First Time at ISTE?

T-Minus 48 hours till ISTE.

Fourth trip for me. I’ve been fortunate. If you’re new to ISTE, here are my tips for getting the most out of the experience.

  1. Don’t plan every hour out. You’ll get distracted and fall off your schedule on the first day. Trust me, even if you fall off schedule, you’re going to find great stuff to check out.
  2. Pack light. You’ll walk miles. Comfy shoes. The least amount on your back.
  3. If you have a battery pack for your phone, bring one. There are LOTS of charging stations, but I don’t always want to sit at those things.
  4. Pack the lighted device possible. I’m going to bring a Chromebook and my phone. I find that I take more pictures of what I see than take notes since the poster sessions, playgrounds, vendor hall, etc are standing room only type of things. I took lots of photos instead. I would not bring a big laptop unless that’s all you have.
  5. Attend the poster sessions. These offer the greatest bang for your buck because they’re usually themed. For example, as a Technology Coach, I can hit up 10 poster sessions about being a Technology Coach all at once. Score! When you visit these, write down or photograph contact info. I spent a week afterward contacting people for follow up questions.
  6. Download the app. You can attempt to create your schedule and the Expo map rocks.
  7. Pack snacks. If you try to eat lunch when everyone else is, you’ll waste time standing in line. Eat a snack and grab an actual lunch before or after the rush.
  8. Stay off email. Be in the moment at ISTE. Work email can wait.
  9. Take photos. Your mind isn’t going to remember all that you’re taking in. Photograph playgrounds and poster sessions. Two weeks from now, you’ll be thankful you did.
  10. Wear comfortable shoes. No one cares what you look like. ISTE is like marathon running. You’re all looking rough at the end of the night. Who cares. Wear walking shoes and pants or shorts that don’t chafe. Haha.
  11. Attend networking events in the evening. Free food. Lots of new connections. Seriously, we want our students to branch out. We need to aswell. I’m a homebody hermit who would rather go back to my hotel room, but that’s not going to help me grow.

All in all — don’t pass up on anything. ISTE was a professional game changer for me. It will be for you too.

Technology Tuesdays?

Back in the day Sandy Heiden led technology tuesdays for the district. Every tuesday I believe she organized talks/discussions on various educational technology tools. I think I would like to resurrect that, if it’s okay with Sandy. I’m first needing to brainstorm a list topics, most of which I’ve picked up from ISTE and Twitter.

List of potential topics:

  1. Twitter
  2. Moodle
  3. Polleverywhere
  4. Skype
  5. Delicious
  6. Blogging
  7. Second Life
  8. Wikis
  9. Googledocs
  10. Digital Storytelling
  11. Animoto
  12. Photopeach
  13. Prezi
  14. Using your Smartboard to recover vodcasts
  15. Geocaching
  16. Glogster
  17. Google Calendar
  18. Flip Video
  19. 21st Century doesn’t mean “more  technology”
  20. Book share

Book Notes: Security vs. Access (ISTE New Release)

I am just finishing reading “Security vs. Access” by LeAnne Robinson, Abbie Brown, and Tim Green. This summer I attended ISTE 2010 in Denver, Colorado. This is my second trip there and each year the trip has been a life changing experience for me. Not only do I meet fabulous thinkers, I am presented with oodles of ISTE books at ISTE Central. For me, these are hard to pass up. I’m an English teacher that loves non-fiction. ISTE books are great inspirational reads to me.

I chose this book because I’m moving teaching positions from a high school to a middle school. At the high school I have enjoyed a freedom online in my classroom and with my students. As I move to the middle school I would expect more restrictions with the age group I’m teaching. With this in mind, I need to educate myself on the subject of safety in the middle school.

You can read the Table of Contents here if you want. It’s a quick read at 132 pages. The book does a fine job balancing the desire eager teachers like myself want to feed, with the necessity of protecting our youth from making poor choices, on the internet and with school network access. Actually, it does a fine job explaining why teachers need to understand this complex topic to protect themselves from devastating their career.

Here is a list of topics the book discusses: Inappropriate content, Predators, or Ensnaring Young People, Misuse of Mobile Communication Devices and Cyberbullying, Network Securty vs. Access, Inappropriate Uses of the Network, Copyright Infringement, Data and Identity Theft, Exercising Professional Responsibility, and lastly the National Educational Technology Standards. The book has logical pattern as it discusses the threat, misconceptions, and recommendations for each chapter.

I really think I need to be prepared to understand cyberbullying. In the high school, I’m sure it went on, but not in the digital classroom. Rather it existed on Facebook. Of course that does not make it okay, but I was not aware of the significance. With middle schoolers, I might see a more evident use of cyberbullying in my classroom. This book addresses measures I can employ to prevent cyberbullying in my classroom.

I benefited from the scenarios of each chapter as I often caught myself thinking, “Gee, what would I do if this happened to me?” The situations the authors present have happened to real teachers. There are several recommendations and policy suggestions I can use in my classroom. I like the idea of obtaining verbage from experience sources. I really feel there is content here I can use to help parents feel more at ease.

As a parent, I found the book insightful when reading the chapter on predators. To quote the book: “The real threat is an adult preying on young people by presenting himself or herself as someone who is sympathetic, likeable, and trustworthy, and suggesting that having sex with him or her would somehow be a positive experience” (31). As a parent, that statement frightens me. Those people are harder to point out to my daughter and son because they could be friends or relatives of their friends. Worse yet, the predator will use friendship to get closer to my children. Great, now I’m not going to sleep tonight.

Towards the end of the book they provide a works cited with many of their resources being online. And of course, they end with the National Educational Technology Standards, which is just a nice lil’ freebie. 🙂

I would suggest buying the book. If you are an ISTE member the book is just under 21 dollars. If you are not an ISTE member, well you should be. Anyway, you can buy the book here.

Ian Jukes’ Presentation Notes: The 21st Century Learner Today

Ian Jukes’ Presentation
ISTE 2010, Denver, Co.

In an effort to help myself process and remember more for a presentation, I wanted to take notes of this presentation. I was surprised at my ability to keep up. Hopefully I don’t have huge gaps in my notes, but I think I did an acceptable job. As I look back at these notes, I’m reminded of Ian’s message. Ah, another benefit of blogging. Anything in italicized would be my thoughts. Everything else would be notes I took while listening to his presentation. Of course, this doesn’t replace listening to him in person. It’s more for my benefit. Hopefully the italicized commentary isn’t too annoying.

Today, Ian Jukes is talking about how our brains are wired differently than the brains of our students. Understanding this will better help us as teachers understand why our kids can’t learn how we were taught. Even in the past ten years I’ve been teaching, I’ve seen a huge change in my students. I feel unprepared most of the time. Hopefully Jukes will help me out.

Students today don’t even read the way we learned. They read/skim the bottom, then the edges. It’s called the F pattern. Researchers tracked the eye movement of students reading. Digital readers read in an F mattern. They ignore the right bottom side. This is to be compared to how we surf the internet.

What does this hold for us?

We need to design pages/reading material that adapts to them.

So when I design my moodle pages or blogging prompts I need to keep this in mind. If I end up creating a worksheet, this is also food for thought. As an English teacher I’m still left with the question, “Well then how in the heck do I help them read a book?” Last time I checked, books aren’t written in the F pattern.

Students come to school and hit a wall. They’re slowed down here, at school. Their brains shut down.

I consider myself a wired person. I am unusual for my age, but not as wired as my students by any means. I know this — I would fall asleep if I had to attend the same classes my students do. I’m honestly not ripping on my co-workers or myself; it’s just that when I don’t multi-task or keep moving, I get tired. My brain goes into a lull…and I zone out. Frequent change and engagement is my key for overcoming this.

The world has changed. We need to get over it.

  1. Digital learners prefer receiving information quickly from multiple multimedia sources. Many educators prefer slow and controlled release of information from limited sources.
  2. Digital learners prefer parallel processing and multi-tasking. Many educators prefer linear processing and single or limited processing. We need to help our students learn to focus for extended period of time, yet we need to allow for multi-tasking. We can’t deny that reality. Many educators continue to run their classroom as if it were a single linear processing room.
  3. Digital learners prefer processing pics , sounds, color, and video before text. Many educators prefer to provide text before pics, sound, color, and video. If we present material w/images, we retain 90% of  the thousands of images 72 hours later. If we only used oral, we’d remember 10% of the material. If images are added, 65% of the material is remembered. Students need images and video to communicate the messages intended.
  4. Digital learners prefer random access to hyper linked multimedia info. Many educators prefer to provide info linearly, logically, and sequentially. That’s what we experienced growing up. This generation has extensive experience using hypertext. Students that are forced to follow a linear pattern of learning will probably become bored. I wonder if this is when bad behavior occurs. Students today are learning to construct their learning. Both sets of skills are important!
  5. Digital learners prefer to network simultaneously. Many educators prefer students to work independently before they network and interact. Look at all the web 2.0 tools out there now today. I look at my daughter – web 2.0 has been around since she’s been born. She will grow up having that type of technology. She will live in a hyper-existance. She will be able to use multiple tools seamlessly.
  6. Digital learners prefer to learn “just in time”. Many educators prefer to teach “just in case.” Today students need to prepare for multiple jobs. Keeping the same job is unlikely. Companies aren’t loyal. Students need to learn to be flexible. Our students will have 10-17 careers by the time they’re 35 years old. Ugh! Many of the jobs my daughter might explore as an adult, haven’t been invented yet. How should her school prepare her for that?! We often lecture students that they better learn this “just in case” you need it. It’s not that type of learning is bad, but our students often want to learn something just in time, right when they need it. Just in time learning is a completely different learn set. Major question – whose world are we preparing them for? NOT ours.
  7. Dig learners not only prefer, but are look for instant gratification and instant rewards. Many educators learn deferred gratification and delayed rewards. Social networking, games, cell phones, etc will allow them instant feedback and rewards. The payoff is very clear. Yet when we teach we tell students that the pay off is years down the road and not entirely guaranteed.

There are several fluencies Jukes feels we need to address with our students. These are notes written for myself. For more information on the 21st Century Fluencies click here.

Solution Fluency

  1. Define the task.
  2. Discover. Turn your attention to the past and ask yourself how we got into this mess. What is the historical context. Could I do that differently again now?
  3. Dream. We begin to imagine a creative solution.
  4. Design. We create a roadmap for our project.
  5. Deliver. We take that information and share it with others or create a type of product for others. It’s not enough to design the presentation. We have to give it.
  6. Debrief. We need to go back and think about the product. How could we have made this process/product better

This can give a teacher a road map for designing problem based lessons. Often, I have found myself wanting to spoon feed students answers or set the project up so students are promised an easy ride or sure success. By accepting the possibilities of a problem based lesson, I will be able to really enjoy watching students go through a process.

This should be a structured process we teach students. It should be hanging up in the classroom and taught specifically as a skill to solve their own problems.

Information Fluency

With in 1 minute, there are 24 hours of Youtube videos uploaded. Ugh.

  1. Ask questions.
  2. Access and acquire, even if it’s the wrong information.
  3. Analyze and Authenticate. Students need to take that information and decide if it’s legit and useful
  4. Apply
  5. Assess

Many of today’s students seem to skip step #3. I’ve had so many students say, “Well, I googled it.”

Creative Fluency – Basically this means that students need to construct meaning through design, art and storytelling. This allows students to use their imagination. Daniel Pink has talked about the need for creativity in today’s economy.

When I was a kid, I excelled in this area. In English class I loved writing stories. In history I loved inventing names of people that lived during a time period or drawing a scene from some era. In math though I struggled. To me, nothing was inventive and there was only one right answer. I was so bored and depressed when I couldn’t reach the answer the same as my classmates. Instead I’d retreat into my own world and doodle in the margins. In my 30’s, I still feel the same way about math.

Media Fluency

  1. As we watch media, we need to be able to decode a message and judge how well they’re saying it
  2. We also need to determine what the best media vehicle would be to deliver a message
  3. We need to help students use their digital tools

This is humorous because students today are able to use their digital tools better than many of their teachers. I guess we need to help them use their tools to understand the world.

Collaboration Fluency

  1. Students need to work together on projects. Even consider mixing groups not in the same class. With today’s tools we do not have do collaborative grouping within the same hours.

The kids are asking the why. The teachers don’t give good reasons. It’s not that these kids are ADHD. They are “OTHER” abled. Many educators just don’t get it. They’re not willing to acknolwedge that the world has changed. The digital generation has just rocked our world. We have made buildings for a student that isn’t walking through the door.

Woah. Those are powerful statements. I’ve been there myself as a teacher. Here are statements I’ve said: “I just don’t understand why Billy can’t do the assignments. It’s not like it’s a lot of work. Doesn’t getting the assignment done count for anything? Doesn’t it show a great work ethic?” Sure, I suppose it demonstrates an ability to conform. Maybe I should be weighting grades with a category devoted to “conformity.” The problem is that Billy doesn’t care about any of that. The world moves a whole lot faster than that and he needs to see the relationship between reading “Julius Caesar” and being an auto mechanic in two years. I suppose the problem is in making Billy read Caesar… ?

There is a place for traditional learning. We can’t deny the reality that traditional learning is probably in the minority now. If we want to actually engage students, we need to respect their world. We need to have a balance.

And this concludes the last of my notes from Jukes’ presentation. I left out oodles of information, but as I go back and read my notes I feel inspired to learn more. Now that I’m entering into a new teaching position this fall, I’m excited to see how I can implement true change. I will have a lot of questions to ask.

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Leaving for ISTE in a few Hours

Well the time is near. I’m traveling to ISTE10 soon. This marks my 2nd trip to ISTE. This year is marked by a few milestones for me — traveling alone and presenting at a national conference.

I did fly out to ISTE09, but I was in a group of 13 or so. I just followed their lead. This time I have to go all the way to Denver alone. I’m packing very light so I can avoid checking my bag. That’s one less hurdle for me to trip over.

In all honesty, I’m like one of 500 people presenting and my slot is 30 minutes long. Big deal. But it’s a start for me and I think I have something worthwhile to share.