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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 04/30/2013



Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 04/27/2013



  • The top 50 people to watch in education in Australia. I enjoy looking at these lists and also following those who are thought leaders / educators. (I don't really follow politicians in the movements.) We have a lot to learn from each other.

    tags: education news edreform australia. edu_news

  • NOTE: The linked article is NSFW - it has a word of profanity where the author quotes Good Will Hunting. But the points are right. Some teachers worry they will be outdated or not needed with the online education movement. This article has some great points that I agree with. I do think online learning is part of our future but perhaps not the savior some make it out to be. "The online education utopians ignore the fact that free learning has existed for decades in the form of the public library and despite that availability, every kid within bicycling distance to his local branch didn’t turn into a self taught entrepreneur. Suggesting that online courses are the cure-all for our educational needs is like saying all you have to do to teach kids in the ghetto is give away textbooks on the corner. Recent studies have shown there is a significant gap between the completion rates of online students compared to classroom based students. When you consider that online learning is often promoted as a cost effective solution for at-risk learners who don’t have the financial resources for face-to-face instruction, it becomes clear that the online movement is offering a product that makes it easier to drop out to students who are already more prone to quitting in the first place."

    tags: education news mooc onlinelearning edu_news

  • "But even by reasonable standards, the nation’s educational outcomes are not in much better shape than they were in 1983. Whether we’re looking at overall scores or at achievement gaps, the trend lines for NAEP, the so-called Nation’s Report Card, generally show a post-reform picture that looks pretty much like the pre-reform picture – with positive trend lines but apparent slowing after 1990. There is no way to tease those data into showing that test-based accountability reform is accomplishing its key learning goals."

    tags: education edreform testing news all_teachers

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

An Easy Guide to Gaining Followers and Being Followed on Twitter



Twitter
Twitter (Photo credits: www.mysecuritysign.com)
Twitter is an interesting mix of people. As you join Twitter, you need to decide how you will follow and unfollow others. I thought it would be helpful if some of us can mutually share how we determine who we follow and unfollow people. If those who have been doing this a while can mutually cooperate to stimulate conversations about how we use Twitter, it can  help others.

The scary thing about writing such a list is when you've been tweeting as long as I have, I've made many of the mistakes I mention myself. ;-) So, I submit this list as just guidelines knowing I'm not so perfect either.

I follow people who:

  • Talk with me about interesting things.
    I most often follow people on the spot who have interesting conversations with me that make me a better person. Replying to people or modifying the tweet (MT) instead of just retweeting are two quick ways to gain followers from most people.
  • Demonstrate by their words that they are the exceptional kind of person I'd like to be around.
    You become like those you are around. (How to build your circle of the wise.) Let' me give you an example. Look at the conversation below.


    Kimberly @khurdhorst is my kind of teacher. She showed by her tweet that she loves a child. She has no benefit from tweeting that except just letting out a little piece of who she is. We need educators on Twitter like Kimberly who show their unashamed love of their students and the greatest profession. She's my my of educator. I followed her immediately just for that one tweet.
  • Demonstrate a common interest in things I care about.
    It may be silly but sometimes I do a litmus test to find people who are just funny and cool. They are games, but I've found the best educators and people to follow. I may tweet a line from one of my favorite movies and follow the people that reply. It may be those who reply to a tweet I wrote that meant a lot to me. It may be those who cared enough to tweet encouragement if I was having a rough day.
  • People who are born encouragers.
    I first followed +Jerry Blumengarten @cybraryman1  because he tweeted me encouragement as I ran. He was so kind. Then, when I followed him, he'd dm me to ask me if I was ok or encourage me when I needed a push. There are people who notice others and care about the person.
  • People who are bridge builders
    There are those who tweet great things but also take time to reply and encourage a lot of people. Often these people are like  +Tom Whitby @tomwhitbyand +Brad Currie  @bcurrie5 who run fantastic chats and link people together. (Steven Anderson  @web20classroom too and so many others! If they run a chat, I'm going to follow them - that is how important the bridge builders are.) They are important because they link all kinds of people and work hard at promoting important conversations.
  • Exceptional people with exceptional ideas
    I do follow some people who do not follow me back. I create a whitelist in my Social Bro app and I will follow them. Michael Hyatt @michaelhyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World  is one of those people. I listen to his podcast each morning and am going back and listening to old ones. His existence in the world makes my existence in the world better. They don't have to follow me back.
  • Friends
    There are so many cool people in the world with interesting stories. Oh, to have a pad of paper and a line of people so as to hear all of them! If I sit down and talk to you for a bit at a conference and if you tweet me that we had a great conversation - you've just cemented that relationship. I follow you and we can now continue conversing. Sometimes when I'm talking with a person, I'll get their handle right then and tweet them so we can do that.
  • Educators, especially teachers, principals, superintendents, librarians, curriculum directors, and IT or parents who advocate for good education wherever their child is in school. I also love to follow homeschooling parents b/c they are teachers too!

    But, that said, if you don't put this stuff in your bio and you put something random about how you like to skydive and eat coffee beans whole, I'm not going to know that about you. I often use my follower management tool, Social Bro, to search for those who have the word "teacher" in their profile. I hunger to look at my beautiful tweet stream and see the random beauty of educators from around the world talking. I have no desire to make myself look important by only following 145 people - I have private lists to drill down to that level.

I unfollow people who:


  • Haven't tweeted in 30 days.
    It doesn't matter if you're popular. If you haven't tweeted in 30 days then you're not engaged on Twitter and likely may end up taken over by a spammer.
  • Have no rhyme or reason to what they tweet.
    Thousands of retweets? A bunch of junk? If I see that you're just indiscriminately tweeting junk, I kind of feel like you're the old aunt who auto forwards everything in their inbox without reading. Her mail goes in my spam and your Twitter account will be unfollowed.
  • Are consistently mean, demeaning, and use Twitter to belittle others.
    There are those who make a career out of insulting people. I have no time for them in my life - I work with teenagers, that is hard enough.
  • Spam me with dm without admitting it.
    If you get a virus and dm me - contact me and let me know it was a virus, or I'll unfollow you. If you indiscriminately dm me asking me to do things for you all the time - you don't care, you just want * want * want - I'm unfollowing. If I want someone in my life who just wants to take from me all the time - I'll go home and talk to my teenagers. (I do love teenagers, but if you've had them, your empty pockets and full calendar understand.)
  • Consistently steal my tweets verbatim without credit.
    Yes, there are unimaginative people who just copy the tweets of others - verbatim, even in the same order. When I saw it happening, I started using the sharedby tool which pops a frame at the top of the tweet giving me credit anyway. It isn't that it is such a huge deal but when it is companies and people making money off Twitter who just want to take all those hours I spend researching and just copy it without credit, that is bad netiquette.
  • Don't converse.
    I use a great tool that social media genius Jure Klepic @jkcallas (a friend of Angela Maiers) recommended when I talked to him at Microsoft. Social bro helps me manage Twitter followers. I go in once a week and see who is following me that I'm not following back (I can't do this daily - it is too many people) and look at them. I look at those I'm following who just never talk back to me. I'll look at what they've been tweeting lately: is it about education? Do those tweets make me a better person? If they don't converse with me and don't meet this criteria, I'll unfollow.
  • Who try to game the system.
    These are Twitter scum in my book. I don't care how interesting you are. If you follow as many as you can and unfollow just after they follow you back hoping that not everyone will unfollow you - you're gaming the system and that wasn't what Twitter is supposed to be. I will unfollow you AND blacklist you in socialbro (which means I'll never see your name again.)
  • People who are users.
    I'm just a teacher who has been blessed with many great friends online. There are "important" thought leaders who won't follow me, won't converse with me, and completely ignore me when I reach out to ask a question. They have NO teachers in their list of people they follow except those who look like cookie cutter copies of themselves. However, these people will often email me asking me to promote their book or retweet something or do this or that for them. They want to use my followers but don't care a rip about me at all when I need help or have a question.

    I love people who love average everyday teachers and if they are going ignore me because I'm just a teacher then how will they feel about other teachers? Call it "I'm taking my tweets and flying to the roost" but truthfully I know I'm nothing and these people won't miss me or even care. I can add them to a list and read their stuff to stay abreast but many of them don't even use popular educational hashtags to make it easier to see what they are talking about. I'd rather talk with real educators who I love because the greatest teachers have a lot of love... and humility. Those are the kinds of people I'd like to be around. I like cooperative collaborators in my stream.

    Others just want to use me for a retweet and beg incessantly for me to promote their product, book, or whatever but have never engaged in conversation, never talked in the community. They are users and will be lucky to even get a follow.

I won't follow you if:

  • Your profile says nothing about you.
    I have no idea if you're legit or not.
  • Your avatar is still a new egg.
    You haven't taken the time to put yourself out there. I want to make sure people are real.
  • You don't follow anyone at all.
  • Your twitter stream shows you're here to be followed not to converse.
    Desperate divas get no dates. If you want to be followed, be helpful, be giving, think of others first. Being followed is a by product of being kind and helpful -- or being a celebrity. Celebrities won't read this post anyway. Life is full of enough people full of themselves - I fund such an attitude repugnant.
  • You're a celebrity.
    Exception: Jimmy Fallon. @jimmyfallon The dude is hilarious. His Twitter games are fun to play.
I'd love to hear your guidelines. If you're on Twitter, these rules will change over time. Twitter is important to me because it links me quickly and easily with some of the finest people on the planet. I'm always looking for great educators and teachers to follow or anyone who loves teaching kids. 
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 04/25/2013



  • Here's the iTunes podcast for Every Classroom matters, the new show I"m hosing on BAM radio network. I'll have one post a week go live from here on out as I interview the best, most exciting teachers I know. Let me know if you want to nominate someone.  IF you listen and like the show, it would help me out if you would rate it on the store. Thank you.

    tags: news ecmatters education edreform teaching all_teachers bestpractices

  • Excellent tips for using Evernote - I use all of these tips except the transcription and signature features. Evernote is so useful. I also like to embed documents in my notes which make repetitive tasks much easier.

    tags: productivity evernote news

  • Jure Klepic nails it in his critique of the Forbes 2013 list of Social Media influencers. If you're clueless about social media, don't make a list. Jure says "It seems that today everyone thinks they can write and preach about influence, even though they have no clue as to what influence is. In order to rank people on the ability to influence we need to understand influence, not just define it. When people just try to define influence they come away with something as useless as what is used in this post. The real definition of influence is quite simple -- influence is the power to sway. But understanding influence is far more than just knowing this definition. Understanding influence in contemporary online world means understanding contemporary notions of identity and identity construction. Identity, ideas of person and self are cultural constructs; they are ideas and values that are part of our culture. So the real question here should not be who will make the next Forbes list, but how can the author of an article about influence omit the names of so many of the brightest and best thought leaders in the field? "

    tags: education news social media edu_news

  • I had a great conversation with Theresa Allen, IT director in Illinois who has facilitated global connections from Kindergarten through 8th grade. She talks about the "Hello Little world Skypers" project and other projects she does with her students and how you can facilitate change.

    tags: education news skype flatclass globalcollaboration communication

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 04/24/2013



  • Great conversation with Darren Burris about Common Core math in the classroom and how to adjust your curriculum. Another Every Classroom Matters show.

    tags: News common core math

  • The free tool, called Your Privacy Type, requires you to take a brief quiz. Microsoft uses your answers to categorize how much you may, or may not, be concerned about online privacy. The supporting website supplies guidance on how to more proactively gain some measure of privacy.

    tags: news education microsoft privacy techintegrator

  • This might be a good time to talk about poverty as superstars are living on just a little. I don't know how they count this because the heating and air on their homes would exceed $1.50 a day. $1.50 a day is the global figure that defines extreme poverty. "Ben Affleck, Josh Groban, Sophia Bush and Debi Mazar are among the celebs who have committed to take the 2013 Live Below the Line challenge issue by The Global Poverty Project. They will live on $1.50 of food and drink a day (no Starbucks for him!) April 29-May 3 to raise awareness about extreme poverty."

    tags: news poverty hunger

  • Photo =gallery from the science fair at the White House. Science teachers should peruse these. I wish every student had to do a science fair project and we'd elevate project based activities to the "status" of doing well on an SAT or other test. I think these require a  lot more higher order thinking and problem solving. "President Obama hosts the White House Science Fair to celebrate the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. He met students in the East Garden of the White House, and they explained their science projects and experiments to him. Marvin Joseph / The Washington Post"

    tags: education news stem edu_news science

  • Next week, you can attend a 5 day comedy show. The hashtag is #comedyfest and it is being cohosted with Comedy Central and Twitter. Here's the New York times article on this event. Will be a neat follow for your personal life.

    tags: news social media twitter

  • Texas is going to cut down testing. This is a wise move for many reasons. Some states are cutting out teachers and the same time increasing spending on test taking. Such decisions harm learning no matter what test you take. "“Testing companies are in the business of making a profit, but let’s not confuse their mission — their mission is to create as many tests as they can and then grade them at as little cost as possible,” the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Dan Patrick, Republican of Houston, said Tuesday at a hearing on a comprehensive education bill that would reduce the number of high-stakes tests students must pass to graduate."

    tags: education news testing pearson

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

9 Fine Reasons to Keep a Journal (and how to help kids do it too)



Gratitude Journal
A Gratitude Journal
can improve your well being
more than winning a million
dollars in the lottery.
Why not start one today?
(Photo credit: limevelyn)
Journaling is on my habit list every day. I keep 2 kinds of journals daily:

  • Narrative journal. Observations on life. God's blessings. Questions I'm seeking to answer.
  • Joy Journal. I aim to write 20 things a day I'm thankful for. Research studies have shown that keeping a 5 minute a day gratitude journal will "increase your long term well being" more than winning a million dollars in the lottery. I started my joy journal this spring break as my eye was bandaged from skin cancer surgery. (See 11 ways to be positive when spring break isn't all you planned.)
At first I just kept a journal because I think I'm just made to write. It is what I do. But I've been journaling now for 37 years and have shelves of them and a notebook in Evernote and I'd like to share with you the ways that keeping a journal have improved my life.

Keeping a daily journal has helped me:

1. Add meaning to the moments.

There are times I look at my children when my heart overflows. I capture those emotions like a picture on the page of my journal. Other times, I'm frustrated, those pictures are there too. Life is a beautiful wonderful gift and it shouldn't be squandered.

My son is graduating this year. It has been a joy to read my entries from when he was born. The prayers I prayed in writing when I found out I was pregnant with him. The struggles that we've come through together. My journal is a gift I gave to myself. Sometimes two sentences tell me all I need to know about a period of my life and blank dates scream out in sadness for the lost meaning.

2. Process emotions.

When his wife died, CS Lewis wrote:

“What would H. think of this terrible little notebook to which I come back and back? Are these jottings morbid? ...But what am I to do? I must have some drug, and reading isn’t a strong enough drug now.”
When we lost everything when our  pecan grove went under water in 1994 and as I became a stay at home Mom, I was full of emotions. Many advocate journaling because of the catharsis, or cleansing effect it has on your heart and life. I agree. Journaling keeps me emotionally healthy.

3. Capture thoughts.

It isn't always time to write, but it is always time to capture thoughts that you may want to write about later. I have a fantastic post drafted up on a stray page after I played paint ball the first time (when I turned 40.) I still read it and will at some point write it. I remember the event like it was yesterday because I captured it in ink.

I use vJournal that links to Evernote to journal daily. It creates a notebook by year and each note is a day. I snap pictures, add thoughts, put down things I need to do and review these as part of the daily review. 

4. Gain clarity.

When you're struggling and capture thoughts, you can gain great clarity by reading back through the days. The self-awareness I gain from looking back at moments and stressors helps me clearly make decisions. 

Why do I always mention that person when I'm upset? Why does that always bother me? In an emotional lather, what we think are our problems often aren't. As I goal set, scanning through the previous year helps me act with intention and purpose. Journals help you be more self-aware.

5. Leave a Legacy.

I have special journals for each of my children. During times in their lives, I've gone into the journals and told them how I feel at that moment. When you're struggling with the tough teenage years or the terrible two's, telling your child that you loved them through it all is very affirming. 

My Mom has a journal for me that she's been keeping all my life. I'll get it one day. I'll do the same for my children. I want the last thing they get from me to be the words that I love them. In a legacy journal, you live on. I do tell them those things today but often, the words are missed amidst busy-ness.

6. Remember.

There are things we all want to remember. For me, I want to remember the times when God has spoken very clearly to me on a matter I've been praying about. We all have important moments that we want to remember and use your journal for that, whatever they are whether they are dreams, Bible verses, or funny things that happen.

7. Develop your voice

My voice wasn't developed on this blog, but in my journal over 37 years. There are times I played with words, rewrote things and tinkered. Journaling helps you find your voice and lets you write what you think without the pressure of anyone looking.

8. To Create.

Journals are a great place to play "what if." I ponder on great leaders and ask questions about life. I write poetry and sketch silly things. I draft outlines for books I haven't written yet. My journal is a playground for my mind.

9. To Release.

When I can't sleep because I keep replaying something or keep thinking about something, I grab my journal, head to the den, and write it down. Moments after getting the upset-ness on a page (usually combined with written prayers), I'm sleeping like I was hit with a brick. ;-)


Journaling has so many benefits. You may not be a fantastic writer but your life will be improved if you journal. 

How can teachers encourage journaling and respect privacy?

I had a teacher in middle school who taught me all of the beauty and excitement of journaling with daily prompts. The feedback she gave me encouraged me to write. Of course, there are things you won't write when you know a teacher is watching and she let us fold back pages that we wanted to keep private as long as she could see that some text was peeking out of the left margin, she would respect that. 

I would love to know how you journal and teach journaling in the comments. 

Thank you, I read every comment. Sometimes when you comment the first time, there is a delay in posting it, but I review these and will approve you. This is to prevent spam.


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Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 04/23/2013



  • Do you want to know what a student thinks about genius learning? Read Melina's thoughts about this practice in 12th grad english. ""What are the projects on?"-you might ask. The topic and the project is completely up to us to decide. If we are interested in how to make a good documentary or how to play an instrument, teaching ourselves and researching that topic can be our project. This new way of learning is very peculiar to me, but also very intriguing. For so long I have been told what to know and taught how to know it, but never once did I really felt in control of my learning. It felt like the knowledge went into my brain, stayed their until after my exams, and then was thrown away like a smooth stone into a lake, out of my reach forever. But when you are passionate about something and can lear"

    tags: education news geniushour genius

  • Here are some genius hour topics from Joy Kirr and her students. She's one of the 4 authors of the genius manifesto and I'm talking to them today. I love the simple genius plans of these students Joy contemplated about on this day. One is investigating the quesiton "what makes us human?" and the other wants to perform random acts of kindness after surveying others and finding the types of random acts of kindness they had enjoyed in their lives, if any.

    tags: education news geniushours. google20% geniushour passion

  • I'm interviewing Gallit Zvi from British Columbia, Canada today on Every Classroom matters (should post in about a week) about genius hour and I was intrigued by this post on her blog about how her school "looks." While some of these points have inspired questions (they can cook for their family in lieu of copying spelling sentences, for example) others have me wishing we could do the same thing (entrepreneur fair where students have a sales idea, craft a business plan and make and sell products.) It is worth a peek inside this fascinating classroom and school which uses genius hour among other things.

    tags: education passion google20% geniushour news bestpractices

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 04/21/2013



  • I love how this teacher used both sides of the brain to engage her students in test review. They painted, wrote and reviewed. Here here!

    tags: education news testing elemchat all_teachers

  • The discussions about "big data" are receiving pushback who believe the conclusions are erroneous. Note that this is tied up in learning analytics as well. "Cuzzillo is joined by a growing chorus of critics that challenge some of the breathless pronouncements of big data enthusiasts. Specifically, it looks like the backlash theme-of-the-month is correlation vs. causation, possibly in reaction to the success of Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier’s recent big data book in which they argued for dispensing “with a reliance on causation in favor of correlation”"

    tags: news big data analytics learning

  • One year? I'm not sure how we're going to change in one year when no one can get the Google glasses yet. How will these be used in the classroom?

    tags: education news google

  • Diane Ravitch calls it. Read her blog post on this major ethical issue. I think we need an independent testing company. Isn't there a conflict of interest here when a company creates textbooks and the test? "I am an 8th grade teacher in Xxxx, NY. On Day 1 of the NYS ELA 8 Exam, I discovered what I believe to be a huge ethical flaw in the State test. The state test included a passage on why leaves change color that is included in the Pearson-generated NYS ELA 8 text. I taught it in my class just last week. In a test with 6 passages and questions to complete in 90 minutes, it was a huge advantage to students fortunate enough to use a Pearson text and not that of a rival publisher. It may very well have an impact on student test scores. This has not yet received any attention in the press. Could you help me bring this to the attention of the public?"

    tags: education edreform news pearson edu_news

  • Great article by Larry Cuban on the Washington Post that you should forward to principals. "Yet studies of principal behavior in schools makes clear that spending time in classrooms to observe, monitor, and evaluate classroom lessons do not necessarily lead to better teaching or higher student achievement on standardized tests. Where there is a correlation between principals’ influence on teachers and student performance, it occurs when principals create and sustain an academic ethos in the school, organize instruction across the school, and align school lessons to district standards and standardized test items. There is hardly any positive association between principals walking in and out of classrooms a half-dozen times a day and conferring briefly with teaches about those five-minute visits.The reality of daily principal actions conflicts with the theory."

    tags: education principal leadership news edreform edu_news

  • Disgusting. Via the Washington Post So many things going wrong. "Talk about corporate-based school reform. New high-stakes standardized tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards are featuring plugs for commercial products. And the companies didn’t have to pay a penny. Yes, New York state students who this past week took Pearson-designed exams were just treated to plugs for LEGO, Mug Root Beer and more products from at least half a dozen companies, according to  the New York Post."

    tags: education news edreform testing

  • Tests are important. They should be accurate. Not only should they be audited, but I think that districts should have a pre-look at tests and strike questions that aren't taught to kids. It isn't fair to the kids to be tested on material they aren't taught. "Thousands of students were incorrectly told they weren't eligible for the city's gifted-and-talented public-school program due to errors by the testing company, city officials said Friday. The errors affected 4,735 children, or 13.2% of test takers, who are now eligible for gifted programs, including 2,037 students who are newly eligible for elite schools that accept students from across the city who scored in the 97th percentile or above. Test maker Pearson PSON.LN +0.09% PLC discovered the errors after two parents last week took their concerns about the scoring to Department of Education officials. The British-based company found it made an error on the students' ages and two errors in calculating their scores."

    tags: education news edreform

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 04/20/2013



  • Leo Babauta gives great advice on forming new habits. As you think about the habits that need to change in your life, read this thought provoking post. "Here’s the process: Start small. What’s the smallest increment you can do? Do this for at least 3 days, preferably 4-5. Get started. Starting the change each day is the most important thing. Want to run? Just get out the door. Want to meditate? Just get on the cushion. Enjoy the change. Don’t look at this as a sacrifice. It’s fun, it’s learning, it’s a challenge. Stick to the change. Notice your urge to quit. Don’t act on it. Keep going. Adjust again. When the change becomes normal, make another small adjustment. This is the process of creating a new normal. It’s beautiful and simple."

    tags: education news habits mindfulness self awareness selfcontrol

  • I enjoy Michael Hyatt's podcast. He has great content. This is good advice on why you're making mistakes on your blog. (I think I need to listen to tip #3 and shorten my posts. ;-)

    tags: education news blogging blogchat

  • Socrative has even more cool features. Richard Byrne gives an overview on on of my favorite blogs, Free Tech for Teachers. "Socrative's new image option could be great for asking mathematics questions that are diagram based. The image option could also be great for world languages teachers to post a picture of an object that students have to identify in the language that they're learning. And the new automatic grading option could save you a ton of time that you can then invest in something else. "

    tags: education news socrative eduapp edu_newapp

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

7 Key Ingredients in the successful 21st Century Classroom



Every modern school should have at least 4 things in technology or take off the modern and just call yourself a school:

  1. a STEM Lab. 

    If you want to make it STEAM - Science Technology Engineering, Arts, and Math, then go right ahead! You've still got STEM and you can't have technology without the arts. Some are getting rid of their "computer" labs (which I think is a huge mistake). The argument is that every teacher should integrate technology. The problem is that every teacher doesn't, can't, won't or isn't.

    A STEM lab not only focuses on the technology but the Engineering, Math, and Science and critical thinking technology-app infused decision making required in our Higher Order thinking world. The best example is the interview with my friend Kevin Jarrett who removed his elementary computer lab and put in a STEM Lab. I'm all in, Kevin, you've convinced me.

    It stresses me out to think what I'm doing to myself but I'm in the process of proposing that I no longer be called the computer lab but the STEAM lab. I'm willing to do what it takes to rewrite my curriculum. If I believe it, I've got to do it. I'll never settle for the same thing I taught last year but only to do the right thing for my students. It will still include genius projects and Flat Classroom, that is for sure.

    See Turning Elementary Computer Labs into STEM Labs an interview with Kevin Jarrett, elementary STEM lab teacher

  2. Genius Hour.

    Twenty per cent personal interest projects (some call this genius hour) are VITAL. Students spend 20% of their time on a personal interest project that they propose and teachers coach. I first saw this when I spoke in Evansville, Indiana. They require their seniors to do a personal interest project taking at least 100 hours. (See the video from Dantae Thrash below, the Evansville student who blew me away.)

    In Flattening Classrooms (p115-116,125), we wrote about the EAST Initiative in Arkansas where students work together to solve a problem in their school or community using technology. This is another great example with some research behind it showing that the students in this program improved their math and science scores and also their attendance. Harnessing their passion made them WANT to come to school. (Imagine that.)


    In my classroom, we use Trello to manage our genius hour work, goals and accomplishments. (I wouldn't survive without this handy tool.) The students propose and vote up courses and lessons they want me to teach. I've taught lessons on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter this week but even more exciting, the students get together and share what they've learned. They attend the classes if it is related to what they are doing in their project.

    We now have "consultants." One student who is excellent at writing for Tumblr (http://breakups16.tumblr.com) is our "Tumblr Consultant." The students who manage the oceans instagram are Instagram consultants. I did genius hour last year but this year shows me it keeps getting better. But what stuns me is how much CONTENT we're covering. I have always built in four weeks of digital literacy/ social media marketing and awareness and photography. We're covering all of this and more.

    My most exciting take away from this year is this: students propose and vote up what they want me to teach them as it relates to their genius hour projects. I call class and those who come want to and others work on their projects. This is FANTASTIC and should be part of every STEM lab. There are so many amazing things.

    See the Genius Hour Wiki and Angela Maier's The Passion-Driven Classroom and my students and me talking about our Passion Based Classroom.
  3. Flat Online Connections and Collaborations.
    Meaningful online connections with other students in the world as the classrooms "flattens" and connects and teaches things that kids can't learn in a book. Connections are vital to being well educated but sadly many schools block these or don't understand.

    One person I know had a principal come in and call her work in global collaboration "fluff" and told her to get back to teaching wordprocessing! Misguided. Mistaken. Word processing is a skill but how long does it take to teach?

    See my book Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds and the interview with some elementary teachers who are connecting on "How Teachers and Students are Connecting Globally" on BAM Radio.
  4. A network engineered to support 1:1 or better.

    I met with my principal this week and he's all in for BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology.) We're taking down the network this summer and (with board approval) hope to rework the whole network with a new set of ratios in place. We are engineering to support 1.5 devices per person in the high/ middle school and 1 device per person in the elementary school.

    We're moving ahead to encourage and foster and environment where students can take notes on their phones or their paper notebooks. This will take some time, but it is the right way to go. It isn't just about technology and infrastructure but also classroom practices and that is always a challenge.

    See Building a Robust and Safe BYOD Program from District Administrator Magazine and Miguel Guhlin's shared Evernote notebook on BYOD. 
  5. A Connected, Passionate Educator

    You should connect yourself to the world. Innovation starts in me. Kids say "bring it" when they are talking sports to mean you bring all you've got, because I'm here to play and bring all I have. Passion starts with me saying "bring it." I'm going to bring all my passions, interests, and ingenuity and I expect you to do the same.

    I'm going to engage with a PLN (personal learning network) and help my students build one of their own. I'm going to make friends around the world to help me advance my professional practice and help you learn the digital literacies to do the same. I'm going to help you find your passions, your purpose, and reach your potential. I won't stop. I won't give up on you even when you give up on yourself. I'm here to change the world starting with myself and my students and I won't stop until I drop full of exhaustion and sleep well earned from a life well lived.

    See chapter 3 "Connection" of Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds for a quick way to get started. I've also heard my friend Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's book The Connected Educator is a great one and have it on my list to read.
  6. A Worthy To Be List

    We've been so busy with our to-do list in schools that we've forgotten what we want our students to be. They gave me a chance to invite someone to my school for PD in January and Angela Maiers came and shared this idea with me.

    Now, each month, we focus on a Habitude. I like the term habitude because it is attitudes that we want to be habits. Curiosity. Perseverance. Imagination. Self-Awareness. Courage. Adaptability. Passion. and we are adding Integrity.

    These habits are based upon the research of successful people. The most successful people have these traits but may or may not have mastered Algebra. If we leave our to-be list out of our teaching, we are filling up our plate with food without teaching kids how to use a spoon and fork. Some might call this character education but it is more. I think it should be school wide and result in a common vocabulary that can be reinforced by everyone.

    See Classroom Habitudes (Revised edition) and Angela's list of resources for the new Habitudes.

  7. The Flexibility to be a Teacherpreneur

    This comes from administration. Are you allowed to innovate? Are you given flexibility to customize? Can you personalize to the interest and learning styles of your students?

    This is the one thing that is crunching much of the love of teaching for many. Teacherpreneurship cannot be scripted any more than a fantastic first date. If you're new to a school this comes in baby-steps. You have to earn their trust like I did. It takes time.

    Standards and scripting make sorry teachers less sorry, perhaps. But they make fantastic teachers want to quit.

    You might not have a lot of flexibility but take what flexibility you have to do something. It takes time to flex your wings, earn the right, and learn how to be a successful teacherpreneur. If you look back at #1, you'll see that I'm proposing a change to my own curriculum and computer lab. It may or may not be accepted but they see me pushing myself and never settling.

    If you don't innovate, you depreciate.

    To learn more see page 44-50 of Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds see the CAST UDL Lesson Builders to learn how you can differentiate your lessons even amidst standards.

After looking at this list, there are technologies that many of you will throw in there: tablet, ipad, interactive white board, apps maybe.

It isn't about WHAT you use but about WHAT you do with WHAT you have that is more important. The Flat Classroom was born when I had Pentium III computers in the computer lab and a very slow connection.

What we are missing in education is not the resources -- but the creativity to make the most of the resources we have.

Would love to hear the ingredients you feel are essential in the modern classroom in the comments or on your own blog posts. What do you think?
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Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 04/19/2013



  • Google alerts is how we monitor our school brand. We use "Westwood Schools" +Camilla - this way it shows us everything for our school name and in our city. You can deliver to a feed or to email (many like email.) This way it will search and find things and email you when it finds it on the web. Lifehacker has an article on the creative uses for Google Alerts that you should read if it is your job to protect your brand for your business, school, or your own personal brand.

    tags: education news brandmanagement brand platform

  • Lifehacker has revamped its website - you log in. You can blog, etc. Platforms are becoming more participatory as they try to get you to create content. Meanwhile, I CAN'T FIND ANYTHING ON MY FAVORITE SITE. "Welcome to our new home. It's called Kinja. It's not only a redesign to Lifehacker's front page, but an entirely new blogging platform that anyone—yes, even you—can blog on."

    tags: education news

  • Don't try to sell your Google glasses! ;-) "The oppressive Google Glass terms state that: "…you may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person. If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google's authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty.""

    tags: news google

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 04/18/2013



  • A network about ending human trafficking. It is a project and students are joining in. If this is your passion (like mine) then you may want to look into this. Thanks to my friend Toni Olivieri-Barton for letting me know.

    tags: education teaching learning

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 04/18/2013



Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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