Tuesday, June 26, 2018

ISTE 2018 Tuesday Keynote Part 3: Rabbi Michael Cohen

Rabbi Michael Cohen, "The Tech Rabbi," was the third keynote Tuesday at ISTE 2018. I had the pleasure of hearing Cohen speak at a session at ISTE 2016, and was excited to hear him keynote. His background is in design and graphic arts, and his slides showcase his amazing skills.

He began by sharing that a student had emailed him about a problem idea that he didn’t think was possible, but knew that Cohen would be inspirational and give him ideas. It showed Cohen that he was making a difference in that student's life, but also....
....So much energy is invested in helping students to squire knowledge, but how much time is green to help them think about the abstract.

Cohen said we should focus on instilling Belief in Self, Belief in Others , and that there is something bigger than themselves

Experiment take risks and courage to do something about those light bulb moments.

What abilities are we helping our students do?

Cohen had some VERY "tweetable quotes!"
  • Every educator is a designer for someone.
  • Creativity is a mindset not an artset.
  • Sometimes our creativity is purged by the fear of being judged by others.
  • Sometimes the person judging us is ourselves. We need to unpack that. 
What does exploration look like in K-12 today?
  • After school (My note: in a subsequent session, it was noted that if this is the only time this can happen at your school, you have an equity problem!)
  • Lunch elective
  • 20% time

Creativity isn’t something you get, it’s something you reveal

Creativity is strong in goodness, kindness and desire to help others. It is social and collaborative. 

Cohen left us with a great final question:

How can we turn 20% time into 100% time?

ISTE 2018 Tuesday Keynotes: Katie Martin

Katie Martin, author of "Learner Centered Innovation," was the 2nd Tuesday Keynote at ISTE 2018

Martin started with an important statement: 
 "If we want to change how students learn, we need to change how educators learn." Prepare kids to solve problems, not for the test.

On a personal note, when she noted, "All of my proposals to ISTE were denied last year!" it made me feel a bit better!

As she reflects on her journey. She went into teaching because she didn’t see the purpose of school at times. She wanted to teach to show students that their voice matters!

She showed her kids at 4 and 5 learning how to make soap. Now they see themselves as scientists.
Her daughter’s teacher said she was “needs improvement” in Science. She hadn’t finished her “packet.” She can see at home how interested she is making slime and lipstick…what is she could build on those passions in school. There are so many requirements placed on teachers with benchmark testing rather than providing authentic learning opportunities.

Our system was developed for the Industrial model. That doesn’t work anymore. We need to change to meet the needs of our modern world.
Gallup poll on student engagement

It’s not just our students who miss out when we don’t provide students opportunities. We all miss out. We have a lot of challenges!

We have to redefine the roles we want students to be able to do.
Blended and Personalized learning mean different things to different people and have an impact on what students get to do. 

Martin then gave some examples of what this looks like:
  • One classroom shows students memorizing the 50 states, even w/ iPad in the middle. Pretty crouded desk.
  • Another model has students with laptops open with students moving at their own path. Still doesn’t give choice and voice.

We have an opportunity and obligation to change how we do things.

What if…
I can create new and better experiences for the students I serve?”
Martin shared this graphic:

Example of what is possible.from her husband’s class

Those students aren’t learning for the test or what they need to know now, they are learning for their future.

Martin acknowledges that it’s hard work to provide these opportunities.
We need to provide opportunities for teachers to plan and do this.

What if..
We empoowerd learnes to discover their passions asnd share their ideas wotih the world?
We have to get to know them.

She then shared this video on what is possible...

Why believing in students matters..

We can’t change how students come to us, but we CAN change how we support them!

What if ..
We can create the conditions that empower learners to find the right questions rather than providing the right answers.

Project Ideate video

What if …

Martin’s hope: Spark curiosity, Ignite Passion and Unleash Genious
It’s people, not programs that will make this happen!

I'm excited to read Katie's book after this!

ISTE 2018 Tuesday Keynotes: Andy Weir Conversation

Andy Weir, a former software engineer, and author of “TheMartian,” was intervened at ISTE 2018 about his passion for STEM and creativity. Gillian King-Carlile founder of STEM Read facilitated the conversation. Here are my notes.
The very first thing he wrote was Beverly Cleary fan fiction, at 6 years old. He started working at a National Lab at age 15! More of an internship cleaning test tubes. Got to start analyzing data in the 80’s. Learned how to program.
Enjoys the process of learning new things. Researching, problem solving. Goes out of his way to see what others have done, but make his own path. The writing process is solving a series of problems. Software engineering is breaking down solvable problems, but there is artistry to it! Misses beng part of a team. Now he works alone.
Failure based learning-sentence by sentence, page by page. There is a lot of failure on the path to publishing. Wanted to be a writer from the get go. Wanted to be a writer, but liked regular meals, so he became a software engineer. Dropped out of college due to low funds. HS degree is his highest level. 1000 started working for AOL. 1005 worked for Blizzard and developed World of Warcraft 2. Got laid off at the all-time peak of AOL stock. Started writing for 3 years, and developed a novel that really sucked, so no one never heard of it. Went back to software engineering. The Martian came after.
Started posting The Martian chapter by chapter on his Website where he dumped his creative writing. Was writing 3 serials at once. The only one people cared about was The Martian. Still had a full time job. Started positing on the site, then people asked for download, then on Amazon for $.00 a chapter. Really snowballed from there… He got $.35 a copy!  An agent contacts him. Then a publisher, then Fox. The deals came together within 4 days… Boom All your dreams have come true!
Ax Cop, a Web comic written by a 5 year old and illustrated by his 27 year old brother. It’s possible.
Characters use their brain rather than their fist. Working out solving problems. He likes books that have problem solving, and….”Please wrap!”
Weir shows that you can be a "techy" and still be a creative writer. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

ISTE 2018 Opening Keynote David Eagleman on the Brain

Neuroscientist, David Eagleman, author of "The Brain: The Story of You" was the 2018 opening keynote at ISTE 2018. Eagleman has had several TED talks discussing the possibilities with the human brain.

Eagleman started broadly, noting that humans have developed programming languages and yet haven't come close to the amazingness of the human brain. What does our knowledge of the brain tell us about education and technology?

Forrests look pretty similar to what they looked like hundreds of years ago, but cities are like motherboards rising out of the muck.

Our brains have evolved to have larger distance between input and output. More pathways. The prefrontal cortex gives us the ability to ask, "What If?"

Most mammals are born and within a few minutes are walking around. Humans, not so much, but eventually, humans can do a lot more.

Classrooms haven't evolved from when they were created for the industrial revolution.

The Digital Brain:
"Kids are adicted to teh internet and because of that, they are losing their social skills." 
The world IS changing fast. This is no longer the world we grew up in.
By the age of 21, kids have logged 10,000 hours of video.

Generation Z communicates differently from previous generations. What does this mean from the brains point of view. We drop in half baked, The brain of a newborn, has few connections, but there are massive changes from birth to 2. Then things start to get pruned.

How your brain turns out depends on what you were exposed too. It reconfigured (Brain/neuro Placticity). 
Technology DOES effect neuroplasticity. 
Study of these effects is problematic, due to finding good control groups. 

  • Digital Natives move their eyes differently.
  • They scan like they look at a Web Page. 
  • This has implications on how they learn the fastest 
We had "Just in Case" learning. Students today are learning "Just in Time"
The learning is not out of context with the learning. When you are curious, then it sticks!
Comfort zones are different. 
ADHD-No, just a normal GenZer interacting in their world if they are board.
The onus is on educators to meet them half way. 
Is it cheating to look up on Google? Ask or rephrase the question so it is active investigation. "How do sphere's of influence form?"

Video Games....Benefits
What do they teach us about engagement and learning...Piaget

Medical students get 2 years of lecture before they meet their first patient. They invented a game to impart this information and saw 28% increase.

Frustrating but acheiveable is the optimum lo learning. Homework: Get 2 levels better tonight.

Sandboxing- Play w/o consequences. Children learn better when the risks aren't as high.

We train kids for jobs that exist now, instead of teaching for the future. We need to teach them to be cognitively flexible.

Imagine standing on a beach at sunset. Brains are made up of neurons that are associated....

Thinking in new ways builds connections between brain cells. Creativity helps make this happen!

We are moving to a "Creative Economy." What matters will be innovation. This is good, because humans are good at this!

Teaching Creativity:
  • It doesn't emerge out of thin air!
  • The iPhone evolved from the IBM Simon, NeXt, etc. There 
Main Brain Operations to creating:

Eating the World-Encyclopedia Britannica then, now Internet

We aren't limited by the home room teacher in our little town anymore. 

Our job is to challenge the brain!
What other answers are down there?
Question Everything! Shake ourselves off the path of least resistance.

Generate Options to move beyond the path of least resistance.
Thomas Edison asked for 7 answers to solve a problem, forcing people to get deeper.

Failures are the portal of discovery!! Cultivating creativity requires holding up failure as a positive.

James Dyson took 5,000 failures. Here is SpaceX blooper reel:

Plasticity requires emotional engagement. Tech can help with this. What are you doing in your classroom to engage and inspire?

Nothing in the classroom should be glued down. You need to change things up!

We need to insure that EVERY student has creativity as part of their curriculum. This NY Times article speaks to that.

Eagleman has some things to say that teachers should think about, and I'm glad ISTE invited him to keynote. I felt as though he was rushed for time, and didn't go as in depth into the Bending, Breaking, Blending idea as much as I would have liked. I guess I'll need to buy the book, and/or watch a few of his TED talks to go deeper.

Monday, May 28, 2018

South View Digital Use Awareness Pilot

Recently, my department was approached about the possibility of testing out locking pouches to explore limiting access to cell phones by students during the school day. To be honest, I was skeptical, because I knew that while it is clear, some students (and adults) are addicted to their device, I was concerned that students would not be able to complete certain tasks. (It is hard to take a video or picture for an assignment with a conventional, non-touch Chromebook, for example.) Students come to school today with devices in their pocket that are more powerful than the computing power that put a person on the moon, and yet teachers sometimes want to ignore that reality. We know that there are many beneficial aspects to mobile tools for learning, AND, we know that for many people, even having the device in one's pocket can be detrimental to attention and impact learning
A few staff at South View Middle School were interested in the idea of using the locking pouch. Rather than treating it as a "punishment" for student misuse, instead they looked on it as an opportunity for student reflection on what it is like to go without a cell phone. I decided that it would be good for me to get to experience a couple of days without my device as well, and so I decided to participate.
At the end of the experience, students will respond to the following questions:
“Why do I NEED my phone right now?”
“What else could I do to get what I need?”
Here is the letter that went home to parents explaining the program.

At the start of the day, the instructors in three Advisory classes presented the following to students:

Careful! That pin is sharp!
Students then added their phones into the pouches, knowing that in an emergency, they could go to the office, or back to the Advisory classroom to unlock the pouch. (Being careful not to impale themselves on the pin!)

Below are my reflections on going without a device... 

Day 1 

As soon as I put the phone in the pouch and made my way out of the building, I thought about how I was missing the opportunity to respond to an e-mail or two, or check my calendar for the day as I walked back to the office.

Later in the day, we had guest speakers at a district meeting, and I so wanted to take a picture and tweet out some of the great information they were sharing, AND look up some of the resources they shared. I did have access to my laptop and solved the latter problem that way.

At the end of the school day, I went in and unlocked my phone. Caitlin Bailey, one of the teachers piloting the project noted that students had a hard time getting over their initial feelings about the pilot being "punitive." One student went so far as to insert a pad of post-it-notes into the sleeve to trick staff into believing the phone was secured. Still others texted parents, claiming their 4th Amendment rights had been violated! Bailey noted that as a social experiment, it has been extremely revealing at how emotionally students have reacted to not having instant access to their device. It is giving students first hand evidence of possible "addiction." 
Another teacher mentioned that he had to use one of the pouches when he went to a concert at Paisley Park, as they have a no cell policy, so it isn't just schools exploring this issue.
 As I expected, at least one student cut themselves on the pin at the top of the case. Overall, I was able to navigate my job without my phone, fairly well. At least I didn't miss any meetings, which for me was my biggest concern. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Day 2

As we met in Advisory for Day 2, students discussed their anxiety about not having access to a device. To avoid this, many kids chose to leave their device at home. Once concern that at least one teacher mentioned was the anxiety that kids were feeling after the school shooting in Texas last week. What if there was an emergency, and needed to get in touch with their parent? Good questions, and it speaks to the importance of thinking about the impact to student's mental health, both anticipated and unanticipated when considering a solution like this.

Another aspect of this is the overall policy at South View. Three years ago, the school instituted a "no cell phone" policy, as the school has 1:1 devices through our eLearning2 program. While students may have mobile devices, they are only to be taken out at teacher discretion, if needed for a photo or video for example. Bailey notes that had the pouches been tested a few years ago, there might have been more of an impact on behavior. Now, if kids are going to be off task, they are usually on their 1:1 device rather than phone.

I found I was less likely to reach for my phone today, though there was that moment I wanted to send a text to my wife and realized I couldn't! 

Day 3 and 4

The pilot moved to new classrooms. Students seemed to be reluctant to participate, though many did, or chose to not bring their phone to school. We did find some students went to extreme measures to access their phones, and a couple chose to tamper with the pouch.  Still others discovered that other magnets were able to release the mechanism. We did have a few parents e-mail to say they didn't want their students participating. 


After the two days, we asked students to reflect on their experience. (As I write this, the pilot is ongoing. I will try to update with results of the student reflections later.) Here are a few of the questions we asked them to ponder:

  1. How often did you reach for your phone during the 2-day pilot? (Estimate)
  2. Please rate your level of discomfort (FOMO = "Fear of Missing Out") during the 2-day pilot?  (0 = "None" and 10 = "Significant")
  3. Were there any SCHOOL RELATED (classroom) activities that were more difficult without your phone?
  4. In what classes? (check all that apply)
  5. Were there any SOCIAL SITUATIONS that were more difficult without your phone?
  6. In what situations? (check all that apply)
    • Connecting with Friends
    • Connecting with Family
    • Coordinating After-School Activities
    • Other
  7. Overall, to what degree do you think these pouches are HELPFUL to maintaining focus during the school day?   (0 = "Not at All" and 10 = "Extremely Helpful")

Media Coverage

On day 5, a local TV station came to do a story on the pilot. Note at the end, kids who still had their phones made a connection with a local celebrity!

Now What?

If we are going to have kids reflect on their use, and they find they have a lot of anxiety around access to their phone, what can they do? I put together this resource for parents and students to consider as they reflect on the activity. 


Final Thoughts 

As I stated previously, there are many great ways that mobile technology can benefit, but there are also addictive behaviors and distractions that can take away from the learning process. The teachers who are exploring this and are looking for ways to mitigate the distraction. Those featured in the news story are doing some great projects involving digital age learning in their classrooms to provide pathways for students to access content, engage in the content and express their learning. Hopefully this activity will raise awareness in students on how mobile technology impacts their learning and take steps to ensure that they avoid distracting behaviors.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

#TIES!7 Using 3D Design Thinking to Impact Learning and Innovation

Susan Nelson, Coordinator of 3D Design Thinking, Innovation and Personalized Learning for  Spring Lake Park Schools presented on Design Thinking and their 3D model of design.

Design Mindsets
  • Tap Into Your Creative Confidence
  • Learn from failure
  • Embrace Ambiguity
  • Be urgently Optimistic
  • Iterate, Iterate, Iterate
Why Human Centered Design? 
Education full of challenges and opportunities
Focus has been on tweaking the system that is fundamentally the same
We can't solve our problems using the same kind of thinking we used to create them! -Einstein
Human Centered-We are designing for real people
Creativity-harness the potential

She shared this video to illustrate the importance of design thinking for Fortunate and her mother!
Nelsen then shared the background behind making the Embrace warmer and how students at the Stanford dSchool developed the product.
Incubators were expensive
Children were dying from low birth weight.
The Stanford team wrote a grant to visit Nepal to learn more about the problem. There were plenty of incubators, but instead the issue of needing a mobile warmer. 
They designed and built a prototype and went to India to test, but the mothers didn't warm it enough. They didn't trust western medicine to warm it to the full 37 degrees Celsius, so they updated it to only say OK when it reached the correct temperature. Success!

  • Discover
    1. Innovation
    2. Insight
Define: What is the real challenge?
  • Design
    1. Ideate
    2. Prototype
  • Deliver
    1. Implement
    2. Refine

They have used the process to change  food service delivery as well as lesson design changes.
Nelsen then had the group try design thinking around the idea: "Attending a Conference."
First we worked to understand the user experience. Someone pointed out there is no defined lunch break!
Next what were our assets and liabilities?

Ask "How Might We..." questions such as "How might we make ice cream more portable?
Define Methods...Playing field
What would a "home run" look like?
What would be fair? What would be foul?

Norms for Design:
  • Defer Judgement
  • Encourage Wild ideas
  • Build on each other's ideas
  • Have one conversation at a time
  • Be visual
  • Stay Focused
  • Go for quantity
Rapid prototyping
Design space to deliver

#TIES17 Ken Shelton: Designing A Culturally Relevant & Responsive Pedagogy

Ken Shelton followed up his Monday Keynote with a session on Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy.

Shelton noted that there are many instances where students are funneled to different classes based on gender and skin color/ethnicity.

In his experience, he was the only person of color in the AP and upper level classes when he was in high school. This is his story. What are the stories of the students coming in to our schools?

Game of Phones- (Nice tech infused Community Building activity)

  1. Introduce self
  2. Last picture taken-That's appropriate! Context
  3. Group Chooses top photo
The talk had 3 main parts:

  1. Culture
  2. Learning
  3. Technology
Much of this talk is based on the work of Pedro Nogieri.
The addition that Shelton makes to this work is technology, as he believes that today it is not culturally relevant not to include it!

In school, he wanted to be in the front, but was always told to go in back.
If instruction is only happening in front, that is a problem.
If raising your hand is the only way you'll get called on, 85% of the people called on will be in front. 
He used a back channel to encourage EVERYONE to contribute to the conversation.

If students don't have hope, they will not be successful.

5 Characteristics of a Culturally Relevant Teacher
  1. Socially Conscious-If you're not on social media or aware of how they communicate and make connections, you aren't relevant.
  2. Students backgrounds are ASSETS, not liabilities!
  3. Identify/Create a moral imperative that EVERY student can be successful.
  4. Know your students lives
  5. Technology-What do we have access to to make learning contemporary and relevant!

Are we designing lessons for the high acheivers, low achievers, or are we making it possible for every student to be a part of a shared learning experience in accordance with their needs?

Adaptable Learning Environments
Is there a prescribed formula for success? If a "rubric" is a prescribed formula...Shelton says that won't cut it. The high flyers will only do the minimum. It MUST be adaptable! The intended learning outcome must have multiple pathways for the student to demonstrate mastery.

Equity-Giving people what they need based on their individual needs
Equality-Giving everyone the same thing

6 Themes of Culturally Relevant Education
Engagement- where the student is
Relationships- what kind are we encouraging and modeling? With peers, too! 
Cultural Identity- What do I identify as my culture and how does it fit into the learning environment?
Vulnerability- Am I willing to make a mistake and own them?
Asset Focused Factors- Students backgrounds are assets not liabilities
Rigor- Higher order thinking  and deeper learning

He then asked us to fill out this form with a partner. All but the last one seemed fairly clear.

For question 1, Shelton notes, you can't have Rigor without Engagement!! In some cases there are multiple options.

Merging the use of educational technologies with culturally responsive learning experiences to help students develop essential skills!

Shelton noted that learning about stories (Fables and Myths) requires tying in to cultural relevant themes. 

  • Game of Phones was an example of Cultural Identity, Engagement and Collaboration.
  • The backchannel combines engagement and cultural relevance for many in the audience.

Tequity Assets- is a link to resources Shelton shared.

He encouraged us to take a look at a current lesson and use the Techquity lens to see how it might be improved and share out with the world!
Here is the transcript of the backchannel.