Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thoughts About Feedback

My guess is that when we first start talking about feedback in the classroom, we probably see it as a teacher-driven activity. The students do something and we tell them if it is right, wrong, or how to fix it. In reading the Pollack book (put it on your Christmas list!) they focus a lot on students receiving feedback from peers and feedback from themselves. Those were two scenarios that I had difficulty wrapping my brain around. Here are some thoughts of mine and from the book:

Feedback From Peers

When I first thought of this, the activity that came to my mind was students doing peer-reviews of papers. That is a great activity, but not utilized daily in every classroom. Further, feedback needs to be timely, personal, and specific. That one activity is not very timely.

So what can we do?

Asking/Answering Questions:  When asking a question, rather than asking it of one student ("Kelly, what is the capital of Nebraska?") ask it of the ENTIRE class. Provide a few seconds of wait-time, and then have the kids pair/share. By doing this, a few scenes might play out. First, the partners might agree and they will have increased confidence in their answer. Second, the partners might disagree and then they would have to discuss how they each arrived at their answer and have to decide which is the correct answer. Third, one partner might turn to the other with absolutely no clue and might gain the correct answer from their partner. Finally, both might be clueless and could raise their hand for a little coaching from the teacher or use the APL "Temporary Pass Option."

Objective Reflection Sheet and Sharing With A Partner: Another pair/share activity, but hey, it is powerful and quick! The kids write the day's objective and then rate their understanding of that objective (1-5). While this alone provides great self-feedback, adding a pair/share element opens the door for a conversation as to why their understanding is where it is. Hopefully, students would say something that might break-loose some details they forgot or missed that would raise the understanding level of one or both instantly.

Sharing Notes: Many of us have our students take notes, and certainly we all have taken notes before. How many times have we looked at our notes and asked "Why did I write that?"? As a processing activity, have students share their notes with a partner. In this activity, kids would have to justify why they wrote what they wrote. Also, the partner might point out something missed, or pick up items they missed themselves. Again, this doesn't have to take long at all and would be one of those activities you could do after 10 minutes of instruction.

Feedback From Self

I have a lot of conversations with myself…maybe I need help…but what if it was planned and organized? 

Interactive Notebooks: When taking notes, have students use a normal spiral-bound notebook. The right page is for the student to write the notes from the teacher. The left page is for the student to reflect on the notes they have written. There is where they paraphrase, draw pictures, write power sentences, or do some processing activity that brings greater meaning to their notes. Again, they are asking and answering the question "Do my notes make sense to me?".

Objective Reflection Sheet: By rating their understanding, effort, and motivation regarding the day's objective, the student is gaining feedback from themselves. "How much do I understand?" "How hard am I trying?" "How motivated am I to learn about this?" Then there are the follow up questions: "Why don't I understand?" "Could I try harder?" and "Why am I not as motivated to learn this?"

Here is a link to the Reflection Sheet. If you aren't a member of my school district, you can email me and I will be glad to send you a copy!

"Fist-To-Five": This signaled response is a great check of the student's understanding. After going over a topic, instead of asking the entire class "Does this make sense?" ask them to rate their understanding on a "fist-to-five" continuum with 5 being high and fist being low. This is better than the "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" technique as it gives you more information. Students can use the following Understanding Rubric:

Understanding Rubric
5. I could teach the class!
4. I can talk about it with classmates.
3. I know it but I have questions.
2. I somewhat understand it.
1. I have no idea!

This rubric is the same one used with the Reflection Sheet mentioned above. You can download both here. If you aren't a member of my school district, just email me and I will be glad to send you a copy.

There are so many other techniques that can be used for both peer feedback and self feedback. What do you do? Please share!

Have a happy day!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Feedback: Chapter 4 - Learn To Engage


Chapter 4 of Jane E. Pollock's book, Feedback: The Hinge That Joins Teaching & Learning, is titled LEARN TO ENGAGE. The focus here is on the power of engagement and how we reach ALL students in the class.

Here are my sticky-notes:

Errors are an important part of learning.

Most things we learn in life are preceded with "I'm never going to do THAT again!" True, isn't it? The classroom needs to be a place where errors are embraced and not ridiculed. The over emphasis of the grade book has made errors into "gotcha" moments to thin the herd. It took Thomas Edison 1000 tries before he got the light bulb figured out. When asked about all of those failures, he responded "I have not failed 1000 times. I have successfully discovered 1000 ways NOT to make a light bulb."

I work with teachers who are embracing the ideal that homework does not go in the grade book. It is practice and every problem is reviewed each day. Sports teams are not ranked based on their practices. Why should we penalize kids' works in progress? These teachers are only putting the summative assessments in the grade book. If they are diligent with providing actionable feedback to the students' "practice," then the summative should take care of itself.

We learn from mistakes. Have you ever heard that before?

Verification & Elaboration

In providing quality feedback, these two elements are necessary. Verification tells the kid if the answer is right or wrong. Elaboration is then needed to guide the student towards achieving the right answer or tackling the next question.

Verification without elaboration is meaningless feedback.

"How was I supposed to teach those students who did not want to be engaged?"

This is a good question and one that we have all encountered. There are kids who put up a greater fight than others, to be sure. But I am going to address one element of this statement: "...did not want to be engaged."

Is it the students' sole responsibility to be engaged? I don't think so. Actually, I think the onus is on the teacher. We have to give them a reason to be engaged. Our subject area is the most exciting thing in the world to us, but not to everyone. And guess what? There are people who will think it is awful for their whole lives. However, we have tools to get kids engaged in the work at hand:

• Pair/share
• Graphic Organizers
• Interactive Notebooks
• Choral Responses
• Signaled Repsonses
• Writing Activities (Yes/No/Why, Think-Ink-Link

The list is endless. If they are not getting in the game, coach, it is because you are not putting them in. If they refuse to do any of those things, there are people in the school who get paid more money than you to deal with that.

Don't fish for them; teach them to fish. But what if they don't want to?

This is linked to the previous idea. We need to cut down on the "Stand and Deliver" model of teaching. Lecture has its place, but he is a roommate with other techniques of teaching. Make the kids responsible for the information and take some heat off of yourself. Here is where we would talk about transitioning from the "Sage on the Stage" to the "Guide on the Side," but it is overused. True, but overused.

Instead, here is the moment in my teaching where I let go of the information monopoly:

I was teaching Music History and decided to give something a try. The unit was on the Romantic Era, and I created a Google Doc with the key composers, elements, ideals, and compositions I wanted the kids to know about. I shared that document with the entire class thus making it a WIKI. Here were the rules:

1. Tell me what you think is important about each one of these items.

2. You cannot duplicate someone else's answer (thus, they had to read the other responses. Hee, hee!)

3. You can use your book, internet, my books, or me as a resource.

I watched the document as they typed and would offer feedback if they were getting off topic or duplicating. This was the best lesson I taught that year as the students were far more successful and retaining that information. Why? IT WAS THEIR OWN! I guided them, but they figured it out on their own.

Turn & Talk/Pair-Share = Peer Feedback

If I were to ask you where feedback in the classroom comes from, my guess is that most of you would have the gut reaction of "the teacher." We don't think about students seeking feedback from each other. Pair-Share is the easiest cooperative learning strategy there is and it is so very effective (d=.73).

In many of the classrooms I work with, pair-share is becoming a consistent expectation with every question asked. The old standard way of asking a question generally is like this:

"Cindy, what is the capital of Nebraska."

If your name is not Cindy, then you are off the hook and could care less what the capital of that state is. Only one student, Cindy, is engaged. If you want everyone on the edge of their seat and responsible for the answer, here is what you do:

1. Ask the question.

2. Provide a brief wait time (a couple of seconds will do...)

3. Pair-Share with a neighbor

4. Call on a student to answer the question. (I recommend using the "Popsicle Sticks Method" of drawing a stick with a student's name out of a cup at random.)

This way, no one knows who will have to answer. IT MIGHT BE ME!!! And what happens during the Pair-Share time might be my partner helping me find the right answer. Thus, Peer Feedback and I now have another teacher in my classroom.

To mix it up a bit, so kids are not with the same partner each time, here are some different Pair-Share techniques:

• Clock Partners
• 2x2
• Tripods
• Face Partner
• Shoulder Partner
• North, South, East, West Partners

The learner needs multiple methods to learn and store new material to activate old learning.

How many different methods of learning happen in your classroom? How many of the Multiple Intelligences do you hit in a lesson? If we want information to be retained and accessible, we need to offer material in multiple ways. Again, it cannot just be "Stand and Deliver."

Effect size of note taking is very high! (d=1.00)

I am a bad note taker. But studies show that, if done properly, it can be very effective in helping us learn. What I got out of this portion of the chapter is that teachers need to teach their classes how to take notes in their class in order to be successful. There are many types of note-taking methods. Here are a few:

• Cornell
• Cloze Notes
• Graphic Organizers

The method I think is very cool and effective is the Interactive Notebook. Read on to learn more about it:

Interactive Notebooks

There is no fancy technology needed to make this interactive. The idea is that the student "interacts" with the notes they are taking. Here is how it works:

1. The student has just a normal spiral-bound notebook and a writing utensil.

2. The right-hand side of the two pages is the Teacher Page. This is where the student writes the information the teacher is giving.

3. The left-hand side of the two pages is the Student Page. This is where the student writes their thoughts, draws pictures, or answers questions about the information on the Teacher Side. It is their reflection space. These reflections should justify and clarify what is on the Teacher Side.

I have seen this in some of my classrooms and it is way cool! Some teachers have kids paste graphic organizers or other items into their notebooks. To make it even more effective, have kids use multiple colors of ink. The brain responds to color!

The student's notebook is an important tool of engagement. The must reflect on learning, not just write facts.

Sharing notebooks with peers and having to justify why you wrote it down.

I have never thought of using notes for this purpose. Having kids share their notes with each other is a great way for them to receive peer feedback. If they can't justify why they wrote something down, then it is either not important or they don't know enough about it and need to ask for clarification. It is most likely the latter. Again, the teacher does not need to be the source of that clarification. The student's partner can be that teacher at that time.

Engagement is a means to achievement.

Simple. If no one on the team plays, then they certainly won't win the game.

Consider the classroom from the students' perspective.

Would you like being in your classroom? Record your classes and ask yourself that question. Give yourself some feedback. What things might you be doing that is getting in the way of the students' learning. What habits to you have? What would make the lesson even better?

I am in a band and we record every one of our gigs and listen to them. We are always considering our show from the audience's perspective. Because of this process, we have become a more refined and entertaining band. It actually works!

Have a happy day!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Feedback: Chapter 3 "The Tell Tale Students"


As with the last post, the following post is a listing of my "sticky notes" and some further reflection on each.

At the beginning of this chapter, Pollack mentions "The Tell-Tale Students." These are the students who become disengaged in the lesson and "...indicate in that moment that our teaching technique is not helping them learn well." Pollack points out that we need to be aware of these students and use the valuable feedback they have provided us in that moment and change something.

My notes...

• Goal + Feedback = Engagement

Pollack's assertion here is that if the student has a clear goal, and is given feedback on his/her relationship to that goal throughout the lesson, that they will be more engaged. Simply having a goal is not enough; we need to know how we are doing in order to be continually focussed on that goal.

Really, this is an "out of sight out of mind" scenario. If the student is told the goal of the day at the beginning of the day and it is not referenced again, they will not be focused. If there are checks throughout the lesson and they are continually asked to take stock of where they are in relation to the goal, they will be more on task.

• Goal/Objective Form & Rubric

There are few examples in the book of forms that students can use to interact with the objective. Here is the form and rubric that my school has created based on the forms found in the book. The idea is that the student:

1. Copy the objective/goal of the day
2. Rates their understanding of the topic at the beginning and end of class
3. Rates their motivation to learn about the topic at the beginning and end of class
4. Rates their effort during the lesson

• Seeing the standard is not enough. Students need to understand why it is important.

How many times have we heard "Why do we have to know this?"? How many times have we wanted to answer "BECAUSE!"? The 21st Century learner wants to know how the material you are giving them will matter to them and the world they live in. This is sometimes a tough sell, but if you make the sale, it pays off dividends.

• Effort vs. Motivation

I take issue with the amount of emphasis the book places on "effort." Effort is not a determinant of learning. We have all known students who didn't have to try at all and the material came so easily to them. We have also known students who work harder than anyone in class and still cannot grasp the material. I contend that Motivation should be the focus, rather than Effort. Motivation does affect the rate and degree of learning, as per Madeline Hunter's Instructional Theory Into Practice. So, that is why my teachers and I added the Motivation column to the Goal/Objective Sheet. However, as you can see, we still left "Effort" so that kids can still be reminded that it is vital that they work as hard as they can in class.

• Sharing Goal Understanding with a neighbor

This is a great way to start the Feedback Loop running! Simply sharing with a neighbor can open up teaching between peers and also build a sense of community. When people feel safe and not alone, they will be engaged. Pair/Share and other cooperative learning strategies are so valuable because they provide each learner with additional resources besides the teacher. I don't know how many times I learned a concept through a conversation with a friend rather than the teacher.

• Purposeful Interactions

It is important to build relationships. There is no doubt about it that students will be motivated to work for a teacher when they know the teacher has taken interest in them. However, it is important that all interactions within the lesson are purposeful. This means that every question, anecdote, story, and activity are directly in-line with the objective. If a student starts to veer off topic, it is necessary for the teacher to re-direct him or her back on track and aimed at the objective. Again, we want to have fun with our students and tell jokes and stories, but it is best to save those for between classes or lessons so that the learning path is clear.

• Always come back to the objective.

When you stop to check for understanding, to begin a different activity, or when an interruption (fire drill, announcement, etc.) occurs, always remind the students about the objective and have them interact with it in some way. Make sure it is crystal clear what is to be learned today and why you are doing the things you are doing. Finally, as I have said before, make sure you have the kids go back to the objective at the end of the class or lesson as well. Think about will remember a person's name better because you have interacted with them more.

• Goal sheets add structure to the beginning and ending of classes.

I think most teachers would agree that the most wasted time comes at the beginning and end of class. At the beginning, attendance needs to be taken, people are handing in assignments, announcements are being made...the list goes on and on. At the end, some of the same activities are taking place. Use this time to have the kids interact with the objective. They will now have something structured to do during those times and it will be far more meaningful.

• Do teachers share the standards and objectives of their classes with their students?

My guess is that it is not very often that this happens. I don't think students know what the state standards are. It might bore them to tears, but it might also be a "wake-up-call" when they see the breadth of skills they need to master. My school has required teachers to post course objectives and daily clear learning goals. If you make it clear as to why the student is here, what they are required to do, and why it is important in their life, there will be less resistance.

Feedback Chapter 2: Positive Deviants

Hi all!

This post contains my reflections on chapter 2 of Jane E. Pollack's book, Feedback: The Hinge That Joins Teaching & Learning.

The idea of being a Positive Deviant is to be a teacher that will make small changes in the classroom to increase student learning. Often times, as the book points out, those changes are based on things that are "invisible in plain sight." As a former music teacher, I liken this to "podium deafness" which is when I would constantly hear a wrong note, constantly not fix it, and eventually it becomes so customary that it becomes a "right note."

Pollack's book focusses on the art of providing and receiving feedback, as one of those "invisible in plain sight" classroom tools that go unused or not fully realized. While I have been reading, I am practicing good reading comprehension strategies by highlighting and using sticky notes to reflect. The following bullet points contain what was printed on my sticky notes and I follow with more in-depth reflection.

I hope that's ok! This is as much for me as it is for you :)

• Feedback is not just a teacher action. It is a student action.

As teachers, we are great at giving students feedback, but how often do we teach them to seek feedback? I think we train ourselves at an early age to just wait until someone is tells us how we are doing before we make a personal assessment. As children, we complete a task, the teacher puts a grade on it, and then we decide what we think about that grade and what we should do about it. Isn't that how it goes? So, as adult teachers, how many of us fall into that routine? We wait for the kids to complete a test, project, worksheet, or quiz, and then decide what to do. By doing this, the time for effective Monitor & Adjust has really come and gone. Pollack's book makes the point that feedback can be more prevalent than that, and can be more powerful if it is sought by all parties and acted upon throughout the lesson. So how do we get students seeking feedback and providing teachers with more to act upon? I think that is coming in later chapters :)

• All teachers give feedback. When it doesn't lead to a gain, it must be used differently.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If the feedback we provide students does not lead to them getting better, we need to find a different way to provide it so that it does. Maybe this means aural feedback rather than written. Maybe it means including more peer review in class activities. Maybe it means inviting the student to parent/teacher conferences. Regardless of the change, if the student does not get better based on the feedback the teacher provides, then the teacher needs to find another way. I know it is a two-way street and the student has their share of responsibility, but I only have control over what I can do.

• According to John Hattie, students only receive moments of feedback each day (at best).

Probably so, sadly. When the teacher is the only one offering or seeking feedback, then this makes sense. Further, too many classes are still teacher-driven and a "Sit And Get." When the student seeks feedback from other students, or themselves, then the feedback loop increases.

• Feedback should be tied to goals and objectives...not just task completion.

I would say that we are better at offering feedback when a kid reaches the end of something and give limited feedback along the way. Teachers can take a lot from coaches and how their weeks progress. The athletes are given tons of feedback all week long at practices so that they will be successful in the game. They aren't giving tests or assigning homework. Rather, they are observing the kids in action and helping them to make minor adjustments along the way. If the classroom is strictly (or mostly) lecture based, when can the kid get feedback?

If you ask the student to interact with the goal by writing it down, rating their understanding before, during, and after, then you can better adjust your instruction to meet their needs. Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback is one of Marzano's nine high-yielding strategies, but it will only work if done with fidelity, and that means to do more than just write the objective on the board.

• Successful students seek feedback informally

Looking back at my time in the classroom, I see this as true. My most successful students were asking questions in class, stopping me in my office or in the hall, or working with their peers on class material. They didn't wait for the test or quiz to be given or graded. How do we encourage this? Read on!

• 3 types of feedback: Self, Peer, & Teacher (Yuck Spots)

How do we encourage students to seek feedback informally? First, the source of feedback can not just be from the teacher. A great informal source is the student's peers. Another source is the student themselves. Here it is in action:

When I was a band director, I had my students keep a "Yuck Spot Sheet." This was a simple piece of paper that was used by the student when they reached a section of the music they had difficulty with. As we played as a band, if they got to a "I can't play that very well" moment, they were to write down the measure(s) and the basic problem (ie. notes, rhythm, etc.). Then, once a week, I would break the kids up into small groups (4-6) and they would work on each other's "Yuck Spots." The group leader would go around to each person asking for a "Yuck Spot." Then everyone would work on that spot to help that individual.

The "Yuck Spot Sheet" was the student giving them self feedback. The small groups addressing the "Yuck Spot" was the student seeking feedback from peers. It was very powerful!

• Increase feedback by returning to the goal at the end of the lesson.

I am horrible with Closure. Time just runs out. But by utilizing Closure and having the student reflect on the the goal/objective and where they are in relationship to it, everyone will receive valuable information as to what they need to do in the next class to obtain the goal. Students will be more likely to retain the information they learned if they are asked to reflect at the end of the lesson.

• Feedback is not only info regarding progress toward a goal but also a cue to seek more information.

If feedback is only pass/fail, then it really is pointless. Feedback should make an individual take stock of the current situation and devise a plan on how to better that situation. If the student reflects on the lesson and finds that they still are not close to meeting the goal, that should be a clue to them that they need to study more, find additional resources, or do SOMETHING to get them closer. But we need to teach kids this. Perhaps, when they reflect on their understanding of the goal, there needs to be a question saying "What are you going to do about it?"

• When teachers are more in tune with student performance, they are more likely to differentiate their instruction.

How can you differentiate without data? You can't! If you don't have any data, you will just keep doing the same thing. That is human nature. Getting more feedback from the students will make it easier to meet their needs. This doesn't have to come from a test, either. Exit Cards, hand signals, journals...all of these, and more, can provide you with valuable feedback that will help you differentiate. And teachers WANT to meet the needs of every kid. It is just difficult to figure out how, sometimes.

More chapters to come!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Feedback: The Hinge That Joins Teaching & Learning


After a bit of a hiatus, I am back! As my district is embracing the power of feedback and how it can make teaching and learning more powerful, my boss gave me the book, written by Jane E. Pollock, Feedback: The Hinge That Joins Teaching & Learning. I will be reflecting on each chapter here for my own personal reflection, as well as for the benefit of any wandering soul who stumbles upon my blog :)

The first chapter talks about the power of feedback and how it acts as the hinge that swings the learning process back and forth between teacher and student. As a teacher gives the student information, the door swings to the student. The student then does something with that information and the door then swings back to the teacher where they then make decisions on what to do with the student action. As I read through this chapter, I found myself thinking that "there is nothing new here" because this is what Madeline Hunter referred to as "Monitor & Adjust." The problem, however, is that too often no one adjusts anything. The teacher and student live with the grade and move on. The teacher and student must both make conscious efforts to change what they are doing in order for teaching and learning to improve. However, how often does the door swing more than twice? Usually, the door swings from the teacher to the student, then it swings back to the teacher, and that's where it stops. It needs to be a constant back-and-forth.

I also thought about my former life as a band director. This idea of feedback in the classroom is second nature to me. Have you ever been to a concert before? Remember how good it was? Chances are good that there were very few, if any, tests. In rehearsals, the group would play, the conductor would provide feedback on how to improve, and the group would make adjustments. If the conductor needed to make adjustments to make his or her directions more clear, they would do so. This is what I believe Pollock is talking about. The problem is that most classrooms exist in the paradigm of the teacher gives the information, the students take a test, and then everyone moves on. Within that paradigm, homework is a grade-justification rather than practice. Football teams practice and it is a place where you are allowed to make mistakes and fix them so that they are more successful in the game. Why don't we do this in the classroom?

The problem, as I see it, is that this is a HUGE paradigm shift. However, I think the idea of Monitoring & Adjusting is an easier pill to gulp down. The book promises simple, easy to implement ideas for teachers and students that will increase the feedback loop and transform teaching and learning.

One of the reflection questions was "...which students seem to naturally seek and receive feedback?" My answer was that the higher-achiever and more goal-oriented student does this. So the mission is to now get students goal-oriented and getting them to seek feedback on their own.

More chapters to come...

Have a happy day!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rocky Mountain Google Apps Summit: August 2-3

Hi all!

Your's truly has been selected to present at the Rocky Mountain Google Apps Summit, in Boulder, Colorado, on August 2nd and 3rd! The conference will feature loads of presentations by fellow Google Certified Teachers and Google Apps EDU Certified Trainers and will be applicable for all Google-ing levels!

Take my presentation, for example:

Bring Your Classroom Into The 21st Century With Google Apps!
Collaboration! Communication! Critical Thinking! Creativity! Transforming teaching is never easy, and it has never been more necessary than today. Our classrooms are full of students who learn in vastly different ways than we ever did and we must adapt! This session will show participants how they can easily incorporate the four Cs of 21st Century Learning by using Google Apps through actual, practical, classroom-tested examples. 

I don't know when it will be, just yet, so plan on coming to both days! Check out their website for more information!

Have a happy day!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Google World Wonders Project

Google has done it again!

They have used their Street-View technology to bring you up close and personal with the wonders of the world! For us teachers, it is awesome that they have also included teachers guides for all levels.

Read about it here:

Also, check out this video:

And while you are at it, don't forget the Google Art Project. Same concept, but involving the worlds greatest museums.

Check it out here:


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Socrative: I can't believe it is free!

Hi all!

Thanks to a fellow teacher, I have been turned on to Socrative. You need to check this out now! Seriously! Stop what you are doing, open another tab, and go see what they are offering teachers!

Socrative is a FREE Web 2.0 student response system that turns any device connected to the internet into a "clicker." I know, you probably have something else you currently use, but check out these highlights:

• Create custom "quizzes" made up of multiple choice, true/false, and SHORT ANSWER!

• Socrative has a custom "Exit Ticket" that students can complete.

• A report listing students' answers can either be downloaded or emailed to you as an Excel file.

• Socrative works with any device connected to the internet. I tried it with my Blackberry Curve and it worked awesome! That's saying something...

• For iOS users, there are free student and teacher apps.

• "Space Race" allows you to turn a quiz into a game.

• You don't need to type in questions. Just ask them "on the fly" and have students type in their answers.

Watch this video to learn a bit more:

Have a happy day!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Chromebook vs. iPad Start-up Race

So I started up my iPad 2 and my Chromebook at the same time.

The Chromebook blew the iPad away in start up time. be don't always have to shut down the iPad when you are done in class. So, this might not be as huge of a factor as one might think.

But the race wasn't even close.

Have a happy day!


I love my job!

I am an Instructional Coach for my district and I am responsible for assisting teachers in the areas of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and technology integration. This last charge means that, in the effort to find quality technology to meet instructional and learning needs, I GET TO PLAY WITH SOME REALLY COOL THINGS!

Yesterday, I received a couple of Chromebooks to get to know, use with students and teachers, and to see if they would be an adequate tool for our students. The only time I have used a Chromebook was at my Google Teacher Academy in Seattle this past summer. At the time, I put it aside and used my MacBook Pro because I experienced some obstacles immediately. But, in fairness, the GTA was moving quick and I needed to be on familiar ground.

Full disclosure, here...we have a lot of iPads in our district and a lot of iPad fanatics. I love my iPad! I think it could be a great possibility for a 1:1 program. When it first came out, I was very skeptical of the iPad, but as Apple has responded to the education needs, the skepticism has lightened. Not gone...but lightened.

So, as I get to know this machine, I am going to share with you my findings, likes, and dislikes.

So far...

1. I like that it has a keyboard
2. Google Docs works awesome
3. Quick start-up
4. I like the idea of the Search Key. However...I miss the caps-lock key it replaced (see my dislikes)

1. No caps-lock key. You can do it, but it is an "Easter Egg." (press both shift keys simultaneously)
2. Not as intuitive as an iPad. iPods, iPhones, and Macs have helped to train us in that, though.
3. Not all Google products work. How do you create a machine and not have a way to use all of your products?

It will be interesting to get teachers' input on this because their frustration with iPads comes from the inability to run tried-and-true Flash websites and an awkward keyboard. Further, I look forward to seeing if there are viable alternatives to Apple's iLife Suite that will allow kids to be as creative.

I will keep playing and keep sharing my thoughts and those of my teachers.

Have a happy day!