Monday, June 16, 2014

On my first conference presentation

Let's just take a minute and think about the time when I didn't have sound linked to my Mac so I made the Instant Chewbaca sound for my attendees. Twice.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Conference Materials

Exit Ticket @ TCEA Region 7 June 13, 2014

  • Presentation

  • Coffitivity - Get quiet groups talking and help set a decent volume level in your classroom with this easy background app.
  • Instant Chewbacca Everyone needs a fun signal that tells kids to take their hands off their devices and to put eyes on the teacher. I use this one. Because what's not awesome about Chewbacca?
  • Exit Ticket Pinterest board of thoughtful, masterful classroom applications 
  • Symbaloo board for example and with great Project Based Learning tools    

  • Monday, June 2, 2014

    Learn How, and Learn Why: On Not Giving Up on Liberal Education

    In the spirit of that esteemed internet phenomenon Let's Rush to Judgement, let's talk about a book I haven't read yet, Michael S. Roth's Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters

    I caught the author, Wesleyan president Michael S. Roth, in a long interview on KERA radio. You can catch it too, here.

    He was talking about the tension between practical and liberal arts education. 

    TJ came up as the author asked a question I don't know the answer to: shold we be preparing students for work or for understanding the world in general?  TJ, of course, wanted it both ways. 

    "For Jefferson and his successors," Roth says in the interview, "liberal education had to have a pragmatic value just like science has a pragmatic value.  You learn very deep basic modes of inquiry in science, but those modes turn out to have extraordinary productive power." 

    I love that. It's what got me through Algebra -- my teacher swore that it would make my mind more disciplined and ...something...useful...later...actually I don't remember what she said but the idea was it was good for me in a long-term kind of way. 

    I took her word for it, which is hard for a lot of kids to do.  Roth talks about this. 

    "When liberal education has been at its best in the United States, there's been a tension between inquiry and reverence.  On the one hand, inquiry, you go wherever the truth takes you. You cultivate a suspicion toward the world and its powers... But there's another part of liberal education that Bruce Kimball has called reverence, which is that you get introduced to things that many people for a long time have held in high esteem, and you ought to try to figure out why they have done so rather than try to tear it down."

    \We make a big effort to teach critical thinking, and that's so important since marketers and politicians and skanky singers want to steal our kids' souls. 

    But how can we help grow reverence in that same context? How to help our students find their place as total noobs in the world and to listen up until they've learned a thing or two?  That's at least as important as self expression. 

    The President has proposed we rate universities like blenders: are grads working? Great. You get an A.  But will he grade on a curve on citizenship?

    What if all a school's grads are ready for their first job, but can't tell that it's a terrible idea to get a payday loan between their first and second paychecks? What if the entire country becomes populated by the kind of people who go to art museums and dismissively say, "I could totally do that" to all but the "highest" kind of art? (Don't laugh; it happened). 

    Roth says, "Today, because of the pace of change, going to college to prepare for the first job you're going to have after school, which is likely to be the worst job you'll ever have, that's a terrible investment...I think it's much healthier to take the route of college being a time where you learn the skills that will enable you to have a  career over the rest of your life,and  not just to get that first job. Because chances are in our economy, the skills you need for that first job, in five years, won't be the skills that you'll need to advance your career. "

    What does Roth think kids do need to know how to do? Well, I think TJ would totally agree: "Learning how to create change, find opportunities and to get the skills that are immediately useful - that's the sweet spot."

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Five Apps for Inspiring Secondary Presentations

    Here are some of my 5 favorite apps for secondary-level presentations. They look more like the kinds of presentations I saw when I was in the business world and less like the dioramas I made in second grade. See if one of them inspires your middle school or high school students!

    Voice Thread: Here's an example of a Voice Thread that includes instructions and then participation from several example students. VT is easy to use and students can chime in at any time - from their phone at home, the iPad in class, wherever - and then you can review the final product with everyone's input.

    Padlet: Great for group work - students can contribute many different images, links, or ideas to one bulletin board via anything with a browser. Clean interface and you can sign in once per group or class (Example). (How to video for using padlet)

    Glogster: Similar to Padlet, it's basically the online version of the old posterboard (with links, video, sound, social connections, etc.). A little bit messier of an interface but I like the templates that can guide students new to the format. Here's an example Glogster that I created with a class's project instructions. 

    HaikuDeck: Let my internet-friend Rafranz Davis tell you why Haiku Deck is awesome. If Power Point had been born on a touchscreen device, and was pretty, it would look like this.

    Thinglink: Upload an image (Like the one below) and then create hotspots that can include voice, video, links, etc. Students can explain a diagram, or ...whatever.  If you use this, I suggest getting a Soundcloud account to store your voice clips on.
    I hope the examples give a picture of the Presentations 2.0 future for you. If you think twice before you begin, you can get twice as much out of your tablets...and hopefully, your students!

    Two Questions to Ask Before Using iPads for Secondary

    Several secondary teachers have recently approached me with the same question about the iPad: What am I supposed to do with this thing?
    Searching for "confused teacher" images was the highlight of this post.

    Fair question. The first thought most teachers have is to use the iPad to do things they've been doing - writing papers, doing Power Points, completing worksheets. Simply using new technology to do these things is supposed to be more motivating for the students.

    Well, teachers are having second thoughts. Kids are so over the newness of the hardware. They and their teachers are finding that presentations and papers are complicated to save and share on tablets. And we already knew that worksheets are boring after a while no matter what.

    Can tablets be useful for older students doing "real" work? Yes. But first, we need to answer two important questions:

    How will they turn it in? My district is switching over to Gaggle, an all-in-one solution for student email,
    digital lockers, and more. Their assignment dropboxes are a feature that initially attracted me to the product and I will write more here about how that goes for us.  In the transition we've also used Dropbox and Evernote to create classroom folders where students are expected to turn in work.
    I also recommend familiarizing yourself with the AirDrop feature of iPads - students can easily share images during class (also something watch out for!). 

    Where will you show it off?  You want groups of students to see how you've evaluated their and others' work..much like that old classroom bulletin board. Again, we're moving toward using Gaggle's class blog feature, but teachers have been posting to classroom webpages, featuring student work on Pinterest, or creating Flickr galleries  (For 7th and younger, I am a big fan of KidBlog as well).

    Once your digital workflow is established, think of the end product with an open mind.  If you aren't teaching the specific skill of long-form paper writing, consider the workplace. Smart, snappy, visually helpful presentations are required to efficiently share knowledge and help others know what to do next.

    Several applications that work beautifully with tablets' touch screen can create good looking, smart packages that your students will be proud to share. Check them out in my next post.

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    Steer your family's digital life confidently. These handouts for your church, scout troop, or PTA offer advice from Common Sense Media and links to handy parental control how-to's for all your kid's devices.


    Browse (and search) brilliantly with these resources. Print the handout for your church, scout troop, or PTA!

    Minecraft Safely - Handout for Schools and Churches you: a basic overview of Minecraft for parents and a guide to talking with your kids about it and the associated safety issues. Print the handout for your church, scout troop, or PTA!