Welcome to Magazine Premium

You can change this text in the options panel in the admin

There are tons of ways to configure Magazine Premium... The possibilities are endless!

Member Login
Lost your password?

Students reflect on being in a 1:1 iPad environment

April 17, 2014

     Storage              Self Awareness             Responsibility

We are coming to the end of our first year of teaching and learning in a 1:1 iPad environment.  A big question that we (our teaching staff) have looked at is:

How has this technology changed the dynamics of learning? Has it?  How do we know?

We began to ask ourselves these kinds of questions.  The discussion soon began to show some dissonance, and frustrations began to bubble up to the surface.  We structured our dialogues so that staff were able to share their concerns and well as their excitement at what this infusion of technology has brought to their classroom.  Putting a device in every student’s hands has shaken up everything about the learning environment, and that is a difficult idea to come to terms with.  It involves us all looking at our own practice, understanding it more, and looking at what we need to let go and how me might consider changing what we do.   Richard Wells and Vicki Davis talk about this struggle in their 10 minute podcast about the SAMR model.

But then we went to the students, which is where I want this post to  go as well.  Over four Advisory sessions (25 minutes each), our Middle School students evaluated the successes and challenges of having an iPad with them all of the time.  They were very frank, and talked openly about what they wrestled with in the way of temptations (games and YouTube), and what they really loved (seamless organisation, no lost papers).

We began to focus our work on the challenges that they had identified, and began to generate possible solutions and strategies to help us overcome those challenges.  The students role played some scenarios, and finally submitted what they considered the most important challenges that they felt they faced in their digital learning life.

The main challenges that students picked to share fell into the following general categories:

Distractions – manifested by inappropriate apps on their iPads, using YouTube in class, not getting work done on time, lack of self awareness.

Responsibility – having a charged battery, keeping the iPad safe.

Hardware/software issues – what to do when your iPad is not performing how it should.


Out of the pool of scenarios that were submitted (there are 18 Advisory groups) we were able to generate 6 posters that will grace our Middle School hallways.


Hard Reset              Distracted?                 Charge it!

iPad Exchange #3

March 12, 2014

This week 5 classroom teachers and tech integrators showed off some projects that they love.  It was a great Hangout.  Teachers love sharing, and teachers love being shared with.


Presentation Skills, Principles of Design and Citing Sources in Grade 6

February 6, 2014

These last couple of weeks have been very important in grade 6.  Ryan Callaway’s Social Studies classes have been preparing and delivering presentations to show their learning about Ancient China. Besides doing research and organising their ideas, they also had to think about a few other very important things; their presentation skills, their understanding of the principles of design, and how they can go about citing their sources.


Presentation Skills


Mr. Callaway showing the tools of the trade.                     Photo credit: M Mongardi

The students worked on a few basic skills that are important to being an effective presenter.

  • Be an expert on your topic.
  • Practice a lot.  And then practice a bit more.
  • Face your audience and make eye contact
  • Do not read your slides!


Principles of Design


photo credit: M Mongardi


We looked at how design can affect the way an audience engages with a presentation.  Is your choice of visuals helping to convey your ideas to the audience, or distracting the audience from engaging more with your ideas?

  • choose your images carefully, and make sure they compliment your ideas.
  • make your images cover the full screen.
  • keep the text on the slide to the minimum that you think you can get away with.

Citing Your Sources


Photo Credit: BioDivLibrary via Compfight cc

Paige Spilles (the Middle School librarian) came in and talked to the students about the importance of using Fair Use images and media in their work.  As the sixth graders all have blogs, and will be publishing their Prezi presentations to that blog, it is important that they chose images with a license to reuse, and that they cited the source of that image appropriately. Paige specifically taught the sixth graders about citing according to MLA format.


There are many ways to cite sources, and this is an appropriate one for our Middle Schoolers to become accomplished at. You will noticed I did not cite according to MLA format.


Here is Paige’s presentation. If your students are going to mine the internet for images, this is a great time to start talking about copyright an intellectual property rights.  This presentation can get you on your way.


Presentation by Paige Spilles

iPad Exchange Hangout #1

January 30, 2014


The First iPad Exchange! photo credit Emily Roth

A few days ago I was part of a Hangout with a group of great educators. Present were Dana Watts (@teachwatts), Brian Inskeep (@brianinskeep), David Beaty (@davidwbeaty), Doug Irish (@dirish), Luis Bolanos and Emily Roth (@EmilyRothie2), Gokul Krishnan, Shaun Kirkwood (@shaunyk), and Ben Sheridan (@Ben_Sheridan), who despite the picture above, was completely sane and a source of great wisdom.

We all work in an iPad environment that is 1:1 in some capacity, and got together to talk about our experiences with iPads in the classroom.  You can watch the Hangout here if you are interested.  It was a great first meeting, with a very loose agenda.  We talked at length about how we are assessing the effect that our iPad program is having on the student learning at our various schools.  We also talked about lost iPads, damaged iPads, different iPad cases, the Maker movement, and a bunch of other stuff.

The first topic is the one that I came away with the most from.  The little light bulbs that lit up (for me) during the conversation were these:

“Assessing the effects of any technology on learning is difficult, because it disrupts the whole learning process and so cannot be compared to what was happening before.”

Hard data is difficult to collect around learning, and if you insist on hard data, most roads lead to testing, right?  That’s a terrible direction to head in.

“Ask a teacher how her teaching has changed since having iPads, and maybe that is a window into understanding how learning is changing in her classroom since having iPads.”

Surveys came up as the most important and valuable source of data around iPads and learning.  Surveying teachers, parents, and students.  Several different sets of surveys were shared around.  If you are interested in having access to some surveys, let me know and I can work on getting them to you.

“What do you see around you when the students are engaged in learning with iPads?  What does it feel like?”

Some of this assessment has to be purely anecdotal and left up to your professional intuition.  There are amazing moments in classrooms when the energy is fizzing over as the students explore and express their ideas using their iPads as creative tools.  That is important data to communicate you your team and to harness.

I loved this Hangout, and am really excited to be a part of the next one.  Stay tuned, join the Google + Community called The iPad Exchange, and be a part of our learning.


Exchange Banner




Resonate by Nancy Duarte

January 21, 2014


photo credit: www.duarte.com


I have been reading the book Resonate by Nancy Duarte.  It is about presenting, and is a fine compliment to Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen.  Whilst the focus of Presentation Zen leans towards the visual goals when preparing a presentation, Resonate really focuses on the relationship that a presenter has (or does not have) with her audience.  How can you develop that relationship, how can you be prepared for an audience and anticipate what they will be looking for and where they are coming from?  Duarte has also written a book purely about the visual aspect of presenting, and so leaves those concepts untouched in this book.

Duarte draws greatly on Joseph Campbell’s book A Hero’s Journey.  She explains that as a presenter telling a story to an audience, you are taking them on a hero’s journey.  It is important to understand that you are not the hero.  The audience is the hero. They are Luke Skywalker.  You are their mentor.  You are Obi Wan Kenobi.  It is important to keep that relationship in mind when you prepare what you are going to talk about and where you are going to go with them.

Duarte talks in depth about the shape and dynamics of a presentation, and the effect that taking time to craft that can do to your audience’s reaction.  She calls it the sparkline, and ties the rise and fall of a presentation  closely to the Hero’s Journey.  This was really interesting to think about.

photo credit: www.duarte.com

As I read this book I pictured presenters talking to huge rooms full of people, expressing complicated and very important ideas.  I pictured Tom Cruise in Magnolia, or Leonardo Di Caprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, those presenters who are very slick, doing those get-rich seminars and wowing the crowd.  I did not picture myself presenting to a group of perhaps 30 parents on the merits of blogging in the Middle School.  That was until recently.  Because when I did present to that group of parents on exactly that topic, I noticed a few helpful and assuring things:

  • I was complimented afterwards on how interesting, appropriate and ‘artistic’ my slides were.  That belongs to Garr Reynolds.

  • My blogging message was carried along by a story about my family.  I could see the audience perk up whenever I returned to the story.  This really reinforced Duarte (and Reynold’s) message that people learn from stories, and that they are intrinsically drawn to them.

  • I felt comfortable taking the mentor role that Duarte describes. Blogging is a topic that parents are sensitive enough about that I think empowering them was helpful.

Resonate is a book that bears several re-reads I think, as one becomes more practiced at presenting to groups.  I have only just started, but think that it is a great resource.

London Calling

December 2, 2013

Tomorrow I travel to London to GTAUK, the Google Teacher’s Academy held there.  It is pretty exciting, because…well, to be frank, I don’t know why it is so exciting.  I have asked myself that question more as the time to leave has drawn nearer.  I don’t really know what happens there.  There are two reasons for being excited that I can begin to put my finger on.

1.  It is exclusive.  Only 50 people are asked to go, so I must be amongst some pretty cool people, right?  I am allowed to think that!

2. The enthusiasm of friends and colleagues who have been to a GTA in the past.  Without being specific, their excitement  for what I am about to embark on is tangible.

I hope that in a few days I will be able to write about what the GTA experience is like. My journey so far has been exciting, so I figure the rest of it might be as well.

 Big Ben and the Moon

Photo Credit: timlam18 via Compfight cc

The Learning 2.013 conference in Singapore is where this adventure began.  I went to the conference interested and energized, but came back a little transformed.  Really.  This is what I think happened:

I met some new friends.  People who were really excited about exploring new avenues for learning.  I also met up with lots of old friends, my whole COETAIL contingent;  Jeff, Kim, Robert, Ben, Dana, Clint, Emily, Andre and on and on.  We had great conversations, which if you have enough of, become self-propagating.  I hung out and presented with my colleague and friend Mike Hoffman. He and I talked about so many great ideas and “what if we…?” and “why don’t we…”?  Surrounded by all of these minds I began to think of possibilities.

At the closing of the conference Jeff gave a great Moonshot speech.  I came away completely inspired.  It put the week-end’s learning into a pinpoint focus.  What was I going to do with that week-end’s learning?  No, really, what was I going to do taht changed the way things are?  Not a rhetorical or empty question.  Jeff’s was a serious question asking for an answer.

So I got home and made a 1 minute movie about moonshot thinking. I filled in the GTA application, sent it in with 2 hours to spare until the deadline, and went to bed.  I was accepted!

 Now I get it.  Google is about moonshot thinking.  They want to talk to people who are interested in moonshot thinking.  At least that’s what I think happened…

So now, on the eve of my departure, I am thinking obsessively about moonshots again.  Mike Hoffman’s colleague from his Minnetonka days, Molly Shroeder, recently gave a great moonshot/design thinking/Google talks at TEDxBurnvilleED.  The fires are burning hot again, which is just as well.  It’s winter in London.

YouTube Preview Image

Twitter Talks to Me About Blogging

November 4, 2013

Photo by me

Photo by me

I recently talked to my sixth grade teachers about introducing blogs as a way for students to show their learning.  I was armed with some student exemplars from other schools, and headed into the meeting wide eyed and full of hope.  I soon realized that the understanding in the room of what blogs are and what we might use them for was wide and varied.  I also understood that my own understanding of what a student blog can be and what it might be for was not fully developed either.  Our dialogue began to become a little polarized, and I could tell that the a part of the group was becoming less and less enamored with the idea as our discussion progressed.  I mustered up some grace and backed out of the room, intent on learning more about what others are doing with blogs.

I put a question to my Twitter fellows, and the conversation below followed.  I was blown away by the passion of the people who contributed.

The conversation took me from talking about what we the teachers want a blog to be, to a  conversation about students, about passion, about courage, about acting in the world and about real learning.

 I feel that now I know what I want our student blogs to be.  It might be inevitable that different teachers will manage the content that kids post to their blogs to different degrees, but I want the students to have their own conversation with themselves every time they get ready to click “publish”. Can they stand tall by the post that they are about to birth?  Does their writing allow them to act in the world?  They need to be able to answer those kinds of questions. It might be a long road.


POSTSCRIPT:  I have been reading the tomes that Jabiz Raisdana has written about student blogging, and my ideas are once again in the throes of further evolution.  I realize that the act of finding voice, courage and conviction really is a long process, for teacher and student alike.

Blogging Debate…

A Twitter conversation about the curating of student blogs.

  1. debate I hear: student blogs as workbench for ideas and reflection or repository for polished final product? What say you, PLN?
  2. @mmongardi Why can’t it be both? In the digital world we don’t have to decide…..space is unlimited.
  3. @mmongardi Perhaps both are important? Demonstrate the ideation and development process along with the final portfolio to show full cycle.
  4. @javajive I agree. Product without process can be sterile (and vice versa). Definitely a situation where a hybrid will work best.
  5. @jutecht concern (not mine) over students putting “work in progress” onto a blog and leaving an imperfect footprint, I think.
  6. @mmongardi Um…my blog is an imperfect footprint. Learning is imperfect.
  7. @mdhero Agreed. I think that some educators want a blog to be a showcase of only the very best work, were as others see it more organically
  8. @mmongardi @mdhero @jutecht consider parent & student perspective. Fear of putting developing works in a public forum is real. @paulaguinto
  9. MT @mmongardi: debate I hear: student blogs as workbench or repository. @itymms @intrepidteacher @paulaguinto this q needs ur voices
  10. @jplaman @mmongardi @itymms @intrepidteacher Examine intent. What’s the grand design?Does it support Ss learning?Are they involved in convo
  11. @jplaman @mmongardi @itymms @intrepidteacher Other schools are doing a great job too w/ structure too. Again, it depends on grand design.
  12. @jplaman @mmongardi @itymms @intrepidteacher is it a debate? Think it can be both just as long as it is about connected learning. #bigpic
  13. @jplaman @mmongardi @itymms @intrepidteacher ideal is to make it as authentic as possible. Make it Ss’ own space/home where we are invited.
  14. @jplaman @mmongardi @itymms @intrepidteacher Nurturing trust, cultivating the space/homes and finding/developing voice – all these take time
  15. @jplaman @mmongardi @mdhero @paulaguinto agreed that’s why it should be up to the student. Student ownership is key.
  16. @jutecht @mmongardi @mdhero yup. space where we are invited & they aren’t obligated & yes, @jplaman need to consider degree of readiness
  17. @paulaguinto @jutecht @mdhero @jplaman Delicate balance of student ownership, ° of readiness, and parent (and teacher) comfort.
  18. @paulaguinto @jutecht @mdhero @jplaman Without student ownership, it’s a bit of a hollow exercise. This takes courage from all involved.
  19. @mmongardi @paulaguinto @jutecht @mdhero I like the use of “courage.” Because that’s essential. Also, education and clarity of purpose.
  20. @mmongardi @paulaguinto @jutecht @mdhero education for all parties. Especially parent body and teachers as well as students.
  21. @itymms @jplaman @mmongardi @intrepidteacher I also love the idea of having conviction when you choose to publish. Standing tall & believing
  22. @jplaman @mmongardi @intrepidteacher @paulaguinto the word “published” seems integral and has been important in our discussions.
  23. @jplaman @mmongardi @intrepidteacher @paulaguinto to publish is a willingness to stand tall and be counted. To act in the world.
  24. @itymms @jplaman @mmongardi @paulaguinto I love the term “To Act in the World.” Great starting point for many conversations.