Innovative Professional Development
Extremely excited to see my first blog post on the Center for Digital Education Blog. Please check it out.
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February 07, 2017 at 02:44PM
If you read through my posts, you will find that this is a theme that keeps popping up. Not necessarily spelled out this same way, but the fact is, technology is just a tool. It really sucks. Sit down in front of a computer when you are bored and chances are, you will not learn a whole lot. Same thing with a computer in education. Throw a computer in front of a kid, they will sit there with a computer in front of them. If you are bored and that is how you stumbled across this, here are some things that you can read on this topic (the third one is a video).
The last one is my personal favorite.
Google drive added something called My Maps. When I was a kid, I liked maps. I would spin a globe and find out where I would live when I grew up, though the middle of the pacific ocean was not very appealing to me, I liked that I could see where things were. I never did learn where the east coast states were though, they were so tiny on the map that I couldn't figure them out. I went to the University of Delaware and quickly learned where they all were. By the way, for those of you who do not know, Delaware is not the smallest state in the USA, that is Rhode Island. Delaware has the smallest population.
What the heck does that have to do with Technology? Well, maps are way better now.
Check out the map that I posted below. While on that map, complete the following:
If you had to give your students one of the 2 options above, one would suck and one would be kind of cool. The trick is that, in reality, the thing is just a map. Yes you can do cool things with it like add videos, images, customization, zoom in and out, change the base map, etc., but it is just a map.
How often have you spent examining maps to learn something new? Put it on a computer and POOF, its a learning tool. No, its a FRICKIN map. They kind of suck. What makes it cool is using it as a tool to get students to see something that they are learning, explore more deeply and find evidence of something that was discovered around 100 years ago by really smart people. Alfred Wegener, 1912, thought plate tectonics happened because he looked at a map and thought the continents fit together. Later the things was confirmed by Harry Hess in 1960.
It is kind of cool when you can take a process that happens at the same rate as fingernail growth (roughly 1 in per year) and show students that it is really happening and that it affects them.
Maps don't have to suck, technology doesn't have to suck. So don't make them.
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January 31, 2017 at 10:06PM
Connecting the Dots - Design Thinking - #dtk12chat
What is at the nexus of the things that we have learned. Yesterday I attended a Design Camp. A one day design thinking conference-ish learning, mind blowing, experience. It was an amazing experience. The learning and ideating through design thinking was phenomenal. However, one of the things that stuck with me most came from a single comment the night prior.
The evening before the conference, there was a meetup to get to know each other. Honestly, one of the most important thing that I learned was the connection that happens just because of the empathy involved in the process. It was here that I met Grant Lichtman, author, keynote of the conference, design thinking guru. As we talked, he asked about my story. Throughout the process of telling the story, I mentioned about 5 different that I wore and buckets that I lived in through my career. He let me know that I had done this and asked, "Why not just call yourself an educator?"
It is 3 days later and I can't get that out of my head. I like the buckets that define the type of educator that I am. Not because I think it limits what I know, but because it adds lenses that I have used to critically examine the art I call education. They have also constructed my current roll. I enjoy the fact that I have come from several different areas and have experiences with conflicting ideas of what education should look like. I think of each of the experiences that I have as a dot. Every time I learn something new or engage with someone new, about a topic, I get a dot.
I have a lot of dots. Not as many as some that I have met, but I enjoy the fact that my dots are scattered. I have dots that seemingly contradict. I use these dots to look at similar problems through different lenses, and each of the dots alone may provide drastically different solutions. I even have dots that, taken alone, would view some challenges that I face as solutions to other challenges. I have come to think that, like the empathy in design thinking, I need to understand and be able to empathize with people who exist solely in one of the dots that I have. I guess that I view this as an internal conversation with my experiences occurring in my brain.
So is our job to just go and learn, accumulate a bunch of dots to understand different points of view in regards to the problems we face. No. I think that our job is to connect the dots. When we connect the dots, we connect our different lenses and our experiences to the challenges we face. Once we have done that, we take the input and critically make the decision in the our best interests.
Notice that if we connect the dots, the solution (orange dot in the center) lies "within the box" defined by our experience. (sorry about the molecule, but I was a chemistry teacher.
So is that the design thinking process? Not really, the way that I understand it, the design thinking process is realizing that there are stakeholders who have completely different dots. Ones that you will never know unless you ask, empathize, and work with to solve a problem. When you bring people together, empathize with them, accept their prior experience and knowledge (their dots) and incorporate that into the problem solving process, you get a different solution. An out of the box solution.
Bringing more than one person's ideas to the table brings another set of dots.
When this happens the solution (black dot) is somewhere else.
The more people, the more empathy, the more expertise that you bring to the challenge, the more dots you have and the more outside the box the solution may be. I say "may" as bringing together people with the same dots can bias the process and yield a manufactured solution. Through this method we can create more outside the box thinking, innovative ideas, future-ready solutions, and think for the future rather than think about it.
I hope that this is a complete over-simplification of the process, especially for those who have been doing this for years, but this is my brain hashing it out. As I am thinking through this, I wanted to clarify some things.
I am not arrogant enough to think that this could be a dot for you. My goal is that you comment and add another point of view to my jumbled brain mess and help me turn it into a deeper understanding of the process that has had my brain running since I learned about it.
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January 29, 2017 at 08:24AM
Communication and Bandwidth
I was sitting in a presentation today and heard a man discuss how students are communicating and telling stories through video. The stories were emotional and conveyed a sense of the student being connected to content. A light bulb went off in my head. I had been thinking about what we are losing with the communication through video, what we are gaining, and how did we get here. I sit here and type, knowing that very few will read this. I am ok with that. This is how I process and how I put my internal thoughts onto something tangible. If you are reading this, then I hope you get something out of it. My epiphany was simple. Our communication is determined by our bandwidth.
How we communicate has often been determined by the medium available for communication. That medium has grown from story telling around a small gathering of people, to spoken word, to written work published in a book or a periodical. There was also radio and later TV, but, except for a select few, these were mediums that a select few used to produce. The majority of us were consumers.
With the onset of the internet, that written word became digital. With the limited bandwidth we could view what others had created, download, make endless copies, and distribute. That has become simple. In the early 2000's we created and communicated through audio podcasts. We were able to listen to what others were saying, both synchronously and asynchronously. Some of the more "techy" people produced their own podcasts. This took more time initially, but that has since gotten faster. As bandwidth increased even more, services like youtube, vimeo, netflix, and hulu (among others) became a reality. We no longer needed to open a cupboard or have the "Don't scratch the DVD" conversation. We just hit play and magic brings the video to our screen. Not only that, but these sites are easy to use and there are millions out there creating and editing their own videos
For as long as I can remember, I have written papers. My thesis and dissertation were well crafted, static documents that are arguably irrelevant now as they were written 3 to 5 years ago. Accompanying these papers was a presentation. A story that I told my committee about the paper, summarizing years of research into a 15-30 minute presentation. Though my presentation could be seen as a story, it is one that utilized very little bandwidth. In fact, only 5 people saw it. It was the best presentation ever... Prove me wrong.
Our students write, just like we did. They present, just like we did. But have we increased their bandwidth. They have the ability to turn their stories into videos that others can stream in their classrooms and on their computers. Are we letting them?
What are they losing in creating a video? When students write, who reads it? Is it an authentic audience? What if we let the students move beyond simply writing a story? Would we be losing anything if our projects were no longer write something, but produce a video? Students would still have to write. They would then storyboard the video with pictures and video that they could create and curate. They would need to record a narrative, practicing enunciation, public speaking skills, the English language, and academic vocabulary. They would record, fail, record again, fail again. but when they were proud of the video, they would have constructed meaning from different sources of media and produced a project on content that they will never forget.
If we have the capability to communicate with so much more information, why don't we?
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January 24, 2017 at 12:58PM
A different kind of innovation
When I taught, I was the master of my classroom (self proclaimed). My goal was to give students an education that was not only exciting, but that required students to tap into their own genius and experience to learn. When I innovated, I only needed to convince students to give my ideas a chance. I promised to make the material more relevant and interesting to them. I tried new tricks all the time and when I failed, students learned a lesson about the scientific method. It was my hypothesis that things would work. My experiment showed otherwise. Revise the plan and try again. Students and I would build together, work together, and learn together. We had fun learning chemistry together and applying the concepts to new situations. That was my brand of innovation.
I have since transitioned out of the classroom. My goals have not changed, but I have had to adjust my brand of innovation. I still want to improve education for every student I affect with my actions. The difference is that the pool of students has gone from about 200 per year to an ongoing 50,000. We have a big district. My roll has changed from teaching students to teaching teachers. I want to get other teachers to teach in a way that allows students to create and students to relate to material.
So how have I changed my brand of innovation? I still enjoy learning new tricks, apps, websites, and tech, I do not use most of those technologies in the same way that I used to. Rather than using the latest and greatest technologies with other teachers and students, I use a handful of old tools. Innovation has changed from 1,000 cutting edge tools to do 1,000 cool things to 3-4 tried and true, simple tools to do 1,000 things each.
I use the term expandable. What are the tools that are the most expandable? Teachers and students can learn to use them in one sense, then the tool can be repurposed to accomplish hundreds of different things and support learning in 1,000 different ways. Innovative, for me, has changed from the innovative tool, to the innovative way teachers use the tool to teach students. The teacher is the innovation and not the app, device, or program. I, like others, have seen innovative programs, apps, and devices used in amazing ways and in ways that, for lack of a better word, suck.
My brand of innovation is less about finding teachers the next tool and more about showing them that they can use the tools they know to do amazing things. Slideshows can be used for ignite or pecha kucha presentations or repurposed for collaborative spaces, posters, feedback, discussion forums, and developing theories. Documents can be used for papers, hyperdocs and research or repurposed for collaborative notes, groupwork planning documents, resource documents. Innovation becomes more like Sir Ken Robinson's idea of a divergent thinker than a search for the next program.
Educators often just need a nudge in a direction and they begin creating. I have found that once teachers see that they can be creative with the same old programs, they are eager to create amazing learning experiences with the programs. Not that they need to learn something new, but seeing something in a new light can be invigorating.
I often think that my brand of innovation is less about showing people new tools and more about getting teachers to take the risk of looking at something they know in a new way. Innovate by seeing a program from a new perspective and transforming classrooms by repurposing the use of that program.
Hope you enjoyed the brain dump.
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January 11, 2017 at 08:59PM
What are the Usage Rights of Images in the Explore tool in google?
For those unaware, the Research tool in google docs is being replaced by the Explore tool. It is a fancy change and a cleaner look, but I have had some questions. I work with teachers on technology integration and I have taught, through the research tool, how to change the usage rights of images. Now that is gone. What to do?
I have been trying to figure it out through Google help forum, through twitter, and through countless searching. I finally found it by playing with the tool.
1. Open the Explore tool, search for
something, and flip it to images.
2. Hover over an image and
click the zoom symbol.
Below the large image is the usage rights of the image.
"Labeled for commercial use with modification"
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November 03, 2016 at 09:43AM
Inspire #Digcit in Online Communication
Get past the rule: communicate appropriately online.
Rather than simply telling students what is right and wrong, I choose to look beyond the communication. As a science teacher, I often told my students about discoveries made in science. A discovery is only a discovery if communicated out to the world. It is how people gather information, learn about new things, and how they identify with people. Whether spoken or written, communication is the key to transfer of knowledge. A person may have found the cure to all disease, but without communication, nobody knows and the disease continues.
Who discovered the double helix? Who won the Nobel Prize for it?
Look at commercials, presidential elections, anything negative; people get sick of it. Going back to my favorite book, Start with Why, people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. If you want people to buy your product, buy in to your culture change, and support your solution then you need to communicate in a manner that speaks to them. A lesson in Digital Citizenship does not need to be about do's and don'ts, it can be more about marketing. Changing an idea in your head to a movement takes communication.
Turn a dream into a movement, spread the positive, solve a problem.
Regardless of how you word it. Students rise to a challenge and will surprise you with the things that they do. If all we do is get our kids to "not say bad things online" then we are selling them short. Have them communicate online to create something.
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October 24, 2016 at 08:56PM
Spin to the Positive - Digital Footprint #digcit
A digital footprint is like credit... Good digital footprint is good, bad is bad, none is bad.
- Jeremy Shorr
Digital Citizenship is not a set of rules. It is a guide for students to change the world.
Why do we only warn our students about having a bad digital footprint? Show them what is possible with a good digital footprint.
I enjoy talking to teachers about student-centered classrooms. The importance of innovative teaching methods and creating amazing learning environments for students is a passion of mine. What if I posted image of my own classroom and everything showed students in rows, reading silently to themselves, or being completely disengaged. My digital footprint would be in complete contradiction to what I was talking about. I wouldn't be buying the very product that I am selling. It is not that I have a bad digital footprint, it is just that the footprint does not "say" that same things I do. Odd.
Now imagine if students wanted to change the world. They identify a problem and design a solution. One thing that I used to get my chemistry students to write, is the fact that a discovery is only a discovery if communicated to the world. To change the world you need to communicate your solution. People will see and judge you and your ideas.
Simon Sinek said it best, "people do not buy what do, they buy why you are doing it." That "why" is communicated through the marketing, communication, and by the people who are the face of the discovery. What type of digital footprint do you want others to see so you can change the world? If people truly buy why you do something, then they will find it in what you post, share, say, and advertise. What digital footprint will people buy?
I refuse to leave digital footprint as something to keep from being bad. I prefer to help students choose what their footprint is going to be and make it one that will allow them to change the world. Every decision that they make will do 1 of 3 things. 1) it won't matter. 2) it will open a door. 3) it will close a door. Make sure you leave doors open because you never know where they will take you.
This is all fine and dandy, but you can see from the presidential race, there is a negative side to digital footprint... That is all I have to say about that.
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October 19, 2016 at 10:27PM
#Digcit is not the goal, it is a step.
This year I have worked to help our school district become a CommonSenseMedia certified district. Over the last 2 years our district has worked with the teachers to curate a curriculum, we have worked with principals to set expectations, and we have worked with the teachers union to ensure that what we were trying to do is not excessive. Teachers curated content from CommonSenseMedia, Principals have agreed that digital citizenship, much like lab safety, should be done in the beginning of the year (rather than by June 1 when required by E-rate), and teachers have loved the idea of presenting digital citizenship along with classroom rules.
We have devised a method for collecting data on when the teachers report teaching lessons. Principals are pushing to have these completed in the first month of school, and, since the lessons were pulled from commonsensemedia, teachers and schools and the district qualify for certification. That is awesome.
We have also changed our student homepage. When students log in to their google account (home or school) and go the homepage, they see a page with digital citizenship reminders. There is the possibility that every day starts with a quick 10 second digital citizenship lesson. Teachers can open the reminders, students can open them, parents can even access them.
Teachers are talking about digital citizenship, students are learning the material. So What?
Do I hope that students are good digital citizens? Yes. Did I spend all that time so students would be? No. In the realm of my responsibility in the district, good and bad behavior are issues handled at the school sites. I am not spending all this time so principals have a few less disciplinary issues at their schools. I am happy that the conversations are starting to change. As our teachers have learned more about Digital Citizenship, the conversation is less about the Do's and Don'ts of technology use and teachers are starting to talk about how these are guides for how students can change the world. My goals, however, is beyond that. I hope that students receive a personalized education where students can reach their potential.
My goal is that students learn in an environment where they can learn to change the world using the traits that make them special and unique.
Students need to learn to communicate, collaborate, and create in a digital setting. They need to understand how their digital footprint will affect their ability to change the world one day, and they need to understand how to respect the intellectual property of another so they understand the respect that others should pay to their intellectual property.
Digital citizenship is not an end game, it is a step towards creating a culture where students can be creators, entrepreneurs, and original thinkers. As educators, it is not our job to change the world ourselves, it is our job to create an environment where students can change the world. Digital Citizenship is a tool and guide that we can use to change education, so our students change the world. Our students are going to change the world in some way, we get to help.
Digital Citizenship is less about Do's and Don'ts and more of a guide for students to change the world.
So what is the next step?
Mindset. Education is not only for our students. It is for ourselves. As educators we cannot let our ego get in the way. If we think that we are there to bestow knowledge and students are merely there to soak it up, then we are missing out. As students are learning how to change the world, teachers need to be ok with letting them. That can only come when the teacher recognizes they are the smartest person in the room, only because they are willing to learn more than every other student. Next we are working on our mindset. That post will come soon.
What about devices?
Devices are technology. Innovation lies within the education and learning, but more so in the products that the students create.
What is my goal?
Every student can learn. Every student is different. Every student interprets things differently, constructs different ideas and solutions, and applies learned concepts in different ways and from different perspectives. Why do we teach like an assembly line? Why do we teach students in a way that requires them to give up what makes them special to learn the concept a specific way. My goal is that students learn in an environment where they can learn to change the world using the traits that make them special and unique.
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October 16, 2016 at 06:02PM
Screencastify Still my Favorite Tool
If you have never used this one, then try it... Seriously, open a new tab and search for screencastify. Find the link that is in the chrome webstore and install this extension (just a suggestion, but it is up to you). Once you have done that, try to record something. It is going to ask to set up the camera and microphone and ask where you want things saved. I chose my google drive so I can share the videos with my students. If you do this, understand that screencastify with hide all recordings in a folder called, wait for it...screencastify.
So you are good to go now? Good. How many of you nodded at or spoke to the computer? Caught!
What does this little film strip in the upper right hand corner do? It records your computer screen and your voice. That is it. Big whoop, right. Wrong. Lets check out the things that you can do with this little ditty.
Benefits of Using Screencastify:
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September 15, 2016 at 07:30AM