Monday, September 21, 2015

Ditch That Textbook Week 3: Ditch That Mindset Part 1

First of all, congratulations to blog participant Kari Catanzaro who was mentioned and quoted in chapter 8! It's great to see deserving Indiana educators in the spotlight.

The hard thing about reading fairly large chunks of the book at a time is that there are so many things to discuss. I'm going to throw out a couple of things that jumped out at me, but if you want to question or discuss something else, please feel free. I liked the idea of students either owning or renting their education. How do you encourage your students to own their education? Matt talks about the limitations of technology in the classroom. I'm sure you all are implementing technology to some extent in your classroom. How do you determine when it is appropriate to use technology and when it is not?

As you are participating in this blog discussion, please make sure you are logged into your Google account before you comment. Also, be sure that your profile is complete. We've had several people whose comments are showing up as "Unknown." I cannot give you credit toward your PGP points if I do not know who is making the comments.

For next week we will be reading and discussing the second half of the section "Ditch That Mindset," chapters 15-22.

160 comments:

  1. I struggle with using too much tech in my AP classroom. The College Board still requires kids to hand write their essays, so I know it is important for them to work on their penmanship. I hate how LONG it takes for them to hand write essays; I hate how much less efficient I am with reading and scoring their writing. But it is necessary. Do any other AP instructors find this frustrating?

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    1. This makes me think about ch 12 and how the idea of choosing the right tool can feel counterintuitive when we are working to meaningful integrate tech. Why does College Board require this? If we require it simply because College Board does, then what is the student goal here? I guess that is what I would ask myself :)

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    2. I used to teach AP World and found handwritten essays time-consuming and difficult as well. One way I tried to integrate writing into class so I didn't always have to require handwritten essays was the Silent Debate. Students debate each other on paper, in writing, to defend a point. It allowed me to have students practice writing in every unit without always requiring the hand-written DBQ or CCOT.

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  2. I think the key to kids "owning" their education is by making everything we do in the classroom as real-world applicable as possible. I believe it is a real "ah-ha" moment for students once they realize that they can take classroom skills and use them outside of school. They may not analyze literature outside of school in the way that we do in English class, but the analysis process they learn in class can be used in many other ways. I think something we can really teach our kids in terms of technology is how to be a responsible user of the technology that is available. This is also something that will be used in the real world. What you put out there on Facebook or Instagram is out there forever. When you waste time gaming instead of working on homework, there are consequences. These lessons are important for kids to learn, because they not only apply in school, but outside as well.

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    1. It's amazing how sometimes the "ah-ha" moment is in the classroom. I have my students create a map and locate a list of important places (in the Library Media Center). It's crazy how after they do that, they will ask me for something, and I will say, it is in the ___ or over by the ___, and they will stare at me blankly. I will then say, go get out your map that you created, and then I get the "ah-ha" that's why she made us do that assignment. I think when they realize they are learning for a reason, and not just to get points on an assignment, is when real learning begins.

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  3. I read Chapters 12 and 13 twice. My school is fortunate to have all 4-6 graders one to one with Chromebooks. We also have an incredible technology coordinator. I am working very closely with her to integrate technology into instruction. The lines "the mindset that fuels digital learning is: Good teaching trumps good tools"" and the right kinds of tech give students experiences they never could have otherwise" really spoke to me as well as the "$1000 pencil" reference. I think it is my job to coach teachers to ask "Will technology improve your students' learning experience?" In most cases, the answer will be yes - but I have to remind teachers that pedagogy must drive technology.

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    1. In the past 5 years, we have gone from netbooks to Ipads and then back to laptops. I definitely feel as if we are handing them $1000 pencils. We have some teachers that refuse to use them at all, and we have some that use them all the time. The vast majority of the use for them, though, is substitution.

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    2. I think so many school districts have approached the introduction of technology by putting the proverbial "cart before the horse". Buying into the flash and believing that computers or iPads will will automatically improve student learning has caused a lot of $1000 pencils to be placed in the hands of students. Matt Miller advocates for teachers when he states "Good teaching trumps good tools". Teachers should have access to high-quality training on whatever tool, or system, that is being considered for use in their classrooms. Teachers should also be given the time to perform "significant task redesign", and to consider their objectives prior to the launch of 1 to 1 initiatives in schools. Unfortunately, this does not seem to have happened in many of our area schools.

      The above dilemma also highlights the importance of allowing students to take their own learning as far as they can via their tech tools. I love the idea of a Genius Hour, and have drooled over Google's workplace structure and creativity for years. In previous chapters, Miller mentions the need to step back and learn from our students. As we face the huge learning curve of added technology to the classroom, the support of students can be a contributing factor in the transition from substitution to redefinition.

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    3. Love your choice of quotes Dee Dee! George Couros' "$1,000 pencil" has always been something that pops into my head while planning and integrating tech. Like you said, we have to be intentional about making sure our pedagogy drives our use of technology.

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    4. I agree, Melanie- I still think that even after being a 1:1 school for the 5th year (at least- I've lost track), we still often have computers but not the training and tools to effectively use them. We are now a STEM school- and I know there are LOTS of ways to combine STEM and tech, but I find myself using hands-on 3-D real life materials MUCH more with STEM than tech- even simple things like index cards and scotch tape. PEDAGOGY is so key!

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    5. I also loved the reference to a $1000 pencil!

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    6. My first teaching position was at a private school struggling to meet admissions goals. They went 1:1 as a sales point for the school. There was no vision for a 1:1 program. There was no standard device. There was no PD or training for teachers. Faculty didn't even get their devices until the week before school started. Talk about $1,000 pencils! My current school rolled out 1:1 this year- but in the right way. Faculty received their devices before school started last year. We had an entire year to "play in the sandbox". We were learning what our devices could and couldn't do, finding apps, restructuring lessons, and integrating tech. By the end of last year, a few of us were beyond ready for students to have their own devices. There wasn't enough tech to go around! I was so much more confident planning for and integrating 1:1 this time- because I was given the time to figure things out!

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    7. I want my students to use their laptops (when we get them) as more that "$1,000 pencils". I thought of the first technology we received too, one Ipad per room. The teachers were all afraid to put them in their students' hands. And when they did they only used them as glorified pencils.

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    8. I am intrigued to learn more about the Genius Hour. I'm not sure that I could work it in every week, but would like to play around with it maybe every other week. With giving students time to pursue their own interests, there would certainly be an increased payoff with their learning.

      I still struggle with how to best integrate the use of technology. I feel like some of what is being done in classrooms falls into that "glitter" category where I have a hard time seeing how it improves their learning. I appreciate the directive we have been given to create a blended classroom where we can use the technology as a tool and support where needed. As a sixth grade language teacher, it's interesting to see that often times my students prefer the more traditional ways of reading and writing.

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    9. We did have our students get their computer from the school. They can still do it that way or bring your own device. As mentioned in the book we have had technology issues such as it taking forever to load. Sometimes the laptops don't stay charged for the day.Sometimes getting the technology to work is frustrating.

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  4. I loved the analogy that related students to renters!! That was brilliant in my mind. Just by reading that chunk of this book opened my eyes so much and made me want to ditch my textbooks even more. I read these chapters before I planned for this upcoming week and it greatly influenced a lot of my lessons. Some of my students are starting a new unit in math this week, decimals. Normally, I would have simply introduced the lesson, done some practice with them in class, and sent them on their way with a worksheet to complete and turn in by the next day. After reading this chapter about giving students control, I re-thought how I was going to teach it. I am going to relate this entire chapter to money and decimals in the real world. I am excited to see how much information the students understand and retain after not bombarding them with worksheets. I can't wait to see what they come up with and how we use decimals in every day life. This relates back to the first chapter in this chunk. There was a quote from Dave Burgess that has haunted my dreams this weekend, "If your students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?" Hopefully, my students would say that I have a good relationship with them all, but is that enough to keep them coming back if they didn't have to? If I can relate the content I am required to teach back to their lives, I feel like I would have a better chance of my students actually choosing to be in my classroom. I am going to work hard on this this year and hopefully my students will benefit from the changes I make.
    I loved the quote, "I'm convinced that the only reason we don't hand over control is because it's easier to hang on to the comfort of the status quo." I think that if we, as educators, aren't willing to step out of our comfort zone and teach something in a different way, our students won't be willing to do it either. We need to show them that it's okay to try different things and incorporate new ways of thinking. Matt Miller says to "Jump in with both feet." Even if we fail at something or it doesn't work out the way we wrote it in our plan book, at least we took a risk and tried something new. This shows the students that it's okay to think outside the box, which is where out world is going these days. As a new teacher (it's my second year), last year I was just trying to go with the flow and teach things the way I had been taught or had seen in student teaching. Now that I have a year under my belt, I feel I can break the status quo and try some things that will help my students gain more control of their learning. I can't wait to see how the remainder of this year goes thanks to this book!

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    1. I see that many of the things you mentioned also hit home with me and were included in my post: rapport and why students attend class. I do think rapport is big and that is why students "behaved" in my class. However, I do think I could have done a better job of making their time their "fun." I don't think I could have sold tickets to my classes like the one teacher mentioned. The same can be said of my PD. I want to read Teach like a Pirate to see if I can improve my techniques with my teacher trainings. Are they coming because they are required to be there or because they are genuinely interested in the PD?

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    2. I am very curious about that book! I think it will be my next PD read after this one. :) I also know that now that my district is going towards more workshop type professional development sessions, I absolutely love going. I get to pick what I want to learn about on the days that I am "forced" to go to school when my students are sleeping in. Before we switched to this type, I dreaded going and listening to someone talk about something that "didn't apply" to me because I'm a special education teacher. It was annoying. haha. I wish you the best of luck on changing up your PD!

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    3. I just finished reading "Teach Like a Pirate," and am re-reading "Ditch That Textbook" as I participate in this eLearning Book Club. So many amazing take-aways from both books! I agree that making connections with students is key to developing an inviting classroom environment. "That" question - "If your students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?" - wow! Bringing it (fun and magic) each day takes a lot of work and energy, but the rewards of seeing students engaged and excited about what they are learning is priceless!

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    4. Hi, Sue! Glad to see you here! What is your current job? I'm still teaching English at Southwood High School. There are lots of us doing this eLearning book club.

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  5. Owning their education is directly linked to us not being the gatekeepers of information. We have created automatons that come to school, fill out the worksheets, cram for tests, then forget everything they learn because they have not made any connection to the material. I am a big believer in teaching independence. Instead of me doing it for you, I am going to show you how to do it. I am going to give vague guidelines, because if I tell you exactly what I want, I will get my project, not yours. Early on my students are frustrated because of this, but as time goes on, I get better projects created. I still do posters, which I agree are pretty low tech, but I use them as reference points for students (for example, a genre poster which shows books we have that fit within a specified genre). However, it does not make sense to do the online poster makers because then I do not have them to show. After the students realize they have free-reign over design, they will create fantastic posters, and then ask for them back when the semester is over.

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  6. This section included several different ideas that sparked my interest. First, I am so going to steal the list of real-world connections with the theme of betrayal as a connection to Julius Caesar. Secondly, I want to adapt the idea of the Mystery Skype and use a mystery scenario for a series of videos that ask the students to guess the British author.

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    1. Both ideas are excellent, Cathy, and ones the students would really enjoy as well. The ability to be creative in one of the most attractive things about teaching English. Sometimes, I get so busy with the day-to-day things, I feel I'm not allowing my students to be creative enough, yet that is one of the things I strive to see in them. Frequently, ti comes down to time and energy vs. tried and true, but I'm trying to adopt a more creative approach.

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    2. Cathy - when I read the Julius Caesar part I instantly thought of you! Love the idea to use Mystery Skype as well!!

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  7. I teach high school so finding technology to use is not hard, but can actually more overwhelming for me! I teach Language Arts on a 7 period day. I have some more advanced classes, this leans itself to introducing technology slow and sometime just to my more advanced classes. I see what works, what doesn't, the questions that come up and then address from there. I find many of my technology ideas from Twitter, (thank you #INeLearn!) my awesome husband teaches Language Arts down the hall from me and he will bring cool websites to me too! Team technology for the classroom.

    Aside from all the "ownership" of work and technology in this portion of the reading, I am very surprised we aren't discussing the less 'techy' things like in Chapter 10 - "Build Respect and Relationships" I can really appreciate a book about technology addressing what makes teaching amazing, but I do not agree 100% with being my student's FRIEND. I find caring mentor a better fit. Did anyone else find that Chapter a bit soft?

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    1. I agree. I think the "friend" word threw me at first. However when Matt related it to what a friend does, I think it made sense. However, I can see how in today's world that is a tough word to use when referring to students as sometimes that line is getting crossed.

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    2. Yes, I did. I was told once that your students have enough friends, they need guidance and structure that a friend can't give them. I do understand that you need to make a connection, but there is a fine line there.

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    3. I do agree that I had to take a minute to reflect on what Matt was trying to say in this chapter. I've always had the mindset that I'm supposed to be the caring, watchful "leader" and not a "friend". However, when he explained that we can be there for our students in a few specific ways that a friend is, I can get be on board with that. I teach 4th grade so it's a little different than trying to be a friend with a high school aged student. :)

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  8. I really loved the eight steps Miller gives to jump that wall from modification to augmentation and redefinition in the SAMR model. The space that requires that jump has nothing to do with technology, and the more time I spend investigating this, the more clearly I see that. However, Miller mentions that this is counterintuitive to us as we integrate tech- It's like the chicken and the egg or something- which comes first? Well, the student goal does. Sorry for the cheesy analogy. Beyond the 8 steps Miller gives, I love the three suggestions Dr. R Puentedura gives to work up the SAMR ladder- focus on a topic that you are passionate about, focus on a barrier your students have, or focus on something you believe your students will benefit from in the future if they were to have a deep understanding.

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    1. Thanks for pointing about the SAMR model! I have slowly been learning more about this model and it is a helpful tool. The thing I have to keep in mind is that it will take time to work your way up the model. It is hard to slow down and take it a chunk at a time!

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    2. The SAMR Model can be the key to make technology more than a $1000 pencil for students and for teachers. It pushes US to be more than renters of technology through putting technology to the test.
      There are some great resources on the web from Dr. Ruben Puentedura, especially on hippasus.com and shrockguide.net. Three questions can guide beginning A SAMR Ladder Project:
      PASSION- “If you had to pick one topic from your class that best exemplifies why you became fascinated with the subject you teach, what would it be?”
      BARRIERS- “Is there a topic in your class that a significant number of students get stuck on, and fail to progress beyond?”
      FUTURE BENEFITS- “Which topic from your class would, if deeply understood, best serve the interests of your students in future studies or in their lives outside school?”

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  9. "$1000 pencil" That stuck out to me. A good tool is only as good as how well you and your students know how to use it, and the ability you and your students have to use it. For example, if you have Chromebooks but poor internet service, your Chromebook becomes a rather large paperweight. Just because something is the newest thing doesn't mean it is the best tool for our classrooms to use. Technology is great, but it shouldn't be something that overwhelms both us and the students, it needs to be practical.

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    1. I completely agree with you! I am lucky enough to have administration that sees this issue as well. At the end of school last year, we received our Chromebooks to experiment and explore over the summer. We were also given this entire school year to find different apps and programs that are going to enhance our curriculum and lessons before the students get their Chromebooks. It's been nice to become familiar with the tool before the students start asking questions that I don't know how to answer. :)
      One thing the training sessions keep telling us is to just take our time and integrate the tools as we learn them. We are not going to change things over night. We aren't going to wake up one day and every single lesson has every single aspect based in technology. It is going to take time to learn how we can use technology to better our lessons. Take it day by day and things will eventually get easier!

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  10. I am a big fan of integrating technology into the classroom as well as the school in general. I feel the more choice we give to the students the more ownership they will have in their own education. Technology is a great way to start to give them choice. Why do we have to do school TO them? Why can't we do it WITH them? Why can't we all learn together? There is not a single one of us that knows everything there is to know about what we are doing. And that is great. Why are we so afraid to show the kids we don't know it all? Are we afraid to lose that perception of power? I know I just threw out a lot of questions right there. I don't expect answers, just things I am thinking about.

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    1. I agree that it is hard for educators to show the kids that we don't know it all. I think this is in part to breaking the "old" mindset because before technology, teachers were the resource. It takes awhile to break old habits and teach an old dog new tricks.

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  11. I use technology daily in my classroom. I base when we use technology on my lesson. During our reading block I have them on their laptops doing different activities while I meet with reading groups. I also use technology to administer tests so that students are prepared for ISTEP format.

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  12. A couple of thoughts:
    About students owning their education: When students have a choice in their options for an assignment, they are more likely to express themselves creatively as well as learn more from the experience because they have to think more about their approach to a topic. Teaching both world languages and math, I have more difficulty working in student 'voice and choice' in my math classes, but I have found that any amount of alternatives I offer students can boost their buy-in. I like to have a choice about how my day is managed so I give students options when I can.

    About building relationships with students: I have committed to talking to each student individually about his/her test and quiz results. Sometimes I only point out one of many things that need to be improved, but I have noticed that every student seems to appreciate this attention. Only discussing one or two little points with each one, I can accomplish this in much less time than I had thought it would take, and the class activity while i am doing this is guaranteed to be student centered.

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    1. I like the commitment to conference with students on test/quiz results! I think I'll try that as well. To give students real, honest feedback face-to-face can be so powerful.

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    2. In English classes, I have paper conferences with students over their rough drafts. This is extremely helpful because they do not always understand my comments in the margins. I like that this is done with math!

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    3. I do the same thing. I have my students submit their sign language lesson/video to me online, then I will pick a part to watch with the student and discuss what they are doing(good or bad) and this helps them improve and know what they need to work on.

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  13. I thought "Build Respect and Relationships" was good. I agree with Miller when he says that there are many high school students without good friends - or a "good" family for that matter. However Mrs. Burman makes a point - that "caring mentor" is a better term. Regardless, I can't even imagine being around my students and not "smiling until Thanksgiving!"

    I also liked the following chapter, Win and Influence Students. I was pleased to see he referenced the Dale Carnegie principles - that was awesome. All so simple and practical. I remember those from a team building seminar I went to years ago when I worked in H.R.

    Regarding the use of technology in my classroom, I have been fortunate to have a computer lab as my classroom for the last 14 years. I hate to admit it but I would really struggle teaching without access to a computer and the Internet. However, I also know that different learning styles require a variety of tools and it is necessary to put the Chromebooks away at times. In fact, a couple weeks after school began this year I had a mother tell me that her daughter was coming home stressed out because all of her teachers were trying to incorporate too much technology - I thought that really relates to what Miller is talking about in Chapter 12.

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    1. This is a great point about the stress on kids of incorporating too much technology. Balance is key, as is what is practical for students. Just as it's not always practical to grade papers through Google Doc and sometimes old-fashioned pen and paper is more practical and efficient, it often isn't practical or efficient to overuse technology. It's important to keep this in mind and make sure technology is enriching and not overwhelming.

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    2. I agree with students feeling overwhelmed sometimes with too much technology. I think balance is important and students need to work on face-to-face interpersonal skills, which are suffering due to living a virtual life more than a "real life". I love having all the technology we have available, and use it every day, but sometimes it is nice to unplug, do more "hands-on" activities and talk to each other. As a teacher, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with it too! I am trying to incorporate more and more into my lessons. Sometimes kids even ask, "Can't we just do this on paper?" I must confess that if I had to be on a computer 5 days a week, 7 periods a day, for 50 minutes each, I would hate it! I think we need to mix it up for many reasons, otherwise, what is the point in being in a traditional school setting instead of a virtual school? I value personal relationships and sometimes disconnecting can help develop them.

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  14. I'll stick to the finding tech tools discussion as that is actually my role. I view my position as a filter for teachers. There is so much content and so many tools available that it feels extremely overwhelming. So to select tech tools, there are several key questions I ask myself.

    1. Is the amount of time invested in this tool worth the impact on the learning experience? I've come across some really cool tech tools, but the amount of time it takes to make it usable in the class is just not worth it. This rule of thumb is especially applicable to lower elementary as the young ones need someone to log them into accounts. Matt makes mention of this whole mindset in chapter 12.

    2. Does the tool provide a unique learning experience relevant to the teaching and real life? Let's face it, there are a ton of apps/websites that provide very similar experiences. Which ones are the most time efficient, produce the best results, and give the students the best opportunity to express leaning effectively?

    3. Which tools meet a variety of needs? I mean variety by spanning across grade levels, device platforms, and content areas. I like to have tools where various grade levels can discuss the implementation and use. It

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    1. I like the checklist that Lance provides. I always try to help my teachers chose the best tool for the job. In chapter 12, Miller says that "pedagogy must drive technology. the mindset that fuels digital learning is: Good teaching trumps good tools." And I'm constantly in a conversation with my teachers about the tools and which meets their needs. Oft times, when a school goes 1:1, the teachers are overwhelmed with all the "new" things they need to learn, but I tell them..technology is just a tool. You (the teacher) choose the tool that helps you teach. If the computer isn't the best tool, then use something else. Many times, the teachers figure out that this new tech tool is helpful, but they also feel more free when given the permission to opt not to use them.

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  15. As an E/LA teacher, I need technology to help me meet and exceed standards. I don’t have time to spend a 10-15 minutes teaching students to use an app. Fortunately, the Social Studies teachers on my team are willing to demonstrate and help the students become comfortable with different apps in their classroom. This enables me to use the technology efficiently and also gives students several different options for Depth of Knowledge/Level 4 creative opportunities. Technology in my classroom must be time efficient.

    My students take ISTEP and the writing prompt is pencil and paper. Students need to build writing stamina in order to generate an essay over a sixty minute time span. In order to do this, I have my students handwrite one of every three essays. Students are strengthening their writing stamina, yet still have opportunities to improve their keyboarding skills. This is frequently a tough call and I do like to give students a choice whenever possible.

    My favorite use of technology in my classroom is very simple. I love it when students can do quick relevant research based on a topic they are curious about in their current novel or nonfiction reading. This is real life learning and builds lifelong learning skills. Typically, one search will lead to another. This also builds background knowledge, vocabulary skills and gives students one more opportunity to read nonfiction. Win-win-win--situation.

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  16. I was most struck by the comment made by Miller that students need to be owners and not renters of their education. Although I allow choice on topics and products for students which typically involves technology, there has to be a better way to make them see their connection to the real world. I present scenario based lessons as a way for them to take ownership to the real world, but they still are not the actual person in the script. This reflection led me to sign up for Mystery Skype to really work on real or scenario problems in relationship with others. I reached out to work with people I know in other countries to really ask how the environment effects their culture or how they are handling a problem in our scenario.

    I also reflected on Miller's comment that we need to let go and let the students "take control" of their learning. It made me think of how never does a day go by where the students are not asking me their curious questions; questions that are "what ifs" and most likely not to happen, questions that would take us off topic, questions that would take too much time to discuss and there is no extra time in the agenda. These are the very teachable moments that I need to stop and explore. They would need to use their technology to discover and share the answers. As Miller pointed out, they could reach out to a real person on Twitter for an answer or gain a retweet for one. They could reach out to a professional on a website; found in the real world, with a real answer. Technology could be used more in forming the relationships for learning rather than just using as a tool to produce what they pretend to know and be able to do.

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  17. I earned very good grades in school, but I'll readily admit I usually just "rented" my education. I was good at the game of school. Most teachers handed out worksheets and packets, which I found tedious but easy to complete. I was a good reader who actually enjoyed it. I hand wrote my essays (yes, that was still acceptable mid to late 90s!) behind my music stand in band first period. I would do the minimum required to earn an A.

    However, I chose a career in education because I was blessed with teachers who made me want to own it. Teachers offering choice (I researched the political messages in alternative music), allowing inquiry (what's the chemical make up of Teflon, and why doesn't it stick?), and enabling me to create content (that radio show where I "interviewed" F. Scott Fitzgerald and the movie of The Odyssey starring my childhood HeMan and SheRas come to mind) captured my attention and pushed me to ownership. I guarantee you none of those lessons were in the textbook, and those are the ones that stand out to me now. I was pursuing my interests, researching the real world, and using technology--and those teachers had my attention and respect, so they would never teach to an empty room!

    I completely identified with Matt's analogy here, and I strive to offer my students the same opportunities to move from renting to owning. I do not believe the textbook, worksheet mindset entices students to make the leap to ownership; if they're good at the game of school there's no need! I'm challenging myself to take the best of Ditch That Textbook, Teach Like a Pirate, and Learn Like a Pirate to create the most engaging, relevant, student-centered class possible this year. Watch for some videos soon on Twitter of student-led text discussions and student directed mini-lessons!!

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  18. I absolutely agreed with the commenting about "owning" their education vs."renting" their education. By the time so many students make it to my 8th grade Reading class, they are proud RENTERS. It's really an uphill battle at times to get them to the point of "owning" their education. Our building is really not technology friendly and most people in the building are not tech. savvy when it comes to student technology. It's presented a HUGE challenge for me in my planning. I'm limited on resources and as a result, I can't help my students own their education as much. My district definitely wants teachers to embrace technology, but even things like flipping lessons can't happen because students go home and do not have access to technology. Any other teachers feeling the pain of wanting to go digital and not being able to?

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  19. Regarding the use of too much technology, several of my students have mentioned that they would like to do less work on the Chromebook in our Nutrition class. I was utilizing Google Slides for mini research projects and posting a wide variety of reading material (brief articles) that the textbook does not provide. I asked for a preference regarding working from paper recipes or ones I post in their Google classroom. They chose paper copies. I also had some that preferred to do a poster on Kitchen Safety rather than than shoot an in class humorous video (example provided.)

    I have been surprised that the students did not gravitate toward the tech but I will incorporate those thoughts and offer alternatives for assignments so students have a choice.

    In reality, the students would like to spend every day in a hands on cooking lab but no school budget would allow that. Even so, I would like to use tech as more than substitution and will spend summer learning really creative tools to build both tech and nutrition knowledge.

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    1. I had the same things happen in my reading class. I gave my students an option to use any form of technology I had access to to create a project for an ending project for a novel we had just read. Of the 7 students I had, only 1 chose to use technology. Every other student created a poster or a picture book. It was very interesting to see their decisions because I thought everyone would pick a PowerPoint or video.

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    2. I think the collaborating piece with Google Apps for Education has opened so many doors. I have heard of so many great ideas from letting each student create a slide, such as having each student include a recipe and then the whole class has access to a recipe book. Or just opening up a Google doc and letting each student write one review question and the entire class has access to a study guide they created. I would be so excited to teach with GAFE! The possibilities are endless while giving teachers control through revision history to ensure appropriate student participation and track that participation.

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    3. That is interesting Emily. I think kids use technology so much everyday that they miss using a hand-on approach while working on a project.

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    4. I don't use technology in my classes as much as other teachers in my school. I have had several students comment on how they are happy to have a class that's not so much technology. The students have told me they are overwhelmed with technology. I am trying to find the happy medium to benefit everyone.

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  20. In determining when it is appropriate to use technology and when it is not I liked the author's ideas that "The mindset that fuels digital learning is: Good teaching trumps good tools" and "The bottom line is that pedagogy must drive technology." Along with this, he discusses that we must focus on our students and their needs in our instruction. Using technology for the sake of using technology is not going to make for successful instruction or student learning. This does not mean, however, that we also simply stick with what we have always been doing because it is what we, as educators, are comfortable.

    If we truly focus on our students' needs in learning, there will be opportunities to implement technology. This is one of many tools that will help with student engagement and interest as long as it relates to what they are learning.

    I think that one of the barriers in implementing technology is that we try to do it as something extra or in addition to what we are doing instead of using it as a tool to help us make a learning experience better for our students.

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    1. I also liked that quote about the "mindset that fuels digital learning..." I find that its important to reflect on each time I use technology, even though that's sometimes hard to remember. I need to ask myself more often if it's directly aiding the learning goal. With having a huge grade level switch this year (fifth to first), I am almost "relearning" all aspects of using technology for students because the apps, programs, etc used are typically completely different!

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    2. I like that you picked the quote, "Good teaching trumps good tools." My goal is to operate with the end in mind and decide the steps to get there and add technology as a part of that process. It takes time to make those decisions about whether the technology will help us reach the end goal. Good teaching means making those decisions to determine if the technology is a necessary part and where it fits the best. This changes as the needs of our students change. I always try to think about my purpose so that we aren't just using technology for the sake of using technology!

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    3. I teach special education and I have seen how technology has changed how I teach and how the students learn. Their IEP goals and individual needs still drive my lesson planning and instruction, but now I have new tools to help me teach and the students have new tools to help them learn. We have new mimio boards this year and for the first few weeks, I found myself just using lessons because it was "cool" to play with, but now I am purposefully searching for lessons that meet my students' needs and goals making the mimio an engaging tool that helps the students learn the material.

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  21. I use technology in the classroom often. One limitation is the availability of having the computers so I cannot jump completely on the bandwagon. Our school is in the process of getting chromebooks but we have to sign up for computers way in advance to be able to use them. This takes away some creativity and change from happening. However I agree that we need to get beyond just using technology as we did when we did not have it. Such as just giving a "worksheet". I love to have my students research and come up with their own information. I have gotten so many good ideas from Matt's Blog such as the game Kahoot. I now use it frequently with my students for review and they love it. I many times rely on my students bringing their smartphone or their own device to class so I do not have to rely on the limited computers. I also love the idea of a mystery skype and would love to arrange for one. So much out there. I also wish for more professional development in this area! The book club is great professional development. I also am getting more involved with Twitter for my PLN but struggle with the time committment.

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    1. I also love using Kahoot for review. We had a PD on this a year or so ago, and then it was mentioned in Matt's blog. I have found Kahoot to be really fun and competitive for the kids, and it certainly impacts positively their learning and review. I have made it a goal to create at least one Kahoot for each unit. Next, I plan to create smaller Kahoots in each unit to utilize as understanding checks in an effort to use data to drive teaching.

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  22. Technology aside for a moment, I'm really glad that the author wrote Chapter 8 "Make it Personal" and Chapter 9 "Fun and Magic."

    I think good teaching includes connecting the content to the students through questioning (in chapter 8.) My elementary students get so much more out of a lesson if I start by asking them about the subject before I even start the lesson. (Example: we sang a song about a cat, and I asked my students to tell me about their family pets.) As a teacher, I want to dig into the content right away, but I loved when the author said,"If we can ditch our textbooks, at least momentarily, and connect to our students' lives through our content, we can help them answer those big questions [...]" (pg 51.)

    On page 55, the author ask "If your students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?" My goal is to have all students, even students who don't identify as a musician, show up to my class that day! I love my job as an elementary music teacher because I get to incorporate "Fun and Magic" every day. When I teach my students new musical terms in Italian, I use a heavy Italian accent. When we learn how to square dance, I pull out the cowboy hats and bandanas. I take any chance to use a puppet or a prop, because I know that it will engage my students in the lesson. I love putting showmanship into my lessons, because students will have more powerful learning experiences when they are that engaged.


    Now back to technology: I have heard of the SAMR Model, and I'm glad that the author dedicates a chapter in his book to it. I am guilty of using technology as a substitution with no functional change, (aren't we all?) but I hope to be able to find new ways for using technology that can redefine my curriculum in previously inconceivable ways. SmartMusic comes to mind: a software program that lets musicians record their playing and let's students submit recordings to be graded and returned to the music teacher.

    Typically I choose to use technology based on the amount of time that it takes to use it. I use my SmartBoard any time I am teaching a whole-group lesson, because I can quickly disseminate information via a powerpoint or SMART Notebook. I rarely use laptops in my elementary general music classroom, because I only have students for 25 minutes, and by the time we pass out laptops, turn them on, and log everyone in, I wouldn't have time to teach the lesson!

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    1. "If we can ditch our textbooks, at least momentarily, and connect to our students' lives through our content, we can help them answer those big questions [...]" (pg 51.) I highlighted this as well. Such a good point as we ultimately are training students to be successful in life. Knowing how to solve problems and find answers is the most valuable lesson we can give them.

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  23. I think the point of the entire book is to find alternatives to the textbook ONLY mentality, be it tech or anything else that connects to our students and their lives. Even though our society is SO tech rich, there are still LOTS of moments my adult day that do NOT use tech. In my classroom, I use a lot of tech to deliver lessons and drive practice that used to be done with a textbook or worksheet; however, if tech doesn't make the lesson richer or better then I don't use it. I need to work on letting tech TRANSFORM my lesson- and letting students use the tech creatively (I still struggle with some of those paperless classroom ideas- sometimes I think paper is STILL the best means of delivery/practice for my 6th graders- I am still asked to use paper as an adult every day myself).

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    1. Good points Kari! I love seeing you TRANSFORM your classroom with and without tech via Twitter!

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    2. I really agree with this idea too. I like the usage of the phrase transform. I like how this text encourages experimenting. Sometimes I feel like we don't try things because we are afraid if they will work, but unless we try we will never know. I have tried using technology in ways that have been really successful, and other times it has totally flopped! I think technology is all about seeing where it is going to really work in your classroom, and where it might just get in the way!

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    3. Very true! I personally like to read paper books vs electronic copies, so I'm a true believer of some things are better in paper form. I think a good balance is the key and thinking about the outcome and purpose of each lesson and whether tech would benefit.

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    4. Kari, thank you for sharing that it is a mindset. I am still learning to use technology efficiently in the classroom. As a support person in Title I, the moments are short and very targeted. Right now, I am relying on the curriculum to guide me and still planning on what technology would best fit the kids. For me, it is having a variety of tools that helps the students to be the most engaged.

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  24. I have lots of markings as I am reading! What an easy read! I love when books are relevant as it makes them more enjoyable and easier to get through. This idea correlates directly with Matt's idea of "making it personal." When students connect to the content, they are going to be more interested/invested in their learning.

    There was so much to connect to in this section. I actually couldn't stop reading at the chapter for this week. He focused a lot on building rapport with kids. I think this is so important. As a special education teacher, I often had the students who other teachers saw as difficult ones. However these students were rarely difficult for me because they knew I cared. They knew that I wanted them to be successful and I would do whatever I could to help them reach their goals. As an administrator, I am constantly reminded of this. We work harder for those who care and students are the same way. I try to go out of my way to bring in treats or send emails to my staff to remind them that I do care. It is difficult to find time to deliver the treats, but it makes me create time to see them and that is what is important...and we all know a little sweet treat can go a long way with teachers.

    I saw Matt present this summer on his digital session on Teaching Digitally Like a Pirate...I am pretty sure that wasn't the exact name of the session, but it was about technology tools that he felt correlated to the Pirate techniques. This has been on my reading list since!

    I loved Matt's examples on reaching the redefinition level. We all need some relevant examples and this book is full of those! I haven't even had time to scan the QR codes at the end of the chapters to access those resources!! I struggle to keep up with Matt's weekly blogs and my job and now I have even more items to get to on my to-do list. Maybe that time would be possible if I had Google's Twenty-Percent Time program built into my work day!

    In the chapter on renting or owning, I love when he says "Don't abandon your best ideas because some kid might make a bad decision." This is something that we encourage our teachers to do. Teachers are worried about students gaming during class on their iPad, but I ask them if 100% of the students were on-task before they had iPads or were some students writing notes or doing other things? Of course, we want students engaged but students have a choice in their education. We have to get them to "own" and I think the teach like a pirate techniques can help with that. Matt said how many students would show up to your class if they didn't have to? This is a big shout out to Rebekah Ireland. Our staff knows when she creates a PD video that it will be worth their time to watch. She always makes it fun even when learning about PL 221. I often think of the time that she invests in these videos to do more than just get the content across but her time invested well increases engagement in faculty meetings. The same can be said for our school nurse and her yearly blood born pathogen videos. They are something that we all look forward to. How many schools can say that?

    In regards to when do I do things on paper versus use technology, I rarely use paper. Again my role is different as I am not in the classroom, but digital tools like Google make me more organized and efficient. My whole entire life is on Google Calendar which I can access from anywhere and before I had to be at my desk to look at my desk calendar. With Google Keep, I have access to my sticky notes from anywhere. I no longer find myself saying I can't find my note or that is in my office! The same is for forms or files that I need, I can print them from Drive, which is where the paper piece comes in. I still have to get signatures from parent on paper for many things in the special education world, but some day that may be digital too!

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  25. Owning vs. Renting your education is a struggle at times. As Matt and others suggested, I am in education for a variety of reasons -- because I love kids, to influence young minds, increase others’ understanding of the world, etc. However, I also was good at “playing the game of school…” In fact, I just got done having a conversation with my 7th graders about designing our quiz so it’s not designed for “the game” and focuses on critical thinking. I encourage student ownership through inquiry, but sometimes that falls flat because I get so wrapped up in my content without addressing students’ connections; as Matt said in Ch. 8 “Maybe we need to focus less on asking the right questions and start asking the relevant questions.” Another ownership goal for students is simply student choice. Over the last year, I’ve done Genius Hour with my homeroom, and it’s inspired me to allow students to create products to show their learning outside of the limited options I could make available.

    Now for the big topic for me as a “techy” teacher...the limitations of technology. Three years ago I was, for sure, viewing technology as a goal instead of just a tool. I scoffed (well maybe not scoffed but frowned at) teachers that refused to try any new tech tools in class because I was always trying the next big thing to engage students. The last line of Ch. 12 said, “The real ‘next big thing’ is sitting in your classroom ready to learn. It’s the next generation. Don’t forsake it for flash.” How true! I read a blog post (http://adamwelcome.blogspot.com/2015/09/were-really-not-that-techy-kidsdeserveit.html) not too long ago that sums up my feelings about being one of the “techy” teachers in the building. So many people just assume I am the person I was 3 years ago, but now I’m more of the person Matt encourages us to be in Ch. 12.

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  26. Although "tech" has been a heavily used word lately, we can still ditch the textbook without relying on tech. Sometimes it is nice to disconnect. I found myself re-reading the chapter about building respect and relationships. I know that I won't reach EVERY student, but I do know that I have the capacity to try to talk to my students on a more individual level. "Kids don't learn from people they don't like". What a true statement! It is significantly harder to each a student that you don't get along with or that doesn't respect you. Even if it is a challenge, why not try to get to know the students that spend so much time in our classroom? I used a student as the star of my explanations today instead of making up a name. I could tell he was a little more receptive of the idea I was trying to teach now that his name had been mentioned. It was so easy and it took less than two seconds to get him engaged.

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  27. Good teaching trumps good tools. I love this and I need to remember it. We have a new school with new technology, and therefore some technology initiatives. I think it's easy to get caught up in the feeling that we need to use tools all day long. And this is just not the case. Knowing to stop and ask yourself if it will enhance the learning is definitely important. I can think of times in the past when I was so excited to use the mimio interactive whiteboard, that I did a pre-created interactive lesson just because it looked fun and it ended up taking longer than the lesson should have and I wasn't even sure that I had covered what I needed to/wanted to. Using the technology just for the sake of using it can be an easy trap to fall into!

    Reading the section about student ownership, our Junior Tech Team came to mind. Around 10 students from our 5th grade were asked to join a Junior Tech Team and come to a summer boot camp to learn about the devices we have in classrooms. We taught them how to troubleshoot, support staff and students, etc. It is amazing to me how these students have grown! They come to the learning commons, grab their badges, and take a look at options of what they can do to help others. They go out into classrooms, support students during tech time, and are starting to have ideas of their own on things they want to learn about and ways they want to help. Seeing their excitement and growth as learners because this team belongs to them is awesome.

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    1. The first mimio pre-made lesson I did I fell into the trap of just doing the whole lesson and it took way longer than it needed to. Since then I've skimmed the lessons picked the 'slides' I wanted to use, that applied to what I was teaching and just used those.

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    2. Hilary...thank you for reminding me that I don't have to feel like I should be using technology constantly.

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    3. That's a good idea, Kim-- I love the option to have the slides on the sidebar so you can make choices for your lesson based on your students' needs!

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    4. Good idea. I didn't even know you could look at or use slides first. I haven't looked for very many because it seems like such an overwhelming task. Knowing you can just use what fits your needs is less intimidating.

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  28. I had many thoughts after reading this section; renting vs. owning. My first thought was I felt gypped when thinking back on my own education. I was definitely renting my own education growing up. I had a hard time coming up with a handful of teachers from elementary through college that I can say helped me own my education. One professor in particular really forced us to own our education and so many students felt uncomfortable with it. Luckily he never relented and those who wanted to rent really missed out on some important learning.

    Matt mentioned using Socrative and I was thinking about how a Socrative Seminar really helps students own their education by allowing them to think deeply about a topic and voice their opinion in a non-threatening environment.

    Technology can assist students in taking ownership of the education but there needs to be a shift in thinking by the students. We can offer videos such as those used in a flipped classroom, but if students do not take the responsibility to watch those videos then the act is pointless. Learning to take control of your own learning might be the more powerful lesson in all of this anyway.

    I am a big fan of inquiry learning and genius hours. These allow students to pursue their own interests while the teachers guide them in locating resources. Being a media specialist, this is right up my alley. I would like to see more classroom research head in this direction instead of the traditional animal or biography reports we tend to see.

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    1. For me, the thought of having every kid be in charge of their learning is fantastic yet scary at the same time. Working with kinder and first graders, they have to be taught how to build stamina when reading, writing. They have to be taught team work and collaboration. They have some natural engagement and I try to tap into that.

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  29. The Relationship Trust Bank is a very important idea. The quote, "Kids don't learn from people they don't like" reminded me of a TED talk I've heard a few times by Rita Pierson called Every Kid Needs a Champion. If you haven't watched it, you should. Students need to know you care about them. This chapter was a great reminder about using positive comments more often than negative ones. This is so easy to forget while teaching.
    I love the quote "good teaching trumps good tools." When making decision on when and how to use technology in my classroom I rely on my teaching instincts (which are not always right). I try to weigh the time factor of getting devices out and started (which can take awhile with second grade) with the benefits of using the devices. We spend a lot of time practicing starting our devices and logging in quickly at the beginning of year to decrease wasting time later. Once students have become fluent with these procedures we are able to use our devices more often and in more meaningful ways. Spend time now to save time later!
    Chapter 14 on giving students control was a great reminder also. When I've given students control during Daily 5 stations and writing the "buy in" increased. Right now I'm working on teaching students to use different math materials to solve problems. The idea is that later in the year students will be able to select the they tools the need to solve the problem

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    1. I love that TED talk with Rita Pierson!

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    2. I also really liked this section of the book. The trust bank also goes right into making connections. As teachers we need to make genuine connections with our students. Finding small ways to connect the learning to the students’ lives makes a huge difference! Last year during our problem solving unit I used student names in place of the generic names that were originally in the problem. I was really surprised how engaged students were. I completely forgot about this activity until I read this section.

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    3. Jessica! Math process standards in the works in your classroom! Awesome. I like your link between making choices about tools in math and the student control piece.

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    4. Thanks for reminding me of Rita Pierson's Tedtalk! I went back to watch it again.

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    5. Ashley, that is a great idea! I'll have to try that in my room this year. Thanks!

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  30. In the classroom, I think technology is appropriate when it "improves student learning". As we switch over to one to one in the classroom, I think it's important to remember that we do not have to use technology all the time. We need to make sure that when we do use it, that we are using it to effectively teach a concept.

    I think one of the hardest things to do as a teacher is to help students take ownership of their education. In the book, it states that if you are fun and make the content fun in the classroom, then students will take more ownership of their learning. The text also mentions "Teaching like a pirate". I have tried this a few times in my classroom and I can honestly say that the students never forget those days. They reference those days all year long. However, I can also say that it takes a long time to plan those lessons to make them perfect. They cannot happen all the time.

    I also firmly believe that students will take more ownership of their learning if they have a choice in what they learn. These choices can be small choices as in the choice of topic for a project or taking a particular side in a debate. I think open ended questions and socratic format help students make decisions in their learning and therefore they are more successful.

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  31. I really liked the SAMR model. I feel like it can help me decide when and what technology to incorporate into my lesson plans. I was anxious to read this book because I want to know more about technology and how to use it in my classroom. I know just enough about technology to be dangerous. I do feel that students need to take ownership in their work and education, This week I tried the "sketchnoting" with my students. They taught me different ways to do it and we had a lot of fun. We connected.

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    1. I love the idea of 'sketchnoting'. Can you explain more about how you used it?

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    2. "Sketchnoting" was introduced to me by Matt a couple of years ago, and I've been trying it with my students too! Even without much artistic ability, I love it!

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  32. Our school just went 1:1 with Chromebooks this year, and it seems like we are getting programs and digital tools thrown our way almost daily. It takes a lot to be trained on each program, decipher if it would be helpful to the learning process, and then to integrate it into a lesson. I appreciated how Chapter 12 talked about choosing the task over the tool. It would take away from the task at hand to incorporate each and every digital tool we are learning about this year. For example, the faculty at my school was discussing new procedures for students to get restroom passes (since we don't have a paper assignment logbook anymore), and the idea of a shared Google Doc was suggested as a tracking device. In the end, we decided to have a simple signout sheet on a clipboard in every classroom. Not digital, but faster and useful.

    The SAMR model is therefore a very helpful tool to use to help teachers sift through the many new digital options available. Substitution and augmentation may be great, and help teachers save time and resources, but modification and redefinition can really allow for a deeper learning experience for the students.

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    1. I totally agree with this sentiment. With the amount of technology out there, I think most educators would go insane trying to implement everything. I think just teaching in general is this way (not just technology). So much research is done, and educators are always sharing with each other- which is awesome, but can also be very overwhelming. I had some really great advice from a co-worker this past week about picking one or two things and incorporating them effectively, then trying to add more. We weren't necessarily talking about technology, but I think that same idea applies. If I can incorporate technology in USEFUL ways like the SAMR model shows, then I will be helping my students. I think Katherine is spot on when sometimes using technology is not a better way to do things!! I will definitely come back to the SAMR model as I continue to plan ways to use technology in my classroom.

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  33. Giving kids a choice gives htem the ownership they need in order to make them successful. Whether it is a choice in topic, how to create the project, how to have it graded, or whatever, allowing them to have a say in some aspect of the lesson lets them feel empowered. Just as adults, we want our administration to allow us to make decisions as to how to run things in our classroom, students need that empowerment to run things in their own education as well. Obviously this won't work in every situation, but there are several times small decisions made by students can go a long way into them owning the process.

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  34. What really jumped out at me was finding the right tool for the task. This is something I am learning more and more to ask myself. Will technology really enhance the learning? Or how can I use technology to improve their learning experience? These questions really jumped out at me as I read this section. For instance, today I had students use a story maker tool on their Chromebooks to create their own stories either alone or with a partner. The students were able to give a visual to their writing as they became authors. This tool was great for my 5th graders who don't always want to handwrite everything and want to see what they are writing come to life. They were all on task and motivated the entire writing time. This for me is a plus!

    I also love how Matt is giving us examples of tools we can use in our classroom. This helps me to find a place to start. I especially loved p. 76-78. I made notes all over on my own ideas on how I could try to implement some of this in my room. Blogs and becoming a published author. How great is this for students?! Especially for those students who some day want to become authors. This could help them to own their education in a whole new way that I hadn't thought of before.

    I think it's important to find a balance between using technology and not using technology for something. I know I struggle with this, but I also know how valuable of tool it can be for this changing world of ours.

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  35. I was really moved or thought about being a friend. I have been on both sides of this "debate." I definitely work hard to become part of their world and show I care, but at the same time, they have to know you have expectations and they need to do what is asked when asked. I see some students expecting you to let them get away with things. I think there is a mix of setting clear boundaries and being a friend. I feel strongly that they don't care what you are teaching unless they know that you care.

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    1. Kathy, I totally agree about kids learning more when they know you care, especially kids who don't see school as being a successful place. Keep up the good work of coming alongside them.

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  36. Sometimes it is a frustration to know if something is going to be valuable until you actually use it. There have been times I have thought something was going to be really useful, but when we went to that sight or used that app, it was just the opposite. It ended up being totally different from what I imagined it would be. On the other hand it is just as exciting to stumble on something that ends up being way more exciting than you thought it would be. I really like the idea of SAMR to help think about adding something new or different. We discussed SAMR during some summer training we had. I think reading it in the book helped me understand that concept a little more. Sometimes I think we use technology just to say we used it, having a true purpose driving the technology is great.

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    1. I liked the part about FAILing. I tried today with my first graders to get them into a program and work through it. Needless to say, it was interesting. They did accomplish getting there, they were logged in, they were able to move around a bit to see what was there. I was not able to have them accomplish my end motive. I fell short of my goal. The class saw my plan fail. They were ok with it. They moved on. Learning together is great, I was a bit flustered but I did learn through my first attempt. I like the First Attempt In Learning. This will probably be something I remember forever.
      I do try to make learning fun. I think, as others have said above, it is challenging and it remains a challenge as we are competing for their time. Can we motivate them to read vs. that game they wanted to play instead. Does it seem interesting enough for them to go look up something about nautiluses even if they can't read all the words, they can still learn that about some fish that has sharp fang teeth? It's the time it takes for them to get the spark and we as teachers to help them begin to fill that spark of curiosity. It's hard sometimes to put things down and help a student do something 1:1 when we want to do a reading group.

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  37. I tried to add some “fun and magic” to my lesson today and was very happy with the results. Students were learning about properties of matter, specifically color and texture. The students each got a small monster truck to look at. The first thing I did was give them 5 minutes to just play. After that 5 minutes we started looking at the color and texture of the trucks. Students then had to describe and draw their trucks. I was amazed by the amount of detail that went into those drawings. I don’t think students would have done such a great job had I done this in a different way. The students were so excited to classify and talk about their trucks. I think they will remember playing with trucks in class and hopefully a little about properties of matter!

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  38. While reading the chapter Fun and Magic I kept asking myself the question "How do I currently try to make my classroom fun? Do my students want to be there?". I currently try to come up with video's to go along with our vocabulary words every week. I think adding a visual to go along with discussing the words helps to give them something else to relate the word to. I also try to incorporate a lot of movement into the day no matter what subject we are working on. Sometimes we do this with technology and watch a video on youtube or gonoodle and sometimes we do stretches and songs and other things to 'get the wiggles out' without technology.

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  39. I liked the part about our attitude and mindset are huge factors in our own success and the success of our students. We all have to have buy in from both sides while keeping in mind our purpose. We don't want to just teach content... we want to influence lives.

    I was also moved by the part that said, "Don't just teach a lesson, create an experience. I think sometimes we need to take the time for our students to really experience an activity...not just teach and move on quickly.

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  40. High school students are primarily motivated to take ownership of their education through responsibility. This is the stage where students enter adulthood. I have open conversations with my students about what they want to learn. They let me know, and we take a class period (or part of a class period) to learn about that particular topic.

    What I found most intriguing about the section of text we read this session was Chapter 10 "Build Respect and Relationships". When the word "friend" was first mentioned in regards to student-teacher relationships, I cringed. This is a red flag word and should never be used for this type of relationship. I know "friend" is clarified later, but, to me, a different word should be used. A word that comes to mind is "mentor" or "guiding hand".

    Even though I took issue with this word, I do believe that building relationships with students is essential for their learning, especially because many of them do not have many cheerleaders in their corner, so to speak.

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    1. I agree with you about the use of "friend". I like the word "guiding hand".
      I also agree with you about building relationships and being their for the student. Being the one to encourage them, give them support because they may not have it any where else in their life.

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  41. Helping students take ownership of their learning is one of the constant challenges I feel like I face in the classroom. I think that giving kids choice and leadership responsibility helps in getting them to take ownership. I found it interesting when Matt talked about making the class fun and being kids friend. I think that lessons have to be engaging, but class isn't always fun, it can't be, it did get me thinking about how to make our lessons more engaging. I really took exception when he began talking about being friends with students. I am not the kids friend. As I kept reading though, I realized that he was talking about relationship building. I agree that this is critical in the classroom. I think all of this goes toward helping kids be successful in the classroom.

    Our district has been 1:1 for a few years now, and it can be a challenge. The biggest struggle is how much technology to use and when to use it, not to mention the hours spent in preparing lessons in a brand new way. It has gotten easier. Now, when I plan lessons, I look at how the technology can enhance the students' experience. How can technology encourage my students to engage in higher level thinking, and frankly, how can the technology help my students take ownership of their learning? Getting to the upper levels of the SAMR chart is so difficult, and I know I have much more work to do, but in the end, we do what is best for kids.

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  42. I feel I am old school. You can not be the kids "friend", but you can build a relationship of trust and respect with them. As you build this relationship, it seems the ones that you connect with seem to want to do better and want to show you, you can do it. This does make the class a lot more fun.
    We have one on one computers in our school. I love trying to incorporate the use of technology into my math classes and my sign class. It seems to be easier with the sign class, but I am learning to "flip" my classroom in math. We had a chance to do that when we had e-learning days last year. My students seemed to like it. They usually watch a video on the concept we are learning, I have a few problems to work out once the video is done, and then when they come to class I build on the lesson and answer any questions they have over the concept.

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    1. Your first paragraph is so perfectly stated. I agree with you 100%.

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  43. i think it is very important to get students to take responsibility for their education. i also feel like many one of the most imposrtant things as a teacher is to become not their friend but someone that cares about them. the person that says hi in the hallway or how was your weekend will i feel get more learning out of a student.
    we are still learning how to,incorporate the ipads into everyday learning but it seems some things work and others dont. i just think that caring teacher student relationship helps so much in learning happenning in your classroom. Sometimes i find that paper and pen do still work better than technology but it is becoming a rare event it seems.

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  44. I agree with Miller that building relationships is a way to get through to students. I do not like the term friend when referring to students. And maybe that is just my own hang up that I need to overcome.
    I am interested in reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. Just reading through the six major points, I already have put a lot of this in practice picking it up from here and there.
    I believe that technology is appropriate with every task I request students to accomplish in my class. My school is moving toward one to one but is not quite there yet. I feel it is inappropriate when it is abused like they are chatting with friends on Facebook or they're constantly on the computer but their work is not getting completed.

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    1. I do not want to be considered a friend, either. I am a caring adult who cares about my students. I strive for mutual respect and honesty. I think when students see teachers (or parents) as friends, that respect is lessened. Sometimes we have to have tough yet caring conversations with students. It is easier to do that if they see you as a caring adult rather than friend.

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  45. How do you determine when it is appropriate to use technology and when it is not?
    I will admit that two years ago when I started using Tech I was using it just to use the tools. I now, however, start with what I want the students to know or be able to do and use the tools that will get them there. If it is a web tool I use it. If the tool is black paper and chalk I use it. I also use the SAMR to make sure that I am moving beyond the substitution level and work towards the redefinition level. I still spend lots of time teaching web tools, but I hope it will pay off for the students when they get to the high school and they would be able to to have a toolbox full of web tools to be able to complete an assignment in the most creative, effective and meaningful way that increases their learning.

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  46. I have a couple of thoughts about this section. First, as so many have said before me, the renter analogy is perfect. I do not want renters. I want owners. While I work to help students see the connections to their personal lives so they will take ownership, sometimes with elementary students it is hard for them to see past tomorrow or next week. I strive to make it relevant to their lives right now or the very near future. Their high school and adult lives seem so very far away to them.

    I also connect this chapter to the chapters on building relationships and winning and influencing students.If I have built relationships with each student, influencing them to see the importance of their education to their personal lives is so much easier. They trust what you say and are more willing to consider those connections. In addition, they know that you genuinely care for their well-being and want only what's best for them.

    As for knowing whether or not to use technology, I look at the objectives I am trying to help students master. If technology is the best way to master a particular objective, then I will use it. If not, then I do not. I only have 8 devices for 21 students and not all of my students have access outside of school, so I have to plan my technology use carefully so that all students have access to it. With that said, I have so many new and innovative ideas I could implement if I had more devices. I sometimes have to keep my own enthusiasm contained!

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  47. I wrote down several quotes from these chapters. I also think I need to read Dave Burgess book, Teach Like a PIRATE. "Kids don't learn form people they don't like." Amen to that. I work with struggling readers and writers every day. Kindergarten children are anxious to learn when they come to school. They love their teacher and enjoy being with other kids their own age. They are invincible in their minds, so when letters and sounds do not match up and learning begins to be harder in first grade, their joy begins to diminish. My passion is to help the children grasp reading skills to become independent learners. By focusing on the little nuggets of success, they are willing to try harder. Technology allows some diversion to the hard learning process. Sometimes, I have to forgo the lesson to hear the child. Teaching struggling students, any student, is hard work. Being able to befriend the children, to encourage them, they are more willing to work on the hard stuff in order to be successful.

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  48. I am at the beginning of my second year in which my students have iPads. There are been two main things that I feel have been limitations. First, I spend so much of my time trouble shooting various problems with the iPads. There are always a handful of students where something isn't working. I feel like a have wasted so much class time because of this. I am definitely more patient this year when problems arise but it is still frustrating at times. Secondly, the temptation for 5th graders to play games is so great. Up until 5th grade, if there was an iPad in the house it was usually used for games.

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  49. Being at a school that just went 1:1 this year, I look for opportunities and resources to use more technology in my classroom. Some students seem to really enjoy working on their chromebooks but there are some students do not enjoy the devices. I am always searching for ways to enhance the student learning experience. My ideal would be to have all my students engaged in the learning process everyday.

    I think the hardest part of this section was the author's view of being a friend to students. I think he should have said we need to be caring adults and build relationships with the students. When they know we care about them as individuals, our like-ability factor increases. Students do not need us to be friends, they need us to be friendly and caring adults.

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    1. I agree with your views on being a friend to students. I am a caring adult that models proper relationship behavior (i.e. "how to treat other people.") I want to build relationships with students and show them that I care about their well-being and am interested in their lives outside of my classroom, but there is a professional boundary to my relationship with students.

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    2. I also agree about not necessarily being a friend to my students, but a caring adult. I can have a relationship with students that is professional, but still lets them know I care about them. I have found that students will tell you about themselves when they believe you are willing to listen.

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  50. One of the basic ways I have students own their education is by making them responsible for certain content every chapter, usually in the form of vocabulary and identification of people. In a history class, these are essential for understanding content. We discuss them in class, but it is up to the students to ensure they understand them for the test, which they know will be on there. Additionally, I specifically tell students that this is on them to know--their responsibility. Another way I encourage students to own their education is by doing as Chapter 8 says and making my class and lessons personal. With history, this is easy. Students are always open to share their opinions and questions in history with the class, and some days, we have entire discussions of students putting themselves into historical situations. How would they think about this? Feel about this? Would they do something different? How? This allows students to step into history and experience it for themselves. We also make the connection that they are living and creating history right now and for them to take an active role in that, whether it is keeping up with the news, becoming involved in organizations, or simply speaking their minds when asked. This really comes to bloom on Fridays when we do current events, and students share what they see going on in the world and their reactions to it. As we move through history, we begin making connections and comparing events today to events of the past, again, all with student input. They are the ones sharing their thoughts thus owning their education. Furthermore, I do give students some control in the classroom when it comes to projects, either in what they create or what they learn. When I began, I found this difficult because there are standards that must be met, and how was I going to ensure hat these standards are met when I let the students makes the choices? Turns out, it is easier than I thought! I give them a basic outline of my expectations, and I let them roam free to research and create. And the even hit the standards! I have been doing this more and more over my first few years and hope to continue this trend as I grow as a teacher learn to trust in myself and my students to hit our goals.

    The best quote from this portion of the book, for me, was "Technology is a tool, not the goal." I think with the drive to go 1:1 and all these new, creative apps and programs and all of the hype that goes along with it, it can be difficult not to think that we must use technology in every portion of our classroom. I know I have that feeling when I received a set of laptops in my room this year and was told we would be 1:1 next year in our school. I thought that since they were they, that I was expected to use them, and I became frustrated. However, I took a deep breath and remembered that I'm a pretty good teacher on my own and that I should simply use technology to enhance that goodness when and if possible. We use the laptops to create brochures and facebook pages, which is easy and great for the students! But I am still traditional in that the times I do go over brief powerpoints, I have them take notes with a pen and paper in hand. Furthermore, we still create interactive notes with foldables or graphic organizers that they can hold in their hands, rather than on the computer, because I know that works best for students for certain content. I honestly used to be a bit afraid of technology, but when I took a step back and realized I didn't have to use it all the time and could use it when I deemed necessary, it was much easy to think about and use. When my school goes 1:1, I hope to continue this mindset and use some of the techniques Miller wrote about in his book to enhance student learning.

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  51. I found this week's post hard to reply to- because i feel that everything in these chapters is important. When I was in school -- a long long time ago -- you went to school to gather the knowledge needed to get ahead in your life. You had to learn and remember because looking for the answers to something took a long time with usually limited resources. Now it's not about what we teach but how we teach. We have to make students want to become lifelong learners - if they need to find the answer to a problem - they have to be able to find it on their own. i think that is where making learning personal to them becomes important. They have to want to learn it and more importantly see the reason for learning it. I agree with many of the above posts that it is not all about the technology just being used but how it is used that is also important. It's like the tag line from the movie "Field of Dreams" - "If you build it , they will come" but in this case it is more like "If you make it relevant and interesting, they will learn."

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  52. In the science classroom, I feel it's important to implement technology when I personally can't bring something into the classroom...such as a lab. Also, using technology to show instructional videos that I can produce is helpful because each student can go at their own pace viewing and doing the activity.

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  53. I think the difference between owning and renting their education is extremely important, but can be very difficult sometimes. It is easier when we as teachers are able to build relationships with our students. I am cautious about saying I am a friend to the student, but I definitely want and attempt to build relationships with students to help foster that ownership of their education. I think it can be as simple as relating a concept to their lives or to what is familiar with them. For example, this week we were reading some primary sources about Rome. They were asked if a source corroborates another source, which is to say "does this new information from another source agree with the previous source?" Many students were not sure what corroboration really meant until I asked them if they had seen a show like "Law and Order". Obviously most students had watched those shows. In the shows the Police ask suspects to "corroborate" their stories. I was able to make a connection with doing some investigation. That made it easier for them to take ownership of the lesson as they were now more eager to "investigate" the claims being made.

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  54. It is important to keep a defined line among the teacher and the student. As Sandra Johnson stated, you are more of a "guiding hand". You can guide students to make their best decisions, find resources, and engaging activities. However, you shouldn't have to "hold their hand". This is where owning their education comes in. As a teacher, you want the students to do their homework and engage in classroom activities. However, you also want to peak their interest to get them to extend their learning past the "norm". I love it when students come to me the next day with something extra they found that related to our current topic. This is when I feel I have actually reached them as a teacher and guiding hand, and not just as a friend.

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  55. Coming at this from the relationship discussion, if you can get students to like and respect you so that they want to please you, you will have most of the battle won. I teach the little ones (first grade) and I certainly wouldn't use the word 'friend' to describe how I want them to view me, but rather I want them to see me as a trusted adult (hopefully, one in a series of) who cares about them and is excited about their learning. I let them see how wonderful and smart I think they are--if not in always giving the right answers, in one of the many other ways that all students can shine--and you can almost see them wriggle with happiness. At this stage I may not be able to convince them that learning the difference between a noun and a verb is important (yes, this is expected of first graders these days!) but I can communicate that I think they are marvelously clever when they show me they can figure it out, and that in itself is intensely motivating! This can only happen, though, when they know you care about them. This is one of the reasons I deviate from and supplement my texts, because they respond so much better when learning something from ME as opposed to learning something from a text, a worksheet, or yes, a computer screen.

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    1. I totally agree. I work with grades kindergarten thru fifth grade. I want the students to know they are free to come to me with their problems but I do not want them to consider me their friend as they do with their peers. Students can join my gym Facebook page but they can not join my personal page.

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  56. Matt's inclusion of the SAMR model in the book really drives home the importance of treating technology as a tool. I believe that the very first step in creating a unit is to determine the end learning goal. But number two needs to be how technology can be integrated to help meet the learning goal. Using the SAMR model will help a teacher decide how or if to use technology in the unit plans. If technology is looked at as a tool for learning, technology will not always have a place in every unit plan. Anyone who has ever built anything knows that you can't use a hammer to cut a board. Even if that hammer is shiny and new. As an eLearning coach, it is my job to help teachers fill their toolboxes with the resources and tools needed to help them meet the end learning goal of a unit of study. The best tool I have to meet my end goal is the SAMR model.

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  57. I feel like I allow my students to own their own education quite frequently in my classroom by giving them choices and including them in the lessons. One of the main reasons why I became a FACS (Family and Consumer Science) teacher was to impact the lives of my students. The skills and knowledge they learn can be applied to real-life situations. I rarely hear the question “why do I have to know this”. They take ownership of their learning and are proud when they do something well not only at school but at home as well. I have not yet added much technology to what the students do at home for practice but look forward to integrating this in the future.

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  58. Using technology is just like anything else you bring into your classroom. Their has to be a purpose and a need for it. But not all schools have enough funds to furnish the technology that is needed. And I work in one of those schools.
    I like the idea of students taking ownership of their education. I have talked to teachers where they incorporate this idea. It sounds great for high school and college but I work in an elementary school and I can't see how students would be able to take ownership of their education.

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    1. I work in the same school as Gail and it is very true that not all schools have enough funds to furnish technology. We have many student computers that do not work and only K-1 have 7 ipads. Technology needs to be part of a student's life, but sometimes you can do as much as is available to them.
      Our school is a PBL school so taking ownership of their education has been a big thing. It is a little harder in elementary school, but through the PBL projects they do take an ownership to what they are learning.

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    2. I feel like ownership involves a sense of feeling and pride in work accomplished, connections made, knowledge gained and the desire to carry it forward; I don't think it has to include technology. As I look back, I feel like elementary school was where I felt the most ownership, even though I did not determine the path of my learning, I totally bought-in to whatever journey my teachers were leading me on! I was invested in it. I had excellent teachers who were welcoming, demanding, creative, made learning interesting, and gave us options. I went to three different schools, one Catholic, two public, in two different states and still felt I owned it! I even learned English as a second language during that time. Don't discount the importance of the elementary years and the power you have to impact those students' love of learning and ownership of their education!

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  59. In his chapter: Choosing Task Over Tool, Miller suggests, “The bottom line is that pedagogy must drive technology. The mindset that fuels digital learning is: Good teaching trumps good tools.” He continues, “The maxim sometimes seems counter-intuitive to us techies. Technology gets the headlines. It gets the students’ attention. It get the superintendent’s attention. It gets the community’s attention. Twitter posts by educators teem with tech tools to try in class: the apps, the websites, and the devices. It’s easy to lose our focus. But we must focus on our students and what’s best for them in the long run.” Remember, technology is a tool, not the goal. “The learning experiences are the focus.” (pgs. 68 - 69)

    There will always be the “next big thing” in regards to technology, but as Miller points out, “The real “next big thing” is sitting in your classroom ready to learn.” (p. 68) Wow! How do we shift our thoughts to what is best for students? How do we help teachers deliver their most effective lessons with engaging content and real-world relevance?

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  60. I have to say I have really enjoyed reading this book, as many others have noted, it's a very easy read! One point that really stood out to me was in chapter 12, "The real "next big thing" is sitting in your classroom ready to learn. It's the next generation. Don't forsake it for the flash." I feel like while attempting to transition to one to one or technology, in general, we need to remember to always keep the students and their education as top priority... we are doing all of this for them, for their success! It's not always the newest, 'shiniest', device, app or program, it's finding a way to effectively use what is available to meet our learners.

    I was also able to relate to categorizing students as renters or owners. I think, as teachers, we ideally want a classroom full of owners... I feel as though by implementing some of the ideas and resources in the book it will help in starting the change in mind-set for our renter students.

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    1. I totally agree with you. We are getting ready to go one to one in January. I think it's important for students to have a good mix of learning tools to meet the learner's need. The use of Chrome books will help with that.

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  61. In reading this section of the book, Chapter 10 really stood out for me. As a counselor I have to count a lot on students coming to me with information that they need help with. It may be academically but all to often they come to me for advice dealing with friendships or relationships with other students they may not get along with.

    I was told early on in my internship/practicum that the friends saw me too much as a friend than as their educator, I have to say I back way off from my students for awhile. So soon noticed that I wasn't having as much fun at school as I used to. It was maybe a semester later that I went back to my old ways. School last too long everyday and every year to not be myself, I want my students to like me. Will every student like me? No, but that's okay, I tell my students that it's okay for people not to like me, because if everyone likes me then I'm being fake to some of them.

    I think it's important to make connections with students and build life long relationships. Because if we just drone on day after day, are we really in the right profession?

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  62. Chapter 10 really stood out to me. Every year since I started teaching middle school, I have had a discussion with my students about not being their friend. I hope that they will come to me and feel comfortable talking to me if they need to, but that does not make us friends. I think the relationship between teachers and students is special and unlike any other, but it is not a friendship.
    I especially liked the line about all of us having an account in the Relationship Bank and Trust. Throughout the year, we make deposits and withdrawals from each of our accounts with our students and vice versa. I believe that building life-lying relationships is one of the most rewarding parts of being a teacher. Of course I want them to learn the content I present, but the relationships are far more important.

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  63. The reading for this week had a lot of valuable information, and there are so many things you can highlight and mark to save for later use. I enjoyed reading about how to make the students' learning personal. In our health class, I feel like the students always have questions about careers and how to achieve their goals. I totally agree that students will learn and listen more effectively if you are engaging their personal interests.
    As I was reading, what are the limitations of technology and when should you use or not use? Last year, we had to check out computer carts for our classes and we only had limited numbers of computers available so this made things a little more difficult because if you had a tech lesson planned and computers were not available then you would obviously have to steer away from the technology. At our school this year, we have provided chrome books for every student in the building and hopefully this will improve efficiency but will we have enough access points, etc. Technology does have it's limitations.
    In Chapter 14, Give Students Control- I am glad I read the part about not giving up on something that your students enjoy because one or two people decide not to utilize their time wisely or explore on the internet when they are not allowed to. During health class, I try to allow students to explore on their own and allow them to develop their own presentations, research, etc. This does take time away from the curriculum, but like Matt says "your students must be engaged, are they asking questions, are they excited about what you are teaching or allowing them to teach?" "Our goal should be to help students see the value of their studies in relation to their personal goals" Our job as teachers is to find those relationships and make them interesting, try to imagine you are the student.

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  64. Right now I am at the very beginning of learning how to use technology in my Spanish classroom. We have an online textbook this year, so there has been a lot of “substitution.” But one feature that is different now is the recording feature. Before if I wanted to hear an individual student speak Spanish, my only option was to call on him or her. I still do that of course, but now I can have everyone do recordings and I can listen to everyone. I haven’t thought much about when it’s appropriate to use technology because all our written activities are online and I’m just starting to learn what is possible. It’s somewhat overwhelming.

    Right now I do know that I grade faster when it’s on paper, and some activities are more efficient on a scrap paper. So right now I try to balance that. It was very discouraging for me to grade online for hours every night when just last year I could get all papers done in half an hour after school before I left the building. But I’m getting faster and also learning to pick and choose. Right now everything takes so much longer for me because it’s new.

    My students have been supportive as far as trying things never tried before. We have done experiments with Google Slides, edited docs I send to everyone, and taken notes in a file in their Google Drive. We’ve tried different Spanish games for reinforcement and have even discovered a simple timer online for quick activities. Everything is new. Baby steps. What I’ve enjoyed is how willing students are willing to help me and each other and try new things. I’m sure that after the first year of Chromebooks I will much better at deciding what tech we need, what we should ditch, and figure out if we should ditch that textbook even if it’s an online one. (Frankly I’m leaning towards ditching it more often. The best teaching moments have been the ones where I’ve taken us out of the book.)

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  65. Chapter 13 really hit home with me. We are getting ready to go one to one in January. I plan to use the SAMR Model and have some goals in mind. Good points in the whole chapter if you are just starting to use technology as a whole class.

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  66. The quote, "The mindset that fuels digital learning is: Good teaching trumps good tools" stood out to me as we work to implement technology into the classrooms. As Matt Miller stated, "we must focus on our students and what's best for them in the long run." We must work to implement effective technology to improve student learning. Our district also utilizes the SAMR model to evaluate and implement technology in the classroom. I am particularly fond of the SAMR Model and Starbucks to describe and analyze each stage. This can be a fun, innovative way to describe SAMR to staff and students. Who doesn't love Starbucks?

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  67. I think it is hard to know when to use tech and when to not. I try to first consider what I want my fourth graders to know and how would be the best way to get there. The answer isn't always technology, and I'm okay with that. My goal when I do integrate technology is to have students creating something or connecting with someone.
    I have used youtube videos to help my students build background knowledge. Its amazing how much a short clip can help students grasp something better. Last week were doing a readers theater about John Muir. It tied in with Science, Social Studies, and Reading (yeah!). I found a couple youtube videos about him. The best part was we watched part 1 of 2 on Monday and when I went to show them part 2 of 2 on Tuesday one of my fourth graders piped up and told me he watched it yesterday on his phone. I thought that was pretty funny! How many fourth grade boys use their smartphones to look up John Muir! But he did and I thought that was pretty great!

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  68. I enjoyed Chapter 9, “Fun and Magic”. Like Matt, I try to incorporate students’ names in the activities that we do in class. Once they see that I am using their names, they search for their name and immediately read about themselves. I still use stickers when students do well on their work…yes, even high school boys like their stickers! I try to incorporate fun activities using tech but also through games. My students all enjoy using dry erase boards so that everyone can play at once.

    Chapter 10, “Build Respect and Relationships” had several valid points. We need to build personal relationships with our students but I wouldn’t call my students my friends. I care about my students and I try to know their strengths and weaknesses in school and I try to know something more personal about each student. You should always have the best interest of the student in mind, but a teacher should not act like a student.

    I appreciate the “10 Ways to Reach SAMR’s Redefinition Level” on pages 76-78. There are several on the list that I will try so I can reach that level. The first two levels are fairly easy to fit into a new tech classroom. The Modification level and Redefinition level are harder to achieve. There are so many ways to use technology in the classroom that it sometimes is overwhelming. I really loved the quote in Chapter 12, “The mindset that fuels digital learning is: Good teaching trumps good tools.” I still need to be good at teaching, and all the tech tools that are available can only enhance what I am already doing.

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  69. I am totally into the idea of students owning their education. I have a sign in my room from C.L.A.S.S. that says (in part), "You won't turn into a car just by sitting in a garage. You won't turn into a great student just by sitting in a classroom." I take every opportunity to help my students internalize this message. From helping them realize what their letter grades really mean and how they add up to their report card to the friend drama that comes along with being 10. The kiddos are learning that their effort directly impacts their understanding and how interesting they perceive the lesson to be. They are also learning that it is their responsibility to treat each other kindly and with respect. 4th grade is usually the beginning of the "friend drama". I'm teaching my students to accept their role in the drama and own their actions so that they can make a different choice next time. Taking ownership, to me, is deeper than just their education. I want them to learn to take control of all of their actions, inside and outside of school.

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  70. I really felt the ideas presented in Chapter 10 were important. I know many teachers that struggle with trying to reach all their students. I know that some students are not always "easy' students to get to know, but the few extra minutes you put in up front with them getting to know them will be well worth it later in the year if and when things get difficult. However, I think that there is a line to be drawn as far as being a friend. You can be friendly, but you need to remember why you are there; as a role model and educator.

    I also liked the challenge of the redefinition levels. Since I teach Title I, I may have to think outside the box a bit more in order to find something that would work for me in my classroom as far as reaching those higher levels. I need to make the time to focus on this and keep improving!

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  71. I like the comment the author makes at the top of page 50, "Maybe we need to focus less on asking the right questions and start asking the relevant questions." I really like this. These days kids have so many things going on in their lives its really hard for them to just pay attention sometimes, let alone try to be productive. Gaining a connection to a student can be very difficult but is usually worth the effort. Being able to "fit" academic content into a current family/friend situation is priceless. I often recommend books to students based on what I know about them.

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    1. That part of the chapter jumped out to me as well. Our students need to know that we care about them, and not just about their grades or their behavior in class, but about them as individuals. My first graders LOVE to share about their lives...their families, sporting events, pets, you name it. They light up when I remember those details that they have shared. What better way to pull them into my lessons than including those personal connections.

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  72. Thoughts on chapter 16. . .
    - Finding the "MED" is difficult. It's easy to go overboard with time devoted to teaching. When you're passionate about something - you tend to not think in terms of "minimum effective dose." Also, I think feedback from a trusted mentor is necessary for people to reach their optimal "MED".

    Chapter 17. . .
    - Great list on page 97 and getting connected with others.
    - When I think about how we can get connected now online, compared to 20 years ago - it's mind boggling.
    - Twitter is awesome!!

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  73. I'm intrigued with the Genius Hour! I've already shared this with my principal and excited he's onboard, especially in a Humanities class. I'm thinking about doing this on Friday as a nice closure to the week. But I've been leaning towards doing it on Mondays to make them eager to come to school and explore what they want to explore.

    Determining when to use technology is tough. I try to get the kids to use their Ipads daily. What drives me nuts is the special programs we are to use and they don't work right. I spend most of my instructional time being the Jimmy Fallon character from SNL and say "move!" Seriously, it drives me nuts when I have to play Mr. Techy and troubleshoot time after time. I get frustrated, which the kids notice from time to time, and the kids get frustrated. I think old school methods are ok every so often!

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  74. I love the idea of students "owning" their own education. I just spent a week with a high ability group of first graders working on the reading comprehension strategy of making connections. The students enjoyed using this skill...one they were already using, but now they began to see that it is what good readers do. First graders are the center of their own world (not unlike high school students, as the author mentioned in Chapter 8). They have a story about everything. They make connections everywhere, and want us to know about them! I think it is very important to allow students to share these connections, whether it is a connection to a fictional story or to a science concept. That is one way that I can help them to "own" their education and to make it personal for them.

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  75. I feel lucky to be on the front end of a student's education here in kindergarten. It is natural for my students to believe that they own their education. It is very fulfilling as a teacher to see students so engaged in learning. I try to maintain a balance of tech and non-tech activities in the classroom. I am always amazed at how quickly my students catch on and can, in turn, train their friends.

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    1. We do have a pretty special job, teaching the youngest of the young! No matter the age of the student, though, it is so important to find what gets them excited to learn. Students (and regular people) learn when they are having fun. If technology is what does the trick, then great, let's use it!

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  76. At the elementary school library, I used technology whenever I could to teach library skills. I loved using the smartboard for lessons on fiction and nonfiction call number organization. I think it really helped the students to understand the concept as well because they were able to move the virtual books around on a shelf. I also created library jeopardy games to use when learning about reading genres. Giving them visuals via the smartboard really helped to break down the library and to make it not so intimidating to the students. Last year in the classroom, I was very limited on using technology. We did not have a smartboard and no access to ipads, so my technology instrument was the chalkboard. We would play games and practice spelling and math on the chalkboard and the students really enjoyed going to the board and displaying what the knew. If I had technology in the classroom last year I would have used it, but things worked fine without it.

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  77. While there is validity in the statement “kids don’t learn from people they don’t like,” I believe that kids do learn from people they respect. As far as being my students’ friend, I think that is dependent on one’s definition of friend. I appreciate the points Miller makes in his “definition” of a friend -- bringing a smile on a rough day, following up on important issues, caring… I don’t believe we can teach without those things being a given. I also appreciate that he goes on to clarify the necessity of objectivity and that we assume SOME characteristics of being a good friend. It is important to be respected as an adult and maintain a respected authority. The next chapter speaks to winning and Influencing students. While I agree with many of Miller’s points, I am not sure winning and earning are always synonymous. I don’t want to “put on a show” and “win” my students; I want to be genuine and “earn” them.

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  78. The renting vs owning education portion scared me a little bit! I absolutely cling to making sure I'm hitting the standards and content is being delivered to get there. Sometimes I come up with (what I think are) great lessons where students are taking ownership and getting the content but other activities I stick with what works. I think it'd work best for me to slowly change over and try to branch out in certain areas to try to get the students to want to "own it" instead of just "rent it".
    This year we went 1:1 with chromebooks so I am constantly asking myself when to use them and when not to. The way I decide is I ask if it will make an activity better and simpler. For example the portion of a test that can be graded with one right answer I put into a program that can be graded for me and syncs with my grade book so it's easier. But the written portion I still do by hand so students are still using paper and pencil and I find they don't use as many abbreviations when writing with a pencil than a keyboard. I just last week decided to have students make commercials for a manner during our behavior and etiquette portion of class. I think taking the time to film a commercial, edit it, present it, and watch others commercials is going to be better than just teaching a lesson on manners about what they should and shouldn't do.

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  79. I was a bit unnerved by Miller's encouragement to be a "friend" to my students. But as I read on, I realized that he was actually just encouraging having a good relationship with students. That idea I can get behind and fully support. He did go on to say that he was not promoting overdone familiarity, nor forgetting that the teacher must be in charge, fair and professional.

    I wondered if some of the activities I have done with students fell into the category of promoting "ownership" by students. Honestly, I think what I have done that may seem like that at first glance, probably more likely falls into the category of tricking kids into thinking something was their idea. For example, I sometimes have students examine sentences in German that contain a certain grammatical structure. I then have them come up with the rules for that structure. I usually make a big deal about the fact that they are the ones coming up with the rules, not I. I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing, but it is not what Miller is talking about. I need a lot more courage to truly turn the class over to the students, to let them decide whether to even look at a certain grammar point at all.

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  80. I like the idea of turning the class over to the students, but find that to be difficult when even working in groups where they can share ideas and assist each other seems to turn into social time. I find that they are unwilling to work and socialize. Often the two can be brought together and the conversation is then more intellectual and exciting. I know I am missing something big and that is why I am reading and taking part in these book discussions. We have tech meetings at school after school. My time is busy as this is my first year of teaching but I realize the importance of expanding and becoming more relevant but need more hands on myself.

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  81. I would love to talk about building relationships with your students. I make it a point of showing my students right off the bat that I am human. I share stories about mistakes that I have made and how you should laugh at yourself and admit when you are wrong. I also try to teach them to be happy when good things happen to other people. My first three days of class consist of each student giving an introductory speech on themselves. I take notes and find out what makes them tick. It allows me to get a foot in the door, building a solid relationship with my students before the first week has even expired. Having also coached for 25 years, I do believe being a "friend" is important. Back in the 70's and 80's I think most coaches cared more about being respected than liked. Today, there are so many other things to do, that if your athlete doesn't like you, they might possibly quit the team. Likewise, if your students don't care for you, they will tune you out immediately. I believe building solid relationships with your students is the #1 most important thing in any classroom. I love Miller's Relationship Bank and Trust idea. As teachers, we have to realize that some students do not hear a kind word all day unless we give it them in our classroom. Many children look at school as their "safe haven." Lets don't let them down. I also love how Miller says that it is easy to love the outstanding kids who get A's and always raise their hands and answer questions. But, how about the ones that are just getting by and are in danger of falling through the cracks? Those are the students you can really influence and make a difference with. I love chapter 10!

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  82. Chapter 10 "Build Respect and Relationships" was good for me to read. Ever since I started teaching I've struggled to hold a serious face for longer than the first 10 minutes. It takes my students a little while to figure me out but once they do, the class takes on a new feel. I will occasionally still have to reign one or two in but for the most part the class runs smoothly with a respectful atmosphere. Once they realize I am here for them and trust them until they give me a reason not to. The class starts to respect all facets of their education. When to get the job done and focus and when to have fun and relax. I always tell them how much a smile or "Hello" might mean to someone else.

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  83. I was most interested when he spoke about winning and influencing students. Sometimes that is very easy and with others I have a difficult time. They don't trust that I am on their side. I also find it amazing at which ones seem to surprise me when they pick me as their go to teacher.
    I liked the idea of engaging students by getting them to answer yes questions and how that will help to involve them in the topic. That is an aspect I want to explore more because I believe it could be a good strategy.
    The Carnegie method of influencing and winning people over to my side is also intriguing. I do believe that if students like you they are more willing to be cooperative and learn the content.

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  84. Chapter 10: Build Respect and Relationships was a good read as others have said. This is a huge thing when teaching any grade. I specifically teach elementary music in a low income school. My students come from a very rough background. When I first started working here, it was a little challenging, but as I have created a stronger relationship in having them now for the third year.....it is awesome. They come to me with any problems that they are having or need help with going on a field trip, etc.....Building Respect and Relationships is very important.

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  85. "As mentioned technology isn't the "be-all and end-all". Stay true to what works for you and incorporate some new. I recently attended the NCTM conference in Indy and the key note speaker made a great statement. We can't change everything we do all at once, just change a little at a time. He even suggested just change 10% of what you do, it will help in not overwhelming the teacher. Even though we are only 9 weeks in the school year I know I have made many changes not only using technology but doing more activities etc. I felt a whole lot better when he mentioned 10% I think I have done more than that already and feet I now have a little breathing room.I believe in the statement to have clear vision and goals. I think as we begin this technology advancement we have to know where we are going and remember it is not a speed race to get there.

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  86. My struggles with technology relate back to my frustration with changes in our district that often happen because someone in technology thinks the change will be better. Sometimes this is true and other times I am just caused more work. That seems to be the universal problem with technology. That being said, we use a computer program for remediation that differentiates so students review the skills they need to work on. I also use technology for reviewing material, and for real life projects. That being said, I still can’t seem to get anyway without assigning worksheets. If my students had access to tablets rather than Chromebooks, I would have them complete problems using a stylus and electronically submit the assignment. The teachers received new laptops this past year instead of tablets so this restricts me as I used to use my stylus to answer math questions for my students electronically who cannot stay after school for help. It is a lot harder to use a keyboard to illustrate upper level math problems.

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  87. Regarding students being "owners" versus "renters" of their education, I feel we tend to have a lot of students being renters, either by going through the motions to get through the day and/or doing just enough to get by, Students do need to own their education, to have a vested interest and to see a purpose. If the material is connected to the real world, possibly through technology and seeing it applied in a real-world setting, they may buy in to what is being taught. I attended one of Matt Miller's workshops and he had a lot of application ideas to connect curriculum to the real world. I think it always matters more when kids see how to apply what they learn.

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  88. I love Matt's comparison to student's being renters vs. being owners of their education. I'll admit that I have way too many renters in my classroom, and I'm frustrated about that. I don't know that technology will necessarily make many of them into owners, though. That being said, I am intrigued by what the implementation of Chromebooks for all of our middle school students could mean next year to both my renters and owners. I firmly believe that there are kids, like me, who long for hard copy versions of things/the ability to hold something in my hand to read it, etc. I know that I can convert my way of thinking and adapt in many cases, and I can, therefore, help my students do so as well. I know that using more technology in my classroom will help my students become better real-world learners, in the end, but I still struggle with how it could make more of them convert to owners. I hope to prove myself wrong next year.

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  89. Before our entire school went 1:1, the English Department became the tech guinea pigs. We had a cart of laptops and there were many issues with using them. Our laptops almost always work, and that first year, they probably were the $1,000 pencil. At faculty meetings, professional development meetings, and on eLearning Days, our principal frequently talks to us about the SAMR model, and I feel less pressure to "use the laptops" now than I did when we first got them. Our current administrators want us to use technology, of course, but I feel they realize they can trust the teachers to do that - and to not use them at times as well. One new tech usage I've added this year is having my students blog. This replaces journaling. The ideas are similar, but the journals were turned in on Edmodo and I was the only one who saw what each student wrote. Now, with blogging, the kids can read each others' posts, and even make replies to them. It's really engaged them and made them more invested in what they write.

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  90. Technology can sometimes seem like a double edged sword: it can open up new ways to think about things and interact with the concepts of class, but when it fails it feels so much more devastating than a failed lesson plan without the use of technology. I know I should be more excited that I tried creating something engaging and worthwhile and it did not go quite as planned than I should be dejected that what I attempted did not live up to my expectations, however that is not always the case for me. Instead of trying to use technology as much as possible, I am more selective in my usage of technology and have created a few questions I try to always consider before jumping into technology.
    1) Is technology the best way to deliver this lesson?
    2) Does technology add to the lesson or is it going to be more of a hindrance?
    3) Will everyone in my class have equal access to the technology once they leave my classroom?

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