Tech Connections: Teach Above the Line with ThingLink

Shannon Sloger's Slogan in reference to the SAMR Model

For as long as I can remember I have been an advocate for helping teachers understand the stages of technology integration in order to effectively use tech as a tool for learning.

I've adopted a few different tech integration models over the years, discussed the ideas with administrators for use as a starting point for tech integration, and kept the ideas front of mind as I invent and discover new ways for using technology as a tool for learning.  
Discussing the stages of tech integration has led to some thought-provoking and inspiring conversations, but the ideas have not gained a lot of momentum in my face-to-face teaching environment until now. As many districts jump on board with iPad implementation, Apple's use of the SAMR model as a framework for tech integration presents a consistent, clear and powerful message that is spreading!

I recently met Shannon Soger1-1 coordinator and instructional coach from D100 in Chicagoland, who shared a brilliant PD strategy and challenge used with the Fab 40 teachers in her 100% 1:1 school. The goal for teachers working within this amazing environment is to teach above the line. Of course this simple mantra and point of reference serves as a quick and easy self-evaluation tool. Teaching above the line is a clear and attainable goal to strive for. Thanks Apple, and thank you Shannon for leading the way!

An Example: My Journey with ThingLink

Last fall I was consulted by Neil Vineberg, CMO of ThingLink, to think about ways to encourage teachers and students to use the flexible interactive tool in preparation for the ThingLink Interactive Image Contest. My advice and approach was to create and publish a comprehensive wiki of resources, known as The ThingLink Toolkit.

At that time, ThinkLInk was a tool I was using to create my own resources, but in order to make the tool appealing to classroom teachers, I knew I would have to make connections to help them meet their busy teaching demands. If you haven't heard by now, the plate is full and right in the middle is a strong push to begin implementing the Common Core State Standards in our classrooms.

Weaving Digital Tools into the Common Core

With increasing expectations to implement the CCSS, I decided to create samples of student projects that weave digital tools into the Common Core to demonstrate the flexibility of ThingLink as an effective and efficient tool for constructing knowledge. To create the samples, I had to dig deeper into the Common Core myself and embrace it. 

I must say the experience of designing The ThingLink Toolkit was challenging and exciting because it stretched my boundaries and required me to research, explore and think a lot. In the end, I created some resources I am very proud of and also a few duds, of course, but I realize that creating this toolkit of resources was an exercise in teaching above the line, and the samples I created demonstrate my ability to work at the top level, redefinition. 

The ThingLink Interactive image contest was launched and recently the deadline for entries has passed. Students have created some amazing interactive images that required them to engage in CCSS aligned learning experiences. They used higher order thinking skills to design, present, and share ideas. They redefined concepts through multimedia. The end results are impressive, but the real gain is in the deep learning that occurred during the process of creating their images. 

Please view, explore and touch some of the student entries on the contest site and see how ThingLink can be a powerful tool for teaching and learning, then try it yourself.

ThingLink Education Contest Entries