October 31, 2014

The Raven Tweets: Anonymous nevermore

Filed under: digital footprints,edtech coaching,Teaching and Learning — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:02 am

Ah, social media.

This week I notice that someone has tweeted this (Twitter ID redacted out of respect for anonymity):

raven tweets

      Of course, I know that TeachersFirst’s Interactive Raven is one of our most popular resources and that schools all over the world use it, especially during October. This was the first time I have noticed The Interactive Raven being tweeted by a student  My reactions, in order of occurrence, are probably typical of most teachers, edtech coaches, and/or web site editors:

  1. Is this kid promoting “cheating” using TeachersFirst? Nah…not really. It’s out there on the web. Great that kids can find it. Surely the teacher knows that kids can find anything.  If he/she does not realize that, the assignment needs some work. (Call in an edtech coach for ideas to make the assignment build from comprehension level to creative synthesis level…)
  2. Cool. Kids sending us traffic. Traffic is always good. And this tweet has 3 favorites. What should we be hashtagging our tweets with so kids find us?
  3. Cool. Kids LEARNING! Smart kids to share resources! Social learning via social media. I wonder if the teachers know they do this? Sad if they don’t.
  4. I wonder who this kid is. Oooo, fun challenge! I will call him/her MK (for Mystery Kid)…
    • Check out MK’s Twitter profile. No location listed. Some references to ice skating in tweets in last few days. Picture of obviously high school aged couple in front of a lake. Is this the boy or the girl ? (Name not clearly one or other). Pics on profiles of people MK follows include many outdoorsy, winter sports. Ice skating seems more than a passing interest. One MK tweet mentions “my new skating program.” Hmmm.
    • Digging further: one tweetpic includes screenshot with location of  someone who retweeted. I’ll call it Coldtown, USA. That location fits: I know it is in a cold climate with lots of ice skating. It is near a one-time Olympic venue. Other pics and profiles show cross country skiing, hockey and high school kids.
    • Another tweet, retweeted by MK, includes a teacher name: Mr. X.
    • Google MK’s name (in quotes). Still not sure if girl or boy. Several by this name. Tried adding “skating.” Bingo on the first page of results! Newspaper article from the Olympic venue-town paper about local skaters competing to move on to sectional and national competitions. There is MK in the picture, and the image matches the girl on the Twitter profile. Definitely a girl. (Also found a Pinterest board — possibly hers — that includes skating jewelry.) Article mentions she is from skating club in Coldtown, USA.
    • Google the name of the teacher “Mr. X” plus the word Coldtown. Bingo– found the Coldtown High School web page. Found the favorite teacher Mr X’s web page. He teaches social studies, not English. Check out the web pages/assignments of the entire English department. (It’s not that big — only six teachers.) Cannot find the specific homework assignment about “The Raven,” but suspect it is one of two teachers based on the other topics they are teaching.

I stop. I know that MK is a girl who figure skates and attends Coldtown High school in Coldtown, USA.  She used TeachersFirst’s Interactive Raven to do her homework and shared it with her friends, many of whom are involved in cold weather sports. All of the above took less than five minutes. What do I learn, aside from MK’s true identity?

  1. I could be a digital stalker,  but this is creepy. Yuck.
  2. Kids share and learn via Twitter. Teachers should know that. Teachers should USE that! (I feel a pang of guilt for not following through and informing the teacher(s) at Coldtown High School).
  3. Kids share and learn via Twitter. TeachersFirst should USE that!
  4. A five minute, savvy “dig” tells a lot about a high school kid beginning from just one tweet. This could be a great lesson on digital footprints. If you are savvy/fearless enough, give your students this same tweet or another you find on Twitter about homework answers. I am sure there are plenty!

And I wonder: What would you do if you saw a student tweeting about answers to your homework assignment?

October 24, 2014

The sound effects of learning

Filed under: creativity,learning — Candace Hackett Shively @ 1:40 pm

I will be the first to admit that I love web tools/apps that invite creative uses no one thought of before. Beginning Sunday, TeachersFirst will be featuring a review of Patatap, a seemingly simple musical gadget to make sounds by tapping your computer keyboard or tablet. You can even embed it in your web site. Many teachers might react to it as they would to party noisemakers or kazoos interrupting a lesson in their classroom: by taking it away and go back to the lesson at hand.

drumBut what a lesson you would miss by closing out Patatap! Ask your students how it “sounds” to spell the term they learned today on Patatap (try typing in onomatopoeia for example). Some words have especially meaningful spell-sounds. Try the word we. It almost sounds like harmony of two souls.

What if we asked kids to listen to all the Patatap vowels or to letter combinations and use those sounds to help remember spelling demons. For example, sepArate has that lower pitched, letter-snare-drummy tap in the middle, not the higher pitched e-snare. Even the SOUND of the word please “patatapped” sounds polite!

What if we asked kids to write sound poems or compose music using letters on Patatap?

What if we watched the colors and shapes that change to remind us of new terms: “Onomatopoeia starts with the popping bubbles of o.”

Ask your gifted or creative students how Patatap could help them compose and play word songs, rhythm combinations, or memory prompts to help them recite states and capitals or elements in the periodic table. The LETTERS of the chemical elements could have sounds, too. Unfortunately, the numbers have no sounds  so compounds like H2O don’t work. Share the “tunes” link at the bottom of the page for examples.

Instead of taking away this mental kazoo, embrace it. Give your students the homework assignment of creating a way to use Patatap to help them study. Let them work with a buddy or small group. Your classroom will sing with the sound effects of learning. This one will work in your BYOD classroom, too!

October 16, 2014

Prep plus the Trifecta: A better plan for parent conferences

Filed under: edtech,Teaching and Learning — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:05 am

Parent conferences can be confrontational, collaborative, or just plain boring:

  • show work samples
  • show grades
  • describe strengths
  • point out needs for improvement (often including organizational skills, work habits)
  • mention upcoming projects
  • where to find class web site
  • questions? (if you have 20 seconds left)
  • thank you

… repeat

If you have fallen into this routine, you may want to change it up to maximize the impact of  this face to face conference time. You have to prep for conferences anyway, so why not prepare a document that can be viewed more than once and by more than just you and the parent?

  • share work samples and grades in advance via your online grading program and/or email
  • describe strengths and point out needs for improvement in an online conference summary (think Google Doc?) that the parent can share WITH their child or teen. Include the link to this document in the email mentioned above. Better yet, have the student help to CREATE this document prior to conference day.
  • mention upcoming projects and include the link to your class web page ON the conference summary form
  • Add The Trifecta+ information below to your class web page prior to conference week. (You have my permission to copy/paste from here, as long as you give credit.)

You have just saved ten minutes of your 15. Now, when you meet face to face:

  • Ask if parents have questions about the information you shared in advance (5 min). If they have not read it (quite possible), start with the Trifecta+ and come back to the online conference summary at the end.
  • SHARE The Trifecta+ of organizational tools and work habit support so you can work together in support of their child/teen. They will appreciate the concrete help!


threeThe Trifecta + is a set of three tools — and an optional fourth — that every family can use to manage home “study life.”

More importantly, encouraging students to find and use the tools that meet their individual needs (see above) will have a lasting impact on that young person’s life long after this elementary grade, English class, or Algebra I course.

Every student will need at least one of these at one time, and most need all of them most of the time:

  1. A timer like Timertab (review) or Teachit Timer (review)
  2. A can’t-lose-it list maker like  Strike (review) or Todoist (review)
  3. A sticky note tool like Primary Wall (review) or Lino (review)

1. A timer like Timertab (review) or Teachit Timer (review) Often, time available = time wasted. Show your child how you use a timer to manage time available. Do it for yourself so he/she can see how you organize your time. If you are not great at time management, admit it and learn together! Make it a game to predict how long a task or homework assignment will take and see if you can complete it in that time. Adjust your prediction the next day. Look at all available time (before soccer, after dinner, etc) to allocate time for each task on your list (see #2). The Timer Tab option i especially handy if you are trying to manage ONLINE time. You can see how you are doing just by glancing at the browser tab. Family bonus: this helps with arguments about which child gets to use the computer and for how long! TeachitTimer has audible alarms. (Yes, your teen could also use his/her smartphone timer.)

2. A can’t-lose-it list maker like  Strike (review) or Todoist (review) A list maker can be gratifying for those who enjoy saying “it’s done!” but can seem overwhelming to those who never make lists. Do this one together with your child/teen and admit it if you are not good at remembering all the things you need to do. Learn to make lists together! Key to this idea is having the list be accessible wherever you are. Online tools are perfect, especially if you can also use them on your smartphone. These tools require a free account, so create a FAMILY account so you — as a parent –can also see your child’s lists. Start by making lists of tonight’s homework and other to-do items. Don’t forget to include repacking the backpack, picking out clothes, and going to swim practice. Younger kids will enjoy checking things off. Older ones… well, offer an incentive for making and completing “good” lists. Is there a long term project coming up (the one the teacher mentioned at conferences)? Have your upper elementary to high school student make the list of steps required, adding self-selected due dates:

  • Purchase display board
  • complete research notes
  • write first draft
  • etc.

You may need to talk through this. Use an example from your own job or home tasks to show how you divide things up and plan for them. Including materials that mom or dad need to purchase will help avoid panicky trips to Office Max and yelling at each other at 9:55pm! Tip: some tools, like ToDoist, allow you to you recycle lists of things you do every week. Explore a couple of tool options and let your child/teen choose.

3. A sticky note tool like Primary Wall (review) or Lino (review) A sticky tool is a place to collect things: brainstormed ideas, sources for a research project, images, questions, links, even bits of writing. Try making a few sticky note boards as a family for recipes you’d like to try, movies you want to see, places to go on vacation, etc. Make sure you can access your board on all your devices. Now, when your child/teen has an assignment to write a paper or do a science fair project, start by making an idea board of stickies with possibilities. Use color coding to go back and sort them. Rearrange them in order of preference. Add images, especially for non-readers. You could even use stickies as a visual to-do list and drag to rearrange the steps. Ask your chlild/teen which kind of “list” he/she prefers using. By the way, there are many more sticky tools like the ones mentioned here. Lino has the advantage of being “device agnostic,” meaning there are free app versions of it for your mobile devices. Access your stickies anywhere, anytime.

4. The plus: an online “picker” like Random Name Picker (review) Sometimes it is hard to make up a young mind. Sometimes siblings fight over the stupidest things. Enter this online spinner tool you can customize with names, game choices, dinner options, or choices of which science project to do. If you need a quick, random selection, let your kids use this gadget. Yes, flipping an actual coin would also work (Oooo, try this), but doing it “high tech” is simply more fun.

October 3, 2014

I am not a “real teacher.”

Filed under: about me,education,teaching — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:03 am

I am not a “real teacher.” At least that is the reaction I have heard for decades when telling people the specifics of my teaching assignment. Over the years, I have been:

  • teacher in a middle school library/media center (teaching language arts and cultural arts minicourses on media production, research, and more)
  • push-in teacher of process writing (co teaching with middle school language arts teachers)
  • gifted program specialist, grades 2-8 (implementing individualized enrichment and advancement per IEPs for which I was case manager)
  • technology integrator (peer coach to teachers on effective use of technology in their teaching)
  • Adjunct grad instructor (teaching Technology for Educators to teachers and teachers-to-be)
  • Director of K-12 Initiatives (running TeachersFirst, an online friend and “coach” to any teacher seeking ways to improve their own teaching and enhance/facilitate learning using technology)

What I have never been:

  • a teacher of a self-contained, elementary class
  • a teacher of a narrowly defined or scripted curriculum
  • a teacher with a textbook or teacher edition

In the world of teaching, there are “real teachers” (aka “regular” teachers) and “specialists.”  “”Real” teachers’ days follow predictable patterns and behaviors (the ones most adults ascribe to teachers based on our own experience in school). Then there are teachers whose patterns are less easy to explain or envision. Unless you have shared the same role, you have no idea what a teacher-librarian, Art teacher, school counselor, learning support teacher, speech/language clinician, reading specialist, instructional coach, or ed tech coach actually DOES. Those of us who are not “real teachers” do not use a specific textbook — or teacher edition. Our patterns, while possibly predictable, are not like those of “real teachers.” We are the ones who are assigned extra bus/hall duty (and the worst Friday afternoon study halls) or who are told to fill in when a “real” teacher is sick and there is no sub. We are the ones that “real teachers” do not fully understand. On the worst days, “real” teachers may even covet our mysterious positions.

As education grinds toward the divergent goals of 21st century individualization and test-based accountability, those who are not “real” teachers may be best prepared to handle the push-pull of change. All teachers today are pushed beyond previous patterns. Those of us accustomed to inventing our own wheels may have a slight advantage. “Real” teaching has changed. Now is the time for us to share ideas and strategies to invent our own teaching wheels. Those who embrace technology have some helpful tools. Those who embrace collaboration, questioning, reflection, and mutual support have even more. Let’s make teaching and learning “real” together. Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers are much more important than “real” teachers.

September 26, 2014

Language Limits: Captioning the pictures of learning

Filed under: about me,learning,myscilife,teaching — Candace Hackett Shively @ 8:53 am

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 11.30.22 AMHow do you explain what you know and do every day as a teacher? Would anyone other than another teacher understand you?

I gave a tour of MySciLife to some non-educators this week. After decades as an educator, it is hard to explain anything about teaching or learning without slipping into the language I use among teachers. I use terms like differentiate, ESL/ELL, prompt, scaffold, and digital citizenship. Like most teachers, I do not even realize when my audience is thinking:

Hmmm….

Differentiate… means to delineate the differences between two things. What is she telling the differences between?

ESL… or did she say easel? Is this for Art?

prompt… what does this have to do with being on time?

scaffold… are they painting her classroom?

digital citizenship … is that something about online voting?

When I use an education-specific term in a parent conference,  I make sure to circle back and define it in context. I do the same with unfamiliar terms I use with students:

Today you are going to work in small groups on an issue related to digital citizenship. When we talk about citizenship in social studies class, we are talking about the way we read, listen, and evaluate what our government does. We especially focus on how citizens participate in that government. Learning to do this responsibly is what makes us good citizens. So talking about digital citizenship…

This is easy when I am in teacher mode with kids. Sharing the intricacies of teaching and learning, especially  a form of learning unfamiliar to most adults over 30, however, is a real challenge. There is such richness in student-centered, social-media based learning that giving an introduction to MySciLife requires circling back over and over — risking listener dizziness.  The intelligent adults who are listening would never expect me to understand the intricacies of what they do every day in their professional roles. But any adult touring MySciLife carries along their own school experience. It is hard for them to understand MySciLife without comparing/contrasting with that experience.

Teacher to teacher, I would say that MySciLife is:

  • a safe, online learning space where your students can learn local science curriculum through student-driven learning and interaction with peers across the U.S.
  • a social learning community where students take on and maintain a role of a science identity, such as Mighty Mitochondria or Gregarious Gravity (they choose the name but concepts are determined by curriculum)
  • student-centered, meeting today’s digital learners in a familiar digital space while respecting and directing their use of the digital tools they know so well for productive purposes in social-media based science learning (now that is a mouthful!)
  • a learning community designed in accordance with specifications and experiences of our teacher-ambassadors throughout over 2 years of research pilot
  • designed to offer scaffolding and opportunities for differentiation for ESL/ELL, gifted, and learning support students
  • well-suited to the needs, strengths, and interests of emerging adolescents
  • a whole new experience in teaching… that gets easier and better with each unit
  • engaging to ALL students, promoting participation and interaction among peers. No passive learners here!
  • aligned to best practices in process writing (drafting, feedback, response, publishing, response…) and centered on experiences with digital writing and informational texts a la Common Core
  • infused with models of good digital citizenship
  • creative, open-ended, and focused on deeper learning
  • in short… amazing. It changes your whole view of what science learning can be.

I can talk to teachers about MySciLife for hours. I have not, however,  perfected an introduction to MySciLife that connects with non-teaching adults’ prior knowledge of school, redefining what it means to teach and learn using safe social media. I can give them a gallery of mental pictures, but captions for those pictures rely on my educator-specific language. I ‘ll keep working on ways to make the captions circle back.

September 18, 2014

Hold the Gravy: An opportunity

Filed under: about me,SFL,TeachersFirst — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:15 am

Almost nine years ago, I allowed myself to consider the unthinkable. I allowed someone to “pitch” the idea of my taking a new job. I had left teaching once – years before when I moved across a state line and thought I would never go back. Within a few months, I was organizing all the kids’ activities at the neighborhood pool. It was silly not to get paid for what I was drawn to do. So I dove into another state’s bureaucracy and conquered the certification dragon. For nearly 20 years thereafter, I thrived, moving onto new and different teaching challenges every 8 years or so, but ALWAYS a teacher.

One of the things we teachers don’t do so well is to consider change as a real possibility. The cycles, routines, and pendulums of August to June, new kids to old kids, new school goals to forgotten buzzwords, and on and on hypnotizes us into gravy-like sameness. We pour on the gravy and never consider a whole new menu.

In 2006 I made a move that changed my life as a teacher. Yes, I am still a teacher, but I am also a teacher of teachers and a voice for many who never speak up. As the person who directs the Thinking Teachers of TeachersFirst, I advocate for what teachers need, listen to them, and most of all SHARE with them. I have met more people in the last eight and a half years than I ever imagined, many of them only virtually — but genuinely. I have grown, learned, learned, and grown. I learn something new EVERY day. I have been able to spread my creative teaching wings farther than the bald eagles who fly past my house each winter morning.

Now I share with you an opportunity to grow and learn. I hope you will read it, consider it carefully, and pass it on to every adventurous Thinking Teacher you know.

 

 

September 12, 2014

5 phases of technology loss

Filed under: edtech,edtech coaching,teaching — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:04 am

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 3.43.14 PMOne of the most frustrating times for any teacher is when the technology breaks down just as you finally got your students prepped and ready to accomplish a task. You were finally able to sign out the laptop cart or ipad cluster. You finally had the kids ready to roll, and  –boom– the site went down, the Internet crashed, the batteries died, or your chosen tool changed to pay-for service in the last 48 hours!

Then we go through five phases of technology loss:

1. Chaos: The time between the first student calling out, “It doesn’t work!” or “File not found!” or “I’m getting a spinny wheel!” or “It’s asking me for my credit card!” and when we regain enough class attention to ask what happened — and hear only one answer at a time.

2. Realization: The moment when we realize that this is not a temporary glitch or human error. The task at hand is dead, gone, notgunnahappentoday.

3. Improv: What we do/say to maintain some sort of facade of meaningful activity, usually getting out a book or handout. We may have enough improv experience and lesson plan recall to come up with a think-pair-share on the fly, “Talk to your neighbor and generate a list of the most important ideas you were going to include in your (fill in the name of the project here).”

4. Venting: What we do in the teachers’ room over lunch as we retell the nightmare story and vow never to try that activity again— at least not until we can get the laptops for another day.

5. Shuffling: What we do in our lesson plans to try to jam the activity in again before it becomes meaningless.

In a dream world, we could simply flipflop tomorrow’s plan with today’s at phase 3 (with no loss of time to phases 1 and 2), sign up for the laptops/ipads for tomorrow, and do the activity then. We would find an alternative for the no-longer-free tool (check on TeachersFirst!), rewrite any directions accordingly, and miraculously accomplish both tomorrow’s and today’s objectives (HA!).

But wait. There are school pictures during this period tomorrow. Start over at phase 4.

The one phase we never reach is Payback Time. This is the phase of technology loss where we somehow regain the time that has disappeared.

As an edtech coach, Payback Time is the one goodie I wish I could give out. I do my darnedest to ease the pain, but I cannot add minutes back into your class time after the day goes awry. The best I can do is to show you ways to steal a few minutes here and there over the next week  by leveraging tools well and letting the kids solve some of the problems themselves.  But I know that time will never add up to what was lost. Maybe some chocolate will help?

 

September 5, 2014

The technology dilemma: Connected mud?

Filed under: edtech,education,Teaching and Learning — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:06 am

I had a short exhange with a mom this week about her school district’s major technology initiative. I pointed out that by the time her young son is in kindergarten, there will be class sets of Android tablets available for use in every K-2 classroom in her suburban district. Her response:

Don’t they get to play in dirt anymore?mud

 Reflexively, I responded that I hoped the teachers were going to have significant professional development to make effective use of the devices and not simply use them as the electronic equivalent to “seatwork,” aka “drill and kill.” But I had to stop and reflect about why I automatically respond to technology initiatives as a positive sign of a forward-thinking (and well funded) school district.

In a serendipitously related meeting with middle school MySciLife teachers, we were discussing how to integrate the online, social learning of MySciLife with hands-on science labs:

Where do labs fit? Which should come first? How do we balance the available time?

These questions are really the same, and they distill down to one omnipresent issue as technology pushes its way into classrooms, with or without the welcome of the adult stakeholders:

How can teachers and parents envision the interplay of technology-facilitated learning, hands-on experiences, and other types of learning? 

or, flipping to a skeptical voice…

Do kids really need this technology stuff in (insert grade or subject here)?

As we hear over and over, it’s not about the technology. It’s about learning, and learning happens in many, many ways. Our kiddos need multimodal approaches. Even the young parents of today remember singing out poems about prepositions, standing up and moving to remember a sequence of algebra steps, touching spelling words in the sand, drawing a mind map, and learning in many, many ways. Kids need lots of ways to learn, including dirt.

The tablets just happen to be one type of hands-on dirt. With them, kids can take a picture and write about it. Why not draw a picture with crayons and write about that? I agree. Do both. With the tablets, kids can share with a broader audience, such as posting on a blog or sharing a comic they create. Can’t they do that on paper and post it in the hallway? Sure, but Great Grandma in Vermont won’t see it. They can be real “authors” who connect and collaborate with others in classrooms far away. OK, I get it, but do they NEED that kind of connection? I believe today’s kids need to be digital authors. It is as much an everyday medium as the mud they splash in at the bus stop.

I believe they need digital mud, too.  Go back to the young mom I spoke with. Her phone is in her hand all the time. Anytime she is curious, she Googles. Needs a recipe… Google. Wants an idea for a rainy Saturday with her son… online story hour schedule at the library. We all know the cliches…. this is a “digital native,” blah blah blah.

So where does the dirt come in? Digital learning is another kind of hands-on, messy learning.  It is our job to balance it so every child — our children, our students — experiences the mess and mud of learning in the science lab, in the outdoors, on our tablets, with crayons and paper (gasp!), and in collaboration with those we can connect to only digitally. Think of it as connected mud.

 

 

August 29, 2014

A labor of love: My(insertadjectivehere)Life

Filed under: about me,deep thoughts,Digital media and learning competition,edtech,myscilife — Candace Hackett Shively @ 8:26 am

MSL logoSince April, I have been involved in a project that has stretched my thinking, my imagination, and — at times– my patience. After over three years of looking, The Source for Learning (SFL), the non-profit parent company where I work and direct TeachersFirst, has found a developer to help us create a customized platform for MySciLife®. Perhaps I should offer some background…

You remember MySciLife, the project I led to finalist status in the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Competition 2010? I have occasionally written about it here. Three of us (Ollie Dreon, Louise Maine, and I) cooked up the idea one wintry afternoon in an online meeting. We hustled to become finalists. Then we did not get funded.  Since 2010,  SFL has managed sufficient funding to launch MySciLife, and we are now beginning our third year of a research pilot with teachers and students across the U.S.. For the first two years, we used a well-accepted, safe social learning platform as the “home” for MySciLife. This “home,” however, was a candidate for a full Property Brothers makeover to really suit our needs. Unfortunately, the platform was NOT designed for the kind of student roles (we call them “identities”) and interschool interactions that happen in MySciLife. Our tech-savvy teachers and their clever students were troopers at devising work-arounds to accomplish MySciLife tasks. The research came back showing that MySciLife works – and kids LOVE it.

The gist of MySciLife is that students LIVE as a science concept, creating their identities in a safe, social learning environment using status updates, interactions, and a full range of digital media within the MySciLife platform. MySciLife is personal, dynamic science learning, interaction, and assessment. Imagine living your life as a cell…(think Facebook).

We shared about MySciLife at ISTE 2013, thanks to our curriculum experts, MySciLife creative collaborators, teachers, a student, and a parent. Later that summer I ran across a relatively new tool called Mashplant Studio, the third or fourth tool I had encountered that showed promise to possibly be adapted for MySciLife. After MONTHS of discussion and negotiation… we had a deal.

Fast forward to spring and summer, 2014. Code writers are building the new platform as I write this. We have used a very messy version of it (dubbed MyMashedUpLife) for our summer Boot Camp and have 23 teachers AND their middle school science students from across the U.S. starting the school year in MySciLife right now.  We are literally laying the track in front of the train to make all the features work THIS school year instead of waiting until 2015-16.

So what have I/we learned so far? (This may have to be part 1 of many…)

  • Teachers need time for Boot Camp style PD and even more time to absorb and collaborate when they are radically changing the way they teach.
  • Students need far less time!
  • Developers/code folks re-order lists to their view of what comes first. Users have a different view, and ed tech coaches yet another. Add the visual designer, and you have cacophony!
  • No level of list making can keep track of a project perfectly.
  • Bugs reproduce.
  • Online meetings only work after you get to know the “sound” of your collaborators’ true feelings.
  • Timelines sound great, but imagination and innovation resist such limits.
  • More details and to-do items rear their ugly heads between 3 and 4 a.m. than at any other time of day or night.
  • Creating a new learning “space” is just like lesson planning. You will never get it “just right.”

Stay tuned for further updates in My(insertadjectivehere)Life. Happy Labor Day!

 

August 22, 2014

Breaking the Edtech Ice: #2techtruths

Filed under: about me,creativity,edtech coaching,learning — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:10 am

liarTwo Truths and a Lie. You may have played it as an icebreaker during a professional development session or even a party. It is a terrific “Getting to know you” activity for the first day of school with middle or high schoolers. In thinking about it, I decided to offer My Two TECH Truths and a Lie as a way for ed tech coaches and teachers to break the ice this back to school season. It’s simple. Offer up two TECH truths and a lie about yourself. Share them on a wiki, blog post, or Twitter post — with #2techtruths as a hashtag. Choose your sharing method depending on the learning tool(s) you are trying to introduce. Or allow teachers to choose their OWN tool and figure out how to share it with the rest of the group. For the simplest version, try using  chat tool like Todaysmeet for people to share. Imagine trying this on the first day in a BYOD classroom or workshop for soon-to-be-BYOD teachers!

Have everyone in the session to do the same. Then have everyone browse, read, comment, discuss, or tweet back their guesses as to which is each person’s LIE. You will not only teach social learning, you will build trust among a cohort of learners, including yourself. Isn’t that what learning with technology is supposed to be all about?

Here are my Two Tech Truths and Lie:

A. I once co-wrote a text-based, “adventure” style game called Ice Cream Mountain to play on Apple IIc.

B. I once shared a porn site on the projection screen in a teacher inservice session.

C. I once shared resources for teaching gifted with the US DOE.

Guesses? Tweet @cshively with hashtag #2techtruths or comment here.