Thursday, May 16, 2013

ISTE 2013 Presenter Profiles: Rob Zdrojewski

(This entry was originally published on the TechSmith Education Blog on May 15 2013)


We’re SO excited for ISTE 2013! The TechSmith Academic Solutions team will be heading down to San Antonio this year for the Annual Conference and Exposition, and we’re eager to hang out with all of our presenter pals at our booth.
ISTE 2013 DatesThe four day conference begins on June 23rd and ends on June 26th, focusing on advancing and improving education through the use of technology. Not surprisingly, the whole concept is something that we’re thrilled to be involved in. Will we be seeing you there?
In the weeks leading up to the event, we’ll be sharing presenter profiles, like the one below, to help you get better acquainted with the people who will be presenting at the TechSmith booth. Be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss any updates, and check our archives for past profiles if you’re just now joining us.

Presenter Profile Number 2: Rob Zdrojewski

Rob Zdrojewski is a NY State certified K-12 Technology Education Teacher at Amherst Middle School and Adjunct Professor in the online Education Technologies and Emerging Media Program at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. Since 2001, he has enjoyed working with students and teachers using a project-based, blended classroom model that combines both face-to-face and online instruction.
Rob ZdrojewskiAs the founder of SchoolTVmadeEasy.com and RobZtraining.com, Rob has published numerous training DVDs and offers professional development and consulting services on digital video production. He presents at state and national conferences on topics such as greenscreen school TV production, screencasting and safe online video hosting for schools. He serves as an educational consultant and beta tester with companies such as SchoolTubeTechSmith andEdmodo and has been published in educational technology journals such as T.H.E. Journal and the Hechinger Report.
Rob is passionate about project based learning and is a strong advocate for the use of mobile devices in the classroom. He is excited to pursue a leadership role in Educational Technology with his recent completion of a second Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration at Canisius College with an emphasis on digital learning.

Student Screencasters – Why Let Teachers Have All the Fun?

Creating screencasts doesn’t just have to be the job of the teacher anymore. Why not flip the direction of teaching and put students in the driver’s seat? Learn how Amherst Middle School Teacher Rob Zdrojewski “flipped” the professional development model with his “Teaching the Teachers” Screencasting project. Teachers nationwide have visited MrZclassBlog.org to learn from his student’s “Tech Under 90 Sec” tutorial videos on topics such as best practices for using Google docs and Gmail. Join us to learn how you, too, can leverage the power of screencasting for your classroom and beyond.
Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube!

Watch this presentation

Monday: 10:30AM, 1:00PM
Tuesday: 11:30AM, 3:00PM
Wednesday: 11:00AM

An Interview with Rob

What will you be presenting at ISTE 2013?
I’m presenting 2 sessions at ISTE: one on using Sooo-crative.com as a free alternative to student response systems and the other session is on Digital Storytelling using the Videolicious app on iOS devices. I actually used the Videolicious app to produce the video that you can watch above. I’ll also be presenting in the TechSmith booth in the exhibit hall, where I’ll showcase the student screencasting projects we’ve done in my classroom. It’s an awesome project where our kids are actually producing tutorial videos that their very own teachers are learning from.
What were the benefits and results of having your students make screencasts?
The biggest benefit is that the kids fully take on the role of a teacher, which is very empowering to them. Kids love to teach others when given the chance. We begin discussing that to be a good teacher, you first have to be a good student and learn the material inside and out. Since the kids are creating screencasts that live online forever and become part of their searchable digital footprint, they really want to make sure their screencasts are something they can be proud of for years to come. As a result of our student screencast projects, we’ve received awesome feedback from teachers both in our own building, across town and even across the country! We now put all of our student screencasts online at MrZclassBlog.org so anyone can view and learn from them.
Can you tell us about a typical day in your classroom?
I use what’s known as the “flipped mastery model” with my 7th and 8th grade Technology courses. Since we use a project-based curriculum approach, my students can be seen working on different steps or even completely different projects all at the same time. They move on to the next project once they’ve mastered something (student-centric), instead of the teacher or a calendar dictating when we move on (teacher-centric). That might sound a bit chaotic, and it was at first, but I stuck with it and now I’m a firm believer that classrooms should be places where kids are fully “in the driver’s seat”, building their knowledge by working on projects together and taking ownership of their learning. Of course there will be times where I gather the whole class together and deliver information the traditional way (lecture), but that’s no longer the primary way I teach. Since we now have digital tools like Edmodo, iPads, and screencasts we can leverage these technologies and use class time more productively. I love the fact that I can spend the class period circulating among the kids and work with them in smaller groups, instead of lecturing to the masses at the front of the classroom. This benefit alone has improved my ability to build relationships with my students that otherwise couldn’t be done in the traditional lecture-based classroom.
What challenges did you have to overcome in order to successfully flip your class?
The biggest challenge for me is having to “unteach” the students. Many kids have come to expect that teachers lecture while the students sit silently and take notes, so they do well on the test. It disappoints me to see that some of our kids have disengaged and now just passively “play the game of school.” I want my students to know what it means to take true ownership of their own learning. I want them to be excited to come to my class and be active, not passive. If kids are not given the chance to explore, question, and create, I believe they miss out on true learning opportunities. This also is why we need to consider the standardized testing movement invading our schools if we want to produce kids who can think on their feet and work collaboratively together.
What kinds of special skills does this teaching method grant your students?
I feel that having kids both create and consume screencasts completes the cycle of learn–teach–learn. By using screencasts, my students are able to learn what they don’t know at the pace that is most comfortable for them, and then turn around and teach others what they’ve learned. This promotes an active verses passive mode of learning, while giving kids credibility and a well deserved self-esteem boost at the same time!
How does the flipped class model allow you to personalize your teaching style?
Personalizing the classroom environment is right up there on my list of teaching priorities. I never want a student to feel like he/she is just a number. Since I teach over 350 students each year, it becomes challenging to form individual relationships with students. I’m now a believer in leveraging technologies such as screencasting to deliver new content. I combine that with a learning management platform like Edmodo to help me keep track of student progress. Through these tools, I’ve been able to change how I interact with my students. I spend much more time working individually or in small groups because I am no longer tied to the front of the classroom delivering the same information to a room full of kids with varying needs and capabilities. When used wisely, the technology can help take care of the more routine tasks of any classroom and create opportunity for MORE, not less, face-to-face interaction. One of my favorite quotes is “to remain relevant, teachers need to provide kids with what Google cannot.” I think that really sums it up best!
(This entry was originally published on the TechSmith Education Blog on May 15 2013)