blog post, event

Three Points for Technology Integration

415a+cMgexL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Technology is not a tool for learning. As I described in my first book for ASCD, it is a tool to help facilitate a learning experience. People can discover new information through the Internet, they have access to software for collecting ideas and receiving feedback on their work, and they can share new and original content with a wide audience. Technology in and of itself is not the purpose of learning; it mediates the process.

So where might technology best fit within the flow of a lesson? Consider three phases: connect, curate, and communicate. I’ll be sharing more about authentic technology integration at this workshop on March 12 and during my session at ASCD Empower 2019.

Connect

This first phase typically happens at the beginning of a lesson or a unit of study. What content do we want students to explore? How can they access and interact with this information? Why is what we are discovering worth knowing now and in the future?

Ideas for Technology Integration

  • Padlet: Pose a provocative question on this digital wall and have students respond online to the inquiry and to each other. This gives students an opportunity to engage in online dialogue and practice digital discourse.
  • QR Code Menu: Create a board with QR codes that link to online videos, audio, podcasts, articles, and creative content that connects with a topic of study. We can differentiate our delivery in a relevant way for today’s students.
  • Twitter lists: Create a Twitter list of other classroom accounts and reliable sources of information to learn from others and pose questions online about our studies. Students can take new perspectives on issues while developing media literacy.

Curate

At this stage, students are immersed in the organization and selection of information that will support the development of their final product. What is the best way to manage different ideas and content? Are there specific skills and strategies for effective learning? How do we know if we are making progress?

Ideas for Technology Integration

  • Flipgrid: Have students respond to a question or task using video recording and publishing for others. The teacher and students can both observe their answers and assess their speaking and listening skills (if that is part of the work).
  • Google Forms: Typically we see these used as exit slips or pre-assessments. What if you asked kids during the lesson how things were going with their learning? Teachers could adjust their instruction when it really mattered.
  • Kidblog: Blogs can be presented as online journals that can be used by students to reflect on their learning and invite others to comment on their visible thinking. Time should be spent teaching students how to provide feedback effectively.

Communicate

Student products need an audience beyond their teacher. Where could students post their work as an appropriate forum? How might the concept of “publish” increase student motivation to produce their best work? How should their work be housed?

Ideas for Technology Integration

  • Google Sites: Students can develop their own website and post their best work from their Drive account. This portfolio can move with the student throughout their educational career if a district adopts this technology.
  • FreshGrade: For more immediate opportunities for students to post products of their learning, this tool has a social media feel that parents find engaging and mobile friendly. Comments and online dialogue are encouraged.
  • HaikuDeck: If students have to deliver a presentation, this slide tool is web-based and guides the user to be brief and visual with their content. There is also a feature to record audio and create a self-guided tour or module.
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Screen Time and Kids: Three Questions We Should Also be Asking

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Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

I wrote this column for our local newspaper, The Democrat Tribune. They do not have an online version of their paper, so I am posting it here. Thanks for reading! -Matt

During these recent no school days due to inclement weather, it was hard to keep our own kids occupied, especially when it was bitterly cold. Our son even commented, “Are we getting too much screen time?” We assured him that once the weather warmed up, they would be able to get back outside and play.

The advent of the Internet along with screens becoming mobile – tablets, smartphones, laptops – has brought both advantages and challenges to our lives. On the plus side, we can communicate with anyone in the world at any time through video and text in addition to a phone call. Being able to see and talk with a family member or friend many miles away through Facetime or Skype has brought our world closer together.

However, these benefits are soon taken for granted, and then we start thinking about all of the disadvantages of a constant connection. For example, if our smartphones are always on, when can we truly take a break? In the case of our children, all of the digital media options they now have in the form of online gaming, social media, and streaming shows can occupy a young person’s life like never before.

In the midst of this challenge, one question that comes up frequently is: how much screen time is too much for kids? The American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend no more than two hours a day. Recently they have replaced this rule with more differentiated guidelines for families (which you can find here: www.aap.org). For example, young children should have less screen time than older kids and the content they watch should be high quality and educational.

I also believe It is not just about how much time. What kids are doing with screens? How are they engaged with what’s online? Why do they choose to watch and interact with a game, app or program? Next are my reflections on each question.

  • What are kids experiencing on a screen? Kids’ minds are at different developmental stages based on age and readiness. If you have concerns about what they are seeing, they are likely valid. Follow the ratings and remind yourself that you are the parent; you get to make final decisions as long as they live under your roof. If there isn’t a rating, engage in the content with them and make a decision, together if possible.
  • How are kids engaged on a screen? There’s a difference between watching a continuous stream of unfiltered YouTube videos and learning how to speak another language with Duolingo. We as parents can help our kids self-monitor what they consume by discussing these differences and building an understanding of the limitations and possibilities of time spent on a screen.
  • Why are kids choosing to be on a screen? In my own personal experience, too often I will reach for my smartphone out of habit or because I am bored. My guess is you have had this awareness too. Talking about this with our kids can set up a productive conversation about our habits and what we are choosing to give up when we go online. It’s not about a choice being bad or good but about understanding that we have choices.

A more nuanced approach to raising our kids in a world of screens is more complex than a hard-and-fast rule like “No more than two hours a day.” Yet there is also opportunity in engaging with our kids in conversation about this new connected world. We can learn together what it means to live a better life both online and offline.