Tuesday, December 17, 2013

TIES 2013 Keynote: Mimi Ito on Connected Learning

Mizuko "Mimi" Ito, cultural anthropologist and Research Director of the Digital Media and Learning Hub, was the Tuesday Keynote at the 2013 TIES Conference.

There is a lot of talk today about social media and video games distracting and socially isolating children, but Ito is optimistic.
There is a readiness and openness to cross the barriers between what students are doing with technology inside school and outside school.
Her son's school started a MineCraft elective, through a student petition.
The students not only got their interest sponsored, but learned shared governance and engagement. It also allowed Ito to peer in to the world of students today.

How can young people make the most of today's abundance of information and social connection?

How do WE develop stronger connections between in-school and out of school learning? This isn't new! It's similar to Dewey's vision of merging education and life. If mobilized in particular ways, today's technology can make learning more accessible to young people. 

Research Behind the Connected Learning Model

  • Young People are Readers!
  • Pew study shows that young people read. The volume of media engagement has changed. 7 1/2 hours of media per day! Young people are leading media centered lives, and this is how they connect socialy!
  • Gaming is here to stay! 45% of females are now gamers! 
  • Virtually all teens have Internet access, most often via mobile
  • Text is the "stickiest" way to communicate (100 texts per day for girls, 50 for boys.)
  • Culture clash between institutions developed when information was scarce vs. the new world outside the classroom.
  • Students expect information at their fingertips.
  • Positives and Negative Debate regarding this immersion in New Media
  • William Gibson-"The future is here, it's just unevenly distributed."
Digital Youth Study
  • 3 Year Study
  • There is a persistent generation gap between how generations view online participation!
  • Young people are learning a lot:
  •      Friendship-Driven Learning and Participation
  •      Interest-Driven Learning and Participation (Nerd, Geek, passion      based, intergenerational.)
  • When the study was done, MySpace and LiveJournal were the tools, Tools change, but the learning doesn't.
  • For some kids who are marginalized in school, the online world gives kids the outlet to connect with those with similar passions. 
Ito shared the story of a 17 year old, who loved professional wrestling, and through the support of her teacher, found a peer group to support that interest.

Annual expenditures for enrichment activities that parents pay for kids approaching $9,000! This is where the gap is growing, and it's where kids are able to explore and develop passions. Ito believes that online opportunities can help close this gap.

There is a huge explosion of online learning opportunities. The MOOC, Khan Academy and others are part of this explosion. 

Khan sentiment:
"We were promised jetpacks and we got lectures!" -Justin Reich

At the early stage of innovation cycles, they closely resemble what came before. It's important to remember the context, and how our practices will adapt and change. We overestimate the long term and underestimate the short term. (I think this applies many initiatives that require a change in pedagogy, like 1:1 or BYOD initiatives.)

"What if we lead with the learning objectives rather than lead with the technology?" 

"We are totally agnostic, it doesn't matter the tool!" (Good lead in to the session Tim Berndt and I are doing later!)

What could it look like?

Build connections to a wider world. Not just the resources! Q & A forums are pretty cool! The power of the peer to peer ecology is important. (Stack Overflow, Ravelry.com -It's not just for geeks any more!)

  • Geeks are still ahead on the metrics of the learning sites. Tracking reputation and achievement are much higher on sites like topcoder.com, and companies are paying attention! 
  • Badges for Connected Learning 
Meet Learners where they are. Not just about personalized learning. Meet them where they are at in their passions! Student run clubs are examples of this, but with online communities, the opportunities like eSports and Harry Potter Alliance are taking on a greater 
Build Maker Spaces

"Any one of these experiences for a child can be life changing!" These are experiences they don't forget. What it means to get ahead in life is directly related to their strength and passion!"

Monday, December 16, 2013

TIES 2013: Marc Prensky Practical Future-Cation

At his opening keynote this morning, Marc Prensky gave a 50,000 foot view of Future-Cation, a phrase he has coined to talk about what we should be teaching.
The keynote did not have a lot of meat, and he promised more detail in the afternoon, so I decided to check it out.

Future-cation is not just "adding technology."
If you are writing w/ technology and only write, that i

Future-Cation is a state of mind. Thinking about the future in everything you do.
Seeing things in new ways.

A dozen things it means practically:

  • No Best Practices-A lot of people running around to see what's going on in Finland. By the time you get back, you are further behind. Invent new ones instead! Change what we do, every time we do it!
  • Seeing Preparing Kids for the Future as YOUR Job!-It's easy to ask, "Tell me what to do?!" Ask your students! Assign one of your students as a tech advisor for each unit.
  • Viewing tech not as the enemy, add-on, hindrance or something optional but as the foundation of what you do.
  • Don't let your own biases get in the way! "What if the power goes out?" What happens when the car breaks down?! We don't need to back up every single thing! It's like keeping a horse in the garage in case the car breaks down.
  • You need to Future-cate every day in every lesson. Part of your brain needs to be focused on the future! How can you relate the past to something that might happen?
  • Individualize by using technology to personalize. The way you personalize is around people's passions, not on ways to all learn the same thing? What does fractions mean if you love gymnastics, football, cooking, dance, etc. If the only answer is "because it's on the test," you're not future-cating.
  • Skyping and Tweeting around the world
  • Use Data Bases and Computational Engines-Wolfram Alpha-Allows you to ask questions of the data bases. 
  • 3D printing-It's become a mainstream manufacturing technique, plus it's become a cornerstone of the Maker Movement.
  • Simulations We can look at things like the "London Tube," to see how best to drive it.
  • Virtual Worlds-If you are going to be a future-cator, every meeting you have should include people from outside the classroom.
  • Complex Games
  • Robotics
  • Understanding and fully exploiting the network's power.
  • Even when teaching about the past, provide a future connection. What does this 
  • Retain ONLY what is truly necessary and useful (As a former math teacher, he noted that Algebra is really a proxy for symbolic and logical thinking skills. It's not for everybody.)
  • Give your students a positive view of the future!
Is asking Siri for an answer cheating? 
So many things we see about the future are distopian. Prensky believes that that while that may be the view of Hollywood, the reality is that "THINGS GET BETTER!"

We can't just do the same old things better. We have to do better things!

Logical Thinking
Past-ucation-Just teach geometry
Future-cation-Also teach programming

Past-ucation: Teach only persuasive writing.
Future-cation: Also teach persuasive video making.

Past-ucation: Teaching only group work in class
Future-cation: Also teaching online collaboration in virtual communities

How much of what you do is Past-Ucation?

What should we teach in the 21st Century?

Today, ANY content can be learned with technology.
Technology does not teach:
  • Motivation
  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Passion
From the very beginning, we need to train students to be self-sufficient learners with the guidance of a teacher. They need to be nodes on the network.

Today, students use YouTube, MOOCs (Not good now, but will get better).

Education will be less about courses and more about 

Today, technology is foundational to students.

Verbs vs. Nouns

PowerPoint, Email, Wikipedia
These change to HTML5, Twitter, YouTube,etc.

Presenting, Communicating, Learning 
Stay the same

As a teacher, you have to remember the key verbs! Only after you understand the verbs, then look for the best noun to do the job.

You need to be ready and flexible enough to move to new nouns as they appear.
This is similar to Molly Schroeder's "Date the Tool, Marry the Skill"

Teach and Assign only Verbs!!

What should we teach? How do we give kids the education that they need?

Prensky believes that we should prepare students for jobs in the future, and teach them the basic skills to make them employable, though most job skills are best learned on the job.

The Uplift Curriculum: The New Basics

  • Effective Thinking
  • Effective Actions
  • Effective Relationships
  • Effective Problem Solving

These should be the core classes, and then students should follow passions in post secondary. We want students to think logically, but not all have to learn it by taking geometry!

Unfortunately, the details of this curriculum are not being taught today.
Prensky asked whether we teach Past-ucation or Future-Cation in our districts.

An audience member asked if everyone will go to college? Prensky noted that parents aren't that interested in paying $50,000 a year so their child can drink! He believes that yes, there will still be a need, but that the amount may change based on the career.

Solve the access problem by being a "digital multiplier!" Get the students to share!!

Prensky believes that more partnerships will be developed between higher ed and businesses to support one another. 
Shop and Art teachers have been teaching how to make for a long time! We need to listen to them and focus on their techniques rather than math!

He hopes that we at least move beyond thinking that education is a math or english test score.

TIES 2013: Suzie Boss: Preparing Today's Students To Be Tomorrow's Innovators

Suzie Boss,  National faculty member from the Buck Institute, talked about the importance of innovation.
Her background is PBL and writing/reporting as a member of the press.
Innovation is a big topic lately.
How can we bring innovation to schools?
Is peanut butter pop-tarts innovation?
Who are the innovators?
Ghana library similar to the Carnegie Library. Empty Space with people deciding what goes in there. Kickstarter funded.
D-Rev High performance knee replacement.

Studio H
Public High School “Design, Build, Transform” curriculum.
The community donated the land, and the high school students in North Carolina developed a High School for them.

Maker Fair

Maker spaces lately are great incubators of innovation.
Thomas Edison's workshop had a pipe organ. You can't be thinking problem solving, 24/7! They used the organ to take breaks, and get refreshed. This made them idea factories!
Where do our students get refreshed, to revive their innovation energy?

Usually things start small and come from someone getting compelled to act.

A young woman decided that since there are sites like eHarmony and Match.com for people, why isn't their anything for people and pets? These two former middle school locker partners continued to fuel their passion till they now have created this business. She also has a job training program for homeless youth who want to get back into society.

A former Olympic Speed Skater. Johan Koss started this organization to support youth around the world to provide equipment to those less fortunate.

Ask your students, "I want to be the one who...................."

  • Make room for thinking and doing
  • Design Thinking-Stanford D School
  • How do you bring design thinking into the classroom?
  • See Opportunity Everywhere-Look for areas that are underserved.
A soccer ball that can generate electricity! The person who came up with the idea was not an engineer, but collaborated with a team to make it happen.

Project H

Innovation does not happen with just one!
Remember that when you open it up to others, the idea may change. That's ok!

Connected Learners- A Step By Step Guide to Creating a Global Classroom. Includes the student perspective.

What else can I do with this?
Take one idea and transform it to improve something else.
For example, the "Hero Rat!" The next step is using the rats to identify Tuberculosis!

Green Bronx Machine
Teacher, Steve Ritz, lives in a "food desert," with little access to affordable healthy food. He saw a vertical wall, that he could use in his classroom. He started getting kids growing stuff. Then continued to expand...

Remixing of Good Ideas
Aravind Eye Care System- Many adults in his community were going to be blind without intervention. 

Changing the Scale-
The Little Free Library is an example of this. And so is this:

You never know what a kid can do! Encourage them!
Jack Andraka's pancreatic cancer breakthrough:

And don't forget to learn from failure! Fail Faire!

If you are looking for ideas for students to work on, look at the Fixes column on the New York Times.
Finally, challenge kids to get started! Reminds me of our Apathy project.

She ended by showing the invisible bike helmet video...

TIES 2013: Tim Wilson-Embracing BYOD

Tim Wilson, CTO Osseo Public Schools
Osseo Public Schools Chief Technical Officer, Tim Wilson, spoke at the TIES conference on Embracing BYOD. He said that despite a recent referendum that will lead them to a larger 1:1 initiative, they will continue to support BYOD.
Session collaborative notes can be found here.
Wilson noted the importance of "Getting Clear About the Why!"
For many years, we have tried to standardized IT to be exactly the same because it makes our lives easier! It is very restrictive! The rest of the world thinks differently about things!

Cut IT folks some slack though, because that "one size fits all" aproach has been best practice.

They started w/ only 3 schools in their move towards BYOD with Project Copernicus. Organic/Evolutionary model. It was the right approach at the time.

  • Security
  • Network capacity/Bandwidth
  • Tech support
  • Equity
  • Platforms
  • Staff Development-How do we prepare staff to be competent to deal w/ the devices
  • Classroom management
  • Fear of change
  • Getting 4’s and 5’s on AP Exams-Why do I need to use these devices?
Wilson asked the audience what burning questions they had:

Burning questions

  • How is network capacity managed?
  • What PD is available?
  • School liability?
  • Bandwidth?
  • what pd do you do to help teachers make the shift?
  • Does the school have any liability?
  • What changes need to be made to school and district policies?
  • What are some resources for students who cannot afford technology?
  • How do you deal with devices that are damaged/stolen?
Schools know how to deal with rental of equipment! Look at

kajeet leases devices for parents who can't afford and it includes parental controls!

Wilson's vision is to get a hand-held device into the hands of all of his students. With 20,000, that is financially difficult. He encourages people to think about the WHY!

Their document is: Digital Learning for All.

Be cautious about over-emphasizing student engagement in the vision process. What is the purpose!?

Sylvia Martinez-"Engagement is not a goal, it’s an outcome of students (or anyone) doing meaningful work!"

Osseo used the "Feeding the Rabbits" approach:
  • Identify the people who are ready
  • Give the the resources to run
  • Let them run!
Below them are first followers who after seeing the rabbit's success, they will give it a try. Then there are those who need to be convinced by colleagues before they get on board. Then there's the "punching the clock" group. Don't waste your time convincing them! (Similar to Anthony Muhammad's ideas)

They started w/ high school and elementary students. If you are starting it, be sure to communicate w/ parents.

Elementary students had to turn in a permission slip. They talk about sharing in the permission letter.

Key Points
  • You MUST have a robust network! They had already invested in 100% coverage the year before they launched.
  • You need collaboration tools that will work on all devices. They use Google Drive.
  • Equity- A plan for students who don't have access.
  • 2-1 is almost as good as 1-1. The conversations about the work is sometimes better! Structure the opportunities for sharing!
  • Have a plan for teaching digital citizenship! (Resource) Here is one our Edina Teaching and Technology cohort has put together as well!
He finished by discussing the questions.
  • Staff development has been to train a few teachers to implement and create plans for others.
  • Teachers are expected to close and lock the door when they leave the classroom unattended.
  • They are upgrading their network for 1:1.
  • Keep policy vague, but change the handbook to fit.
  • Avoid making students "criminals" with your policy.
They are stubborn about printing, because they want people to share w/ Google Docs.
Additional recommendations:
  • Listen to your teachers! Get into classrooms and learn what is working and what isn't!
  • Create support communities! Be purposeful in creating methods of support!
  • Remind students that they ARE NOT responsible for fixing student devices!

TIES 2013: Andrew Vanden-Heuvel-The Future of Learning is Here!

Andrew Vanden-Heuvel, a former astronomer turned educator shared his thoughts on the future of learning. He currently serves as an online educator in Michigan.
Cosmic issue: Solve the poverty problem
Education can do that.

Purpose of school is to help kids find their passion.
The problem is that "school is boring!"
How can we make school engaging?
Too often we think that technology is the answer for technologies sake.
The real question is how to make LEARNING engaging?
It's everywhere. Reward cards, video games, etc. The reason they are interesting is that they can be fun.
What kind of gamification do we want at school?
Target cashiers get a score for the speed of checking someone out, with tracking of score and number of sales. Would this work in school?

One mentioned the importance of clear learning targets.
Identifies those not scoring well and allows the teacher to differentiate.
I see similarities with this and the tool, Kahoot! It provides some motivation and "friendly" competition, but I can also see the downside in an educational setting that it emphasizes competition rather than learning.

Vanden-Heuvel notes that we assess what is easiest to assess. Depending on the criteria of the assessment it may limit or focus on the wrong things.
Let's think about the higher level skills we want our kids to learn.
He showed BrainPop's game that seems to focus more on Knowledge level questions. But what about this...

There are ways to take simple elements to make the

Social Networks
He talked about Facebook, Twitter and Edmodo as tools teachers can use.
He pointed out that in general, they are asynchronous. If we want students to interact with one another, asynchronous can be hard. He gave the examples of "Asynchronous dancing," and Asynchronous Digging, where there is lack of depth.
He suggested of a shared Google Doc as being a better tool.
For example, what if everyone were correcting grammar errors, or in a class discussion site, where everyone is using the social tool in the "chat room." He feels synchronous can be more engaging.

Roles of the Educator: Vanden-Huevel identified three.

  • Create Content
  • Build Relationships
  • Provide Feedback
All of these are interrelated to each other. Some teachers are great at some of these, but not others.
As we think of the future of education, we may see people specialize in roles in the educational process.
Is this a good thing?
Most in the audience felt building relationships is most important. There may be some blessing with this specialization. Another member noted that when providing feedback, it's important to know more about the kid, and whether they were having a bad day.

He noted that when MP3 players replaced portable CD's, the skipping of music stopped, but the quality of the sound wasn't as good.
Quality isn't the only thing that matters. One aspect may improve while another diminishes.

Learning Analytics
The first thing that comes to mind is Website analytics. We can also track this in the classroom. The more digital tools we use, the more data we can gather and we can personalize learning.
Simple tools like YouTube allow you to see analytics on how many students are watching videos.
You can also view how many people watch the whole video, or just a part. You can also see geography.
He showed data on a video that showed 2 people in Ireland had watched it, but he doesn't have any students there!

He showed how sections of the video show that students re-watched sections of the video, or in others where few watched it. This can help teachers improve the video and inform instruction.
Newton is a company that is working on data for educators.

Google Glass
It may inform our learning in the future.
He demonstrated how they work, "Ok Glass..." and then speak the command. It now has the ability to translate.
His story of Google Glass was that he
He tweeted, "If I had glass, it would transform the way I teach science-making every moment a teachable moment." 

Google invited him to go to Cern and the Large Hadron Collider to give a first person account.

Here's how he's used it!

Pretty cool!
I love the questions and excitement in the students.

"And then I got home!"
Now he has a YouTube channel and will be using Glass at the conference!

Definitely a science teacher to follow!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hour of Code at EHS

This year for Computer Science Education Week, Code.org has sponsored an Hour of Code, an initiative to introduce computer programming to over 10 million students around the globe. Code.org was started by Hadi Partovi, a former Microsoft Group Program Manager.
(As of this writing on Monday, over 2.5 million students had already written more than 59,000,000 lines of code!)

Here in Edina, Computer Science teacher Nancy Johnson got on board with the project, and working with her students developed a schedule for all High School math classes to spend one hour during the week learning to Code. They created publicity, posters, and chose the tutorial activities they thought their peers would enjoy the most. We put them onto this Website.
 In addition, through the generous support of Rae Bolingsworth from the Microsoft Store, on Friday cake will be served at all lunches to celebrate the life of computer pioneer, Grace Murray Hopper!  

Students for the most part have been really engaged in the process, and have gained a better understanding of the underlying instructions behind the tasks they use a computer for every day!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Learning IS Social...Connecting and The Power of the Network!

Today, I was listening to NPR, when the announcer mentioned that coming up on Science Friday, there would be a discussion with author, Matthew Lieberman regarding his new book, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect. I was intrigued, as: 

So I sent out this tweet:
I enjoyed the segment and took some notes that will be useful. Then the following happened:

It's not every day that you hear a segment about a book that you are interested in, and a half hour later you're having a dialog with the author. That is the POWER of being connected! 
I am definitely interested in reading Lieberman's book. I think it has great implications for classroom teachers, social learning and connectivist MOOCs. Here is his TED Talk on "The Social Brain and its SuperPowers"

The great thing is, I'm not the only one of my colleagues who had an experience like this today!  Valley View Government teacher, Erik Anderson had his question answered by Historian Michael Beschloss on "Tweet the Press!"

Additional support for the value of being a connected educator!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

EdCampMSP: Lunchtime Conversation

I was having lunch today at EdCampMSP with some great folks from Byron, MN and Little Falls.
Neil Adruschak was commenting on his experience with the Little Falls 1:1 iPad roll out.
In year one, he got a call from a teacher, asking for help learning how to use Keynote on the iPad.
Neil had never used it, and suggested that instead, the teacher ask his kids to show him how it was done.
The next morning 25 out of 25 students showed up in his classroom, eager to share their knowledge of how to make a presentation in Keynote.
A week later, the teacher called again, this time to learn how to use another product. Neil asked, "how did you learn to use Keynote?" "Oh, yeah!," said the teacher as he hung up.

This year, teachers like the one above, who had highly engaged, motivated students in their classrooms, had step-by-step guides on some of the more popular tools they would be using with students, and didn't ask the students for help. What Adruschak has observed, is that those same students who were so engaged the year before, had shut down, as they felt no longer needed.

One of the shifts teachers need to make, is feeling as though they need to be the expert at EVERYTHING in their classroom. They don't! Andruschak notes that they DO need to be experts at their curricular content, the standards, and ways to help students learn. But they don't need to know as much as the kids about everything. It reminds me of this image I found last year:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Letter From the BYOD Trenches

Today, I received an e-mail from Chris Hoffman, one of our 8th Grade Math Teachers at Valley View Middle School. For the last 4 years or so, Chris has been working to flip his curriculum. Last year, he included a project where students created a video example for all of the power standards in his course. He also built an AP Statistics course from scratch, and included many videos to assist students as they worked through the curriculum. Based on his student's performance, it was very successful! I asked him permission to share his note with my readers, and he said it would be ok. 

I do the flipped classroom. After a brief agenda overview and summary from the video lessons I help students with homework for the bulk of the 85 minute block and today, their practice test for the upcoming unit assessment. The two students in the photograph spent a few minutes with me working on reviewing sign changes when solving equations in algebra. I mentioned they should transfer what we reviewed on my mini-white board onto a paper notecard for their test. They asked if they could take pictures of it instead. I said absolutely. Moral of the story, flipped classroom instruction done right is very powerful. Encouraging vs. discouraging use of devices in the classroom to supplement learning is part of that power. I hope that as a district we don’t get overly rule-based with respect to allowing students to access devices in the classroom. If there is a problem with them in the classroom, my guess is that it is a function of classroom management versus the use of personal devices.
Chris Hoffman
Math Teacher

Chris is a shining example of a teacher implementing our eLearning2 initiative to personalize learning for students in Edina! 
We will continue to work with staff on ways they can incorporate devices into their curriculum, and develop classroom management strategies to unleash student's passion for learning!

Well done, Mr. Hoffman!

Friday, October 4, 2013

eLearning2 in the High School Chemistry Classroom

Edina High School Chemistry teacher, Gavin McLean has begun incorporating student devices into his instruction. Last year, 9th grade students were given the option to participate in our eLearning2 initiative.
Last spring, McLean recognized that those students would be coming to the high school with devices, and began brainstorming ways that he could incorporate them.

Early on, he worried about student devices in his lab space. He saw potential for students to enter their observations electronically, but worried about devices getting damaged if they were on the lab surface. He took it upon himself to build stands that students could use in the lab. Color coded for each station, they provide students with a stable platform to set their Chromebook, laptop or tablet on. 4 Chemistry classrooms are now outfitted for students to bring devices.

I had a chance to stop by a lab to see students in action. They have been were doing some identification and entering in data into a shared Google Doc. In other labs, McLean has used Google Forms, depending on how he wants students to interact with the data afterwards. In a measurement unit, he incorporated inquiry by first having students go out into the hall to measure. Some had calipers, some had meter sticks, tape measures, rulers and a trundle wheel. He had them fill out a Google Form with their results, then when students got back into the room, He showed the data. "Who was correct?" This gave the students greater insight into the importance of units when doing observation!

Students in his class with devices commented that they mostly are using it in Chemistry and Pre-AP English, though some are using it for math, as they can access the electronic version of the textbook without having to lug it around. As you can see in the picture, some students still try and get by with just their cell phone. This works well for forms, but is not as effectively if students have to edit a Google Doc. Especially docs that include tables. 

One student in the second period I observed said, "sometimes what I do for homework is so redundant!" He wished one of his teachers incorporated quizzes in Moodle, so that if he scored well on certain problems, he wouldn't be required to do those for homework. 

McLean is excited about the potential, and recognizes that incorporating student devices in the classroom is going to be a process. He has found that almost every student in his 1st hour has a device, but about half in his 5th hour class do. As eLearning2 expands, and more and more teachers incorporate student devices in their instruction, those numbers are bound to increase. McLean notes, It feels a bit more "real world," and "21st Century," even though he knows there is still a place for paper and pencil and always will be.

Friday, September 27, 2013

MDE:Sketchup in the Classroom

Doug Paulson, K-12 STEM specialist at the Minnesota Department of Education shared information about the state license Minnesota has for Sketchup Pro, a Computer Aided Design program.
The Pro version can be translated into other CAD programs as well, and it can be shared within presentations to show 3D drawings and build understanding of the real world. 
Paulson shared how the flow of ideas between the practice of science to the practice of engineering to the interactions of science, engineering and society can be set up on each grade level.
Paulson had us open Sketchup and begin learning to use the tools.

He discussed how using these tools, and allowing students to add the colors and textures that they wanted allowed them to explore design. With 4th graders, he had them design solar ovens, and then had them discuss why their design would be the best. Then he had them actually build and test it out.

This can be used to have students build bridges or other structures, and put them into Google Earth, to see how their design works with the world around it. Geolocation can be added to the 3D model. Through the 3D warehouse, other structures already created, like the Minnesota Capital can be added.

Paulson asked the following questions to discuss with colleagues:
  1. How might this support instruction?
  2. How does this scaffold through instruction?
  3. What support systems might need to be developed?

I talked about this with staff from St. Louis Park, and we discussed the great applications for multiple subject levels, but also the need for training of staff and students, as well as the need for this to work on multiple devices. Right now, it is limited to Mac and PC.

We then came back and shared ideas on how Sketchup might be used.

  • Do develop a game space
  • Redesign a space
  • Design a building in your community
  • Use primary sources to recreate buildings from a historical era.
I see this as a great tool for the "maker" in all of us as a way to meet many curricular standards. I was reminded of the Wireframe program, Wireman, I used with my students in the early 1990's, that allowed us to FTP files to a Cray XMP SuperComputer at Lawrence Livermore Labs. After a few hours, we were able to download an 8-bit rendered movie with color and light sources in place. Students motivation to create in that space gave them a better understanding of the X-Y-Z axis than any Geometry class I had taught. They saw the real world application right away,and it made sense to them. Sketchup can do all of that and more, without having to wait hours to see the results!

How might you use it?

MDE GIS for Inquiry in the Classroom

The State of Minnesota Department of Education has a state-wide license for Geographical Information Systems. On September 27th, I had a chance to attend a training at MDE to learn more.
In social studies, Substrand 1 on Geospacial Skills, have two standards where technology is embeded. Students are to formulate questions on topics in geography and use geospatial technology to analyze problems and make decisions within a spatial context. GIS is a great tool for this. 
Authentic problems, like transportation and flooding can be addressed.

In science, students are to use maps, satellite images and other data sets to describe pattersn and make predictions about natural systems in a life science context. Students could use GIS to use online data sets to compare wildlife populations or water quality within Minnesota.

Sara Damon, a social studies teacher from Stillwater Public Schools talked about Spatial Thinking with Geotechnologies. Sheis a strong advocate for real-world tools to prepare our students.
She began by talking about thinking spatially. How people places and phenomena are laid out, organized.

"Put maps in front of your students, no matter what you teach!" "There is a geography to everything!" A Facebook connections map can tell you a lot.

This ties in to the geographic inquiry process :

Geospacial technologies are 
  • GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
  1. Virtual globes (Google Earth) 
  2. Internet Map and image servers (Organizations like Food Environment Atlas, The World Bank, MLA) 
  3. Desktop GIS-"If you want to be the wizard behind the curtain!" (Challenging, but your students CAN do it!!)
  • Global Positioning Systems
  • Remote Sensing
Damon shared this video from the Geospatial Revolution Project at Penn State University on applications:

Students at Stillwater have used GIS data to analyze where cell phone towers are in the St. Croix valley, map the tree inventory in the school forest, map bluebird houses in the Lake Elmo Park Reserve, and FireWise Communities a program designed to reduce wild fires nationally and in Minnesota.
Look at ways you can use this as a service project for your community!

She uses ArcGIS online map viewer to look at census data, look at boundary disputes around the world, and working with "Community Analyst" to pick locations new grocery stores in her community.

Story Maps allow you to use GIS to tell digital stories. She hopes to do a project this year with her AP Geography students after taking the exam in May. She hasn't used this yet, but knows that with some persistence, and working together with her students, she knows she will figure it out! Learning is messy sometimes, but she knows she'll be able to figure it out!

She finished by talking about her Global Service Learning Project, where she has invited one of the "Lost Boys of Sudan," to come speak to her class, and then the students create a service learning project around it. Her students have raised over $41,000 for the H2O for Life organization over the last 4 years. There is more to this than just an academic exercise! 
The state license for Minnesota is the desktop version of ArcGIS, but you also get access to all of the online tools. She uses the Map Viewer along with the Explorer Online most often.
She suggests beginning with presentations and demonstrations, move into scripted activities, then expand on the script, create a directed project, and finally move to student directed activities.

Damon's  wiki has lots of useful resources and hands-on activities. Definitely a great place to start and worth checking out! You can also check out some great examples of classroom use at the GeoJourneysGIS wiki.

I appreciated this presentation both for the content, and Damon's passion for learning and attitude towards technology. 

We were then led on an activity where we used the online GIS version to pull data on the Minnesota river, and then add that data to a map, and change the size of the data points based on nitrates in the water. We could then look at questions such as:
What patterns do you see?
What factors could cause these?

View Larger Map
This is a great way for inquiry to happen in the classroom, whether it be social studies, science, math, etc. For those looking for ways integrating technology can truly be transformative, and not just substituting low tech for high, this is a great place to start! I'm excited to see what devices the online version will support. (UPDATE: Doug Paulson from MDE said that the online version DOES work on Chromebooks, and there is a pretty good Android App, but the iOS App is currently very limiting.)

After some time for collaboration among the educators here, we discussed the great authentic learning opportunities with real data, opportunities for collaboration among distant classrooms to compare and contrast data, is huge. Scaffolding is important, but elementary students could use Zip Codes, prior to learning latitude and longitude, and still use these tools. 

In Minnesota, you can set up your account on the MDE Website set up for creating accounts with ESRI. You can also attend GeoFest at Macalester College to learn more.