ISTE 2011 Virtually: Day 2

What I Learned

I’m a night owl so getting up for a 9:30am EDT ISTE Unplugged session (that’s 6:30am my time) wasn’t easy but that was my plan for the day & I did accomplish it. So what did I learn?

Edmodo is … a Social Learning Site by Paula L. Naugle – I hadn’t been in Edmodo for awhile and Paula had some good tips on setting up groups. I had posted about possibly using this next year and was still wavering back and forth. I think I have decided that it’s worth trying but I’m still trying to come up with how exactly I want to implement it and which grades I want to use it with. If anyone in a Computer Lab environment is using Edmodo, I’d love to talk about what you’re doing.

Virtualizing your 3-Ring Binder by Dean Mantz – I love Dean’s use of Live Binders and the winners of Top 10 Live Binder Contest have some amazing content as do all of the nominees. I almost presented using a Live Binder last year but then chickened out and used something else. I think I should revisit that idea or present on Live Binders itself. I’m also kicking around the idea of having my Middle School students use a Live Binder as a portfolio or their work.

Strategies and Tools for Teaching Better Web Research Skills by SymbalooEDU & Sweet Search – I am always looking for good tips on teaching Web Research Skills. I try to work on this from at least Grade 4 and it always amazes me when students take the very first link as the one that must be correct or use one of the question and answer sites as the truth. The top tip that I took away from this session was to add student or kid to your searches to get content geared towards students rather than adults. For example, don’t just search for presidents but search for presidents kids (or presidents students).

What I Wish I Hadn’t Missed

I always learn something new from the sessions I am able to attend via virtually and from the Twitter stream but there are some things that I really wish I hadn’t missed:

Learning Tools Family Feud: Crowdsourced Edition – I really wanted to see this one and heard it was a lot of fun. My PLN came through with the top 5 answers in many of the categories so I have the resources but I would have loved the experience of being there.

ISTE Flash Mob – I would have loved to have seen (or participated in) this in person. It looks like it was fun!

You can see the whole song on the ISTE Connect’s Video.

I heard that the Google party was amazing and that the DigitalJam with Kevin Honeycutt rocked! The social activities are something you just can’t get virtually.

Oh, and something else I learned today … I didn’t get into the Google Teacher Academy that is being held this summer in Seattle. I have to admit that even though I didn’t expect to get in, it was disappointing especially since some good friends of mine are going and I’d love to have the experience with them. On a brighter note, since I didn’t have to pay for a trip to Seattle, I signed up for RockStar Teacher Summer Tech Camp!

ISTE 2011 Virtually: Day 0-1

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend ISTE 2011 in person this year but that doesn’t mean that I can’t learn and participate in the conference from home virtually. Many of the educators in my PLN are in Philadelphia at ISTE 2011 and are freely sharing what they are learning on Twitter, Plurk and on their blogs and via other Web2.0 tools. This has meant that I can join in on the fun virtually from my living room or office or bedroom or wherever I have access to a computer and here is just some of what I’ve learned so far.

Saturday, June 25th:

Had I been in Philadelphia, I would definitely have been at EduBloggerCon enjoying the conversations of the day. I, however, did some chores and ran some errands while I followed the tweets from EduBloggerCon. I was not at a computer for the Web2.0 Smackdown which was one of the streamed events from EduBloggerCon. Lucky for me though I can check out the list from the EduBloggerCon ISTE 2011 Web 2.0 Smackdown – looks like some fun sites were shown. I was able to attend part of the Keynote Smackdown later in the day and had the privilege of hearing from some amazing people. I loved Tammy Worchester‘s Quiz Bowl with Google Forms to collect answers from the audience. Kevin Honeycutt‘s reminder that we can’t cut off the digital limbs of our students by cutting off their access to their devices was very powerful. The theme of our students and the influence they can have on our world was inspiring from many of the Keynote Smackdown participants. I’m so glad I got to actually “be there” for much of this and appreciate all the Steve Hargadon gives to the edtech community.

Sunday, June 26th:

Lots of activity on the twitter stream today with the kickoff to ISTE 2011. I started my day by watching the ISTE Music Video below and checking out some of the resources posted on Live Binders by Nedra Isenberg and by Bonnie Feather.

As the day went on, I read the tweets and plurks about the ISTE 2011 Kickoff and was so happy to be able to congratulate Amanda Marrinan, who I had the privilege to meet last year, on receiving the Kay L. Bitter Award this year. You can see Amanda get her award in the ISTE 2011 Conference Kickoff Video at minute 36:

The most interesting part of the day was trying to follow the Opening Keynote on Twitter. Now, I read fast but the messages sped by at more than one per second. It was impossible to keep up but I was happy to see that, for the most part, the messages were positive and that people were enjoying this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. John Medina who is the author of the book Brain Rules. Even though I wasn’t getting most of the keynote and didn’t actually hear the speaker, I was intrigued enough to want to buy the book. Luckily I did see the tweets that said that Amazon had the Kindle version of Brain Rules on sale for $2.99 – for that price I had to get it and am looking forward to having the time to read it. You don’t have a Kindle? Neither do I but I do have a Kindle app for both my computer and my iPod Touch!

Lucky for me (and for you), the Opening Keynote is now available on ISTE’s Video Channel on YouTube.

As I watched this, I made a note of the things that made me think:

  • “The human brain appears to have been designed to solve problems related to surviving in outdoor conditions in unstable
    meteorological conditions and to do so in near constant motion. If you want to design a learning environment that was directly opposed to what the brain is naturally good at doing, you’d design a frickin’ classroom.”
  • Dr. Medina compared the human brain to roads where at the level of the Interstate Highways all of our brains are wired the same and at the level of State Highways our brains are still mostly similar but at the level of boulevards and alley ways, there are massive differences. “All of human learning occurs in the alleyways & boulevards.” You have to create a database and it must be memorized. Almost as soon as you have memorized something, you have to be given the opportunity to improvise off of it in order for the learning to become solid in the alleyways & boulevards. Any school system (or education environment) that only emphasizes one or the other is failing the human brain and we are n danger of creating robots or kids that can only play air guitar.
  • “The emotional stability of the home is the greatest predictor of success.” If there is emotional instability, executive functions are reduced. Executive functions can be increased from 20-102% with regular aerobic exercise. Dr. Medina’s perfect classroom would have aerobic workouts with islands of learning.
  • The Atlantic Monthly asked the question Is Google Making Us Stupid? Dr. Medina says we don’t know what technology is doing to the brain – yes, it’s changing the brain but everything changes the brain. We don’t know what the long term effects will be because we don’t have any long term data. One thing that we do know is that shining a blue light into your eyes just before you go to bed, disrupts cryptochromes which can affect sleep.

Lots to digest and I’m sure there will be more after I read Brain Rules.

Now, I’m on to planning the rest of my ISTE 2011 experience which will include:

Won’t you join me? How will you experience ISTE 2011?

To Change … or not to Change?

What I Know

I know that Edmodo would feel familiar to my students using other social media sites and I like what I’ve seen on it so far but:

  1. I already post all assignments on my Computer Lab Wiki and I can set up discussions on the wiki – though I don’t often use the discussion feature and when I have the students don’t seem to really use it effectively.
  2. Parents can see what’s happening in the lab on the wiki: both the assignments and completed work that gets posted for each grade.
  3. Other teachers can see what we’re doing in the lab and are welcome to use the ideas themselves.
  4. I can have students turn in assignments via Dropbox or the online grading program I use – though I to admit that I haven’t used either of these options this year.
  5. I can contact students through the online grading program and through the wiki. I haven’t done this often and do admit that students don’t always check these when I do send them a message but would they check anything?

What I Wonder

I wonder if my desire to use Edmodo (or maybe I should look into Collaborize Classroom, instead?) is more about me and jumping on a bandwagon and trying a new tool than it is about my students.

  1. Would my students be more likely to participate in discussions if they were in a more private environment rather than a public one like on our wiki?
  2. Would the parents even notice if they couldn’t see all of the assignments anymore? Would it matter to them as long as completed projects were still posted publicly?
  3. Should I use this blog or a different wiki to post lesson plan ideas for other teachers and not worry about the fact that every assignment isn’t publicly available? The bigger question for me is would I maintain something else in addition to what I am using with my students?
  4. Is the turn in process better with something like Edmodo or not? What would my students or I gain?
  5. Would students check messages in Edmodo more than they check messages I currently send?

I am thinking of piloting Edmodo or (maybe Collaborize Classroom or both?) with at least some of the grades I teach next year. I wonder …

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of something like Edmodo over a wiki?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of Edmodo over Collaborize Classroom?
  3. Would one or both of these tools fit well into a Computer Lab situation?
  4. Would it be better to use this with my older students who are already almost all on the popular social media platforms or would it be better to use it as an introduction to social networks for my tween age students?

Do you have any answers? Comments? Suggestions? I’d love to hear about your experiences with Edmodo and Collaborize Classroom if you have used these with K-8 (5 year old – 14 year old) students.

Cyberbullying – Yes or No?

Cyberbullying is a subject that I cover every year in Middle School. When asked what Cyberbullying is my students tend to talk about the sensational things they’ve read or heard – the cases where it leads to suicide or someone being charged with a crime. There always seems to be an attitude that if there aren’t threats of any kind that it’s not bullying or it’s just treated as a joke.

I felt that I needed to bring in examples that were real but not sensationalistic. I wanted my students to be engaged and to talk about the issues. Taking a cue from Stephen Davis‘ presentation on Technology and the Developing Needs of Adolescents, I decided that I need to let the students move around the room rather than having them just sit and watch a video or presentation of some kind. But, how could I accomplish this? Aha, I decided to adapt, Dan Callahan’s Things That Suck presentation!

Now as much as my Middle School students would love a lesson titled Things That Suck, I didn’t think it would be appropriate to call it that, so Cyberbullying – Yes or No? was born. I hung up big signs in the room: NO (on one side), YES (on the other side) and UNSURE (in the middle). The lesson started with a definition and video to help define Cyberbullying. Then, I had some examples which I presented one at a time to the students. After they heard the example, they moved to the appropriate area based on whether they felt the example was Cyberbullying or not. After they had moved, I had students defend their choice. This seemed to work well and made them think about why they chose what they did. Sometimes students moved as they heard explanations and, of course, there was the one student who always had to take and argue the minority position. After every second or third example, I showed a short Cyberbullying related video and then launched into another round of examples.

The entire set of examples that I had took a class and a half which I think is too long. Interest waned on the second day. I think this is best as one class and have reworked my presentation to take out some examples and one video. Some examples were better than others in sparking discussion and I feel I had too many obvious choices. So, I’ve reworked this a little too but may need to work on this more. Depending on the class and the discussions what I have now is probably still too long. Next year I intend to skip some examples or videos if needed to have this fit into one class. The students really liked the real world examples and wanted to know more about what had happened in these situations.

You can see and download my current version of the examples and links to the videos I used from Slideboom and Slideshare. If you use the online version, I’d recommend the Slideboom one because you can see the notes from the slides which include the source of the real world examples I used.

Cyberbullying – Yes or NoView more presentations or Upload your own.

It remains to be seen if this lesson will be any more effective on influencing actual behavior than previous lessons. Only time will can tell on that one but there were less comments like “Big deal. They were probably only joking.” with this lesson so I am hopeful.

Another Weekend & Another OC PD Opportunity

The weekend after edCamp OC, it was time for the OC Cue 2011 Tech Fest. I had debated throwing a few suggestions into the mix as a presenter for this one but never got around to it so I headed down to Santa Ana to take in some sessions and spend some time with friends.


Session 1

After registering for the event, I headed to room 610 for Greg Dhuyvetter‘s session on PowerPoint. About two years ago I blogged about how I love PowerPoint and I’ll tell you a secret, I still do. The session was not all about never using PowerPoint (whew!) but how to use it effectively and creatively and why other options might be better than PowerPoint for some things. Greg used and suggested Prezi as an alternative to PowerPoint for presentations. I do have a Prezi account but I haven’t used it much. I think I’m much too linear to get Prezi but I really should try it again sometime. I may be biased, because as I said, I do still love PowerPoint, but I think a lot of the objections raised about PowerPoint (not just in this session) can apply to any presentation tool. The effects in Prezi can be overwhelming as can animations and transitions in PowerPoint. You can have too much text and read your text on any type of presentation tool. PowerPoint is more linear than something like Prezi but it can be made more interactive and less linear if slides are designed correctly.

I am issuing myself a challenge to create a presentation both in PowerPoint and Prezi to learn Prezi and to see what I can and can’t do in PowerPoint vs. Prezi. Why do I still love PowerPoint? Well, I have it everywhere – at school, at home, etc. I use it as school with students for much more than just creating presentations – maybe it’s time to revisit PowerPoint on this blog.

Session 2

I didn’t have to move very far because I stayed in the same room for the next session which was Technology and the Developing Needs of Adolescents presented by Stephen Davis. Stephen had the attendees contribute to a Google doc as we discussed the physical, intellectual, emotional and social needs (PIES) of Middle School students. Seeing my Middle Schoolers only twice a week for 45 minutes at a time, it can be hard to fit all of the intellectual topics in. However, after this session, I am looking at ways to fit in even more – ways to meet not just the intellectual needs of my students but ways to blend in the physical, emotional and social needs whenever possible, too.

Session 3

After a great lunch with Jen Wagner and a teacher from her school and some time spent in the Student Technology Showcase, I headed back to the same room for Jen & Sean Williams‘ session, Digital Footprints and the Impact of Online Navigation. I was interested in this session because it was a session that had been given to parents at some schools and I am in the process of trying to put together a parent education night on Social Networking and Digital Footprints. The session actually ended up with Dennis Grice stepping in to co-present with Jen since Sean ended up not being able to be there.

This session was a very casual conversation since most of the people in the room knew one another and the information provided gave me a lot of great ideas to use when I have this same type of discussion with the parents at my school. It also raised a lot of questions in my mind again on when we as educators should should start helping our students to develop a positive digital footprint. One of the slides showed some statistics which included the fact that 43% of students have shared their first names online. We have recently started allowing this at our school Is that wrong? Should we not be? When is it okay?

Session 4

Guess where I was for the final session? Yes, I stayed right in the same room and attended Jen Wagner‘s Googling Forms Effectively session. I use Google Forms a lot in my class and with various projects online but Jen reminded me about the go to a new page on an answer option in forms that I haven’t tried out yet. In the past, I’ve just added questions that had instructions about only answering this one if you said yes to a previous question. I need to try the new page option sometime to see if that works more effectively for what I need.

It was a great day with a lot of learning and time spent with some wonderful Twitter friends including @jimconn @Matt_Arguello @jenwagner @cbell619 @danielabolzman @bbarreda @dgrice @GDhuyvetter and @rushtheiceberg.