Claire came over to my couch to say good night today as I was clicking on a link I saw from some Twitter feed. Suddenly the We Give Books website pops up with the book Goodnight, iPad, which is a tech parody of Goodnight, Moon. This original book is a staple in our house (Claire and I BOTH have it memorized); I own Goodnight, Bush and Claire has Goodnight, Goon (the scary version), so when Goodnight, iPad showed up, we both just stopped. The full color ebook was in my browser and she started reading it out loud to her mother and me. I “turned” the pages & we three enjoyed the entire book. I then clicked the button to send a book to a child in Asia. I logged in (for free) and made an account so Claire and I can enjoy more books online in the future, plus we’re going to rest it on her iTouch tomorrow so she can watch herself anytime.
November 6, 2011 in #edchat, Blogs, Chandler USD, curriculum, cybersalon, cybersalonaz, Edmodo, Education Reform, google, google calendar, google docs, laptop, nostalgia, policy, rhetoric, student 2.0, student2.0, teacher2.0, technology, virtual schools by Devon Christopher Adams [@nooccar]
My current teaching contract commenced in 2004 and soon afterward social media, for me, sky rocketed. A short time later, most of my communicative life moved into what very few people at the time knew as “the cloud”. Facebook was still locked to the universities and Yahoo! was still a huge stock option for many people. I left a district that provided me a laptop with administrative rights and didn’t filter online sites. I came to a district whose Electronic Users Policy included not putting a flash drive anywhere near their computers.
Honestly, in the last five years the resistance I’ve seen from my district, at different times, has been really difficult on many levels. But it’s changing. While my current administrator has publicly said he’s a relative luddite, he’s open to our visions. In the meantime, some of my colleagues are starting to come around asking “how’s this work?” in terms of technology. Some of them were open to tech earlier but things were (a lot more) clunkier than they are now.
Early this October, my admin told me a local junior high school was doing “interesting stuff with computers”… and he wanted me to visit the school with him. We were off for two weeks and the next time I saw him he told me he was setting up a tour and also a few other things were in the works. I was intrigued. He added that he wanted to send a group of us to a Virtual Schools Symposium in Indianapolis.
Friday morning my administrator, assistant principal, a math teacher, and I headed over to Willis Junior High School in Chandler, AZ where we met with Jeff Delp, the school’s administrator. Jeff started a district pilot program on blended (some call it hybrid) learning in the junior high school by randomly selecting 105 honors students and four teachers (one each from Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies) at a traditional junior high school. The school decided to start with blended rather than a full virtual program, in part, due to the younger age of the students. A blended program offers stronger communicative connections between students and instructors and more guidance in general. Next year an application process will be put in place due to the wildly positive response to the pilot. Jeff has students who “want into the program but has none who’ve attempted to opt out”, and home Internet access isn’t a prerequisite. On the accessibility concern his philosophy and mine mesh; if students need more time online they can visit libraries, come to campus earlier, stay after, etc… In the Chandler District, for example, most high schools are linked to a city library that is an extension of the campus that includes a full computer lab and other workstations within the building. Not to mention several computer labs exist (depending on the site) and student stations in some teacher classrooms.
Jeff stressed that touring other school’s successful programs was essential when developing this pilot. For us, this may include a future trip to Vail School District in Tucson, AZ that seems to be ahead of the game with technology, including wifi-enabled school buses. Professional Development is the key to Willis’ program, which includes understanding that administration and faculty who successfully navigate these programs need to understand an entirely different skill set that comprises of highly collaboration, student generated creations, and evaluation programs. When building his program, Jeff toured schools in both Chicago and New York City.
Teachers must have more freedoms. This includes opening Twitter and blogging in the schools. Blogging and twittering for the Willis team is now unblocked and YouTube is unblocked for all adult logins district wide (not for students yet). Jeff who, tweets as @azjd, uses the #edchat hashtag to continue building dialogue and learning from administrators nationally who are further along in this journey. An aside: Two years ago my own blog was filtered after my using it as a my classroom webspace for four years. In a post I used the euphemism that “so and so must be on crack to believe “… whatever it was I was discussing. It was obviously a euphemism for “crazy” but now it was blocked for “drug promotion”. Shortly after the district’s rule of thumb was that anything that was a blog was automatically blocked.
Jeff encourages his teachers to stretch their ideas and learn about technologies that may confuse them, but he also reminds them that we don’t do technology in the classroom for technologies sake. Sometimes the best lesson doesn’t include any technology (and recently our district computers were off line for an entire school day – no one died & learning continued).
This year Willis uses Edmodo coupled with Google Apps for its pilot; while the district limits Google Apps to only Calendar and Docs, we both hope that other apps will be added as the program develops into next school year. The district is also moving to a new domain name on July 1st and it would be ideal to build Google Apps around that domain name. We’ll see. The district recently approved BrainHoney as their LMS and Pearson’s on board so there may be some shifts away from a purely open source model for the 2012-2013 school year. Jeff also discussed his partnership with Gangplank owner Derek Neighbors who has been in my own social business circles through Gangplank in one way or another for years. The partnerships we Chandler educators are building with local collaborative Chandler technology consortiums are arguably essential as some models of 21st century learning move out of the classrooms and into the apprenticeship and internship areas.
While the Chandler District is behind the curve in terms of technology implementation with our 21st century students, Dr Camille Casteel’s, our district’s superintendent, main concern is student safety. Dr Casteel wants what is best for students and in our case we need to be able to show how we want to use whatever technology, why we cannot do whatever it is without it, and then how we’re going to keep the students safe. The potential for eventually broadening Willis program into the high schools is exciting, as part of the student safety concern is the age of the students. Today’s pilot is with junior high students and tomorrow’s application may be with high schoolers. (Their age seems to be the predominant reason the Google mail App is not currently being used.)
Part of Jeff’s philosophy that he emphasizes with his teachers is the Flipped Classroom model. I realize I’ve used this model for years by promoting content consumption outside the classroom while focusing class time on the creation and synthesis of key curricular concepts. This concept is not new. It’s called homework, but now traditional approaches to homework and how students are consuming it has shifted and become a lot more interesting. For example, if Susie has grasped a certain math concept, she can move onto the next one while Billy may still be working on the former concept. Willis teachers use screencasts and take Cornell notes on their needs before applying that learning in class.
One nice example Jeff Delp mentioned is trying to increase access to YouTube (perhaps through a school YouTube channel) so, in class, students and the teacher can better individualize learning where one group may review a certain video while another group views a different video. It is not feasible to have the teacher show 10+ different videos throughout the class for different small groups but if the students had access to do so, they’d arguably learn more effectively.
Our high schools have always struggled with textbook management and most of the schools in this district do not have a bookstore (we have a bookstore manager but we are responsible for disseminating, collecting and recording our own books). This is a hassle. I can’t wait until virtual textbooks at our level works smoothly; we’ll save so much money and time (our textbooks now do have an online component, but we still purchase paper copies). Part of what Jeff said when we discussed Google Docs and online text(e)books was that he can use funds that once purchased thousands of reams of paper on more netbooks for the classrooms.
Jeff took us on a tour of a Language Arts class in a computer lab. The students were reviewing their content through the online textbook and working on reading responses in Google Docs. While I’ve used Google Docs for collaboration for probably close to six years now, one thing that I liked that his LA teacher did was to give the prompt/response directions/questions to the student via a viewable Google doc. Then they made a copy and wrote into it before sharing it back to the teacher. No more paper. While I’ve done that before, it was never for work completed IN CLASS due to the fact that I could not be sure every student had access to the document. While Jeff did mention the use of mobile devices on campus (and his campus is wireless) and high schoolers tend to have even more wireless mobile access, not everyone does.
We also visited with the Social Studies class who had groups of 2-4 students around the room collaborating around HP Mini netbooks. He chose netbooks because battery life lasted the entire school day and they’re relatively cheap. This year Edmodo is the LMS of choice, in part, because of the approachability and Facebook like interface which is familiar to so many. Other technologies Jeff and his team use with the students include Twitter, Glogster, and Poll Everywhere, and while none of them are new novelties to me and my (tech) colleagues, it is a relief to see Web 2.0 being better embraced and unlocked by our district’s powers that be.
I’m relieved in many ways that this program has emerged and while I don’t know the background or what it took to get this far, people like Jeff Delp and his visions at Willis Junior High School are what we need to bring our district forward… for the sake of the kids.
I enrolled in graduate school at Duquesne University in spring 1998 to begin work on my Master’s degree in English Education. I was excited to get into the classroom and work with students. My internship was at Baldwin High School where I was a student myself. It was surreal giving my sister a hall pass and teaching a friend of our family, who we would see socially on the weekends. While the internship was awesome, student teaching was the real deal.
I won’t forget the day I walked into the graduate offices and was given my student teaching placement. In script handwriting it said “Barbara Schomer, Mt Lebanon High School”. While I didn’t know the woman, I knew the school. Mt Lebanon is one of the top public high schools on the east coast, and I was excited to get into such a prestigious school. My grades were near perfect, my professors lauded me each week, and now I was going to Lebo.
In late Spring I went to meet Barb Schomer. She was a short, older woman who demanded respect and was a solidly important part of the English faculty. I remember the box of novels she handed me to read over the summer and her showing me “my desk” in the corner near hers. We talked for quite a bit and I was under the impression that she was one of the more rigorous cooperating teachers in our program, but I was use to working with these sorts of educators. Student teaching began day one with students and I stayed until late December. Barb started our relationship as the pedagogist and me as the clerical mind. I helped keep things organized, took attendance, kept us both sane. She said she loved that about me. She told me that at home Barb’s husband, Bru, took on that role and it was nice to have me around. Her former student teacher was a performer with a background in theatre. Barb would hand her the lesson plan and the woman would do it. That was just enough. Then I came along with a background in literature and a strong pedagogical presence. By the semester’s end, our relationship shifted. I continued my clerical organization but segued them smoothly into my relationship teaching the students and building a family in the classroom. I finished that semester winning Duquesne’s Student Teacher of the Year Award and that had everything to do with Barb.
I learned so much from this woman. I learned to always have things planned out “in case you get hit by a truck” as she would say. Have plans more than a week out. Always praise students before critiquing them, always help them genuinely get better in whatever you’re teaching, balance the line between teacher and friend.
I left Duquesne, Mt Lebanon and Pittsburgh in the summer of 1999 and for the first few years I reconnected with Barb and Bru over holidays. I remember when we took Claire to dinner and they were able to enjoy this new little girl throwing her cheerios across the table at them. They laughed and her and enjoyed her as their own grandchild. By now Barb retired and Bru still taught science nearby. Barb, always an outdoors women, spent more and more time volunteering around the world and living in their West Virginian cabin. She even made it out to AZ to visit friends where I was able to spend an evening with her.
In 2010, Barb was diagnosed with Cancer. Her and Bru quickly moved to Centreville, VA so Barb could be treated at Georgetown University Hospital’s cancer center. We continued our relationship via email She was able to visit her cabin and take short walks in nature. By spring she was able to make a trip to Las Vegas to visit family and I was happy to hear her traveling and getting by. By fall she’d been to Florida and was doing well. When she could not get out as much I printed and framed a photo she liked of mine that I shot in the Coconino National Forest this past March. In early fall Barb traveled to PA for a family reunion, and I wish I were there so I too could talk to her once more.
I was not there. I was teaching in Arizona where my own students tell me what I mean to them. They share their dreams, hopes, fears, and loves with me. They listen to my words of wisdom passed down from Barb. I had the honor of passing on Barb’s wisdom to both Joe Abbruscato and Lindsey Costley, my own two student teachers, and I live my teaching life in the shadowing grace of a giant of a woman who will always be missed by me and never forgotten, as today Barbara succumbed to her Cancer with Bru and her daughter’s at her side. She is peacefully walking the trails of nature, caving to the depths of infinity and watching over all of us. Thank you, Barb, I love you.
I originally posted this tribute here: http://nooccar.com/2011/11/03/the-passing-of-a-great-educator-barbara-schomer/
More this past several months than anytime in the past I have had to sign PDFs that someone emailed me. Now, I love PDFs but I hate that they’re not really editable unless you have the correct software: Acrobat Adobe X. I was able to acquire the software but still had issues. Most of the PDFs I come across are from educational institutions so there’s not real protection, which is great. Now, I need to fill in information like name/address but I also needed to sign the damn things. This is where it gets tricky.
Years ago I used my Wacom tablet to make a signature jpg, which I use to sign electronic letters of rec, etc… Now I want to add this small jpg into a PDF. I cannot insert an image like I would into a text document, nor can I just copy/paste from a jpg viewer. So I googled it and this is what I found.
1 Open the PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Professional. Go to “Tools,” select “Comment and Markup,” and choose “Stamps.” Click on “Create Custom Stamp.”
2 Click the “Browse” button to select your image. In the “Show” drop-down menu, make sure to select the format that your image is in. Locate your image on your computer. Click “Select” and then click “OK.”
3 In the “Category” field, enter “My Stamps.” In the “Name” field, enter an easy to remember name for your image. Click “OK.”
4 Go back to “Tools,” then “Comment and Markup,” and select “Stamps.” Navigate to “My Stamps,” the new category you created. Select your image.
5 You should now see your image overlaying your PDF document. Move your mouse to the general area where you want your image and click. Your image is now stamped onto your document.
6 Click once on your image to select it. There should be a light blue border around the image. You can now use your mouse to re-size the image or drag it to a different part of your PDF document.
This information was found here.
This semester, in my Intermediate Algebra – Hybrid class, I decided to add in a different kind of assignment…one that required the use of media of some kind. Each week, students would pick a problem from the list of those assigned for homework and work that problem using one of the following media types: PDF, Digital Photo, Movie.
Additional assignment requirements included:
- Unique problem selection (i.e. pick a problem that no other student had already picked)
- Different media type each week (no two weeks the same)
- Provide as much explanation in the problem as possible…really bring the A game to the presentation
- Keep the audience in mind…not just students in Intermediate Algebra potentially
- Selection of challenging problems encouraged
- Posting of the problem links to a public website (by me, the instructor) – 12x Student Media Site
Students were allowed to choose a screen name or use their own as they wished. They all completed forms for talent release.
MOTIVATION FOR THE ASSIGNMENT
I had a couple of motivations for the assignment. First, I understand that “what you can teach you really learn”. So, the primary motivation for this assignment was to put students in “teaching”mode. By asking them to step up their presentations and really work on their explanations, I was hoping to help them dive deeply into at least one concept per week and come away with a better understanding.
Second, I wanted to create open resources for the class that were created by the students. My thinking was that students struggling with certain problems could utilize the publicly posted resources to help their understanding.
And third, I wanted to expose the students to using perhaps familiar technologies in an educational way. How cool is it to learn to do video in your math class? I thought if the assignments were fun and interesting at least from a technology perspective that students might come away with more learning and overall interest in the assignment.
On the first day of class, when I introduced the assignment, I could tell that students were a little hesitant. After some poking and prodding and nudging during the first week, most of them completed the media assignment for Lesson 1a – Functions (about 31 students).
During the second week, participation dropped off quite a bit (down to about 20 students), stayed at that level for the next two weeks, then plummeted to roughly 12 and then 7 students by the end of the 6th assignment.
Results of a survey given to students prior to the midterm confirmed the feedback I was getting in class. Most students felt that the assignment was too far over and above their regular work and did not directly contribute in any way to their learning of the material. Students that had done at least 3 of the assignments indicated they did the work only because it counted as points but, for the most part, did not put any extra special attention to it. Students that had done fewer than 3 of the assignments most often expressed a lack of interest in or value to the assignment or a lack of time to complete it.
I have never removed an assignment from a class in the middle of the semester before, but I did so with this one. The last thing I want to do is to add extra work when the value and contribution to learning is questionable. Students cheered when they heard the news that the assignment had been canceled for the remainder of the term.
LESSONS LEARNED AND SOME PROMISING RESULTS
1. Sell the assignment on the first day. I did introduce the assignment on the first day. However, I don’t feel as though I really did a good job selling the connection to the other work that was planned and how the assignment would contribute to students’ overall learning in the class.
2. Assign problems directly. Often I found that students would work any problem…perhaps even the easiest and/or the one with the fewest steps. If I had worked with them individually and assigned the problems based upon their direct challenges, then they may have seen more value to the work.
3. Require fewer media assignments. I had one due each week which got to be a chore and good work was not always evident. Perhaps one media problem for the first half of the course and one for the second half. That way, more points could be assigned and a higher level of work expected.
4. Develop or find a better process for sharing the resources. Initially I had thought to have students upload their work directly to a class website. An LMS like Blackboard was out of the question since I wanted the links public. So, I went with a Google Site and table format. The site is public and the resources are easy to find, however, getting them all there took me hours and hours of extra time each week. There has to be a better way to streamline the upload and distribution and linking process so that the instructor is not in the middle of all that.
There were some very promising results and some shining moments during the process.
1. Student initiative to explore other media types than those initially mentioned (PDF, Photo, Movie). Students did Livescribes, Animoto presentations, and even PowerPoints as well!
2. Exposure to some very creative individuals. You never know what is hiding beneath the surface of your students and through this assignment I got to see some extremely creative work that I might not have seen otherwise.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Will I do this kind of thing again? Perhaps…but in a simpler and less intrusive way. The lessons learned were valuable and I would like to thank my students this semester for their willingness to take part in what turned out to be a pilot project.
Filed under: cybersalon, Intermediate Algebra
Not wanting to be someone who is always running behind the (technology) bus, I had this idea that I needed to write something witty, or insightful, or technologically brilliant–or write nothing at all. But then Shelley’s comment, “why wait?” gave me a boost of something (not exactly sure what) and I decided I might as well jump in and write about one of the things I plan to learn over Spring Break: Camtasia Studio.
My online CPD150 (Strategies for College Success) students have finished up their academic plans and now know what classes they will take each semester all the way through their associate degrees. An upcoming assignment is for them to take advantage of priority registration. So I think I’ll make a Camtasia video that explains how to read the online Schedule of Classes and how to use it to build a class schedule, identify Gen Ed courses, etc. I think will keep things kind of generic so maybe it can be an RLO.
There. That’s my middle-of-technology-pack post.
Students playing touch football on the GCC campus.
This is a long interview I did on geospatial technology for the Geospatial Technology Center at Del Mar College. I was one of the NSF funded iGETT (Integrated Geospatial Education and Technology Training) cohorts. It was a great experience and I gained a lot of knowledge & skills in geospatial technology because of this program.
I didn’t know Jim Groom last year when I heard his name at the ITC Elearning 2009 conference, but I am always up for a good follow so I quickly added him to my Twitter list. During the past year, I have watched his tweets flow across my screen and I must say, oftentimes, I didn’t have a clue what they meant. But isn’t that the way it is with lots of tweets, anyway?
When I heard Jim was the keynote for Sunday at ITC Elearning 2010, I was excited to finally meet this guy I had been following. I must also say that I was a little intimidated and nervous but all for naught as he was very nice and easy to chat with. I even managed to get drafted as part of the Reverend’s impromptu choir (see Jim Groom – Part 1 below – about 4 minutes in) that “sang” during the first part of his presentation.
During his keynote, Jim talked about the novel idea that students often have a digital identity prior to coming to our campuses. If they don’t, they probably develop one while there are with us and probably want to retain access to their online work after graduating. This concept is in direction opposition to education’s current, prevailing model of closed classes and segregated learning spaces. Students cannot access information inside a Learning Management System after the course is over nor is it easy for them (or anyone) to get info out of the LMS and transport it somewhere else (before it disappears). So, while we preach the doctrine of “lifelong learning” to our community and our students and our alumni, we have perfected the design of separated learning experiences that occur in 16-week (or other time limited) blocks.
Reverend Groom comes to the rescue with a fantastic project in place at his institution, University of Mary Washington, called “UMW Blogs“. The UMW blogs project is like RSS on steroids. Think of uber-syndication. While you may know about regular syndication (i.e. you subscribe to a blog then get feeds from that blog through a reader or other device), the UMW Blogs project takes this idea several steps further. Through use of a tool called “Word Press Multi-user”, students can publish to their own blogs then have those posts syndicated to a class blog. This way, students can develop their own digital identity but still contribute work to the class.
Get it? Simple, right? And the possibilities really are endless. Think of professors with blogs that syndicate to department web pages or clubs whose members or officers have blogs that publish to club pages or students studying abroad and posting to their blogs which syndicate to an international education page. This idea really expands the concept of sharing and does so seamlessly with very little programming or effort.
Some examples of these kinds of blogs from UMW include:
The idea can be expanded still further and can cross boundaries of states and institutions as on the Looking for Whitman blog. Many other opportunities are sure to exist. The punch line here, though, is that with the ability to create content that persists over time, we are encouraging students (and others) to do work that is meaningful and important. Class work would no longer be “just to get the grade” but could contribute not only to the student’s learning and education but to the learning and education of others.
Simple…novel…beautiful…transforming. If you really let your mind run with this one, it takes you to some amazing places.
The links below will take you to parts of Jim’s talk.
Filed under: Conferences, cybersalon Tagged: Blogs, ITC ELearning 2010, RSS
I attended the Sunday morning session by Todd McCann – English faculty from Bay College in Escanaba, MIT. He shared some wonderful productivity tools as well as a great acronym as follows:
My New Favorite Acronym: CRS (Can’t Remember S$%T)
Todd mentioned that he polls his students each semester to get a feel for where the “live” in a technology sense. Do they live on their laptop, their cell phone or neither? He also questioned the need for a paper syllabus or schedule indicating that students stuff them in a backpack and rarely look at them again (especially when they really need them).
Todd recommended the following Web2.0 applications for broadcast text messaging, to-do lists and scheduling, collecting voice mail, and text editing:
- Broadtexter – Free
- Dial2do – Free (pro account upgrade)
- Dropbox – Free (pro account upgrade)
- Evernote – Free (pro account upgrade)
- Google Calendar – Free
- Google Voice – Free (with invite)
- iGoogle – Free
- Remember the Milk – Free
- ReQall – Free (pro account upgrade)
- Ribbit – Free (during beta)
- Siri – Free
- Text Expander – 29.95 after free trial (mac only)
Filed under: 2.0 Technologies, Conferences, cybersalon Tagged: productivity tools, web 2.0 tools