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.

7 Camps in 4 Weeks

Carly Dragon Egg

I am finishing up a rewarding month of offering camps on 3D Design and Printing along with a bunch of different Computer Coding camps. I have been helped by Donovan Polk and Hutch Castelao who have helped our campers create and learn new skills. This was the first time I offered a 3D Design and Printing camp and I am happy to say I thought it went really well. The image above is of Cal cleaning up their Dragon Egg that they designed and printed. This was the small version as we wanted to make sure it would work before we printed the larger version. I am impressed by how the 109 campers worked hard each day to learn to program. We used mostly free resources like Tinkercad, CS-First, Blockly, Code.org, and one paid service that we also use at school called CodeMonkey. I was very happy that the campers also enjoyed the format of most of the services we used as it allowed them to move at their pace instead of waiting for directions. Learning has come so far since I started doing camps years ago with respect to the resources that are now available. I can remember having Gala Taylor writing step-by-step tutorials for Scratch in the early days. The camps I do now are really more of a blended, personalized, or whatever name du jour you want to use. They are also much less effort than they were in the past since we can use these services instead of having to create everything on our own. This shift is also reflected in the way my STEAM by Design Seminar is conducted. Where else does this shift show up in schools, camps, and other informal learning? Oh, one other benefit, all are web-based and available anywhere the campers have an internet connection. For more information, see the Summer Coding Camps site we used for our camps.

NPR Interviews Sherry Turkle on Face to Face Conversation

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I liked this interview as I listened to it in my car one Saturday morning on the way to the dump, which is a weekly ritual for a person who lives in the country. As it ended, I wrote down the information on my notepad and wanted to make sure I wrote about it as I believe this topic is important to all of us. I do completely agree that we can not have empathy unless we are face to face, but I do believe we need to start there in order to develop empathy.

Turkle, a professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, is interested in how all sorts of new technologies — not just iPhones — are changing our conversations. Her new book is called Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. She is also the author of the books The Second Self and Alone Together.

Listen below or read at http://www.npr.org/2015/09/26/443480452/making-the-case-for-face-to-face-in-an-era-of-digital-conversation

 

An earlier interview from 2012.

Survey Says Mostly OK

 Image is property of Common Sense Media 

It is quite possible that you saw the survey released by Common Sense Media that discusses their findings on the use of media by tweens and teens. They surveyed 2500 young people.

This link will take you to their survey. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/the-common-sense-census-media-use-by-tweens-and-teens

You can create an account, use one of the social media login options. I think we should all have accounts.

Key Findings: Bold are my highlights.

1. On any given day, American teenagers (13-to18-year-olds) average about nine hours (8:56) of entertainment media use, excluding time spent at school or for homework. Tweens(8-to 12-year-olds) use an average of about six hours’ (5:55) worth of entertainment media daily

2. From Gamers to Social Networkers, patterns of use vary widely among young media users.

3. Boys and girls have very different media preferences and habits.

4. Despite the variety of new media activities available to them, watching TV and listening to music dominate young people’s media diets.

5. Tween and teen media consumption is highly mobile. Overall, mobile devices now account for 41 percent of all screen time among tweens and 46 percent among teens.

6. Even among teens, social media use still lags behind traditional media use like listening to music or watching TV.

7. Digital screen media are used for many purposes: reading, watching, playing, listening, communicating, and creating.

8. There is a large “digital equality gap” in ownership of computers, tablets, and smartphones.

9. More parents are concerned about the type of media content their children use than how much time they spend using it.

10. Many teens multitask with media while doing their homework, and most think this has no effect on the quality of their work.

11. There are substantial differences in the amount of time young people spend with media, based on family income, parent education, and race/ethnicity.

This link will take you to Larry Magid’s response (also on Huffington Post). He is the person behind Connect Safely and a CBS News correspondent. He serves on the boards of many organizations helping young people navigate the internet. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Magid

http://www.connectsafely.org/tweens-teens-tech-and-surprising-findings-from-common-sense-media-study/

I think we need to continue our efforts to teach ourselves and our students how to manage the digital tools in their lives whether we put them there or their parents do. We need to continue to model the behavior we want our students to emulate as they observe what we do daily. Finally, we need to help our students become less consumers of media and more the creators of media. The iPads give us a great tool to encourage creation with an academic focus and a place to fail and iterate fast. There is actually a lot of good information in the report and I believe we see the findings each day here at school.

If I think about the way I used media when I was a tween (it was before it was a word), I would be about the same. I still have some of these behaviors today. What I have discovered in 59 years on this planet is how to balance more of what I do. If any media wants my time and attention, there has to be a real value in it for me. I define that value as either being entertaining or educational for the most part.

How do you manage your time and attention?

Developing Attention and Avoiding Distractions

 

As we enter our 4th year as a school that equips our students with a digital device we continue to see many opportunities to help our students and teachers manage their attention capital. I created this video and added it to the Digital Device Passport book to help our community discuss and take strategies to develop habits that we help develop a mindful use of devices.

Ideas and Strategies include:

Start Fresh:

  • Turn off all running apps by double tapping the Home button and swiping up. Yes we know that having Safari open will allow you to bypass the web filtering system. It is also a violation of the Acceptable Use Policy and the Honor Code.
  • Turn off apps before you start a class that you know you will not need for the class. Email is one app that you most likely will never need during a class.

Limit Swipes:

  • Create a study page. Only include the apps or folders of apps you use to study.
  • Drag folders of your most used apps to your iPad dock for fast access.
  • If you use multiple apps to take notes, organize those apps in a Notes folder.
  • Some apps may be only used in certain subjects, so make folders just for those apps.

Add Web Clips:

  • Add Web Clips to web sites you use to study and save these web clips on your home screen. 
  • Organize these links in a folder on your study page. 
  • These links will only go to the web site you need to use which can help you from getting distracted.

Corral the Apps You Do Not Use:

  • Put the apps you never use in folders on the last screen of your iPad so you do not have to swipe past them each time you are looking for an app.
  • New in 2015 – 2016 is the ability to not even install the app. Your teachers will request the apps* you have to have for their class. 
  • *The Required Apps must be installed by all students.

Create a Calming Home Screen:

  • Set your wallpaper and locked screen images to something interesting but not distracting. 
  • Perhaps your class schedule (with your name covered) so you know where your next class is.

If these things do not help, I suggest that the student take a proactive path by giving their iPad to a teacher if it is not needed for the class period as a way to help them with choices. This will help students build up some success with their choices without drawing attention to themselves. There could even be a place in the room that distracted students put the device so it is not within arms or synapse reach.

I do believe we also need to look at how our instructional practices have adjusted to harness the digital device. Boredom is the enemy of attention. I have seen teachers integrate the use of a connected device with questions like: Someone tell me what the color of __________ is or what is a diphthong so students have an active role in the instructional process instead of a passive role.

Of course companies like Freedom.to (based in Durham) will also help by using technology to create distraction free periods since our brain can fail us even with our best intentions.

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

Reimaging the Textbook Workshop

Reimagining Flyersmaller

 

I am pleased to announce the Reimaging the Textbook workshop I am presenting for NCAIS. For more information visit the NCAIS website. This is a virtual workshop being conducted at the offices of Senn Dunn Insurance in Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Wilmington, and the High Point office if Greensboro fills up. The training rooms available here are state of the art and used for training everyday. I am excited to do this type of training as it has been many years since I did a virtual session at NCSSM.

The workshop description and workflow is below:

New tools and the internet now offer a modern day digital printing press for teachers and schools. This represents a shift in how information is curated and shared. No longer must schools and teachers rely on publishers to provide information to guide the learning.

As Audrey Watters wrote in 2012 http://hackeducation.com/2012/03/19/beyond-the-textbook/

“The textbook as written and published also serves as a reminder that experts are outside the classroom. The teacher is not the expert. The students are certainly not the experts. Copyright means that the words of those experts is unalterable, uneditable, unsharable. Fixed. Protected”. “…. we needn’t write textbooks from scratch. We can remix. We can edit. We can extend. We can share”.

The following will be covered in this workshop:

  • Discuss the most popular formats for digital books ePub, AZW/Mobi, ODF and PDF.
  • Investigate leading resources which allow the teacher to create their own reimagined textbooks using free and open educational resources.
  • Practice making class resources with CK-12, Gooru, OER, along with software like iTunes U (Macintosh or Windows) and iBooks Author (Macintosh only).
  • Discuss the delivery to ensure that what you create will be readable by your students online, offline, or both.

The Evilness of Devices for Learning

Image from Openclipart.org

Yes, I wrote the title as part link bait and part reflection on what has become a common theme to many conversations I am having these days. As we enter our 3rd year of an iPad program which has been recognized as a distinguished program by Apple. Yes, I realize that is sort of like being a preferred customer at the Toyota dealership because you bought so many cars. However, I do know we are moving our school’s learning forward while also allowing for aspects to remain as we find value in them or because change is hard and slow. There is nothing wrong with moving slowly towards the future as long as movement is happening. I prefer to move faster then my institution but that is how I roll and may not be the best solution for our school. However, I had hoped we were past the notion that playing games is bad and a waste of time given that we have explored all sorts of platforms with our students including hosting our own Minecraft servers. Alas, that is not the case although sometimes games and screen time are mixed together.

I wrote this as part of a position statement about gaming at DA.

While some adults see playing games as a “waste of time” or a way to escape into a virtual coma, many of the skills and standards listed above are found in the act of playing or creating games. For instance, Minecraft, is often seen by adults as just a bunch of chopping and blowing up of a virtual space. What is missed when observed as such is the collaboration that must take place to create worlds, the knowledge base needed to understand the game, and how a community of players have created a wealth of tutorials and information on how to play.

Gaming in classrooms and learning has been gaining momentum for years. Durham Academy has explored using games in the Middle School over the years with software like; Gamestar Mechanic, and Evolver (Pre-Algebra). Research shows that game principles are a way to better engage students. http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2014/06/09/teachers-on-using-games-in-class/ and http://www.edutopia.org/blog/using-gaming-principles-engage-students-douglas-kiang. Jane McGonigal has many resources about games. Watch her TEDX talk about SuperBetter.

Advocacy groups like, Common Sense Media provide resources on what games parents can say yes to after-school. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/24-video-games-you-can-say-yes-to-after-school.Vicki Davis has a nice article on Edutopia on game based learning. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/guide-to-game-based-learning-vicki-davis

As I continue to brace myself for the discussions that are coming, I keep saying to myself this is not a problem with devices or technology. These are human behavior problems which need human solutions that are not just banning or blocking. This is an educational problem that needs to be addressed with our colleagues, students and parents. If a small percentage of students have problems with impulse control so they play games instead of listening to a lecture, do we not help the student? What about the other larger percentage of students who are not having the problem? I help to write the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) each year which was redone to not be Though Shall Not document into a more Though Shall type document. This came about after reading the book From Fear To Facebook by Matt Levinson who at the time was at Nueva School.  It is way too long and still causes my eyes to glaze over. I even created a companion website called iPad Passport to help the Middle School students and faculty understand the concepts and language used. I think we need to be focus on having fewer AUPs and more User Policy. To that end I am adding some links to this post that are shaping my learning evolution on this topic.

Edutopia – http://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-citizenship-culture-trust-transparency-andrew-marcinek and http://www.edutopia.org/blog/educating-parents-about-education-tom-whitby

Providence Day School’s Parenting in the Digital Age site: https://sites.google.com/a/providenceday.org/digitalparenting/home This site is full of useful and practical resources for starting a school-wide conversation. We are reaching out to Matt Scully and Derrick Willard to get advice.

NC GAfE Summit 2014

I am excited to be presenting at this years summit. At last years summit, I got serious about learning how I could help my school and other schools leverage these powerful tools by becoming an authorized Google Education Trainer. I will be presenting again on using Google Sites for student portfolios and introducing a new session called Google Apps and iOS are Jet Fuel for Learning where I will show how to harness the power of Google Apps to extend a 1:1 iPad program. After two years helping my school with our iPad program, I can attest to how these two corporate solutions are not oil and water, but rather jet fuel. There is still time to come and take part in the summit so register today at http://nc.gafesummit.com/.

Find links to my presentations as well as other presenters at http://nc.gafesummit.com/2014/program/sessions or at my other site http://www.digitalkarl.com/

Image is property of EdTechTeam

Teaching and Learning with the Unlinked Net

Unlinked

Images from OpenClipart.org

I have been thinking of this post for a while as our students begin blogging more this year. Most all students in the Middle School are now blogging through Language Arts classes using Edublogs. In grade five, students use a teacher’s blog to post with the teacher serving as the editor who must approve both posts and comments. In grade six students and teachers use the class blog feature in Edublogs so that each student has their own blog but are managed under the teachers blog. This system worked well last year as it provides the students with ownership and a place to find their voice. The teachers still serve as editors and must approve all pages, posts, and comments. This systems works well to establish solid writing, collaborative commenting skills, and learning how to interact in an online community. These are important skills that must be taught if we do not want a world of trolls on the internet. Starting this year, grade seven students and teachers will be expanding the use of class blogs with the students starting with restricted publishing as they start the new year. This will soon move to full editing and publishing done by the students with the teacher only serving the roll of monitor. In grade 8, the class blogs have no restrictions for what is posted and commented and the teacher serves as a monitor. While the blogs have different setups, the goals are the same: Write for an authentic audience, Write more, Learn to write collaborative comments, and establish a presence on the internet that showcases your work and yourself. I feel it is important for students to work at creating their own “Google Juice” so they are searchable with results ranging from silly photos to articles written by them. All of our blogs are open to the public and indexed by Google and other search engines.

The idea of cultivating “Google Juice” is also why four years ago we started having students create and manage digital portfolios with Google sites. These portfolios hold not only a link to their personal blog but also samples of exemplar work along with goal settings and reflections on the student’s learning. These portfolios live at the edges of what we do as all of our Google Apps services are private only to our school which means no one outside of our school or any search engine cannot access them.

This leads to the title of this post as I have been asked by teachers the following question: “How will parents find our blogs?” The quick answer was to send them a message with the link. While that works, it does raise the larger question in my mind of how do we expose all of the wonderful learning and teaching going on when it is not linked by our school or not accessible to anyone outside of our school? Should we expose this part of our school to the world? What are the risks? What are the rewards? I can make a page on Veracross which would allow anyone from our school to find the blogs. I do encourage teaches to list their blogs in the Edublogs directory as a way to engage with the world. 

 

Until I figure out the best solution, here is a list of the blogs so far. Some will have a link to class blogs on the side.

Grade 4 – Mrs. KarolMr. Mason

Grade 5 – Mrs. Goldstein, Mrs. Parry

Grade 6 – Mrs. WilliamsMrs. Donnelly, Mrs. Saffo-Cogswell

Grade 7 – Mrs. Howes,  Mr. Michelman (new this year and not doing it yet), Mrs. Engebretsen

Grade 8 – Mr. Sheard, Mr. Michelman (new this year and not doing it yet), Mrs. Engebretsen