Author Archive: Its All About Kids

HAIS Schools of the Future: IAAK presentations

The Fourth Annual Schools of the Future Conference marks an exciting venture in which the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools and the Hawaii Community Foundation will partner with the Hawaii State Department of Education and Hawaii Society for Technology in Education to offer a not-to-be-missed two-day conference, convening October 23-24, 2012 at the Hawaii Convention Center. This is by far, one of our favorite events of the year! Join us for our Like-Minded session on October 23rd, an informative Q&A lunchtime session around Promethean ActivClassrooms and for our featured presentations:

The ActivClassroom: Effective Teaching with Technology for College and Career Readiness
Presenters: Cheryl Estabillo and Candice Frontiera, It’s All About Kids (Oct 23rd, 1:30-3:00 pm)

Learn to leverage the use of the Promethean ActivClassroom to foster communication, collaboration, inquiry and student centered learning in your classroom. Teachers will learn various strategies to plan interactive lessons and implement authentic assessments that meet the new levels of rigor required with Common Core Standards.

Developing 21st Century Skills in Students and Teachers
Presenter: Karen Talbert, (Oct 23rd, 3:30-5:00 pm)

Whether you’re a novice or a tech expert, learn how easy it is to integrate 21st century skill building into your teaching. EasyTech helps students (and teachers!) efficiently learn technology skills, digital literacy, and higher-order thinking as they study and learn in a manner which is exciting, engaging, and cross curricular. Make sure your students and teachers have the tech and 21st century skills they need to prepare them for the coming adoption of the Common Core Standards and Next Generation Assessments.

The Role of Interactive Technologies in Teaching and Learning
Presenter: Mr. Ginno Kelly, Promethean (Oct 23rd, 10:30-12:00 pm)

As interactive technologies become more ubiquitous in classrooms across the US, the need for the successful integration of these tools is imperative. The words “interactive” and “engaging” have become buzzwords that are sometimes hard to understand. In this session, using examples from the classroom, we will explore what to look for when you hear “interactive” and “engaging” within the context of interactive technologies.

Marzano Research Laboratory’s Enhancing the Art and Science of Teaching with Technology
Presenter: Sonny Magaña, M.Ed (Oct 24th, 10:30-12:00 pm)
The Marzano Research Laboratory (MRL) has benefitted educators and leaders across the country by developing practical research-based strategies on how to improve teaching and learning. In this session, Marzano Research Associate Sonny Magaña will discuss new research-based professional development offerings for education systems to effectively wield technologies to measurably improve pedagogy, academic achievement and student engagement. Dr. Marzano’s Enhancing the Art and Science of Teaching with Technology professional development services for teachers and administrators is designed to help school systems harness the potential of their existing technologies to transform their instructional and evaluation models and better prepare their students for the rigors of 21st Century work and life.

Early bird registration is now available.


Good Idea Grant

With today’s budget constraints, teachers are getting more creative in finding ways to support innovation in their classrooms. A Hawaii teacher we work with was awarded a Good Idea Grant last year and used the funds to integrate technology into her middle school math classroom. We were inspired by her dedication and creativity, and excited about the impact her “good idea” had upon her students.

If you have an exciting curriculum idea that involves your IAAK supported software or hardware solution(s), we want to hear about it! Consider applying for a Good Idea Grant and use our team as a resource to help brainstorm ideas, assist in the application process, and if you achieve success, to support the implementation of your idea!

As stated in the application, “Good Idea Grants are designed to support K-12 teachers and schools in their efforts to encourage a curriculum that is driven by problem-solving, discovery, exploratory learning, and requires students to actively engage a situation in order to find its solution. Students, therefore, become creative, innovative, and critical thinkers”.

Grants up to $3,000 each will be awarded to support innovative programs that strive to increase student interest and academic achievement.

Grants up to $7,500 each will be awarded for the development, improvement or expansion of innovative instructional programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as programs that integrate and apply STEM learning across other disciplines.

Have a good idea? Go for it and let us know how we can help!

Common Core State Standards Summer Institutes for Oahu and East Hawaii

Title: Common Core State Standards Summer Institute Oahu and East Hawaii

The training sessions are designed to help teachers successfully implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Sessions will include research papers and readings related to building deeper understanding of the CCSS, deconstruction of the CCSS, lesson planning and lesson revisions tied to the CCSS.

The training sessions will focus on: Goal 1: Assure all students graduate college-and-career-ready through effective use of standards-based education. In addition, the training sessions will link to the following Literacy for Learning principles: Guiding Principle #1: Assessment of and for learning drives instruction, Guiding Principle #2: Evidence-based instructional strategies, and Guiding Principle #4: Instructional Leadership and Professional Learning.

Oahu: July 9-13, 2012
East Hawaii: July 16-20, 2012

8:00-3:00 pm

Oahu: Japanese Cultural Center (July 9, 11-13) and Ala Moana Hotel (July 10)
East Hawaii: Imiloa Astrology Center

Facilitators: The Common Core Institute; Mr. Kevin Baird and senior faculty team

Registration: Pre-registration deadline: Friday May 18, 2012 (registration fees to be sponsored for eligible school teams).
For registration details, email or call (808) 237-5567.

3D printing in a 4th grade classroom?

Kris Schwengel, 4th grade teacher at Punahou School, shares his insights and experiences using 2BOT’s Classroom ModelMaker, 3D printer. Read on to learn how his students were able to create physical models from virtual data and hear his students’ enthusiastic feedback in this lively video.

By Kris Schwengel
Using the Classroom ModelMaker, my students will learn a wonderful lesson about technology and the future of manufacturing, design, and creativity.

Project Goal:
Students will create topography maps of Maui using three methods:
1. A hand-made product using poster board as students here have done for the past 25 years
2. A 3D model of Maui using Google SketchUp
3. A digitally engineered and manufactured Maui map using the 2BOT Classroom ModelMaker

Here at Punahou, every 4th grade student boards a plane with his or her classmates to Maui to experience another island and learn about its biodiversity, geography, and culture. In order to prepare for this trip, students have, for decades, created beautiful hand-made topography maps. Nowadays, students are able to realize this same project in a variety of ways using technology. Rest assured my goal is NOT to replace hand-made products. Rather, my goal is to give students exposure to a variety of methods that they will then compare and contrast, no doubt coming to a variety of conclusions.

As a huge fan of the FAQ format, here are questions and answers most educators will/should have about this project:

How long does this project take? This Maui Maps project takes about a month, but mainly because of the slow (but awesomely precise) cutting speed of the ModelMaker.

What level of knowledge should a teacher have in Google SketchUp for this project? Medium. This software is amazingly intuitive, but can be a tad tricky at times. This is definitely a project the teacher should do first on his or her own before having students to do it.

Is the 2BOT ModelMaker difficult to use? Not at all. One of the best aspects is how seamlessly is fits with the Google SketchUp software. Did I mention SketchUp is free?

Can this be done in either Mac or PC? Yes. Currently the ModelMaker only works with a PC computer so you’ll need at least one PC.

What lessons have you learned as a teacher from this? I’ve learned that 4th graders are not only capable of 3D modeling and fabricating, but also that they adore it! The academic possibilities are staggering at this point.

What lessons have the students learned from this experience? I think there may be too many to count, but I know for sure the students have learned about scale, a plethora of geometry concepts, spatial reasoning, and troubleshooting. I’m even more excited about the early exposure to the concept of 3D modeling and fabrication.

What are the costs involved?
– Hand-made maps cost about $2 per student in materials
– Google SketchUp is free
– The 2BOT Classroom ModelMaker prices can be found through IAAK.

Will you do this again? I would love to expose every student to this process, so yes I would. I will encourage my school to make this part of the 4th grade curriculum as it fits perfectly with our standards and goals.

Which process did the students like the best? The amazing thing about this project is the ratio of “favorite” process is split in thirds: some students most enjoyed the handmade maps, some enjoyed the 3D modeling, and some enjoyed the actual fabrication of their maps. In my opinion, that is the mark of a great project.

How long does the ModelMaker take to create one map? At the finest setting, one map takes about four to six hours to fabricate in the ModelMaker. The Google SketchUp design takes between 40 to 90 minutes for a 4th grade student to make. The handmade topography maps take about two hours for the kids to make.

What would you do differently next time? Time management is an issue because the fabrication process takes long. This simply means the teacher has to be organized enough to keep the ModelMaker working in the morning and throughout the evening. I simply load in a new piece of foam, hit ‘print’, and come back the next morning. There is no reason a teacher needs to be anywhere near the machine while it is working.

Are there other machines that might work like the ModelMaker? Yes, but this machine is truly “plug and play,” meaning there is very little fiddling or calibrating as with other machines.

Is there other software besides Google SketchUp that would work for this project? Yes, but I’ve never seen anything better for kids. Any software that can export a kmz file will work, but most other software packages won’t be as user friendly for kids as SketchUp.

What other uses can you think of for the 2bot Classroom ModelMaker? I’ve now opened up this process to the kid’s imaginations. Students are making desk caddies, marble mazes, coat of arm shields, name signs, motorcycle wheels, and the list goes on! That’s what is so exciting about this technology. I can see uses throughout math programs, art classes, architecture courses, and even history classes where the students could make 3D replicas of artifacts “half buried” in blocks of foam with protruding labels.

Would you recommend this for grades lower than 4th Grade? Not really. Advanced 3rd graders might be able to handle Google SketchUp. That said I bet many people would never have thought the 4th Graders would be capable of such amazing 3D modeling and creativity!

What are the benefits to students in using 3D images over 2D or printer copy images? 2D is fine, but 3D is simply a better form of expression because we live in a 3D world. It is clear to me that our brains crave three dimensional objects because on some level, they just make more sense to us as beings that live in three dimensions, not to mention that fact that educators should constantly seek to understand their audience: children. We all know that children gravitate towards tactile learning whenever given the choice.

March 2012 Power User Workshop Recap

Spring Power User Workshop Highlights
“Well worth the time during my spring break”… “Well paced–gave information that is pertinent and helpful”…“Bringing in a TLC trainer brought a new perspective to the way I will use the ActivBoard”… “Dave K. was insanely awesome!”…“Dave was knowledgeable, entertaining, and helpful”…“Very useful tools and ideas–powerful because it was quick and easy”…“ Dave K. provided tools and ideas that could be applied to my classroom tomorrow”… “Best ActivExpression session I’ve seen so far”…“I hope there are more workshops because I wanted to attend all classes”…

These were just a few of the rave reviews received from our Spring Power User Workshop held on March 12th at Moanalua High School! Thank you to the many teachers who joined us over spring break for a fun-filled day of learning and collaboration. We were fortunate to have Promethean Teaching and Learning Consultant, Dave Kootman, share his knowledge, expertise, and humor with everyone, and many thanks to the Moanalua High School teacher presenters for taking the lead in various sessions. Check out video highlights and flipcharts from the sessions below:

Session 1:
The Good Stuff, Dave Kootman- flipchart, video highlights
Basic Orientation for Teachers, Craig Crisler- flipchart
Action Browser in Action!, Cheryl Estabillo- flipchart, handout
Troubleshooting for Tech Coordinators, Micah Gawin- flipchart

Session 2:
Speaking Without Speaking, Dave Kootman- flipchart, video highlights
Instant Feedback with ActivExpressions, Soon Young Kim and Sean Takahashi- flipchart, handout
Building Resources for Flipcharts, Judy Tateyama, flipchart

Session 3:
Outside the Box Thinking with your LRS, Dave Kootman- flipchart, video highlightsActivExpression Top 10 Tips video

ActivExpression users invited to participate in Marzano study…

Over the last 5 years, Dr. Robert Marzano, noted author of; Designing & Teaching Learning Goals & Objectives, The Highly Engaged Classroom, Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Grading, On Excellence in Teaching, District Leadership That Works, and The Art and Science of Teaching, has worked with Promethean to conduct an independent study on the effects of the Promethean ActivClassroom on teaching methodology, student engagement, and performance.  Phase III of this study was recently announced, focusing on the integration of the ActivExpression learner responses systems into the classroom. 

Hawaii Promethean ActivExpression users are invited to participate in this exciting nationwide study to address the following research question: “What is the impact of Promethean ActivExpressions on student engagement and academic achievement?”

Below is a quick breakdown of the research methodology:

1.      Teacher participants will complete the free online ActivExpression course and take part in a free 2-hour workshop on the InterActiv Engagement Method (conducted by IAAK);

2.      Teachers will choose a 1-day lesson within a unit of study in their curriculum for the purposes of the study;

3.      Teachers will design a pre/post assessment and administer the assessment to a class that they’ve chosen for the study;

4.      Teachers will then randomly assign half of the class to the “Control Group,” and half of the class to the “Treatment Group;”

5.      Teachers will send the “Treatment Group” to the library/computer lab (or another area of the school) and then teach the “Control Group” the lesson without ActivExpressions and administer the “Post Test”  to this group at the conclusion of the lesson (teachers will also be asked to video tape this lesson);

6.      The next day teachers will send the “Control Group” to the library/computer lab (or another area of the school) and teach the “Treatment Group” the lesson with ActivExpressions and administer the “Post Test” at the conclusion of the lesson to this group (teachers will also be asked to video tape this lesson);

7.      Teachers will then send the data gathered from both groups, along with the video tapes of both classes to Marzano Research Laboratory for analysis.

If you are interested in participating in this study or have any questions, please contact Craig Crisler at (808) 457-6745 or at   Deadline to sign up is March 7, 2012 and study training will take place on March 12, 2012 (if unable to attend this training, we would be happy to schedule a training at your convenience).  Mahalo for your consideration!

Transforming Education

I was hunting for research on the Promethean website and found this great paper that connects John Bransford’s five principles of learning to Promethean IWB application. Written by Sonny Magana, Promethean’s Director of Global Strategies, and Paige Frenkel, Promethean’s Education Strategist, the paper discusses the need for change (true change) in the classroom and describes the way technology can drive such change. The authors make an interesting point that the actual design of the technology plays a significant role in determining the impact it will have on learning. They highlight that many of the technologies that have entered the classroom have been business productivity tools simply re-purposed for the educational setting. These types of tools have transitioned teaching and learning but have not transformed teaching and learning. I would recommend reading the paper. It is dense with learning theory yet very easy to digest. I think this chart effectively describes how Promethean’s ActivClassroom was designed for an educational context:

Developing ‘Patient problem-solvers’

I stumbled upon Dan Meyer’s TED Talk about teaching math.  It is the perfect complement to my last post about Wolfram’s TED Talk.  Meyer (a great presenter – wow, what a difference presentation and humor make) builds the case for re-defining math and developing students who are “patient problem-solvers”.  He, like Wolfram, believes that more emphasis needs to be place on formulating problems based on real world scenarios.  He shows how textbooks do the exact opposite.  In textbooks, math is served up, step by step, in neat little slices so students really don’t need to do any higher-level thinking but instead just complete computations.  Watch his TED Talk.  It will not disappoint.

A couple of great quotes from Meyer:

  • “I teach high school math. I sell a product to a market that doesn’t want it but is forced by law to buy it.”
  •  “Be less helpful.”

Check out his blog, too.  Cool stuff!

It’s time to ‘feel’ math

Today I needed a TED Talk moment.  I selected Conrad Wolfram’s talk on “Teaching kids real math with computers” since much of my work these days seems to revolve around math.  Essentially, Wolfram describes the major disconnect between math in education and math in the real world.  Math in education is uninteresting, revolving around dumbed down, isolated calculations.  Math in the real world is exciting, leading to innovation and creation.  Wolfram proposes the use of computers as a bridge to connect math in school to math in the real world.

Wolfram reduces “math” to four steps:

  1. Asking the right questions
  2. Transforming a real problem into a math formulation
  3. Computing
  4. Transforming the math formulation back to the real world to verify the solution

He then points out that school requires students to spend ~80% of time on step three; a step that can be accomplished faster and with greater precision by a computer than by a human.  You get the point.  While this emphasis on computation was essential way back when, it is less applicable for today’s world.  And, yet again, this is an example of how our educational system fails to adapt to meet the needs (student and societal) of today.

Wolfram continues his presentation, discussing common objections to using computers to teach math.  He concludes with these two interesting points:

  1. It’s time to make math more practical and more conceptual.
  2. Using computers to teach math allows students to “play with math”, to “feel it”, to “interact with it” without getting bogged down with boring calculations.

He shared a good example – calculus.  Calculus is taught very late in education because the computations are very difficult.  However, conceptually, calculus is appropriate for younger students.  He showed a computer application that allowed the user to increase the sides of a polygon to visually see how the shape transforms into a circle.  So simple, yet so powerful!

Policy suggestions for digital learning

An Education Week article today features a new report “Digital Learning Now” published by the Digital Learning Council that identifies 10 ways for states to change policy to increase access and equity in digital learning.  Here are the 10 ways:

  1. Make all students eligible to be digital learners.
  2. Give all students access to high-quality online courses and content.
  3. Allow students to customize their learning via online content.
  4. Allow students to advance at their own pace.
  5. Ensure that all online content is high-quality.
  6. Ensure that instruction and teachers are high-quality.
  7. Allow students access to multiple providers of content.
  8. Measure content and instruction by student learning.
  9. Create funding and pay incentives for performance.
  10. Build infrastructure to support digital learning.

While some of the suggestions seem repetitive and somewhat obvious (i.e. high-quality online learning should be self-paced.  That, to me, is a no-brainer.), I like the general sense of empowering the student, making them accountable for their learning.  “Allowing students access to multiple providers of content” is particularly empowering.  Think about this scenario:  A student opts for online learning for algebra.  The student, then, selects from a menu list of providers (all high-quality and ‘pre-approved’ by the school or Hawaii DOE) based on his/her learning preferences (i.e. more video-based lectures and projects versus text-based instruction and multiple-choice tests) and educational needs.  Of course, there needs to be some education for the student to determine how he/she best learns.  The exercise will help the student build his/her metacognitive skills; skills essential to success in life.  And, of course, there needs to be a  teacher or counselor at the school to support the student in making an informed decision as well as to provide ongoing support to the student as he/she completes the course.  Do you think students would feel more ownership of their learning, be more engaged, and perhaps perform at a higher level?