February 4, 2014
Navigating the 1st Year in a 1:1 Classroom with Shawn McCusker – from Beth Holland
"Hi Everyone. This is a session about how to get through the first year of the classroom as a teacher." Begins Shawn. "But I'm not going to talk to you about apps. I'm going to talk to you about your soul, because I LOVE TEACHING." A tiger is the perfect example of light and dark dancing across the jungle floor, because some things just make sense. Shawn is a teacher, and so what he's going to say is just going to make sense. So, Shawn wants us to understand that 1:1 became part of his identity because of his mistakes - he focused on the device instead of on all of the things that matter. Imagine…. Your idea. What is your idea?! Shawn challenges us. Think about what inspires you and your students and then deconstruct your class so that there is an iPad in the equation. Don't build your class around the iPad. Build your class so that iPad makes sense. Think about "how do I get there?" Shawn wants us to recreate our existing environment by imagining it with the device. RULE #1 - as soon as the iPad gets in the way of developing significant relationships, put it away. RULE #2 - the second the iPad gets in the way of your learning and starts to prohibit your ability to reach your learning objective then put it away. It is important to remember that "I teach people!" The content is the medium through which he performs his art, and sometimes the tool to work with the medium is iPad and sometimes it's chalk. Shawn's room usually looks like "inspiration threw up on it." However, on the year that he handed out iPads, the walls were blank.
RelationshipsThe first primary relationship is between you and your students. Shawn talks about how when the device gets in the way, then he started to lose the opportunity to connect. From there, he realizes that there are relationships between students. When they had devices, and were collaborating and working groups, then he had to work on how they established and maintained their relationships. Shawn had to define what was important between those students. Finally, he had to look at the relationship between the students and the content. It used to be a relationship like between a catcher and a pitcher: "I'm going to fling this at you. You better catch it." However, with devices, it shifted to "there is content, now go figure out what to do with it." The next set of relationships started to be between the teacher and the content. Originally, Shawn had control of the content. However, when he started to give out the content, they had ownership of the pace and what could happen. It made Shawn think about how he could interact with the content differently. "My job became more like putting air in the tires so that they could see the content." There is also the relationship between the new you - empowered by the device - and the old you. There's a new economy of information. From there, Shawn talks about how to look at the relationship between the old content and the new content. When students have access to devices they have new content and new ways to engage with it. It's important to keep in mind the relationship between you in the pilot and your colleagues who are not in the pilot, warns Shawn. WARNING: Ridiculous Homemade Graphic What does on-task look like? Shawn brings up the issue of Rethinking "on Task." Shawn quickly realized that any student focused on him was actually off task vs on task. When they have devices, then the path isn't necessarily straight like in a situation of direct instruction. Too often, we "power down" a student in order to shut them up and maintain order, but Shawn asks whether or not you are brave enough to let them extend beyond the lesson. You can be off-task and on-topic if you bring your new knowledge back to the group. If you can't share back, then you may be distracted.
Pro Tips for Individualize Learning
- Teach students to self-differentiate early. Empower them and applaud them to figure out how to meet their needs.
- Establish students as experts and allow them to share their processes. Let them prove themselves. "You're entitled to your own perspective but not your own facts."
- Create a procedure to gather their attention smoothly. Think about how to collect students away from the "tiny screen of digital sexy." Don't let yourself be the biggest distraction in your class. Decide how you want to interrupt and bring them back.
- Prioritize people over devices and let students know that it's a promise to put people over things.
- Create a procedure for early completion. In a classroom where the economy of information is the focus, then anyone who is speaking becomes the font. With iPads, because students can seamlessly work across devices, they can share information and then the behavior is valued. "Keep learning. Keep earning." Shawn encourages looping back to previous content or other ideas for students who may complete a task quickly.
- Create procedures for enrichment and make it part of the culture. "Go find it, then share it." If the culture is to learn new things, then topics eventually come back to the task.