SAMR or 4Cs? Why Choose?

I recently read a blog post written by someone who had been retweeted by someone I follow. The title of the post of “I’m ditching SAMR for the 4Cs…” I don’t know the author, but her post got my attention and made me think. Let me say at the outset that I don’t think that I have to choose between the two concepts. They are fundamentally different and do not necessarily point in two different directions as she believes.

My purpose here is not to critique her post point by point (I have included the link above and I would encourage a close reading and evaluation for yourself.), but rather, I would like to reflect a little on why I use both strategies in my classroom.

It should be pointed out that while my background is in English/Language Arts, I now teach a computer applications course.

SAMR has been defined by Kathy Shrock as “a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. Popularized by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the model supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences that utilize technology.”

The 4Cs are usually described as key strategies relative to 21st century skills that educators are encouraged to cultivate and teach to their students and include critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration.

I want both in my classroom, and I use one to enhance the other to help my students be more successful.

The writer makes the point that “SAMR focuses on technology use, not on instruction.” and I do not disagree completely. There are two ways of considering this, however. As a technology trainer (and some administrators might share this perspective as well) I am sometimes responsible  for helping make sure that technology resources are used to their fullest potential and that teachers are trained so that they can effectively use the resources at their disposal. SAMR’s layers help teachers understand that sometimes there are better ways to use technology in order to get the most out of the tool. I could use a power drill for a hammer (and I have tried a couple of times) but I will be much more successful if I use a hammer to pound nails.

Secondly, instruction is an umbrella word for everything that happens between a teacher and a student in the classroom. The tools that we choose and the strategies we employeare “instructional”. Why would we separate SAMR from the process? If tech is not effective, either find different tech or put the tech away and find something else that works better, but SAMR is not the issue.

The writer writes that she feels judged by SAMR’s apparent ranking. I would submit that in its original intent, SAMR is not meant to rank Redefinition as inherently better than Substitution any more than Knowledge is better than Evaluation in Blooms. Sometimes knowledge and comprehension are appropriate learning objectives. There are, no doubt, some who would use SAMR that way, but that is a mistake.

I recently taught a workshop for the Lausanne Learning Institute in which I explored the levels of SAMR and demonstrated for a group of educators each level in a 1-hour lesson taught to 11th graders. We moved through a series of instructional strategies that enabled us to use all four layers. The purpose was to help educators distinguish the separate ways of using technology, and to show that in some instances, the technology helped increase student engagement and to move the lesson into higher levels of learning. In the final portion of the lesson the students engaged a second group of students on a different campus in a web conference. During those individual web conferences, they communicated, collaborated and were asked to think critically about decisions they had made earlier in the assignment. That’s how SAMR and the 4Cs work together — not exclusive of each other or in opposition to each other.

Let me show you how it might work first with a diagram created by Kathy Shrock in which she relates SAMR and Blooms.

Blooms

Now, I’ll take the liberty of adding to her diagram a visual that reflects how I see where the 4Cs might fit in relation to these two concepts. Blooms and SAMR both work as propulsion and payload to support the student-centered delivery of 4Cs learning experiences. Again, I see no need to ditch any of them in favor of the other. I’ll be hanging on to both.

Rocket

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

“Is My Classroom Better Because of Tech?”

For many years, I sought to effectively integrate technology into my English classroom. Now, I teach technology applications, and I find that I more and more integrate core content classes into my technology-rich environment in order to facilitate learning. I do wonder sometimes if technology gets in the way of learning or if I am using it in a way that enhances learning for my students.

How are classrooms better today because of technology?

Computerized-brain-made-of-GPUs-864x480I was recently invited to consider an article titled “How People Learn (and What Technology Might Have to Do With it)” and evaluate my own conceptions of how technology contributes to the learning process in my classroom. While my first reaction to the article was colored somewhat by the author’s use of an illustration involving a student who brought his father’s Palm Pilot to school (the article was first published in 2002), the primary assumptions by the author are more timeless and deserve closer consideration.

The author, Dr. Marcy P. Driscoll, now dean of the College of Education at Florida State University and author of Psychology of Learning for Instruction, writes that51qWpQLB8oL._SX386_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Learning occurs in context
  • Learning is active
  • Learning is social
  • Learning is reflective

Without merely summarizing Driscoll’s work, it is helpful to react to it in light of current theory and practice. Context is important to the learning process. When a student asks, “Why do I have to learn that?” they are more than merely questioning the teacher’s strategy, and it is likely that said instructor is not taking the depth of knowledge (DOK) high enough for there to be a context in which the student can learn. I often read that if a concept or question can be resolved by “googling” the question, then why not Google it and move on to a task with a higher level of thinking. Because of technology, students can learn anywhere, anytime and from anyone and that they are much less reliant on the teacher for that learning. It may be that it is the teacher’s role more than ever before to create the context that allows learning to take place, rather than merely enforce rote memorization. Newer technology such as augmented and virtual reality has the power to help provide context in ways not possible previously.

Proponents of student “voice and choice” and personalized learning are often criticized for an unrealistic view of what really should be happening in the classroom. Driscoll’s contention that “learning is active” could be interpreted as a precursor of a more student-focused learning model that we are seeing in more classrooms today. “Active” means more than movement (Although brain science is now teaching us that frequent “brain breaks” are a positive influence on the learning process.). If Driscoll were writing today, she might well use the term “engaged” instead of active. Engagement happens more easily when there is “buy-in” and “ownership” of the learning process by students. Technology helps me with the task of personalizing my learning, and providing more immediate and meaningful feedback. Both of these increase engagement and ownership of the process and make learning more “active”.

Learning is social, if by that we mean that learning flourishes in a collaborative and communication-rich environment. A little more than a year ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “How is My Classroom Becoming Glocalized? In it I shared a revelation that I had recently realized I was “growing more and more passionate about providing my students with opportunities to connect with students and campuses around the country and around the world.” Technology has brought the world to my classroom and provides my students with an opportunity to share their creativity with the world. The presence of a relevant and authentic audience is a total game changer for learning today and technology makes that possible as never before.

Driscoll’s comments about learning being reflective reminded me of an article I read recently “The Cognitive Science Behind Learning” by Clark Quinn. Among many important points Quinn references the importance of slowing the learning process down to allow for metacognition and reflection so that the brain has a chance to take advantage of its plasticity. How does technology facilitate the process of metacognition? The primary way that I have experienced this is in that technology makes it easier to employ multiple iterations and and allow multiple attempts at success. Driscoll cites the feedback – reflection – revision loop, and technology makes it easier for me to build in multiple “loops”, slowing the process and working more effectively toward mastery. I especially appreciate having access to Canvas as a learning management system because it makes this enjoyable and easy process for me as an educator.

In the end, our role as teachers is changing. As is often pointed out, we can no longer be the “sage on the stage”, but should strive to be a facilitator of great learning experiences. Learning happens for any of us when we discover we have a need to know. As a facilitator in my classroom, I can “salt” the environment to help stimulate my students’ thirst by establishing relevant connections to their world and to The World. Their thirst helps them engage at a level that makes learning more likely. Technology – although ever changing – enables that process for both me and my students.   
“How People Learn (and What Technology Might Have To Do with It).” PsycEXTRA Dataset. Print.

How is My Classroom Becoming “Glocalized”?

Glocal.
It kind of rolls off the tongue, don’t you think? It’s an easy connection of two words — local and global. The word reflects a new kind of localization and an equally new sort of globalization.
I first heard the word a few years ago at a church here in Texas that used “glocal” to describe its view of understanding how its ministries related to an ever-growing variety of cultures in our city.
The essence of the term, “glocalization” was first used by British sociologist Roland Robertson. He credits the Japanese word “dochakuka” for his ideas, and defines the term as “the simultaniety — the co-presence — of both universalizing and particularizing tendancies.” (According to a post by the National Association of Independent Schools)

Then, last year I realized I was growing more and more passionate about providing my students with opportunities to connect with students and campuses around the country and around the world. 

The concerns I had for local priorities were quickly becoming joined

with a desire for my students to enlarge their world beyond the borders of our own country and beyond the walls of my classroom in Arlington, Texas.
For me, it began with Twitter. A simple post was picked up and quoted by an educator in Kathmandu, Nepal. I’m not sure you can get any further away from Texas than Kathmandu. (At more than 8,000 miles, it is almost a third of the way around the world from our classroom!) That incident kick-started a friendship between Sunny Thakral and resulted in a Google Hangout classroom connection between our two groups of students. (Not easily accomplished with 12 time zones between us.)
My students loved the experience and so did I. Some of them still maintain long-distance Instagram relationships with their friends at the British School in Kathmandu. Sunny and I “see” each other often in a variety of Twitter chats, though we’ve never met face to face. We now have several mutual friends in several countries.

In the past year, I have participated in several international experiences as an educator.

My classroom has gotten involved as well.

  • My students are participating in this year’s 24-hour edcamp Global Classroom 2016, with 7 of my students facilitating international sessions on topics that include social media in the classroom, cyberbullying, gamification, and copyright law.
  • We have hosted several “mystery Skype” and Google Hangout speakers from other countries and,
  • We are presently planning a global connections week emphasis focusing on social entrepreneurship that will feature guests from Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, as well as the United States.

All of this has served to enhance our local objective of teaching honors computer information applications by providing a much broader context for the business principles and technology we are learning. My students are better locally by becoming more aware globally. We are “glocalizing” in the best sense of the word.
I’m not certain where it is all going to me as an educator, but I do know this. I have this crazy notion that one day, my students from Texas, along with students from a few other countries will meet up in the same Google Classroom and begin learning technology applications together. It may only be a two-week mini-mester or some such, but I will share the teaching responsibilities with those students’ teachers and we will all learn together. Now, that’s what I call going “glocal”.

“A writing oasis in the midst of all this tech”

(This post originally appeared in my previous blog, “thatothereduguy.blogspot.com” and since I only post to this site now, I am moving and republishing some of my most popular posts.)

I spent the first 16 years of my career in language arts- related content areas, and writing is a personal passion of mine. So when I moved into 9th grade this year as a computer information applications teacher I wondered about where and how those writing roots would come into play. I no longer have a room with shelves of novels, dictionaries and thesauri, and tables so easily moved into wonderfully collaborative groups. New technologies metaphor. Isolated on whiteI have a room with 24 Dell desktop computers that are hard-wired into fixed positions and desks that don’t move more than six inches either way. Hmmm….

By the end of the second week of school, however, I had decided how to work writing into my curriculum without using the jaws of life to make room for it. Blogging was the answer for me. We will use student blogs as a place to write reflectively about what we are learning as we explore the wonderful world of technology applications. Here’s how we plan to do it.

1. I chose Blogger.com because it plays well with our students’ Google accounts, and, since I teach high schoolers, I no longer need the strong, secure platform offered by Kidblog.org  Kidblog is still very effective, but I also wanted individual blogs instead of students posting to a class blog account. I would rather read 110 separate student blogs than manage one classroom site with 110 posts every week.

2. I have asked students to write a weekly post in which they describe something that they learned about in my class that caught their attention. Hopefully it is also something about which they would explore learning more as time goes by. I will ask them to reflect on how they could use this technology in their other classes.  In the initial post, I gave them the freedom of writing about something they had learned in ANY class during the previous week. I was amazed how many wrote about science.

3. I have initially emphasized two things. I have reminded them that their blog is a very public document and subject to being tweeted about on my educational Twitter feed or even featured on my own educational blog site, as well as recommended to members of our faculty. We have begun discussing other digital citizenship issues as well. I will teach site management and commenting along the way.

From this point, I will allow them to blog as often as they like, but they must write at least one post per week that applies strictly to our classroom content that week. Then, each six weeks, they will designate one of those posts for close grading. While I will read many of their posts, I do not want to actually closely grade 110 posts each week. I will, however, offer comments and feedback to many of their posts along the way, only officially assessing one post.

The initial posts ranged from 1-3 sentence summaries to 200-300 word reflections that demonstrated a lot of thought and consideration.  Not everyone started with the same ability. Fewer than 6 out of 110 had to be tracked down to post their work after the deadline. Not a bad start. It is a process and we will refine it along the way throughout the year.

I am considering how to archive really great posts and perhaps republish them at the end of the year in journal form.  I’ll work that out along the way, too. I want this to help us connect with students outside of our campus, too.

We did not initially comment on each others’ posts, but that will come later. Pernille Ripp also has some great ideas in her blog, Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension, and we will consider her tips on using class blogs to connect both on the campus and around the world.

g,

There are so many possibilities now that we have started, and it’s going to be a wonderful writing oasis in this classroom so dominated by electronics.

“What if I only had one iPad for my classroom?”

(This post originally appeared in my previous blog, “thatothereduguy.blogspot.com” in January 2016, but since I only post to this new site, I am moving some of my most popular posts and republishing here in this location.)

The pre-kindergarten teacher was from a small elementary school in Arkansas. She had created a project and placed it on DonorsChoose.org in hopes that it would be crowd-funded into reality by December 31. I first noticed it on December 30.

The tag on her project announced that it would expire in just one day. What was her project? She was looking for help to buy an iPad for her students. That’s right. An iPad. Just one. Not a cart of 24 or 36 so that every student would have their own iPad. Just one iPad. And a case.

Here’s a takeaway for this post: By considering students as individuals, we will find that even meager resources can accomplish more than we ever imagined.

I was moved by the simplicity of her request. I thought about how the junior high school where I taught for 10 years had more iPads than we could keep up with. I thought about the math teacher there who was two years from retirement, and whose school-issued iPad still had the cellophane wrapper on it when she left our campus. She refused to learn how to use it. I also thought about my current campus where every high school student has a new Dell laptop and we have a cart of 36 Chromebooks “just in case we decide to use them.” Obviously, I work in a very technology-rich district.

I mentioned the Arkansas teacher’s project to a friend whose personal iPad is the only iPad in her classroom. “It just doesn’t do a lot of good to only have one,” she said.

I felt a little challenged. What if I only had one iPad? What could I do? What could this Arkansas teacher possibly have in mind, asking for only one iPad?

So, after some consideration, here’s what I came up with. Here are 10 things I could do with my students if I had only one iPad in my classroom.

  • The iPad has a camera. My students could take turns making videos of their work or taking photos to use in their work,
  • I would install the Class Dojoapp and make it part of my classroom management system
  • I would use the Sock Puppet app to help my students create sock puppet shows about books or stories that they had read.
  • I would use the Explain Everything animated whiteboard app to create short lessons that my students could use for extra help.
  • My students would learn to use Google Maps and Google Earth to expand the boundaries of their own personal world.
  • Without having to buy a full subscription, I would install the BrainPOP feature movie app and open the door to more than 750 science, math, social studies, English, Arts & Music and health videos — all with closed captioning to assist reading skills.
  • I would use the Virtual Manipulatives app to help teach math with visual, digital objects.
  • Khan Academy’s more than 3,500 video resources would become available as lesson aids for me, or tutorial sessions for my students.
  • The Too Noise Light app would become another staple of my classroom management system.

You may have noticed that most of these apps are installed for direct student use. A couple of them would help me as a teacher more than they would help the students. All of them could be used with either small groups or with individual students one at a time. And all of them are free.

Having only one iPad in a classroom is not a problem if a teacher is thinking about individuals. If all you see are 30 shining faces, then you might conclude that you need 30 iPads to accomplish anything meaningful. If you see them one at a time, then you know that Sally would benefit from a tutorial or a game, and you know that Juan’s math skills could get a boost from a solid math app.

I’m not trying to judge anyone, and I realize that I have never had to take this minimalistic approach to my classroom. I have been blessed. I AM trying to say that this Arkansas teacher had a vision and a workable plan. Sadly,  I think her project expired before funds were raised to get the iPad for her classroom. I hope she finds a way to get her iPad. I rather suspect that she will.

By the way, here are several links to some sites where some people ever more creative than I have put some ideas for the one iPad-classroom;

“So, Mister, have you taught this class before?”

(This post originally appeared in my former blog, “Thatothereduguy.blogspot.com” in September, 2015. Since I now post only to this site, I am moving and republishing some of my more popular posts.)

Yup. This is the beta version of me. 

Yesterday, I was explaining to my students — as an aside while teaching about the need for systmeem and software updates on their laptops — about what a “beta” version was, and why software developers are so dependent upon them. Then it hit me.

As an educator, I am in beta version.

It has been almost 13 years since I taught high school and I have never taught Honors Computer Information Applications — or anything like it — before. I have taught 7th and 8th grade language arts or related courses for the past 13 years.

Two days ago, one of my 9th grade students asked me, “So have you taught this class before?” When I admitted that I had not (wondering secretly what I was doing that might have tipped her off), she smiled and advised, “Well, I guess we’re both going to learn a lot this year.”

I smiled back and agreed with her wisdom.

So when I explained that a “beta” version of a software application or game was an early version still in development and released for the primary purpose of finding the bugs and to get feedback from end users, it dawned on me that I was also talking about me. (One of my students helpfully reminded me that beta versions of video games are often cheap and sometimes free.)

As a junior high English teacher, I was teacher of year on my campus, and last year I was our district’s Junior High School Teacher of the Year and a nominee for state teacher of the year in Texas. I was — I am — a good teacher.

Now, I am starting over. New campus, new grade level, new content area, and a boatload of high expectations from my peers and my administrators.

Here’s the problem: I also have a boatload of bugs to work out, and a profound need for feedback. This became clear last week when I had two administrative walkthroughs on two successive days and both administrators wrote to me about a need for more student engagement. Part of me was devastated. I have always prided myself on my ability to engage and my success with technology integration.

Now, I teach in a 1:1 laptop campus and my classroom has 24 brand new desktop computers. I have a beautiful presentation station, projector and sound system. Plenty of tech. In fact, tech is what I teach. I have a question, though? How do I integrate technology into a technology class? I am struggling to make Microsoft Office sound exciting and engaging.

I will get it figured out because I am a good teacher. I will learn how to approach this new content with the passion that I brought to my English classes. I will “teach like a pirate” again and be able to look Dave Burgess in the eye again. I am already better this week than last.

Still, it’s hard to be a “beta” version of me.

Fortunately, I know it. My students know it. My administrators know it. I work with an unbelievable faculty. I also have my Twitter PLN. There are so many valuable professional relationships there, but @JenWilliamsEdu@RoweRikW@jcolley8, @BedleyBros and @hiphughes and @DonWettrick especially keep me challenged, motivated and laughing.

The bugs will go away, but right now they make me a little crazy.

Introverts and Extroverts in the Classroom

(This post originally appeared in my former blog, “Thatothereduguy.blogspot.com” in August 2015, and since I only post to this site, I am moving some of my more popular posts.)

We all make resolutions and decisions this time of year about how we will handle our classrooms in the upcoming year. One of the decisions that I have made that will profoundly affect both me and my students is this: I will learn how to communicate more individually with my students.

I have not always approached my students as individuals. Image1There. I said it. Sometimes teachers feel like there isn’t enough time in the world for lesson planning, committee meetings, and all of the other pulls we have on our time to really get to know our students well enough to treat them as individuals. I have come to believe that their learning and ultimate success depends on this, however. Especially the shy, introverted ones.

You see, I identify easily with the bold, brash, outgoing extrovert students who are like me. The shy ones, the introverted ones are a different kind of challenge. Since many times they are not behavior problems and they NEVER interrupt class, it is easy to let them be.

Recently, I came across a reference to author Susan Cain and her website quietrev.com while listening to a podcast by the Bedley Brothers . I found their site by following them on Twitter @BedleyBros . She presents a strong argument for teachers not to try to get introverts to “get over” their introvertedness and become more extroverted. In fact, she says, most of the really wonderful things that have been accomplished by introverted people through the years have been done because of and not in spite of their introvertedness. Check out her interview on the Bedley brother’s podcast site, or for a more complete treatment of the subject, her TED talk “The Power of Introverts”.

Having completed a week-long bridge camp with my incoming ninth graders, I have already begun to identify some of my introverts (as well as my extroverts) and wondered about how to connect with them at a level where I can help them learn best. Here are a couple of ideas that I have worked on during my prep time this week:

Diversity in my Lesson Strategy


I will allow for self-paced and individualized learning by encouraging individual learning goals and allowing students to work on their own instead of in groups all of the time.

Find time for 1:1 Communication


I have joked with some about my “Student Conference Kit” that is composed of a baseball and two baseball gloves. I have experienced that tossing a baseball back and forth in the parking lot provides a wonderful time to talk about “stuff” unrelated to class. I keep the items on a shelf in the back of the room, and students know how they are used, and they have the freedom to ask for some baseball time. I also feel free to invite students when I sense the need for some 1:1 time. Male students and female students both have enjoyed it in the past.

Sometimes my introverts are also my “tough” kids. Abuse of their introvertedness in past classroom settings is one reason that they are sometimes tough to handle. For help with that, I am reading Serena Pariser’s ebook, The Simplest Way to Win Over the Tough Kid!  Check out this California educator and conference leader’s website at http://www.serenapariser.com/  You can actually get a free copy of that ebook by joining her mailing list. 

Welcome to the Revolution!

(This post originally appeared in my previous blog “Thatothereduguy.blogspot.com” on August 13, 2015. Since I now only post to this site, I am moving some of my more popular posts.)

There’s a revolution among us.

Since my introduction to Twitter a little over a year ago, it has become increasingly clear that things are changing in education. So far, they seem to be changing separately on several different levels. If the these separated forces ever completely coalesce and merge into one stream, the the slowly moving creek will swell into a river of rapids and whitewater change.

As I begin a new year, I am bombarded with the potential for a complete revision of every aspect of my teaching philosophy and practice. That, by the way, is a good thing.

There are several educators and ed consultants who are each driving their own battalion into the battle, and they are slowly influencing thousands of educators around the world to do things differently. I’m calling them The Revolutionary Ten. They are listed below in no particular order, and each represents a strand of change which they are commanding.

  • Alice Keeler @alicekeeler – Among others, one of her banners is the “No Homework” banner. Passionate about the idea that our class time should be structured so that homework is not necessary.
  • Mark Barnes @markbarnes19 – One of several educators leading the “No Grades” movement, Mark is fervently working to help educators consider how to assess student success in terms of growth and improvement without averaging grades.
  • Don Wettrick @DonWettrick – We always think of Genius Hour when we think of Don, but what he is really selling is student empowerment. Check out his book “Pure Genius”.
  • Rick Wormeli @rickwormeli2 – Standard-based grading and latework/redo reform are the challenges he is putting in front of us for the year.
  • Kristen Swanson @kristenswanson– One of the original organizers of the edcamp movement, Kristen challenges the professional development status quo and asks the question, “Can we plan a better party than them?” The answer is apparently yes, as teachers are taking control of their own PD with unconferences.
  • Michael Matera @mrmatera – There are several leaders in this camp, but Michael is the one that comes to mind most often for me when I think of the gamified classroom. What? Students playing games to learn? Shocking. Holy Minecraft!
  • Craig Kemp @mrkempnz – From his home base in Singapore, Craig is one of the leaders in a global connectedness movement that has teachers learning from other teachers all around the world. The silos are being torn down.
  • Erin Klein @KleinErin – She has become my go-to consultant for all things classroom design. A clear leader in the “ditch the desks” movement that has us out of our rows and columns and into collaborative clusters.
  • Angela Maiers @AngelaMaiers – She has helped us all discover that we are all geniuses and that we must “choose2matter”.  Community service and making a difference are becoming the norm in classrooms around the world.
  • Jon Bergmann @jonbergmann – Jon has literally turned classrooms upside down all over the world with the flipped classroom movement.

Now, here’s my point. All of these people have contributed to the makeover of my whole educational existence. The teacher that I was 10 years ago — maybe even 5 years ago — would not recognize the educator that I have become.

This is much more than a movement, but imagine what would happen is all 10 of these people ever landed in the same edcamp. What would it be like to see them unite in a coordinated effort of educational reform? That’s what I’d call a revolution for sure.

Just imagine it. I can’t wait.

Alexa at School – Week 1

This week began with my bringing my Amazon Echo Dot to school and putting her (I don’t like calling her an “it”.) to work in my classroom as my teacher’s aide. The experiment is working well so far and my students and I have come up with some fun ways to get her involved in what we do. Granted, I teach ninth graders so their imagination is a little limited, and I DO have to watch more carefully to make Amazon introduces Amazon Alexa, Echo and the All-New Echo Dot atcertain that they don’t get her involved in anything not school appropriate. That being said, I honestly think that elementary students would have a lot of fun with her in the classroom.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

  • She’s quick, but she doesn’t multi-task well. She functions best if we speak to her one at a time, so a few classroom guidelines are in order.
  • She was super easy to connect to our school WiFi. I had expected a few issues here, given our firewall and connection policies, but those didn’t materialize.
  • Her basic functions gave us lots to play with at first, but we have moved on to the Alexa Skills Store for more specific functionality.
  • The first task that I assigned to her was to remind my students of upcoming assignments. I had to be careful how I worded them for clarity’s sake, but she is able to recite our homework and assignment list by being connected to my Google Calendar. (This is a fun one, and easily done!)
  • For active learning events, I simply ask her to “Roll the dice!” or “Flip a coin!” and I have my pair and share activity underway.
  • She is able to serve as a countdown timer with alarm when I need to control the flow of independent learning time.
  • If I were an elementary teacher, I would also user for some individualized or small group literacy assignments by asking her to tell a story and inviting students to draw or illustrate what they hear as she tells the story.

Next up: I plan on using an Audible or Kindle subscription to secure audio books and working on how to engage students with a read-along.