Category Archives: Education Technology

So, What DO they Remember After All of That?

 

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Nearing the end of the fast paced, often crazed, multi-layers of multitasking…planning and grading, teaching and re-teaching…what is it that kids remember of their school year with you? What do they find meaningful and lasting from your time together?

It’s worth stopping to see, because it’s the glue that holds all the rest together.

I had that opportunity when Mrs. Patterson, a retired teacher, took over my 5th grade class when I went to a meeting. She had my students write me a thank you/memory letter. And just what is it that really made an impact after our nine months together? The hours spent putting together that cool project? Those math lessons taught three different ways until they all got it? No…my black boots with the blue zippers!

Here is one comment pulled from each letter.

  • I like when you freak out when something good happens.
  • You are not grumpy, like if someone says a word to you, you won’t shout “GET BACK TO YOUR SEAT!!!”
  • I still remember the bunch of times you said, “I can’t follow you around your whole life.”
  • You played a huge role in teaching us how to be good human beings and the ways that we can do that.
  • I truly didn’t even know what a web 2.0 tool was before this year.
  • You aren’t so quiet and boring. You are kind of loud actually.
  • I think that you are funny, and I love that about you.
  • I let my brain run free and have a say!
  • You know how to keep people going, and you don’t give up on yourself. I never gave up because of you.
  • You always make it seem like we are a team
  • I loved watching Carl on CNN Student News.
  • You always like to swing at recess.
  • I love being able to do stuff that my sister, brother, dad, and mom can’t do on the computer!
  • You are very funny, but in a good way. Thanks for making us laugh.
  • Our classroom feels like home to me.
  • I love blogging, can we still do it over the summer too?
  • You have great taste of style! I love your black boots with the blue zippers.
  • I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of some of the places in the world that we worked with or skyped.
  • Even though you won’t be there personally, you will always be with me.
  • Well, I only have a minute to gather my life and get to the bus so…THANK YOU!
  • Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

Does knowing this help me with all of the work ahead for next year? No…but it sure puts things in perspective. You may want to give it a try before they’re gone for the year.

A re-post from last year.

Classroom 2.0 LIVE!

What an honor to be chosen as the Featured Teacher for Classroom 2.0 LIVE! If you are interested in Project-based Learning or 21st Century Learning, here is the recording.  Here’s the Livebinder link to all of the projects and resources mentioned in the presentation.

Make sure you visit the Classroom 2.0 LIVE site and check the calendar for upcoming events and archives. They are always a great resource for cutting edge education ideas and resources.

21st Century Learning. What exactly is it?

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The buzz about 21st Century Learning is everywhere, but what exactly does it mean? It’s often linked to technology, but that is only a small part.  In fact, much of 21st Century Learning can happen without the use of technology. If technology is available and used in the right way, it can provide powerful tools for authentic learning and integration of 21st Century skills, but unfortunately, that is not always what we see in our classrooms. Purchasing equipment does not automatically create better learning.  We watch our classrooms fill up with technology, but we often see no plan in place to use it to benefit student learning. This requires a change in teaching.  With no change in teaching and learning, computers are often used for mainly word processing and Google searching. As an educator, this concerns me.

Let’s start with what 21st Century Learning means. It is the marriage of content and skill. Teaching content is what we are familiar with in our education systems: learning states and capitals, mathematical equations, historical events, scientific discoveries, and countless others.  21st Century Learning takes that content and makes it relevant. It not only shows learners how that content can be used to solve problems, construct new ideas, and through collaboration, expand that understanding, but it allows them to actually experience that as they learn.

How many school districts have mission statements that refer to educating problem solvers, critical thinkers, and creative minds? How many of them go farther than words and actually do something meaningful to provide that in their classrooms?

Equipping teachers to lead our students’ way in this takes a lot more than buying computers for schools. Before continuing, let’s figure out how to use what we have to further what many of us believe to be true: the world needs empowered critical thinking problem solvers that have the ability to learn collaboratively and create the solutions to problems that we have no way of knowing exist right now. It isn’t as difficult as it seems.

It starts with a unified vision, the development of a plan to create the teaching and learning environment, and the implementation of that plan. Many have led the way. It isn’t a mystery any more. Schools around the country have embraced this and have left their footsteps to follow. It’s just a quick Google search away!

Here’s a related article by George Couros.

One interpretation of 21st century skills.

One interpretation of 21st century skills.

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What is Your #1 Reason for Becoming a Connected Educator?

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I can only grow as large as my container. 

What’s your #1 reason for becoming a Connected Educator?

It’s Connected Educator Month, CEM, Check out the schedule!

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Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) and WorldVuze

Hangout with Julia Colburn

So, a random twitter story….

A year or so ago, I saw something come across twitter asking a specific question about Global Education. I responded and soon found myself on a Skype call with some excited, young entrepreneurs at a Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) event in Canada. One of them was Julia Coburn. They were developing a platform to connect students and teachers in a way I hadn’t seen before.  Today Julia  and I met on Google Hangout to discuss the pilot and subsequent launch of their project: WorldVuze.

It combines global student inquiry, survey data, multiple perspectives, written responses, and data filtering to provide snapshots of ideas, perspectives and much more…all around the globe.

About WorldVuze

WorldVuze is an online education platform where students from elementary to secondary school can share and explore multiple perspectives on any question with other students around the world.

For every question asked, student perspectives can be clustered geographically and compared within and between places – city to city, region to region, country to country.

How it can be used
Their vision is that students locally and globally will gain a deeper understanding of their world and feel more invested in their learning by sharing and exploring multiple perspectives with each other.

As a teacher you can:

  • Immediately connect your students to perspectives of other students around the world
  • Ask questions related to your curriculum on behalf of your class to a global community of students
  • Access real, first-hand perspectives that your students can use for research projects, class discussions, statistical analysis, and more!
  • Understand how your students communicate, think, and interact in a global community

The Pilot

The pilot will be taking place starting January 2014 with over 25 schools, both secondary and elementary, from over 10 countries: Tanzania, Nepal, Paraguay, Mexico, United States, Canada, Malaysia, Kosovo, Switzerland, Sweden, and England.

Follow them on twitter @worldvuze They have cool things coming up!

WorldVuze Home Page

Our Monthly Global PLN Chats…#2

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Sunday morning…8:00 am in Illinois, 9:00 am in New York and Massachusetts, 2:00 pm in Ireland, 9:00 pm in Taiwan and Malaysia…

Teachers meeting around the world, on one of the few times and days of the week that work for everyone because no one is teaching or sleeping at the time: Sundays.  We meet to share ideas, projects and stories. We meet in our homes or in our classrooms. We compare curriculum and obstacles. We share resources and support.

The world we live in is amazing.

Connected Educators Month. Is your district on board?

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13 more days! Is your district ready to take advantage of this opportunity?

It is difficult to have connected educators without connected districts.  The CEM District Toolkit is filled with everything a district needs to become connected and to support professional learning on every level, no matter where they are on the connectedness spectrum. It is easy to use…embedded with videos and suggestions.

“The Connected Educators initiative’s mission is to help educators thrive in a connected world. Such environments are envisioned in the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan and are soon to become the norm due to efforts such as ConnectED. Connected Educators pursues this mission through seeking to understand and promote educators learning and collaborating through online communities of practice and social networks.”

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Don’t miss out. Jump in!

Teaching Word Choice? Nothing better than 100 Word Challenge!

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Tired of reading dull, repetitive prose? Cringe at stunted paragraphs void of  luster and vibrance? Your students need the 100 Word Challenge

“We ask children to write in school but often there is no apparent purpose that they can see other than pleasing their teacher! This can prompt some very reluctant writers in our classrooms. The 100 Word Challenge seeks to address this problem.”

The 100 Word Challenge is a weekly creative prompt for kids under 16 years old. 100 words seemed like a lot to my students today…but after they got started they said things like, “I can’t do it in 100!”, “I have 109 and I can’t take any out!” All I could say was….look for good word choice. Take out the words that don’t add meaning. And they listened! Once they are posted, students all over the world read and comment on them. They may not care that much what I have to say, but they sure love to hear from their peers. Nothing beats an authentic audience.

Let’s see how you do…here’s this week’s prompt:…suddenly I heard a crack… Remember, only 100!

‘The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.’     Ursula K. Le Guin

Starting Your Year with Student Blogging

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If you haven’t considered blogging with your students, now’s the time!

I’ve taught fifth grade for the past 14 years, I have never found a more powerful approach to teaching writing than blogging. It creates an authentic audience, and kids actually want to write. I have an easy step by step guide to starting off on a good foot.

 

 

Click the title below for a more detailed explanation with resources.

Overview of Lessons to Begin Blogging

1. Make paper blogs to teach blogging. Here’s the lesson plan:
Paper Blogs: McTeach lesson

2.  7 Random Facts About Me To teach what information can be on a public space, and what can not.

3. Establish Blogging Guidelines.

4. Quality Comments

5. Start with small assignments

6. International Dot Day: How will you make a difference in the world?

7. Include parents

8. Connect with a couple of classrooms

9.Let them explore with color and style to personalize their blog site

10.Don’t grade! At least not at first.

11.Blog at least weekly                                                                                                         

12.Be Patient

Here’s a great article about the State of Blogging:

The State of Educational Blogging 2013

There are more resources linked here.

Voicethread Simply Speaking

VoiceThread Simply Speaking from VoiceThread on Vimeo.