Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why is this so hard?

The amount of excitement around this project continues to grow. There are so many benefits to passion and excitement around a new project: motivation, creativity, hard work, pride in the product. However, there is one glaring issue that I cannot seem to shake: PICK SOMETHING! In order to get started, I need a focus, something small, that can be quantified. My climbing guide just recently gave me some more articles to consult to get ideas. I was very struck by this one in particular, and I finally feel like I can begin to build something. 

ESchool News published an article on self-paced learning. The writer, Peter West, opens by discussing the idea of "average" and creating "average" material in hopes that everyone will fit into it. I know from a very short time in the education field that school does not work that way, but that's exactly what we do. With this amazing 1:1 opportunity, school does not need to be one "average" size meant to fit all students. Using inspiration from various articles, including the one linked above, I would like to create a way to measure success between students who are given material in a self-paced way and students who are given material in the traditional classroom manner. 

The questions now become...
How do I split students in a way that is ethical?
How do I choose a way to assess students on what they've learned?
Is "self-paced" the same as "personalized"? 
When do I find the time and space to do this with my students this year?
What is the content connection?

I need to remember to keep it contained! Keep it small. Attainable. I appreciate the help of my teammates today, talking through my mind circles.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I'm finally starting to gain understanding of what I want to learn during this process. For me, my idea around personalized learning using technology seems so big and often difficult to "confine" in a quantitative question. However, I've already found some inspiration among the research provided to us on the Scaling the Action Research Peak website. Seeing other ARPs in action is very helpful to begin to frame my own research. 

In our most recent meeting with our climbing guide, I embarked on gathering some research of my own. This article on Edutopia offers 10 suggestions for students' personalized learning by way of technology. I was particularly struck by a few ideas: 

2. Gather and use immediate feedback of students' understanding
3. Give students options 
6. Create weekly "Must do" and "May do" lists

I would really like to sample all students, focusing in on a few in particular who demonstrate a wide range of learners in my classroom. I'm currently considering ideas around giving students options. I would like to create a series of small projects that are based on what students already know from their time in my classroom. These small projects or questions will be answered using an app of the student's choice. After each project or question, I will survey students about their individualization of products. I will gather more in depth interviews from students who I select to offer a range of learners.

I've just started to dig into this report by Babette Moeller and Tim Reitzes on Integrating Technology with Student Centered Learning.

Friday, March 14, 2014

More thoughts...

Coming to terms with a smaller project is difficult for someone like me who would like all the answers. I want to know everything I can do to make me a better teacher as well as make the 1:1 experience the best it can be for my students. 

In just glancing through the second study, I was suddenly struck with how interesting and useful it would be to research how technology levels the playing field and/or increases achievement for students with low SES. Perhaps comparing FRPL logs with academic records for students pre and post technology integration.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Getting Started

It seems that I'm finally able to see a product within my swirling thoughts around an action research question. My first meeting with my team and climbing guide has enabled me to talk through my ideas. I often find that when I'm working on something I love, like technology in my classroom, I have incredibly grand plans. These plans, though inspiring, are often difficult to pin down. I have a difficult time seeing these ideas come to fruition in the state of a product. My first meeting definitely helped with this process. 

I was immediately struck with ideas around engagement and "leveling the playing field" for students using the iPad. I truly believe that my students feel they can demonstrate their knowledge more readily and more dynamically than before. Access to technology in school definitely lends itself to more efficient class time. For example, students creating a piece of writing can oftentimes type faster than they can write. Therefore, they are able to write more in the same or shorter amounts of time. The iPad certainly lends itself to increased engagement. From day one, students were in awe of their new device and all it could do for them. They continue to be intrigued by the many offerings (apps, efficiency, differentiation). The piece that has struck me most is around differentiation. We know that every student learns differently. Each student would benefit from his or her own learning plan. However, one teacher per 20 students unfortunately does not allow for this type of individualized basis each day. The iPad allows students to get to know their own styles of learning and experiment with platforms they like best. As the year progresses, the more flexible assignments become. For instance, a question does not need to be answered in writing in a Google document. Instead, students have a multitude of apps to show what they know. They also have opportunities for audio and video recordings. 

I believe that iPads help students individualize their learning and meet their needs. This definitely increases engagement and achievement because all students can feel successful.