Why Technology?

If you haven’t seen Simon Sinek’s Ted talk titled “Start with why” it is definitely worth a watch.  In it, he explains that most organizations know “what” they do and “how” they do it, but great organizations know “why” they do it.  Knowing “why” separates the great organizations from the ordinary organizations.  In the video below, I attempt to drill down to the core or essence of why we use technology in the classroom. It is my hope that this captures the rationale of what drives our program and brings a better understanding to our community about our technology philosophy at the Pike School.  If you have any “Why Technology?” thoughts please leave a comment or get in touch with the Tech Dept.

What is Meaningful Learning?

by Aaron Hovel
Originally posted on Pike Perspectives

I recently attended a workshop titled Modern Learner Lab – Student Agency and Inquiry. In the workshop the topic centered around student agency. The presenters asserted that learner agency is shifting because of modern technologies.  We can now learn Algebra, the Civil War, or French anytime, anywhere, and with anyone we choose. At the same time, the future of work is more and more unclear. I discussed this in a previous post about how automation is claiming more and more jobs.  Because of this shift, where learning can and does happen anywhere and anytime, they asked us to rethink our classroom practices based on the below 3 frameworks.

First Framework – What is meaningful learning?
Take a moment now to answer that question in your head or write it down. I have been an educator for all of my adult life, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that until recently, I would have had a hard time defining meaningful learning on the spot. That’s because I’ve thought so much about teaching and about what good teaching looks like. When I think about schools and education, I envision the teacher. To answer this question I need to envision the learner, and as a teacher, I need to be the chief learner and work hard to create a learning culture rather than a teaching culture. Ok, do you have your definition of meaningful learning now? I really like this definition of learning by Mark Heintz  @MrMarkHeintz⁩  “Meaningful learning is being engaged in the process of developing new understandings or skill sets that are useful in our lives.”  You can read more about his journey to define learning. How does his definition compare to yours?

Second Framework – The Modern Context
In other words, this framework encourages you to rethink your classroom practices based on the changes that are occurring in the world because of developments in technology. I discussed this in the first paragraph but to recap,  information is ubiquitous and learning can happen anywhere. The skills that our students will need in the future are changing. Top among these skills is solving messy or ill-structured problems and persuasive communication.

Third Framework – Classroom practices
Lastly, they asked us to consider classroom practices. Does our teaching align with what we believe about powerful learning and with what we understand about the modern context?  The workshop facilitators explained that this is where they see the most disconnect. Often times classroom practices do not match what we know about meaningful learning and the changes in the world today.  They challenged us to provide students with more choice or agency over what they learn, real-world problems, real audiences, and a culture that supports learning by both students and teachers alike. When students choose what they want to learn, rather than what they are told to learn, meaningful learning occurs.

The room was full of teachers and this was a difficult topic of discussion for many of us. Most teachers have spent their lives teaching a curriculum; predetermined “important” set of knowledge that we think all students should learn by the end of the year. Can we really give that up and trust students to choose what they want to learn? I agree that choosing what I want to learn increases the chances that the learning will be meaningful to me, but what if I never choose to learn cell structure or genetic inheritance (you might be able to tell I was a science teacher)? Or Shakespeare? Does it matter? As I left the workshop, I was definitely intrigued by the idea of giving students more choice in what they learn. I’m thankful to work at Pike where exploring ideas like this are encouraged and supported. I’m curious about your thoughts on student agency. Should students be given more control over their learning?  Do you believe there a set of knowledge that all students should have? Do you think student learning should be transformed to keep pace with the rapid technology changes in the world?

The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use and Creative Commons

Digital copyright awareness is an important responsibility that often gets overlooked or can be easily misunderstood.  
The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use and Creative Commons is an excellent explanation of the many layers of responsible use and has many resources for teachers and students to use when working with or creating online content.  

In addition to the educator’s guide, Fran and Linda also recommend the links below:
Cyberbee interactive copyright Q and A (Flash version) (non-Flash version)
Be Copyright Cool Google Slides presentation by Brisbane Catholic Education

We encourage you to check this information out, since understanding digital copyright is an essential skill for students.  Also, remember that we have excellent in house resources about this topic, so be sure to be in touch with Fran and Linda in the Library if you have more questions or need help.

SeeSaw in the Upper School

Learn | Try | Amplify Week 6:

Last week you heard from the Lower and Middle School about the benefits of using SeeSaw with students.  This week we are sharing how SeeSaw is being used as an extension to some Upper School Math classrooms at Pike (4.5 minutes, see video above or click here to watch).  You won’t want to miss hearing Becky Miller’s 7th Grade Math students talking about what they like about using SeeSaw, and the video also features Nicole DeRosa’s teacher perspective.  If you would like help getting started with SeeSaw in the new year, please let the tech department know.

For some more SeeSaw Activity ideas for Grades 6 – 8 click here.

*Big thanks for your help 7th Graders, Nicole and Becky!

Seesaw @Pikeschool


For week 5 of our Learn | Try | Amplify initiative, we are sharing a couple of videos (4 minutes) about how 1st and 3rd grades are using Seesaw as a digital portfolio app to engage parents, teach digital citizenship, and encourage students to reflect on their learning. Seesaw is one of the best educational apps to come out in the last couple of years so, I encourage you to carve out some time to check it out. Are you using Seesaw? Share how you’re using it in the comment section.

1st Grade Seesaw Video

3rd Grade Seesaw Video

For more See Saw activity ideas in Grades K – 2 click here.

For more SeeSaw activity ideas in Grades 3 – 5 click here.

EdTechTeacher Resources

For week 3 of our Learn | Try | Amplify initiative, we are sharing a short video (2 minutes.  See above) about EdTechTeacher.org, which can inspire you with many innovative ideas and resources for teaching and learning with technology.  We invite you to share about your discoveries and ideas for amplifying your teaching from EdTechTeacher in the comment section of this post.  

Tech Tool Note: I created the EdTechTeacher video using Adobe Spark, which allows you to easily narrate and share well designed stories in minutes.

Using Padlet in the Classroom

For week 2 of our Learn | Try | Amplify initiative, I am sharing a short video (2.5 minutes) where you can learn about the benefits of using the online virtual bulletin board called Padlet in the Classroom.

After watching the video you can try using a Padlet and let us know if you have any ideas of how you would like to use Padlet or if you have already found a way for Padlet to amplify your teaching in the classroom.  Click here to contribute to a collaborative learning wall.

More Padlet Resources
If you are interested in starting to use Padlet and would like to watch a full tutorial, here is a good video that is about 13 minutes long and quickly teaches all of the features:

Learn Padlet – NEW! 2016 Tutorial

Here are some of the resources that I used to make my video:

5 Ways to Use Padlet from Education World

How to Use Padlet: A Fantastic Tool for Teaching via Cool Cat Teacher

32 Interesting Ways to Use Padlet in the Classroom

Lastly, here is an image with some ideas for using Padlet in the Classroom via @SimplySuzy (Technology Invisible)

Learn | Try | Amplify @PikeSchool

We are excited to announce that starting next Wednesday 11/2 the Tech Department will share a weekly technology learning opportunity until Winter Break.  We are calling this initiative: Learn | Try | Amplify @PikeSchool, with the hopes that you will be exposed to some technology tools that have the potential to amplify your daily teaching in a way that can lead to powerful learning.  Each week’s tip will be delivered via email, will take 5 minutes and the flexible format allows you to complete it at any time.  We hope that you will consider joining us!

-The Tech Dept
#LearnTryAmplify @PikeSchool

The book Amplify by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke has been an excellent resource about digital learning in the elementary and middle school classroom and inspired the name of this initiative.

Large-Scale Building | Makerspace May

Welcome to the final week of Makerspace May!  Watch the above video or click here to watch Lower School Pike students using our new large-scale building kit called Rigamajig (3 minutes).  You can learn more about Rigamajig by watching this video (2.5 minutes) made by the creators of the kit as well if you are interested.  Please consider coming to Spark this week to check out activities related to all the videos this month, including the opportunity to make a large creation with the Rigamajig.

Thanks for watching our videos this month!  If you have any questions, or need help planning for ideas for next year please let us know.
-The Tech Department
#makerspacemay @PikeSchool

3D Printing|Makerspace May

Welcome to week 3 of Makerspace May!  The theme of this week is 3D Printing.  Watch the above video (5 minutes) or click here to see many students and some teachers speak about the first year of using 3D printing technology at Pike.  You can also come to Spark and try TinkerCad to get a quick sense of what it is like to design something for 3D printing.  The bridge building and circuit challenges will also be available for you to try.  Come on your own, bring a partner or work with your team and learn about the possibilities of our makerspace.

To access many 3D printing teaching resources visit Project Ignite.

Many thanks to all the faculty and students who contributed to the video!

-The Tech Department
#makerspacemay @PikeSchool