The tech. + Soc. Sem. conflation

I had a conversation recently at a conference with some edtech teachers who didn’t look highly upon AVID teaching strategies. This surprised me. I credit AVID for making me a much better English teacher–especially after I attended a Critical Reading session at the AVID Summer Institute in San Diego many years ago. One of the bones the teachers had to pick with AVID was the use of Socratic Seminars.

In short, a Socratic Seminar is when students split into two circles: a small inner circle and a large outer circle. The inner circle students are the only ones who are allowed to discuss high level questions. The outer circle students take Cornell Notes concerning what the inner circle participants say. At the end of the discussion, all students write a summary.

The problem the edtech teachers have with this strategy is the outer circle students aren’t participating. Technically, the students are participating because they’re listening, taking notes, and then devising a summary at the end of the discussion–but I understand the teachers’ point: The outer circle students aren’t allowed to communicate with the rest of the class.

The solution is found in a conflation of technology and AVID. Instead of making the outer circle write Cornell Notes, the students should all have devices on which they’re backchanneling via Google+, Edmodo,  or whichever LMS of their choice. In this way they kids are communicating but not interrupting the flow of conversation that’s happening in the inner circle. Instead of traditional note taking and summary writing at the end of the Socratic Seminar, the teacher can put up the backchanneling thread on a projector, and the students can either write about or discuss what was shared during the seminar.

This is an effective combination of sound teaching with technology augmentation. I’ve found oftentimes that edtech teachers ignore good teaching strategies while AVID ignores edtech. When you begin moving across the SAMR model, the marriage of both sides becomes very appealing.

Apple, Scorsese, and blended learning

Here are Martin Scorsese’s words:

You can’t do your work according to other people’s values. I’m not talking about also ‘following your dream,’ either. I never liked the inspirational value of that phrase. Dreaming is a way of trivializing the process, the obsession that carries you through the failure as well as the successes which could be harder to get through.

I mean, if you’re dreaming, you’re sleeping, and it’s important and imperative to always be awake to your feelings, your possibilities, your ambitions. But you also know this, for your work, for your passion, every day is a rededication.

Painters, dancers, actors, writers, filmmakers, it’s the same for all of you, all of us. Every step is a first step, every brush stroke is a test, every scene is a lesson, every shot is a school. So, let the learning continue.

According to Mashable:

…the images tell the true tale of a collection of Los Angeles County High School for the Arts students who assigned to make a movie with an iPad. The one-minute spot features clips of various teams using the tablet to shoot and edit a variety of scenes.

Apparently, the spot was shot entirely on an iPad Air 2.

I know the commercial is going to really bother those who don’t like Apple. The reason I like it so much, in addition to being an Apple fan, is that it encapsulates why I work every day. The ad shows students creating movies, which means they’re learning about audio, visual, screenwriting, geography, editing software, collaboration, decision making, budgeting, time management, model plane flying, and a lot more. This is what blended learning is all about: Exploring multiple subjects by using technology as a tool to accomplish a goal. This is the process for engaging and effectively teaching young people in the 21st century. Throwing iPads and laptops at them is not enough; teachers need to lead them through the SAMR Model so that a redefinition of learning can occur.