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Miracasting and Teaching: From Higher Ed to Homeschool

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

When I first decided to homeschool my 5 year old, I knew that I needed only two things to be successful.

Background: As an Instructional Technologist and Trainer, I use my Surface Pro 4 and Screenbeam to project wirelessly during EVERY training. In these trainings, it is my goal to encourage educators to rethink teaching and learning; and begin to design learning experiences that will help students be productive, contributing members in a global society. With miracasting, I can walk around the room and easily assist novice teachers/struggling participants while moving the advanced learners along. I can also engage participants in the trainings by allowing direct interaction or use of the tool I'm demoing without moving from their seats. This has been particularly useful when participants arrive to training with varying devices, operating systems or programs installed. Using Actiontec instantly peaks their interest before I even begin to talk about tools. Miracasting is so important in education. As a teacher, we must have the flexibility to move around and help students with varying abilities, learning styles, and preferences. As an adjunct instructor, I have had instances of even adult students struggling with a concept and needing assistance but being too shy or nervous to ask a question. With miracasting, there is no need to stop my (short) lesson for 15 minutes to assist an individual student. I can continue to manage their learning while still teaching/presenting from my Surface. Thus increasing participation, motivation and success. With the ActionTec Screenbeam Wireless Display Adapter, I am able to wirelessly display from my Surface Pro 4 and walk around to assist students at any point in the lesson. With only three parts and three steps to get up and running, the Actiontec is compact and easy to connect. So, why do I only need a Surface and Actiontec for homeschooling? Don't worry. I'm getting there. My son is a typical Digital Native. He loves using the computer; iPad, Surface tablet, desktop or mobile phone to learn. He uses apps and the internet like second nature. He knows how to swipe, scroll, flick and ink digitally. He plays learning games, reads stories, and watches videos that supplement traditional learning on a computer. He uses software too: He studies his sight words in PowerPoint and practices reading in OneNote using Learning Tools. These behaviors have helped him become an advanced learner. While he is only 5, he is a preschooler in our county. I withdrew him from our local public school three months ago because though he is well past the Kindergarten academic level, the school would not offer the services he needed to continue on this path. They refused basic differentiation. Why you ask? In their words, "We must focus on the children who don't even have the basics yet". Needless to say, I knew it was best that I become directly responsible for his formal learning.

I transformed our basement into a mini-classroom. We have tons of Kindergarten learning materials from a reading library to math manipulatives to writing supplies and toys for pretend play. I painted a large wall with chalkboard paint for skills practice. But with digital inking, the wall is barely used!

I started my career as an early childhood educator so I know what children need emotionally, academically and physically to grow. However, I am also an instructional technologist; well versed in pedagogy AND technology, and how to mesh the two successfully. I train educators to incorporate technology into instruction. As a trainer (and teacher), I understand the importance of UDL (Universal Design for Learning) and in my teaching (whether adult or child), I let these principles guide my facilitation. I provide:

Multiple Means of Motivation-Students differ in how they like to be engaged or what motivates them to learn. The factors that affect these differences include but are not limited to culture, personal relevance, background knowledge and experiences and even their brain functions. Some students like to work in groups while others like to work alone while listening to music. Others may seem disengaged because they like to doodle. Some students may like order and a schedule while yet other students prefer the teacher to create new and spontaneous activities. When I facilitate lessons, I use a variety of strategies and activities to engage all students.

Multiple Means of Expression-Students differ in how they express what they know. Some students do better with writing while others are great speakers, debaters or poets. Some students have disabilities that affect their ability to type or write but they may be great at singing. Therefore, I allow my students to express what they've learned any way they choose .

Multiple Means of Representation. Students differ in how they comprehend and perceive information presented. Sometimes this is due to sensory disabilities, learning disabilities, language differences and cultural differences, learning preferences and learning styles. I used audio, video, printed handouts, and more to represent content.

So again you ask, WHY do I only need a Surface and Actiontec Screenbeam Wireless Display Adapter? Here's why:

I have found that my Surface and Screenbeam makes it easy for me to design universal learning experiences for engaging and motivate all learners, allow sharing of various content and that allow my students to express what they know before, during AND after a lesson; whether that student is a 35 year old classroom teacher or my 5 year old son! I have used MANY devices over the years for teaching. As a matter of fact, I own: iPhone 3,4,5,6; iPad 2 and iPad Mini; MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Mini, Dell laptop.

But NONE of these compare to my Surface Pro 4. Why? Here are my top 5 reasons:

1. Digital Inking

2. OneNote, OneNote, OneNote!!!

3. A tablet and a desktop

4. Ergonomics

5. Continuum

#6. Well, it's just better than everything else!

And when paired with the Actiontec it makes miracasting a breeze.

Now how does this work so well in a homeschooling environment? I planned our entire curriculum in OneNote. I created a OneNote notebook with charts, images, worksheets, videos, and more for all subject areas. I bought my son his own Surface so that he can use OneNote for more interactive learning. As I am teaching in this one-on-one environment, I am able to use the Surface and Actiontec to quickly demo or reteach a concept. He can see the content as I miracast but also on his screen. I can easily show him errors in writing as I am interacting with my Surface not only projecting the content. He can interact with the lessons directly in his notebook at his desk or at our worktable. He can use his pen to erase and rewrite words, sentences, stories, answers, drawings! There is no need to stop and get a different journal or get crayons or construction paper. He uses OneNote learning tools to help with his reading and Cortana to help him quickly navigate between apps and to search the internet for research (as he is 4 and still learning to spell and type). This kind of personalized learning increases his motivation and empowers him to want to learn and do more.

Ultimately, the goal is to "empower every student on the planet to achieve more". With my Surface Pro 4, OneNote, and Actiontec, I am helping to make this happen 1 student at a time!

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