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My #reading: July 2016

Darcy Moore's Blog - 11 hours 17 min ago

Historians indeed hope that their books might entwine intimately with the lives of their readers and that their histories may sit on bedside tables ready to enter dreams.

History – that unending dialogue between the present and the past – is essential to human consciousness. It is conducted as part of the daily business of living, of knowing oneself, of grappling with memory and of finding meaning.

The Art of Time Travel: Historians and Their Craft  by Tom Griffiths has been reviewed positively and is even better than that. The author explores the craft of fourteen of Australia’s most interesting historians and the text certainly reflects Griffiths’ belief that “History is essential to meaning and identity and…its greatest virtue is uncompromising complexity”. Historians discussed – in all their complexity – that I enjoyed most included: Eleanor Dark, Judith Wright, Geoffrey Blainey, Henry Reynolds, Greg Dening and Inga Clendinnen. Griffiths successfully makes his considerable understanding of these historians clear to the reader and in some cases it will be as revelatory as it was for this reader. For example, having read Blainey my entire adult life I found much to contemplate in Griffiths’ analysis of this historian’s approach to the “great seesaw” of history:

When struggling to explain great social and intellectual transformations, especially the one in his own lifetime, Blainey turned repeatedly to the great seesaw. It is an exhilarating metaphor and illuminating in the connections it makes across the vast terrain of history, but it is also a mechanism that poses simple binaries and reduces novelty to passing fashion.

Some of Blainey’s work ranks highly on my favourite lists while other points of view he has espoused horrify me, especially as promoted by a former prime minister. Griffiths, although generous to each historian he discusses, manages to illuminate the context in which they wrote/write successfully.

I found myself, after reading anecdotes about the previously unknown (to me) Greg Dening, wishing I had been lucky enough to experience his teaching philosophy in action:

Dening was critical of the narrowing impact of professionalisation on the teaching of history. He urged a new socialising process in undergraduate teaching, one that would free students from the rigidities of disciplines and enable them to write history as well as read it. He exposed his students to exciting and sometimes bewildering freedoms: freedom from the overlay of others’ interpretations, freedom to ransack insights from other disciplines, freedom to experiment.

Griffiths – who is a keen walker – is the most likeable of writers and what I can only describe as a most pleasant authorial tone and attitude is captured in this quote:

No matter how practised we are at history, it always humbles us. No matter how often we visit the past, it always surprises us. The art of time travel is to maintain critical poise and grace in this dizzy space. There is a further hazard: we never return to exactly the same present from which we left, for time cycles on remorselessly even when we seek to defy it. And in the course of our quest we find that we, too, have.

Highly recommended. You can follow Tom on Twitter.

I agree with the novelist James Bradley that we mustn’t value fiction for its non-fiction: we ‘mustn’t make research the thing that matters about fiction’. Tom Griffiths

Clade by James Bradley has been on my “to read” list since it was published last year, especially as my partner read it very quickly and rated it highly. The novel is set in a near future where climate change is becoming more and more catastrophic. Many would classify it as speculative fiction but there increasingly doesn’t seem much that is particularly speculative about the looming environmental crisis and resulting impact of refugees and large-scale population movement. The novel feels like the unfolding of what is more than just likely – it feels inevitable. 

The characters are well-drawn and their responses to the crumbling of our world and what quickly becomes a new familiar is very believable. Each family situation feels real. The section where Ellie meets Amir is the strongest in the book, along with the scenes outside of London where Adam and his grandson flee, that precede it. Both moved me. Bradley’s passion for nature, art and family are reassuringly human in a world teetering on the precipice of something quite nasty – and terrifyingly real.

My only disappointment with the novel was that it felt truncated. I really wanted it to go on and project further into an imagined future. Maybe that was just too painful to do.

History repeats itself, in part because the genome repeats itself. And the genome repeats itself, in part because history does. The impulses, ambitions, fantasies, and desires that drive human history are, at least in part, encoded in the human genome. And human history has, in turn, selected genomes that carry these impulses, ambitions, fantasies, and desires.

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee is a comprehensive, scholarly and, as the title suggests, quite personal exploration of a scientific topic that has completely obsessed our society in recent decades. The history covers all the familiar names such as Mendel, Darwin, Crick, Watson and Rosa Franklin but includes many innovators and scientists in the burgeoning biotech industry, especially in the last few decades, who are not so well-known. The six parts range from 1865 to conceptions of a post-human future. He explores a vast range of topics that many people will have but a passing knowledge through reading newspapers and magazines. There are particularly insightful passages about Nazi eugenics, heredity, population genetics, twins, cloning and the politics of race, sexuality and identity that make for interesting reading for those who wish to think further about the impact of scientific understanding in and on our culture. 

I like how Mukherjee reflects on the ways in which many of us are now forced to think about our genes and ourselves. Moral complexities and a range societal challenges are explored as successfully as the scientific story. He asks important questions which are often left to science fiction writers and filmmakers:

What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information?

Our ability to read out this sequence of our own genome has the makings of a philosophical paradox. Can an intelligent being comprehend the instructions to make itself?

This book is deserving of a 5000 word review but alas, not tonight. I have been reading and thinking a great deal about genomics in recent years and can highly recommend this book to any reader willing to make what will be a very worthwhile effort to tackle it. I listened to the audiobook but will now buy a hardback copy to re-read what is an important and quite unique, well-written and comprehensive look at an essential scientific concept. Highly recommended.

An A to Z of DNA Science: What Scientists Mean When They Talk about Genes and Genomes by Jeffrey L. Witherly is a book I need on my shelf as the terminology to understand DNA science is challenging. My lifelong challenge is to overcome the incredibly poor science education I had at school and my own lack of wide-reading in the sciences during my formative years. For two decades I have read popular science, often struggling with concepts that I never really comprehended. I read this quickly, from A-Z and will find myself reaching for this dictionary in coming months as I take on some challenging, although quite introductory, courses to the subject.


I finally finished The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins only to realise that there is an updated edition of the book co-authored to bring it up to date with the latest scientific understanding. Oh well. The audiobook is read by Dawkins and his wife, Lalla Ward (who we know as Romana in 1980s episodes of Dr Who and as Tom Baker’s wife at the time they worked together in the series). It occasionally hard work but not too bad as far as readings go.

I have always admired Richard Dawkins’ bravery and rationalism in fighting ignorance. He often is attacked but like Dawkins, since I was an 11-year old boy, I have not been able to really understand why people believe in deities with such fervour. Dawkins’ logic always seemed so fundamentally obvious and watching a satirical news show this week one has to wonder why this sentiment is not more widespread in the 21st century?

…isn’t all belief in an all-powerful supernatural being ultimately a mental health issue?          Shaun Micallef in “Mad as Hell

I guess that situations like that Salman Rushdie has experienced for most of his adult life is one reason why more do not speak out or maybe it is just quite simply because power-structures will defend their privilege over rational enquiry in anyway they can…including dismissing Richard Dawkins.

Another passage flanked by stone figures, another doorway, and this next room was white, the shelves full of Anglo-Saxon poetry. ‘Of course, he was the last of his generation,’ said Anthony. ‘No one else survived. They were the war dons, the ones who postponed their careers to go away and fight. He was seventeen when the war began. Elegant young men, studying in these sequestered colleges and then they were blood-stained and terrified, struggling each day to survive, vomiting with fear and yet concealing every shudder of dread, every spasm of pure unbridled horror and they killed so many men, they lost count, and witnessed the gory death spasms of their comrades and then, they went back to Oxford. They were supposed to carry on. As if nothing had happened.

I was disappointed by A Field Guide to Reality by Joanna Kavenna as the author is clearly a very promising one and the blurb drew me into what seemed like a moody, interesting idea for a novel. By the end it felt like a draft in need of an editor than a completely realised novel.

What went wrong? Maybe it was just the impossibility of dreaming-up what such a ‘field guide’ these Oxford dons are seeking might be or the difficulty of doing anything much to not find it with a sufficiently clever, ironic musings with Douglas Adams-like humour. Having said that, there are some memorable observations, descriptions and episodes that amuse. The illustrations by Oly Ralfe are excellent.

Words are terrifying. They are not real. I prefer shapes.

Of course, a death brings insane torrents of bureaucracy, but I couldn’t face embarking on them at first, I was too tired and I couldn’t believe they were really necessary…

I really wanted this novel to be a tour-de-force and may give it another chance and re-read it if anyone else can summon up enthusiasm to tell me why they enjoyed the book just in case it revealed itself to you more completely.

Speaking to the Rose: Writings, 1912-1932 by Robert Walser should be read slowly and savoured – especially the second half of the book. The work was never written for publication and occasionally this is obvious. There are many moments of insight and beauty.

Education is always a reciprocal affair, the teachers learn from those they teach, who learn from them.

“In my opinion nothing is not political. Everything, beginning with this scoop I lift from the carefully polished floor, is political. Every step, every kiss, every gift, every word, every mouthful of food, every hat, every pair of trousers, every breath drawn belongs with politics, and that’s a fact of which I’m unshakeably convinced.”

Never was I adversely affected by the idea that people might think I’d gone artistically astray. The question “What you’re doing isn’t art any more, is it?” sometimes seemed to lay a hand gently on my shoulder. Yet I could tell myself that a person who persists in his endeavours did not need to be troubled by demands so laden with idealism that they made him miserable. I freely admit that I had no heart to deny myself the taking of a walk, within certain limits. For me it’s enough to allow myself to think that time continued wondrously to look after me. I’m still alive and am thankful for that, and perhaps I may permissibly give thanks that I’m of a mind to be of one mind with myself. If I sometimes wrote at a venture, on impulse, it looked a bit comical to deadly earnest people; but I was experimenting with language, hoping that it contains an unknown livingness, the arousal of which is a joy. Insofar as I wished to enlarge my scope and made that wish come true, people may now and then have disapproved. Criticism will always keep company with endeavours.

I am only just coming to grips with Robert Walser (1878–1956) and this book has a particularly good introduction and a useful chronology to the author’s life. It becomes obvious why Hermann Hesse believed, “if he had a hundred thousand readers, the world would be a better place,” It may also have been more sensible to read this after his fiction but nevertheless it is an enjoyable, gentle read. I am currently reading a couple of his novels and will review them next month.

The coronation stone at Kingston upon Thames, where on 4 September 925 Athelstan was anointed, presented with a ring, a sword and a sceptre, and – a first in England – crowned.

For the first time, a single king laid claim to the whole of Britain. The heartland of Athelstan’s realm was to be found in the south of the island, in the ancient kingdom of Wessex, which by the time of his accession in AD 924 had come to stretch from Cornwall to Kent. At his coronation, though, he had been crowned as the king not of the West Saxons, but of the Anglo-Saxons: due reflection of the fact that the Angles of Mercia, who inhabited the lands immediately north of Wessex, were his subjects too…When poets and chroniclers hailed Athelstan as ‘rex totius Britanniae’ – ‘the king of the whole of Britain’ – they were not indulging in idle flattery, but simply stating fact. 

Athelstan by Tom Holland is the first king in the 45-book Penguin Monarchs series. I have a reasonable understanding of his grandfather, Alfred the Great but Athelstan (c. 894-939) was but a name (as was his father, Edward). This period of history is not easy to understand and Holland does a good job showing the politics of the period and family power struggles. It was illuminating to see how his Alfred’s love of learning and understanding of the power being literate confers influences and connects his heirs with the past:

Alfred, in his desperate and ultimately triumphant struggle to stave off the ruin of his kingdom, had marshalled scribes as well as spearmen. The royal household into which Athelstan was born in either 894 or 895 was not lacking in ‘ancient books full of wisdom’. The young boy, as he grew up, would have been left in no doubt as to the antiquity and achievements of the dynasty to which he belonged.

I know understand that Athelstan’s conquest of York in 927, a few years after becoming the King of the Anglo-Saxons, was the decisive moment in the forging of a unitary English kingdom. Coins, minted in the city soon after its capture, probably shows York Minster. Alfred’s grandson holds onto his hard-won kingdom for over a decade but has no children and his half-brother succeeds him.

I like Tom Holland’s work and this did not disappoint. It is a quick read and I suspect that the series will be popular.

Building the Nation: N.F.S. Grundtvig and Danish National Identity by John A. Hall, Ove Korsgaard, Ove K. Pedersen has taught me much about a most important 19th century figure in the development of Danish civil society and identity. Interesting enough, Grundtvig’s personal experiences in Great Britain informed much of his progressive thinking.

Here are just some of the many quotes I clipped from the ebook which will provide a summary of Grundtvig’s life, ideas and influence:

A society is primarily a community of feeling that lives in the imagination of its citizens.

The significance of an individual like N.F.S. Grundtvig must be seen in terms of the building of a modern Danish nation, which was, in turn, critical to the success of the modern Danish state.

In other words, the state is an organization within civil society, not the other way round. It is the physical heart-muscle that distributes and guides the spiritual streams that emanate from the larger heart of civil society. The state guards society and administers its infrastructure, while society embraces the state as its inner life, foundation, and reason for being. Thus, built into the image of the state as a heart-relation is the idea of a “civil society” as the spiritual and reflexive dimension of the state.

Grundtvig lived a very long and productive life from 1783 to 1872. In this long life, he not only witnessed enormous changes in his own society and state but also lived through the intellectual periods of the Enlightenment and romanticism, both of which left a deep imprint on his thinking. He is the single person most responsible for the national culture and political thinking that came to characterize the Denmark of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It may even be argued that he still plays a dominant role in the national and social thinking of the globalized inhabitants of Denmark today, even when they operate as relatively successful managers in transnational companies all over the world.

Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig was born on 8 September 1783, the last of five surviving children, in the village of Udby, ninety-seven kilometres south of Copenhagen. His father, Johan Grundtvig, preached a pietistic Lutheran Christianity; his mother, Marie Bang, was a strong-willed and practical woman, who traced her lineage back to the famous Danish warrior Skjalm Hvide (ca. 1040–1113). After private tutoring in the vicarage, the young Grundtvig was sent away to Jutland at the age of nine to be prepared for Aarhus Grammar School by a family friend. Academically he went from success to success, gaining a first-class degree in theology from Copenhagen in 1803 at only twenty years of age.

Grundtvig’s earliest writings show him concerned to raise the standards of the people, seen as a category within an estates society. But his three trips to England between 1829 and 1831, together with the pressure of events, moved him to a new position, in which the sovereignty of the people was vested in the nation (see Korsgaard 2004). In this context, it is important to note the difference between Grundtvig and the National Liberals. The latter wanted to build the nation by means of a state nationalism from above, in which popular forces would have limited power within the electoral process. Grundtvig stood a little closer to the great liberal thinkers in England, keen to extend the vote but only once the populace was enlightened (Harvie 1976).

Grundtvig and his movement are of interest because they present a case of a strong national identity being formed from the bottom up rather than by a top-down state builder using authoritarian methods. They also present a case of a strong national identity being defined in a way that is compatible with democracy and a non-aggressive foreign policy. It stands in sharp contrast to the kind of chauvinistic nationalism being cultivated to the south in Germany at the time.

The most important of Grundtvig’s ideas, however, had to do not with politics but with education. Returning from a trip to England in 1831 when he visited Trinity College, Cambridge, he conceived the idea of a “People’s High School” that would recreate the atmosphere of fellowship and collegiality that he had witnessed there. He distinguished between the “masses” and the “people” and saw education as a means of transforming the one into the other. And he believed that the language of instruction should be the language of the peasants – Danish – and not Latin, as was still the case for much of European elite education at the time. The new People’s High School was to be complemented by a Nordic university in Gothenberg, and the two would link the teaching of practical skills with the kind of higher academic education needed to link Denmark to the rest of the world (Grundtvig 2011).

The key figures in this process are what we may term “national educators” and artists: historians, poets, writers, musicians, and visual artists who, through their literary, philosophical, historical, musical, and artistic work, were able to open the way to an understanding in the minds of their co-nationals of the distinctive qualities and trajectory of the nation and inspire in their hearts an ardent love of the people and the homeland. Starting with Rousseau and Herder, there has been a succession of men and women who sought to reveal the true worth and inner life of the community.

…in Denmark the notion of the popular came to be equated with the liberal notion of ‘voluntarism’” (321). While the Danish political elite continuously bestowed significance on state institutions, on the building of the nation, the Grundtvigians relied more on institutions outside the state. It is this that lends an air of populism to Danish political culture, seen at its best in Denmark’s rescue of the Jews during the Second World War (Buckser 2001).

The state consists of tangible institutions like armies, police, bureaucracies, and the like, while the nation has to do with shared traditions, symbols, historical memories, language, and other cultural points of reference.

National identity is one form of the even larger phenomenon of identity, plain and simple. Key to the idea of identity is the notion that there can be a disjunction between one’s inner, authentic self and the social norms or practices that are required by the surrounding society. Identity becomes problematic, and a source both of personal anxiety and political contestation, because of a perceived gap between the inner self and outward social practice.

Grundtvig’s ideas were highly eclectic. He read British liberals like John Locke, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill, but he also delved into German idealists and romantics like Herder, Hegel, and Fichte. He expressed himself less in systematic treatises than in speeches as a parliamentarian and in songs and poems. Grundtvig’s writings were critical in positing the idea of a Danish folk, or people, who were united by their use of a common language across the class lines established by the feudal system of estates.

The purpose of the suggested high school was to produce an ideal citizen subjectivity, to create in youth an inclination towards the general good rather than self-interest.

Grundtvig did not believe in Adam Smith’s “hidden hand” – that is, that the individual pursuit of wealth is the best way to secure a happy society. On the contrary, extensive freedom presupposed citizens with a strong sense of responsibility towards the common good and the survival of the nation.

The core of Grundtvig’s political ideology is freedom – freedom of the voice of the people, and freedom of the king (or the government) to consider the common good and the will of the people. To Grundtvig, the central democratic element is free public debate and, especially, a general responsibility towards the common good. However, to ensure that all potential members of the public participate in the debate and display their responsibility as citizens, they must be enlightened. In other words, enlightenment was needed to inscribe civic virtue in their hearts.

Although Grundtvig is a 19th century figure who lived in a very different culture, his ideas are pertinent in an era when democracies appear to be floundering, or at least in need of rethinking. Building the Nation has been an important book in assisting me to understand the importance of this man on Danish society and in developing the esprit de corps that is so essential to having a happy, prosperous nation.

An Uber-driver in San Francisco recommended The Psychic Soviet and Other Works by Ian F. Svenonius. It sounded great so I was filled with some enthusiasm for this satirical offering. Ultimately it was really very dull. I think the humourless tone detracted greatly from what should have been amusing pieces lampooning rock, ideology and politics. Give it a miss.

What have you been reading?




The post My #reading: July 2016 appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

Is a “Growth Mindset” Enough?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 30 July, 2016 - 10:20

The quote above from a Thomas Friedman article on what Google looks for employees is one that has stuck with me.  It was a huge reason why I wrote “The Innovator’s Mindset” in the first place.

Yet this post was sparked by some conversations as well as this blog post by Adam Schoenbart comparing my book to E.D. Hirsch’s book from 1987, “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know”.  Here is one of the passages from Adam’s blog:

Couros argues that “We are spending so much time telling our students about what they can’t do that we have lost focus on what we can do” (p. 7), to which Hirsh would counter: “Our children can learn this information only by being taught it” (p. 14). What and how seem to be at odds in this dynamic. Hirsh’s views on the limited potential of students are definitely problematic, writing, “Left to itself, a child will not grow into a thriving creature” (p. 31). Really!?!

While Hirsh wants students to simply memorize 150-pages-or-so of definitive knowledge and ideas, Corous seeks to expand worldviews: “Innovation demands that our students learn the basics, but how we go about teaching them may look different than in years past. The basics are crucial, but they cannot be the only things we teach our students” (p. 163). What we teach our students is crucial to both authors as information is key in both texts.

Adam goes on to wonder what Hirsch’s viewpoints would be almost 30 years after this book where information is abundant:

Again for Hirsh, it’s about information first and foremost. With limited flexibility, he wants to tell America what to learn, to which Couros would likely respond: “You’ll learn that to truly empower people, there must be a shift from telling to listening” (p. 7). One can’t help but wonder how Hirsh’s views may have evolved in the new reality of technology and access to information.

Carol Dweck’s “Mindset” is one book that really pushed my thinking over the past few years.  The language we use when working with our students is crucial in how we help them develop.  In this post sharing 25 quotes from the book, here are some that stuck out to me:

Test scores and measures of achievement tell you where a student is, but they don’t tell you where a student could end up. – Carol Dweck

Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training. – Carol Dweck

Wow, that’s a really good score. You must have worked really hard. – Carol Dweck

What did you learn today? What mistake did you make that taught you something? What did you try hard at today? – Carol Dweck

Although I am just sharing a bit of the book, these quotes scream “SCHOOL!” to me, not necessarily empowered learning.

Take the last quote shared in the group above.

What did you learn today? What mistake did you make that taught you something? What did you try hard at today? – Carol Dweck

What if it was changed to this?

What did you learn today? What ideas do you have moving forward because of what you learned? What will you create from this?

Both quotes are focused on learning, but in one case, the learning is extended.  This quote from “The Center for Accelerated Learning” shares the importance of creation for learning:


So let’s go back to the title of this post; Is a “Growth Mindset” Enough?

My short answer (obviously) is no.  That doesn’t mean it is irrelevant, but I see it as more of a continuum.  Knowledge and information are crucial to creation; they are not separated.  But my hope is to go beyond kids being “good at school” and the learning that we decide is important for them.

It is about going further with learning, to help kids (and ourselves) become creators, inventors, and innovators.

A simple analogy to explain mindset from my book:

Let’s take the simple example of playing the piano to compare the two ideas. With a fixed mindset, the learner doesn’t believe he or she has the ability to play the piano. With a growth mindset, the learner believes that, with hard work and practice, the opportunity to play the piano is within the realm of his or her ability. That belief leads the learner to try and, ultimately, grow.

The innovator’s mindset takes the growth mindset a step further by focusing on using one’s ability to learn to play the piano to create music.

As I go to many sessions at conferences, I often wonder if the focus is on how to help student’s become strong at “school”, or to truly empower them as learners and creators.  Do we want students to learn math or be able to do things with the math they have learned?  As Friedman states, what we do with what we know is what will separate us today in a world where information is abundant.

Categories: Planet

The winds of change!

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 29 July, 2016 - 21:53

Building 288 Biomedical Sciences

Winter is settled in, and with it has come a lot of change in my personal and professional life – hence my social media comment recently – “there’s a blog post in that!”

So what is going on?

First up, we sold our home of 27 years (yippee) and moved house to a brand new apartment in the inner west.  One complicated change- tick. How did that go??  One third of our possessions were either given away or disposed of, another third came to our apartment, and the last third was placed into storage ready for the house we are building in country Albury.  Another change underway – tick.

Albury /ˈɔːlbəri/ is a major regional city in New South Wales, Australia, located on the Hume Highway on the northern side of the Murray River. This is our tree change for 5-10 years, though we also have an apartment in Sydney of course.  It’s a quick flight from Albury to Sydney or Melbourne, so we will be back in Sydney a lot, or popping into Melbourne by way of a (shopping)  change.

I also heard that my teacher librarian team and I are to receive a Faculty of Education citation for academic excellence. I’ll travel to Bathurst in a couple of weeks for that, and am honoured to have gained this second award since being at CSU.    Yes, there has been a tremendous amount of work done, and some of it has had significant influence beyond our own team.  Good work – tick.

Finally, if you have been ‘reading between the lines’ on social media you will know that I officially commenced in a new position a week ago – moving completely our of the Faculty of Education after leaving the School of Information Studies earlier in the year.

I’ve moved into the Faculty of Science. #gasp Don’t worry – I’m not claiming to be a scientist, chemistry boffin or pharmacist. The focus of my new role is still on e-learning and/or online learning as part of a quality learning and teaching project from the u!magine Digital Learning Innovation Laboratory at Charles Sturt University. Here we are working on a range of things, including change and innovation in the elearning space which is also being shaped up at CSULX | Online Learning Exchange.

We have a new three-faculty structure at CSU as of July 2016 (another big change) and I’ve stepped into the Faculty of Science position, working with my #globaleducator friend and  Julie Lindsay in the Faculty of Arts and Education.  That has to be another  good tick!

Right now I am immersed in the Bachelor of Medical Science, soon to be followed with the Bachelor of Nursing for some intensive elearning design work. I’m glad that none of the scientific terminology is new to me at all, as my first ‘real’ professional work early in my career was as sub-editor of the Australian Medical Journal, followed by editorial assistant on the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery.

So curious how things have come full circle in a way – and how technology change has been at the heart of it in some practical ways. For example, it’s amazing to reflect on how complicated my editing work was  back then, because typesetting was pre-digital so pre- press work meant a need for extreme editing accuracy and quality presentation of content prior to typeset.  That was a real challenge I recall with some bemusement – particularly when I remember the editing the work of a noted Australian medical figure who also happened to be dyslexic.

So winter has really been a period of change – and one that I hope heralds a beautiful and calm spring ahead – oh and moving to our new home in Albury before Christmas.  Tick!

Good bye to all my students in the various degrees that I have worked with in the last 5 years.  Thank you for your friendship and passion for learning – please do stay in touch.  You know where to find me on social media

flickr photo shared by simon.morris under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Filed under: Future, Innovation, Personal
Categories: Planet

3 Top Tips to Make Writing Exciting

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 29 July, 2016 - 09:42

Collaboration, Commenting, and a Global Audience

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Learning writing can be exciting! Kids can love writing. Now, students can easily join writing communities. After joining, students find that commenting on another student’s writing can be fun.  Teacher-librarian, Cynthia Alvarado, shows us how to make writing exciting for kids. Additionally, she’ll also teach us her tips and tricks for coaching kids to level up writing.

Listen to this show: BAM Radio Network | iTunes 

Today’s Sponsor: Write the World Write the World is a fantastic free tool to encourage writing in your classroom. Not only can teachers run writing contests but they can also assign classroom writing prompts. Also, students can join the monthly contests and global writing prompts with other students around the world. Furthermore, Write the World has a schedule of their writing prompts for the year so that you can include them in your planning now.
Targeted to students aged 13-18, Write the World is a powerful, fun community for writing. Even more importantly, I took a tour of the site recently and was impressed with how easy it is to use.

Make writing exciting this year in your classroom. There’s no cost for teachers to join with their classrooms.

Given all these benefits, I recommend this site for writing teachers of students aged 13-18. So, join Write the World and get kids excited to write!

More info on Write the World

Show Notes:
  • Why is an audience essential to improving student writing?
  • Does audience impact plagiarism? In what way?
  • How do we teach students to comment meaningfully?
  • How do you avoid problems when students write together online?
  • What can you say to students help them write more?
Cynthia Alvarado’s Bio

Cynthia Alvarado is a teacher/librarian who teaches literacy and technology to elementary students in Dearborn, Michigan. Her interests include making school interesting in ways that close the gap for ELL and low-income students.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

The post 3 Top Tips to Make Writing Exciting appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Pedagogy Before Technology?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 28 July, 2016 - 21:22

Ross Cooper has some really interesting insights on learning over at his blog.  In his last post, he talks about the phenomenon of “Pokemon Go”, and how educators seem to be clamouring to embed into their classrooms this fall.

Yes! Pokémon Go will definitely engage our students, but so will any other fancy, new technology. While technology has its place, we first and foremost want to make sure we’re prioritizing effective pedagogy and not simply masking bad practice with a dog and pony show. Also, when talking about student engagement as a result of technology, it can be compared to one of the main reasons why punishment should not be used as a classroom management tool. In both of these instances, the intended effects will eventually wear off once the students grow accustomed to what is going on around them (Vargas, 2009).

Any educator can put Pokémon Go in front of students, make a half-hearted attempt at a curricular connection, and cry “Engagement!” Meanwhile, great educators will be able to leverage the app to promote a deeper understanding of content, which most likely could not have been possible had the app not been brought into the equation.

Although he does not directly state it, the mantra that you will hear often is “pedagogy before technology, not the other way around”.  I feel though that in a world where constantly new technologies are so prevalent, simply adopting an “either/or” ideology could be limiting.

Here is part of the comment I wrote to Ross:

One thought…We say things like “pedagogy before technology”, but I think it is too much of a blanket statement. Sometimes the technology drives the pedagogy.

Some questions to think about with Pokemon Go…What makes it appealing to so many? What are some things that I would like to create that have been inspired by this product? Is this something that is going to be a fad, or the next evolution.

When I google the definition of “pedagogy”, here is what I get:

“the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.”

Is there a problem with this since “learning” is nowhere in the definition? Do we start with what we think is important (or is deemed important by others), or with the learning?

Just some quick thoughts that were inspired by a really great post from Ross.

Categories: Planet

Advanced Placement CS Principles Off By One Errors

I’m learning about the new AP CS Principles class the week. There is some good stuff in it. On the other hand the arrays in the pseudo code that is used to write language independent questions uses one based indexes rather than zero based arrays. This is going to make things interesting.

Most modern text based languages (C, C++, C#, Java, etc.) all have arrays where the index of the first element is zero. Many block based languages (Scratch for example) have the index of the first array element be a one.

As I understand it the logic behind the decision is to make it easier for students who learn with one based arrays. It does disadvantage students who learn with zero based arrays of course but I suspect the “powers that be” expect most AP CS P courses to be taught using block based languages. They may be right.

My school is still deciding what language to use for APCSP (we’re not offering it for the 2016/2017 school year but the year after) but this issue is one we will have to face eventually. Other schools who are using languages like Java and Python will be facing this issue this year. Oh boy!

I think it would be nice if array based questions on the exam include a reminder comment about the index start. Some will argue that it is covered in the handout and that teachers should prepare their students for this issue. And they would be right but under the stress of answering 74 questions in 120 minutes I think a tad extra reminder would be a good idea. Discuss!

Categories: Planet

6 Ways to Get the Most out of Back to School Shopping @Staples

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 28 July, 2016 - 06:46

Prepare for Back to School

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Prepare for back to school by getting the supplies (and the rewards) to help you and your classroom succeed. These tips and tricks will help you shop at my FAVORITE school supply shopping store — Staples! Get out your pencil. Follow these links and make your Staples shopping list now. Here we go.

1. Stock Up on Essential Supplies

I’ve pictured supplies from the Staples “Less List.”  These are supplies I’m using for my Makerspace. Let’s look at some essential items.

Check out Staples’ Less List

  • Staples 1 subject notebook – 17 cents and the Staples Composition Notebook – 50 cents – I keep these so students working on projects between multiple classrooms can have a group project notebook. They share notes and findings back and forth between them. (The first notebook is only available in their store!)
  • 12″ Wood Ruler – 25 cents – As students are making, they are measuring. A lot! I keep enough for teams of two in my biggest class.
  • Crayola Crayons, 24/ box – 50 cents – These Crayola crayons are another one of those in-store deals only. Even in high school, we use crayons for drawing and making. Students can share these, so I get enough for my largest class divided by 4.
  • Staples Yellow Pencils #2, 12/pack – 75 cents – Ok, I’ll buy at least ten boxes of these! I need enough for the whole year. If a child needs a pencil, I won’t turn them away. Sometimes, parents will give me extra supplies. I’m so grateful!
  • Staples Washable Glue Sticks, 4 / pack $1 – We use glue sticks for our foam board projects. I want one per student for my largest class.
  • Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer 8+2 oz $2 – I keep hand sanitizer by the door and at the paper cutter and filing cabinet.
  • Post-It Notes, 3″ x 3 ” yellow 4/ pack $3 – I can’t keep enough Post-It notes. We use them for everything.
  • Staples School Grade 2Pocket Folder, 25/ box $4 – This deal is only online. This year, I am using these pocket folders for my students to collect the items for their student-led parent-teacher conferences. I will keep them near their file folders for them to include their best work.
  • Staples Earbuds $7 – Each of my students needs their own set of earbuds. Earbuds on their school supply list. I do this because I make lots of videos to personalize learning for my students.

Check out Staples’ Less List

2. Put Your Back to School Teacher List online at Staples

Make it simple for parents by putting your school supply list online. (use this link) Staples has linked with Teacher Lists so your parents can buy with one click of a button.

3.  Register Your Wish List on DonorsChoose.org

As part of their Staples for Students program, this past week Staples funded all public school teacher wish lists in the Dallas area. Consider going to DonorsChoose.org and registering your classroom. Many are supporting schools, teachers, and students on DonorsChoose.org.

4. Make Sure You’ve Signed up For Teacher Rewards

Staples Teacher Rewards program is awesome. You earn rewards back and extra rewards on teaching and art supplies. I keep my card in my wallet since I signed up last year. (Teacher Rewards members also get free shipping on orders over $14.99)

Sign up for Staples Teacher Rewards

5. Keep Your Receipts and use the 110% Lowest Price Guarantee

The great thing about buying at Staples is if you find a lower price either online or in another store, Staples will guarantee to give you that lower price. Here are the instructions.

6. Keep an Eye on Deals and Shop Each Week

Each week, Staples has back to school deals, so check out their weekly deals, back to school deals, and technology deals before you shop.

Good luck! We’ve got two short weeks here. I wish I was ready but I’m not. Get ready! Make your list and head to Staples.


 Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) 

The post 6 Ways to Get the Most out of Back to School Shopping @Staples appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Turning the Spotlight on the Audience

The Principal of Change George Couros - 27 July, 2016 - 21:42

I happened across this article titled, “11 Ways To Instantly Connect With Anyone“, and although it is meant for more one-on-one interactions, there is a lot of wisdom in it that would tie into speaking or presentations.

The first point in the article was the following:

1. Leave a strong first impression. Most people decide whether or not they like you within the first seven seconds of meeting you. They then spend the rest of the conversation internally justifying their initial reaction. This may sound terrifying, but by knowing this, you can take advantage of it to connect with anyone.

Now from the perspective of a speaker, this is one piece of advice that I give to all presenters.  When you start your talk and all eyes are on you, turn the focus back onto the audience.  Simple things like acknowledging where you are and what you know about the area, or sharing something that you heard earlier at the conference or happened in the room.  Showing an awareness of who you are speaking to shows that you care that you are there.

Too often people jump right into the “talk” or presentation, where there first focus should be on building rapport.  This is no different than what you would do within the classroom, you just have a MUCH shorter time to do it.

Think about it…You are letting people know that you listen and care about them. Isn’t that a great start to any conversation?

(If you are interested in learning more on “becoming a better speaker”, I have been contemplating delivering a self-directed course on the topic over a 5 to 8 week period. If you are interested in this topic, I can send you more information when it is ready for release. Please feel free to share your contact details in this Google Form.)

Categories: Planet

Modernising educational relics

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 27 July, 2016 - 16:31

Last week, Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli announced major reforms to the Higher School Certificate (HSC) in response to what the Minister says was parental, community and industry feedback on literacy and numeracy standards and the preparedness of students to enter a 21st century workforce.

This will be the first time in almost two decades the HSC will face an overhaul in what is a committed effort to address declining literacy and numeracy standards as well as responding to a demand for digital.

Having spent the past 40 years (including 13 at school) in education, these reforms sound like the age old rhetoric of trying to improve education by improving the test.  The reality is the HSC is a relic of the last century.  It was designed in the late 1950s and rolled out in the 1960s when the world of education work was very different.  Since the late eighties, successive governments have used school credentials as a means of somehow improving schooling.

What we desperately need is some divergent thinking because reform is not needed at the end of schooling but the beginning of it. Why are we not investing resources into establishing a solid literacy, numeracy and socio-emotional foundation in the early years? We only need to look at what is happening in Finland and their focus on student happiness or Asia where education systems are looking beyond high stakes testing.

This requires a fundamental shift of focus on education policy and the foundations on which these policies rest. Every initiative recently announced by the  minister has been tried before with words like rigour, standards and improvement becoming the norm. Where is the new thinking? Where is the innovative and relevant practice? And where is the creativity that builds and sustains a genuinely realistic understanding that today’s world is not yesterday revisited. Nostalgia makes us feel good but it ultimately kills innovation.

If our politicians are serious about ensuring students are well-prepared for the new world of work, we first need to ensure the locus of innovative practice and entrepreneurial outlook is found in each and every school. It might be externally supported but is has to be locally driven. This means trusting the profession to make those judgements for its learning community.

The HSC reforms really are a missed opportunity to bring some coherence to educational policy and radically rethink how we assess the spectrum of students’ learning and skills.

Is there anyone bold enough to relinquish such educational relics?



Categories: Planet

Collecting and Grading Programming Projects

No one like grading. Well no one I know. But as teachers it is an essential part of what we do. Grading programs can be a real pain to do though. Do you run every program? Well you probably better. Do you read all of the code? Probably better do that as well. How do you collect it? On paper? Online? A lot to think about. Bare with me as I “think out loud” here looking for input from others.

My students save all of their programming work on a network drive that I have full access to. Assuming they follow directions, give files the names I ask them to use, and save things in the right place we’re off to a good start. Easier than it sounds but let’s assume it works. It usually does.

Opening up the project in the IDE used to develop it is the simple most powerful way to look at the code and run the resulting program. IT an take a while depending on the size of the project, the speed of the network and the speed of the computer.It’s not really necessary if the program compiles. One can just run the executable – assuming one trusts that the executable matches the code.

One can also ask for the code to be printed out and handed in. I do that a lot but it feels like a waste of paper. On the other hand reading code on paper feels better to me than reading it online. This is probably a result of me being old school and dating back to before we had screens to read code on and it was look at the cards or a listing or nothing.  I miss the color coding of the IDE though sometimes. Like those times when I think there is a problem somewhere in the code.

I’m thinking of having students create a Word document (or PDF) for handing in code this year. I’ll ask them to include a couple of screen shots of the running program at the top of the listing. That way I can see how their results look without running anything. I’m unsure if that will actually save time or not. Will it also open the door for more cheating? I hope not but it is something I will watch for.

I’ve been learning about the way projects have to be submitted for the new AP CS Principles course and that is moving my thinking about a bit. IT seems like doing something similar even if not exactly the same might have the added benefit of preparing students (and me) for the APCSP course which my school will be offering in 2017/2018.

Feedback is the other issue in grading. I have experimented with a couple of programs to record my feedback and grade justifications for both students and myself. Basically I have the result saved in each student folder on the network drive. Files are less likely to be lost or misplaced than pieces of paper. Plus my typing is a lot easier to read than my handwriting. I plan to keep this up this year but I also want to upgrade the rubrics I use and the programs I use to make it easier to provide more details than previously. What I use now   if very basic.

I’ve experimented with the rubric developed for Harvard’s CS 50 course. I like it for the most part but I want to tweak it some to fit what I think I need to provide for details. I’m open to other rubrics or grading plans as well if you know one that works well for you.. No matter what method I use for collecting and reviewing projects a good clear rubric that students understand is critical.

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 25 July 2016

Blogging just hasn’t been my thing the last two weeks. Too much travel, too much work around the house when I haven’t been traveling, and I really need to do more prep for the new course I am teaching in September. Speaking of preparation and travel, I am in St Johnsbury Vermont this week learning how to teach the new AP CS Principles course. Thankfully not starting in September as two new course in the same semester would be a bit much. Not that CS teachers don’t face that a lot but really I’d like to avoid it if possible.

A lot of these links came from the Annual CSTA Conference the other week. I tweeted a lot while I was there. Some are from later. There are more than usual. But as usual I tried to pick out the best of what I saw in hopes of not wasting your time. Enjoy!

Speaking of the Computer Science Teachers Association – have you seen the new logo and website? I like it how about you?

The Beauty and Joy of Computing - CS Principles Part 1 - starts on edX on September 6. If you are thinking about starting AP CS Principles this may be a good place to start.

Coding Resources for non-Computer Science Teachers – we’re seeing more and more teachers who do not have a CS background being asked to step up and teach CS. This is a useful list for them.

Building Computer Science Teacher Pipelines at CSNYC  h/t @lsudol New York City has big plans for adding more CS education and filling the teacher pipeline is a big part of it. Take a look at some of their plans.

Interesting trip report (not by me) on the Snowbird conference focusing on talking about CS Education research. http://blogs.uw.edu/ajko/2016/07/20/snowbird-trip-report-automation-education-and-academia/

The Allen Educators program is still somewhat new to me. ‏@AllenEducators and it is not just for CS teachers.

Dawn DuPriest writes about it on her blog at The Allen Distinguished Educator program and grants

Meeting the need for AP CSP at Georgia Tech  by Mark @guzdial Teaser: It’s not by adding a new course patterned after AP CS Principles.

OK what is interesting about this new camera from Nest is that they are building software so that it recognizes the difference between people and not people (animals, leaves blowing in the wind, etc.)

Read about it on Wired or the Nest official outdoor camera website.

Microsoft announces professional degree program to fill the skills gap via @techcrunch People have been asking Microsoft and other t3ch companies to run their own university courses for years. Is this a good idea? I’m not sure and I tend to be a MOOC skeptic but still an interesting development.

Looking for a Crypto101 Introductory Course for Programmers  This may be an option.

Small Basic Pi – “Small Basic, one of our favorite learning languages, marry that up with the Raspberry Pi and you got some tasty IoT”

Build your own robot with #Internet of Things and Raspberry Pi! See how:  One day I’ll have time to do this.


Great rubric for evaluating CS resources from Saber Khan ( @ed_saber) at informative #csta16 session. I love these suggestions.

BBC micro:bit lessons via @YouTube These devices may be coming to the US. When? No idea but if you are in the UK and have them check out these videos.

Here they are! The new ISTE Standards for Students

Speaking of standards have you seen the New CSTA standards at http://www.csteachers.org/page/CSTA_Standards

The ScratchEd Teamis crowd-sourcing a list of cross-curricular Scratch projects. Add your suggestions here: http://bit.ly/scratchacrossthecurriculum …

Categories: Planet

11 Books To Further an #InnovatorsMindset

The Principal of Change George Couros - 25 July, 2016 - 03:28

Innovation is more about mindset, than skill set.  This is something that I truly believe and focus on in my book, “The Innovator’s Mindset” (Which I think would also be a good part of this list as well!).

In schools though, “innovation” is not only about individuals, but something that is required at all levels.  Working with so many different organizations around the world, you can see little things in how they operate which lend to how innovative they are.  Policies that are there because they have always been there, often inhibit innovation in many organizations, as they create so many hurdles to jump over, pushing people to either give up on the notion of innovation, or leave entirely.  This is why both leadership and management are crucial. Management is about the “stuff”, while leadership is about people.  If the “stuff” inhibits people instead of empowering them, you have a leadership problem.

Below are some books that have really pushed my thinking in the area of leadership and innovation. It is not comprehensive, but just a mix of some that you may have heard of, and some you haven’t, with a mix of business and education books.  I enjoyed all of them though and they have helped either shape or reaffirm my thinking and they will challenge the way you look at leadership, innovation, and education.

Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World – Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant

A Favourite Quote: “The challenge here is not to do social media better. The challenge is to do our organizations better. The challenge is to make our organizations more human.”

At the centre of innovation is people, and this book is a great reminder of that.  Where technology is seemingly at the forefront of many conversations in education, this book gets you to focus on tapping into people using technology.  It is one of my favourite reads.

Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World – Suzie Boss A Favourite Quote: “The first step in teaching students to innovate is making sure that educators have opportunities to be innovators themselves.” What I loved about this book was that it tempered powerful ideas with actual examples of people doing this work as well.

LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student – A.J. Juliani and John Spencer

A Favourite Quote: “You cannot empower students to be self-directed, responsible, critical-thinking people if they can’t ask their own questions. At that point, you’re teaching compliance rather than responsibility.”

Full disclosure…I wrote a review for this awesome book.  Here is what I shared:

“‘Spencer and Juliani do an amazing job of bringing this concept to life using both powerful and practical examples, as well as narratives that make this book both inspiring and attainable at the same time. All kids walk into school curious and creative. This book will help weave a path to ensure that these traits are not only maintained, but accentuated when those same students leave.”

Great book that is for those educators looking to implement design thinking in meaningful ways into their classroom.

Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere – Will Richardson

A Favourite Quote: “What doesn’t work any longer is our education system’s stubborn focus on delivering a curriculum that’s growing increasingly irrelevant to today’s kids, the outmoded standardized assessments we use in an attempt to measure our success, and the command-and-control thinking that is wielded over the entire process. All of that must be rethought.”

This book is a great and easy read, that will surely push your thinking of what school is compared to what school could be. Will Richardson also does this continuously and consistently in his blog as well.

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World – Adam Grant

A Favourite Quote: “We live in an Internet Explorer world. Just as almost two thirds of the customer service reps used the default browser on their computers, many of us accept the defaults in our own lives.”

This book has some really surprising ideas…Such as procrastination is often seen in many innovators, and that innovation doesn’t just have to be new, but “different and better”.  Really great read.

The Power Of Why: Simple Questions That Lead to Success – Amanda Lang

A Favourite Quote: “Curiosity is, therefore, strongly correlated with intelligence. For instance, one longitudinal study of 1,795 kids measured intelligence and curiosity when they were three years old, and then again eight years later. Researchers found that kids who had been equally intelligent at age three were, at eleven, no longer equal. The ones who’d been more curious at three were now also more intelligent, which isn’t terribly surprising when you consider how curiosity drives the acquisition of knowledge. The more interested and alert and engaged you are, the more you’re likely to learn and retain. In fact, highly curious kids scored a full twelve points higher on IQ tests than less curious kids did.”

Although this is a business book, the author brings lots of examples on the importance of what we do in education, and the long term impacts it can have on us as individuals.

Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need – Chris Lehmann and Zac Chase

A Favourite Quote: “One of the most important questions any school or teacher can ask is simple: “How can we be more thoughtful about what we do?” Unfortunately, it’s not the question we ask most frequently. The question schools and teachers have fallen in love with—“What more should we be doing?”—is much more dangerous and leads to the creation of unsustainable systems.”

This book was an awesome read, with short chapters that have a beautiful mix of common sense while also pushing your thinking.  I read it in one sitting and really appreciated the thinking of the authors on this in the possibilities for education today.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol Dweck

A Favourite Quote: “What did they know? They knew that human qualities, such as intellectual skills, could be cultivated through effort. And that’s what they were doing—getting smarter. Not only weren’t they discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were failing. They thought they were learning.”

If you haven’t read this book, you should.  It is a powerful read about motivation and learning, and has sparked many ideas for me in this blog, as well as countless other educators.

I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works: Why Your World, Work & Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted – Nick Bilton

A Favourite Quote: “You can lament the changes that are happening today—tomorrow’s history—convincing yourselves of the negatives and refusing to be a part of a constantly changing culture. Or you can shake off your technochondria and embrace and accept that the positive metamorphosis will continue to happen, as it has so many times before. Young people today are building a new language, not demolishing an old one. And as you will soon see, developments like these new words are helping create significant and meaningful new communities and new relationships that are an essential part of our changing culture and our wireless future.”

Books like this bring an awareness to what the world is now, as opposed to what we see it could be.  It also will challenge the traditional notion of “literacy” in a world where creation is becoming more and more important.

World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students – Yong Zhao

A Favourite Quote: “The new survival skills—effective communication, curiosity, and critical-thinking skills—“are no longer skills that only the elites in a society must muster; they are essential survival skills for all of us.”

If you have ever seen Zhao speak, this book emulates that.  It is thought provoking, going beyond the usual things you may read about education, but written in an engaging and compelling way.

Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better – Clive Thompson

A Favourite Quote: “Literacy in North America has historically been focused on reading, not writing; consumption, not production.”

I just loved this book…It is great for so many of the arguments that people make that technology makes us less intelligent, but is written in a compelling way, full of great stories.

In no way is this meant to be a “best of” list; just books that have influenced my thinking.  This is also a list of books on “Innovation”, with none being in my list.  I would love to know what you think some of the best books are so please feel free to share them in the comments.

Categories: Planet

The rewards of highly collaborative teams — The Learner's Way

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 24 July, 2016 - 20:26


  • Not that long ago I was a writer of interesting and engaging educational programmes. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. The programmes that I wrote and shared with a team of teachers were generally well accepted and the feedback offered was always politely positive. I enjoyed writing these programmes but in recent times I have enjoyed even more stepping away from this process and in doing so empowering the team of teachers that I learn with. The programmes that this team produces far exceed the quality I could ever have hoped to produce but more importantly the students are benefiting from their experience of highly engaged and thus engaging teachers. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: collaborative, teams, learner

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

“They have to be part of the solution”

The Principal of Change George Couros - 24 July, 2016 - 00:31

As teachers go back into their classrooms preparing for the new school year, many educators spend an inordinate amount of time decorating their classroom.  The will use terms like “our classroom”, yet they will be the only ones who have had the options of what it looked like.  My first year of teaching a fourth grade class, I remember spending a ton of time making little basketballs and placing every student name on one of them outside of the classroom as a way to welcome them.  Imagine if you were a student in my class that year and you hated sports. You were probably thinking, “A year with this guy?!?!?”

I was reminded of this reading this post, “How Teachers Can See Students’ Identities As Learning Strengths“, and in particular, reading this passage about a teacher trying to better understand his own students:

For example, Sirrakos had spent a lot of time and his own money to decorate his science classroom with posters and quotes he hoped would inspire his science students. In a dialogue, one student told him that his class environment was boring. Sirrakos was confused and pointed out all the decorations on the walls meant to liven up the room. His students explained those images represented him, not them. Sirrakos was still confused, but he asked his students to help him fix the problem.

Students started bringing in their own posters, including things they made. The one rule was it had to be related to science in some way. Immediately students were more cheerful. “They have to be part of the solution,” Sirrakos said. “That’s where we talk about having these co-generative plans of action.” In this example, the solution didn’t require a big shift, it only required that Sirrakos recognize he wasn’t achieving the result he thought he was, and be open to students’ owning their classroom space.

Not only would this save you so much more time, but it is so much more meaningful to the students.  This is not simply about choosing what goes on the walls, but seeing the classroom as a reflection of themselves (the learners), not simply the teacher.

I wrote about this last year as well:

What if you wanted to learn the student’s names, you asked them to create their own art to display it on which represents something they love?

Instead of decorating the room with what you think should be on the walls, ask the students what they would like the room to look like, and plan how you could shape and decorate it, over time.

Instead of planning the entire day, why not create opportunities to talk to them and learn about them, and get a feel for what your year, or even the day could look like?

If I really think about how the year started for me as a teacher, it was more about the students to get to know me, than it was about me getting to know them.  There actually should be a balance.  Trust and respect are reciprocal feelings; they are not earned only from one direction.

These little things show students that they are an essential part of our community.  Their voice is needed to create community, ultimately showing them that they do not have to wait to make a difference; they can be leaders today, in our own classrooms.  Empowering them now, will lead them to be the world changers we hope them to be.


Categories: Planet

The Beautiful Discomfort of “New”

The Principal of Change George Couros - 22 July, 2016 - 06:36

If you were a new teacher, administrator, or staff member in any field, and you were posed with a new challenge or problem, what would you do?

From my experience, people in newer positions are more likely to try to figure out a solution, or show a willingness to learn something new, as they are new to the organization, and want to show their willingness to grow.

Yet I specifically remember a conversation with an administrator saying that their staff would be reluctant to using something like Google Apps for Education, because there were so accustomed to what they were already using.  My response was that if the people that were reluctant were applying for a new job and the question was, “Are you willing to learn Google Apps for Education?”, their response would likely be, “Yes!”.  Not, “Yes.”, but “Yes!”

As we gain experience, we gain more knowledge, and sometimes our eagerness is tempered by what we know.  Yet, do we become too comfortable in some situations because they are our norm?  Do we become complacent because we are not as worried about disappointing those we are familiar with, as opposed to those that we are not?

Here is a microcosm of this scenario…I rarely answer email from my phone.  Why? Because I am a notorious “one-handed texter”.  My thumbs are large enough to easily reach across a screen, so I only need one.  This is not a problem for tweeting or texting, but for emails, it can take a lot longer.  Two thumbs are better than one

But right now, I am starting to explicitly try to answer some emails via my phone, learning to use two thumbs instead of one.  Right now, this method is slower for me, and it almost feels like my right thumb has a worn in point especially made for texting, while my left thumb is flat, and does not have the same ability.  To type with two thumbs on my phone, it feels uncomfortable, it takes longer, and is kind of annoying.  But for me to get to a space that is better, even for this simple process, I have to be comfortable with this discomfort. I have to be okay with going slow to eventually move fast.  Texting on my phone is something that has become new again, and something that I am willing to relearn.

The discomfort we have when we are “new” is something we need to learn to embrace and see it as leading to growth, not stagnation.  There is power in being willing to being new to a situation, feeling uncomfortable, and embracing struggle.  The trick sometimes is doing it to yourself, before someone comes along and does it for you.

Categories: Planet

A Getting Started Guide to Digital Citizenship Education

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 22 July, 2016 - 00:55

How Model Teachers Model Digital Citizenship

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

A one time assembly about digital citizenship is not enough. So, Susan Bearden believes digital citizenship should be reinforced daily with kids. In light of how much work we have to do in schools, this whole-school approach brings out so many questions! How do you bring everyone together to understand digital citizenship? What is the role of schools, parents, and faculty?  In today’s show, digital citizenship expert, Susan Bearden tackles these questions and more. Moreover, she helps us figure out where to start if we’re not already doing this in our school today.

Listen to this show: BAM Radio Network | iTunes | Stitcher Today’s Sponsor: NetSmartz Netsmartz is a free online training program from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This free course is designed to help you teach the latest in internet safety and digital citizenship for your students.  It is online. Learn at your own pace. Most people can complete this course in just an hour.What is stopping you? Every school and teacher should take the time to go through the Netsmartz course this summer. Just enroll here:

It is online. Learn at your own pace. Most people can complete this course in just an hour.What is stopping you? Because it is so simple (but important), every school, teacher, and parent should take the time to go through the Netsmartz course this summer. Just enroll here: www.netsmartz.org/training.  

Check out free NetSmartz training

Show Notes:
  • What are the most common mistakes schools make about digital citizenship?
  • Whose responsibility is teaching digital citizenship?
  • How do we change student behavior?
  • How to educators deal with the drama that can accompany digital citizenship conversations?
  • What are some ways to deal with volatile issues without having to confront them head on?
  • Why do educators need to talk to kids to understand their social media world?
  • How do you make time for digital citizenship when you’re not a technology teacher?
  • What do we say when parents are angry about what schools should be teaching about digital citizenship?
  • Where should educators start when they know nothing about digital citizenship education?

Susan M. Bearden is the co-moderator of #edtechchat, cohost of edTechChat Radio and creator of @tweechmeApp. She is the author of Digital Citizenship: A Community-Based Approach, a speaker, frequent guest blogger, and a contributing author to the Huffington Post, she was ranked #9 on their list of “The 50 Most Social CIOs on Twitter.”

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

The post A Getting Started Guide to Digital Citizenship Education appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

5 Steps for a Successful STEAM Lab

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 21 July, 2016 - 11:11

How to Mix Problems, Passion, and Projects to Excite Kids

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Implementing a  STEAM Lab Program can be a challenge.  (STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.) Today’s guest, Alicia Roberts has navigated this process several times and gives us five steps to make it happen. If you’re ready to implement STEAM or if you’re doubtful, learn from someone who has successfully implemented STEAM.

Listen to this show: BAM Radio Network | iTunes | Stitcher Thank you, Wonder Workshop, Today’s Sponsor

Learn about Wonder Workshop

Last year I judged a robotics competition for Wonder Workshop. I was amazed at the incredible things students could do with Dash and Dot. Wonder Workshop robots make a fantastic addition to any STEAM Lab. Their robotics clubs make a great addition to any school.

Today’s Sponsor is Wonder Workshop: The Wonder Workshop robotics club is an excellent way to get students excited about STEAM. Sign up to start a club(They have some cool things to help you get going.)

My son loves the Dash and Dot robots from Wonder Workshop. He has been programming them over the summer as I continue to reinforce Computer Science at home. These cute robots will have a prominent place in my STEAM lab this fall.

Show Notes:
  • How do you get students and parents excited about STEM?
  • How do you “sell” STEAM to administrators?
  • What are fun STEAM activities that students love?
  • How do you implement STEAM when you have everyone on board and ready to go?
  • What is a typical 5-year implementation plan for a STEAM lab?
  • What are some measurable points to determine if your STEAM program is successful?
  • How do you get STEAM back on track when it is not working for a school?
  • What are some of the common mistakes people make when implementing STEAM labs?

Alicia Roberts @teach2inspireu is currently the Educational Technology Specialist at Paradise Valley Christian Preparatory K-12 and founder of Teach2Inspire,LLC, an educational consulting firm working with districts, schools, and teachers to support a successful implementation of Technology Instruction related to the Common Core State Standards, and Curriculum Mapping. She has worked with leaders in the industry to design workshops sharing the best free web-based education resources for K-12 educators.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

The post 5 Steps for a Successful STEAM Lab appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Creating Bridges

The Principal of Change George Couros - 20 July, 2016 - 09:27

Good professional learning will give you lots of ideas on what you can do with your students on “Monday”. Great professional learning will make you think about how you teach every day.  It should not only provide ideas, but make you feel a little uncomfortable.  There is a fine balance and one of the greatest compliments that I have ever received was from the foreword in my book from Dave Burgess;

Perhaps his greatest gift is how he can simultaneously prod you and pull you, forcing you out of your comfort zone while making you feel as if he is holding your hand and walking with you the whole way.

This is what I strive for.  Some days I get closer to it than other days.

But to do this, I have to be open to challenge my own learning. One of the things I tell participants in my sessions is to not disagree with me after the day, but during. It only helps myself, and the room, to truly grow.

As I threw out this challenge, one woman accepted. She shared that she had “Never had a cell phone, nor  will I ever get one.”  I asked if she would be open to changing her mind, and she said, “nope”.

Now you might be reading this and thinking, fixed mindset!”, but the words do not illustrate the story properly.  Here was a teacher, in July, spending her own time, to learn about what I was sharing.  She didn’t have to be there but she chose to be there.  She nodded her head up and down when I shared many things, and you can see she wanted the best for students, just as I do.  Her honesty was refreshing, but not as refreshing as her enthusiasm for students.  I could have focused on the idea that she would be a “tough sell”, but I genuinely could feel her that she wanted best for kids and just maybe had a different approach.  I saw it because I looked for it.

Earlier in my career, this would have frustrated me.  Now, I am doing my best to see where we connect first, not only where we disagree.  The old adage of “build a bridge instead of walls” (source is unknown), is something that I am trying to adopt more in my thinking, and I found more in common than I did in opposition.

As I write this, I cannot stop thinking of this article, “The ‘Other Side’ is Not Dumb“.  It is a brilliant read (seriously read it), that goes way beyond professional learning, but in many aspects of our lives, especially in relation to how we use social media:

It’s impossible to consider yourself a curious person and participate in social media in this way. We cannot consider ourselves “empathetic” only to turn around and belittle those that don’t agree with us.

We often take disagreement as “being wrong”, instead of embodying that same curiosity we want from our students for someone else’s perspective when it is in disagreement with our own.

But these words especially…

As any debate club veteran knows, if you can’t make your opponent’s point for them, you don’t truly grasp the issue. We can bemoan political gridlock and a divisive media all we want. But we won’t truly progress as individuals until we make an honest effort to understand those that are not like us. And you won’t convince anyone to feel the way you do if you don’t respect their position and opinions.

In life, and learning, these words matter.

Bridges, not walls. We need to look for them, and create them when necessary.

Categories: Planet

11 Essential EdTech Action Steps for Back to School

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 20 July, 2016 - 04:28

Simple Updates to Your Classroom Procedures and Workflow sponsored by EdTech Software

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Technologies can transform; even simple technologies can make a significant impact. Here are eleven of the technologies that often affect classroom procedures and workflow. Use this checklist and infographic to make sure you’ve included the edtech essentials in your workflow this year.

Try Shelfit from EdTech Software

1. Design Your Web Browser

Your start page and bookmark bar are strategic for both you and your students. Why waste it with standard Google Start Page?

Intentionally Select Your Start Page

Choose one of the four choices of start pages. Be intentional!

4 Choices for Start Pages:
  • A personal dashboard: Start.me is a service that has both free personal pages and a free start.me for your class. Netvibes will also do this. You can start with a glance at your email, your list, the news, blogs you like, and more.
  • A minimalist productivity start page. In Google Chrome, Momentum and Limitless have some cool features to help you focus. Momentum even has a simple list-building feature and link adding feature added. 
  • Links. Many teachers love Symbaloo, which gives cool icons and links. Some people like speed dial but most web browsers pull in links to pages people go to often.
  • Graphic News Reader. Newsmap is a slick news summarizing service will show you a big picture of what is happening in the world. It indexes all of the Google news for your selected country and shows with a quick glance what works. (Read more about newsmap here.)

TIP: For those who say they need the google box in the middle of the page, please remember that the address box at the top of your browser can do this. It is now called an “omnibox” which means you can type a web address or search.

Organize Your Bookmarks

Also, edit your bookmark bar. The handy icons show along the top of your web browser when you turn on bookmarks.  See my Chrome tutorial,

As you design your start page, you’re applying the mud puddle principle. Think of a toddler on the edge of a mud puddle – the closer they get to the brink, the more likely the toddler will jump in! By putting the things you want to do on your start page and bookmark, you increase your likelihood of doing them!

Back to School EdTech Action Step #1: Determine the start page for you and your students. Organize your bookmarks. Decide when you’ll teach your students how to organize theirs. 2. Mash up your textbook (or prepare to)

Lately, I have been using Shelfit software by EdTech Software. Shelfit is the future of textbooks today. As a teacher, we will soon all be mashing up our textbooks. We can add quizzes, videos, and materials right inside the textbook alongside with content. Imagine being able to add your handouts right onto the textbook page where students need them!

Try Shelfit from EdTech Software

Understand Where Textbooks Are Going: Test eBook “Mashup” Software to See How It Works

So first, I do recommend that you test a textbook modification program so that you can understand what this technology means. Shelfit from EdTech Software has made it so you can check out their service now and it is one I recommend you share with your school IT departments too.

Be Strategic About How You Use Your Textbook This Year

My short link and QR code note. I organize these to make it easy to pull the resources back from year to year. It will be the springboard that lets me mash up my textbooks.

After you test the software and understand where your textbooks are heading, be strategic and intentional about how you organize the textbooks you use this year.

I am keeping a copy of all resources, links, and materials on each page of the textbook and pasted in a Google Doc to make things easier to retrieve.

Procedure for link shortening and mobile sharing:
  • Copy the hyperlink for the page or lesson that relates to a particular page in my textbook.
  • Shorten the link using bit.ly. Bitly makes the link shorter (and your QR code smaller)
  • Paste the link into Kaywa – a QR code generator to make a QR code. (Just click “static” and go with the free QR code.)
  • Paste the QR code and link into Evernote or a Google Doc organized by page numbers. Print it and tape it onto the page in the textbook as well so it looks like the photo to the right.

Textbook customization is here now or just around the corner for most of us. Shelfit from EdTech Software is platform agnostic, which means that if I go in Shelfit and customize the textbook, my students can download the app and read and interact with the textbook on any device. It is available offline; everything but the YouTube videos and hyperlinks will work (those need the Internet), but all other text, comments, notes and PDF’s are available.

Back to School EdTech Action Step #2: Understand textbook customization by testing Shelfit from EdTech Software. Create a plan for how you’ll capture hyperlinks to resources for the time when you’ll be customizing your textbooks if you won’t be this year. 

Try Shelfit from EdTech Software

3. Connect Devices to the Board

Every device in the classroom should easily be able to send their screen to your projector or interactive board. There are several ways to do this:

  • Lightcast Sender. I have an InFocus Jboard, so my students use Lightcast Sender to transmit their screens to the board (it works with Chrome and Chromebooks to InFocus devices.) Many brand name projectors have such apps.
  • Chromecast lets you mirror desktops and many devices to your television or projector. All you need is Google Chrome and the Google Cast extension. For phones, you’ll want to install the Google Cast app.
  • Airplay lets you stream Apple devices to your Apple TV.
  • Miracast is called “HDMI over Wifi.” That isn’t really accurate because you don’t even need wifi. Many devices support Miracast, but Airplay and Chromecast do not support it. It is built right into many smart televisions., Android 4.2+ and Windows 8.1 and higher so you can connect Windows devices and Android smartphones to Miracast-compliant receivers. However, it just doesn’t seem to be as easy as other options. You may be using a Miracast compliant device and not know it because many manufacturers name it something else!
Back to School EdTech Action Step #3: Simply projecting any screen in the room is an essential classroom procedure. Practice doing this before school. Teach students and have each student check their devices it your first week of school. This way, you’re set up for the year. You could even have one student or two who are designated “streaming” support technicians. Don’t forget to teach them how to stop transmitting! 4. Set Link Sharing Procedures

Hyperlinks fuel much of the work in the modern classroom. Teachers and students should be able to quickly and easily share them with one another. For example, if they are sharing their screen and want to give the hyperlink to the class, they should be able to follow the procedure included in point two for link shortening and mobile sharing.

If you use QR codes, your students will need a QR code reader. (I like i-Nigma but check out my Classroom QR Code Implementation Guide for more info.)

Back to School EdTech Action Step #4: Determine the procedures for how you’ll share links in your classroom. Have students practice sending and receiving hyperlinks onto their devices as rapidly as possible. 

Try Shelfit from EdTech Software

5. Connect with Parents

Determine how you will communicate with parents. This is important because you probably don’t want to share all of those pictures and videos on social media. And not all parents are on social media. As I’ve said before, I use Bloomz for this and I’m working to make sure that all of my classes are set up properly before school starts. I also include the link to parents in their letter home. There are other systems out there. Decide what works right for you!

Back to School EdTech Action Step #5: Select your parent communication system, set it up, and include it on letters home to parents to get communication going from day one. You could also have students have the classroom job of taking pictures each week and sharing on your parent communication system.  6. Design Your Online Classroom

As I shared at ISTE this year at the Blended Learning Panel discussion, our classrooms are built from bricks and clicks. You have a face-to-face classroom and an online classroom.

We spend a lot of time arranging furniture and on your face to face workflow. We want our classroom to be friendly. Make sure your online classroom is friendly and has flow as well.

Back to School EdTech Action Step #6: Review and add procedures to your first week lessons for your online classroom. Include: how students know what to do online, how students turn in online work, and other procedures for the online classroom. Include how to check their grades online.

Try Shelfit from EdTech Software

7. Set EdTech Class Procedures

Make sure you have the language in place use technology in your classroom.

Language for Device Use and Non-Use
  • iPads: For example, some people who use iPads will say “apples up” when they want the students to put their screens face down on the desk. 
  • Chromebooks, Laptops and Tablets: Lids up or lids down
  • Fly (Go in Airplane Mode): Sometimes you may want students to use an app or film video while not being online. Make sure students know how to put their devices in airplane mode for those times you need distraction-free filming and photography.
  • In a Computer Lab. I’m in a computer lab, so I have something I call “teaching position.” Students turn their chairs towards me, point their knees towards me, and get their notebooks out and are ready to take notes.
A simple definition for a professional workstation

Clearly defining what a great looking workstation looks like is important. Teachers of younger kids often call this “a clean desk” but I really want to focus on what it looks like when they sit down to get to work.

Have a graphic that shows what you expect workstations to look like. Here’s the one for my classroom. I made it in Powerpoint.


Back to School EdTech Action Step #7: Determine how you will ask students to use and not use their devices. What do you want note-taking and class discussions to look like? Spell out the procedures for using and not using technology. Clearly demonstrate what a professional student work area looks like.

Try Shelfit from EdTech Software

8. Set Up Social Media

Determine how you will be connecting with the world this year. Will you have a class Twitter account? A class hashtag? A class Facebook page? A private Facebook group with your students? Will you have a class Instagram account?

What platforms will you choose?

Consider at least one way that you communicate and share with the world. (See See 10 Cool Ways Teachers Use Social media to Enhance Learning )

You may not think this is important, but I’ll never forget the year I received some huge donations from a local person who watched what my class was doing on our class YouTube channel. It really does make a difference to communicate key things that are happening in your classroom.

How do you facilitate student sharing on classroom sites?

Make sure your photo policy fits with your school policy.

One way that many people like to determine what they’re going to post on social media is to have an in-class Twitter board. Students write short updates of what they learned that day and stick it on the board with Post-It notes. They may sign their own handle or just put their initials.

If older students are connecting on social media, you could have a class hashtag for Instagram or Twitter.

At the end of the day, the teacher selects the best couple of tweets and shares them out over Twitter or Instagram or whatever account the class is using. This is a great way to see what people are learning and also communicate with the world and create engagement with the world. You can also appoint a class communicator to help capture and share.

Back to School EdTech Action Step #8: Select your social media accounts. Create a graphic on your wall to help you decide what to share or appoint a student to help share content each week.

Try Shelfit from EdTech Software

9. Set Up Screencasting

Student and teachers should know how to capture both video and photos of screens with screenshots and screencast. This is something that should be second nature and easy to do. It is part of the five steps to Internet safety and is a basic safety mechanism, but it also just makes it easier to share and to communicate.

Simple Ways to Take Screenshots
  • PC –  Try the snipping tool or just press Alt+Ctrl+PrnSc and look in your picture folder.
  • Mac –  Try Command + Shift + 4 on the Mac
  • Jing – A simple free tool that does screenshots and screencasts on PC’s and Mac’s.
  • iPhone and iPad – Press the front button and power button to take a picture of your iPhone or iPad. The Apple watch is similar, just press both buttons.
  • Learn how to take screenshots on Droids and Windows phones.
Simple Ways to Screencast (with video)
  • Screencastify – Jon Bergmann demonstrated this one in our blended learning session at ISTE. Great tool for video!
  • Snagit – I’ve been using Snagit but I haven’t been able to find the extension any more on the Chrome store. (Share in the comments if you know what has happened.)
  • Screencastomatic – This simple free tool is one I use with my students. (See How to Screencast in 3 Simple Steps.)
  • Quicktime has tools built in for capturing iPhones and iPads or you can pay for a tool like Screenflow.

Students should be able to grab a picture or shoot a quick tutorial and turn it in quickly. If they have a problem with a website or on their phone, they should know how to take a picture and email it.

Sharing Video, Audio, and Photographs from Mobile Devices

If students film on personal devices, they should know how to send those files to other devices or publish them. For example, if you text or email from the mobile device, often the file is compressed and you lose quality. If a student is going to film on a drone or GoPro, I make sure they know how to download video before I allow them to use it to film. Familiarize yourself with instructions for sharing and grabbing video and photos.

Back to School EdTech Action Step #9: Students and teachers should know how to take screenshots and screencasts and publish or share them with each other and teachers. If a student is using a device, you’re empowering them when they can take a screengrab. Stock extra cables to allow students to take high-quality videos and photos off their device and train students how to properly get the video and files off the device. 10. Select Writing Tools

As I’ve shared before in 4 Writing Tips to Help the Writing Process, let technology do what it does best: proofread. Use tools like Grammarly, Pro Writing Aid and the Hemingway App to aid student writing. Help students who struggle with typing dictate in Google Docs or the microphone setting on your computer. (See the article here.)

Back to School EdTech Action Step #10: If you teach writing, educate students on how to use writing tools that will save them time. Require their use before they turn work into you.

Try Shelfit from EdTech Software

11. Start with Student Strengths

I call my classroom the Wonder Lab. I tell them my room is a place where we wonder about things and where wonderful things happen. And my students are the most wonderful part of my classroom. So, we start the beginning of the year with a simple Play-Doh project I tweaked from one by my friend Dave Burgess. I asked students to model with a Play-Doh something that’s wonderful about them that makes them unique.

Then, students take photos of that item and share it in our online classroom space. This technique does several things:

  • We immediately have a conversation about something the student loves.
  • Students take a photo.
  • Students immediately turn in their first assignment in the online classroom.
  • I have photos to share with parents demonstrating how we are talking about something they love.
Back to School EdTech Action Step #11: If you’re using technology, find a way to use the technology as you focus on your students’ strengths and interests. Use good old fashioned ice breaking with technology. 

Test Shelfit from EdTech Software

Let’s Do This!

So, there are lots of things that we can do to start our school here well. Here I just 11 action steps to be ready to use technology successfully this school year. What is missing? Please share in the comments.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it, EdTech Software, maker of Shelfit,  compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) All opinions my own and not necessarily the opinions of the sponsor.

The post 11 Essential EdTech Action Steps for Back to School appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Election 2016

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 20 July, 2016 - 04:27


  • These one-page 2016 Election Issues may be of interest. http://www.textbooksfree.org/Election%20Issues%202016.htm - Walter Antoniotti

Tags: education, resources, Learning, teaching, civics, history, political, science

by: Walter Antoniotti

Categories: International News
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