Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How Apple Caught My Eye

Apple continues to catch our eye with innovative, eye-popping, user-friendly devices and apps. Recently, I spent an entire week at the Apple Campus in Cupertino, CA. What I learned and experienced impacted me on a much deeper level than hardware and software. The Apple Educator Training helped shape my instructional passions.

The week began with meeting about 20 colleagues from around the United States along with our Apple Educators for the week. We then learned about our Apple Educator Training course objectives:

I personally related to the first and third objectives the most. Barrington 220's One to World initiative requires that we become acquainted with our new Apple MacBook Air and iPad Air devices. However, the intention of the One to World initiative has never been solely to provide students with devices. The intention is to open learning opportunities and experiences not possible without the use of a device. The One to World initiative is about instructional practices more than hardware and software. Therefore, the first objective, "Ensure educators understand the qualities and behaviors of learning excellence," leapt off the screen and into my heart. We need to build capacity for how technology can truly transform and—to borrow a term from Kristin Ziemke—amplify our instruction.

The third objective relates to the sheer size of our school district. Our many teachers cannot all rely on just a few people throughout the district to relay the messages of how technology impacts best practices in instruction. Rather, we need a growing number of layers of educators who understand the many paths to success and can help to bring others along to serve as an additional layer of support. Through our District Technology Committee and our LaunchPad program, we established our foundational teachers to "Enhance the readiness of individuals for their role in leading ongoing professional learning in an Apple learning environment." We now need to build additional layers.

Our initial Apple training activity embraced the idea that learning happens on two sides: an emotional side and an instructional side. 

We viewed the following video to dissect the emotional and instructional aspects of what we learned.

Here are some of the emotional connections we made about the iPhone:
  • Everyone can relate to waiting for something exciting.
  • Waiting can be frustrating.
  • Cookie Monster's actions make the commercial funny and likable.
  • We all at least smiled, and a smile during a commercial has positive ramifications.
Here are some of the instructional connections we made about the iPhone:
  • You can activate Siri with your voice, without pressing a button.
  • You can ask Siri to set a timer.
  • You can ask Siri to play music from a playlist.
  • You can ask Siri to check a timer.
This learning experience, in the form of a commercial, filled both the emotional and instructional halves of learning and struck two chords. On a personal level, the tone and character made the experience memorable. The learning content was embedded within the experience. Thus, the commercial married the emotional content with the instructional content. We reflected that when you verbally share this commercial with someone who hasn't seen it, the emotional half of the experience cannot be shared without also remembering and sharing the instructional half of the experience.

In the second activity, we covered the assessment part of a lesson. 

The list of activities that qualified as evidence of a learning experience includes:
  • Shares knowledge
  • Connects learning experiences
  • Lets others know it's okay to risk
  • Recognizes incremental accomplishments
  • Accepts and links multiple perspectives
  • Finds answers through perseverance and sleuthing
  • Reflects on and assesses learning
This list opened my eyes to the idea that not all lessons end in a product. Further, not all lessons require an element that is measured using the SAMR model. There's more to this line of thinking, ending in a discussion about portfolios, but that's another post for another day.

We summarized our experience on learning by piecing together a definition.

Great learning occurs through an ongoing process of meaningful inquiry, connecting prior knowledge, leveraging personal interests, and addressing the unique needs of the learner.

Throughout the rest of the week, we experienced and modeled these aspects of the instructional and assessment parts of learning while creating infographics, videos, slideshows, documents, music loops, shared albums, and more using Apple's apps: Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Photos, iMovie, Garageband, iTunes U, and iBooks Author. Taking a deep dive into creating with those apps helped me widen my scope for how those apps can be used in our classrooms by both teachers and students. We can stretch the use of these apps so much further!

From my personal perspective as a professional learning facilitator, I loved the framework we used while creating in our Apple Education environment:

This instructional design framework includes five steps: Introduction, Demonstration, Guided Practice, Summary of Learning, and Independent Practice. Immediately, I knew that I would adopt this framework when working with our district Library/Technology Assistants during the 2016–17 school year. We will continue to provide learning opportunities with our technology devices and apps, but we can also go further. The framework provides a pathway for teachers as they look to guide students during lessons. As a guide, the teacher does not need to lead all aspects of instructional design—instead, the student can experience a full spectrum of teacher support during any of these stages. In this framework, technology allows teachers to empower students to direct their own learning, while also giving teachers the chance to reach each student on an individual level.

The week came to a close quickly. I enjoyed every minute. But most of all, I look forward to spreading the knowledge, the passion, and the details of the Apple Education Training here in Barrington 220.

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