As I boarded the plane for my journey from Indianapolis to Denver, I was overwhelmed with excitement and nervousness. Thoughts of the last year raced through my head. I never would have thought that by joining the NextGen Cadre and diving into an unknown year, I’d be flying to Keystone, Colorado to be a presenter at InstructureCon 2017!
I was given an opportunity to join this cadre and learn more about how I could use and incorporate our new LMS, Canvas, into my classroom. It was a yearlong endeavor that took some convincing for this kindergarten teacher who wasn’t always so sure I could make it work for my young learners. What I learned throughout this process was that it was alright to make mistakes along the way while I tried to find the best path for my students and myself. I had to shift my mindset to the positives and look at all of the wonderful things coming from being pushed out of my comfort zone.
When I first found out I was going to InstructureCon 2017, of course I had to share the news with my friends and family. The common thing everyone would say to me was, “be prepared for the air up there in the mountains.” I had done my research and was ready to hydrate. I didn’t want to push myself since I knew the air would be thinner and regular activities might seem more challenging. I must say the air up there (or lack thereof) is definitely a real thing! Sometimes it made daily activities more difficult, but mostly it just made me slow down and take more time to breathe.
InstructureCon allowed me the opportunity to slow down and take the time to look back at how far I had come and look ahead to the future. Between the amazing keynotes, breakout sessions, and preparing for my own presentation, it offered beautiful scenery, great conversations, and unique gatherings. InstructureCon renewed my love of learning and pushed me to want more. The excitement and spirit of the conference was contagious. I realized just how much my mindset had shifted for the better. I just hope those who attended the session, led by Hunter, Richard, and myself, were able to feel our excitement and take it back to their colleagues.
The last day of the conference was full of reflection and camaraderie. Our entire Richmond group decided to take a break and venture up one of the mountains. When we made it to the top there was a lot of quietness. It was a time we all needed so badly to just breathe and reflect upon our experiences. Did we struggle throughout the year like we did walking up the mountains? Absolutely, but the view at the top was worth every breath we worked for. Just like the pride and satisfaction we had of knowing how much we had accomplished in one school year.
So when people tell me to be prepared for the air up there, I can tell them the air up there is perfect!
Melody Williams is a kindergarten teacher in her 8th year of teaching at Richmond Community Schools. She has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from IU East and a Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Childhood Education from Wright State University. Melody has previously taught Reading Recovery and Special Education although her passion lies in kindergarten. In 2015, she earned REA Teacher of the Month and in 2016, was named Crestdale Elementary Teacher of the Year. Melody and her husband, Lee, have two young children, Kyson and Kynsie, who keep them very busy. In her spare time, Melody enjoys spending time with her friends and family.
As our 737 rolled up to the gate in Indianapolis, I felt a number of things. First and foremost, I felt that a great getaway with a terrific group of professionals was coming to an end. Eight of us, the largest contingent from any district (to our reckoning) at InstructureCon put a stamp on this national ed/tech convention. We also witnessed inspiring keynote speeches and concerts by the remarkable Jewel and CCR. We took a summertime ride up the ski lift to 12,000 feet with the vast views of the central Rockies . . . clearly we left a very special and bonding experience behind us.
Other shots captured unremarkable moments of trudging here and there, staying hydrated, eating far too much, and laughing just the right amount. Wow.
when we struggled through our ‘walkthrough’ should know that the input we received from you gave a great boost to this final show in Keystone. We crushed it! Special thanks, of course, to Megan and Joanna, instructors from IUPUI.
So now what? The laptops have appeared in our classrooms. The struggles continue as we roll out into this amazing future. How will they change our thinking as teachers, how will our classrooms change, our methods shift? Hopefully, all of these change in many ways, better ways. I realized from that microcosm of bonding up in the mountains that the greatest asset we share at RCS is our community, our village. Who knows how far this extended cadre of professionals can go. I know two things: one, we have to keep on moving forward, and two, a part of me will always be coming home from Keystone.
Today's thoughts come to us from Mr. Richard Green. Richard currently teaches art at Dennis Intermediate School in Richmond, Indiana. A native of Massachusetts, he taught in the Bay State for a decade before making his move to the Sunshine State. During his tenure in Florida, he spent a year in Nagano, Japan as an exchange teacher. This eye-opening, life-changing experience fired up his teaching with a worldview and the confidence that comes from pushing outside your comfort zone. Now a resident of Indiana for nearly a decade something just as awesome has happened. He found a home and a renewed clarity for teaching art. His passion for teaching, writing, and producing his own brand of art continues to rise.
During my undergrad years at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I was a member of a fraternity. People have different connotations for the prototypical "frat guy," but I didn't see myself as one of the privileged, cocky, and boisterous individuals that are often portrayed on television and in movies. What I remember most from that experience was the immense sense of belonging that I felt. The community that I was tied to included not only my particular fraternity, locally and internationally, but also to the larger Greek system on my campus. I felt an unspoken connection between myself, my fraternity brothers, even members of other fraternities. Like many societies, secret or not, there is comfort in belonging.
I connect and reflect on that experience because it most closely relates to feelings that were conjured up during my recent experience at InstructureCon in Keystone, Colorado. For 3 days, I was part of a group of like-minded, positive educators and thought-leaders from a variety of locations and backgrounds that shared a common vision – making teaching and learning experiences more closely resemble the way that people communicate and learn today, while preparing them for a future that is unknown. The reason that this was such a moving experience was that, for 3 days, I did not feel like I was part of the minority, by which I mean part of a relatively small segment in the profession that seems to share my disposition about the role that technology should play in education. In some ways, it does feel like a "secret society". We don't lurk in the shadows nor do we have a secret handshake, but we recognize and are drawn to others that are part of this community. Sometimes it is through something they say, how they talk to others, things that they Tweet or just through the vibe that they emit.
Events such InstructureCon are so critical to continuing the mission that we are an integral part of. Without opportunities to think differently, challenge the status quo, and learn from others' experiences, there is a significant risk that the approach to teaching and learning will not change and we will continue to produce graduates that do not possess the skills necessary to thrive, let alone survive, in the world that awaits them.
In my role as an eLearning Specialist, there are many times that I feel like I am alone as I fight this uphill battle for our kids, my own included. Then, I take a step back and realize that I am not alone. There are others on my amazing team that feel the same way. Then, there teachers out there, putting theory into practice every day, no matter how challenging it is. The RCS NextGen Leadership Cadre is just such a group of teachers that are taking risks and tolerating failures, both big and small, because they truly believe that the lasting success that their students will experience will greatly overshadow the momentary failure. Beyond my school district and its visionary leaders, there are others in my region that gather, collaborate, and help each other pursue the mission. Finally, on the national and international stage, there are events like InstructureCon that feel more like a family reunion than a typical conference. Even though we all don't know each other, it feels like family because we are all connected by our passions, professions, and philosophies.
To Instructure, I am thankful that you value your customers enough to create such an amazing production for educators, from Kindergarten to Higher Ed. To the amazing keynotes and presenters, most of whom are mere mortals that are working with students every day, thank you for your insights and sharing your experiences. To Richmond Community Schools, thank you for valuing me enough to send me as well as my colleagues out to forage for the key ideas, innovations, and skills that we can bring back to share with our staff. Finally, to the group that truly became my family for 3 days, I want to thank Richard, Tim, Joani, Melody, Kathy, Hunter, Mike, Joanna, and Megan for making the experience so amazing. From Hack night to the Cadre's outstanding presentation and everything in between, InstructureCon 2017 will remain fixed in my memory for many years to come.
They say your third year of teaching is when it finally starts to come together.
I’m not sure it went exactly as planned. Sure, I knew how to handle the usual stressors better, but it was also a year full of new challenges, new things that I didn’t know how to handle, and new people that were constantly pushing me to be a better teacher.
You see, I thought I had found my limits in the first two years. I learned that I’m good at allocating time to things that need to get done and that I’m terrible at using that time efficiently. I love interacting with students and working with them daily and I loathe interacting with their assignments and assessments.
I spent a lot of time shaking off the imposter syndrome that seems to affect a lot of young teachers. We step into this role that we’ve known about from the day we start kindergarten or preschool, and suddenly we look around going, wait, really? I fooled them into giving me the keys to a classroom and they’re just going to…let me teach? Aren’t there checks and balances to stop me from getting this far?
I think you could say I spent the first three years of teaching convincing myself that I was actually a teacher.
Then I went to Colorado.
After a year of work in Richmond Community Schools’ Next Gen Cadre, I was selected to join a small group of my co-workers to go to InstructureCon and present about what we did. I got to talk about building a community of risk-takers, about getting permission to fail, and about sharing those failures (and successes!) so that we encourage that culture and that the lesson we learn don’t just stop with us. It was a phenomenal experience, and I’m extremely fortunate to have been able to experience it.
If the first three years were about convincing myself that I was a teacher, this summer was about determining what kind of a teacher I’m going to be. It’s not just about survival anymore. It’s not just about hitting standards and getting to things before the state test. I hate to admit that those were some of my greatest motivators, but they hit that primal, animalistic instinct of survival, and I rolled with it.
I finally have the peace of mind to look to the future and what that looks like for me in education. And with the fancy new tools at my disposal, the support of a very risk-friendly administration, and a wonderful community of peers, the future is exactly what I’m ready to make happen.
Look out, school year 2017-18. It’s going to be great!
Last year Kevin Schamel came to Starr Elementary introducing the #RCSNEXTGEN Leadership Cadre for our new LMS Canvas. As much as I love technology, I was very hesitant about applying. The reason had nothing to do with Canvas, but the fear of rejection. The fear was real, and it was big. Rejection of what you may be asking. Rejection from being accepted into the Cadre, even rejection from peers listening to me.
From the moment I walked into the room people were were saying things like “Oh good, Kathy is in our group; she can show us how to do it!” and “We’ll let Kathy talk!” They already knew things about me that I guess I had “yet” come to fully believe myself.
This past week has been one of complete emotion for myself as an administrator. Just over 12 months ago I listened to an idea of a colleague about how we were going to have to build a team that would end all teams. How we would use a model from one district and make it our own...make it work for us. I had no idea what it would look like or if it would be anything special, but I knew that if we were going to begin to change the culture of instructional practices in our district it would have to be done from within. I knew that it couldn't be done with four or five people, but instead it would take a team of teachers that were embedded in buildings across our district. From this idea and this conversation was born the #NextGenCadre.
Fast forward to this past week when I got to see first hand the work of a select group of that team as they presented and participated at a national conference in Keystone, CO. The hard work of not only themselves but other members of the group was solidified by the response of so many who heard their story. They talked about how they were given permission to take risks, how they were given permission to fail. I had such mixed emotions listening to the three of them as they each shared their journey on how they transformed their instructional practices. On one hand I thought about how great is was for them to share their story of struggles and ultimate success, while at the same time I thought how sad is was that they needed permission to push the envelope, that they needed permission to be innovative in their classrooms. So as I reflect I hope to motivate. I hope to inspire others in education to try something different and better so that they may positively impact themselves as professionals and the students they work with in their classrooms and schools.
They needed permission to fail.
After their presentation and the other morning sessions we took some time as team to enjoy some of the sights of Keystone, Colorado. And as we talked and reflected about the presentation that they had done earlier in the morning I looked out at this beautiful view from atop the mountain and knew that this work has only begun; that this wasn't going to be the only time a group of teachers that I worked with were going to "climb this mountain" and have this feeling of success. As I reflected and listened to their conversations on this day, I knew that it was only right that more and more teachers were put in a position to take risks and be innovative so that they could have this type of growth opportunity and feel what all of us were feeling at this moment.
No longer should teachers be worried about failing, but instead they should be worried about not taking that chance for what I'd call growth opportunities. Growth opportunities are what make us go. Growth opportunities are what push us to improve and push us to more positively impact the lives of the students we teach and learn from on a daily basis. I'm not talking failure anymore but I am talking about teachers who use small set backs as growth opportunities fully knowing that they are supported by me and a team that is 20 strong. Here's to the next #NextGenCadre! There is no mountain we can't climb.
InstructureCon 2017: Keystone, Colorado
Beautiful scenery, unbelievable swag, and good times were all in abundance at Mission: InstructureCon, but they all paled in comparison to a presentation I witnessed by three RCS teachers!
Hunter Lambright, Richard Green, and Melody Williams spoke passionately about the RCSNextGen Cadre process in their presentation, "Failing Is The New Black: Changing Mindsets By Taking Risks." Their authenticity was palpable, the audience was hooked, and the message was clear-taking chances for teaching and learning is worth the risk-even when it's more work to do so.
Of all of the sessions I attended during the week, no other had educators heading up the aisle to get screenshots of their valuable examples of the road map of Canvas implementation through the Cadre process. No other session had more people seek out the presenters afterwords or led to more hits on the RCSNextGen website and hashtag - the response was overwhelming and well deserved.
For me personally, this was a tangible example of the power of an idea. An idea, from a professional development conference, that stuck and was developed, tweaked and launched with the understanding that it takes many voices, across all subject areas, job titles and grade levels to grow, and continue to grow, our own.
It was also a reminder of the Growth Mindset and the "Power of Yet" in action. The twenty plus members of the first cadre were all examples of this and I thought of each and everyone of them as I heard Hunter, Richard, and Melody speak-because all of them were a part of the growth that led to this presentation. They all took the risk and they all failed forward!
At InstructureCon 2017 I got to celebrate RCS teachers who took the challenge, failed forward, and found new life in teaching that will benefit our students, our local community, and our world!
A mountain was climbed during the NextGen Cadre process. Please consider joining us for #RCSNextGen Round 2!
Today's post comes to us from Mr. Tim Arnold. Tim is in his first year as an eLearning Specialist with the Richmond Community schools. Prior to that, he spent 26 years as a social studies teacher, coach, and educational leader at Nettle Creek Schools in Hagerstown. Tim curates a nationally recognized technology and learning blog and was selected as a top ten educator in the State of Indiana in 2008. Tim and his wife Julie, a “rock-star” 6th grade science teacher, are graduates of Indiana University (BS ‘90) and Ball State University (MA ‘97) and have two college age children, Kelsie and Nick.
As teachers, coaches, and administrators being to wrestle with the idea of how to evaluate the use of technology in classrooms, there are a number of models that can be used as a guide. SAMR and TPACK are two commonly referenced frameworks. These focus on the depth of the experience, not the minutes logged. Anyone who has worked with students, or even observed their own children, can agree that screen time does not necessarily equate to learning!
I have developed my own framework that I use to evaluate and recommend digital tools and resources. It stems from a classic commercial from Wendy’s in the 1980’s where the sweet old woman would continually ask the question, “Where’s the Beef?” In that context, she was asking this question to the person taking her order at other fast food restaurants, referring to the small size of the hamburger that was on her sandwich. In some ways, we can use this question to investigate how technology is being used by teachers and students, and to assess the depth of understanding that comes as a result.
To further apply this phrase, I converted the word “BEEF” into an acronym. My message to teachers and students is that if technology doesn’t make the experience Better, the job Easier, the workflow more Efficient, or allow the process to be completed Faster, it need to be sent back to the counter. My rule of thumb is that a tool or resource needs to address two or more of these to make it into my arsenal.
Now I realize that better, easier, and efficient are all pretty subjective terms and are difficult to quantify, unlike faster, and they are all going to be relative to how fluent a user is with technology. There is also value in giving a new tool an adequate trial period. Then again, sometimes we just know it’s a frog, right? Not every new technology turns into a prince!
What are some ways that we can characterize the term “better?” One way that I applied this trait can be found in my adoption of using Symbaloo as a bookmarking tool. I started using an online bookmarking tool called Delicious a number of years ago. I used this for my own convenience as I bounced from device to device. I then began using it to provide a dynamic resource for my students to easily access, for guided research and supplemental instructional support. Then, Symbaloo entered my life. Honestly, the first time I saw it and tried it, I did not like it. I didn’t see the power of it until revisiting a few months later. Yes, in its most basic form, it was still an online bookmarking tool that I could share with my students. The feature that put it in the “better” classification was that I, and my students, can now search for other people’s Symbaloo pages based on topics. If I want to see a list of (presumably vetted) assistive technology resources, I can search for it. Perhaps I am looking for a collection of OERs (Open Education Resources) or computer science and coding websites. One search takes me directly to someone else’s Symbaloo that they have chosen to create and share. Aesthetics can play a role in “better” as well. The versatility and ease of use of Symbaloo as compared to other similar tools knocks it out of the park for me!
I prefer to expend my brain power researching, solving problems and developing work flows. I don’t like using it to complete cumbersome tasks or difficult processes to simply use a tool. As an example, I don’t characterize myself as overly talented when it comes to graphic design. I sometimes spend too much time trying to visualize what I think something should look like and try to make the product match my vision, only to find that the finished product had the opposite impact on the audience. I have used everything from the “Paint” application in Windows to Publisher to Google Draw and the steps involved in creating a visually appealing product always resulted in low-quality or were never finished. I learned about a few user-friendly, professional grade tools called S’more and Canva at a conference a few years ago. Within seconds, I was able to create rather amazing designs that could be used as publications, within Social Media, or for advertising. I lack the design vision, and these tools fill in those gaps. These tools allow people like me (or anyone for that matter) to get the message across using more effective layouts and styles. Tools like these allow users to focus on the ideas, information, and message without having to go through the cumbersome process of creating the product from scratch. Now, I know that there are many critics out there that may feel that shortcuts, templates, and head starts are the easy way out and that it stifles creativity. I agree, however I know my own limitations and I know how to appropriately choose tools that are easier and allow me to better execute other jobs, such as problem solving, researching, and developing work flows.
This is sometimes a difficult word to define. I see it as a combination of faster and easier. Sometimes it can be more of one than the other. At the heart of the idea of efficiency is minimizing the steps in a process, not necessarily skipping steps. If I were baking cookies, leaving out the sugar, flour, and not mixing it does not make the process more efficient, even though I eliminated steps. A key characteristic of efficiency is that the end product is as of equally high quality, if not higher. That can only be done by revising the process or the steps within. In the cookie analogy, it means preheating the oven before starting, gathering all of the ingredients and putting them in the area that you will be working, and having easy access to the utensils and pans you will need. It means putting the cooling rack and bowl of batter next to the oven, so that when you take the cookies out you can remove them from the pan, put them on the rack, and immediately spoon your next batch of cookies onto the pan. Eliminating the unnecessary steps of moving around the kitchen, and constantly relocating the pans and bowls makes it a much more efficient process. How does this relate to blended learning? All I can think of now is that I want a cookie….oh yeah, now I remember!
My most widely applicable example of efficiency made possible through technology is the spirit of collaborative documents. Whether you’re in the Google camp or Microsoft Office 365 camp (or like me, a member of both) you know exactly what I mean! Here is an example that paints the picture:
A building principal has taken the lead in the development of a School Improvement Plan. Let's assume that he is starting from the ground up, although the same concept applies if the building is revising an existing plan. He creates the master version of the plan and puts the headings in for each area, such as School Technology Plan, Parent Involvement, Facilities, Emergency Plans, etc. He sends the original document in Microsoft Word as an email attachment out to each of the lead contributors for each section, with instructions to fill our their part and then send the document back. The Principal receives eight copies of the original file. He must then open each individual file and copy and paste each section back into the original. The next day, the head of the Emergency Plan committee realizes that she left out critical updates to the plan. She must either email those to the Principal and he will add them to the master, or, maybe there were significant changes, so he sends her the whole document and she downloads it, makes the changes, and emails it back. I think you are beginning to see the issues. Without a doubt, one of the biggest problems is with redundancy. How many individual versions of this document are in existence? There would be way too much wasted time and energy trying to find the right version and effectively communicate about it.
With collaborative documents, such Google Docs or Word Online, the Principal could create the document, share it with the committee heads, and allow them to edit it to add their sections. When the needs arose to edit and revise, this is done on the live document, not a copy. It would be accessible from any device by anyone who was given access. If the team wanted feedback from the rest of the staff, they would be invited to access the document. They could pose questions, make comments, and provide feedback using the comment tools. My contention is that this is a better use of resources, specifically time and energy, and would result in a higher quality product.
Faster does not always mean better. It may not be easier or more efficient. But if you find that a tool allows you to more quickly get the job done with a end product that has the the same, if not higher, level of quality, you may be onto something. Speech-to-text, automatic citation service like Cite This for Me or Easy Bib, and Google Translate make the underlying processes faster. I also place formative assessment tools such as Quizizz, Socrative, and Kahoot in this category. By assessing student comprehension using these tools, I can more quickly gauge the need to reteach, intervene, or extend. I don’t have to wait to grade traditional assessments to get this information. The same is true for the feedback cycle. By providing high-quality feedback to students via comments on digital assignments or messaging within an LMS, student are receiving actionable feedback sooner. As we know is often the case with students, once they are done with an assignment or even an individual problem, they have likely moved on. If we can leverage technology to provide real-time feedback, we stand a better chance of students actually making adjustments based on the comments.
As you have probably seen, these four traits are similar in nature and interconnected in many ways. The reason I share this evaluation framework with teachers and students is to allow them to reflect on and evaluate their current practices to identify areas that technology may stand to provide improvements in one of these areas. It is also important to think of technology, instructional technology in particular, as fluid. The only way to keep from being swallowed up by digital quicksand is to resist stagnation. We must always be moving. We need to know how we are going to deal with obsolescence, because it is inevitable. This framework can be used to help us decide if the next new tool (or even old ones) are helping us to be more effective by either making the product better, the job easier, the workflow more efficient, or the process faster. If it’s none of these, send it back. If it does one, give it a chance. Two or more? Now you’ve got a Wendy’s Double Cheeseburger! What? McDonald's has a “Grand Mac???”
Today's ideas come to us from Mr. Kevin Schamel. Kevin began teaching in 2006 and become one of RCS’s eLearning Specialists, where he has been helping to support and coach teachers, students, and administrators since 2014. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Miami University and his M.Ed from IU East. Kevin comes from a family of educators, is married to a middle school math teacher, Kristin, and has two wonderful boys at home, Jaxon and Greyson.
Here at the high school, we’ve been fortunate to have our e-Learning Specialists set up a Canvas course for the entire student body.
A whole host of possibilities emerged. We posted announcements to help spread awareness of the spring blood drive. We used a Canvas quiz to have students submit nominees for both Prom court and Snowball court. Students even used a Google Form to submit their applications to run for various student council leadership positions for the 2017-18 school year.
Other suggestions were also made for the future. Teachers who want to advertise their courses could create videos showing off what their class is all about and have them hosted in a course catalog section on the student course. We can create interactive discussions with principals engaging in the same course as students to talk about action steps for suggestions. It can be more than just a content delivery system where our students see announcements and more something that they actually get something out of interacting with teachers and principals for positive change and knowing that their voice was heard.
One thing that I’ve struggled with over the past three years as the student council sponsor is knowing just how much my kids are getting input from the student body. We want to empower students by amplifying their voices and giving them opportunities to speak about the changes they want in their school. Canvas has helped us bridge the gap, and while it’s only a start, it’s definitely a good start.
As we move into the next school year, teachers know that they have the ability to make their own Canvas courses—which includes personalized courses for clubs, student organizations, and sports teams. Cross country meets and academic team practices can be put on students’ calendars. Input for banquets (really, anything requiring student voice) can be requested as an assignment or given via a Canvas quiz.
This hasn’t happened yet, and my one fear is that we’ll cause the problem that we’re attempting to solve. If students are in a different course for each of their extracurricular activities and all of those activities have requests/responses/assignments that crowd out their other assignments, then we run the risk of drowning their academics in their extracurriculars. A tool that can be used to help a student organize themselves and prioritize assignments ahead of the night the assignment is due is also a tool that, when used to its fullest potential, could overwhelm.
I’m genuinely curious at this juncture. There’s so much potential for good! How do we find that happy balance?
Today's thoughts come to us from Mr. Hunter Lambright. Mr. Lambright teaches high school algebra and AP Statistics. He graduated from Ball State University with a BA in Psychology and from Earlham College with an MA in Teaching. Currently, he is the Richmond High School student council sponsor and is the assistant coach to both the cross country and track teams. He lives alone with his cat.
Butterscotch meringue pie. Being in the kitchen is not a place I prefer to be because I don’t view it as an efficient use of time. The ratio of time spent preparing food to the time spent eating food does not seem time-effective so I’d rather let people think I’m deficient in my cooking/baking skills. However, my mother did teach me at an early age the art of baking butterscotch meringue pies with the most fluffy, feathery, and light meringue. The key: patience.
To try new techniques in the classroom, especially those involving technology, takes patience (and persistence, and endurance, …) because time is needed to
Padlet is a virtual bulletin board of post-it notes. Teachers can create a customized bulletin board and pose a question to students, and then have them type their answer on a post-it note. Teachers can use it to pre-assess what students know about a topic, post exit ticket activities, provide homework help, and more. Teachers can pose questions and solicit more than one response at a time. Teachers can even have students post comments to each other.
Before using Padlet with content, I first want to familiarize my students with the technology itself and how to use it. As an introduction to Padlet, I have students share information about their name and birthdate so they can learn how to add their own post-it note with the given criteria. Students then search the wall reading others’ posts to find relevant information.
Once students become acquainted with using Padlet, it can become an effective tool in the classroom. It can help students analyze in advance of a lesson how prerequisite skills can be used to master another standard. For example, I have used a Padlet that helps students describe what shapes they have been using to find the net of a rectangular prism. Students then determine what shapes they think they will use for a cylinder and identify formulas that could be used to find the areas of those shapes. Students can compare and contrast their answer with others to determine what might be the best answer.
Recall, however, how patience is needed on occasion. My middle school students have to be reminded that posting answers to a question on a Padlet requires more formal language with an audience in mind, which means not using texting abbreviations, slang, or hallway salutations. My moment with Padlet that required the most patience was a result of having copied a Padlet I had created then wanted to use with other classes. I have six different classes so having one Padlet with all the students posting would create too many notes (almost 150) and make the board too cluttered for students to glean information from each other so I made one Padlet for a period and then copied (selected “remake”) it. Students in my first class completed the Padlet assignment with all going well, but when the second class began the students could not post to the Padlet wall. There were two options available: choose frustration (give up, boycott technology, be negative) or choose patience (look at the settings and try to find a solution, call someone else for help, be positive). If I had chosen frustration, I would probably never had wanted to incorporate Padlet into the classroom again and students would have only learned a lesson about quitting. Instead, I chose patience and learned that when I remake a Padlet it automatically changes the settings so those with access can read instead of can write. Once I realized that was the issue and changed the setting, all worked wonderfully for the rest of the day. Patience led to a positive, productive day.
What secret did my mother teach me to creating such fluffy, feathery, and light meringue? Patience in beating the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and then add the sugar ever so gradually continuing until soft peaks. Not only is meringue better with patience, but technology is better with patience.
Lisa Wagner has been teaching math for 25 years at Richmond Community Schools and 5 years at Ivy Tech State College. She earned her Bachelor of Science (1991) and Master of Arts (1996) from Ball State University and is certified to teach math, English, and computers. She and her husband have three children. When she is not spending time with family, she enjoys taking her Golden Retriever, who is a certified therapy dog, to visit at a nearby youth center.