Stretching Our Skills: Challenge Before Require

Not many people like to be told what to do. When one hears the word “requirement”, it almost seems to convey the message that the task will not be completed unless someone else expects it to be done. Making something required may breed noncompliance and sometimes even contempt. Maybe that is why people tend to go a few miles per hour over the speed limit, or have a tendency at times to turn in a project just a shade late.
Although it is not always possible, I would much rather be given a challenge. It is like a dare, as if someone is saying, “You know, I am just going to throw this out there as a possibility. I don’t know if you will be able to achieve the goal, although I know you have the potential.” With a requirement, a person may likely do the bare minimum. But a challenge? The sky’s the limit.


Below is a challenge I am thinking about posing to my teaching staff. We are currently using iPads to document and assess student writing in digital portfolios. I also want to encourage them to innovate in their own classroom. By calling this voluntary activity a “challenge”, my hope is they will see this as an opportunity to show what they know and can do with the iPad to support best instructional practices. The investment we’ve made in technology needs to be used to its full potential. With specific choice in language, an initiative can have a much better chance of succeeding when growth is on the person’s terms.

2013 iPad Challenge
The best way to learn how to integrate new technology into the classroom is to jump in and try it out!
Purpose: To use the iPad in your instruction with a high level of integration. The way you apply this tool should augment, modify or redefine the specific teaching activity and thereby more positively impact student learning.
Procedure: Consider your instruction first. Then consider how an application on the iPad could enhance it. Important – the Reflection app and mirroring technology must be part of your teaching activity. Use the linked template below for your planning purposes.
Payoff: Upload evidence of your activity to a Web 2.0 tool. Note the URL in the template and submit it to Matt. For your time and efforts, you will receive $50 in the App Store. You can receive up to $100 (two pieces of evidence) to purchase educational apps.
Publish: Your final product will be posted on a public wiki for all the world to see. Congratulations!

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District ( Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD ( and Lead Literacy (

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