Category Archives: Student Engagement

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!

Learning can be beautiful.

A sweet treat for today.  Take a minute and 14 seconds to enjoy this video about learning.  What do you notice?  Here is what came to my mind…

  • Learning can be beautiful and fulfilling.
  • Learning comes in all shapes and sizes.
  • Learning involves interacting with masters of their craft.
  • Learning is active.
  • Learning is all about savoring the process.

Is learning in your classroom beautiful?

Variety School – PacRim Conference

Yesterday I attended the 27th Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities.  We were there to support one  of our partners, Variety School.  Two teachers and three students from Variety School shared how the Promethean ActivClassroom has positively impacted teaching and learning.  The Head of the School kicked off the presentation by introducing the “cast of characters” and commenting on how the public-private partnership formed between the school and IAAK has been mutually beneficial and meaningful.  We couldn’t agree more.  It has been such a wonderful journey following and supporting the entire Variety School community (leadership, teachers, and students) throughout the adoption process.  The teachers have quickly become proficient users, effectively leveraging the affordances of the technology to better meet the needs of their learners.  We’ve learned quite a bit from them, specifically how to integrate flipcharts into daily routines to help students become more self-aware and engaged. 

While the teachers did an excellent job sharing lesson examples and highlighting the outcomes of such activities/tools in the classroom, it was the students who stole the show.  They eagerly and enthusiastically completed a variety of activities on the ActivBoard.  The entire presentation was inspiring for many reasons.  It was very apparent that these teachers have a passion for teaching and that they care very deeply for their students.  These teachers model “lifelong learning” – they enthusiastically adopted a new tool, integrated it in ways to support their instructional practices, while continuing to identify new and different ways to use the technology to support teaching and learning.  Special thanks to the team at Variety School for the great work you do!

We’re all makers

I couldn’t decide which TED talk to share today – Bill Gates talking about state budgets and accounting tricks or Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine, talking about makers.  It’s almost the end of the week so I opted for something more fun.  Dougherty’s enthusiasm is great.  The essence of his talk can be boiled down to these key points:

  • All of us are makers – we don’t just live, we create things.
  • Makers tend to love the process – often times, makers don’t even know exactly why they are doing it. 
  • Makers are in control.  Essentially, they want to figure out how things work and use it for their own purpose.
  • Makers play with technology.
  • Children are particularly interested in making and have a knack for tinkering.  Through making, they shape and re-shape their world.
  • Likewise, schools should nourish makers.

A couple of thoughts I had after watching – the whole notion of ‘making’ relates nicely to the constructivist learning theory and project-based learning.  Educators know that students learn through doing.  However, I wonder if, in education, there is too much focus on the end product and not enough focus on the process.  Sure, we always try and ‘capture’ the process through checklists, reflections, journals, etc. but those elements so often seem of less importance then the final product.  When really it is during the process that all the ‘good stuff’ happens – the problem-solving, the creativity, the aha! moments, the conflict, the tension… Experiencing all of that is the real learning for the student but as a teacher do we miss a lot of it?  And, does our focus on the end product train students to only value the end result?

Rote learning – is it really that bad?

Ah, two very interesting pieces that discuss the impact of ‘rote learning’ in the overall learning and growth process.  First, HechingerEd’s piece discusses the value of rote memorization, referring to it as ‘learning by heart’ (less negative connotations).  Then, Curriculum Matters’ post that argues there is indeed a difference between ‘rote memorization’ and ‘learning by heart’. 

HechingerEd’s post argues that there is value in rote memorization in that it is a challenge (and one that can be accomplished with pride), it is good exercise for the brain, and finally, that through the process of memorization new insights are revealed such as play on words, analogies, etc.  In essence, staying true to the rhythm and pattern helps to uncover language delights.  I thought it was interesting (and logical) how memory was attached to engagement.  Daniel Willingham, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, states, “If you’re really engaged, memory comes pretty automatically.”

Empowering Learners

I intended to write about the recent talk and data surrounding science education both locally and nationally but stumbled upon this Education Week chat that grabbed my attention and deserves some props.  The session, “From Engagement to Empowerment:  How 21st Century Tools Put Students in Charge of Their Learning”, featured Darren Kuropatwa, educator and founder of the K-12 Online Conference.  Here are my take-aways:

  • “All voices speak at the same volume online.”
  • “Technology helps students see their thinking.”
  • An interesting way to use blogs – “Scribe blogs” – each day a student is selected to summarize what he/she learned in school that day, with enough detail that an absent student could get up to speed.  So, essentially, the students are creating a running log of learning over the course of the year.  Kuropatwa describes this as a “distributive approach” to technology use.    
  • He also discussed how he uses blogs to identify student misconceptions and to help students reflect.  He referenced a resource as a good, safe option for K-5 students.
  • Interesting science resource –  Symphony of Science offers unique science music videos, good to pique student interest.

If these take-aways resonate with you, you may want to review some of Kuropatwa’s presentations.  He provides links to them in the chat.

The power of online voting

In support of entrepreneurship and small businesses in the field of education, uBoost needs our vote to be showcased at Vator Splash, a once-a-quarter event that provides promising startups with a forum to showcase their ideas.  The top 10 are chosen through an online competition.  uBoost is currently ranking at 16.  Let’s help get uBoost to the top 10.  To vote, go here.  uBoost is a research-based recognition program that is designed to promote student behaviors deemed necessary for success and achievement.  IAAK’s SES program utilizes uBoost to motivate kids to attend tutoring sessions and to recognize academic achievements.  Thanks in advance for your support!

Hawaii ‘History Teachers’ produce music videos

I can’t decide what is most impressive about these music videos – the concept (bringing history to life through pop songs), the production quality (cool graphics, imagery, audio), or the passion (and effort) required to create such unique educational resources.  Kudos to local teachers Amy Burvall and Herb Mahelona for their creativity, passion, and innovative thinking. 

Read the article about the history teachers in the Star Advertiser and check out some of the videos on YouTube.  Here is a link to one: “Black Death” set to “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani.

Does it all come down to student engagement?

I reviewed three resources so far today and they all point to the importance of keeping students engaged.  We all know – when students are engaged, they learn.  The problem is that engagement is a tricky, moving target, different for every student in every subject area.  So, then differentiation becomes the name of the game.  And, there are so many layers of differentiation, making it difficult to accomplish well.  And, then part of me (the old school part) thinks, do kids really need to be engaged all the time?  Shouldn’t they learn that some things are not fun but still need to be learned?  Alas, I’m rambling… hopefully, this ramble has sparked some thinking for you and perhaps you’ll find the resources interesting and relevant…        

  • School of One – overview video that describes this innovative model that takes differentiation to an entirely new level, using the power of technology
  • A response to ‘cash for grades’ – an opinion piece that summarizes that incentives only work for input behaviors but perhaps the question really should focus on what we teach and how.  With the thinking being that if the content and instruction are engaging, then maybe incentives are not needed. 
  • A new study at the University of Texas that shows choice (real choice) leads to greater student engagement and enhanced performance.