Been to a tech conference lately? You more than likely heard time and time again something about “21st Century Skills.” Quite frankly, I’m a little over the term “21st Century Skills.” I think more often than not, people use the term and may not really know what it means or what those skills are. We know the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (there it is again) has defined them..does the 4Cs ring a bell…but what do you think “21st Century Skills” are? I’m interested. I think we should start calling these skills out more rather than throwing out the general term so much. So, if you would be so kind, will you please take 1-2 minutes to fill out this survey and tell me what you think “21st Century Skills” are? Of course, I will share the results.
A couple of weeks ago, I ran my favorite 1/2 Marathon, The Hilo Half. Recently I’ve let life get in the way of my running and workouts and I was not prepared to run the race. In fact, I didn’t want to run it because I knew my time was going to be a lot slower than previous races, but I decided the night before it would be a great workout and to just do it (no Nike pun intended).
The morning of the race, I woke up to rain. I text messaged a friend who was also participating in the race and let her know I changed my mind. I didn’t want to run in the rain. She convinced me to do it anyway so I quickly got dressed and headed to Hilo Bay arriving at the starting line five minutes before the race. I saw a bunch of friends and rather than being my normal “cheerful” self, I pretty much scowled at everyone and told them how I hadn’t trained. I informed them how unhappy I was to be there. No, “good luck,hope you have a great run!”. Nope, it was all about me and my negative attitude. I wouldn’t even let a coworker take my picture because I didn’t want anyone to know I was running (because so many people are keeping track of my races). Skies looked dark, but it wasn’t raining until 30 seconds into the start when not only did it pour, but the wind blowing so hard it felt like needles were hitting me all over my body. I saw my car and it was all I could do to make myself run past it and not quit right then and there. Rain was getting in my eyes, my shoes were filling with water, my feet were getting heavy…I was miserable. I even spewed a couple profanities. I love running, I particularly love 1/2 marathons, and I was letting my negative attitude get in the way of enjoying a spectacular run.
About a mile in, I saw my husband drive by. Seeing him drive by on my runs always makes me smile and this cheered me up a little. Then, I saw some friends on the side of the road cheering on runners. I was so happy to see them and I realized I needed to change my attitude. Right then and there I made a conscious decision to turn my attitude around. I started telling myself to be happy and remember how lucky I am to even be able to run. I started thinking of the rain as an adventure. I took my phone out and started snapping pictures of the beautiful scenery. I smiled and waved at spectators, thanked water station volunteers, and cheered on runners who were already heading back the other way. I looked for friends who were also running and cheered for them. I saw people I haven’t seen in years! Even though my hamstrings were sore and I had to walk the last two miles…I mean walk…not jog between telephone poles…I barely jogged DOWN the hill to the finish…I still enjoyed myself.
So here’s what I’ve learned from this experience. I am in charge of how I respond or react to situations. If I have a negative attitude about something, it’s my choice to have that attitude and I am in control of turning it around.
As educators, we are often faced with challenges and while it is so easy to head to the teacher’s lounge and complain with others about these challenges, maybe if we choose our attitude and stay positive, those challenges won’t impact us as negatively. Don’t get me wrong, I know sometime we just need to vent. I do and it makes me feel better, BUT, I believe too much negativity and venting causes us to loose focus and why we do what we. Let’s focus on the positive.
I love sharing about how my Personal Learning Network (PLN) has helped me professionally. It all started when I was comparing Google Sites to Nings as learning communities for work. I had heard people talk about how they “ask on twitter” so I did…I asked all four of my twitter followers who happened to be my brother, sister, and two of my friends…Obviously, no one responded to my tweet and my skepticism of twitter continued.
Fast forward a couple of months and I’m tasked with teaching twitter to teachers as part of an online communication course. I stumbled upon this video by Josh Stumpenhorst, A.K.A @stumpteacher. By watching I learned how to use Twitter AND how to use hashtags! Here’s the thing, I don’t know Josh and Josh doesn’t know me, but his willingness to share openly online changed the way I learn and connect with others online.
Before I go on, I know people are bummed that Google Reader went away, but I am more bummed that iGoogle went away
But let me tell you about MY PLN. I recently created a survey to find out what tools educators are currently using to connect with and learn from other educators…what they use to fuel their PLNs. I shared the survey via twitter, Google+, and email with my network. Within a day, I had over 130 responses!
I must share that while I only required responders to indicate which tools they use to connect in the survey, I also asked, Why is being a connected educator important? and most people took the time to answer! Here is the survey and here are the responses. I just wish I would have 1) asked people include their name or twitter handle so I could give them credit for their responses and 2) asked for location.
If you are reading this and participated in my survey, Thank you! And thank you PLN!
PS – If you’re interested in which learning community we went with, we chose Google Sites!
Maybe you’ve used Pinterest for party ideas, save recipes, or ideas for home organization, but did you know Pinterest is a great place for PD? Educators are using Pinterest not just to share cute outfits (80% of Pinterest users are women) but lesson plans aligned to common core, technology integration ideas, and more! Whether you’re a current Pinterest user or not, check it out to connect with and get great ideas for your classroom!
An Introduction to Using Pinterest for PD to Teachers
Teachers are back to school! Weʻre going 1:1 iPad this year and we were fortunate to have Kristin Ziemke work with our teachers at Kula Haʻahaʻa (our elementary school) and share best practices using iPads. Below are some of my takeaways from Kristinʻs presentation.
Meet the needs of diverse learners
Good teaching is good teaching and technology does not replace the teacher. As a classroom teacher I used to struggle meeting the needs of of all of my students and I would often teach to the middle. Then I learned how using technology helps address diverse learning needs of students. When text is digitized, for example, it allows for an interactive experience for learners. Students who have a hard time with vocabulary can use built in tools to find definitions. Students who have challenges reading, can converted text to audio. This can be used for a large body of text and even just a simple word a student needs help pronouncing. More exciting is the opportunity for students to enhance their text with media, information, and questions. When writing stories, students have a variety of ways to express themselves; making movies, creating slideshows, creating a podcast, etc. It allows for more student choice and voice.
Cultivate student discovery and expertise
How many times have we heard, “donʻt worry, the students will know”? More than I can count for sure! Technology allows students the opportunity to share, not only with us, but with the world! Allow them to create tutorials and let them know their work will be published online (which is another takeaway…open up real world audiences). Better yet, let them know you (the teacher) donʻt know how to do something and have them figure it out for you. Talk about empowering students. Set up spaces in your classroom where students fell comfortable collaborating and sharing.
Model, model, model
One of the ways to cultivate discovery is by demonstrating discovery. Itʻs okay for students to see their teachers donʻt have all the answers and then learn how their teachers find answers. Want your students to give peer feedback? Model what that looks like. Kristin shared an example where her fifth grade partner teacher asks students to give her feedback. They learn how their feedback helps in a safe way. When commenting on a blog post or in edmodo, show students what that looks like and model it. My dear friend, Mr. Bowman, calls this commentiquette and has a special page on his blog that describes it.
Kristin shared she used to think twitter was for following the rich and famous and looked at it as “bad sharing”. When she discovered how it could be used for professional development, it changed her life and has actually saved her time. I can totally relate! Itʻs allowed me to develop an amazing personal learning network (PLN) where I learn from other educators. In our journey in going 1:1 iPads, for example, we are able to learn from educators and schools around the world who have also gone 1:1. And itʻs not just twitter, itʻs a variety of social media.
Make time for play
This was my favorite. In addition to helping relieve stress, play can make work more productive and enjoyable. It helps us manage our negative emotions. We know if early ed, play is often part of learning and in the upper levels…not so much. Kristin and her colleagues realize the importance of play not only for students, but adults and have created a new kind of conference called PLAYDATE. Thatʻs the kind of conference I want to attend!
Needless to say, it was a great day of learning and this post can not include it all. Check out Kristinʻs Website to learn more.
Heading to Schools of the Future in October? Consider staying an extra day for edcamp Honolulu! An edcamp is an UNconference that is organized by a group of passionate educators and encourages participant-driven discussions in an informal setting. Edcamp Honolulu is a result of our Kamehameha Schools UNconference which was held in early June the day before the annual KS Edtech Conference. Learn more about edcamp Honolulu by clicking here.
When we think about using the iPad in the classroom, itʻs not about the iPad or the apps, but what we want our students to be able to do. With that in mind, there are some great resources available that categorize apps based on what they can do and also include an ease of use rating.
EdTechTeacherʻs iPad As…resource is excellent. It includes a table with skills teachers would like their students to be able to do and when you click on the skill, it takes you to a page with a list of apps that can accomplish the task with the cost, description, usefulness rating, and ease of use rating.
Another fabulous resource is edshelf, reviews and recommendations of tools for education. Edshelf allows you to browse tools by category and also by subject age and platform. When you click on a tool, you get a description of the tool, reviews by educators, pricing, and collections of tools that teachers have put together that are either similar or include the tool reviewed. But thatʻs not all! The tool is also rated based on Learning curve, pedagogical effectiveness, and student engagement.
Appolearning is a resource I just learned about from one of my colleagues, Lynne Horiuchi. At this site, there are experts who rate apps and give them scores based on educational content, kid appeal, assessment, feature & design, value, and safety & privacy. Apps are categorized by grade level, as well as content area.
I just created my first Yapp! If you want to easily create an app with a schedule for a conference, meeting, family reunion, anythng, Yapp is the app! The site is really intuitive and it took me about twenty minutes to create my for first Yapp…all for FREE! Of course there are some in app purchases you can make, but I’m good with the free stuff. So here’s how you get started:
Sign up for an account at Yapp.us. All you need is an email.
Select your theme in the Yapp editor.
Start editing your pages, all which are accessable on the left sidebar of the editor.
When you’re finished, click publish in the upper right and share your Yapp via email, twitter, facebook, or a QR code.
In order to view on your mobile device, you’ll need to download the Yapp app from the app store.
Want to see what a Yapp looks like? Click on this link from your mobile device.
At the EdTech Teacher iPad Summit Preconference I had so much fun with DOODLE Buddy! The presenter was Darren Kuropatwa who is absolutely phenomenal. You should follow him on twitter and if you have the opportunity to ever attend a conference he’s presenting at, you should go to his session. Super engaging and he gets you out of your seat, which makes me a happy camper.
“There is not an app for good teaching” ~Darren Kuropatwa
One of the cool things he taught us how to do was create a self portrait using Doodle Buddy, a free doodle app. The drawing above is my portrait and when I saw it, I was shocked at how much it really looked like me! Even with no nose! After you download doodle buddy from the App Store, here’s what you do:
1. Use your iPad camera to take a photo of yourself
2. Open the doodle buddy app
3. Click on the little tick-tac-toe looking icon and select Photos
4. Choose camera roll and select the photo you took in step 1
5. Tap the chalk icon and choose the color(s) you want to use for your portrait. I found sizing the chalk down helpful. I didn’t use a stylus, but I bet that would be helpful too.
6. Start outlining your photo. You may think that there’s no way it’s going to look like you, but trust me!
7. Go back to the tic-tac-toe icon and this time, choose background and select the white background.
8. Amazing, right? Now just save to your camera roll by tapping on the wrench > save to photo album.
There are so many ways this can be used in the classroom. I thought it could be used when talking about the elements of art. The portraits could be used as student avatars when posting online. Darren suggested using the portraits as screen savers on iPads, particularly shared iPads. This would save time when trying to figure out who used the iPad last.