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Blogging – A powerful digital literacy/digital citizenship tool

Blogging – A powerful digital literacy/digital citizenship tool

I work in the Technology Services Department for a large public school district. I love my job (technology integration specialist) and truly appreciate my department’s support of programs that promote digital literacy and the potential for students – and teachers – to advance from digital citizens to global citizens.

With this week’s start of the new school year, I’m getting lots of requests from teachers to setup Edublogs Pro classroom blogs, something I am happy to do … but not until we’ve had a conversation about their vision for their blogs. Because my department pays for our Edublog Campus accounts (worth every penny), I like to know how far up the SAMR ladder they – and their students – might travel via their classroom blog. If they simply want an online location to post homework and announcements, I suggest a free Google Site. If they need a little background on the SAMR model, I might send them a short video, such as John Spensor’s introduction, which makes the connection to the potential power of blogging:

Last week, in response to my blogging vision questions, a teacher sent me a link to the awesome Jeff Bradbury’s TeacherCast session: The Great EdTech Debate: Google Sites vs Google Classroom vs Blogger. I emailed back that Jeff was simply reviewing the suite of Google options; he was not commenting on the power and possibilities of  classroom blogging. (And I agree with Jeff that Blogger is not the best choice for a classroom blog.)

This morning, I came across Silvia Tolisano’s post Blogging Through the Lens of SAMR, I decided it was time to gather resources and rationale on moving a classroom blog from “substitution” (the “S” of SAMR) to “redefinition.” Silvia’s post, with its wonderful infographics, is a great starting point. I’m also including and highly recommending:

As a former classroom teacher, I witnessed many times the bump in literacy skills that happens when students know their work really matters, a change that generally requires an authentic audience. Blogging can provide a 24/7 microphone for students to join in virtual conversations with students and classrooms across the nation and world – and, in the process, cross the line from consumer of information to creator of information – and from digital citizen to global citizen.

I’m ending this post with two things: a blogger’s poem and an invitation.

#1) An if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie-style poem from Edublogger Ronnie Burt’s blog post A Rhyme? Why Not! Please note that “website” = “blog”:

If you give a student a website, at first, he isn’t going to be sure what to do.

He will start by wanting to decorate it and personalize it too.

He’ll no doubt choose some interesting colors and flashing widgets – making sure he has the most.

Once you go over expectations, you will assign the student to write his first post.

The student will ask, ‘is this for a grade?’, and he will probably groan.

But once he publishes to his new website, he’ll immediately want to pull out his phone.

He’ll post a link to twitter and facebook, out across the interwebs his post will be sent.

He’ll hit refresh in his browser, over and over, just hoping that a visitor has left a comment.

Before long he’ll see the comment notifications show up in his queue.

And an ongoing dialogue between his family, friends, and classmates will certainly continue.

So the next time he learns something new in your class, there won’t be much of a fight.

Before you even get the chance to finish, the student will ask if he can write another post on his website.

 

#2 ) An invitation to share classroom and student blogs I could showcase in my next post on blogging best practices. Please leave a comment with links!

Best wishes to everyone for the 2017-2018 school year.

PS Thank you Pixabay for cc licensed blogging image!

 

ISTE 2017 – My top takeaways

ISTE 2017 – My top takeaways

ISTE 2017 Conference logo

San Antonio’s River Walk + the ISTE 2017 Conference = a winning combination. Three weeks later, at last I have a little time to reflect on some memorable takeaways:

Day 1 – Sunday

Global Education Day – Joining Steve Hargadon and Lucy Gray for this 3-hour, highly interactive forum was an awesome start to my #ISTE17 experience. Check out the Agenda for an overview of the event.

Global Education session icon

Below are links to Ignite Talks, each one from an innovative global leader:

And the Round Table discussions were a great opportunity to make connections, as you can see from Table 6’s  “Breaking Barriers & Building Bridges: Why Global Collaboration is Vital” Google Doc.

A few more notable resources from the closing speakers – who were winners of the Great Global Project Challenge:

And a few more outstanding resources/projects:

  • Sustainable Development Goals – In partnership with the United Nations, oh so many ideas for students to make a difference as global citizens.
  • Commit 2 Act – Love this project! Reminds me of “think global; act local.” Your students can track how their actions are making a difference as they view actual data about what they’ve done to help the earth.
  • Taking IT Global – Global Gallery – Wow! This is an amazing site and project for students who want to change the world. How did I not know about the Youth Media Gallery?!
  • Digital Portfolios: The Whole Child; The Whole Story – Yes, I promise that watching this 37-minute video and following up on the included resources will be time well spent! For me, this video connects the dots between three topics I teach, support, and promote: digital portfolios from elementary – secondary, digital/global citizenship, and taking student voices beyond the walls of the classroom.

So glad I made my way through the wait list and was able to attend Global Education Day.  Am feeling empowered to bring global education/citizenship into the new school year – and proud to be a member of the Global Education Network.

 

Ending Day 1 with dinner and river walk with long-time NWP friend and colleague Sandy Hays,


Day 2 – Monday

Monday started with another gold mine:  Susan Brooks-Young‘s timely Recognizing Lies: Literacy in a Post Truth Era. The session description was a grabber for me:

The spread of misinformation is nothing new, but websites and social media make it far easier to distribute and more difficult to detect. This session explores strategies educators can use themselves and with students to effectively evaluate the truth in what they read, see, and hear.

Susan’s session was a reminder that today, “in a time when blatant falsehoods are being put out there,” digital citizenship programs need to include digital literacy.

Here’s a brief recap of her content-rich, engaging Agenda;

Where to begin:

  • How you look at numbers – Here’s where you can integrate media literacy across the curriculum. Math teachers, you have a treasure trove of resources to connect your lessons on computing mean, median, and mode to the world of advertising and current events.  As  a non-math person, I really appreciate Susan’s reminder that averages involve three different ways to look a numbers. In the world of media, if you want to show growth – give median, not the mean. If you want something to look lower, give mode. Love the Statistics – How to website page on Misleading Graphs. And remember: Pie charts have to add up to 100%.
  • How you look at words – Let’s start with “post-truth,” the Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 word of the year: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” As Susan shared a range of resources, I starting thinking about the importance of her opening message:” We need media literacy as much as our students do. We need a Common Sense Media resource for adults.” Although last December’s Pizzagate  Conspiracy Theory story (a media hoax created by a kid in Macedonia) seemed like an extreme example of an adult lacking discriminatory skills, when Susan showed Nathan for You, the Petting Goat Hero (below), I wondered how often my media literacy skills are influenced by what I would simply like to be “true.”

In a “post-truth era,” we all need to skeptical; we all need to do our fact checking, Three top sites for fact checking are:

Susan closed her session by referencing three great quotes …

“There is badly written news, there is news I didn’t get, but there is not such a thing as fake news – it’s lies.” Even NPR will now say it’s lies – no “alternative facts.” Sir Harold Evans

“There are not always two sides to a story. Sometimes the truth is obvious. Sometimes it’s right in front of your face.” Bob Simon, CBS 

“We’ve spent so much time focusing on math & reading. We’ve abandoned taking the time to teach critical thinking skills.” Daniel Levitin, Weaponized Lies – How to Think Critically in a Post-Truth Era

… and an excellent TED-ED Talk from Damon Brown – How to Choose Your News …

… as well as Susan’s LiveBinder Digital Citizenship resources.

So glad to have attended Susan Brooks-Young’s #ISTE17 and greatly appreciate her invitation to share out her tips and resources. Thanks to the layout and content of her agenda, I feel ready, organized, and inspired to offer a Recognizing Lies workshop in my district and region.


Digital Consumption & Creation in a Changing LandscapeSteven Anderson & Shaelynn Farnsworth’s session was the perfect follow-up to Susan Brooks-Young’s session. I appreciated the reminder that “every educator is an educator of literacy, regardless of subject area” and the importance of viewing technology tools as verbs, not nouns:

“Don’t focus on the tools without asking how to use them. We can’t focus on the tools (nouns); we have to think of the  functions (verbs).” Marc Prensky

In teaching students how to be curators of information (able to find, vet, organize, and share information), Steven suggests three questions (from Common Sense Media) for students to ask as part of the curation process:

  1. What story are you trying to tell? What is your goal with this resource? What will I use it for?
  2. When will you use? “We live in an age of rapidly changing info”
  3. Just how good is it? Is it reliable and valid?

I appreciate Steve’s Fictitious Websites doc, which also includes a link to California State University, Merced’s, CRAP Detector, as well as “Resources for Developing Healthy Skeptics.” Nice to have a 1-pager for students.



Day 3 – Tuesday

The Untold Story of Limitless Potential – Very possibly the most inspiring keynote I’ve ever heard! In 2012, I attended the Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View. For sure, a highlight of the GTA experience was being in Jennie Magiera’s group. If you listen to this short clip from her keynote, I think you will have a window into her passion for teaching, her leadership in educational technology, and her infectious humor.

From recounting her mother’s immigration story, to the teacher who made a difference, to Jennie’s own personal struggles, every minute of this keynote was quote-worthy and inspiring. Drawing from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDTalk The Danger of a Single Story, Jennie made a compelling case for educators and students to find and tell our own untold stories.


Feedback Tools for Google Docs – I am a huge fan of Eric Curts and stand in awe of the wealth of resources and tutorials he regularly creates and freely shares on his website.  So being able to actually meet with him in person was definitely a favorite #ISTE17 takeaway. The best way to follow every step of his session is to read through his Four Fantastic Feedback Tools for Google Docs. Be sure to read the comments too.

And thank you, MERIT11 colleague Karen Larson, for taking our sort-of-selfie with Eric.


Traditional, Transitional, Transformational –  Dang! Lost track of time and only made it to the last 5 minutes of Will Richardson’s session. If you haven’t yet subscribed to Will’s Modern Learners’ white papers, you should! Only 5  minutes with Will, and still some takeaways:

  • A live-from-ISTE17 podcast

AR, VR, AI, and BS: The Modern Learners Podcast, ISTE17 Edition

  • A couple of great quotes:

“Technologies come and go, so we need a culture that allows you to constantly renew yourself.”

“Get connected. Read widely.”


Tools to cultivate connections and deeper learning – I missed the first half of this panel discussion (got waylaid in the Exhibit Hall), but fortunately arrived in time for Kyle Pace’s presentation on the Google Arts & Culture Center. I loved:

Google Cultural Institute - 11 women who changed the world

I recommend pouring yourself a glass of your favorite beverage before you start exploring Google’s Arts & Culture Center. It’s like falling down the rabbit hole. Right now I’m exploring Stories from the Holocaust and will head next into Cuban Arts & Culture.


Day 4 – Wednesday

The Power of Pivot Tables –  What a well-crafted hands-on session!  To teach a packed room of educators how to create and use pivot tables – in  60 minutes – really requires some serious prep time! Clearly Todd McDonald and Joel Handler thought through the scope and sequence of their presentation, with a perfect balance between instruction, tips, and hands-on time. Learning about pivot tables has been on my to-do list for a long time. At the end of their session, I walked out excited about pivot tables, along with an 11-slide presentation (yep, only 11 slides) that has everything I need to review and practice pivot tables and to move on to the next level. Perhaps, more importantly, I will be rethinking my own technology workshops and aiming to make each one as compact and informative as Todd and Joe’s session.


Consuming, Connecting, Caring: Embrace New Literacies to Succeed in a Digital World – I ended #ISTE17 with Alec Couros’s session, a good choice – as you can see from Alec’s accompanying Consuming, Connecting, Caring Resources doc. Like Susan Brooks-Young and Steven Anderson, Alec referenced the need to keep adults up to date with media literacy, and for both educators and students to understand that “information is easy to spread; correcting it – not so easy.”

Alec started with a look at today’s culture of learning, using 5-year-old Jordan as an example of how kids are teaching themselves about topics they care about.

I’m betting many first grade teachers will have students like Jordan spending the next school year with them. It’s hard to imagine Jordan thriving in a classroom that’s adhering to publishers’ scope and sequence charts or district-mandated curriculum.

A few gems from each of Alec’s topics:

Consuming:  On the topic of students as consumers of information, I like the pace and content of John Spencer’s The Problem with Fake News (and how students can solve it) video, and the message that “critical thinkers are good for democracy – and that’s good for everyone.”

Connecting: Leave to The Oatmeal  (Matthew Inman) to provide a conversation/explanation/walk-thru/challenge on “why do we easily soften to some ideas but not others? Why do we gnash our teeth when presented with evidence counter to our beliefs?” You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you could be a powerful conversation starter – for adults and students.

Caring: How do we teach for empathy? That’s a question that’s come up in many recent discussions with colleagues. I think teaching, supporting, promoting, and modeling all forms of citizenship (face-to-face, digital, global) is a starting point. Below are the citizenship resources from Alec’s doc.

Alec also added the Minimum Max video:

I’m adding Project Empathy to the list (which I believe Alec mentioned during his session). I just started exploring this website and have already discovered an excellent video from Brene Brown on the important difference between empathy and sympathy.

 

Three weeks later, I am still reflecting on my #ISTE17 experience. Not all the sessions I attended are included in this post, but those included are the ones that have started me thinking about new possibilities and visions for teaching and learning in the upcoming school year. For each one mentioned, I anticipate blogging about the process and impact of implementing one of the shared resources, strategies or tips.

I also had the opportunity to meet Curran Dee, an exceptional young man, who at age 8 gave his first TED Talk (below) and at ISTE gave an Ignite Talk. If I can find a recording of his Ignite talk, I’ll add the link. Here’s a link to Curran’s website. At the top of my #ISTE17 follow-up list is to connect Curran with students in my district to discuss digital/global citizenship. Student-teaching-students – always a powerful, effective model for learning!

Thank you to the ISTE team for a fabulous conference. I can only imagine the countless hours of planning and energy that went into this year’s conference. Thank you, thank you!

One last river walk. Good bye, San Antonio. #ISTE17

I’m already looking forward to and planning for #ISTE18 in Chicago.

#CUE17 – A few takeaways

#CUE17 – A few takeaways

Just returned from CUE 2017, three jam-packed days of sharing, collaborating, learning, rethinking, and celebrating in the beautiful California desert setting of Palm Springs.

CUE 2017 image

For those of you #NotAtCUE17, here are my top takeaways:

Keynote Speakers – Oh my!

Lucky me! I was able to attend all three:

Jo Boaler: The Mindset Revolution – A shout out to CUE for having Dr. Jo Boaler as the kick-off keynote. A visit to her youcubed website will give you an idea of Jo’s commitment to moving students – and teachers – past a “fixed mindset” of “I’m not good at math” to “offering mathematics as a growth subject, filled with opportunities for creativity, discussions, and multiple perspectives.”

I’ve heard the term “growth mindset” before, but hearing Jo Boaler present research-based findings on its importance had me leaving the keynote wanting to learn more. This snippet from her recent Scientific American article, Why Math Doesn’t Add Up in the U.S., will give you a window into her findings:

Brain research has elucidated another practice that keeps many children from succeeding in math. Most mathematics classrooms in the U.S. equate skill with speed, valuing fast recall and testing even the youngest children against the clock. But studies show that kids manipulate math facts in their working memory—an area of the brain that can go off-line when they experience stress. Timed tests impair working memory in students of all backgrounds and achievement levels, and they contribute to math anxiety, especially among girls. By some estimates, as many as a third of all students, starting as young as age five, suffer from math anxiety.”

I recommend spending the next 16 minutes watching CUE Live’s interview with Jo and then head to her youcubed site:

A few quotes from Jo Boaler:

“Let’s get rid of speed math…Speed does not equate to intelligence or better math understanding.”

“Parents should know that nobody is born a math person – and should never give that message to their kids.”

George Couros: The Innovator’s Mindset – If you’re not already following George Couros on Twitter, you should be. As a long-time follower and fan of George Couros, AKA Principal of Change, I already knew his keynote would be a great takeaway (although I didn’t know it would a good idea to have Kleenex available, as he regularly interjected short but powerful, often emotional, video clips to illustrate his points). His  fast-moving, highly engaging keynote included 8 Characteristics of an Innovator’s Mindset, which the wonderful Sylvia Duckworth has put into an infographic:

Inforgraphic from Sylvia Duckworth to show the 8 characteristics of an innovator's mindset.

Moving from a “fixed mindset” to an “innovator’s mindset” requires embracing change, learning from failures, and being OK with the fact that implementing change will probably require all 8 of the above characteristics. So, yes, you may have to explain to colleagues that “if you ask when you’ll find the time, you’re already giving up.”

George also posed a question on school vs. learning, and shared an infographic with common differences between the two:

Infographic by Sylvia Duckworth to illustrate George Couro's school vs. learning.

About those video clips I mentioned that George injected throughout the presentation to bring home every point … he’s posted them to his website. These are gems to include in your growth/innovator’s mindset toolkit.

A few favorite quotes from this inspiring keynote:

“The best person to teach students about space is not you; it’s an astronaut.” – One more argument for opening classroom walls via videoconferencing!

“Social media is like water. You can either let us drown, or teach us to swim.” – Will share this one with district-level administrators.

“We need to make the positive so loud that the negative is hardly heard.” – Don’t shut down learning sites/sources because of misuse by a few students.”

“The biggest game changer in education is not the technology; it’s the teacher.” – Will remind curriculum adoption folks about this sometimes forgotten fact.

Cathy Hunt: The Art and Soul of Education – How fun to end the #CUE17 Conference with a  national (Australian) and international award-winning (tons!) art instructor. Don’t think you can do art? Head to Cathy Hunt’s website and get ready for another “growth mindset.”

Photo from @susiew

Loved the lessons she demoed, especially Picasso’s Portrait pieces, which starts with students taking selfies (which we all know students love to do) and then layering pieces of a Picasso painting over their selfies (which definitely qualifies as transformative use if you are wondering/worrying about fair use issues).

My favorite quotes from Cathy Hunt:

 “If you want to increase divergent thinking in your classroom, make some art.”

 “To make, to create is to be fully human.”


Some Great Session Takeaways

Mark Ray: Future Ready Is Greater Than Digital – Scroll through Mark Ray’s presentation and you’ll be ready to start the Future Ready conversations at your site/district on Monday. In addition to serving as Director of Innovation and Library Services for the Vancouver (Washington) School District, Mark is also working for the Alliance for Excellent Education in Washington, D.C., with a focus on the Future Ready Librarians initiative, part of  “a national effort to connect school libraries and librarians to innovative instructional practices.” The graphic below includes the eight categories/gears of the Future Ready Framework through a librarian’s lens.

image for future-ready librarians

Knowing from a first-hand perspective the vital role librarians play at their school sites, I love that the Future Ready initiative is tapping into their expertise.

Mark introduced four important shifts required to truly be future ready:

  1. Ownership – from teacher to student. Students need to have personalized learning paths.
  2. Consumer to Creator – In the old days, somebody else wrote the textbook. Today students and teachers should be designing and creating products.
  3. Local to global – Students need authentic opportunities to connect with other students, even if it’s just the school down the road.
  4. Shift from fixed to mobile – Let’s recognize that students carry learning opportunities in their pockets.

Mark’s tip for making the shift happen: Start by putting together a Future Ready Admin team.

Mark Archon: Student Data Privacy – What You Don’t Know Might Hurt You – If you are a teacher who is frustrated by (the many) websites your district blocks, read through Mark Archon’s presentation and you will have a window into your tech administrator’s world. If you are an administrator wishing you had a presentation at your fingertips to explain student data privacy concerns and laws to teachers, Mark Archon just gave you a timely gift.

Since the passage of California’s AB 1584, a bit of my day (as a technology integration specialist) typically goes to tracking down vendors to have them sign my district’s legal document before I can approve software purchase requests. So I was very excited to learn that CETPA, in collaboration with the Ventura County Office of Education, is going to make the software approval process much easier by compiling a listing of AB 1584 compliant software on their Student Data Privacy Alliance page. Yay! 

CETPA, the law offices of Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, and Common Sense Media have collaborated on a short video, Ask Before You App, to give you a few tips on how to responsibly evaluate and use educational apps.

My favorite quote from Mark’s session comes from the Future of Privacy Forum:

Anyone who handles data should know how to protect that data. Human error is a factor in 95% of data security incidents.” 

I also liked his much needed reminder that, in terms of online programs:

Nothing is free. The currency is you.”

Mark Ray: Compliance to Self-Reliance –  Rebooting Digital Citizenship – Mark jumped right into the topic by asking: “Are you and I hypocrites when it comes to digital citizenship and digital behavior?” He followed up his question with a link to a self-assessment quiz. I do a lot of digital citizenship workshops, which from now on will start with “an adult digital user quiz.” As Mark’s session made clear: How can we teach digital citizenship if we don’t model it ourselves?

slide from Mark Ray's Rebooting Digital Citizenship #cue17 presentation

 

Sabrina Goldstein, Sam Castellano, Darlene Moreno: Crack the Code: Connect Scratch to Your Language Arts Classroom – This talented team of elementary teachers did a great job of introducing MIT’s Scratch program, sharing compelling examples of student work, and bringing the audience on board by having them create their own Scratch animations. I also learned a new term: “kinetic storytelling,” which is storytelling that incorporates timing, color, location, transitions, and font. This short video will show you what kinetic storytelling looks like:

For our elementary students, Scratch offers multiple ways, for instance, for students “to demonstrate knowledge of figurative language and promote creativity and critical thinking skills through the use of backgrounds and coding commands.”  Check out this elementary sample on figurative language to get you thinking about how Scratch can take language arts lessons to new levels.

Gail Desler and Jane Lofton: Can I Use That? Exploring Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons – This is the third time I’ve had the privilege of co-presenting with Jane Lofton.

Photo of Jane Lofton and Gail Desler just getting started on their CUE17 presentation.

We were fortunate to have a wonderful group of teachers joining us early Saturday morning for this session, many who remained afterwards to ask questions sparked by the presentation. If you were #NotAtCUE17 or not in our session, here’s a link to our digital handout: bit.ly/UnlockMediaLiteracy. And if you’re looking for a hyperdoc lesson on copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons to use on Monday, here it is:

With over 6,000 educators in attendance, it is hard to imagine the amount of planning that must go into a CUE Conference. I’d like to thank the ever-amazing Mike Lawrence and his incredible team for three-days worth of inspiring/energizing “future ready” learning experiences, perspectives, tips, resources, and conversations.

I’m already looking forward to #CUE18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Response to Executive Order 9066

In Response to Executive Order 9066

Last month, I posted Remembering Executive Order 9066, commemorating the 75th anniversary of FDR signing this historic, unfortunate executive order. Given how often the term “executive order” is currently in the news, I wanted to do more than simply reflect on an injustice from the past. Today I am posting a new lesson/hyperdoc to the Time of Remembrance (TOR) website: In Response to Executive Order 9066.

The goal of this lesson is to introduce students (Grades 4-12) to the possible impacts of any executive order that targets a specific group of people. During the months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, over 110,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of them citizens of the United States, were evacuated from the West Coast and “relocated” to detention camps established by the U.S. Government. As captured in Ansel Adam’s iconic photos, many internees would spend the next three years behind barbed wire. Their stories of discrimination and forced removal provide a window into a time when our nation failed to uphold the rights guaranteed to all citizens by the U.S. Constitution — regardless of nationality, race, religion, or ethnicity.

As students delve into the lesson by watching the I’m American Too – Stories from Behind the Fences documentary and exploring the primary source interviews in the TOR WWII Archives, they will gain an understanding of how virtually overnight West Coast farming communities were forever changed, with very few internees returning to their former homes. The students are then tasked with capturing a “story from behind the fences” by drafting a letter in the voice of the internee to someone, real or imaginary, outside of the camp. Using Dwight Okita’s “In Response to Executive Order 9066” poem as a model, their final task is to transform their letters into letter poems.

The lesson is also a call to action. Students are warmly invited to take their letter poems beyond the walls of the classroom by submitting them to the TOR Student Gallery for publication to a national audience. If you work with students, I am pretty sure you will agree that when we support students in speaking out on issues of social justice, we are often providing a lens to view the impact of bystanders and the difference a single upstander can make.

During the month of March, many West Coast school districts and museums commemorate Japanese-American internment with activities and exhibits. And, of course, probably all school districts celebrate April as National Poetry Month. Whatever the occasion or lesson might be, if you are a teacher, I hope you will encourage your students to create letter poems in response to Executive Order 9066 and to publish them to an authentic audience, such as the Time of Remembrance Student Gallery.

 

Remembering Executive Order 9066

Remembering Executive Order 9066

Seventy-five years ago today, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent, many of them citizens, from the West Coast. Virtually overnight, an entire group of people lost their jobs, their homes, and their constitutional rights.

Thanks to a beautiful article in today’s SacBee from California farmer, journalist, and author David Mas Masumoto, I am reminded of the importance of standing up and speaking out on behalf of targeted groups. I teach in a school district that was once home to a hard-working community of Japanese-American farmers, who transformed the region into beautiful, productive strawberry fields. Following the signing of Executive Order 9066, the history of the Elk Grove-Florin region was abruptly and forever changed.

In honor of the many contributions of the Japanese-American community and in recognition of the need to stop history from repeating itself, I am proud to co-direct my district’s Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project (TOR). David Mas Masumoto’s words complement the purpose of the TOR project:

“We remember through stories. They frame events, add context to the past beyond a history of facts. Stories add rich and personal details that generate an emotional connection to what was and what can be.”

America is a nation of immigrants. In response to the current political climate and an executive order that is similar to 9066, the TOR project invites youth from across the nation to interview an immigrant or refugee and then share their stories on our TOR Student Gallery. We’ve created On Coming to America, both the lesson and teacher’s guide/toolkit, as an opportunity to showcase the sacrifices and contributions of immigrants and refugees. Again, David Mas Masumoto’s words sum up our commitment to documenting stories from our communities:

“To recognize today’s stories of hate against a class of people, to demand these stories be heard is a first step to building a more democratic and just nation. To be American is to remember all our stories.”

Note: Opening image is from Reiko Nagumo’s TOR interview.

Teaching about Intellectual Property – #HyperDoc style

Teaching about Intellectual Property – #HyperDoc style

I love the many ways teachers in my district – and probably your district too – are guiding student-centered conversations  about building positive digital footprints, protecting online privacy, and confronting cyberbullying. A shout out to Common Sense Media, iKeepSafe, and Netsmartz for the wealth of free resources and lessons you provide to schools on these key digital citizenship topics.

There is a fourth digital citizenship topic that many teachers are increasingly recognizing the need to address: intellectual property. By 5th grade, most students have been warned about the consequences of plagiarism, a conversation that is typically repeated throughout their middle and high school days. While plagiarism is certainly an important topic, in a digital age, copyright,  fair use, and Creative Commons also need to be included in the conversations.  Given how easy it has become to download, copy, remix, and upload online content, students need to have an understanding of both their intellectual property rights and responsibilities.

Elk Grove USD’s 4 digital citizenship themes – BY NC SA

As a co-director of my district’s Digital Citizenship initiative and co-curator of the Digital ID project, I am always seeking teacher-friendly/student-friendly resources on intellectual property. I also facilitate district-wide and national workshops ( e.g., CUE and ISTE) to help teachers understand that copyright is different from plagiarism and that fair use and Creative Commons are also options for our students.

Digital ID Project’s 4 digital citizenship foci – BY NC SA

Based on questions from workshop participants, two years ago I created Can I Use That? A Guide for Teaching about Creative Commons. I always review the guide prior to a workshop to check if I need to update any information or add new resources.  This year, in preparation for the March CUE Conference, I’m adding a #HyperDocs* lesson that invites students to delve into copyright, flex their fair use muscles, and license their own creations via Creative Commons. So here it is: Can I Use That? Exploring Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons.

Hope you can join me and the fabulous Jane Lofton for our CUE Can I Use That? session (Saturday, 8:00)! If you have questions about the lesson or suggestions for updates to the Guide, please respond with a comment or contact me @GailDesler.

*#HperDocs is a term invented by @LHighfill.

#PublicSchools: Igniting, supporting, promoting students’ passions

#PublicSchools: Igniting, supporting, promoting students’ passions

Friday night I headed over to Cosumnes Oaks High school to attend an amazing event: Hype Dance Showcase.  For two hours, I sat mesmerized by the choreography, costuming, high energy, obvious passion, and jaw-dropping talents of the student dancers. I promise to update this post as soon as school’s video team uploads footage to their website.

Friday’s event was my third visit to COHS in the past two weeks. I blogged last week about the Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminar, which was also hosted by COHS. A few days before the seminar, I had an appointment to meet with our tech support team to check out the rooms reserved for the seminar. It was close to 4:00 when I made it over to the campus. The school day officially ends at 3:00.

Oh my, oh my, to hear the band practicing for an upcoming competition and to walk by classrooms with students choosing to stay after school to participate in a variety of clubs and meetings was pretty inspiring. I wish I had taken some photos of the stunning art exhibit several students were putting the final touches on. And come to think of it, I also recently blogged about a writing assignment from a COHS teacher a colleague had shared with me.

There are 64 other schools in my district. Could I find at least three activities, lessons, and/or events to boast about at each of those sites? Yes.

Wonderful things happen in our public schools. #PublicSchools

 

How to Bring Teachers in Your District on Board with Technology

How to Bring Teachers in Your District on Board with Technology

I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had over the years to attend and present at educational technology conferences hosted by outstanding organizations such as ISTECUE, Google’s EdTechTeam, National Writing Project, and NCTE. Being able to attend keynotes and sessions by nationally known educational visionaries, such as Will Richardson or Kylene Beers or Rushton Hurley, provides sufficient inspiration and innovative ideas to energize my teaching throughout the school year.

When I attend conferences outside of the Sacramento region or outside of California, I’m also aware that very few teachers from my district have been able to find the funding to cover registration and travel costs. Many are just dipping their toes into the technology integration waters and are not yet ready to submit a workshop proposal, for instance, which might entitle them to attend a conference with registration fees waved (a benefit I frequently take advantage of). And those who do attend some of the two-day, three-day, or four-day conferences often share with me that they ended their conference experience a bit overwhelmed by all the mind-blowing tips and tricks from the many technology rock star presenters.

I love what my district is doing to bring teachers on board with technology integration. Last Saturday, we hosted our 2nd annual Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminar at one of our high schools. For a mere $20 (which covered breakfast and lunch costs – and was waived if you volunteered to present), teachers could begin the morning with an amazing keynote from nationally/internationally known technology innovator and #HyperDocs queen Lisa Highfill. Following the keynote, our teachers could then select four 1-hour, hands-on sessions to attend.

Photo of Lisa Highfill presenting at Elk Grove USD's Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminar
The ever-inspiring Lisa Highfill rocks the Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms house!

To give you an idea of the wonderful variety and range of topics, here are a few session descriptions:

  • Teaching in a [Semi]Paperless Google Classroom – Teachers of all grade levels can learn tips and tricks to setting up their Google Classroom and implementing assignments.  Basic knowledge of Google Drive very helpful, but not required. I will show you what it looks like from teacher view and student view.
  • e-Portfolios for PRIMARY Students – Start an amazing journey to meet CCSS with authentic assessment using 21st century tools. Come learn how to create digital portfolios of student work to provide them with important opportunities to reflect on, curate, and showcase their learning beyond the classroom walls. Engage easily with parents and connect them to the heart and soul of your classroom.  It’s EASY, versatile, and accessible from ANY device. You’ll love it!
  • Extension Must-Haves for TeachersChrome extensions can make you a millionaire! Okay, so not really, but they can help you and your students be more productive and isn’t that more important than money? Come learn how to install and use the top must-have extensions you need now.
  • NASA & Project Spectra – Come learn about various tools you can use to teach astronomy & magnetism, grades 6-12.  Get hands on practice with interactive games, find resources that augment your regular class materials and try your hand at mapping magnetism on another planet. “Project Spectra!” is a science and engineering program for 6th – 12th grade students, focusing on how light is used to explore the Solar System. “Project Spectra!” emphasizes hands-on activities, like building a spectrograph, as well as the use of real data to solve scientific questions.

I believe what makes our Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminars so immediately relevant to attending teachers is that, other than our keynote speakers, every presenter is a district teacher. Across grade levels and curriculum, our presenters share best practices that work with our students – students who the attendees may have taught in the past or may be teaching in the coming years. Add to that motivating factor the fact that all presenters are easily accessible for an on-site visit or via district email, I know many attendees left ready to implement on Monday new ideas, strategies, and tools.

photos of teachers attending session to learn about Twitter
Awesome group of Elk Grove USD teachers delving into the power of Twitter.

It was my privilege to co-present Extending Student Voices Through Videoconferencing with Erica Swift and Twitter: What’s all the fuss about?! with Cathe Petuya. Already several teachers have contacted me with questions and ideas for weaving videoconferencing into their curriculum and others (via Twitter) to express their awe at the power of Twitter.

Given the manageable scope – and reasonable expense – of organizing and hosting a district-centered Saturday technology conference, I highly recommend this concept as an effective way to encourage technology “newbies” to explore how different tools offer new possibilities for teaching. I’m pretty sure the “newbies” who attended our Saturday Seminar are now ready to head off to CUE, ISTE, and other popular technology conferences – minus the intimidation factor. And based on the above session descriptions, I will be encouraging ALL of our presenters to start submitting proposals – beyond our 2018 Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms event.

If you are already sponsoring district-based/centered technology conferences, I would love to hear any suggestions or answer any questions!

 

 

Two Reasons Why January 21 Was a Great Day

Two Reasons Why January 21 Was a Great Day

I loved Saturday, January 21, 2017! Thanks to two events in the Sacramento region, I think I’ve stepped out of my post-election slump.

Event #1: EdCamp121 – Thank you CapCUE and Folsom High School for hosting Saturday’s EdCamp.

logo for EdCamp Folsom

From the moment I entered the multipurpose room, I could feel the combined energy of the awesome CapCUE team and the group of attending educators from across the Sacramento region, all looking forward to a day of sharing and learning about ways to enhance student learning and engagement through technology and best practices.

So if the EdCamp concept is new to you, here’s how it works:

  1. Participants start the morning by jotting down whatever they would like to learn about on a post-it note and then posting their notes on a wall.
  2. The CapCUE team then sorts through the post-its and assigns the most requested topics to  designated classrooms.
  3. The day’s program is then shared on a Google Doc. Here’s a link to Saturday’s EdCamp program.
  4. Participants head off to whatever sessions best suit their interests. Although there will be a room facilitator, there is not a main presenter. All are invited to share their knowledge and/or ask questions about the topic or tool.

EdCamp Session 1 – I joined a group of teachers interested in discussing ways to use blogging and podcasting to promote student voice. Typical of EdCamp sessions, our group consisted of several teachers already very proficient with and excited about blogging tools, a number who had just started dabbling with blogs, and several who had not yet started their blogging journeys. All were also interested in learning more about podcasting with students.

As a long-time blogger, I really enjoyed being part of this conversation and was able to share a few resources on the Padlet site (which the CapCUE team had set up for each session as an easy way for participants to share resources).

As for the podcasting component, although I’m familiar with several audio recording and editing tools, such as Audacity, I haven’t used any of the growing number of programs/apps you can download to your phone. We were lucky to have Ryan O’Donnell join the session. Ryan and the equally awesome Brian Briggs produce the Check This Out with Ryan and Brian podcasts. Here are some of Ryan’s recommendations for podcasting apps:

  • Audacity – Like me, Ryan is also a big fan of Audacity, which allows you to easily edit your audio recording, add music, fade in/out, and then export and upload. Audacity is free and works across platforms. However, since you have to download the program, it’s not a good solution if your students are using Chromebooks.
  • Spreaker – Has a “freemium” option.
  • audioBoom – Here’s a review of audioBoom from Common Sense Media.
  • Soundtrap – An easy way to create podcasts with accompaning music.
  • TwistedWave – Will work on an iPad.
  • Podomatic – Once you’ve created your podcast, you’ll need an online hosting service. Ryan recommends Podomatic. When you’re set up and have created a “show,” Podomatic will send you a .xml file, which allows you to tell iTunes each time you have a new podcast. 

Blogging and podcasting … oh the possibilities!

EdCamp Session 2 – I joined the Virtual Reality group. With the dynamic duo of Brian Briggs and Ryan O’Donnell as room facilitators, this session was mind-blowing! Be sure to visit the session Padlet to learn about the apps that were shared.

Brian Briggs and Ryan O'Donnell having fun to virtual reality camera

I started dabbling a bit with virtual reality (VR) at the previous weekend’s EdTechTeam Summit by attending Jim Sill’s session on Google Cardboard Expeditions. So I was excited to learn about even more VR options. My plan is to little by little explore each of the sites and resources posted to the session Padlet. But, really, if I never venture further than Expeditions, I could already open the walls of the classroom exponentially.

A few months ago, Larry Ferlazzo asked me to contribute to an EdWeek article on how to prepare students for field trips. I recommended that teachers incorporate videoconferencing in preparation for, or as follow up to, or even (due to school budget constraints) instead of a real time field trip. From the California State Parks PORTS program to NASA’s videoconferencing options, students can easily take virtual field trips to national and even international sites. No more permission slips, paying for transportation, hoping it won’t rain, etc.

But if I could rewrite my article for Larry, I would be adding VR as a powerful follow-up to videoconferencing.  I’ve been thinking about a teacher in my district who recently took his 5th graders on a virtual visit to Yosemite through a videoconference with our National Parks. The videoconference was an extension to a story the students had read about John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt. I think a teacher-led Google Expedition of Yosemite would be one more powerful way technology can open the walls of the classroom (especially in our Title 1 schools).

Thank you again, EdCamp Team, for an engaging, energizing morning. I apologize for not being able to stay for the afternoon – especially since you included a delicious lunch from Olive Garden as part of this FREE event – but I needed to get to downtown Sacramento for the 2nd event of my unforgettable Saturday ….


Event #2 – Sacramento #WomensMarch
– It will be a long time to come before I forget Sacramento’s #WomensMarch. To join 20,000 other marchers for this uplifting, unifying, inspiring event filled me with hope and a renewed commitment to hold our nation’s leaders accountable for their words and actions.

photo of Sacramento's January 21 Women's March
#WomensMarch Sacramento – hundreds in front of me; thousands behind me – coming together as an empowered community

Start to finish, I am grateful for every minute of January 21 and appreciate all who added to the day’s events in so many ways. It’s a substantial list of shared ideas, innovative thinking, and hopes and dreams for the future of our schools, communities, and nation.

My Great EdTechTeam Summit Takeaways

My Great EdTechTeam Summit Takeaways

Image of Google Summit logo

Thank you Roseville High School (via the awesome Marie Criste) for hosting this weekend’s Google Summit. Start to finish, what an awesome way to spend a weekend! Below are a few of my favorite takeaways:

Technology, High Expectations and the Art of Relationships – Having Jeff Heil kick-off the Summit with his opening keynote was an inspiring start. I had the good fortune to first meet Jeff at the 2012 Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View. We were in the same group/team (led by the amazing Jenny Magiera), so I already knew that Jeff is both brilliant and hilarious. But I did not know about his commitment to using technology as a tool for achieving educational equity, a passion ignited from his time spent working with homeless youth. I am still thinking about Jeff’s question/challenge: “How can  the creation of something as simple as a relationship transform student achievement?”

Photo of Jeffrey Heil, keynote speaker for Roseville 2017 Summit

Create Accessibility: Accessible Design for Classroom Creators – If Melissa Oliver’s engaging, hands-on session had been the only one I attended, it would have been well worth the drive to Roseville. As educators in a digital age, we all need an understanding of how to make content we post online – including student-created works – accessible to our readers. Visitors to our online sites, whether they be blind, deaf, colorblind, or elderly, deserve equal access to the content.

Melissa started her session with an easy accessibility first step: adding “alt text” to all images. “Alt text” is an abbreviation for “alternative text.” When you add an “alt text” to an image, screen readers for the blind and visually impaired will read out your text description, thereby making your image accessible. If you are a G Suite district (AKA Google Apps for Education district), I think you’ll appreciate that Google understands the importance of accessibility and has created a very helpful guide. In Google Docs and Slides, for instance, you can find the “alt text” option by selecting the image, clicking on Format, and scrolling all the way down to the last option. In Google Forms and the new Google Sites, select the image, click on the three vertical dots, select “Add alt tag,” and add your description.

Photo of lion            photo of lion with Add alt tag option

Closed captioning (CC) was the second big item on Melissa’s agenda. We’ve been discussing this requirement recently in my district – and feeling a little overwhelmed. Given how many teachers embed or include links to videos on their websites and in digital lessons, I hope their reaction is not to delete all videos.

I am also hoping that students who are creating their own videos will not find the task of adding closed captioning too daunting. Since many teachers require a script before students start the filming process, they may already have text they can copy and paste into a closed captioning program. If not, they can use YouTube’s auto-generated captions and then edit them (and the auto-generated captions will need editing, but at least it’s not like starting from scratch).

In addition to three tips for closed captioning in YouTube, Melissa also shared Caption Creator for Google Drive. You will need to review and give permission to open the program first, and then select a video. What I love about this program is that as soon as you start to type in a caption, the program stops the video and waits for your next pause before continuing where you left off. Easy to use + free = a great combination! Closed captioning student video creations seem like a worthy collaborative project for parent/grandparent/community volunteers or even older students to tackle.

Given that my district was recently served notice by the Office of Civil Rights informing us that we need to make our homepage and all department and school websites (we have 66 schools) and teacher websites (tons!) accessible, my goal in attending this session was to gather useful resources and join a conversation on accessibility issues, solutions, and best practices. Mission accomplished!

Docs Confidential – I learned a few nifty tricks from Jeff Heil’s Google Docs session:

  • How to keep other tabs open when in the presenter view of Google Slides: While in the edit view of your slideshow, click on the URL. Towards the end of the URL, where you see /edit, select and replace with present. You’re good to go!

  • How about adding a hyperlinked table of contents (TOC) in the footer of your Google Doc? Sure, you can add a TOC at the start of a Doc, but it doesn’t travel with you as you move down through pages. It’s all about Bookmarks. Start by selecting the words or phrases in your document you would like to be hyperlinks in your footer; then click on Insert > Bookmark. When you’ve finished setting up your Bookmaks, go back to Insert and add them to your footer. Type whatever corresponding text you’d like in your footer, select it, go to Insert > Bookmark. I’ve just added a hyperlinked footer to my On Coming to America HyperDoc. Love it!

Exploring Google Expeditions with Cardboard – If you have any extra smartphones you no longer need, I would love to have them … to insert inside Google Cardboard … and expand on the world of virtual field trip possibilities. Jim Sill’s packed session was a wonderful introduction to Google Expeditions! As we stepped into a very breathtaking 3D climb up Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan, I thought about a teacher in my district who recently took his 5th graders on a virtual visit to Yosemite through a videoconference with our National Parks. The videoconference was an extension to a story the students had read about John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt. I think a teacher-led Google Expedition of Yosemite would be one more powerful way technology can open the walls of the classroom (especially in our Title 1 schools).

Revenge of the Sheets: Learn to Google Sheets the Jedi Way – This was my first time to attend one of Jesse Lubinsky’s workshops. He shared a number of great tips for ramping up your Google Sheets skills. A new one for me was the Mapping Sheets add-on, a visual way to let data tell a story:

I also really appreciate Jesse’s comprehension digital handout, which includes links to his various presentations. Each presentation includes links to take you into, through, and beyond a specific Google tool. Thank you!

HyperDoc Design School – This was not my first time to attend one of Lisa Highfill’s incredible sessions … so I already knew to get there early because she always shares inspiring videos (she is known as the “video whisperer”) before she even delves into her session. Examples: What is your hope and Seeing things differently/Perspectives.

Back to HyperDocs…As I watched Lisa create a HyperDoc* from scratch on how she might teach students the correct use of there, their, and they’re,  I found my session takeaway: Google Story Builder. I’ve known about Story Builder for a long time, but it hadn’t occurred to me what a powerful tool this could be for letting students build their writing skills.

*  “HyperDoc is a term used to describe a Google Doc that contains an innovative lesson for students- a 21st Century worksheet, but much better.” From What Is a HyperDoc?

Student Agency EDU – Coming full circle, I ended my Roseville Summit weekend with Jeff Heil, this time joined by presenter/author Trevor McKenzie. They quickly had me immersed in an interesting topic: mastery vs. grades. What if we required students to reach for an A, rather then allowing them to slide by with a B, C, or D? The best way to make this shift happen is to allow students to explore topics and develop projects that they care about. But students will need some scaffolding to take them to this level/goal/expectation. I will definitely be sharing Trevor’s graphics, including the one below, to make visible what the process of moving from teacher-led to student-initiated inquiry looks like:

infographic of stages of student inquiry - from teacher-led to student-intiated

What a well-spent Saturday and Sunday! With much appreciation for all the planning, vision, and energy the stellar EdTechTeam puts into a Google Summit, I am already looking forward to the 2018 event.

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