Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Organized Learner - Special #ISTE17 Edition


Full disclosure, I've never been to ISTE, but I've been reading some great tips and tricks from some incredible educators to help me prepare for the conference. The purpose of this post is to share a few general tips to better organize your digital life at ISTE this year. 
(I will include links to some great tips and tricks from my PLN at the end of this post.)

While I can't rely on my past ISTE experiences, I have attended a few conferences and I've learned that being organized can make or break your conference experience. There are many great digital resources that support organization and these tips include some of my favorites. I hope you can make the most of your experience before, during, and after the conference with these quick tips.

Tip 1 - Stay Organized with Google Keep
Google Keep is a great resource to create reminders, notes, and checklists. If you use the extension you can save links to resources. The Keep Notepad in Google Docs is a bonus!

Learn More
Google Essentials - Google Keep

Tip 2 - Organize Your Notes & Shared Session Resources in Google Drive
Google Drive is a great collaborative resource, but it can quickly become a cluttered mess if not organized. Check out the posts below to learn more about staying organized with Drive.

Learn More
Organizing Files and Folders in Drive
Creative Organization of Google Drive with Google Keep
Organizing Files and Folders in Google Drive - Move vs. Add


Tip 3 - Team Folders in Google Drive
I've only recently begun to explore Team Folders on Google Drive. Google Drive is a great place to share resources when attending a conference. 
"Google Team Drives are shared spaces where teams can easily store, search, and access their files anywhere, from any device.
Unlike files in My Drive, files in Team Drive belong to the team instead of an individual. Even if members leave, the files stay exactly where they are so your team can continue to share information and get work done."
I've organized a Google Team Drive for anyone interested in exploring this resource for collaboration. If you are interested, please share your G Suite email in the comments below. 

Tip 4 - Organize Your Social Feed

  • The hashtag this year is #ISTE17 and it will be going fast. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are great resources, but I also recommend some of the built-in Twitter features.
  • Create a Twitter list of anyone who catches your interest. Great way to narrow down some of the clutter that a busy conference hashtag will generate.
  • Have a heart and like tweets to save them for future reference.
  • If This Then That (IFTTT) has some great Twitter Recipes to help you save and organize tweets.
  • Particpate is a great place to keep up with your Twitter Chats and Hashtags. They will be a great ally for anyone at ISTE17
  • Another great place to share is the ISTE Google + Community

Tip 5 - ISTE App and Agenda
The ISTE Website has some great resources for attendees and I recently discovered the mobile app. I've only scratched the surface of the app, but I already love the Agenda (mobile calendar) that is personalized for me. 

Additional Tips From Some ISTE Veterans

Monday, June 19, 2017

Questions That Can't Be Answered by Google


I would say that I am 75% yes and 25% no on this recent Twitter post. (Those percentages are completely made up, I really do not know how I would quantify this idea.) I do not believe that we should be creating assessments and activities where every answer can be memorized, but I do believe that that searching for some answers that could have been memorized from a lecture or found in a textbook has value. 
In this new narrative, learning ceases to focus on consuming information or knowledge that’s no longer scarce. Instead, it’s about asking questions, working with others to find the answers, doing real work for real audiences, and adding to, not simply taking from, the storehouse of knowledge that the Web is becoming. It’s about developing the kinds of habits and dispositions that deep, lifelong learners need to succeed in a world rife with information and connections.”  Will RichardsonWhy School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere
The idea that educators should focus more on skills and less on content has been around for a few years now. The growth of BYOD and 1 to 1 initiatives have shifted where we all learn. Teaching has become more challenging because educators are no longer the only best source of knowledge. We need to learn to be both teachers and facilitators. 

Where do you go when you have a question or want to learn how to do something? Shouldn't we make sure our students are learning how to effectively find an answer when an "expert" is not in the room? 

  • Siri . . . ?
  • Alexa . . . ?
  • OK Google . . . ?
  • Google?
  • Yahoo?
  • Bing?
  • YouTube?
  • Something else?
How does a teacher avoid questions that have answers that are a simple Google search away? Have you ever taken a look at one of your activities from a textbook and searched some of the questions in quotes? You might find the activity with the answers available for anyone. 

I teach AP Environmental Science so I will admit that it is often pretty easy for me to create some questions that can't be Googled. The world of Environmental Science often does not have questions with established answers. We also have a great deal of content that the students must know, so the quest for knowledge never ends. 

I am still learning how to best incorporate digital resources, but here are a few things that I do to help my students use the web and search as a learning resource.

1. All of our quizzes are open internet. While I occasionally have partner quizzes, the only resource I tell them they cannot use is other students in the class. I work very hard to emphasize that just getting the answer from another student does not help them or me understand what they know or still need to learn.
Here are some tips for creating an assessment or creating an activity that is open internet.

  • It is ok to have some questions that students can find the answer using a Google search. The students appreciated this and I think it helps them learn to use search effectively. I like to believe that they are gaining some additional as they look for the answer. 
  • Set a time limit for the assessment. I don't want my students to Google every question, so I let them know that they should expect to run out of time if they are trying to Google everything.
  • Most of our multiple choice questions have 5 choices. I try really hard to have no throwaway answers. I am often looking for the best answer, so Googling any question may not always lead them to the best answer. I think 3 or 4 options makes it too easy for them to narrow down the search. I do occassionaly like to use a creative true / false question that gets them thinking. 
  • I sometimes throw in some "Mark all that apply" questions. Often there is more than one correct answer for these questions and sometimes there is not. These questions drive my students crazy because they really need to look at the question and the answers carefully. 
  • Look at the data, if a question has 100 percent of the students getting it right then you might want to do a Google search yourself to see how the students are "finding" this answer. 
  • Some open-ended or free-response questions are necessary. One of my favorites is, "What is something you know about this unit that was not on the quiz?"
  • Follow up with some assessments that do not allow them to use any additional resources. I love to compare the results with my students. "Why did you get it right here, but not there?" is a favorite discussion question.
When creating a digital activity I try to build in a mix of different web resources. I don't want to always just focus on text, videos, images, or interactives. 
Here are a few tips for tips for creating an activity that is open internet.
  • I try to find resources that allow me to blend different media. My best activities include text of all sorts, images, audio, and video. 
  • Student choice is important. Don't just provide them a single resource for the concept they are exploring. I love them to compare and contrast what they learn from different sources connected to the same content. 
  • When I create a web-based activity I try not to ask too many specific questions where they can ignore any content not connected to the question. Most of my questions are opened ended on activities. For example, "What are 5 new things you learned from the resource?" or "What takeaways would you share with someone who did not see this resource? Get the students talking to each other during the activity. 
  • HyperDocs are a great framework for creating digital activities. I try to build digital activities that are more than a worksheet of questions. I want students to collaborate, create, think critically, and communicate effectively. 
What tips do you have to help teachers shift away from questions that can be answered with a Google search? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Extend your learning with this connected Mindshift Post.
How Has Google Affected The Way Students Learn?