Device Neutral

27 01 2013

Things are looking up at the new school.  We have a very forward thinking principal, and a staff who has decided to remain device neutral.  I am now looking at Chromebooks for our library.  My ramblings on why I think Chromebooks are the best choice.  I started with the question “What do I want the kids to be able to do with the device, and what are the learning goals?”


First:  It would be awesome if kids could actually search the library catalog, it would free me up from helping some find books that they knew the titles or authors of.  Since the library catalog is online, this is easily achieved with any device that has online access.
Second:  I would like to teach research skills.  So many kids have no idea what a boolean search is, how to narrow search terms, how to take notes without a pencil and paper, how to multiple windows at once. (I know it’s kind of shocking to me)
Third:  I want the library to be the hub of the school, a place kids can come to do work, to read, to relax.  In my world that means that there needs to be a working internet connection so that kids can look things up when they need to or access an eBook, or see if the Public Library has the book they want to read.

When I realized that none of my goals were application specific, the price of a Chromebook is most certainly enticing.  At $199 US per device, that is the equivalent of about 1/2 and iPad or 1/5 of a desktop machine.

The only downside that I can find is the device management.  I am ok with managing them myself, but I’m skeptical with IT services at the district level.  Past experience has been that they say no more than yes. Which is sad.

Coming up next, my ramblings about BYOD and using eBooks in the Library.  I will likely post on the school library blog as well,



Getting Ready to Teach Teachers

1 11 2012

New school this year…that means more pro-d.  It’s ok, I secretly enjoy teaching, and I don’t care how old the students are. 🙂 My new school has a totally useless lab.  You can word process as long as you don’t need to print, sharing to the server is hit and miss, the only reliable file transfer method is a USB stick.  So much for many things that I do.  Plan B.  iPads.  I loaded them up with apps and now I need to “teach” how to use them.  I don’t think anyone really needs to be taught, they just need someone to encourage them. I decided that rather than “teach” iPads, I would get people thinking more about the role of technology in the school.  One of my colleagues asked me to present my Tech Top 10.  Since I was specifically asked to do the workshop on iPads, I thought I’d try to publish that here.  So here goes.

  1. Google Drive. (Formerly Documents) Hands down the easiest way to have students collaborate on a project.  Here is one a student did on Forestry While this wasn’t a collaborative project, it was done some at home, and some at school.  Google makes that easy.
  2. Twitter.  I have to say that when I have a tech question, Twitter is where I go.  Follow #edtech or #edchat I have a circle of followers and people who I follow. Follow me at cfraenkel
  3. Pinterest. Has become my new go to place for ideas and jumping off points.  A list of the top 20 Pinterest sites for education is here.
  4. That leads me to one of my goto websites for educational information so far not too commercial…we shall see.
  5. Glogster.  love love love this.  Poster it. With as one of my parents put it, no mess on the dining room table! We have used glogster for science posters, poetry, social studies.
  6. TED talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design) great place to learn.
  7. Top Documentary Films.  A colleague showed me this.  Thousands of free high quality documentary films free for you to watch in your classroom.
  8. Prezi A new overhaul makes it even easier to make awesome looking presentations really easily.
  9. Explain Everything for iPad.  Video, audio, record function, save to cloud.  I have used for recording lessons, or as a way for students to present information.  Brilliant.
  10. WordPress/Edublogs/any easy blogging platform.  My students blog, (or they did when I had access to functional computers at school)

*      My new favorite.  I’m just beginning to play with Pearltrees.  It is visual social bookmarking. It seems really easy    to use, and really easy to find information.  I’ll let you all know if I find any great educational uses.  Right now, I’m just playing.

Connections and Learning

21 10 2012

I just spent a day at a teacher librarian’s conference where I was surrounded by people who are excited about change in education and at the same time scared stiff.  Chris Kennedy, Superintendent of West Vancouver School District gave the Keynote speech.  He talked about the role of teacher librarians in technological implementation in schools. I was intrigued by a few things that he said, so after reading his blog, I took a look at the work of Will Richardson, via this TEDxMelbourne presentation .

Richardson is a big voice for educational reform.  He has some interesting ideas, but one in particular made me crazy.  He said something to the effect of there is no point in learning facts, you can look them up on google.  I have to disagree, a lot.  Education is more than learning facts.  Could you google an article on foreign policy and read it if you had to look up every country, every politician and every big word?  I know I couldn’t. How about math? If you don’t know basic addition are you ever going to understand algebra? Calculus? Chemistry? No.

Education needs to be about training your brain how to find answers, not about getting them.  There is merit in learning basic facts, they allow us to make connections to other ideas and form questions.

I am very interested in the work of George Siemens who is the founder of the Connectivism: Open Social Learning theory.  He argues that learning is all about making connections. Something elementary teachers have been fostering for years.  This is not a new idea, but how we use it in a technological age is. Siemens talks about “Sensemaking not learning.” When learners have the tools of their sensemaking under their own control, they have the capacity to shape and direct the activities that they find meaningful.”

He says that Open Social Learning is:

  • responsive to the needs of the individual
  • adaptive
  • fluid, varied and contextual

I’m not convinced that this is not already happening in elementary schools.  We use “think, pair, share,”  we encourage group work and group learning, we take advantage of “teachable moments,” we adapt lessons and curriculum to the needs of the students, we try to teach in themes to make sure our students are learning in context. Perhaps our educational leaders need to be elementary school teachers instead of University Professors. That is one thing I do agree with Richardson about.  Teachers need to start screaming about what we believe in, and stop being so polite. Otherwise we are going to have an education system which is built by politicians and businesspeople.

Putting devices in kids hands

3 12 2011

I struggle daily with trying to figure out how to put internet capable devices in the hands of my students even a camera would be a great start.

We have a total of 34 reliable laptops for a school of 530 kids…it is a sad situation.

I had a bit of an aha moment when I asked my grade 4/5 class how many of them had either an iPod touch, an iPad, a 3DS or other hand held gaming system that accesses the internet. (they actually didn’t know they could access the internet on them which was another interesting tidbit) Most of them raised their hands to answer yes.

The problem I face is the “no devices at school policy.” How to get around it is the question.  I am thinking that I simply ask parents for permission to bring the device to school for use on a project and we go from there.  Has anyone out there done this? What did you do?

Techie friends are Important

10 11 2011

I have a new one on staff which is great.  Justine and I spent a morning this week preparing a “Technology Implementation Plan” for our school, which is a fancy way of saying we wrote down what we consider to be best practice on a piece of paper so that we could use it to fund some technology at our school.

This was a new experience for Justine, and it was great to have her bubbly excitement every time there was and idea between us. I am a little more jaded I guess, it felt like it was homework for my Masters degree coming back to haunt me in some ways.  Fortunately after doing that MET degree, this was pretty easy for me, just don’t look at how I did my citations…

In the spirit of cooperation, I am posting the plan here, in case one of you fellow techies need to write one.  It will give you a template to use or ideas to borrow or add to.  If you do write one using this as a template I respectfully request that you post it here as a comment so that we can all share.
Creative Commons License
Ross Road Technology Implementation Plan by Carolann Fraenkel, Justine Frazee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.