Wednesday, October 3, 2012

We had our first official visit from a community group today and it was awesome! Several members of the Hoover Rotary Club came to visit and see first hand what the Engaged Learning  Initiative is and how the new technology is being used in our classrooms. I think it is safe to say that this group of community members were blown away with the innovative teaching that they saw today.

Alex and Kathryn were the Hoover Ambassadors who took us on our tour and they could not say enough about how they were using the iPad to increase their learning and productivity in the classroom.

We then visited a couple of classrooms, starting with Mrs. Kelly Self's Government class. The class was using Nearpod to complete an assignment that Mrs. Self had prepared for them. Using Nearpod, Mrs. Self can monitor the progress of the students while they work. Students can also interact with the teacher through the app as they work.

We then moved on to Dr. Mark Conner's Engineering Academy.There was technology being used in many different ways by Dr. Conner and his students.
Students are currently working on a technical writing piece. Dr. Conner has posted tutorials online for students to use as a guide as they complete the writing process. He is also working with Slate XP to create online courses. Courses designed by the Engineering Department are being used by students in Louisiana, Ohio, and around Alabama. According to Conner, "These modules will give students a much more detailed and in depth format due to the detail work that has to to into planning the module". During the 2nd semester, the schools mentioned above will work together on a project and then have a formal presentation of the project. Slate XP also has worked with the Engineering Department to create a virtual notebook where students can turn in a daily notebook. They use iAnnotate and other programs to take notes and then submit these to the teachers. Below, Ashley uses Notability to type written notes, add photos, slides, and screen shots and then submit this to her teacher.

Ashely stated, "I did not think the iPad would be a big deal when we first got them- actually I wanted paper and pencil. But now, I cannot live without it. I only need my iPad, not all those books and school supplies".

Dr. Conner also tells how he grades and uses iAnnotate to give feedback to students. This app allows him not only to type notes and write comments on papers, he can also add commentary of his thoughts and ideas about the student's work. He believes that this makes adds more personal and meaningful feedback for the student. Dr. Conner also addresses the idea that the first lab report was basically in the substitution area of the SAMR model that was mentioned in an earlier post, but as the students are becoming more proficient with the iPad, transformative thinking is happening. Dr. Conner comments that the iPad "allow students more time to think about the process and learn and it takes less time to write up a lab or activity".

Dr. Conner explained the use of Edmodo and told how students not only turn in an assignment there, but they also have to explain their thinking. He chooses the top 5 explanations and posts them for the class to see as examples. He said that this has motivated students to try to be the top 5 and has raised the bar for his class.

One visitor asked Mr. Conner if he had any formal training on the iPad and I think that she was amazed that his response was he had never owned an Apple device before being given one on August 15th and that he too was learning through doing.

Dr. Conner spoke to the fact that the online format of learning takes the teacher out of the role of the sole provider of information and allows them to be the facilitator and coach of learning.

We then visited the new tech cafe area before having a Lunch and Learn lead by Mr. Hulin. Mr. Hulin presented the background of the ELI along with some other things happening in the classrooms at HHS. We discussed topics such as Digital Citizenship, financial costs of the initiative, student engagement, social responsibility, and more.

During the Lunch and Learn we had a live Twitter chat going. Students and teachers were encouraged to Tweet about the ELI and how they are using technology in their classrooms. The following are some of the tweets the group saw:

As always, I am so impressed with the teaching and learning that is going on at HHS and it makes me so proud for you all when we can share that with the community. Below you will see a Tweet and email from 2 of our guests today. I think it is evident that Hoover High School is a special place where our focus is on our students and ensuring that they have any and every tool available to help them succeed!

The Engaged Learning Initiative is Cool!

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