Course 1, Week 4: Effective, Practical, and Authentic Technology in the Units We Teach

This week’s readings focused on how to effectively, practically, and authentically embed technology into the units that we teach and the learning experiences that our students do. One of the ways to do this is to use Eduro Learning’s A.P.L.E unit planner (A.P.L.E. stands for Authentic Purposeful Learning Experiences). With this planner, you start with the end goal, what you want your students to know and be able to do. The hope is that by focusing on the end goal, you (the teacher) end up doing very little direct instruction; instead, you plan different learning experiences for students during which they explore the content through various media, and then the students demonstrate what they have learned by completing an end-of-unit project.

A.P.L.E unit planner’s learning stages

  • Learning Stage 1: Exploration (Research)

“The key behind the success of this stage is not deliver content to students, but to provide lots of different media and resources that students and explore and interact with to develop their own understanding.” (Eduro Learning’s A.P.L.E planner)

  • Learning Stage 2: Finding Pathways (Planning)

“The purpose of this stage is to force students to stop and plan out their finished product before they actually start to create.” (Eduro Learning’s A.P.L.E planner)

  • Learning Stage 3: Experiencing (Creating)

During this stage, students spend time actually making the product that they have been planning in the previous stage.  By this point, students should have a detailed plan for their product.

  • Learning Stage 4: Scrapbooking (Reflecting and Evaluating)

The hope in this stage is that students receive feedback from a range of audiences, including others who have also had to create similar products.

Another way to effectively, practically, and authentically integrate technology in learning experiences and units for our students is to think about the questions in 15 Questions to Ask About Tech Integration in Your Classroom (TeachThought)

  1. Will this help all students think and learn more deeply?
  2. Will this tech lead to non-productive struggle and frustration?
  3. Will my students find this tech boring after the initial exposure?
  4. How will this tech empower students to control their own learning?
  5. Am I more enamored with this tech “toy” than my student’s learning?
  6. How long will this tech be relevant and supported?
  7. Does this tech prevent great “analog” thinking and learning?
  8. Have I started with purpose and pedagogy instead of with tech?
  9. Will all students be able to access and leverage this tech?
  10. How does this tech align with my school & class mission and vision?
  11. What level(s) of Bloom’s Taxonomy does this help students access?
  12. Is this the best tech to prepare students for the modern world?
  13. Will parents think this tech threatens their child’s security?
  14. How might I combine this tech with other tools to grow learning?
  15. What will you do when this tech doesn’t work?

How have you planned for tech-rich learning in the past? 

Two years ago, a few of us on my grade level decided to have our students go paperless for their homework. We worked with our two Elementary School Technology Integrationists, first to plan how we would want our students to go paperless with their homework, and second, to plan how we would ensure that our students would know where to go to find the homework and what to do technology-wise.  To ensure that my students understood what to do, I scheduled time with the ES Tech Integrationists each day the first week of paperless homework. During that first week, the students spent class time using the different apps to complete their homework activities.

-Blog post on class blog explaining that Homework is Going Paperless

-Blog posts on class blog breaking down the first week of electronic homework for parents, day by day:

Electronic Homework, Day 1

Electronic Homework, Day 2

Electronic Homework, Day 3

Math homework directions for week 1 of electronic homework
E. Tabor 2018 CC
homework directions for week 1 of electronic homework
E. Tabor 2018 CC
homework directions for week 1 of electronic homework
E. Tabor 2018 CC

The second week, the entire class completed the same homework activity each evening and then spent part of class time checking in about with me and the ES tech integrationists.

-Blog post on class blog explaining how homework will look like each day of Electronic Homework, Week 2

Since then, I have continued to share the homework directions with my students electronically, via Google Classroom. I have not had my students use technology to complete the homework, as I did that first year, because I realized that it was too much for my students (not developmentally ready), and I wanted my students to complete their homework tasks by writing them out.

How might this week’s content influence how you plan for tech-rich learning?

During the past two weeks, my school has been working on preparing for the possibility of distance learning due to the Coronavirus outbreak and how international our school is. On our Professional Development Day this past Tuesday, we spent the entire day learning about technology tools we can use to help give lessons electronically (ie. Screencastify, Explain Everything, and Seesaw) and then practicing using these tools to make a lesson.

Yesterday, the school director shared updated information with everyone in the school community (teachers, instructional assistance, students, parents) that the school would be moving to distance learning in May. I plan to utilize the following Google tools during distance learning: Google Classroom to share lessons and photos of anchor charts; the daily lessons will be put into a Google Slides deck which will be uploaded to Google Classroom; to track students’ work and which students I meet with virtually I will use a Google Sheets spreadsheet that the ES tech integrationist has made a template for; the teachers will be using Google Meet to have face-to-face interactions with the students daily.

During distance learning, we teachers will need to constantly think about this week’s essential question: How can we effectively, practically and authentically embed technology within our curricular areas?

3 thoughts on “Course 1, Week 4: Effective, Practical, and Authentic Technology in the Units We Teach”

  1. Hi Erika,

    I love the eOptions section of the instruction slide! Great idea! My school uses Google apps for Ed also, we use all of those apps, except for Google Meet, which we just started using a few weeks ago (my school is closed but we are doing virtual learning). It is nice to video conference with students individually and as a whole class. I have found screen casting/recording to be most helpful when relaying instructions or showing how to format media (like Docs, slides, how to turn on their mics for screen recording, etc.).

    Something I learned from my students during virtual learning was that on MacBooks, Quicktime has a built in screen cast/record option! There is also a keyboard shortcut for using the iOS’s screen recording: cmmd + shift + 5! I asked a student if I could share his information with others and he said “sure Ms. Mac, I don’t have to be asked to share!”. I’m finding that virtual learning has created more of a balance between me and the students and I’m seeing other sides of them, it’s pretty cool!

    That is a good idea for you and other teachers to start planning virtual learning lessons and to get students ready for it! From my experience, the first few days are a bit choppy but then it gets smoother. When using Google Slides, Pear Deck 
    is a helpful Add On for students to interact with the slides (they can move dots to how they are feeling, they can draw their answers, they can match, do reflections, etc.) and you can set the slideshow to be teacher paced or student paced. Student answers are saved in each session (which you control when to start and end it) so you can review their understanding at a later time. Pear Deck is also able to sync to Classroom.

    During virtual learning time, as you mentioned in your post; teachers will be thinking about how to embed authentic and practical tech rich learning into their lessons and curricular areas. How does this look to parents?

    I know when my school went virtual, teacher/parent friends were exhausted. Not only were they on their computers all day teaching but then in the evening, they had to help their elementary aged kids with their virtual work. They said it was a lot. I’m wondering myself how to better approach time management in a virtual learning format. How do you think parents will adapt to virtual learning lessons? Does your school have ideas or a plan to prepare parents for virtual learning?

    1. Thanks for sharing about the Pear Deck. I’ll take a look at that.

      I think parents will have a steep learning curve with virtual learning lessons, especially if they have more than one child who will be sharing a device (which might happen in the lower elementary grades). I think this will also be a time when some parents realize how much work we teachers do with our students on a daily basis. My school is putting together information for parents about what the expectations are for students AND for parents regarding distance learning. I know that in the elementary division one of the associate principals will do a video about how things will look from the parent/student side and how to go about doing the tasks, as well as troubleshooting some things. The ES tech integrationist has already made instruction videos for the parents about how to do various things that we will be asking the students to do.

      We’re in the final preparations this week for distance learning, because distance learning will now be starting next Monday instead of at the end of April. Teachers will be on campus Wednesday to Friday (without the students) to plan and prepare everything we’ll need for next Monday.

      Do you have any tips for how to prepare our parents for distance learning?

  2. I feel like it’s cheating to read the posts of others, until I’ve put my own post together… and I hadn’t, but this is what catching up looks like.

    Now that I have read your post, I want to follow you on Twitter Erika! Your summation is crystal clear, and I should have cheated and looked at it earlier, since I would have understood that content better. I want to ask about how tech-rich initiatives can link divisions with vertically-aligned curriculum delivery (but since you’re done with the course, I will not).

    Anyway, A LOT of tech goes the way of the Dodo after (very short) periods of time, practical tech-based learning says to me use something that’s going to be around, but evolves. I wonder about Google products and how they ensure seamless integration, but whether or not that comes at the price of creativity in the longer run, In terms of being a practical tool for the delivery of something authentic from highly qualified educators using their product, Google can’t lose if you’re going for GET!

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