Wednesday, August 05, 2015

EdTech Thought Leaders: Technology is Just for Teachers? Think Again! Getting Students to Take Ownership of Their Learning With Technology

As do other public school districts, we go through our accreditation review and take care to note the recommendations in the report and make strategic plans on how to move forward to make improvements in those areas. One area of focus that specifically relates to educational technology is that we need to put the ownership of learning into the hands of the students. Based on the progress assessment from the AdvanceEd Accreditation Report, we learned that we need to improve in the area of student use of technology for learning in the classroom. There are just not enough students using the technology we have. It's not that we don't have enough technology, but we've been so focused on getting teachers to use the tools, that we've failed to sufficiently engage the students in the learning process with technology.

This requires a shift in thinking for our teachers. One new thing we are trying in our district is hosting a technology mini-conference before teachers return to school. There will only be 12 sessions (plus an opening and closing keynote) but each 40 minute session is focused on showing the participants how to help students take ownership of their learning with the use of technology. We have some of our best district-level presenters showcasing mini versions of full workshops they do throughout the year. We are really excited about this conference! As of today, we have over 400 people registered to attend. Most are teachers who are still ON THEIR SUMMER VACATION!

So, that is one strategy we put into place, but we are on a quest to learn more about what works for other districts and classrooms. What are YOUR best practices and ideas for getting students to take ownership of their learning with the use of technology? I'd love to hear your ideas, and to motivate you to comment, I'm offering up TWO $50 gift cards from Staples for the best ideas.

Full Disclosure:
As a blogger I sometimes receive free products and offers. Last week, I received an email from Staples®  (excerpt below). I responded that I'd love to participate and so they sent me a few packages of pens and markers, and a gift card for $50 for me to keep, along with a promise for me to be able to give away another gift card to a reader on my blog. I'll keep the pens and markers, thank you, but I'm going to give my gift card away here on this blog, in addition to the extra one to another reader.

So, I have TWO $50. gift cards to give away. Here's how YOU CAN WIN one of them:

1. In the comment section, tell me how you help your students take ownership of their learning with the use of technology. Bonus points for adding a link to some type of evidence.
2. Be sure to leave your Twitter handle, email, or other contact info in your comments so I can let you know if you win.

Winners will be announced August 17th. Based on the best ideas, I will choose two winners. 

Good luck!

Excerpt from Staples email:

Hi Lee,
We’d love to work with you in promoting this special offer on your blog by sending you supplies plus a $50 Staples gift card for you plus a $50 Staples gift card to giveaway to one of your readers. 

Staples is helping educators save more on classroom supplies and get ready for school with their own Teacher Appreciation Week, August 2nd through 8th. Teachers can download their 40% back in Staples Teacher Rewards coupon

Staples Supports Think It Up™
Staples is building on its decades-long support of teachers, students and education with a $10 million pledge to support the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s new Think It Up™ initiative.

As a lead donor, Staples has teamed up with worldwide superstar and Think It Up Ambassador Nick Jonas to help raise awareness of the need to support learning projects in classrooms across the country. Learn more at


Anonymous said...

Students in the CEDP Australia embrace technology in many ways. Currently I'm involved in an ilearn project in a primary school which has 1:1 ipad use...the possibilities once teachers take the time to consider the purpose of the technology are only bound by the imagination! This is tied closely with utilising Google this way we embrace collaboration and creativity. Implementation has and is supported by strategically planned quality professional learning provided through and with experts. You can find out a little more about the project at

carnett said...

At our school, we had the same problem of teachers needing all of the help! In Barcelona last year at the Microsoft Global Forum, I met Microsoft Expert Educator Scott Wieprecht and The Offperts from Saltash in England. They are a group of students who create training videos for Office 365. Look them up! The idea seemed like just the answer for our school, so I created a group in our K-5 elementary called the Tech-xperts. We asked the kids to apply using Google Drive, demonstrating what they could do. They are about to begin their third year of service to our school as the student trainers for classrooms. We began with 10 and grew to a group of 16 last year. Their job is to assist teachers in training students for technology projects in class. Teachers often avoid using tech with their kids because they themselves don't feel comfortable with the technology. The point is that the kids are very comfortable! So, the kids meet every other week after school to share their own knowledge with each other and are scheduled into other classrooms and the computer lab when a teacher wants to try a tech assignment using new tools. Kids teach kids. This past spring, the group was invited to our local BLM office to train the employees in using Google tools! The hope is to get them out into the community even more this next year. No longer is it okay for a teacher to say, I don't use tech in my room because I don't know how. The kids do!

Unknown said...

Technology is NOT an electronic babysitter!! They are tools to use for all of us to create, problem solve and _______________________!!
Dot day is September 15ish! It is a day to share how you are going to leave your MARK in the world! The book is written by Peter Reynolds. I love doing this activity with ALL my students. Here is an example with my Kindergarten students from last year.

My students last year created PSA (iTrailer/iMovie) to share with the school (via the morning news show). These announcements had objectives ranging from the STAR behavior expectations to different subject areas and beyond.

QR codes are not only fun, but they are informational. I started a project to create QR codes to place around the school as a teaching tool!

Students worked with me in the Media Center in several
‘centers’ over a two week period. 3D printers, NAO robots, Romo,
Sphero, Anki drive race track, 94 fifty basketball. I taught the students
How to use the iMovie/iTrailer to create a short video to share
their experience.

Book trailers are up and coming in our Media Center this year.

I love teaching and sharing my tech skills with students, teachers,staff members,parents and our community. Let's help merge the digital divide.

I could go on for ever and ever!!!