Thanks to Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax) I had the honor of participating in the Make With Me Cycle 1 Google+ Hangout – click here for the archived footage and chat stream. The panel included Kevin, fellow #clmooc moderators Elyse Eidman-Aadahl (@ElyseEA) and Terry Elliott (@tellio), Christina DiMicelli (@MrsDi), and Gail Poulin (@poulingail). The idea behind this Hangout was fairly simple: introduce the purpose of the MOOC and have each of us share not only the product for our introductions, but also the process.
During the Hangout I was taking notes in Evernote (as well as a few snapshots in the Hangout app). Several comments resonated with me at the time and still ring clear two days later. The ideas that came from this video conversation will keep me glued to the MOOC process and hopefully transfer into my classroom.
Elyse made this comment at the 13:10 mark. She’s referring to the fact that learners nowadays have such a wealth of information and access to experts that they can almost personalize their learning. I really like this idea since we know that the one-size-fits-all model of education does not work today (and probably never worked). How we get our students to be advocates for their own learning is an important discussion all of us in education must participate in. This is certainly a major shift in the century-old paradigm, but one that must be made if we are going to expect young people to be competitive in a global market.
Tools Extending Tools
At the 47:58 mark Terry mentions tools extending tools in regards to my Animoto introduction. After I had posted the video on our Google+ Making Learning Connected Community page, he uploaded it to vialogues and used this site as a video commenting tool. The fact that Terry felt compelled and comfortable enough to take another’s work and augment it using polls, comments, and questions speaks to the power of not only this MOOC, but also to the power of a PLN. None of us are experts and we need to rely on our peers to help us up the mountain. Our colleagues essentially become our sherpas as we navigate our own Mount Everest. If someone can show us other ways, better ways, new ways, hacked ways of doing something, then more power to them. And we need to embrace this type of collaboration.
Share the Process of Makes
At 49:25 Kevin mentions a key element of #clmooc: sharing our makes. The products we ultimately create will be important and we will learn about various edtech tools and capture ideas for the upcoming school year; however, the process of making is essential in this community if we are to indeed transfer this experience to our own classrooms. So as people make and create, my hope is that the Make Bank becomes a regular place I visit, to learn about other people’s processes, their proverbial trials and tribulations, to hack their ideas and remix them to fit various make cycles.
Cut the Bottom Out of the Peach Basket
Terry leaves us with a bit of wisdom at the 58:30 mark. He shares the story of how it took quite some time for someone to figure out that if you simply cut a hole in the bottom of Dr. Naismith’s peach baskets, the game of basketball becomes a lot more fun and a lot more fluid. I am taking this as a challenge, not in the sense that I expect to make some sort of great discovery during this make process, but that if I allow myself to take risks, accept failure as a learning tool, and learn and connect with others, the possibility for making great discoveries is out there and attainable.
I really appreciate the opportunity to participate in the Make Cycle 1 Hangout. I’ve gotten to briefly now some new makers, some new tinkerers. And hopefully I can develop these relationships and add to my PLN. I’ll wrap this up with a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
So I used some poetic license on this blog title. But it seems to fit as I embark on my second MOOC journey. Last January I started – with fervor – the #etmooc started by Alec Couros (@courosa). I added at least 400 people (of the nearly 1700 participants) to my Google+ circles. I participated in the Blackboard sessions. I joined in on the #etmchat. But then I quickly fizzled out. It wasn’t that the material wasn’t relevant or interesting. Heck, I even participated in a lip dub! It just seemed too many other things took over. I’m not sure if the timing for Making Learning Connected is better or not. Summer vacation could prove to be the perfect time to re-energize and reconnect with my PLN. Or it could turn out that, once again, other commitments get in the way…like family, a wife, two girls, a dog, a cat, a two-week vacation in Maine, school starting back on July 15, etc.
I want to make the most of this experience. I want to learn from others. I want to share my knowledge with a larger audience. I want to connect. I want to make.
So to get things started, I’m sharing my digital self with the rest of this community. It is important that I make myself as transparent as I can to my students and families. My job as a teacher of modern learners and the 21st Century family is to open up my classroom as much as I can. I am including several places I share with the world.
- Follow me on Twitter @BuistBunch
- Like my 5th grade team on Facebook
- See what’s happening in 5th grade at Knox Gifted Academy
- Check out my Flickr photostream
- Here’s my about.me profile
Looking forward to learning with and from all of you. Looking forward to making new connections. Looking forward to see what we all make.
Tomorrow morning the school district for which I’ve worked for the past 15 years will be honoring me and other teachers based on milestone years of service. In fact, the 15 year milestone is the first time teachers and classified staff are recognized. And for our dedication to our craft, we get a pen. Now I’m not being ungrateful. Quite the contrary. I will cherish this pen, because it means so much to me. And I wouldn’t be walking across the Chandler Center for the Arts stage tomorrow without the help and support of some significant people.
First, I want to thank my parents. Sandra Wilcox and David Buist supported me as I made degree and career changes. They supported me when I made both good and bad choices. They pushed me to be the best person I could be.
Next, my wife deserves much of the credit for my success. Being a teacher herself, Melissa Buist recognizes the sweat equity that goes into being a great teacher.
In my 15 years working for Chandler Schools, I’ve had a chance to work with and learn from some amazing people. I want to thank John Kiemele for giving me a chance and hiring me for my first job as a 6th grade teacher. John taught me the value of professional development. I want to thank Gina Vukovich for pushing me to be the best teacher I can be, not just for underprivileged students but for all learners. I want to thank Diane Hale for supporting me and teaching me what it means to be a great teacher for gifted learners.
Finally, I want to thank Jennifer Nusbaum and Albert Notley for being tw0-thirds of an amazing 5th grade team at Knox Gifted Academy. In my 15 years, I have never worked with such a positive, supportive, and creative team.
So when I receive my pen for 15 years of service to my school district, I will be thinking about all the people who have helped make me the teacher and learner that I have become. Thanks for my pen.
So I’m 128 minutes removed from Dave Cormier’s (@davecormier) “Rhizomes, MOOCS, and Making Sense of Complexity” Blackboard session and I can’t get the following phrase out of my head: visible and connected. On the way home I think I rewrote this post four times, but the content stayed the same. If I want to grow as a professional I need to share my learning (be visible) with my professional learning network (be connected). I’ve been teaching for 15 years, the last eight with gifted learners and I am learning more now than at any point in my career. I attribute that to two things. First, my supportive fifth grade team allow me to take risks, share ideas, listen, fail, be a clown, be frustrated, be myself. I’ve never been a part of a team like this and I hope it never ends. And second, Twitter. I’m getting a sense that we’re nearing the point where saying Twitter is the best professional development is a bit cliche. But I don’t care. It can be powerful as long as it’s in the right hands and you’re following the right people. Plus it’s free! But this is not a post about my amazing 5th grade team or about Twitter. It’s about the Newbery Award. It’s about students crafting an argument. And it’s about being visible and connected.
This morning hundreds of educators, authors, illustrators, publishers, librarians, and anyone else interested gather in Seattle to be a part of the annual American Library Association Youth Media Awards. Lucky for the millions of interested fans outside of Seattle, we were able to watch the ceremony unfold on a live webcast. 70 fifth graders and 3 teachers from Knox Gifted Academy in Chandler, AZ were part of this digital audience.
This past weekend in my post “And the Winner is…” I began to describe where our team was headed with the Newbery Award ceremony. To get their feet wet, students researched the Newbery Award, its origins, the criteria, other ALA awards, etc. Today, we watched the awards ceremony. Some of us were pulling for The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate because we read it as part of The Global Read Aloud – created by Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp), some were excited to watch a webcast, while others were just glad not to be doing work. After the ceremony we put students to work.
Instead of simply telling students what to write, how to write it, when it would be due, we asked the students to define the assignment. They discussed word length, font size and style, who the audience might be, minimum number of supporting details, format of the writing, and due dates. Once we reached a consensus (or as close to consensus you can get with 70 5th graders), we added ELA Common Core objectives to the assignment and posted it on our website and Edmodo and shared it with students on Google Drive. I know that by putting the learning and decision making in the students’ hands, the end product will be infinitely better.
So in the interest of making my learning visible, I am more than willing to share the document we created today and any other related materials. Feel free to adapt it to your class. Feel free to share it with others. Fee free to look at it and give us some constructive feedback. You can find the document here. Just request for me to share it with you. And in the interest in being connected, I am sharing this writing across every social network to which I belong. I figure someone might find value in what 70 fifth graders created.
Webster defines serendipity as “the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for”. And this is exactly what happened to me on Tuesday.
I’ve been exploring the use of Creative Commons work in the classroom for over a year now. Unfortunately I so confused about the history the reasons for, the reasons why, how to cite work, implications for not using it, etc. But it’s one of those ideas in educational technology that keeps smacking me in the face. So I knew that I had to become the expert in my classroom and at my school.
For awhile I had played around with Open Clip Art Library but was never satisfied with the images, nor was I completely sure how to properly attribute the work. I checked out the Getty Images and the Creative Commons section on Flickr, but once again was ignorant on attributions.
Recently we started reading Dan Gutman’s The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable. The main characters travel cross-country to their aunt’s wedding, stopping off at odd Americana sites (i.e., the world’s largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas). Having used myHistro as an Edmodo app for another language arts project, I knew that this would be the perfect edtech tool to compliment the novel.
For those of you not familiar with myHistro, you create timelines using text, images, and maps to help tell a story. I wanted my students to add real pictures, not drawings or clip art, to their timelines. So teaching them about Creative Commons licensing and attribution seemed a perfect fit. That is until the technology got in the way.
On my teacher station, I can easily add the appropriate attribution from the Flickr Creative Commons site. Unfortunately, something is not installed on the students’ laptops and the link does not show up.
Not to be outdone with limitations of our school’s technology, I was determined to find a workaround. And wouldn’t you know it, the very next day after getting stuck, I found a blog post from Foter that explained in an infographic another way to attribute creative commons work. This process involved a lot more copying and pasting, but still did the job.
My students and I quickly realized that the idea of copying and pasting the link to the photo and to the photographer’s Flickr stream simply was not efficient. But it was a way to correctly attribute the work, and that was the important lesson. But that’s when etmooc came to the rescue!
Thanks to Sue Waters (@suewaters) and her Advanced Blogging Blackboard session I learned about Compfight (http://compfight.com/), a search engine that uses Flickr images. The process is extremely simple and much more efficient for the umber of pictures my students would be adding to their timelines. Simply search for the image you need (be sure to select creative commons on the left hand side of the screen), save the image to your computer and add the attribution code.
And once I showed them how to attribute using this process, they were off and creating their own content. I can’t wait for the book to be over so that we can share out myHistro timelines with world.
Serendipity. It seems like the best ideas happen when we’re not looking for them. I joined Sue’s Blackboard session because I was part of the class and because I wanted to learn. I didn’t join the session because I was looking for a better way to attribute Creative Commons photographs. Perhaps you’re reading this because I posted it on Twitter or to the etmooc Google+ community, but hopefully you’ll find something you weren’t looking for.
Several months ago one of my parents approached me with an opportunity to apply for a grant through the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. Unfortunately we didn’t make the final cut. Undaunted, Lisa Cvijanovich kept searching for available funds to support a multimedia production studio (MMPS) at Knox Gifted Academy. And thanks to Subaru, our dream of a work space full of 21st technologies is quickly becoming a reality.
After some unforeseen red tape, the money is here and Lisa and I, with the help of another 5th grade parent, have finalized our purchase order from Apple. Without going into the gory details and to keep myself from bragging, this MMPS is going to kick butt. Who am I kidding? Of course I’m bragging. We already have the iPads, probably the most important tool in the system. But adding a 27″ iMac with the new fusion drive and a souped up video card. We’re purchasing a bunch of mics and speakers and headphones, plus we’re adding Final Cut Pro and several other apps on the iPads and iMac (i.e., GarageBand).
The reason for including this post in the etmooc category is obvious: teachers and students will use educational technology to enhance state and Common Core curriculum standards. Yet there is another reason to share this with the etmooc community: the need for digital leaders on school campuses.
Right now I am the go-to guy for all things tech. Now I’m not officially trained in anything tech; I’m just a tinkerer, a let’s-figure-it-out-together kind of person. But because of my passion for edtech I am the person others call upon. And I don’t mind. But as our school keeps expanding, more and more people need to take on this and other technology roles at my site. Which is why I am so glad we spent the money purchasing Joint Venture from Apple. This allows up to eight staff to attend workshops on specific Apple products. It also allows quick access to Apple Geniuses and techs to troubleshoot issues we might be having with hardware and software. But the digital leaders don’t only have to be certified staff.
I just read Daniel Edward’s (@syded06) post “Digital Leader – Why you need them in your school?” Edwards argues for a team of students who become the digital leaders of not only a specific classroom, but for the entire school site. These leaders help organize the digital world in your classroom. They help peers set up accounts, troubleshoot computer problems, and participate in and lead training.
A culture of student digital leaders already exists in my room. Students are sharing new workflows. Students are finding workarounds Students know who to go to in times of trouble. But with the addition of a tricked out Apple production studio, I will need to develop an extension of this culture so that I can fulfill my obligations as a teacher while encouraging and expecting the use of educational technology by everyone at my site.
If you’re in Chandler, AZ and want to play in our MMPS, just stop on by. We’d love to learn with you.
On Monday the 91st winner of the Newbery Award will be announced in Seattle. The American Library Association will conduct a webcast to millions around the world. And our 5th graders will be tuned in. Now this is a huge deal for me, not because I’m a teacher (although this is important), but because I’m not much of a reader. Well let me clarify that. I am more of a reader as an adult than I was as a child. Even today listening to my colleagues talk about the classics and other literary works sounds like a foreign language to me. I could certainly blame my teachers or my parents, but the blame falls squarely on me. I chose not to be a reader when I was younger. And now it’s catching up to me. However, an event like ALA Youth Media Awards is a sign to me and to all my students that reading quality text, both current and past, is extremely important.
Of course all of my students have seen the Newbery Award on books they’ve read, books I’ve shared with them, and the obligatory poster in the media center. But do they really know anything about the medal and the implications it has for readers, authors, librarians, book stores, and publishers? So to help them get their feet wet, my colleagues and I presented them with the following task.
- What is the history behind the Newbery Award?
- How do you win a Newbery Award? What are the criteria people use to award this medal?
- Who awards the medal? Is this group responsible for other awards?
- What’s the difference between a medal winner and an honor book?
- Who are the past winners? Have authors won the award multiple times?
- How many Newbery Award books have you read?
- Do you think they are worthy of the award?
- What other books do you think should have won the award?
- What books would you nominate for this year’s award?
Last week I missed the ETMOOC session “Intro to Blogging” hosted by Sue Waters (@suewaters and Sue Waters Blog) and Peggy George (@pgeorge) because I was knee deep in judging science fair display boards from our 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students. And as I sit down to write this I am still about shin deep. 70+ display boards judged twice by a small number of teachers, parents, administrators, and community members takes an enormously long time. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I want these students to receive fair scores and quality feedback. And it’s not that I’m against science fairs. In fact I love science. I love competitions. My complaint/concern is the avenue in which students communicate their science, math, and engineering knowledge at our school and district science fairs.
Each year we order hundreds of cardboard tri-fold display boards for students to share their inquiry projects (click here for more pictures). The problem with this format is that it is limiting. It limits students telling their story by confining them to a predetermined space. It limits students sharing their leaning since no other items other than a science log can be displayed (i.e., no models can be displayed). It limits students interacting with 21st Century technology. Students have so many other interactive tools to use to share their learning and yet we limit them to a piece of cardboard. This is a disservice to learning. It’s almost criminal. Students should be able to use a variety of tools, one of which could be a display board if they chose it.
For the past two years I’ve tried to up the educational technology requirements of my students in terms of their science fair displays. Last year many of my students used qr codes to showcase slideshows or movies. This year I planned on offering a qr code workshop. Unfortunately I was sick on this particular day. When I returned the following day I found out that many teams either already knew about qr codes and had create their own or that some teams simply watched others and figured out what to do. LOVE IT! Students were using services like Kaywa, a legitimate qr code generator. But our students all have Gmail and GAFE accounts. So I showed several teams how to use Google’s URL shortener to generate a code. Using goo.gl allows students to track the traffic to the code. Here’s a screencast I created to demonstrate how to do this.
This year I encouraged students to use the qr code to help tell the story of their project. Once such team used human subjects to determine how various distractions affected reflex time. The connected this experiment to texting while driving. However, the write-up and graphs didn’t do justice to the quality of the project. Therefore the students created this movie to help people better understand what they were studying. Unfortunately, students aren’t allowed to use a laptop or tablet to showcase movies or other presentations. And judges aren’t using qr code readers when evaluating student projects. But maybe they should.
Another edtech tool we are using are infographics. I’ve meant to play around with this type of communication for several months but have been intimidated by the services I’ve looked into. I recently saw a post on Twitter about a teacher using Piktochart. Once again, students are limited to a tri-fold display board to tell the story of their science fair project. Unfortunately this format doesn’t fit all learners. With the rise in popularity of graphic novels and other visual media, infographics are a great tool for students to share their stories. (I’ll share a student’s infographic in just a bit. I’ve contacted her on Edmodo and email for her to share it with me on Google Docs.)
I know this quote from Oscar Goldman from The Six Million Dollar Man doesn’t fit exactly, but I think you get what I’m trying to say.
“Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”
I’ve read this sentiment in a couple of places over the past few hours in the etmooc Google+ Community. Thanks for sparking my writing. What does instruction with educational technology feel like to those unfamiliar with all the tools available to teachers?
I like to think I’m pretty hip with all the latest trends. I beta test everything. I was one of the first teachers to use Remind101. I connect with others on Twitter. I’ve encouraged five staff members at Knox Gifted Academy to use Twitter, including an administrator. I use Facebook more as a medium for sharing information to parents than as a social network. I have accounts with Claco, Tioki, EduClipper. I blog. My kids blog. My kids are connected to half a dozen other classes on Edmodo. We create videos on Animoto and movie trailers on iMovie. We. Put QR codes on our science fair display board. I use TweetBot, TweetDeck, and Hootsuite. I haven’t used a dry erase marker in forever. My students use Google Apps. Some have Dropbox accounts. Some have Evernote accounts. Some have both. I could go on and on and would love to. I am passionate about integrating technology into the curriculum. And not to use the tool for the tool’s sake, but rather to help enhance how students and teachers interact with the content. But that’s me. A self-proclaimed edtech tinkerer. But what about those around me who are completely lost? How do I use my knowledge to help others develop their own comfort level?
As I listened to Alex in yesterday’s orientation and wrote on the blackboard (which is white) and read what other people wrote, I was instantly transformed into that teacher who is overwhelmed by all that is out there. I was blown away by the creativity of people’s introduction videos, sideshows, movies, songs, blog posts. It was truly humbling and exciting at the same time. It’s hard being “the guy” on campus that everyone goes to for technology answers. Sometimes you just want to be the student. And it was clear last night that I am a student in this community and that I will have over 1400 teachers, mentors, collaborators, and friends.
So my approach to this class will not be “I know it all” but “I want to learn as much as I can from those I connect with.” I’m pretty well versed with Twitter, but I know that I can learn from others in Topic 1 session. I know that my schedule is pretty full, as is everybody’s. Yet I will attempt to stop by each session for as long as I can with the idea that there is always something I can learn.