Category Archives: 21st Century Skills

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!

Apps for Learning


The volume of apps for learning and productivity continue to expand at an exponential pace.  Trying to keep up is overwhelming.  So, here are a few resources to help you stay current and save you time as well as some favorite apps.

  • Teachers With Apps – I frequently visit this website as these two teachers do an excellent job reviewing apps.  They always focus on the learning objectives, have a good sense of usability, and involve student-testing.  Plus, they review a variety of apps for students of all ages.  One of their favorites (and mine too) is Motion Math (developed out of the Stanford School of Education) that helps students “feel” a number line.  Students must move the phone or iPad just so that the star falling from space hits the number line to represent a specific fraction.  The app connects physical movement with abstract concepts, building students understanding of fractions.  Be sure to also check out the other apps in the Motion Math family – Motion Math Zoom (counting, place value) and Motion Math:  Hungry Fish (mental addition and subtraction).  Slice It is another great app to help students understand parts to whole.  With over 200 levels, students must slice shapes into pieces of equal size.
  • Moms With Apps is an app that offers a catalog of educational apps, making it easier to sift through the volume of “educational” apps on the market.
  • eSchool News article “10 of the best apps for education” highlights some interesting apps.
  • Stick Pick is the “high tech” version of your “random selection” tools (sticks in the can).  By simply shaking or taping the device, a student’s name is selected and, if desired, a question (organized by Bloom’s Taxonomy) is suggested to the student.  A great tool to support differentiated instruction, the teacher can configure the app so that it links question stems to the cognitive or linguistic needs of a learner.  Plus, while the student is answering the teacher can “assess” the response within the app, capturing formative assessment data.
  • Apps organized by Blooms Taxonomy – there are quite a few resources that use Blooms Taxonomy as an organizing framework.  These are great places to visit to start understanding how apps can be used to support various levels of thinking.  So, instead of just reviewing individual apps for their appeal, usability, and educational objectives, thinking about 1) the level of thinking required to achieve success in the app and 2) how a suite of apps can be used to support students as they move through Bloom’s levels of thinking.  Here are two good resources:  Bloomsapps and Teach with your iPad.
  • Groups or networks or your PLC are also great ways to learn about high-quality apps.  Josh Reppun started the Facebook group iPad Education Dreams which now has 148 members and a wealth of knowledge.  If you’re interested in joining, look Josh up on Facebook and send him a request.


Edutopia’s New Year’s Resolution: Think Differently

Happy New Year!  I can’t resist the opportunity to share a post from Edutopia’s eNewsletter.  First, I love the theme of the newsletter – “New Year’s Resolution:  Think Differently”.  Secondly, I appreciated the article “Discover Design Thinking” as it provides a nice overview of the design process and offers an application example.  I’ve blogged about design thinking in the past.  You can find posts here and here.  In this Edutopia article, the author, Betty Ray, Edutopia’s senior blog editor and community manager, also weaves in ideas for application in the classroom with students.  Design thinking is one of those inspiring and creative frameworks that sounds great in practice but can be challenging to implement.  This article is excellent in that it succinctly describes the process in action within the educational arena, with both teachers and students leading the way. 

Let’s start thinking differently now!  

Meet Thomas Suarez, 12-year-old innovator, app designer, and teacher

This kid is great.  In this Manhattan Beach TEDX talk, he shares how his passion for games led him down a simple yet truly rewarding path… and, look here he is presenting among the greats about innovation and educational transformation.  In under five minutes, you’ll see how he moved from a consumer to researcher to producer to teacher to change agent.  And, what I love best, he’s still a kid – not a kid trying to be an adult.  Very cool… someone to follow for sure!  One of his best lines in his talk, “Students usually know a little bit more than teachers… with the technology.”  The audience got a kick of that statement.

12 Tech Tools to Check Out

This blog post was shared with me and I had to pass it along.  The teacher author shares 12 web-based tools and resources, providing a brief description and snapshot of each.  The list includes several of my favorites (you’ve probably learned of them from my previous posts) but some new ones too.  Check it out!

Video games for Learning: A K-12 Innovation

Education Week featured a commentary written by Michael Levine, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, and Alan Gershenfeld, co-founder and president of E-Line Media, on video games for learning.  Like the authors, I see great potential in game-based learning.  If video games are designed well – that is, they draw upon learning theories and design and usability principles – they can offer a personalized, challenging, and interesting experience for a learner.  The authors highlight that video games can leverage many instructional frameworks such as project or problem-based learning and collaborative learning, based on a student’s or a group’s proficiencies.  And, of course, by design, video games challenge learners to think critically and problem-solve, requiring that learners use immediate feedback to make decisions throughout the game experience.

The authors also point out the gap that exists between the “ideals” of video games for learning and the “realities”.  In other words, “if video games are so great for learning, why aren’t we using them more?”  The authors state that the challenge has been scaling up games from research trials to the mainstream and the need for strong private-public partnerships.  I will add that video games, good video games, are expensive and time-consuming to design and develop.  Up until recently the buy-in from educators (“the demand”) hasn’t been strong enough to push production (“the supply”).  However, the tides are certainly changing which is why we will continue to follow game-based learning… more to come.  To read the commentary, click here.

Study shows 0 to 8 year olds are media consumers too

A study done by Common Sense Media, as part of its new Program for the Study of Children and Media, highlights how very different our world is today, even for our youngest – children 0 to eight years old.  I found myself continually surprised by the data reported in the eSchool News article and report.  For instance, 52 percent of children ages 5-8 use smart phones, video iPods, iPads, or similar devices.  And, four in 10 2-to 4-year-olds use the same devices.  The study compared the time children spend with screen media versus time spent reading.  “In a typical day, zero-to 1-year olds spend more than twice as much time watching television and DVDs (53 minutes) as they do reading or being read to (23 minutes).”  Wow – children 0 to 1!

Not surprisingly, an “app gap” has developed.  “Among lower-income children, 27 percent have a parent with a smart phone, compared to 57 percent for higher-income children.  One in 10 lower-income children has a video iPod or similar device in the home, compared to one in three (34 percent) upper-income children.  And, just 2 percent of lower-income children have a tablet device such as an iPad at home, compared to 17 percent of higher-income children.”  These statistics (and others found in report) re-emphasize the critical role schools play in helping bridge the divide.  If low-income children are not getting access to the tools that drive productivity in the world at home, shouldn’t they be able to use such tools at school, in relevant and meaningful ways?

Now, keep in mind that The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) still holds firm in their recommendation discouraging the use of media for children younger than 2-years old.

The study is dense with interesting and surprising statistics.  As a parent and educator, it is essential to understand the context within which we operate and teach.  Of course, what’s missing from this specific report is an analysis of the value media adds to learning and growth.  What impact does screen time have on children’s development and growth?  Now, that’s a larger, more complex question.

Ed Tech Conference Reflections

The Principal & Education Technology Conference on Wednesday proved to be an inspiring day filled with thought-provoking presentations and dialogue.  Here are some of my highlights:

  • Channel 1 News Interactive offers an exciting (not to mention easy) way to integrate daily fresh content into the classroom to spark discussion and debate.  I think teachers, particularly elementary teachers, often struggle with bringing current events into the classroom in an age-appropriate way.  Channel 1 News Interactive offers an alternative way to share and discuss current events through multi-media (video, animations, images, etc.) resources.  The fact that the new stories are reported by young people and feature the perspectives of young people makes them even more relevant and meaningful.  And, Channel 1 News Interactive even creates follow up news stories based on students’ responses.  Very cool.
  • Kevin Baird’s keynote reminded us that teaching today should focus on thinking rather than knowing.  It resonates with a key question that I use to gauge the quality of a learning experience – “are you asking a student to think or to remember?”  He tied this to the Common Core State Standards movement, highlighting that the initiative is really about changing our instruction or practices in the classroom – less about changing content.
  •  I thoroughly enjoyed Sara DeWitt’s presentation sharing some of PBS’ interactive learning projects.  First, I appreciated their approach.  The product development process she described was very exploratory and user-centered.  For instance, she highlighted that they are interested in understanding if motion and movement help to further or deepen the learning for young children.  The games she shared (some online, some apps) were great examples of leveraging the affordances of the technology to enrich the user’s experience.  For instance, using the computer’s webcam to capture the user’s movement which triggers action in the game or using the computer’s microphone to capture audio (a clap) to pop and count bubbles on the screen.  And, of course, their commitment to research and evaluation is wonderful.  SRI International studied the impact PBS KIDS Raising Readers media-rich curriculum had on preschoolers and the results are impressive.  Check out some of the new experiments at PBS Kids Lab here.

Thank you to all who attended the conference!

Excitement builds for the Oct 19th Ed Tech Conference

In just under a month the IAAK Principals & Educational Technology Conference will take place at the Hawaii Convention Center from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.  I’ve highlighted some of the sessions here… for more information on the conference, click here.

Resources for the Classroom:

  • You don’t want to miss learning about a new resource to be used on the IWB – Channel One News InterActiv, created in partnership with Channel One and CBS News, offers students in grades 3-12 daily high-quality broadcasts featuring current, real-world content.  The program offers teachers a simple and engaging way to integrate authentic experiences while modeling the effective use of IWBs.
  • As the Common Core State Standards continue to shape teaching and learning in the classroom, teachers will need to increase the complexity of text and integrate more non-fiction text.  MyOn Reader is a great web-based resource which not only provides access to thousands of eBooks but also includes embedded assessments to measure and track students’ Lexile levels.  This session will focus on how several Hawaii schools are using the resource to promote reading.
  • It seems the buzz these days is all about “learning across platforms”.  If this concept is buzzing in your brain, you probably want to attend the session focusing on how PBS Kids is engaging students across platforms through its characters and content.

Common Core State Standards:

We’ve spent a good part of the school year working with Kevin Baird of the Common Core Institute and several Honolulu schools, focusing on unraveling the Common Core Standards.  In this keynote session, Kevin will discuss the ways educational technology tools and resources can and should be used to support the implementation of the Common Core.  Drawing from his diverse experiences in education, Kevin does an excellent job highlighting priorities and sharing practical strategies with high impact.


There’s always exciting news and practices to share with regards to Promethean.

  • Ensuring 100% response rate in the classroom just got easier!  Hear about Promethean’s latest development – BYOD (bring your own device) for collecting responses.
  • There is so much to learn from our friends at Variety School.  Hear and see how teachers and students at the school are leveraging the capabilities of the ActivBoard to enhance teaching and learning for students with special needs.  You will be impressed!

Join on October 19th – we’d love to see you there.