Systems of Support Supporting Educator Excellence through Technology and Strategy

Category Archives: Resources

Are you priming students for success?

Last week Jason G wrote a post on starting the year out right by setting effective classroom rules. I would argue that this is one of the most important things you can do at the start of a school year (or semester).  In addition to setting appropriate rules, there are other things you can do anytime of the year that can help “prime” your students for success (even if they don’t realize it). I’ve highlighted a few studies below that will hopefully help explain what I mean.

Highway sign directing towards success or failure

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Start the year right with effective classroom rules

Great Start!As the school year is kicking off in the US and in full swing around the globe, it is a great time to take a moment and review your classroom rules (I prefer to call them expectations). This short list is the foundation for how your school year will play out and gives your students a firm footing to know exactly what you expect. Here are 3 ideas that will help you start (or restart) on the right track.

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Tips for Turning Classroom Content Digital

In last week’s post I talked about the importance of using digital text in the classroom. However, making the transition from traditional content to digital is not always an easy process. While there are many digital resources available, you still have to find them. And if nothing suitable is found, you may have to resort to converting/scanning your traditional materials into a digital format. The purpose of this post is to provide a few ideas for finding and creating digital content of your own.

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The Importance of Using Digital Materials in the Classroom

Over the last few years digital content such as educational websites, electronic textbooks, and online journals have become more available to classrooms than ever before. Unfortunately increased availability does not always equal increased use. Despite the number of iPads, Chromebooks, and other devices in schools today the amount of print based material remains roughly the same. Reasons for this vary, but understanding the importance of having digital materials available can go a long way in helping classrooms make the transition.

Digital Materials flying out of computer

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Three steps to stay on track

“When your output exceeds your input, then your upkeep will be your downfall”.  These are wise words that I heard many times early on in my career from a wise mentor that genuinely cared about my long-term success. The point is that we must have a way of refueling ourselves so that we are able to continue the journey of pouring into others. I have found that we educators, therapists, clinicians, and consultants are the worst at adhering to this principle. The enormity of our work, the long task lists, meetings upon meetings, and preparation for tomorrow, next week, and next year can cause you to be so busy that you have to be reminded to stop and smell the roses. So here’s your reminder!

running_on_empty

Jason C. and I had the incredible opportunity to speak at the Inclusive Learning Technologies Conference on the Gold Coast in Australia. I have never been to an event that was so well organized with every detail thought through and delivered with excellence. It was during this time away from the distractions of the typical day to day that I was able to do 3 things that I would like you to consider doing yourself.

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Using the 5 Whys to Help Identify Solutions

In last week’s post I talked about the importance of developing a process for determining technology needs. This helps to ensure schools purchase what is needed vs. what is hot at the moment. However, sometimes it is not feasible (or necessary) to do a full technology needs assessment to determine what is really needed. In this post I will be explaining a super simple technique to help you quickly get to the bottom of an issue, which makes finding the appropriate solution much easier. It is called the 5 Whys.

The 5 whys

 

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Creating a Process for Determining Technology Needs

I’ve had my eye on a new iPad mini for the last couple of months. I really like the size, and the clarity seems so much better than the iPad 2 I have now. The only thing stopping me from running out to the Apple Store and picking one up today is that I know I don’t really need it (and it’s pretty expensive).

iPad Mini

www.apple.com

I often see schools struggling with similar issues. Many times there is money left over at the end of the year, or a certain percentage of funds set aside for technology, so schools will hit the buy button on technology they’ve been wanting.

Don’t get me wrong, having more iPads or other devices available for students (and teachers) to use is great, but when purchasing these devices it is also important to consider what comes along with them. For example, in the case of iPads, there is purchasing and installing apps, maintaining, buying accessories, training students, training teachers, and so on. All of this for a device that may not have truly been needed in the first place.

To help prevent this from happening I often talk to school leaders about the importance of doing a needs assessment before moving forward with purchasing technology. If you read last week’s post where I discussed the Haddon Matrix, this would be part of the “Pre-Event” when working towards successful implementation.

While a needs assessment may be created by a combination of administrators and technology leaders, it is important to make sure that the teachers who are expected to implement the technology on a daily basis actually take it. You can find a number of resources online to help create this assessment by doing a simple Google search. For example, I found one report based off of a needs assessment conducted by the Nevada Department of Education (scroll to the end to see the questions asked in the assessment) that did a good job of determining what technology educators currently had access to and how comfortable they felt with it.

While that is a great start for finding some questions to consider using in your assessment, I think beginning with a few higher level questions is even more beneficial. For example, start by asking what current initiatives are going on in the school or department, or what area(s) students need to improve in the most. The answers to these questions should lead into more specific questions about what technology can help to fulfill those needs.

Once the answers start to come in, be sure to have a team ready to collect and make sense of the responses. This information can then be summarized and used as a checklist when the times comes to purchase new technology. This process will need to be scaled up or down depending on the situation. For example, purchasing technology to be used by all teachers across the district will require more planning and input from end users than purchasing something for an individual classroom.

The purpose of this post is simply to get schools thinking about their current process for deciding what technology is needed. Many of you may find that there is no process. If this occurs, hopefully this post will give you some ideas on where to start. For those who already have a process in place, please share any links to resources, guides, assessments, etc… that you may have already created in the comments section below so that others can benefit!

Enhance Technology Implementation with the Haddon Matrix

A few weeks ago Jason Gibson wrote a post that covered many of the barriers educators experience when trying to effectively integrate technology.  It just so happens that he and I are getting ready to tackle these barriers in an implementation session we’re delivering at a conference next week. While we will be covering a wide range of things to consider, I thought this post would be a great place to start the conversation of how effective implementation can occur.

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Top Posts from 2013

To wrap things up for the year I decided to list the top 5 posts from 2013 (according to Google).  While many of us are in New Year’s resolution mode, this could serve as an opportunity to choose a strategy or tool that others have found useful and plan to give it a try in 2014.  For those of you that have subscribed, or checked in every week to read our posts, we truly appreciate it.  You are the reason we continue to make posts each week.  If you would like to see more or less of something in the new year please leave a comment and let us know.

Top 2013 Posts Graphic

 

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Using PowerPoint to Create Guided Notes

This post is meant to piggyback on our last two posts, so if you have read my post on finding copyright free images, or Jason G’s post last week on using guided notes, you may want to start there. You will find that we recommend replacing text heavy PowerPoint slides with visually engaging slides and using guided notes. Guided notes help to ensure students capture the most important information accurately and that they are paying attention during lectures (by having them fill in the blanks).

If you have a 32 slide presentation that you use during your lecture it may be a little overwhelming to think about replacing all the content with images and then creating guided notes to accompany it. The purpose of this post is to make the process as efficient as possible.

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