Posts Tagged ‘ learning ’

Is The Money Worth It?

Recently, I read and article in Education Canada by Ron Canuel.  He reviews the issue of increased student learning and technology cost.

I have read more than a few articles on this issue and a few blogs as well.  Many schools are striving to become 1:1 schools where every student has a laptop or iPad.  Obviously, there is a cost to this type of programming and many educators and reformers think the money should go elsewhere.  Many literacy advocates have felt that this money was not available for libraries, but is suddenly available for technology.

Even the  people who value technology, believe money is not spent wisely.  The issue I read most about is, “should schools be using interactive whiteboards to the extent they are or be using the money to become a 1:1 school.”  Bill Ferriter has written a lot about this on his Tempered Radical Blog.

Mr. Canuel cites a study published by the Journal of Technology, Learning and assessment (JTLA).  Basically, it stated that technology used in a traditional manner will use traditional results.  Larry Cuban also noted this and has stated the use of technology was oversold and underutilized.

Canuel found the JTLA article also noted something very important.   Many researchers who are against tech. spending are focusing on the trees rather than the forest.  Their meta-analysis research found that “the creation of new-paradigm schools that are self-organizing…are creating a dynamic in the classroom where students become increasingly engaged in their learning.  The participation of students in the design of teaching strategies  and assessments does generate an increase student achievement.”

Simply stated, if we do not have specific purposes for technology use and integration, increases in learning will be minimal.  However, if specific learning targets are set, with proper planned use for tech., engagement of students in learning should increase.  If students are engaged in their learning, the results will show.  It does not matter if it’s a whiteboard, iPad or a laptop.  If the tool is not used properly, learning is minimal.  Is video used effectively in most classrooms, or the old filmstrips?

I believe technology (and its many platforms) can increase student learning, but like anything, it needs to be used properly and teachers need the PD to be able to do this.  I believe the creation of networks, PLN’s and administrator support can help teachers use technology to engage students and thus increase student learning.

Your thoughts?

Key questions:

How should schools and divisions purchase technology? Are we following best practice and research?

Are we influenced too much by tech. companies and just buy without specific plans in place. Does the planning take to long and then the infrastructure and tech. skills lag behind?

How should we use technology to effectively engage students?

Maintaining Connections


The image above is something I see quite often in our school.  Kids working in groups in the hallways, older students with younger ones.  As a school principal this tells me a couple of things instantly.  First, the teacher is not stuck in the traditional mode of  instruction; students are allowed to be out of their desk and there is some variation in day-to-day activities in the classroom.  Also, that connecting students is important so we can learn from each other.

As technology gets used more frequently, we are expanding the connections we make with students to a global level.  This is extremely exciting work and can help motivate students, while increasing the number of quality learning opportunities as well.

With this in mind, I also believe that we should not forget about the connections and learning opportunities available in our own buildings.  As pictured above, we  frequently promote  learning opportunities that bring older and younger students together.  As a K-12 school, having the gr.11 and 12 students work with grade 1’s, 2’s, etc. is a great home field advantage.  We just did this with Family Literacy Day this week.  The younger students love having the older ones working with them, and as one of my teachers stated, the younger ones literally think the older students “walk on water.”

No matter the grade configuration in a school, match the younger with the older.  Learning and leadership can both be developed.

This post can also be found on Connected Principals.

I Like This Stuff

Fact or Urban Legend?

Today one of my teachers had his class investigate whether an egg could stand on end during the fall equinox.  The initial results were positive, but does it end with the winter solstice?

I like these kinds of lessons and I wish I could think of them more often!

Granted the premise is simple, but I believe the lesson can be expanded upon even more.  Is this the kind of experiment one uses to introduce the scientific method?  How can technology be integrated?  How/when do we move into the higher order thinking skills?  In the spirit of WCYDWT by Dan Meyer, I believe this simple experiment can lead to so much more.

I welcome your input.  Feel free to pass along as well.  maybe a good PD exercise for your staff.

Common Goals, Technology Advancement, and Staff Development.

I have been deliberating many things as we prepare for the start of the school year.  One of these items has been advancing the technological literacy of my staff.

With so much social media available, how does one prepare their staff to advance their technological skills commonly?  In many instances, teachers investigate technology on their own, developing a unique skill set.  What then happens is you have staff all over the map in terms of technological literacy.  Combine this with the technological change factor, and you have inconsistency in how technology is applied in classrooms.  School’s can plan specific PD sessions to develop the technology skills of teachers, but this can be very time-consuming.

I feel we need to develop our staff’s technology skills to a higher degree.  I believe my staff want to improve their literacy levels as well.  The best way to improve technology skills, I believe (at this time), is to develop a PLN.

If staff develop and use their own PLN, their technology skills and literacy can improve immensely.  They have for me. 

 So, how do we do this?  I think the plan may look like this:

1.  Use the tools available to us.  The school based PD session at the beginning of the year will be devoted to creating a PLN.  I have messed around with the idea of having a session before teachers officially return as well but that is to be determined.  If we did the latter, the school based time during start-up provides teachers with more time to investigate one or two areas of interest, read blogs, etc.

2.  Common PPGP goals regarding technology:  Each year our teachers need to state one or two personal/professional goals.  When reviewing these plans with staff,  I find most teachers have no problem stating one major area of focus.  However, a second goal (for some) is more difficult.  Probably, because their first goal is significant.   The principal can then help with the second goal.

So let’s take advantage of this opportunity.  Since most teachers want to increase their technology literacy, let’s use the PPGP to our advantage and have a common technology goal.  I am not saying we do everything EXACTLY.  Maybe our commonality is creating the PLN?  From there, teachers have more autonomy to delve into their personal and professional interest areas.  If we all have a PLN, the structure is created to improve technological  literacy from within.  Specialists may develop in certain areas, and that can help with staff PD in the future. 

If we create the framework for self-improvement with a common focus, teachers can use technology to a much higher degree in their classrooms.  I hope this would then develop into more specific, curriculum goals that will improve learning.

I suppose this is also why I wanted to do a session with our admin. group as well.   Help to develop peers and collaborate, then work to improve your school.

Let’s get started…

10th Grade and Out?

My fellow blogger at PHSPrincipalspage posted this article recently.  Please leave a comment on his site or mine to continue the discussion.  It basically proposes a system where students could leave high school in grade 10 and qualify for training at community colleges (as an example).