Posts Tagged ‘1to1’

Bright Futures, Technology, and Modern Learning

July 29, 2012

About a month ago, the Bright Futures Partnership sponsored an event bringing together veteran and bourgeoning middle level leaders to explore the future of middle level education in Maine. Many of us were starting to feel like the middle had been forgotten with the various “accountability” initiatives that have driven education life for so long (although, Jill certainly believes – and so do I – the middle level concept is alive and well within the Customized Learning work, just under a new set of vocabulary).

But it was a good reminder that perhaps it was time to revisit the Bright Futures Report itself and its core practices. When was the last time you took a good look at the report? Although I reference it often, I know it has been a while for me. Maybe it's time to go back and review…

We blog here about a wealth of topics related to middle level education, but I'm now inviting my fellow Bright Futures bloggers to take one of the BF core practices that is near and dear to their heart (would that be a BFF, A Bright Futures Favorite?) and remind us all what that recommendation is all about.

And it won't surprise any of you that I'm willing to start with Core Practice 4:

Students have access to one-to-one computing technology integrated throughout the curriculum allowing them to acquire the critical thinking skills related to information, media, and technology.

It's easy for educators in Maine to take this one for granted, since we've had the Maine Learning Technology Initiative for more than a decade. But no other state is that lucky, and although access to technology, even 1to1, is becoming more widespread, Core Practice 4 ventures to make one key idea clear: technology in schools is not about the stuff, or having access, or being an add-on or elective, but rather about leveraging technology as a modern learning tool integrated throughout the educational program.

As the report says:

Researching, word processing, data collecting, animating, creating multimedia presentations, producing and directing movies, and designing web pages are all tools that the teachers and students use on a regular basis to make learning challenging, meaningful, and engaging.

Which of these are you doing regularly in in your classroom?

What other kinds of technology-rich learning activities are you doing that aren't in that list?

I've started thinking of instruction in two types: for lower order thinking and for higher order thinking.

How are you using technology for lower level Blooms? Are students finding information? Watching instructional videos?

How are you using technology for upper level Blooms? How are students creating with technology? What role is technology playing in project-based learning in your classroom?

Here are some resources to help you with implementing Core Practice 4:


Positive Pressure and Support: Driving Your Initiative to a High Level of Implementation

June 14, 2012

Ok. It’s no secret.

Just having professional development doesn’t mean that your initiative is going to get implemented or implemented well. It doesn’t mean that your initiative will have it’s desired effect on your school.

Sure. PD is critical to getting where you’re going. But it isn’t sufficient.

Level of implementation matters.

A lot.

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to get better at implementing your laptops, or you’re using Bright Futures to look at your middle level practice, or if you’re working on a literacy initiative, or implementing the Common Core, or on Customized Learning, if you want your initiative to have the impact you’re looking for, then you need to insure that you have a high level of implementation with a high level of fidelity.

So, how do you get to a high level of implementation with a high level of fidelity?

The answer is possitive pressure and support.

Positive pressure and support has three easy pieces: expect, supervise, & support.

Expecting includes strategies like starting simple, participating yourself in trainings and meetings, having teachers set goals, and collaboratively setting expectations.

Supervising includes checking with teachers, talking about implementation at meetings, doing walk throughs, and talking about the walk through and level of implementation data.

Finally, support includes things like celebrating successes, facilitating the sharing of ideas, providing opportunities for PD (of course!), providing resources, and removing barriers and running interference.


How could positive pressure and support help your work at your school?


Does Technology Improve Learning? No!

May 13, 2012
Students with laptops

From the very beginning, the Maine Learning Technology Initiative received a lot of attention across the country and around the world. One of the most frequently asked questions was and is, “Do laptops improve learning?” Even when Auburn published their research on 1to1 iPads in kindergarten, we were asked if it were the iPads or if it were something else.

1to1 advocates readily recognize, however, that technology does not raise test scores or improve achievement. The answer to the question of technology improving learning is a resounding “NO!”

Only good teachers and teaching improve learning.

But technology is an amazing tool for teachers to leverage for their students’ learning. Educators are finding that technology, especially when students have access to it anywhere/anytime, is a powerful tool that allows for improved teaching and learning.

This isn’t a contridiction, it is simply placing credit where credit is due. A classroom full of laptops or iPads which aren’t being used, or aren’t being used well, will have no benefit to students and their learning. Only when teachers are using them well does learning improve. Handing technology to students is insufficient for improving learning.

In fact, the research on technology initiatives indicates that when schools put too much focus on the technology (ie treating their initiative like a “tech buy”) there is no significant benefit to achievement. And even if laptops and iPads are a relatively new phenomenon, the importance of distinguishing between a focus on technology and a focus on learning, is not. Analyzing over 700 studies, Schacter concluded in 1995 that technology initiatives have to focus on teaching and learning, not the technology, in order to be successful: “One of the enduring difficulties about technology and education is that a lot of people think about the technology first and the education later” (p. 11). Studies that show a negative impact of technology often indicate that the initiatives themselves focused on hardware and software, or teachers taught about the technology instead of using the technology to enhance learning experiences.

Maine recognized from the beginning that MLTI could never be about laptops alone, a position that Auburn continues with their iPad initiative. Both initiatives recognize that the real value of technology in schools lies not in learning to use technology, but in using technology for learning. You cannot separate the technology, and learning and teaching, and the professional development in MLTI or other 1-to-1 initiatives. The initiatives are all those things together. Intentionally. You can’t just say, “well then it was just the professional development and the technology doesn’t matter.”

In fact, the technology matters a lot. You have to remember that many students are doing things with their laptops that aren’t convenient/possible without the laptop. Sure you can write with pen and paper, but research shows that the quality and quantity of writing improves because of the perceived ease of revision and editing. Sure you can look up extra facts in the library after class, if you want to go to all that trouble. But it’s a lot more likely to happen when a student can just flip open the laptop, open the browser, and do a search. The technology extends our capabilities as teachers and as the engineers of students’ learning experiences.

Only when technology initiatives focus on teaching and learning (includinng well supported teachers) do the initiatives impact achievement.

“Do laptops improve learning?” is not, nor should it ever be, the right question. The right question is “How are teachers using technology to improve learning?”


Reference: Schacter, J. (1995). The impact of educational technology on student achievement. The Milken Exchange on Educational Technology.


Laptops and Introductory Lessons

January 31, 2012

Recently, I wrote on the Multiple Pathways Blog about my reactions to Apple’s textbook announcements and to textbooks in general.

In the process of writing and reflecting, I realized that in Maine we a very different way to introduce a new topic.

Imagine an introductory lesson focused on building a student’s background knowledge. Instead of having students read a chapter on the causes of the Civil War (for example) and then discussing what they read (which, by the way, every single child not only read the exact same description of the causes, but they all have been exposed to only one take on those causes – the textbook’s), have students open their laptops and ask them, “what were the causes of the Civil War?” 

Students could search and share what they found. You could ask, “Did anyone find anything different?” You could even compare sources or discuss approaches to surfing and searching. You could have them find perspectives that would reflect substantially different points of view. You could explore and discuss different kinds of sources and the apparent relative value.

Well, maybe not the first time you do this with students, but certainly the more times you do, the more you model for them, and the more they reflect on the process, the more your “introductory” lessons could look like this. 

And think about the “learning” skills and digital citizenship skills your students would develop!

It’s Your Turn:

How do you leverage technology to reach students in new ways?

Vote on Laptops for Students

April 25, 2011

Do you think the Laptop Program has been beneficial to Maine students?

That is the question that WABI TV5 is asking on their website. Click on this link, scroll down and on the left hand side you will see the question. I think you, middle level educators, could certainly voice your opinion on the topic! So, please take a moment to cast your vote. There is also a spot for you to add comments if you’d like!

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