Thursday, March 29, 2018

There is Even More Google? - Google's Incredible Hidden Gems and Secrets

The ISTE Standards for Students provide educators with valuable keywords connected to technology connected to great teaching and learning. The 4 Cs of Education are a big part of these standards and there are many resources connected to Google that can support collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity outside of Google Drive and Google Search.
We've created two guides to help teachers and students get to know some of our favorite resources connected to Google. 

What are we missing? Share your thoughts in another of our favorite resources.

The More You Share The More You Learn - #GoogleEDU
The Smartest Person in the Room is the Room” - David Weinberger

Monday, March 26, 2018

What Inspires Me? - Spoiler Alert: It Is Not Having Summers Off

Spring Break is upon many of us and my friends and family outside of education have already started to give me some grief about having a week off. I don't even try to explain to them anymore about the pros and cons of having my vacations scheduled for me. It did get me thinking about how much I love being an educator. ("Summers off" is not one of the reasons.) My reflections combined with a recent thread started by Simon Helton in the ISTE Community got me thinking about why I teach.

Before I dive too deep into my thoughts I need to confess something, this may be a reason for you to run from this post, but I have to get this off my chest.
I like, no I love Mondays! I am also typically not a fan of Fridays! Call me crazy, but this is who I am. I love coming back to school for each new week of teaching and learning. 
We all have days where teaching and learning can be a grind, but even on the darkest of days I cannot imagine myself on a different path. I love teaching for many reasons and if you ask me tomorrow this list will change. Today these are the top 5 things that inspire me as an educator.
  • My students | I never know where they will take me?
  • My colleagues | I never know how they will inspire me?
  • Creating | What will I create or remix today to support teachers and learners?
  • Learning | What new questions will be discovered today and where will they lead me?
  • Mistakes | How can a tweak or make some better if it is not working the way I hoped?
If I was to summarize what inspires me in one sentence:
  • Questions, not answers inspire me. #lifelonglearner 
You can explore the thread and share your own inspirations, but before closing this post I wanted to share a few replies the thread that I love! (You need to sign in to ISTE see all the responses.)

Hope to see you all at the ISTE Conference this summer?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Learning From My Mistakes - To Meme or Not to Meme?

In November I had a creative idea to engage my students. I am a strong believer that both formative assessments and reflective questions are essential components of any learning process. I am always looking to try something different to help my students understand what they know or don't know, so I came up with the idea of having students create memes to reflect on our Agriculture and Food Unit. 

I was pretty excited by my first attempt and the creative reflection that would happen. 

I hoped to see some incredible creative examples of my students making connections to the unit objectives. I was excited to see what they took away from the unit and how they would express their learning takeaways. Sadly, this was not what I got. 

  • Despite my frequent use of the word create, most of my students found and shared a meme that someone else had already created.
    • Some of the blame is on me because I did the same thing when I created the activity. I didn't want to use up good takeaways by creating my own, so I "reshared" existing memes that I found. I did a poor job of modeling the products I was hoping for. 
    • I think I put too much emphasis on "going viral", so most of the memes did not actually reflect on learning. Students were too focused on finding something funny even if it did not connect to our learning process. 
    • My student's mindset about what it means to create is a bit different than mine. I talked to many of them about this and they look at "resharing" someone else's work in almost the same way I was thinking of creating and sharing an original work.
I am not someone who gives up easily  and I considered my first attempt at this activity as a good learning experience for both my students and me. We had a good conversation about what went right and what went wrong and I thought were ready at attempt round two a few weeks later.

Better results in round two, but still more disappointment. I used the same format and wording but spent more time on verbal explanation. This apparently was not enough. There were a few more original works, but otherwise, copy my bullet points from round one here.

Third times the charm, right? 

We talked again and I changed the format of the activity a bit. Much better results. Still not perfect, but close to where I hoped we would be the first time around. I'm looking forward to adjusting a bit and trying again. 

Whats next?

I will probably do this at least one more time this year, using the format of the third example. Maybe tweak the wording a bit and add some spin that connects the meme to their daily lives. If you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them?

I do think that I will use my first failure next year the first time I do this with my new students because I think it ended up being a valuable part of the learning experience. I'd like to see if a new group of students takes me down a similar path. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Getting Creative with Adobe Spark - 3 Tools in One

Creative Communicator
Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

I've tried many tools and strategies to engage students with creativity and visual learning. I think one of the most important things I can do for my students is help them develop and share their voice. This year I discovered and started using a great tool that helps students create and share their learning. Adobe Spark is three incredible tools in one. Students can use Adobe Spark to create images, videos, and web pages. 

Spark Post (Meme's and Media Posts)

Spark Page (Infographics and Web Pages)

Spark Video (Photo Stories)

Explore Adobe Spark With These Resources
Additional Resources to Support Student Voice and Creative Communication

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Learning Challenge - Teachers Helping Teachers Flipgrid

I know there are so many ways for teachers to share their voice and I am hoping to encourage the use of one more.

I've put together a Flipgrid with several topics in place connected to teaching and learning? 

Teachers Helping Teachers Flipgrid
Password (ShareYourWhy)

My purpose is to encourage educators to share ideas and resources while modeling student voice with FlipGrid.

What do you think?  What other topics should I be including? I hope to expand and add more as this resource grows? 

 Teachers Helping Teachers Flipgrid

HyperDocs and Pear Deck - Student Voice and Student Engagement

We recently organized and hosted nine lunch-n-learns sessions with our staff connected to student voice with Pear Deck as the featured resource. We used the Pear Deck Add-on to create the presentation. Our slide deck placed staff in the role of students to demonstrate the interactive features. Our theme was animals and our staff loved it! 

I also used Pear Deck with my students as part of my substitute plan when we were meeting with staff. I've been using Pear Deck with my students for most of the year and I decided to complete a student-paced HyperDoc using Pear Deck for the day's activity. This was the first time I used a self-paced deck with my whole class. (I have done this a few times for absent students.) I loved the idea of sharing Pear Deck with staff while using Pear Deck as part of my substitute plan. The student piece also seemed to go very well. 

Here are a few tips that I shared as we explored Pear Deck with staff.
  • I love the Classroom Climate option. I have this turned on and it is a great way for me to get a quick overview of how my students are feeling. I don't make a big deal about this and I don't think the students even recognize that I am monitoring this. When a student chooses the Red or the Yellow icon, I make sure to stop by and give that student a compliment about something they posted. I don't tell them that I am doing because of the icon they chose and I hope me giving them a quick compliment at some point during the period makes it a bit of a better day. 

  • Every question does not need to be written on a slide. I think it is sometimes important for the students to listen to a verbal question and not just wait to see it on their screen. On this slide, we verbally asked, "What does the fox say?".

  • The Slide Library in the Pear Deck Add-on is a great place to get started when exploring the interactive features of Pear Deck. The Beginning, During, and End of Lesson templates are a great placed to get inspired. Even when you don't use the templates they are a great place to get ideas on the types of questions you might ask. My personal favorite is "Pretend your friend was absent . . . ". I like the responses my students share when they are answering a question for a friend and not just for me. 

I plan to share a few other quick tips in future posts, so stay tuned. If you have a favorite tip or process connected to Pear Deck, please share in the comments below?

Learn More

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March Book of the Month - Inquiry Mindset by Trevor Mackenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt

The best educators are not content to do the same old thing year after year. Innovative educators push their thinking by engaging in social media, exploring blogs, attending conferences, and exploring the newest generation of educational books.

We've created a site to organize and share some great books connected to teaching and learning. Each month we will feature a new book from our PLN. Have an idea for our next book of the month? Please share in the comments below.

From their youngest years, our children are innately curious. They explore the world around them through play, imagination, and discovery. They build meaning, they create understanding, and they unabashedly share their learning. It's in this process that they find joy in life and relevance in the world around them. Why, then, do some of our students become disconnected from their learning in school? Where does this natural curiosity go? And how, as educators, can we ensure all of our students experience a meaningful and wonder-filled journey through their education? It s these questions that Trevor MacKenzie, author of the critically acclaimed book Dive into Inquiry, answers in Inquiry Mindset. Co-written with kindergarten teacher Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt, Inquiry Mindset offers a highly accessible journey through inquiry in the younger years. You ll learn how to . . . Empower your learners, increase engagement, and accelerate achievement. Harness the wonderings and curiosities of your students and leverage them into powerful learning opportunities. Cultivate an inquiry mindset both as a teacher and in your students! Adopt an inquiry approach that results in the most authentic and inspiring learning you 've ever experienced!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Supporting the 4Cs in Learner-Centered Classrooms - Critical Thinking

Critical thinking - Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. Students will:

  • Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation.
  • Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.
  • Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.
  • Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.

"An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't." - Anatole France

I have long believed that my content should support the development of student skills connected to the 4 Cs or collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

Interested in tools to share your story? or are you are interested in resources and tools to support student communication skills, then we have this document for your exploration.

Have an additional resource or want to share how you use one of the tools? Visit this Critical Thinking Padlet to share or post a reply in the comments below.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Reboot the Noggin - Inquiry and Curiosity

"My favorite words are possibilities, opportunities, and curiosity. I think if you are curious, you create opportunities, and then if you open the doors, you create possibilities." Mario Testino

Teaching and learning in a fast-paced Advanced Placement Curriculum can be a grind. I'm not complaining, this is just a simple fact. Every educator faces challenges on a daily basis regardless of the course or grade level. This post is about stepping away from the daily grind to engage your students outside of your daily curriculum and objectives.

6 to 8 times a year the students and I engage in what I affectionately call a "Reboot the Noggin" Activity. These activities take many forms, but most typically they are HyperDocs. I love creating these because it gives me a chance to learn and explore something other than Technology or Environmental Science. I also sometimes use these to experiment with a new resource or website. 
Most of my students enjoy the chance to explore something that will not be part of an upcoming assessment. We sometimes even have some fun as we explore and discover new stuff and pathways.

My next Reboot the Noggin is about curiosity. 

(Planned as a break between 2 big units on Energy and Pollution.) 

If you are curious, here are the two other Reboots from this year. (I am a bit behind this year and I'm not sure if I will get more than five done this year, I've just not found the opportunities.)

(Collaboration activity that I used the first week school. The instructions and solutions are in this Slide Deck.)

(We completed this after Holiday Break.)

If you have a favorite resource or activity to engage students in a similar way, please share in the comments below?

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Supporting the 4Cs in Learner-Centered Classrooms - Communication

Communication - Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students will:
  • Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
  • Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
  • Develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
  • Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.

“We speak not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is a part of thought.” ― Oliver Sacks

I believe that content should support the development of student skills connected to the 4 Cs or collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. 

Interested in tools to share your story? or are you are interested in resources and tools to support student communication skills, then we have this document for your exploration.

Have an additional resource or want to share how you use one of the tools? Visit this Communication Padlet to share or post a reply in the comments below.

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