presentations etc, short and sweet is good.
  • Something needs to seem doable NOW to each person in the group.
  • Acknowledgment of teacher time and choice is important for folks to hear loud and clear.
  • The travel time can be important talking time for the group.
  • There is no perfect visit.
  • I would love it if everyone got to visit somewhere.

What do you find valuable when you visit other schools?

Reflecting on a Reflection

Posted: February 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

So, I’ve been thinking about how a 1:1 classroom and school should look. What should you see as you walk around? My school will be 1:1 in the middle school (6th-8th grades) next fall (2013) and then in the high school  in fall 2014. I’ve been to visit a number of schools with 1:1 programs with some of my colleagues. I’ve seen all different things in the classrooms.

City Refraction, City Reflection

Creative Commons photo by Flickr user lragerich

The other day I was talking to a parent who is working on a story for our publications. She was asking about the goal of the program. One of the things I said was that I will know we are being successful when computers are less special, maybe even kind of boring. Something like that, anyway. I explained that what I meant was that technology should be just another tool to be used or not used as the situation dictates; that technology should not be the focus of the learning, just a vehicle; that it should become less cool, more just there. Ok, I admit, not the smoothest description.

What I then described was an instance last year in 5th grade when I knew I was witnessing exactly what I just described. I had given some sort of directions for the task at hand, I don’t remember. Anyway, the students were in groups and had the option to use any tools they wanted-laptop, iPad, paper, pencil, book, whatever. One particular student was taking charge of her group; she’s a take charge girl. Some of her group wanted to rush the laptop cart, storm the iPads. Instead take-charge girl took charge and lead the group in thinking about what they needed (novel concept). They decided, ok she decided, that what they needed was not a laptop for each of them, but what they a single laptop and a single iPad, and a few books. Done. She was right. She was right because she’s a smarty-pants (in a good way) and because for her technology is not an event; it’s one tool. She knew they needed some tool (technology) and some information (some technology, some books). It will be a surprise when I say that this group accomplished their task quite well.

Anyway, the other evening I happened to be wandering about on Twitter. I saw @ChrisLehmann‘s tweet about a blog post called Ubiquitous. Just what technology should be. Here’s the last paragraph:

. . . when it is ubiquitous, it becomes a part of who we are and how we learn. That is the pathway to helping students understand the world in which they live. When it is ubiquitous, students learn how to put it away when they want to or they need to. When it is ubiquitous, it is no longer special. That is the moment when we stop worrying about integrating technology and start concerning ourselves with learning.

He pretty much sums it up.

What does ubiquitous technology mean to you?

How will you recognize it?