Mr. Kamrowski

"Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children." –Sitting Bull

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Technology as a Tool in the 1:1 Classroom

This weekend the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) kicked off their annual, larger than life, conference.  Thousands of people are in attendance.  It is held in Philadelphia, PA and will be in session until July 1st.  If you are an ed-tech nerd, as many are who read educational blogs, you are probably aware of this event.  If you are like me and unable to attend, you can follow along with the hashtag #notatiste15 and #iste2015 or go to this flip board page.  You will undoubtedly pick up some sort of new tech tool to use or be inspired to introduce more technology than you already may in your classroom.  I find it to be a worthwhile experience.

It is because of this event that I am reflecting on the one to one classroom and the commonly used phrase “technology as a tool.”  The phrase has been uttered so many times that it has almost become a cliche and lost power:  “…use 21st century tools…students need 21st century tools to be successful in today’s world…one to one is necessary for students to learn the tools used in the 21st century.”  However, as my school recently finished it’s first year of one to one iPad implementation, I wonder if many educators actually comprehend one to one technology as a tool.  When discussing success and failures with the technology, there seems to be a lack of understanding of the fact that the technology is indeed a tool and not a pedagogy.   Therefore, I believe it would be useful to incorporate metaphors of technology as a tool when considering complaints, questions, and discussions about one to one technology.  Take a look at the following statements and how they are framed when applying the technology as a tool more metaphorically. Continue reading

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How To:  Use Schoology So Students Become Masters

When I turned 16, like most kids in the United States of America, I took my driver’s test–and, I failed.  I went right through an uncontrolled intersection without blinking an eye–let alone slowing down to check for oncoming traffic (Luckily there was none).  It was a miserable day for me.  I tried making excuses but none justified the tragedy of failing.  I simply did not perform well on that test, and I was devastated.  I am quite thankful, however, that the man working for the Department of Motor Vehicles did not say “no second chances are allowed.”  Rather, he said “When would you like to try again?”  I am happy to announce that I am a fantastic driver today.  I have never been in an accident nor have I incurred a traffic citation.

I tell every one of my students that story as I explain my policy on second chance tests/projects in my class.  I let them know that I want them to learn the concept or improve the skill that I felt was important  to teach and assess.  That they can take a second chance test or rework the project (Not to be mistaken with a retake that is the same test or just blindly turning in multiple revisions of a project.) if they come to me and look at what went wrong the first time around and we discuss how they can improve.   Continue reading

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App Tested: Book Creator

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Book Creator is a simple app that allows you to make ebooks on the iPad.  It has been voted as the number one book creating app for the iPad and the best educational app in the 2015 BETT awards.  It also has a stellar blog with tons of amazing ideas. Continue reading

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Why Blog: 5 Reasons

In 2006 I glanced at the cover of Time Magazine’s coveted Person of the Year issue.  I was astonished as it declared “You”–the countless people who “…wrested power from the few and helped one another for nothing” as the winner.  The editors of the magazine went on to describe that this was done with the World Wide Web:  “…a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter,” essentially declaring individual bloggers, YouTube and Wikipedia contributors as revolutionaries.  And I can remember thinking to myself, how bizarre and lame.  Blogging at the time conjured up an image of a slightly overweight, unemployed, twenty or thirty something in the basement of his parents’ home searching for needed attention and reassurance that he was somebody in the world (Brad Pasely’s song titled Online exemplifies the stereotype.  Here’s a picture from the video for reference).  Yet, nine years after Time Magazine’s Person of the Year issue, I am writing my seventh post on a blog that conjured up 461 unique visitors last month and is set to break that number this month. Continue reading

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How To:  Provide Effective Feedback With Schoology & Explain Everything

Malcolm Gladwell argues, in his 2008 book titled Outliers, that the most successful people spend at least 10,000 hours practicing the skill(s) needed to be masters of their profession.  This magic number has taken some criticism (This one’s interesting too.) over the years as other researchers have debated the ingredients to success.  Most of the debate has revolved around symantix.  Yet, the main idea persists:  success takes, at least to some extant, hours upon hours of practice.  More importantly, however, Gladwell highlights that hours of practice alone is not enough; rather, slight adjustments that occur during the experimenting that naturally happens while practicing leads to perfection.  Therefore, effective feedback from a good coach or teacher is worth the price of gold.  This feedback means one can accomplish mastery much more effeciently than without it.

As a teacher, this point has never been lost on me.  Quality feedback in a timely manner is essential for good instruction.  Indeed, it may be the most important element a teacher can offer after engagement.  Therefore, I am always looking for effective ways to provide feedback. Continue reading