Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Fall Edtech: Hurry Up and Wait!

Hurry Up And Wait by Karl Hitzemann

It is that time of year. Teachers and students are impatient to begin using their latest digital platforms and lessons. But, alas, it is not that easy.

Summer and the beginning of the school year is a series training events where staff members must learn to Hurry Up and Wait.  Teachers are trained on the latest technology and are chomping at the bit to get simply after it. But, as we all know, technology agreements must be signed by students and parents, Google accounts and passwords must be created, and accounts must be created by specific platforms before a single student or teacher using the new technology. We must HURRY to be trained and then WAIT to use the new pieces of technology.

@Chris_Meyers_, a contributor to @Forbes Magazine, admits that patience is a virtue "and like most virtues, it doesn't come easily." Teachers are innovative by nature and can be compared to the startup companies that Meyers writes about in his article, "Hurry Up And Wait: How To Stay Patient And Productive, Even When Waiting."  In the article, Meyers suggests three steps to managing the Hurry Up and Wait period.
1.  Be bold
2.  Use extra time to focus on the details
2.  Stay positive and keep moving forward, no matter what

Meyers suggests, "The ability to wait isn’t particularly valuable. However, the wisdom to transform thoughtful patience into productivity and momentum is what separates winners from losers." The fall season for using educational technology can be filled with hiccups and glitches.  Teachers, who are winners, will choose to transform their Hurry Up and Wait not into patience but into productivity that will benefit the students long after the waiting is over.

Examples of productivity could include mastering the policies and procedures for using technology in a school setting. Teachers can model the various platforms from their computer while students practice on paper. Our school will certainly practice dry runs with @ThinkCERCA as suggested by our Success Manager  Steve Glaeser.

Whatever the reason for #edtech delays, remember to use the time to benefit your students.

Suzanne M. Rogers, M.Ed

District Director of Professional development, AP English Teacher, ELA Coach and cradle United Methodist.

Thank you to the Teacher Practice Network, Arkansas Public School Resource Center, A Project of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd, with funding by the Gates Foundation. #TPNlead

Thursday, July 7, 2016

#notbornahashtag Raise your voice

Please indulge me as I take a moment of reflection for young people of color who are speaking out regarding the shootings yesterday. They have learned the power of audience on social media.  All lives matter. The vocalist  Drake penned in a letter to his fans, "No one begins their life as a hashtag. Yet the trend of being reduced to one continues."

  • Please. Hear what the young people of color are saying. They are rightfully afraid. They are quoting Baldwin, Drake, Trip and Tupac.

An original poem on a blog.
All we can do now is pray, fight and speak up.
What if….
What if I died senselessly in the hands of
our city’s finest?
Would I be remembered as a humble
classmate or the loud black girl in class?
Would I be remembered as the friend who
always helped you solve problems or the
friend who had a problem with herself?
Would I be remembered as the daughter
of Wendy and Brian or the daughter of a
single mother whose father wasn’t in
their life?
Would I be remembered as the friendly
girl who always came to you with a smile
or the girl who always ignored your
Does my many years of accomplishments
matter? Or are they just being buried with
me as well?
Would they honor my life or tarnish it
right in front of my moms eyes?
Would I even be human to them?
My Black Life.

On Instagram 

  • "As I was looking for the news I didn't know the name of the victim so I searched "Black Man" and the results are just as horrible as what I was searching. Didn't we just do this yesterday? Last month? Last year? I want to ask why won't it stop? But it's relevant as to why. My prayers go out to the families of these tragedies. But we have to start acting now. The time of witnessing and mourning is over. If you don't know. A man was shot dead while sitting in his car after being pulled over for a busted tail light with his girlfriend and a child in the car. If you want more info go search and inform yourselves. But as I was watching towards the end the woman broke down from it and you can hear her little girl saying "It's ok mommy I'm here with you." Those words immediately put me in tears. THIS #@#@ WILL STOP! By our own hands and will and mind to change this system. We've done it once now it's time to do it again. That could have been any one of my family members or loved one. It could have been anyone of yours as well. This awareness through social media is beautiful but if we don't make any moves it'll forever be a hashtag with a growing list of our fallen. This is war and if you don't view it as so you're missing the point. They mad as hell when we say #blacklivesmatter not realizing we're furious to have to say it at all. Tomorrow I hope I don't wake up to watch another murder movie on FB or worse, I hope I'm not the one staring in it. #thisismorethanahashtag#TimeToFightBack #rip

Finally, Justin Cohen's words resonate.  ""If you’re a White person on the sidelines, we need you in the fight. Please raise your voice, particularly today."http://www.justinccohen.com/blog/2016/7/6/advice-for-white-folks-in-the-wake-of-the-police-murder-of-a-black-person

Take the time to read the Washington Post article and infographic on the 990 police shootings this year that resulted in death.  In 2015, The Washington Post has investigated details surrounding those who died from police shootings. Here are six important takeaways from 12 months of the investigation.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Digital Connection in Times of Grief

Digital Connection in Seasons of Grief
Source:  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/death-goes-digital/

This week, as we began to disconnect from school, tragedy struck our school family.
One of our middle school students died tragically.  Part of the tragedy is that middle school students were using technology in the midst of this tragic death;  some were at least tangentially aware of what was happening. I grieve for the loss of one student but grieve perhaps even more for those students who are aware of the situation and have yet to share this information with their families. Thankfully, our school is offering grief counseling for students, families, and staff members. The paradox of our digital connection is that it can keep us both closer and further away from each other all the while making it much easier to provide assistance during a season of grief.

So, how can our digital connection during seasons of grief keep us both closer and further away from each other?  Several faculty members waited at the hospital and visited with the family the day after the tragedy. We talked in hushed tones about our experiences with life and death while the details of planning a funeral swirled into and out of our conversations. Families are now able to Facetime, Skype,  and Google Hangout. Cousins and long-lost relatives can comfort each other via text, and the multitudinous social media applications. These are ways in which we can be closer virtually.  We were able to provide quietly information regarding funeral arrangements as they developed.  These are also the same ways that keep us further away from one another. We can comfort ourselves with knowing that we reached out and offered assistance in a season of grief without ever being physically present.

Two digital applications that are useful to the groups who want to offer assistance during seasons of grief include YouCaring and TakeThemAMeal YouCaring "is dedicated to compassionate crowdfunding, providing free and easy online fundraising and support for humanitarian causes." Take Them a Meal works by "simplifying meal coordination so that friends can show they care."  Friends and family can show they care with a few clicks and a credit card.

Digital connections continue to be a paradox.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Just in Time Learning

Just In Time Learning

Educational technology is our future, but not for a different version of the 20th-century school.  Most schools in our area do have technology devices. The use of these devices is often  for engaging activities and testing. We need more innovative teachers willing to blend their textbooks and their devices. Often the device is used simply as a library with a research, read, and write cycle. This practice does not revolutionize education. Our admins, teachers, parents and students need to value the idea of  "just in time"* learning that can happen with technology. Instead, schools often lock up the technology and deny students access to their personal mobile technology. Admins deeply desire educational strategies to be  timely, appropriate, and best practice.

All too often schools are terrified by the idea what students might do with technology. Our state monitors which  websites are being accessed by students. Rather than lock down access to every possible harm, we need to educate our students to the positive powers of technology. Encourage students to use technology for their own "just in time learning."  +Common Sense Education offers courses in K-12 Citizenship for teachers, students, and parents.

Low tech version:  As a second-grade student I witnessed a tornado funnel cloud forming during recess. I pointed out the cloud formation to a classmate and then we ran to the library so that I could show her evidence of this type of cloud formation. Together, we found the reference books and poured through the material learning more about funnel clouds. While we were out of our assigned location, we did experience "just in time" learning.

"Just in Time" learning is timely. Students have access in 2016 to enough technology to allow the flexibility needed for "Just in Time" learning. Three years ago, prior to our next generation testing regime schools were not ready. It is now the time to empower our students and allow them to answer their own questions, not just in "genius hour" classes. We should expect our students to become their own genius in areas that they are interested in learning.

Higher Tech version:  Student asks a question in class regarding the validity of Shakespeare as the true author. The reality is the teacher may not have the knowledge, time, or resources to immediately respond to the student. With technology, the student could quickly gather resources to present a 5 minute lesson on the topic by the next class period. Student one learns, lesson progresses, and the whole class benefits from the original question. While this scenario does require flexibility on the part of the teacher, it is more likely to inspire students to want to learn and to continue to learn which is what teachers should be modeling daily.

It is time to take the tethers off of teachers and students and empower our students to own their own "just in time" learning. Although personalized learning incorporates this idea, it does not embody it. Allowing students to move at their own space and pace is not the same as allowing a student to discover the answer to their questions.  "Just in time" learning is timely, appropriate, and best practice.

Does your school allow "just in time" learning?

Digital Citizenship-Common Sense Education
Theory of "Just in Time"

Suzanne M. Rogers, M.Ed
Avid mom of two college cubs, AP English teacher, Instructional Facilitator, District Professional Development Director

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Time IS on Their Side! Important #edtech device

I have come to an awkward realization. My love of educational technology needs to include a watch at the top of the list. Why? Simply, because students do not see the value in a watch and most do not own one. They use cell phones, instead. But, a watch may be the most important item they put on during practice and testing days.

Two years ago, I offered extra credit to students who would wear a watch for a practice Timed AP test.  This year, the students who don't wear watches simply snicker. But, they are also the students with lower ACT and AP scores. I, too, use a smartphone. I tend to wear a watch for cosmetic reasons.
But, when attempting to stay on time during a test, I need to use my watch.

Last year, universities in several countries began banning all types of watches during entrance exams. And, yet, it is not the time to abandon our watches.  I was taught not to rely on a clock, but to use my watch to ensure that I was using my time wisely. Yes, I understand that many tests are now online. A timer starts when the test begins and stops the test when time is over. But, I still insist that teaching students to use their time wisely is a critical test prep skill. It is all too easy to spend more time on one passage or question than needed.  As Mick Jagger sang, "Time is on my side, yes it is." Time can also be on our students' side if they are taught the value of a watch for testing purposes.

Why do schools not provide watches to students? A watch can easily be purchased for $20 or less. Schools tend to purchase $200 calculators instead.  For Tiger parents desiring the latest in Testing Technology, for less than $40, there is an ACT/SAT Testing Timer can help students practice and test with confidence.

 "Knowing exactly how to pace yourself throughout the test is crucial, and using the watch is the easiest way to do that. My students stay calm knowing that they are on track.(...)To me, that says it all.”
-Linda Larson, Director and Tutor, SAT Prep Sandpoint

 Of course, I continue to use and recommend a wide variety of software, hardware, and apps that can help my students. They particularly enjoy apps that can be utilized on their phone. If it is on their phone, they are more likely to practice, study, and remember than if low tech versions are shared.

It is only a matter of time before all phones are banned in testing rooms. It is difficult to tell the difference between a watch and a smart watch. But, in the meantime, I will advocate for my students to purchase an inexpensive watch for test prep and testing situations.

Suzanne M. Rogers, M.Ed


Friday, April 8, 2016

Gamification with Quizlet-LIVE

I'll be honest, as an English teacher, I have not been particularly interested in the gamification of education despite the prevalence of information on the topic.
While our students do use online platforms, the gamification is aimed directly at the students by differentiating for each student. This week, I tried out Quizlet-LIVE Beta. This is gamification that interests me. WOW!  

Our district created individual Quizlets for all of our 6-12 ELA vocabulary words in our Pearson curriculum. All of our teachers have access to the Quizlets and can add them to their account very easily. Games, Tests, and printable flash cards are just a few of the capabilities built into Quizlet.  

I'm especially enthralled with the idea that Quizlet was created by a 15-year-old! Quizlet's mission is stated on their website.
"Every person on earth deserves access to free, powerful, and inspiring learning tools - and our mission is to build them."
Yes! I applaud Andrew Sutherland for this mission statement! Even better, there is an app for Quizlet. Students can appear to be playing a game, but instead, actually be working on classwork.

Quizlet Introductory Video 

Quizlet-LIVE allows the teacher to share their Quizlets with the world and invite anyone to join in a game. How fun is that? Essentially, the LIVE version enables students to collaboratively study while playing a game against their classmates in LIVE time. The teacher selects a Quizlet, creates the game (minimum of 6 players), provides the 6 digit code for the game, students enter the code and their name. Once everyone is listed, the teacher clicks start.  LIVE encourages ACCURACY over SPEED. IF a team answers incorrectly, the team loses all of their points. Very empowering moment! The teacher can narrate the progress of the game. I like that the collaboration of team members is built into the game. I like that I can resort the students with each new game. Students who are homebound or on a field trip could still participate if they have the game code.

Quizlet-LIVE demo

If you are interested in our Quizlets or in having our classes collaborate with each other using Quizlet-LIVE please contact me! Want to view our Quizlets?   https://quizlet.com/aprogers


Suzanne M. Rogers, M.Ed
Proven to go the extra mile while striving for academic excellence.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Intervention Decisions

Purveyors of digital intervention programs often have beautifully illustrated data packets that show the effectiveness of their program as applied in particular school districts. Districts can be lured into purchasing these programs in their efforts to raise test scores. Districts need to be very careful when considering which program to purchase.

A few things to consider

1.  Cost to implement including hidden costs such as loss of effective teaching
2.  Technology needs and costs-devices and infrastructure
3.  Comparing apples to apples regarding data

The cost to implement a new program often appears to be clear.  The required professional development may not be included, or what is provided may not be sufficient to appropriately train teachers to use the program. An additional cost is the time lost for effective teaching While a program may be able to diagnose a student's level, it may not be able to provide the instruction necessary to bring that same student to grade level.

A secondary issue involves the infrastructure necessary to run the digital program. The specifications need to be read by and considered by an IT specialist. The data demands of all students using a digital platform may be more than a school can currently provide. The cost to upgrade devices and infrastructure must be clear to decision makers.

Finally, when considering those as mentioned above beautifully illustrated data packets, districts must compare apples to apples. If a student grows 136% BUT is still not on grade level, decision makers need to understand that this may be considered normal growth and the student may well have grown more working with a teacher or in a smaller class size.  Research on RTI published this fall showed that students in RTI did worse than their virtually identical peers.

More and more schools are investing in digital intervention. Districts need to monitor the data and make the best decisions for their students. Remember to compare similar schools and ask to speak with other teachers who have already successfully implemented a program.

More and more districts are looking for digital intervention tools to help prepare their students for digital tests including ACT Aspire,  and PARCC. Teachers need to speak up regarding these products. Which products do you use? Do they work?

Teachers, please speak up!

Study:  RTI Practice Falls Short of Promise

Suzanne Rogers


 AP English teacher, Instructional Facilitator, and Arkansas Teacher Practice Network