Blog Comments Elsewhere - Jordy Whitmer

Why Consuming Is Necessary for Creating

On balance, consumption in school far outweighs creation, so I understand the sentiment behind the false dichotomy of creation versus consumption. Whatever we can do to swing the balance a bit more toward creation would be a positive step. Swinging the pendulum all the way would obviously result in a needed push back toward more consumption. But, both consumption and creation can be drilled down into. Critical consumption is often just as absent in schools as creation. Another interesting area to drill into would be the symbiotic relationship (within a person or between people) between Creator and Revisor. The NPR show Engines of Our Ingenuity had a thoughtful piece on that:

The Device Conundrum - 1:1 vs BYOD

The debate might be as important as the decision. I encourage the districts I talk to to dive as deeply in as they can. I don't think there is a correct answer, but the process of debating it can help us reach a deeper understanding of technologies place in our schools/classrooms. I recommend creating an affordances and constraints chart as a part of that process and a list of questions the discussion then raises.

Why Professional Development Should Be More Like Edcamp

How does this model suit shy or introverted participants? How does this style work with a group that is primarily extroverts? Instead of comparing it to conferences, how does it compare to standard PD sessions (often not unlike conferences, but with less or no choice of which session/speaker to attend or the option to vote with my feet)? Lots to consider as we gain a wider number of approaches to our learning. I think the edcamp model has a lot of possibility, but how well are we exploring and documenting a range of approaches within the overall model?

17 Pros and Cons of Using iPads in the Classroom

I think examining the affordances and constraints of the iPad in the classroom is an excellent activity to do with kids and teachers. Each time I do it with either group, I gain a little more nuanced understanding. I don’t share this chart with them, we make one together and I get to add in some that they miss.

How an iPad is a More Powerful Content-Creation Device Than a Laptop

Thanks for the post, I've shared it with 5 colleagues already! When working with teachers who are thinking about using iPads or who have just gotten them, we like to have them work on an Affordances/Constraints chart throughout the workshop. Here's an example, but it's the process of the teachers creating/sharing their own chart that's important.

The New New Silent Reading

I'll be very curious to hear how this goes for you. I have a class along those lines ( that is fascinating for me to work in and watch. Some of the "best" students struggle with finding things that interest themselves while a mix of kids jump from project to project and others dive deep into 1 or 2 projects throughout the year. All sorts of fun questions to think about as the year goes on. How do I help those strugglers who aren't used to struggling in school? Is it better to try a range of things or deep dive? How much do I "help" students? What can I borrow from established programs like Big Picture schools? How do I present this sort of class to the outside world when they can't see much of the processing kids do or don't do? I know I'm learning even more than the kids!

Changing Times?

If the new sites offer a low floor, wide walls, and a high ceiling, I’m interested in considering them, especially for teachers newer to quality tech integration. I want those thinking about pedagogy much more than their tool(s). If not, I can get most of that (low floor individually maybe, but not collectively) with free/cheap blogs, wikis, etc.
I would expect to pay for a decent tool, though I’m always on the lookout for expensive long term lock-in.

But, I’m afraid it’s not just the web tools. iPadification will sweep a lot along with it as it washes in. Hope it's not sending the baby out with it!

Changing Pedagogy vs. Teacher Identity

So, what about those people who succeeded in the system, yet could still be learners later? There might be more in that group than in the group that struggled, but later became teachers anyway. Is your point how do we get more of those than the compliant less-learners? (They all learn, it's more what they learn, how much they learn, and if it changes schools in the ways you write about.)
Another question, did they come like that when they started teaching, or were they co-opted by the system/environment? I imagine both and that dealing with each group could require different things.

Related: Yeah, but ...

Edmodo vs Blogging

Wonderful, thoughtful comparison! Is this your thinking, a summary of yours and what you heard from the teachers, or did your teachers go through a process comparing the tools? I find in the beginning the teachers want THE answer and just want to get started on one tool or another. Some get frustrated when I try to explain the affordances/constraints of each so they can decide. I have the best luck when the teachers can get together to explore and discuss the tools or explore, try in the classroom, and discuss. One activity we do with them in a variety of ways is here (in draft form). Affordances & Constraints Chart

What if Khan Academy was made in Japan?

How would this speak to "flipped" teaching where the students watch videos of a teacher explaining how to do it at home, then practice doing it in the classroom? Sounds like that would just be a time shifted version of what you are describing. Sure hope the "flipped" teachers are using the change to actually change what they are doing and adding in more of what you describe!

What's the difference between PBL and Design Thinking?

I believe that in many cases, PBL and UbD are exactly as you describe, but I also believe you are unfairly tarring all with the same brush. I have seen many PBL projects that focus primarily on the process that have the students asking their own questions, finding their own problems, or coming up with their own challenges. Many also have the students deciding on their final "product." As described by Apple, their Challenge Based Learning definitely aspires to those objectives.

As for UbD, I think you have lumped it in with PBL when it should be a separate discussion. PBL is more of an approach used with kids whereas UbD is an approach used with teachers. As before, in many cases, the results of UbD are as you described. But, the process is a sound one, especially for those times content is as much if not more important than process. (Yes, less of those would be great as would equally emphasizing process with them, but I am in favor of some common content being taught. As Wiggins and mCtighe state "Although teaching for understanding is a vital aim in schooling, it is just one of the many. There are cases when 'understanding' is neither feasible nor desirable. The developmental level of students will determine the extent to which conceptualization is appropriate; at other times, it will make in-depth understanding a lesser or tangential goal."

I think the biggest problem is still teachers focusing almost solely on the content they have always taught and not enough on process/skills, let alone thinking outside of the box/school. So, anything worthwhile like Design Thinking or PBL gets co-opted and ends up looking different from what was initially proposed. That's one reason I love our Engage program and Thinkering Studio . We don't have those same content objectives and history to limit us!

Three Things that won’t Solve Problems in Education

Toolishness can be deadly to learning! But neophilia … ?

Comment Guidelines

Mrs. Yollis' class also inspired some of the 3rd/4th grade teachers I work with to focus on more thoughtful commenting. Here are links to the outline of the lesson they did and to a couple pages I am using with my 7th/8th graders (still drafty).

6 powerful strategies for paradigm-shifting teacher PD

"You can't be what you can't see."

Just as teachers benefit from having a ready set of activity types to draw from when planning, professional development facilitators need a set to draw from as well:
PD Activity Types & PD Activities

20% Projects

Struggling with many of the same issues myself. I have a few rubrics I have used elsewhere that I am wondering about using/modifying:

Another source I am thinking through is Littky's Chapter 8 in The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone's Business

12 Most Genius Questions In The World
Never got the evil DISQUS to work on Angela Maiers' blog and forgot about these 13 (baker's dozen) additional genius questions in response to her post, 12 Most Genius Questions In The World. Having a class or set of teachers complete a Top X list of genius questions would be a good exercise. Then they could compare theirs to Angela's.

  1. Is this interesting?
  2. Why does/doesn't this work?
  3. What does this connect to?
  4. Where might this lead?
  5. What if ...
  6. Is this worthwhile? (Compared to my other options.)
  7. Does this fit my moral compass?
  8. How long will this take? Should this take? Would I like this to take? How much time do I have?
  9. How is it going? How could it be done better?
  10. How do I share this?
  11. How would I teach someone this?
  12. How does this look to others (fortunate/unfortunately depending on how I use it)?
  13. How can we learn from this failure?

Professional Development

All excellent points! Since most teachers do not have experience as a student in the methods we "present" in PD, I agree that modeling is an extremely important first step. But, I would take your "Visit classrooms and monitor progress" further. Many teachers will need more than one modeling of a method to get to "expertise." Teachers visiting other teachers' rooms will get you even further. Unfortunately, transfer is often still not likely to take place. Model teaching, then coteaching, followed by in class support is still often needed. I'd recommend thinking about gradual release of responsibility and transference when planning PD.

There's An App For That?

It's about much more than the apps! We lead a workshop designed to get teachers beyond thinking about just the apps, Apps Taskonomy: Digging Deeper into the Application of Apps. It's designed for teams of teachers to complete together.

Professional Development

I like your three! One I'd add is that I prefer PD when it is conducted in a way that models the experiences we desire students to have. If teachers are to build activities which include exploratory learning, problem-solving, teamwork, etc. (list your "21st century skills" here), this needs to be modeled through the PD itself for a fair chunk of the time.

App Evaluation

Thanks for sharing your ideas and resources! I especially liked the questions. In what scenario do you picture educators using this? We’ve been slowly using, reflecting, modifying a session for small groups of teachers (the Apps Taskonomy linked above). All teachers need the skills to critically evaluate the apps they do use. But, we have limited time. Educators need to find ways to benefit from the curation of others since we can’t test all the apps out there. Do you picture teachers using sites like yours and others to pick from a smaller set of apps that have been vetted in some way and then using your evaluation tools? Do you see coordination of this as the role of the teacher, media specialist, plc, building, curriculum specialist, etc?

Another question. I’m sure you address when using this tool in person, how do you help teachers value a balance of Bloom’s, November’s roles, different intelligences, SAMR, etc? We’ve been aware of these, especially Bloom, for a while. Much in our system will push teachers toward using the apps similarly to how they have always done things.


I'm also a fan of SAMR! But, as I've used it with teachers (Apps Taskonomy) I'm finding it isn't enough. While the novelty of redefinition can be powerful in itself, it really needs to be combined with another way of thinking about what is worthwhile. I tried combining it with teachers' understanding of TPaCK and that upped the conversation, I'm thinking a better combination would be with Bloom's, or better yet, a flipped Bloom's. I'll get to try that in June.

Are On-line Discussion Forums Conversations?

Definitely a topic I think about a lot with my 3rd-8th grade students. Our hope is to expose them to a wide range of "conversations" using our forums, wikis, and blogs. Modeling is key! We also try to seed their thinking with a range of prompts that might push them toward a wider variety of posts than just question/answer.

I find the question prompts generate the most back and forth in a conversation. I wonder if that's as true for adults as it is for my kids? Next year I hope to find some better ways to work role playing into the online discussions than I have in the past.

Increase Student Engagement by Getting Rid of Textbooks

Thanks for a thoughtful post. I started teaching in a Maryland district 20+ years ago that viewed textbooks as a resource to be used when/where they were suited and actively encouraged us to do without. I've never taught in a 1:1 setting, the closest is a 1:2. I don't have to be in a 1:1 to teach without a textbook. Might it help in some situations, I'm sure. BUT, I also know that it can hurt as much as help in many teachers classrooms. I also know that BYOD can be problematic. We need to be thoughtful when adding technology or implementing BYOD. I've collected some of my thoughts on several related pages. The biggest difficulty I see in many 1:1 implementations is the teachers focusing more on 1 kid to 1 device/assignment and not enough balance with collaboration.
1:1 -


Individual/Group Work -

What are you doing to change things?

Shelly's post was thoughtful and raises good questions to consider, but is a 1:1, district or BYOD, that important to changing instruction and getting away from an over reliance on textbooks? Having never taught in a 1:1 and having no problem teaching without a textbook, I'd say our focus lies elsewhere, though it should be a part of the discussion.

iPads in Spanish

  • Flashcards Deluxe and Quizlet - Vocabulary and phrases - Can use photos instead of English, so the kids are doing less thinking in English

  • Podcasts & video podcasts - Using those by others or making your own. Great for when kids need a review, especially for a harder topic like ser/estar.

  • Telenovelas - Make your own (short ones) with iMovie

  • Pronunciation/fluency portfolios - audio recording & blog

  • Listening comprehension (could be podcasts above or any audio you have on cd or that you record) followed by a response in Spanish. We use iTalk recorder, but many others could work.

  • Student response systems for a quick check on what percentage are getting the lesson

  • Animations - writing/recording their own dialogues using their vocabulary.ñol

How Wikis Are Being Used

I would say that overall the data falls in line with what I have seen in many districts. We've worked hard in ours, but the collaborative aspects definitely are not as popular as 1) the teacher using it to share links, lesson plans, resources, or homework, or 2) the students using it to make pages or post files that are rarely the result of much collaboration. We have three (draft) resources designed to get at that (slowly):
Wiki Workshop:

Affordances & Constraints Exercise

App Taskonomy (we modify it for wiki uses instead of apps)

It has been and will continue to be a long, slow road ...

1:1 Laptops v. iPads

Currently, students in my classes have primary access to Windows machines, but they also have access to Mac computers and iPads. We are not currently a 1:1.

If I were offered a 1:1 with MacBooks or iPads and everything else were equal, I personally would definitely pick the MacBooks. However, if I could use the difference in funding to pay for additional professional learning community time (which includes curriculum redevelopment time) among those "teaching" with the iPads, I'd probably opt for the iPads. I would also choose the iPads over Windows XP machines. I'd have to think carefully between the iPads and Windows 7 machines. If I were choosing for the whole school, I might even choose the iPads even if everything else were equal.

Why? One reason is that I think your conclusion about iPads as consumption devices is inaccurate. ("At the end of the day the iPad is designed for the consumption of information.") I do believe Apple designs them to be excellent consumption devices and those features may appear to stand out. But, they are also excellent production devices. In some cases, even better than MacBooks.
You mention wanting students to create apps, videos, and music. It is true that iPads cannot be used to create apps that run on iPads. (I'd add that they can't run Scratch here too.) Related side question, what percentage of your students are coding apps on their MacBooks? But, iPads can be used to shoot and edit excellent videos with just the built in camera and iMovie or iStop motion. And, with GarageBand, among other apps, students can create excellent music or audio podcasts. In facts, my students often create better (technically) videos and audio recordings in less time on the iPad. Granted, they may not have all the special fx, but that's rarely what makes video or audio go viral. It's much more often about the content and a little less due to the quality of the original footage/audio. Here's a link to an great example - - though it might not go viral.

With their ease of use, stability and the ability of students to complete quality projects often in less time, I've seen teachers in my school and nationally during summer pd sessions take to these devices much more rapidly than laptops, even MacBooks. If teachers will get (allow) students to use iPads to produce more projects than with MacBooks, then I need to take the iPad over the more flexible and powerful MacBook.

That's not to say I view iPads without their definite drawbacks, which I lay out in more detail here (draft). Link to Affordances & Constraints Chart -

We also need to make sure our PLCs are focusing on quality uses of either device. Working through the following activity with teachers is a start in that direction, whether using MacBooks, iPads, or other devices. Link to Apps Taskonomy Activity for Educators -

Check out iPad Creative to see how others are using iPads in phenomenal ways!

Do iPads Have the Capacity to Change Education?

Following on Jonathan's post, we use Puentedura's SAMR in an iPad session we do. A rough draft of that session is posted here:

Here's a link explaining SAMR: TPCK and SAMR: Models for Enhancing Technology Integration
Episode 1 (Whole presentation is worthwhile. SAMR starts around 10:50.)