The Power of Off

Another day, another story about distractions caused by devices. Why do none of these articles and studies discuss the power of the off button? I wrote about my culpability in a post as I own that I have distraction on my hands.

How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds – Nicolas Carr who also wrote the book The Shallows which told us what the internet is doing to our minds. I do not completely buy his argument although I get the point. I imagine there were articles about how the printing press was damaging to the eyes or memory of the humans when it was introduced. Check out Marshal McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change by Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, or The Rand Corporation’s article on the Information Age, Looking Backward to Look Forward Try this do a Google search for distractions and learning distractions and you will find a plethora (About 31,400,000 in 0.64 seconds, according to Google’s humble brag) of information about the damage being done.

Do a Google search for mobile devices and learning  and you will find an abundance, (About 111,000,000 results 0.71 seconds, again a humble brag) according to Google’s humble brag) of information about how the same devices can be used to increase the learning with adaptions and conscious use. That is about 79,600,00 more although to be honest I did not read them all to make sure if they were pro or con.

I get it and agree, but until there is no longer an off button on the devices, we are still the overlord of the devices we put in our lives. I for one do not want to go back to the day when digital learning happened when you went to the computer lab. For fun, I did a Google search for how to turn off my iPhone? I did not see this number coming (About 16,900,000 results (0.55 seconds)). If there are that many resources on how to turn off an iPhone we might need an intervention.

The Moment it Happens

I was nervous as the first day of coding Code.org CS Discoveries and Adafruit’s Circuit Playgrounds had not gone as smooth as I had wanted. I was not sure how to make the second day go better. I spent about four hours going through the tutorials like I was a student hoping to figure out how to move the class from “what are we supposed to do” phase to the “I can do this”. And then it happened. One student exclaimed, “We’re coding” and they were off helping each other while I helped other students. I felt more empowered as WE were learning and troubleshooting together. The energy in the STEAM lab was “electric”!

Heck, I even tweeted it out.

The Reluctant Learner Uncovered

ussbenhamdd-397

The USS Benham DD-397

On the first day of the STEAM by Design Seminar, I asked all of the students why they signed up. It sounded cool or my parents signed me up were the most common answers. One student who was signed up by his mother was reluctant to stay and said so. Since the seminar is done through study hall, he could easily just not come. I did suggest that he give it a day or two before he decided. Those days were filled with struggles and a desire to stop. He persevered and worked on the lessons until his skills and confidence grew. Then one day he asked if he could make his own creation and I said yes as long as it was his creation and not a copy of someone else’s work. That was the day the once reluctant learner became uncovered as he has become a very engaged and creative STEAMer. I found out that one of his passions is WWII aircraft and ships. He is using Wikipedia as a source for his images for inspiration while he creates the 3d object. I asked him why he likes to do these planes and ships and he responded that he just enjoys researching and reading about them. He proceeded to tell me all about a ship (not this one) that was a fuel tanker during the attack on Pearl Harbor that was destroyed. He knew the backstory of the ship and what happened to the crew after being bombed. He also knew how it was scuttled and other details. Is he a reluctant learner or just a uncovered learner that has found his agency in learning. I am very proud of him for the growth he is making.

STEAM Surprise

steamsurprise

I came back to my office today after helping some folks with their use of Evernote, and on my desk was this surprise. It is the creation of Emma R. in my STEAM by Design Seminar. We are working on the City of Lights project with our Arduino Basic Kits and CircuitScribe Maker Kits.  I purchased the CircuitScribe Maker kits at https://www.circuitscribe.com/product/maker-kit/. She and the most of the group have been working on putting it together. She worked extra hard as we found out our jumper wires were not male/female so we had to improvise. I am loving how these seminars are going as it is clear to me that with guidance our students are capable of striving and learning with less help and direction from the oldest life form in the room.

NCTIES Reflections

I was lucky enough to attend NCTIES conference last week in Raleigh. I have not been to this conference for a long time so it was nice to be there again. I attended mostly maker space sessions as I am working on devising how to bring one to our school. There is no magical answer other then to just start and allow agency for the students.

As a Google for Education Certified Trainer, I was asked to help in the Google booth on the vendor floor and had the opportunity to demonstrate Google Expeditions. The technology behind this is pretty cool but I like how the teaching and learning was front and center. The tablet had all of the expeditions loaded on it and the phones inside of the cardboard were delivered the expedition via a closed wifi network. This meant that there was no need for internet access. The phones could be anything 6 inch or smaller. We were using Nexus phones with no data plan. While still in beta through the pioneer program, Google plans to have kits available next year that will feature the tablet, router, speaker, cardboard, and phones for purchase. Pricing is still being determined and currently the free apps are only available on Android. While no guaranty Google has clearly been able to create awesome iOS apps so I suspect much like the Cardboard app, there will be iOS versions of the Expeditions and Viewer apps. Learn more about the hardware needs at this Google Expedition support page.

 

 

Helping to Make Learning More Active with an Educanon

I Learned it on YouTube

Image from: aisletwentytwo

Going into our fourth year of our student and teacher iPad learning program I want to invigorate the use of videos. Teachers will often play a video in class while the students passively watch it. Since YouTube is blocked at school teachers will share a link for the students to watch when they are off-campus. Of course, once the student is on YouTube how long will they stay watching the video the teacher wanted them to watch? How long would you stay? Me, probably not long especially if the related videos showed up and if I did not really know why I was watching the video. What are the main points that the students is to learn? I have watched as vendors figured out ways to make videos active and not passive. I decided this year to invest in PlayPosit (fka Educanon) after comparing all three of the leading contenders; PlayPosit, EdPuzzle, and Zaption. While all had similar options PlayPosit had the best overall solution and a real business model. They are easy to work with and are founded by teachers so they understand the pedagogy and technology. The service is affordable and they do offer a free version although I prefer to pay a vendor so I can count on them being there for more then a couple rounds of financing. I am just starting to create the training materials and recruiting the early adopters.

Design Thinking by David Kelly

BBbrainstormingsm

Ben working on a prototype drawing.

 I read Dan Ryder’s article on Medium this morning about how we might bring Design Thinking in a high school english class, so I followed the links to see what I could learn. Some familiar names popped up Mount Vernon,and  Edutopia along with a new conference I had not heard of The Atlanta K12 Design Challenge which is where I found the video below under the resources they are sharing page. Great resources. The link to the TED Talk of David Kelly struck me and plan to use it with our Making Makers Club. I just bought their (David and Tom Kelly) book Creative Confidence on iBooks as well although you can get it at many other online vendors as well. Check out his site http://www.creativeconfidence.com/

I think there is a lot to learn about how we can reshape the way we teach using the Design Thinking concept. Mary Cantrall’s DEEPdt is new to me and is intriguing as a way to make the process easier for us who need different terms to describe the process.

Coding, Girls, and The Future Needs

Futuregirlsapathy

For many years I have worked at helping girls to learn to code with a wide variety of tools and techniques. I actually started doing this when I was still a full-time Science teacher many years ago. I think the message that girls get from teachers lead to a perception that they should stay away from certain areas of study. This is of course a great disservice to the girls and the world. Some people call it an unconscious bias. I think that is the wrong way to look at it. As educators we must be aware of the biases we bring with us and work even harder to look at the ones we have due to having grown up in an educational system full of these “unconscious” biases.

I was listening to Leo Laporte on the  Triangulation show interview the Robin Hauser Reynolds the Director of Code: Debugging the Gender Gap documentary (watch or listen here) or embed below. It was a great interview and well worth watching or listening to. I did it in my car on my commute to work as I subscribe to the audio podcast. They covered some of the causes and issues related to why the gender gap exists. As I listened I realized the pace of this gap is glacial as I have been teaching since 1993 and have always tried to improve this notion. They did quote someone who said that biases of this nature take a generation to change. OMG, we do not have that amount of time.

The movie was screened at The Tribeca Film Festival this past week so it is not out in wide release yet. I want to show it to my students today in our coding club (which is about equal female and male) as a way to continue to inspire the girls. Learn more about the movie at http://www.codedocumentary.com and watch the trailer below.

CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap Theatrical Trailer from Finish Line Features, LLC on Vimeo.

How Long Does it Take a Seed of Change to Sprout

Image from OpenClipart.org

 

When we launched our 1 to 1 iPad program 3 years ago, one of the first services we purchased was Nearpod. With the purchase of the Gold School Edition we have 25 accounts for teachers to use. I have done trainings and offered help to learn how to add it to the learning resources. Heck, I worked with Nearpod to provide door prizes for workshops I have done for schools in North Carolina. Last year, I connected them with VISnet so member schools could get a discount. This is a great pedagogical tool that offers a new way to interact with your students. The company has been a dream to work with and has made consistent progress in adding more features and upgrades in the last few years. I am thrilled to work with them and bring the service to our school. My stomach flipped when I read the message below, as I feel I need to do more or do something different to get more engagement at our school. I struggle with tilling the soil of change so that when someone asks if there is a way to do X, I can toss in the seed of change allowing them to sprout a new way of teaching and for students to learn. I follow the advice of Rachel Avery whom I replaced as Computer Science Department Chair years ago. She told me to “always buy for tomorrow” which I believe is awesome advice. Sometimes, though tomorrow takes too long to get here.

 

Hi Karl

My name is Nico from the Nearpod Team and it’s my pleasure to be in touch. After taking a look at your account, we have determined that there has not been much use by your users.

Your purchase comes with a PD session and you have not taken advantage of it. Please use the following link to schedule the most convenient WebiNear date and time for you and your teachers: 

Our WebiNears combine Webinar and Nearpod elements for an interactive training that covers the basics of using Nearpod. This is also a great opportunity to have your questions answered.

Additionally, here are some other resources for your teachers:

Check out this blog post of our latest features and how to implement them in your classroom

Take a look at a collection of support material and resources at nearpod.com/help

Let me know if you have any questions or need help!

Kind regards,

Nico