Recently, I have been viewing the HBO mini-series titled John Adams; a take on historian David McCullough’s book of the same title. The series begins with the Boston Massacre and continues through historical events that led to the Revolutionary War and the creation of a new government. It has been exciting to watch for various reasons (I love history, especially revolutionary history). However, what struck me in the series is the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence and the war itself. In other words, the moments that led to a dramatic change in thought and action in the colonies. Many of the founders, according to the movie portrayal and McCullough’s interpretation of history, were reluctant of drastic change. Some, if not a majority, wanted reform rather than revolution. It was the persuasive talents of a handful of individuals, as well as some actions by the British, that tipped the tides. As I ponder this perspective of the start of our nation, I cannot help but ask the questions: What is the best approach to initiate needed change? How am I a change agent? And, I frame these questions within the context of the current educational system. Continue reading
Working in a one-to-one school district, where every student is provided with a device such as an iPad or Chromebook, can be a great opportunity of freedom for teachers and students. The device serves as an efficient tool to create and curate information, as well as, a flexible environment to share content. No longer does an individual need to negotiate with textbook publishers and be locked into the confines of the perception of the authors of a company when it comes to the content and methods that should be used to teach a specific skill or understanding. The digital world allows for educators to create e-books, or electronic versions of a book that may contain interactive elements, that can be produced, shared, and modified quickly and with little expense to a school district. Continue reading
With the popularity of one-to-one classrooms, and the ensuing demonizing of the lecture as a pedagogical method, software to make lectures/direct instruction more interactive have developed. Pear Deck and Nearpod are the two software companies that have become popular in this field (You can watch their promotional/informational advertisements here and here). Both of these apps allow a teacher to embed formative assessments, engaging activities, and teacher analytics into a slide deck. The days of using just powerpoint, keynote, or google slides are over.
In the last few months of the 2014-15 school year, I tested the paid version of Pear Deck in my one-to-one iPad classes. I used the premium version as a free trial. This summer, I played with Nearpod to compare the two. In the fall, I would like to select one of the free versions of the two as my go to software to make slide decks interactive. The following is what I learned. Continue reading