Monday, December 19, 2011

TIES 11: Keynote Gabe Zicherman Gamification

Gabe Zicherman, the author of the Gamification Blog and books like Gameification by Design was a last minute fill in for Keynote speaker, Jane McGonigal, who was ill and unable to attend TIES 2011.

Zicherman got the audience hooked, with pics of Atari and Oregon trail (Jane has Dysentary!)
In 1987, Carmen San Diego was the most important game.
"Civilization took up about 8,000 hours of my life in grad school!"
A game that teaches something without intending to.
The dominant narative today is divided into "Games/Screens are Evil vs. Games can Fix the World!"
Is it possible both are right?
Who NEEDS the help games can provide? NYT article on kids being too hyper. Zicherman argues that maybe it's the adults!
Doesn't teach kids to be patient and wait, de-habituated to how the real world works!
"Do our kids have ADD or are our schools too slow?"
Students do a lot of reading still, but the modality is different!
Multitasking to the Max -World of Warcraft
6 different activities required to be successful in the game.
Neuroplasticity-Juggling increases grey matter in the brain.
Increasing fluid intelligence.
Exponential increase in learning
Flynn Effect: Rising IQ since 1990-
  • Chrystalline Intelligence, stable or falling (decreasing)
  • Fluid Intelligence rising and quickly
Games are wired to produce pleasure. Dopamine is released when we are challenged and achieve.
Kids that are naturally predisposed to unacceptable behavior can be trained to be even worse. This is important for educators to remember.
"Collective change is exponential - Individual change is linear!"
Game designers work with a construct of desire for mastery.
  • Desire
  • Incentive
  • Challenge 
  • Achievement/Reward
  • Feedback
  • Mastery
The red text above occurs in social interaction.
Gamification is the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to solve problems and engage users.
It's NOT about making everything into a game!
He shared the example of Ananth Pai, from Parkview/Centerpoint Elementary, who took his 3rd graders to grade-level by utilizing games. Students said, "It's fun and it's social!"
Decoding JAY-Z with Bing! All 300 pages were placed around New York, and the winner received 2 free tix to every concert for life!
It took 30 days, and the winner hired people to assist! The prize cost him nothing, but it seems like an incredible prize!
Speed Camera Lottery in Sweden. The ticket is based on how much money you make! Everyone who drives at the speed limit is entered in a lottery for the cost that others pay.
Car dashboards for Hybrids-Honda Insight, Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius, and Ford Fusion have feedback on how ecological you are being. The Leaf even has incorporated Facebook into it!
Ripple and DueProps- Routine tasks get virtual points for jobs well done.Feedback goals & 360 employee engagement. Any time an altruistic reward is introduced, the behavior is messed up. It uses Karma rather than money and is more successful.
iCivics, developed by Sandra Day-O'Connor
Online college courses have games integrated (See Chart)
We have to avoid being all enthusiasm and no substance!
NYT Inflating the Software Report Card. Important to be data-driven. We need to vet in a systemic way.
Bartles Player types 4 core types of players.
  • Killers- Win/Lose I've got to win, you've got to lose, and I need attention for it! This behavior cannot be stopped! It CAN be redirected.
  • Achievers- Important to know that not everyone can win! Sometimes we focus too much on them. 10% Everyone likes acheivement, but most don't want to put in the effort.
  • Socializers- 80% of the population
  • Explorers-Enjoy the process of discovery
What motivates people to play games?
If we know what motivates students, we will know how to define fun!
Some people might try to "out-collaborate" others.
SAPS model. In order of stickiness and cost. Status access and power are more important than stuff!
  1. Status
  2. Access 
  3. Power 
  4. Stuff
Our fun future:
  • Faster Paced
  • Rewards Everywhere
  • Collaborative play
  • More Global
Zicherman thinks that "The Kids Are All Right!" Education has never been an apolitical profession! There has always been conflict about how best to teach, but somehow, we all turn out ok!
His key is that it isn't as important to see how games can affect learning...IT'S US! GO PLAY!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TIES 11: Jennifer Magiera Defining the Digital Classroom

Chicago teacher, Jennifer Magiera wrote a grant for 1:1 iPads in her 4th and 5th grade classroom said that rather than Automating, you have to demolish what you've been doing in the classroom and start over.
One transformative lesson far outweighs

She focussed this talk on Differentiation and Assessment
Who has to do state tests?
District wide
Common Core State Standards
Bubble tests are now on the iPad
Slate routines-RTI with time stamped images of student work
Fluency Snapshots-She uses audio and picture along with Dibles with more evidence. Students can also do self checks.
Google Tools for Formative and Summative Assessment!
  • Her Website has much of her work. (It includes a "Mood Checkin" so she knows whether their ready to learn!
  • She has her form set to automatically color code on assessments students complete w/ Google Forms.
How do we have accountability for the kids. She has been able to get the kids to connect with each other to be successful.
  • Connecting is a way to differentiate! She uses Skype in the Classroom to do this.She does a "Mystery Skype" with other classrooms to ask "20 questions" about their city for Social Studies.
  • Meta-Math Meetings- Friday sessions where they talk with others about why they got certain questions wrong for students in another class.
  • KidBlog at the end of science experiments. Asking big questions.
  • Edmodo- The kids like that it looks like Facebook, and she likes it because she can personalize instruction for the students. She told the story of a student who wouldn't talk, who was brilliant in Math. In Edmodo, within 12 minutes, he had 60 comments that were meaty, and now he has the confidence to participate in face-to-face sessions.
  • Flipped classroom, videos based on how they did on the exit ticket. She thinks it's like being a "cloned teacher!" 
  • Project Based Learning with Augmented Reality- Johnny Kissco, Chemical and physical weathering of playground equipment. QR codes during
  • Paperport Notes-PDF Annotation
  • Differentiated response options
  • Audio, video, Kinnesthetic, Poplet, screencasting w/ Screenchomp and Showme, ExplainEverything
For Special Education, she has 12 students w/ IEP's in her classroom. She screencasts the assessments and that allows her to individualize.

She is now using only free apps.
She has them on her "Teach Like it's 2999" blog.

If you have money to burn, eSpark Leanring can assess students to find out the apps they need.

 How are YOU going to redefine learning for your students?

TIES 11: Creating Student Centered Mobile Learning Networks using Facebook, Twitter and Cell Phones

Mike Slowinski, from West De Pere High School in Wisconsin shared how he is integrating social media collaboration in his session on "Creating Student-Centered Mobile Learning Networks Using Facebook, Twitter, and Cell Phones."
He used the analogy of Frutios vs. Fruitloops to demonstrate that students prefer using certain tools, and while "walled garden" type products may look and taste like more popular sites, when push comes to shove, students want to use the tools they're comfortable with.

He started in their district with Facebook
  • Dual Identitiy (Social-Social vs. Professional-Social)
  • Professional Account (WDP-FirstnameLastname)
  • Symbolic Picture
  • Limited to School Activities
 Students were asking questions outside of class all the time. Facebook message/Inbox was used a lot. Students didn't have to put out perceived "dumb questions" in class, and allowed organic questions. Also posted on Wall.

Twitter Integration
Some students may not log in to Professional-Social at home, so a few students felt it was less invasive to follow the teacher on Twitter.
Facebook Twitter App was used to post Tweets to his Teacher Facebook wall.

Cell Phone integration, so that students were able to receive Twitter updates via their cell phone.
Less missing work, students engaged, reminders around 5:30 were good prompts.
Facebook Pages/Groups for parents as well. Mike posted video updates, that parents could then view on their wall. They found it more personable, and parents felt that they knew him better come conference time.

He created pages for clubs, and then was able to create events for different activities. This helped with planning.

His West Depere Library page allows him to communicate about new apps or other activities, and students can "like" the page with their social account, as long as their privacy settings are set to Friends Only.
He also reverses the process with Facebook posting to Twitter.

After showing some sample activity pages on multimedia research on an artist and the book "1984" in which he included collaboration with students at Kent State University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire,  Slowinski showed how he created an LMS workflow for "The Facebook Classroom.
Students used the notes feature to blog, and incorporated pages for the
Slowinski incorporated PollEverywhere for cell phone integration, and kept his cell phone use to texting as opposed to advanced features on Smart Phones, which most students didn't have. Anticipatory set, quick surveys and exit cards were some of the ways he incorporated them.
He embedded a poll on the controversy over "race-based mascots" in a neighboring district and solicited community response on his Website. He also uses Google SMS and ChaCha.
Hashtags on Twitter are another method of incorporating cell phones into the classroom through backchannelling. His Twitter feed is embedded on his Website.
Slowinski identifies the following benefits to his methodology:
  • Differentiation
  • Increased student motivation
  • 21st Century Literacy
  • Collaboration
  • 24/7 classroom
He feels this provides more authentic learning in his classroom.
Doug Johnson noted that Facebook wants everyone to only have one account, and Slowinski acknowledged that he is probably in violation, but feels the benefits outweigh the risks.

Monday, December 12, 2011

TIES 11: I-Imagine Waking Up A Generation To Their Own Greatness-Bernajean Porter

Bernajean Porter, an internationally known shared her work on Digital Storytelling, shared  i-Imagine, a project she has been working for the last few years to work on student engagement with telling their story.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a TRUE leader-John Adams
77% of students report being bored at school.
Only 14% report having "Hope."
She asked, what is the role of IQ in a persons success? 4-8%
EQ-the Emotional Quota, of dreams and aspirations are much more important!
This CAN be instilled in students, but it needs brains on fire and hearts alive!
We need to go to "higher ground" to get at what kids really need.
She gave an example of a kid who was given the assignment of "drawing a city." He chose to use MineCraft to design it instead, and narrated over it.
 He gave a virtual tour of the emersive world that he had created for the assignment. What the student created is similar to this

Porter has seen technology get assimilated to do things that used to be done without, and not have an impact. She argues that we need to transform. Tapping into spaces where kids can connect and dream with the world is what needs to happen. 75% of learning is "Informal Learning!"
She thinks that we can serve the kinds of things for our students AND meet the accountability expectations of our politicians.
Educate-Can we be creative enough to use the power of technology to make this happen.

Reggio-Amelia philosophy is at the heart of this.
When technology innitiatives take place, pedagogy, like "students as documenters of their own learning," needs to roll with it! She gave a project going on in Canada right now with young students and iPads as an example of how this should and can happen.
Examples of students finding their passion, w/ technology as the power source.
When students find their passion, it changes the relationship between all their other studies!
How can we unleash that passion?

She shared a couple of quotes...
"I cannot do all the good the world needs. But the world needs all the good I can do
-Jana Stanfield
Yong Zhao-"No child has ever asked someone to standardize me!"

Students need Agency for their own learning!
Wake up the believer and dreamer in each student.
If you don't like the story you're standing in, start a new one!
It changes the maker and the destination!
In Sparks, Peter Benson talks about community connections resulting in higher grades, The Hope Survey

Assignment: Future of Me
Create your own future story, showing as many details of possible of what your life will be like.
  • Vision Videos
  • Docu-Dramas-As if your younger you has grown up
  • Neuroplasticity-What do you want to be right about? The brain organizes around the thought you decide to hold.
Reality is what we all agree is possible/not possible
When you buy technology, you're not buying tools, but learning stories.
Imagine it to be real, and then organize towards it. 

They are just wrapping up the teachers guide right now. They have created a "scrapbook" , and they found that "holding" the book, made it more meaningful for students.

Personal Passion-students didn't know what it looked like! 

Porter discussed having to follow Jane Goodall at a conference, talking about the passion she had for animals and Africa. There she met Louis Leakey, and the rest is history.....

Minot, ND-Students activating and learning together on the project.

She then gave some examples of student work.
One student became a game-creator and built a house big enough to allow his mom to live there so he could support her as a way to "pay her back" for all of her support bringing him up!
Zhou-What if we had "talent-oriented curriculum?"

She left us with a challenge of looking for student passion, and being a sponsor of at least one of those students! She feels that technology can ignite some of that passion, and with our support, kids can make a difference!
Ask kids to be their "wiser self, giving advice to their younger self!"
We have a sacred promise when we become teachers to unleash students passion to take over the world!

TIES 11: Keynote-Joel Rose

Joel Rose Presenting at TIES11
Joel Rose, the co-founder of School of One.
Started as a summer school program in 2009, moved to after-school and in school in 2010. Last year, 1500 students in 3 schools mostly for math.
He says right now that it is 40% baked. School of One students showed an extra 1/2 to full year of growth.

He taught for 3 years in Houston
Horace Mann trip to Prussia
33% graduate and go on to college,
33% graduate but need remediation
33% drop out

Teachers high turn over
Satisfaction, 40% disheartened
Why is the job so hard? Look at the plate!

Who donates to public education? (Zuckerberg, Walton Family, Gates, )
All of the top donors don't add up to the unpaid hours a week that classroom teachers donate every year!
And it's NOT tax deductable!
The challenge of differentiation....Huge amount of time to personalize assessment.
If we're serious about personalizing learning, we need multiple modalities to view instruction
  • Live Teacher
  • Collaboratively
  • Virtually w/ Live teacher
  • Individually w/ printed materials and software
In the traditional model, the number of skills at one time, no more than 5. Today, if 1/2 get it and 1/2 fail, the delema is whether to move forward or refresh. The time we waste is astonishing!
If we have multiple modalities in a learning space, we can differentiate more effectively.
This is the concept of School of One.

Students are assessed on learning modality and create playlists for them for a given curriculum.
Because School of One was part of New York Public Schools, publishers responded, and they created banks of lessons. 5,000 for math alone, with tagging
They didn't say to the teachers, we have all this data now, good luck!
They created a learning algorithm, that is similar to an airport scheduling system.
Students take 5 question assessments at the end of each day, and this provides information to determine their schedule for the following day. They color code Green, Yellow or Red (incorporating traffic patterns into the metaphor.)
8 ways to learn, 5 are live, 3 on computer. The algorithm teachers feel gives them good feedback and more information to prescribe learning for the following day. Students appear in their promotional video to be very excited and engaged!

What's different for teachers?
  1. Reduced Administrative Burden
  2. Thoughtful Collaboration- 
  3. Specialization- Teachers become experts in very specific mathematical concepts.
  4. Real Time Scheduling- They "know" that every student prescribed a lesson are "ready" for that lesson.
  5. Different Adult-Student Dynamics -Students WANT to move on
  6. Average class size 7-12
Will this mean teachers will lose their jobs?
A resounding NO! U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics says that as industries like law, banking, librarians and accounting have incorporated technology, employment has gone up. (Some librarians may dispute this!)
Data entry, Printing machine operators, file clerks he admits have gone down. What makes the difference? Judgement! Rose said that teachers make over 1,000 decisions during the school day. More than Brain Surgeons! He said that teaching positions will go up 13% by 2018.

If we as a community can move from technology as a tool to an entirely different delivery model!
In summary:
Current model 150 years old
Differentiation hard
119 billion in unpaid hours to do job well
We need to collectivey
Teachers can be the big winners....
Overall, I liked the message. Still not sure about the way they use to go about it...I didn't really see any higher level thinking going on. I didn't see students creating, or presenting. Maybe this happens in the Face-to-Face interactions, but it wasn't evident in Rose's presentation.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Looking Forward to TIES11!

Next week I'll be in downtown Minneapolis, for the 2011 TIES Conference. I'm really excited this year, because our district will have a large presence at the conference, both attending AND presenting! We were fortunate to have 14 staff get accepted this year, including many from our Teaching and Technology Cohort! I'm proud to see how that group has stepped up and taken a leadership role within the district, as well as outside! It's great to share!

When I attend a conference, I try to strike a balance between:
  • Attending sessions (Ones that "sound good" and Speakers I'm interested in learning from)
  • Networking with colleagues face-to-face (As opposed to Virtually Here)
  • Visiting the vendor area to explore trends

Here are some of the highlights and sessions that I'm looking forward to.
This year's strands include:
  • Personal learning and digital-age learning experiences
  • Personal growth and leadership practice for educators
  • Personal responsibility and digital-age citizenship
  • Technical support and infrastructure
Flipped Classroom Community of Interest with Jason Just
I taught with Jason and his wife in Lakeville, and he has been working towards flipped instruction for quite some time. His work was recently featured in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Using Google Docs and Moodle to Teach Collaboratively
Our district uses both, and it's always good to learn how others are incorporating to compare notes!
Leslie Fischer-Cell Phones in the Classroom
Leslie will share tips for harnessing tools for learning that exist in students pockets!

9:00 Keynote: Joel Rose-School of One Founder 
Mr. Rose will be speaking on Designing the New Classroom, though I am not sure that it's the type of classroom I would like to work in, or send my children to. While I like the concept of personalizing learning, the methods the School of One employ to provide this seem to "depersonalize" learning. I'll try to keep an open mind!
Claude Sigmund in the 21st Century Classroom
Troy Cherry from TIES has helped to put together a 21st Century Classroom demonstration room at the conference, and we are fortunate to have Claude and some of his students there to model learning in that space by "Interconnecting Primary Documents in Social Studies! I hope all of our contingent has a chance to stop by to see this learning space at some point during the conference to gather ideas on the essential instructional and learning tools in a 21st Century classroom.
Karen Cator: Transforming American Education, Learning Powered by Technology 
Karen is the Director of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education, and developed the National Educational Technology Plan. Personally, I think it should be our National Education Plan! (Note: Cator may not be there, but this session will still take place and the information is important!)

Claude and students continued...
Bernajean Porter-I-imagine: Waking Up a Generation for Their Own Greatness
Bernajean  is a internationally renowned leader in Educational Technology and Digital Storytelling.  Learn how students can create multimedia docudramas tied to their own life goals.
Hilary Goldmann- The Election, Policy and You: How You Can Affect Change
Hilary Goldmann, ISTE's Director of Government Affairs will share the importance of advocacy with our governmental leaders. Even if you are unable to attend the session, stop by the ETAN booth at the conference and let your voice be heard!
Project Based Learning for Global Competence
Strategies for including 21st Century Skills and Project based learning to increase global literacy
Christian Long-Design Thinking: An Agile Teaching and Learning Methodology
I first was introduced to Christian when he was still in the classroom, and followed two of the most interesting learning projects I have ever seen, the Alice Project and the TED Project. Now, Christian works for Cannon Design and is an international leader in designing learning spaces.


Laurie Toll and Lisa Koch- Creating Digital Science Stories
Laurie and Lisa from Weaver Lake Elementary in Osseo have been pioneers not only in science instruction, but also implementation of Bring Your Own Devices. In this session they will share methods of incorporating that methodology using Digital Stories.

Keynote: Jane McGonigal: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How they Can Change the World
McGonigal's TED Talk and book, has catapulted her to the forefront of the "gamification" movement. TIES has really stepped up the last few years with getting top-notch keynote speakers, and McGonigal is no exception!

10:40 Lot's of good sessions here!
Bring Your Own Device Community of Interest
Osseo's Dawn Nelson will lead this session exploring best practice.
Flipped Professional Development
Stillwater's Wayne Feller and Kristin Daniels have done some innovative things flipping their PD. In this session they will share their methodology and resources.
Going Ga Ga for Googlios: Google Based ePortfolios
Jen Hegna and her team from Byron, MN will be sharing some of their work on the integration of electronic portfolios at the High School Level.
Images Before Words
Ben Friesen shares how to leverage images and media to engage your students.
Chris Dede- Transforming Education for the 21st Century
Harvard Professor Chris Dede has been a leader in educational technology for many years, and I am a big fan. Here he shares how schools utilize tools to improve our teaching, assessment and links between schools and communities.

Mark Garrison's 50 Sites in 50 Minutes
Get there early! This one is always a crowd pleaser, and showcases some great tools for learning!
Data-Driven Personalized Learning Through iCivics and Gamified Learning
Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, along with teacher Ananth Pai will showcase how this site, developed by former Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor has engaged students in Minnesota.

Are Open-Source Flexbooks in Your Future?
Anoka staff share their implementation of an electronic text-book for Probability and Statistics.
Gaming in Classrooms: The Possibilities and Realities
This should be a fascinating panel discussion featuring Chris Dede, Jane McGonigal and Bernajean Porter.
Increasing Student Access with Personal Owned Devices
Tim Wilson, Chief Technology Officer in Osseo Public Schools will share

Student Created Common Craft Videos
Teachers from St. Michael-Albertville will share the process that goes into this fun, engaging assignment.
Doug Johnson-Using Personal Devices to Motivate Rather Than Distract
Doug Johnson is one of my favorite presenters and bloggers! Here, he shares some simple rules that help you make the most of these devices that are increasingly common in the classroom. 
Whew! There are MANY OTHER great sessions, these are just a few of the highlights. The conference planning tool can be found here, and  the Wiki with presenter materials can be found here.

Now off to finish my presentation on PD for Blended Instruction (Tuesday December 13, 2011 1:20pm - 2:10pm @ Greenway F/G)!! See you there! ;-)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Power of a Hashtag! #EduWin

Last summer in Philadelphia I had the opportunity to attend Edubloggercon 2011, an "un-conference" where participants can suggest topics for discussion, and then anyone interested can attend and participate in the sharing/learning.
That's me in the middle!
After the lunch break, the following session, proposed by Scott Meech, caught my eye:
Why isn't education on the front page of the news?
Posted By smeech

With as much discussion taking place online about education, why isn't it on the front page? Let's talk about strategies to push this important discussion to the forefront in a positive and meaningful way.
Just like Scott, I too had been frustrated by the education bashing that seemed to permeate the media landscape. I was glad to hear that I wasn't alone!
During the session, he shared some of the work that he and other educators have been doing at, a site devoted to sharing what is working in education.
As we were talking, Meech brought up the idea that all kinds of really great things are happening in schools, but as singular stories, they don't seem significant for the media to have an interest. If there were some way for us to aggregate them, we might be able to create interest. 
Now realize, we were at a technology conference, and we had just all witnessed the amazing impact of social media during the Arab Spring. The idea of adding a "Hashtag" to tweets, videos, blog posts seemed like a no-brainer! 

Tagging posts with searchable words like #egypt, #syria or #tunisia can allow aggregation of data with powerful results. To the left, is a screencast I made of my Twitter feed showing the tag #egypt on February 1st. The amount of information was staggering, and this was AFTER they had started blocking the Internet! Click play to see what I mean!
So as we were talking, I sent out the following tweet:

Brendan Murphy, a math educator from Illinois and grad school colleague tweeted back with "What about #eduwin?"
I shared that with the group, and there seemed to be consensus that it made sense, as there could be more than one meaning to the term!

Candace Shively, an educator from Pennsylvania, and a fellow participant in the session wrote a great post reflecting on the session and the aftermath. In it, she included practical suggestions for when and how to use the tag to share the great things you are doing in your classroom! From her post....
Here is how it works:
  • Every time you see a change in a student because of something that clicked, write about it in a tweet or a blog post, hashtagged #eduwin.
  • Every time you see another teacher do something that works, share it, hashtagged #eduwin.
  • Every time you see a tweet from another educator  about the way students are LEARNING, retweet it or share it on Facebook, hashtagged #eduwin.
  • When you’re having a bad day, set up a Twitter search or do one on Google (when they get Real Time working again), looking for items hashtagged #eduwin.
  • When you hear people griping about the state of education today, share a story you saw hashtagged #eduwin.
  • When your class does projects, shoot some video and upload the clips of kids talking about what they did to YouTube, hashtagged #eduwin (cute kids or kittens can’t hurt…)
  • When a parent volunteer wants to be helpful, ask him/her to take some pictures of the good things going on in your class (maybe from the back or close-ups of hands so there is no concern about identifiable pictures) and share them on Flickr or Facebook, hashtagged #eduwin.
  • When your kids make glogs, Voicethreads, or other online projects that shout powerful evidence of learning, add the hashtag #eduwin to the very best examples (and resist the urge to put the hashtag on ones that could be appreciated without context)
  • When you give awards to your students, us the title EDUWIN on the awards.
  • When that one non-reader finally recognizes the sight words, clap and say “EDUWIN!”
  • Collaborate every day with teacher colleagues on the digital storytelling of EDUWIN
Now, Meech and the folks at have taken it a step further! They've created a site for all of us to share out our stories of #EduWins.They have created,, a site where you can quickly and easily share your stories!
I think this is a great positive way to share the good things that are happening.
I hope you'll join the movement, and start a trend!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Robert Stephens visits South View Middle School

On Thursday, November 17, Geek Squad Founder, and Best Buy Chief Technology Officer, Robert Stephens spoke to students and staff at South View Middle School. He was extremely engaging and listened to the students in our Smart Bar student support program as much as they listened to him. Here are some of the highlights of what he shared.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Go Wireless" Bring Your Own Device Initiative

This year has seen an expansion of our "Go Wireless" Bring Your Own Device initiative. Currently 325 students, over 12% of the student population have gone through training and are certified to bring their devices at the middle level. This is the equivalent of over 10 computer labs coming to school each day! The training sessions cover:
  • History of the program
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Expectations and Liability
  • Purchasing Options
  • What students CAN use the devices for
  • Acceptable Use and Consequences for missuse
  • How to connect to the wireless network
  • A short survey
  • A short Question and Answer session
At the end of the training, parents and students sign an agreement, and the students receive a sticker indicating that they are "wireless certified."
Students like the ability to access course content, take notes and stay organized on their own device, and report being able to get to work faster, than if they have to log in on a district owned computer. A survey of students last year found that 91% felt that having access to their own device improved their learning. 

The program is optional, and staff will continue to check out carts or labs when working on projects. In addition, netbooks have been purchased at each secondary school for students to access during the day, and media center hours have been extended for students needing access to course content online. A Website has been created to assist staff with the use of carts and BYO devices that is accessible from the Edina Technology Resources for Teachers site.
Suggestions for teachers interested in incorporating the devices into their instruction include:
  1. Tutorial Designer-Have students use to create a tutorial for solving problems or completing processes.
  2. Designate student note-takers/Scribes on a Google Doc (Scribe of the day!) Then have them share with you to post on Moodle or your Google Site.
  3. Researchers-When questions come up during the period, designate a researcher of the day to look it up. You can also do this with classroom computers.
  4. Collaboration Coordinators to connect with others around the world studying the same topic, or with experts.
  5. Curriculum Review Podcast-Students could use Aviary in Edina Apps to record short podcasts as study guides on a topic
  6. Organize an exit card: Students could create questions for the class on a Google form that then can be used as an exit card for students to complete before they leave, or when they are at home.                                          Alan November via the book, Curriculum 21.

While studying the Federalist papers, Valley View Middle School Government Teacher, Scott Stadem found that rather than having students attempt to read the rather dry original documents, having access to online resources via personal devices greatly enhanced students understanding of the concepts. Some used laptops, some used iOS devices and some used mobile phones to access the information and create graphic organizers. This freed him up to roam around the room and assist struggling learners. Other staff like the fact that the responsibility for troubleshooting has been taken off their plate, since for the most part, students know their own device.

6th grade Language Arts Teacher, Jonathan Moore stated:
So far this year, students in my Language Arts classes with their own devices have shared rough drafts with me in real time, before they have even left my room; submitted assignments ahead of schedule - because they could, and also completed and submitted work from the online portion of my class. Why is this great? It's supported top-down, students are very engaged, work efficiency is increased, and collaboration goes up. 

Our next training sessions for students will be November 21, 1 p.m. in the Valley View Theater, and 7 p.m. in the South View Theater.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Flipping Your Classroom Without Making Your Students Dizzy!

AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by JB London
There has been a lot of press both locally and nationally,and punditry pro and con lately around "flipping" instruction. "Flipping" is when you create video of your lecture or a demonstration that you would normally do in class, and then post the video for students to watch as homework at home. Proponents point out that this then allows the teacher to either complete activities that normally would be done as homework in class with the support of the teacher, or it allows for hands on activities to take place in the classroom with facilitation from the teacher. 
Teachers may create their own videos, or rely on prepackaged video from publishing companies or others. Some believe that Sal Khan, creator of the "Khan Academy," is their favorite teacher, and some question the accolades. This past summer, Scott McLeod convened an expert panel to debate the issue. For those thinking of flipping, or flipping well, it is well worth an hour of your time! In this post, I'll review some of the origins of the flip, discuss best practices, and share two examples of how our Edina teachers are incorporating "flipping" into their instruction.

The idea for flipping originated with two Colorado Science teachers, Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann who who created video lectures in multiple formats for their students as homework, allowing for more hands-on activities in class. Originally called "Educational Vodcasting," Sams and Bergmann saw tremendous growth in student achievement and found students were more self-directed in this new pedagogical model. Rather than spending class-time, passively listening to lectures and taking notes, students were able to listen to and view the lectures at home, pause, rewind, and take notes on the important details. They work hard to provide multiple ways for students to view the content, whether it be posted directly online, downloadable as a podcast to view on their portable device, or burned to CD and DVD for students to take home. They now maintain a social network for educators interested in flipping their instruction.

Karl Fisch, who along with Scott McLeod created the "Did You Know...Shift Happens" video, and it's iterations, started flipping his math instruction when he returned to the classroom a few years ago. Daniel Pink, impressed by this pedagogical shift, coined the new technique the "Fisch Flip" in this article in September of 2010.
Fisch has a blog for his classes, and posts the videos along with resources there. Quoting from the Pink article, Fisch says:

“When you do a standard lecture in class, and then the students go home to do the problems, some of them are lost. They spend a whole lot of time being frustrated and, even worse, doing it wrong,” Fisch told me.
“The idea behind the videos was to flip it. The students can watch it outside of class, pause it, replay it, view it several times, even mute me if they want,” says Fisch, who emphasizes that he didn’t come up with the idea, nor is he the only teacher in the country giving it a try. “That allows us to work on what we used to do as homework when I’m they’re to help students and they’re there to help each other.”
Fisch argues that flipping allows for teachers to meet the demands of today's "mile wide" curriculum, that whether we like it or not, students are expected to know. He also notes that there are certain algorithms that are beneficial for students to master, and having the video resource available makes it easier to do so.

Sal Kahn
Sal Kahn is a former "hedge fund analyst" and M.I.T. graduate, who after tutoring his cousin and others in math for a few years, started posting his video explanations online. After 3 years of building up his Youtube channel, his site became so popular that he quit his job to devote all of his energies to developing the "Khan Academy." Khan now has over 2,600 videos and 207 practice excersizes created to assist students with learning everything from Algebra to Organic Chemistry and Finance. With funding from Bill Gates, and popular Ted talks, Khan has positioned himself as a force in educational reform. In the video below, he answers some of his critics and shares his vision.

I see Khan's videos as being a place to get a quick overview of a concept, much like Wikipedia. When preparing students at the knowledge level to learn a process and regurgitate the information, the videos are pretty good. My son's Algebra teacher actually prescribed some of the lessons from Khan Academy over the summer to help him with concepts that didn't come as easily during the school year. Along with the video, several sample problems were included to assure "mastery." I think that if used as an additional resource for students and parents, they can have a place. Who a student learns a concept from should be less important than whether they indeed learned it.
Critics of Khan point out that if the sole purpose of education is to prepare students to succeed on standardized tests, then they work pretty well. It's when we get to the higher level thinking of analysis and creation that we see a problem with Khan's pedagogy. Frank Noschese, a Physics teacher from New York points out on his blog that, "if we shift the purpose of education from consuming knowledge and stating answers to creating knowledge and exploring solutions, the fallacy of Khan Academy “reinventing education” is blatently apparent."
In addition to this, like Wikipedia, Khan's methodology and pedagogy has not been fully vetted. In fact, while viewing a video this summer, my son discovered an error in the presentation. Perhaps Khan IS developing higher level skills! Personally, I see much greater benefit to incorporating some of the ideas espoused by Dan Meyer in math instruction rather than a daily dose of Khan.

What we've done here in Edina:

Valley View Middle School 9th Grade math teacher, Mark Carlson, has been flipping his instruction for the last 3 years. Carlson, and his teaching partner,  Kim Griffiths, began using Jing to record explanations of a given unit, and upload the video to They then embedded the video into their Moodle Courses for Advanced Algebra and Geometry. They have since switched to using Camtasia for recording the videos and uploading them to Youtube, as it has improved the production value, and helped avoid questionable content on Blip! This past year, they have taken it one step further, by embedding the video in formative assessments within their Moodle course! Students are able to refer to the video while attempting to answer the questions in the Moodle Quiz. Carlson and Griffiths then get feedback on student understanding so that they can a) see who watched the videos and b) inform their instruction for the next class.
Below is a sample:

Valley View 8th grade Math Teacher, Christopher Hoffman uses a slightly different approach. He to records his video lessons, but using also includes a view of him going through the activity with his Webcam. He feels it gives the student a feeling of "sitting in the front row of class" and provides a more personal touch. Hoffman doesn't flip all of his lessons, but does include the videos of each section for students to refer to at home. Parents appreciate having a resource to view the new methodologies and terminology for how to complete the math problems since they were in school.

Final Thoughts
I agree with Karl Fisch that there IS a place for flipping instruction in today's educational landscape. One thing that Carlson, Griffiths and Hoffman all have in common is that they've put in a tremendous amount of work and effort to produce the videos in a high quality, and blend them into their instruction effectively. As a parent, I like having access to what my children see in class so that my outdated terminology doesn't confuse the issue if I'm trying to help with homework or study for a test. Here are a few tips to help keep your students from getting frustrated, or "dizzy!"
  1. As with any "blended instruction," it is important to make sure that all students have access to the resource. This is an advantage to being able to post to Youtube, embed on a Website, and even post to an iTunes podcast. Even then, some students may need the videos burned to a DVD in order to view it. We have also increased the before and after school hours of our Media Centers so that students can access online work. By providing multiple methods of access, students should be able to view the content, no matter what device they have access to.
  2. Time to complete the out of class work. Even in an affluent community like Edina, some families may only have 1 family computer for 2 or 3 children to access for homework. If all of those children are in the secondary schools, that may mean all needing access to video, Moodle discussions, and the creation of content. When assigning videos as homework, be sure to give the students a couple of days to complete the assignment.
  3. Model good note-taking methods. Rather than say, "watch this video and take notes on it," it is important to specify the expectation. Our district encourages the Cornell note-taking method for students.
  4. Vary Instructional methods and materials. Not every student will be an auditory or visual learner. By varying in-class activities, as well as outside of class activities, you can help keep your students actively engaged.
  5. Limit the length of the videos. Remember when Youtube used to limit uploads to less than 10 minutes? Part of the reason was that attention spans are limited! Screencastomatic has a 15 minute limit, which I think is the maximum length you should need.
These are a few of the tips I have for those interested in adding flipped instruction to your pedagogical repertoire. What other thoughts or ideas do you have?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Guest Post:: Web Rant from an Old Geek

Today's offering is a guest post, by South View Middle School Art teacher, John Kraus. John and I have participated on a couple of Communities of Practice over the years, and today, when he sent out this as an e-mail to staff, I asked if he wouldn't mind if I shared it with a wider audience. John graciously agreed! You can learn more about his Web presence here, and/or view his blog here or follow him on Twitter.

It has been a couple of weeks since I have wasted your time and filled school server space with an email rant.  

What is the purpose of having a website for every class and teacher?
Why do it, how does it work, who cares?
Do I need to learn to do it myself – shouldn’t I be trained?

I think if you are a professional in our society you need a good Web presence.

To create an effective Web presence you must know your target audience for all the different Web tools – I think Webpages are not really just for students – we have Moodle for them.  And parents can always access Moodle with their child.  So the target audience may not really be Parents or students at all since they have access to inside information via SchoolView and Moodle.  If all you have is a link to your Moodle page you are not really putting your best foot forward online.  Especially if once the person goes to the Moodle page they can’t see it without a key.  

A Website is partly for visitors to the Edina District site on-line.  Families who move into the district and wonder about our staff and course offerings.  Other schools and teachers who would like to know what is going on in the Edina Schools.  Former students who look in on their old school.  Etc.

You may say it is not your job to educate people who go to the site if they are not connected to a current student.  But as a professional it is best that you control some of the flow of information about you online.  For some of you the only place you are online is at places like (the school Internet will not allow you to go there – we do not want our students all getting easy access to site like this… right?) As an individual I think the district is offering, and expecting, me to use Google Sites as a place for me to present myself to the public in a professional way.

At the opening workshop this year Will Richardson spoke how every teacher should be “searchable”, or was it “Googlable”, in a positive way.  Go ahead search for John C Kraus see what you came up with.  Below is the link:

Let me know if you have any ideas how I can improve on my Web presence.

I know many of you are thinking that you can’t do “one more thing”.  I get that – I have better things to do too.  But If you plan on being in the profession for a few more years (and even I will stick around for a few years or so) - and want to be seen in a positive way - it can’t hurt to spend some time controlling the main source that most people use to get their information about things – including you.  You want to be viewed as being someone who is on top of things.  Having a positive online profile is part of doing just that these days.

Search for yourself – if you can not easily find something you want people to see – then chances are your web presence could use some updating.

And remember - Edina Public Schools is a brand.  I think the district would like people to go to our website and gain a little insight in what is going on at our school/classes.  No one can do a better job of putting information about you online – it really is something that would be better if you did it yourself.  I know some of you will say you are not trained to do this.  But considering how much we expect students to do online I would suggest you seek out the help you need.  Lets face it if we expect our students to work online we should be proficient at it as well.

If any of you would like help with a webpage there are people who are on staff that can work with you.  I know our Webmaster is swamped, If you want just some simple things you can even come to me – I am far from being an expert but I may be able to help.  I know all of you know some geek you can go to for help.

Before coming to Edina I did some training sessions for staff on how to use an old program called “Hypercard” (this was over 20 years ago).  At one of my workshops a veteran staff member was having trouble because they kept trying to put the disc in backwards “I thought the silver part was the handle” was her response.  But she got the hang of it eventually.  We all have things we needed to learn over the years to keep up with the kids.  And for most of these things we needed to learn it on our own.  And there are some things I spent hours learning only to see it quickly became obsolete as a new, better, way took over.  No one uses Hypercard anymore – too bad since I was really good with that program.

For me, some of the new technology I have had to figure out over the years, with very little training, has been not just computers but: VCRs, DVDs, Copy Machines, Digital Cameras, Phone Systems, Webtools.  How I long for the days when I used 16mm film, large posters and mimeographs.  I did not need to use all this tech stuff back then.  If I wanted to contact a parent I could mail them a letter (wait a week or so for a reply) or keep calling them till they answered (there was no leaving messages since few homes had that technology back then).  And I could not call from my room since it did not have a phone.

This week I have been trying to figure out SchoolView.  It is perhaps the tenth grading program I have used over the years – I hope it will be my last, but I am not counting on it.  At home I got my first HDTV this week.  Now if I can only figure out how to use it effectively.  Why can’t I just plug in my new TV and adjust the “rabbit ears” doing that worked fine in the old days.  

Have a great weekend.    


Monday, September 12, 2011

What I like about Bring Your Own Device!

Today I was walking down the hall between our middle school and high school and came upon this scene:
Here's what I like about this picture as it relates to our Bring Your Own Device initiative:
  • The student in the middle is using her personal device on our network (You can tell by the bumper sticker on the front, and the fact that it's a Mac in a PC district!) This meets our goal of personalizing student learning
  • They are working in the middle of the hall way (Anytime/Anywhere learning outside the walls of the classroom).
  • They were all collaborating on the document she was working on (Enhancing 21st Century Skills).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Redefining "Awesome!"

On August 29, noted education author and speaker, Will Richardson spoke to our staff at the district kick-off event.
His talk, "Learning In A Networked World: For Our Students and Ourselves," is one I have seen a few times, but his message was new to staff here in Edina. Prior to his talk, our Superintendent, Dr. Ric Dressen, shared many of the positive things that have been happening in Edina. Our district has been recognized by many National and International organizations for excellence in education. Our district administers more AP exams than any district in a 5 state area, and graduates saved over $2 million in tuition costs through their success on those tests. The word of the day was: AWESOME!

After a brief story about how his children learned how to use a program via Skype from an 11 year old in Scotland, Richardson asked a question of the audience:
How do we define learning?
Richardson shared this definition from Seymour Sarason:
The great thing is.."We now have an easy connection between one's passion to learn and the resources to learn it."
Soon there will be 2 billion people connected on the Internet. This represents 2 billion predators, or...

The next day, at our high school professional development training, several staff commented on that slide.

They understand that "It's not 1985" but they were uncomfortable thinking about connecting students to these "potential" teachers. I reminded them that Richardson didn't say that there were 2 Billion teachers. The key word is "potential!"  I think one of our new roles as educators is to assist students in connecting with the good content AND good teachers who can assist students in the learning process. I've used this video in the past to illustrate this idea of "connectivism."

So how do we redefine "Awesome?"
At the evening talk with parents, Richardson mentioned the inquiry based approach used by the Science Leadership Academy of Philadelphia as an example of a school that is being successful at this.

Then yesterday, during a Twitter conversation, Richardson referenced this school:

Last week, while visiting Valley View Middle school, I learned about Peter Kivimaki, a 7th grader there. Last year, he and fellow student Caroline Harmening started helping with the daily announcements. Over the summer, Peter was bored, and decided to create a Daily Announcement Website. So he logged in to Edina Apps, and collaborating with Caroline, did just that. He initially thought maybe the site would contain the text of each announcement, but then wondered about adding the audio. With the help of principal, Shawn Dudley, they learned how to record the announcements using a Web based tool called AudioBoo. Now each day, they use Audio Boo to record the announcements, and embed them on the building Website! Awesome!

I think this story illustrates a student following his passion, collaborating with others, and having a truly authentic learning experience to redefine "awesome" here in Edina. I would venture to guess this is an example of what Richardson is talking about.

So, how do YOU redefine "AWESOME?!"