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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Alan November - Live Blog from #pilUS

I'm taking notes from Alan November's keynote conversation. He asked 3 questions and facilitated our conversation. This is a live blog post, so please forgive the lack of links and perhaps typos.

Alan November 1985 - he was one of the first Krista McCauliff Educator (sp?) . He got call that he was one of first 5 Krista McCauliff educators and he said "I don't want to go into space" and hung up on them. They called back and said they wanted him to go around the country.

3 limitations on programming back then on programming
Processing speed
Amount of ram
Memory in hard drive
(fourth now would be bandwidth)

They told him they didn't focus on physical limitations - they told him they imagined that their limitations were infinite and then set to work in the "ideal" environment and then when done playing in the ideal environment of infinity then we look back at what we had to do. "if we started with our limits, we would go out of business because we wouldn't be pushing the envelope." He says this changed his thinking.

He says that workshops in schools and that now we start with our limitations. He goes and works everywhere and in many places he goes, when he comes back 6 months later and there is change. In the US, 6 months later, inevitably nothing happened. He says we can conjecture about why the US has amazing individuals and creative people but there is no systemic change in the culture of teaching and learning. These systemic changes are happening in Australia and Shanghai. Our capacity in the US to adopt the changes that have happened may not do you justice. Many of you are going to be frustrated about sharing with colleagues and see changes that are systemic.

**What were your limits you designed when you put your project in place?
If there were no limits what would your project look like? Is your project already designed to be as good as it could possibility be or would you push it forward.

**Asked the question how many of us will have others adopt to use and do another project? How many of us will join with others to do the project? How many will adopt others?

(NOTE: This is so important to flattening the classroom. The grassroots movement of teachers to connect is vital.)

Question: Tell me about your project because I want to adopt it. Explain your reality of what you do.

(NOTE: We should be sharing projects but also INVITING each other to join together. YES! This is what we talk about in Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds)

He talks to schools about how some teachers are innovative and those who aren't. Some have the same things, computers and even support staff -- but the answer about schools that are really innovative and the answer is always "the principal." He says that Principals are role models, they take risks and they don't mind and know how to support risk taking teachers. It is important to support those not taking risks as well - they know how to support both.

Because of this, take your principal out to lunch to share your story when you go back to your colleagues. How do you go back to a school where you are the ambassador and the innovation leader? How can you do that without securing the support of your principal?

Can anyone make the case that your project has increased test scores? Quite a few raised their hands.

Talk about getting reporters. He says the fact that teachers are so humble and haven't been to business school to sell what they are doing - that is their biggest problem.

(I agree with this - I'm a business school grad and it has directly impacted personal branding in my life. There are times to share and you can do it without being egotistical.)

Stephen Anderson says "what does innovation look like so how do they know what is innovative. They think if a teacher is standing in front of a smartboard when they walk by that the person is being innovative and the important thing is for teachers and kids show admin what innovation looks like."

Latest strategy from Alan November -- he asks to have breakfast with students first. Before looking at anything. Want to have breakfast with kids with the principal with him/ her. Your job is to watch me interact with your kids. He starts giving them problems to solve on the web. In front of the principal, he'll say - can you think of a time you did really well and go an "A." They'll always say, "yes." Then, he'll say - show me right now how you did the search because he said he used the web for all of his sources.

Then, he says "what is wrong with these results." He points out "there aren't any sources from Iran" when a child searches the Iranian hostage crisis and only uses US sources. The child doesn't know how to search for iranian sources. The child can't get any Iranian sources- had to show the child how to do it.

Did anyone teach you about country codes. So he has them google a top level domain and the country codes -- "root zone database.' Every second grader should know the country codes - root zone database. Iran is "ir" and say site:ir then he types in the information. so he searched site:ir "American hostage crisis" and he was able to see different perspectives. He doesn't care which child he's talking to, the principal is stunned because principals have a misdirected assumption that kids understand technology. The fastest way for a principal to understand there is a problem is to show them what their kids have done. He pulls a "trump card" - you need the right information at the right time.

This isn't about technology, it is about information. You've been labeling this wrong. He asks the principal "Do you want your students to get the right information at the right time across the curriculum?" Then, principals don't know what to do. The real issue is changing the design - make sure you get 3 Iranian sources but the teachers don't do that.

He has never met a student in the US who knows how to use the Internet well. Every kid says "I know what I'm doing."

(NOTE: I agree with this, even my students get lazy about this. It requires constant encouragement and reinforcement from all teachers. This is one of the best speeches I've heard Alan November give b/c this is a great point here.)

The local conclusion - he suggests to every district to get rid of "technology planning committee" and instead call it "learning design committee." There should be "learning design facilitators." The child HAD the technology, the kid had the wrong assignment.

Last question was going to be: "The first 5 days of school" activity. He asked the introduction about that teacher who inspired her, "did that happen on the first day of school." Go to vimeo -- first day of school.

It is about the first day of school. They made a series on vimeo called "the first 5 days of school" - 1st5days - look for it in Vimeo. He asks teachers about the first 5 days of school and what happens the first 5 days. Have you ever had a faculty meeting on designing the first 5 days of school. Never had any staff development on "the first 5 days of school."

What will you do the first 5 days of school to SET YOUR STUDENTS ON FIRE??????

This is a vital question. Think about the first day of your favorite class. It was very hands on based. This is a nice video series about doing something intentional.

"You get caught by a song by the beginning notes."

(NOTE: The first few days of school are VITAL. you need to energize and excite students AT THE BEGINNING.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 30, 2012

Give students legacy and meaning: Build Intrapersonal Communications into your curriculum

As we discuss on page 54 of Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, one of the 5 ways students need to connect in the flattened classroom is over time.

We have so many opportunities for students to create time capsules to communicate with themselves. Ideas like this plan on Share my Lesson for a time capsule on the first day of school resonate.

Students can write letters to themselves in the future using sites like Future.me which will is a reason that begs for students to have a lifelong email. If you use this site, use the Facebook email address for students (if Facebook doesn't change the address again) to let them write to themselves.

Other ways to help students connect with themselves in the future is to do like I did as a child. I wrote a list of things I'd really like to do with my life when I was 12 and have now done all of them including publishing a book. ("I want to write things that help people" was the goal.") I also wanted to own my own business and have three of them now. ;-)

Some say that if a child doesn't reach their goals that this could set up for disappointment, but I disagree. Lifelong meaning and connection to yourself is part of intrapersonal relations - your relationship with yourself. The one thing a child will always have in his or her life is himself or herself. We can't forget intrapersonal skills and intrapersonal communications is more than just journaling now. I think that annuals should have a DVD sleeve in the front where students archive their learning and even record messages to themselves in the future.

Such things can add more meaning and interest to life beyond the once in a lifetime time capsule. Think about how you can help students connect with themselves this year. What do you do?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Encouragement to Keep Moving

On my Facebook page, we've been talking about the stages of grief as our

summers come to a close in the northern hemisphere. Words like "death of a dream" and "mourning" have been used. Many of us are excited and "those" dreams have started again for me.

I have recurring dreams that happen before school starts, I knew they would start soon and indeed last night they began again. I'm in college and attending a class that I skipped the last time, just to find out we have a major test that I didn't study for. I have the complete and utter feeling that I have monumental task ahead that I am not prepared for.

It doesn't matter how much I study or how much I plan or how much I do anything -- I never FEEL ready. Ever. This is year 11 for me of teaching and I don't feel ready even now.

It is a great profession where you can completely start over every year. And yet, it is hard because we start over -- I don't want it said of me "She was a great teacher." I want to BE a great teacher. That is an active word that means I am doing it right now.

Prepare. Plan. Pray. But, most of all, come to school with your good attitude intact. "I" am at the middle of my own attitude. Attitude is not a secret weapon because everyone knows what kind you have. Everyone.

Attitude, content knowledge, and teaching know-how make you an unstoppable force in the classroom as you motivate and encourage students to learn. Educate yourself to stay relevant (and employable) because your academic institution may become obsolete, but you won't.

Move ahead into the school year. As much as I need my summers (to heal, more than anything), the greatest moments of my teaching career are not during the summertime but during the studenttime. ;-)

Students rock and I want to as well. Get ready, kiddos, here comes Mrs. Vicki and I'm ready to roll! I love you and I'm Back!

(School starts August 8).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 20, 2012

86 Productivity Tricks, Tips, and Apps

The wordle made from the tags and bookmarks shared in this post. Wordles are a phenomenal productivity tool and I'm starting to have students put them on the front of longer documents to help me scan and preread.
I collect productivity books, tips, and ideas. Going through my bookmarks on Diigo, I realized I had some great stuff in here that I still use and ponder. In this "best of" post, I'm sharing some of the best productivity tips, tricks, and apps for those of you who are trying to get the most out of every moment.
  1. This website lets you mashup and create new feeds from existing ones. Take some time to manipulate feeds into smaller ones and you'll be glad you did.
  2. A service that filters feeds for certain keywords. This is a fascinating way to drill down into feeds that have a lot of content but you just want some of it.
  3. This Feed flitering service will pull out spam and profanity - great to try for those who are behind firewalls and concerned about inappropriate content getting through.
  4. Plan your routines now for next school year! When will you do each set of routines.
  5. If you want to be more productive, set your Chrome bookmarks to sync across computers using your Google account. One of the issues I have with Chrome bookmarks is that you can't insert dividers. You can, however, with the hack from this website, holohub, that has made the icon (called a favicon) as a dividing line. Just bookmark the page to the bookmark bar. Right click and click "edit" and remove all of the text. Now, you have a divider.Granted, it takes more space than the equivalent built-in divider in firefox,but it still serves as a divider.
  6. This is a very long and peppered with the occasional expletive, however, habits are VITAL. When I set goals, I set habits to achieve those goals and this article is one I'm putting in my reference material. It is worth the very long read - just not for sharing with younger students.
  7. Detailed instructions for installing pocket onto any web browser including for mobile devices.
  8. Instructions for adding Pocket (formerly read it later) to the safari web browser. This is the sole competitor for Instapaper in my opinion. Cool App.
  9. Instructions for adding a safari bookmarklet for just about every service (except Diigo) on Chris Bray's website. If you have an ipad or iphone and want to send things to your Tumblr blog you can follow these instructions. (For pinterest, go to the Pinterest website.)
  10. Reddit is increasingly a site where technology news breaks as well as having a tight integration with top technology sites like Twit.tv (they use Reddit to curate topics for the show.) This app is the highest recommended app for using reddit on the ipad and for that reason I've installed it.
  11. I follow many aspects of the Flylady system in my home and classroom. Tis book was a turning point for me in my home. If you're having trouble getting your house in order and keeping it on order, I highly recommend her book Sink Reflections and this website.
  12. I read problogger and Zenhabits so this post about letting go of goals intrigued me. I think, however, it isn't necessarily letting go of goals, it is about letting go of the traditional view of success. I agree that truly getting in touch with what you want out of life is essential. Read this post and think but realize that there may be a few semantic issues here that may cause you to want to debate. Get past the semantics into the real meaning and look at your life. Summertime is an important time to reset for teachers.
  13. Not sure how I missed the April announcement that Read it Later has been rebranded as Pocket but I kept seeing "pocket" in my RSS readers, Zite, etc. and got curious. Pocket (theh competitor to instapaper) allows you to save websites you see on your mobile device to read later like a magazine on devices like your ipad, droid device, kindle fire, or even your web browser (if you read on your laptop still.) I've seen many use this on their laptop and send it to Pocket or Instapaper to read on their ipad later.
  14. If you have an iPhone, Camera+ is the best way to take photos. It is on sale right now for $.99.
  15. The Home Routines app is a phenomenal productivity app for those who focus on habits. The book, the Power of Habit, says that 95% of what we accomplish in our lives is due to habits. Now, I use homeroutines for even my school routines. I have a morning and evening routine each day, but also different routines for the first 10 minutes of my planning period and for Saturdays. Although Called home routines, it is a powerful app for business too. If you have an ipad and an iPhone it syncs. $3.99
  16. In Flat Classroom and with my students we use a Trello board which is a web app used for Agile development. This app makes sense for schools and for personalized learning projects like the Personal Project done by my computer students. I couldn't track all the little pieces without it. Scrum, Lean, Agile, KanBan - these are all terms for project management systems and I think that as educators implement projects, this is a great place to look to handle large complex tasks with teams of people in efficient ways. Meetings are often a waste of time and should be to do what you can ONLY do face to face. This research posted on Educause's website seems to back up this assertion. "Gartner predicts that by the end of 2012, agile development methods will be used on 80 percent of all software development projects. Project Management Institute’s research shows that agile project management tripled from December 2008 to May 2011, and can help decrease product defects, improve team productivity, and increase business value.
  17. An excellent list of Chrome extensions. I'm such a productivity fanatic, I've found that the lightning fast Google chrome and a FEW extensions are all I need to get everything done. Firefox's last few builds have just been laggy and very slow for me, not sure why, but I now prefer Chrome.
  18. An excellent blog post that will help you improve your productivity if you use gmail. I love "find big mail" as it helps free up space for me. If you want to be more productive, great apps and instructions in this epic gmail productivity post.
  19. Some great apps for windows users. I highly recommend teracopy and have used Fences on my older xp machine. Am going to try bins.
  20. Some send important tweets to evernote. Here is how to do that and why you might want to.
  21. Steven Anderson (@web20classroom) is using this system for time management which combines evernote and email. These videos are worth watching if you're a productivity fan like I am.
  22. Text expansion is very helpful and substitutes keystrokes with phrases. Here is a getting started guide.
    tags: productivity

  23. So, if you want to delete only the attachment to an email in gmail, the only way to do this is in Thunderbird. This is unfortunate as there are many times I wish I could have the email but delete the message itself. Here is how if you  have to. 9/25/10 Here is a solution for deleting email attachments in Gmail without deleting the message itself.  This is a better way then forwarding the message to yourself because you actually save the original message and timestamps, but with attachments removed.  This solution gets the results you want, albeit a little time consuming.  The basic idea is access your gmail account as an IMAP account using Thunderbird, and then use Thunderbird’s feature for deleting attachments.  You just need to make sure messages are first moved to a local folder, then moved back to an imap folder. Details: - Determine messages in Gmail that need an attachment removed. - Access these messages in Thunderbird via IMAP access.  To make this easier, in the Gmail web interface you can create a new label such as "delete-attachments" for these messages. -Select messages in TB and "Copy To" a local folder.  This will download a copy of the message and attachment(s) to your local drive. -Then, using the Gmail web interface, delete the messages permanently. -Return to Thunderbird and access the messages stored in the local folder.  -Delete the attachments in the locally-stored messages individually.  -Finally select the messages and use the "Move To" command and select a label within Gmail to move the message.  This will copy the messages back to Gmail without the attachment and upload the message to Gmail servers with original time stamps. 
  24. This website goes through your inbox and helps you find all the big mail in your inbox so you can clear up space.
  25. How to free up space in your gmail. This is another way to get through freeing up space in your gmail inbox.
  26. Moving from one gmail account to the other. Here are some instructions.
  27. My friend Beth Ritter-Buth showed me this gem that runs through your inbox with a hatchet, helping you remove the bulk and junk subscriptions that fill things up. 
  28. When Beth Kanter recommends books, I read them. I am loving 18 minutes and plan to make this my next read.
  29. I love Leo Babatua. He challenges my thinking. Do you know why you do what you do? Can you replace bad habits with good? This may get you started. "The old habits of coping didn’t build up overnight, and they won’t go away overnight either. We built them up through years of repetition, and the only way to change them is also years of repetition.".
  30. Another great list of what to do while you're waiting. My favorite is #2 (Check email on my ipad) and #3 - Clean out Your wallet and purse. I also like to write down quotes and thoughts.
  31. I love ideas of how to get more productivity out of life and time management ninja is a new site I'm reading. I think that as a teacher, I can have other things on the list like I grade on my ipad using dropbox. I can go into PowerTeacher on my ipad and tweak some comments on students to communicate with parents.
    tags: productivity

  32. A slideshow with more than 50 quotes about "doing the impossible." It may sound silly but sometimes, I'll use slideshare and put quotes or interesting slideshows on my whiteboard and rotate during class. This is something that you can share with others. 
  33. If you are looking for goal tracker alternatives, Joe's Goals won a recent lifehacker poll. i use homeroutine but the drawback is there are no analytics.
  34. I love this productivity tip! Leave yourself a treat on your desk on Friday! Find something you love and leave it on your desk for yourself. I'm doing this!
  35. I love Fogbugz made by Fog Creek Software and now Joel Splosky, the founder has created a new app called Trello for managing organizations. This works using the kanban system that I love! Joel received a big boost this week when he was mentioned on Seth Godin's blog. Recently Fogbugz put a Kanban board into their program and I fell in love with it again. I won't do project management without Kanban and here it is! If you do major projects, try trello. I'm sigining up right now.
  36. Zen habits is a great blog for those of you who care about productivity and organizing. Here is an inspirational post from Leo Babauta about how to tackle your clutter. The surge is a great strategy (hitting it all at once) but is often not practical for those of us who have a lot to do.)
  37. At the end, he's talking about self talk and it is more of a sales pitch, however, he has an important point. I'm not advocating buying what he has, but the first 4 minutes are worth a listen. What do you say when you talk to yourself? This is a great video I'm showing my students as part of my "Becoming a Time Ninja" series that I've written for my class. Helping students self-talk in a way for success is so important. We are our own best motivational speaker because we control our actions when we speak into our brains.
  38. If you want to lose weight and keep it off...write about it. "A study published in Psychological Science, found that women who wrote about their most important values, like close relationships, music, or religion, lost more weight over the next few months than women who did not have that experience.".
  39. I love the home routines app. 95% of what you accomplish is due to your habits. Homeroutines supports flylady and habit hacker. Great app that syncs between ipad and iphone/ ipod touch.
  40. So, if you want to improve yourself and your health, creativity, or organizing habits, look at the habit hacker. A more impudent version of the fly lady, this artist is a bit "cheeky" but blunt and to the point. Just the kick in the seat some of us need.
  41. Too much clutter. Join the Clutterfat challenge from Leo Babatua. If you're a productivity type person like I am, you'll get a lot out of Leo. Why not take this challenge for your classroom? 
  42. If you want to scan documents here are 8 great options. I send mine to Evernote from the school's copier.
  43. Although this research brief is touting a particular company, the point that productive companies integrate technology, cloud computing, and telecommunications for increased productivity is ne to consider as we look at helping our students be more "productive" in their learning. i still wonder whybwe ignore telecommunications as a link to our students when it is the one technology they have with them all the time. " top performing companies were more likely to have integrated enterprise communications with other enterprise applications, and with the most current approaches to technology delivery-including cloud computing, virtualization and mobility."
  44. Use this to create an encrypted drive for your financial records if you have them on your laptop! Remember to backup the folder as well! It is free. I would also recommend this for those who have private files on their computer like guidance counselors.
  45. This is a great post with guidance on helping people use email more efficiently. If you use Google apps for domains, the tools that let you analyze your email use will be great. If you teach digital citizenship and literacy, this is a great starting point for teaching about email. No, email is not free, it costs us time. 
  46. Volkskwagen agrees to turn of blackberries after hours as part of a union agreement. While I don't know a lot of teachers connected via blackberries,I do personally know the complexities of global collaboration in schools. We must learn to balance work and home and know when to disconnect but then again, a work environment can become so fast paced that everyone seems to expect the others that they should work 24/7. Yet another reason to advocate checking email 2-3 times a day - let everyone know when you will be available and stick to the schedule.
  47. As teachers try to make things tighter for 2012 including budgets this is a great checklist to print and put on the front cover of the folder where you keep your bills to pay.
  48. This is a video I made in just 2 minutes on my iPad. I didn't have to go to educreations' website first but did everything on my iPad. I cannot watch the web version, however as it is flash based. You can create public or private classes and easily share the videos. Very cool implementation of simple screencasting. This would be great for ll schools with 1:1 iPads. Need to get if you can view class content from their app without going to web. Very easy. Wow.
  49. A sticky note account. I may use this for my pkflow method that uses stickys. This website lets you have a page with online stickys and notes. Cool tool that reminds me of corkulous on the ipad.
  50. Zero mail is making productivity news for its purpose and its pricing.It is charging a $100 lifetime fee but says it is super-simple email management. It does things like clean out things that aren't needed (like twitter notifications) and zaps mail that is not from a real person. I wish I could demo before paying the fee to see if it works but I've seen good reviews so far.I wish gmail would look and learn from some of these features which look very cool. Yes, I fight and struggle with email.  It also helps you outsource things in your inbox with one click (an interesting concept.)
  51. Wonderful, flexible tool that I've used to take my classroom paperless.
  52. Google docs is a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software of choice in the cloud for many that need to be collaborative. But perhaps the most useful thing to me is google forms which let students make the form and put it out on the web for others to answer. Then, examining results is as simple as pasting into a word cloud maker.
  53. One of my favorite tools is evernote. I email to evernote. I pull it up on my ipad. I take photographs and scan to evernote and can search text. It is on my phone, my ipad, my computers. My notebook that I carry everywhere. Great tool.
  54. If you have an ios5 device, you got text expansion. Lifehacker's guide is a great guide for setting up. I will add this tip. If you are lucky enough to have more than one iOS device, set it up the exact same way on both!
  55. Evernote for administrators from TJ Wolf in North Carolina is a simple, easy to read guide to a tool that can be put on just about anything. It has become my personal filing system for everything. Nice guide.
  56. This service is another that I am seeing people use to help manage overburdened email accounts or for people like me who teach all day.
  57. You can use this online service to create forms and then collect responses online. It is from adobe so the forms look professional.
  58. A free service from Adobe that lets you send large files. It also integrates with some of their products. I'm still learning. If you're an adobe user, you'll want to sign up for a free account.
  59. Lets you create an email to send files security to your dropbox account.
  60. A cool app to help plan routines. Wish it interfaced with google cal but still pretty.
  61. Very cool feature that let's you use the Diio app from within safari on you iPad.
  62. Nice binder -friendly Lesson planning template. I use this to map out and plan my classes.
  63. Introducing appointment slots in Google Calendar http://bit.ly/ncH4ua #productivity
  64. The chosen "blocker" I'm using. I set certain times for certain tasks.
  65. Some great tools to help you stay on task and learn how to avoid the "time suck" of certain websites. Most productivity experts recommend batching activities and not "living in" Twitter or email, for example.
  66. You can now save your livescribe notes to Evernote. It captures the audio and the text for taking your notes.
  67. Another project management online program from gtd agenda - they have also come out with youchecks and you tasks.
  68. So, if you want to chat, but don't really want to have your gmail open all the time, remember that you can bookmark and install google talk. This will keep you from getting interrupted by your email while still making you accessible to those who need to reach you using this valuable service.
  69. So, you're using google tasks to organize the to-do's in your email but are upset that there is no stand alone app. There is, sort of - go to https://mail.google.com/tasks/canvas and you'll have it. This page gives you the tip on how tihs works at brokekid.net.
  70. Excellent post about motivation and becoming a more motivated teacher. I really enjoyed reading it!
    1. Some of it could be because the technology is working better and because I feel at last I can think about teaching and learning, rather than just thinking of ways to fix things.
    2. Opportunity and encouragement to try new ideas and take risks
    3. So overall I think I am more motivated because I am using more of my strengths - I think I am helping teachers to become more successful with their use of technology and that some of last year's problems are being solved as decisions made with teaching and learning at the heart of the process.

  71. OH my goodness. Often my window gets off screen, particularly when I've undocked and had my gradebook on the second monitor. This trick brings it back on to my window. 1) Press Alt + Tab and click the window off screen. 2) Click Alt+Space 3) Click M 4) Click any arrow key 5) Move the mouse Voila it pops back on the screen. I want to remember this for myself as much as share it with you. Those of you with double monitors will appreciate this trick.
    1. Just hit any one of the arrow keys (Left, Right, Down, Up), move your mouse, and the window should magically “pop” back onto the screen.
      Note: For keyboard savvy people, you can just alt-tab to the window, use Alt+Space, then M, then Arrow key, and then move your mouse.
      This should work on any version of Windows. It’s really amazing how many people are not aware of this little trick.

  72. Really cool new feature in Gmail -- priority inbox. I have it on one account but the other has not received it yet!!
  73. New tools to facilitate elearning are cropping up including this site that gives elearning students online whiteboards to share. (I use elluminate for this purpose, but there are other options.)
  74. There is a gadget for evernote for google calendar and gmail.

  75. Really cool thumtack mike for ipods for kids who need to record class discussions.
  76. There is just no alternative for this option. Egretlist extracts the checklists in evernote onto your itouch or iphone. I want this in the evernote app!
  77. Looks like the number of pixels is the most important factor. Personally, I love my multiple monitor setup, but this does make sense. (I'm forty and don't see hugely well for the really small pixels, though.) "there's an optimal number of pixels you need to complete the tasks you need to complete. Worry about that number, not the number of monitors you have. That optimal number, for the vast majority of people is about 2500x1400. In 2003—before widescreen became commonplace—it was the case that 2 17-20"(2560 pixels wide) LCDs was the only affordable way to acquire an optimal number of pixels. Today, you can pick up a 27 inch display with 2560x1440 pixels along with a computer attached to it for under $1500. This number of pixels allow you to accomplish most tasks—whether it's writing code and debugging, writing a blog post and reading primary sources, or editing one spreadsheet with data from another."
    1. when the study came to the conclusion that it was pixels, not monitors that increased productivity. What's also surprising is that while the report mentioned that there were productivity gains in certain tasks with more screen real estate, those gains begin to taper between 26 and 30 inches, or at monitors where the native resolution is 2560x1440 or greater.

  78. For those who don't use Evernote (guess there are some) and have Windows 7 - this gadget for Windows 7 lets you create a scratchpad that automatically sends the notes to Google Docs.
  79. This really cool app is a lifesaver with working with the computers of others. System administrators and IT support who work on PC's with windows will want to take a look.
  80. Ideas for creating calming routines. This is a great read and a reminder to make time to "be quiet." My blog readers will know I get up each morning at 5am (during the school year) and have a definite routine of my own to stay centered.
  81. So, you need to delete files and make room but don't know what is taking up all that space, try out spacemonger!
  82. A new place that evernote has shared that gives you all the hardware, applications and tools to really help evernote! Such a cool tool!
  83. Cool website that lets you visually organize bookmarks. Kind of a neat idea.
  84. Planner pages for those who like to print them out!
  85. The reflections from Stephen Downes on the 7 Tips to Analyze the Formula of your Life are worth reading. He begins "There's an old song from The Smiths that runs something like this: In my life Why do I give valuable time To people who don't care if I live or die ? And I think the essence of 'personal learning' (or maybe I should expand the concept, and talk about 'personal living') is captured in this...." What a great read. This just shows how one thing leads to another in this amazingly interconnected world!
    1. In my life
      Why do I give valuable time
      To people who don't care if I live or die ?

      And I think the essence of 'personal learning' (or maybe I should expand the concept, and talk about 'personal living') is captured in this.

  86. I love this app and use it to sync with toodledo! It is very useful and incredibly "beautiful." Just one of the best list managers on my itouch that I've seen.
    tags: productivity app itouch education

    Hope you find some tricks that work for you and if you have some for me, please share them in the comments (even if it is a blog post you've written, I'd love to add it to my collection.)
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
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Proud to be a teacher

English: teacher and its importance
English: teacher and its importance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have." :Lee Iacocca

See, Iacocca agreed that teaching is noble.

Let's look at people who know the importance of what we do and not the sensational media that makes its money by stirring up controversy, sharing gossip, and elevating the basest things as if they are truth so that they get the eyes, clicks, and traffic to pay their salaries with advertising. The media has no incentive to talk about great things because people don't stop and stare in wonder at those things. The problem with our society is that people would rather be shocked than awed.

Yet, I will live to be the kind of teacher who encourages a student to stop and stare in wonder in five or ten years after they realize the importance of what they learned in my classroom. The awe of a class well taught is a hope diamond amidst the trash that society pretends that teachers are. I am not that kind of teacher. While not perfect, I'm going to be better and be more this year.

"We have lots of heroes today - sportsmen, supermodels, media personalities. They come, they have their 15 minutes of fame, and they go. But the influence of good teachers stays with us. They are the people who really shape our lives." Jonathan Sacks

You, my friend, are a hero. Let's let mutual appreciation start with us. If this profession of teaching continues to be trounced in the mud, let it not be because we laid down in the mud so they could do it. I'm proud to be a teacher and be among you. The things happening in many places aren't great and none of us has the money we wish to do what we want. A deficit in money can be made up in other ways. A deficit in your heart can't be made up by anyone.

A heart for children is the first ingredient in being a good teacher. You are noble. You are exceptional. You are a member of the greatest profession and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Research news and views #edreform

English: A panorama of a research room taken a...
English: A panorama of a research room taken at the New York Public Library with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Research news and information I've been reading lately.
  • Professional Development Adds Up for Maine's Math Teachers | Edutopia
    "Professional development is the essential vitamin for boosting learning with laptops, according to researchers studying Maine's one-to-one program. David Silvernail, director of the Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation, said a two-year randomized control trial of middle school math teachers was "successful on all fronts." Researchers examined the impact of high quality, ongoing professional development that included face-to-face and online workshops, peer coaching and mentoring, and site visits."
  • It is important to read things even if you know from the title that you'll disagree. This article is sure to spark controversy and be embraced by those who want to keep a traditional classroom in rows where kids listen to lecture. While I'm not in an ivory tower, my experience in the power of the face to face classroom has convinced me that when I teach and integrate all different senses that students learn better. I've also seen (and quoted in Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds in the Choice chapter that discusses differentiation) that dual encoding (listening to words while reading them) improves the ability to learn to read. (I'll have to look in the book for the sources of research.) I do think, however, there are some good points here, although I firmly believe their conclusion that students are going to learn no matter how they relate to content -- is inaccurate. The lines are being drawn between those who want to change and use technology and those who want the status quo. Nonetheless, if you lose your ability to read things you do not agree with, and engage in thoughtful conversation, then you miss the point of being well educated. Look forward to hearing your thoughts on this study.
  • Researchers and institutions should continue to take note that Open is really the way things are moving. You may want to look at Scholastica. I could see schools creating their own journals. Now that would be fascinating. "With traditional journals suffering from rising costs and increased disinterest in print subscriptions, online open access is looking more appealing than ever. The team behind recently launched Scholastica is offering a new platform for those interested in joining the movement." It makes a great point that an academic paper is a poor discussion forum and gives you other options for creating your own open journal.
    tags: news research

  • ISte'S CARET database has now been replaced by TREx. I've noticed some sessions at ISTE about how to use this tool. It has an "add content" button which tells me they are crowdsourcing the exchange of research.
  • The cyberbullying research center focuses on collecting information about cyberbullying. If you're studying and sharing information on cyberbullying, you'll want to delve into this website.
  • "This massive network of researchers in the asia region now has 50 million researchers and claims to be the largest online network of researchers in the world.
  • If you work with young children and teach reading, read this article. When reading to young children, focus on the words. It seems that running your finger under thee words and drawing attention to the words makes a big difference in helping chidren begin to read. This current research on children and reading is important enough to share, discuss, and further research.
  • IN the Speak up 2011 report, students say that 46% of them have used Facebook to collaborate on school projects. Interesting report that also shows the flip side where 65% of principals say they will not allow personal devices in the next school year. (What is odd is a study I shared a few weeks  a go on my blog says that almost 50% of students are receiving text messages during class NOW in schools where cell phones are BANNED so really, this is just window dressing.) "Students want more control over how they use technology in school, but many classrooms are still making it difficult. That’s according to the most recent Speak Up 2011 report, “Mapping a Personalized Learning Journey,” which reflects the views of more than 416,000 K-12 students, parents, and educators nationwide surveyed on how technology can enhance the learning environment. They survey is produced by Project Tomorrow, an educational non-profit focused on raising student voices in education policy discussions. The theme for this survey focused on individualized learning paths.
  • Have a purpose in life. It may help you have higher quality life dementia free. A group of 900 relatively healthy individuals from the Chicago area were selected for a study about preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Before the study began, patients were Alzheimer’s-free, and they also answered questions about their purposes in life. During ongoing studies, about 16 percent of the patients were found to have early stages of Alzheimer’s. The individuals who scored the highest on the “purpose in life” test were found to be 2.5 times more likely to remain free of the disease throughout their lives."
  • I find this research from the UK hard to believe since my children were reading by age 5. My children test as being gifted (although 2 have learning differences). I guess it depends on the kind of "lessons" they are exposed to. We use a marvelous multisensory approach to teaching children at our school that I'd hardly call boring "lessons." This research was done in the US. What do you think?
  • Sensory Substitution devices (SSD)'s are shown to help the blind read in a recent study. This is being touted as an alternate to the prostheses that will help the blind see which are said to be very invasive. If you work with those with special needs, this research will interest you.
  • A very interesting topic over whether teaching has become a "fenimized" profession. I think one point to realize is that teaching may be "feminizied" but I doubt that administration or professional development is if the representation of men in edtech PD can attest. I think this is something to note and be aware of as we look at schools. This is out of the UK.
  • Unearned praise always hurts kids. Tell the truth in a constructive way but be truthful. Teachers were not as critical and gave more praise when told the student was a minority. This bias hurts students in the end.
  • New research shows multitasking gives you an emotional boost whilr harming productivity and cognitive functions.
  • Jane Hart shares a presentation from Hans de Zwaart about the quantified self and learning. I have to admit that this is the first I've heard of the "quantified self movement" but he says it has big consequences for how we learn in the future. Jane is a nice writer and I learn a lot from her.
  • We all need to be active. I think we need PE for kids AND teachers. We'd all feel better, live longer, and probably be less stressed out this time of year. I'm spending all my time in the classroom right now and it makes it hard to feel good when not working out like I need to. Take time to work out this week and I will too! "New research suggests people who are obese and lacking physical activity in their daily lives are at higher risk of developing common forms of cancer. We've known for years now that being overweight can lead to many health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes, but new evidence now shows it's also a cause for cancer. And it's not just excessive weight. Those who live inactive lifestyles are also at a higher risk.
  • Here is an interesting point as I research inquiry based learning and move to look in a database that is largely built from overseas. Many places called "inquiry" "enquiry" so in this set of lessons across the curriculum, I have to search using the term "enquiry" to turn up what have been tagged as "inquiry based" lesson plans. There are many nuances like that as you start looking at best practices across the world to remember. Eventually, hopefully, language searches will translate between common languages (like English) to help us bridge best practices. If you're looking into inquiry-based learning (or equiry-based depending upon where you're from) - this is a database of lesson plans from Kindergarten up in different categories.
  • As I'm reading on inquiry based learning, I came across another article, I'd like to share. In this article, it discusses how inquiry-based learning projects are driven by students. This very much aligns with the questions we ask on the Flat Classroom and other projects. The one point of meaning that I'm working to understand (and finding different answers depending upon the site) is that some differentiate that students should develop the questions rather than teachers "handing them" the questions. I have a lesson plan I sent through Diigo where the instructor designed a lesson around the question "Can there be giants?" and called in inquiry based. Under this article, it may not be called true inquiry based, and yet, I'm wondering if the question is intriguing and of interest and can be used in a way to teach if it really matters where the question originates.  My class is a mix of student-created inquiries (Freshman project) and project-generated inquiries (Digiteen, Flat Classroom). Interesting. Look forward to reading and understanding more (and sharing with you.) This is another nice article on the topic. Feel free to share yours. "Inquiry-based learning" is one of many terms used to describe educational approaches that are driven more by a learner's questions than by a teacher's lessons. It is inspired by what is sometimes called a constructivist approach to education, which posits that there are many ways of constructing meaning from the building blocks of knowledge and that imparting the skills of "how to learn" is more important than any particular information being presented. Not all inquiry-based learning is constructivist, nor are all constructivist approaches inquiry-based, but the two have similarities and grow from similar philosophies.
  • As I was reading up on inquiry based learning, I found a research paper from 1999 that has been cited almost 500 times. In this paper, you have an overview of inquiry based learning and how the use of technology is an excellent support for inquiry based learning. (They call it TSIL - technology-supported inquiry learning.) This paper talks about the potential and Opportunities. This is a PDF that I'm reading and filing in my personal research cabinet.
  • Extending the school day may not have the benefits that some claim, especially since we're just giving kids more same-old same-old instruction time. This article from the Washington Post is worth a read. "But the extended day approach being implemented in many schools as a result of the department’s push to increase instructional time  falls short.  It largely ignores the deep body of research on what makes effective expanded learning.   Instead, too many schools are merely adding another hour or so of regular class time onto the school day.  Not surprisingly, two very recent studies suggest we might not accomplish much with this approach to improving schools. "
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
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