Wednesday, June 11, 2014

5 Random Technology PD (Professional Development) Thoughts

Technology is tricky. Everyone is at a different place. So PD (Professional Development) time is very important. Here are a few random thoughts that have been rolling around my head since our latest Technology PD day.

1.  Whole group "how to" technology training rarely works. Most of the time 1/3 of the people are bored, 1/3 are with you and 1/3 are completely lost and frustrated. Group "how to" technology training certainly has it's place at times but should be avoided if possible.  

2.  Let the computer teach the "how to" technology through tutorials and a self guiding pace.  Offer 1 to 1 help for the very few who can't do self guided. 

3.  Design PD activities that model good teaching practice (above the SAMR bar or higher in Blooms taxonomy) and forces the use of the technology within the activity. This way you can show a good teaching idea and you can help them learn a new technology. 

4.  More than a half day of whole group technology PD is too much.   If you want a whole day of PD then maybe half the day is spent in a whole group atmosphere and half is spent in very small groups  or with a partner or alone.   

5.  I think some self reflection time must be built in to our PD.  i.e.  15 minutes of journal time reflecting on the things you have learned and the questions you still have out there.   We put a lot of emphasis on closure in the classroom, and rightly so. Self reflection is a type of individual closure that will help us process what we've just learned and help us remember it. 

I welcome your random thoughts or comments. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

10 Reasons Why I think the TI-84 is on the way OUT!

Yesterday a colleague told me she overheard some students talking about how they never used their TI-84 at home.  She pursued the discussion and they said that they use DESMOS the online calculator all the time at home.   I think the use of it will go away slowly.  But it will happen.

The TI-84 (or TI-83) has been a fixture in my classes for many many years.  It has been a requirement on my syllabus.  It is something that I would daily ask my students to take out and work with.  I can't count the number of tutorials I've made to help use the TI-84.  It has been a go-to device for CONCEPTUAL learning.  But things are changing.

My Prediction.  Our school will not be requiring the TI-84 in the school year 2015-2016.  I have no authority to make that call.  I'm just making a prediction.  Our school goes 1 to 1 that year.  In my opinion, the days of every student having a TI-84 are going away.  Why?  Because other things are passing it up. And the thing that is passing it up is NOT another Graphing Calculator.  It is the Internet with web based interactions and  apps.


10 Reasons why I think the  TI-84 will NOT be required at our school in 15-16 
1.  Touch Screen
Students are getting frustrated with the TI-84 because it doesn't offer a touch screen.  The touch screen on a SMART-Phone or a tablet helps with finding the right window, editing data, sliders, and a bunch of other cool things. Also, the mouse is even better than the awkward navigation system of the TI-84.   I have tried to physically touch the TI-84 screen many times.  That's embarrassing.

2.   Ease of Use
As technology gets easier and easier to use.  The TI-84 seems to be more and more confusing to use.

3.  Size of Screen
A computer screen is a lot bigger than a TI-84 screen.  And a SMART-Phone screen is equivalent to a TI-84 screen.

Why should we ask our students to pay $100 if our students will have constant access to a district owned device?  (i.e. tablet, Surface or Chrome book)  EVERYTHING that a TI-84 can do, a district owned device can do.

5.  1 to 1
Our district will likely go 1 to 1 in the 2015-16 school year. Every student will have a district owned device like a tablet at that time.  It doesn't make sense to have both devices.

6.  Data Exchange
The TI-84 system of exchanging data is old and outdated.  Basically it is useless.  For me to get something onto my student's calculator is nightmarish.  (It used to be really cool)  But, because the transfer of data is so easy with phones, and computers, and  tablets, that the technology of the TI-84 is really getting in the way of collaboration.  Remember, it used to be so cool to give your students a program or some data via the cord that goes between the calculators.  There is way too much teaching time wasted on account of this.  The students know a lot of ways to get information to each other that does not require a cord.

7.  Finding the Right Window
I have forever said that finding the right window is a great math skill on the TI-84.  However, I think I have been bypassed with the love of this skill.  The ease of a computer or tablet to get the right screen is far superior to the TI-84.

8.  Animations/Sliders
Sliders offer a hands on approach to math.  It encourages participation with the activity, with low risk high reward outcomes.

9.  Apps and Programs
The Internet math based apps are gaining momentum.  It's getting easier and easier to use math notation on the Internet.

10. Internet Based Math 
Desmos, Geogebra, LaTeX, online calculators etc.  This is just the beginning.  

Standardized Tests are the problem. I don't know what will happen with these.  The TI-84 has been a fixture for an acceptable device on the standardized tests for a long time.  With the PARCC online testing, this might be changing too.

TI-84 may you Rest In Peace.  It is time to move on.