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You Don’t Have to Do it All

The Principal of Change George Couros - 20 April, 2015 - 09:02

Voxer is something that is being brought up over and over again as a great way to collaborate with people all over the world and have deeper conversations.  I love reading posts like this one on “How School Leaders are Collaborating Over Voxer“, which I tweeted out last week.  What I noticed immediately was both people jumping in on how they use it, while also talking about wanting to explore it more.

What was my reaction? I shut it down.

When one of the people shared how they used it to listen to conversations on their way to work in the car, and I immediately felt overwhelmed with that thought.  My morning drive is filled with listening to music, or podcasts about ANYTHING other than education.  I have realized how I need that more than anything lately.

Here are two pictures that push my thinking.

The following is an image of a bunch of people at a concert that I took several years ago who are creating and sharing content to others all around the world.

People look at this picture and many will say how kids are not “living in the moment”, or they are so connected to their devices that they are missing out on life.

Then I show this picture:

Two points that I make here…the people in the second picture are actually not talking to anybody, where in the first picture, they are connecting with people, but it just looks different from what we have been accustomed to as adults.  The second point, which to me is more crucial, is how is that I am not really in a place to judge.  I look back at my time listening to music, reading a book, or going to the gym, and I actually love the solitude.  In fact, sitting in a coffee shop, listening to music and writing this post, is not only something that gives me the opportunity to reflect, but it also has some therapeutic aspects in the way it allows me to release my thoughts.  What is important is that I find what works for me and sometimes a personal learning network pushes people towards “group think”, where I need to find what works for me to become successful, at different points of the day.  That self-assessment and reflection is critical to people in our world today.

Do you have to do the same thing and ignore something like Voxer? Not at all.  The point of the “personal” in “personal learning network”, is that you make it what you want.  There are definite advantages of being on Voxer (this article talks about the power of podcasts for your brain, which many people have started using Voxer for), but as I see it, there are advantages of not being on it for myself as well.  Ignoring it at this point is what works for me.  Do I see educational uses of Vine? Absolutely.  But I also see it as a way to check out and watch ridiculous videos that are there for me to not think.  I need that and although I am extremely interested in the medium, I am trying to stop trying to “edufy” every social media site I see.  The appeal for social media in many cases was to have fun and sometimes I think that it is easy for myself to lose that initial idea and appeal that drew me to things like Facebook in the first place.

What I believe is that it is important to be in spaces that you can connect with other educators and grow as a teacher and a learner, but those spaces and the use of them, is up to the person. If you hang around in those different spaces, the best stuff will find you.  I have no doubt about that. But one of the NCTE 21st Century Literacies is to, “Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information”, and I wonder if sometimes “managing” them is by choosing not to be on them in the first place?

There is a lot of great information out there in the world, but in a world where we need to focus more and more on developing the “whole child”, if our entire life revolves around education all of the time, I am not sure we are modelling “appropriate use” ourselves.  Not using something is also part of the appropriate use as we move forward.  There will always be something “awesome”, but to try to use everything is not possible or helpful in the long term.

Categories: Planet

Learning From Tic Tac Toe

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 18 April, 2015 - 23:29

The other day I created some teams (3 to 4 students per team) and asked them to create a program to play tic tac toe – a human player against the computer. I have asked students to create a human vs. human version of tic tac toe in the past. It’s a nice little project that requires they use a lot of concepts that they have learned. Adding an AI is a bit more though so that is why the teams. Since I have never coded a tic tac toe AI myself (how did that not happen?)  I decided that I had to write a version myself.

I had a version of human vs. human tic tac toe to use as a base so the first thing I did was modify that so that it would call a module for find a computer move and incorporate that into the game. First learning – this is not as trivial as it sounds. Oh it’s not hard but one really has to think it through or you wind up with weirdness like the computer taking two moves or missing moves. It might have been easier to rewrite some key code rather than munging it up. Next time.

To test the code that allows the computer to move I made a very simple algorithm. I just randomly picked squares until I found an empty one. It worked. It allowed me to test the rest of the program but of course it didn’t play very well. Step two was to check to see if there was a square I could move in to win. A short time later I had a group of 24 if statements that checked every possible winning opportunity.

Then I made a beginner mistake. I copied and pasted that code and changed checking for “O” into checking for “X” to find a place where the computer needed to move to block a win by the human player. It took me a day away from the code to realize that this doubled the chance for me to make an error on this sort of check. I know better than that! So I broke the code out and created a single method that took as a parameter either an “X” or “O”. Much simpler code and it opens the door for me to more easily modify the program so that the computer can play as either “X” or “O”.

Since them I have done a bunch of refactoring and breaking complicated code out into individual, more simple, methods. It should make for good discussion when we talk about these programs as a class.

My students all want to try their hand against my AI.They helped me refine my program by finding things that I missed by not thinking things out enough. Students liked that of course. Now they don’t win anymore. In fact they frequently lose to the AI. That surprised me at first. I watched how they played and it became clear. They were so totally focused on what they could do to win that they missed seeing what the computer could do to win. That’s something else we’ll talk about in class. The computer doesn’t miss those opportunities.

BTW if you want to see a graphical solution of tic tac toe, the cartoon xkcd has a useful diagram.

Categories: Planet

The Evolution of the Employee – do schools understand this?

Lucacept - Jenny Luca - 18 April, 2015 - 22:47

If there’s something I’m pretty sure of, it’s that the structure of school is difficult to change. Hopefully we will see some shifts in how we organise the day for our students, providing opportunities for our older students to learn in anytime, anywhere, virtual scenarios and giving them greater autonomy over their learning to prepare them well for university and working life. But for our younger students, I don’t see the organisational framework of school changing anytime soon. Let’s face it, people need to send their children somewhere during the day, and schools are the best fit and will continue to be that for some time to come.

What’s different is the kind of workplaces the students we teach will find themselves in at the end of their school or university lives. This is happening already, and the infographic above* outlines the changing scenario well. Just because the environment we work in as teachers is one that finds it more difficult to morph to this model, doesn’t mean that it is an unlikely notion for the students sitting in our classrooms right now.

We need to understand this. We need to comprehend the workplace of the future (in some cases, the workplace of the now) and help our students develop skills that will enable them to adjust to this when they branch out and try to make a living for themselves. I see people on Twitter question whether or not it is our responsibility to help our students become ‘job ready’. I contend that it is. While we may not be priming them for specific careers, we do need to be thinking seriously about the skills we can be fostering in classrooms today that will be beneficial for a working life scenario like that proposed above for the future employee.

* Infographic from Jacob Morgan’s book, ” The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization.

Categories: Planet

Genius Hour - Why we scaffold

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 18 April, 2015 - 13:18


  • Genius Hour - The idea is simple, identify a block of time and give it over to the students as an opportunity for them to create a learning experience of their own. But while the idea is simple implementing such a plan can be challenging and there are aspects of such a project that require careful planning and a clear philosophical understanding before you begin. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: Education, resources, learning, teaching

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

The Opportunity To Further Bring Parents Into the Learning

The Principal of Change George Couros - 18 April, 2015 - 00:00

My friend, Mark Renaud, took this short video of me speaking about the opportunity that social media has given to us to change the conversation at home between child and parent.

If social media is used in a thoughtful way to make learning visible, the hope is to change the conversation from “What did you learn today””, followed by the usual “nothing”, to something much more powerful.

Thanks to Mark for sharing this!

Categories: Planet

Self Taught Coders and Ugly Code

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 17 April, 2015 - 21:59

I love this cartoon from xkcd. Of course some self taught programmers write really nice looking code. And some formally taught programmers write ugly code.  The message I take away from this is that learning how to write clear well organized code takes some work. Training and the use of standards can help. I’ve written some ugly code in my time. I try to demonstrate clear good looking code to my students though. I want to give them the best start that I can and that involves modeling good practice.

Categories: Planet

Sometimes It is How You Look At It

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 16 April, 2015 - 22:55

A couple of days ago I saw an interesting program on the Small Basic blog.  The featured program was one that let a beginner write a turtle graphics program. I liked the image it drew but frankly I found the code not as clear as I’d like. This is not meant as a criticism of the program, which is actually pretty cool or of the language it implements. I can see real value in both. It’s just not the way I visualize things.

I decided that I would write the example in this image in something else to help me understand what is going on. Lately my Turtle graphics language of choice is TouchDevelop so I opened a web browser and started duplicating the code.

My code looked like this:

Well that is a lot better. For me anyway. But I was curious. Could it be easier? TouchDevelop has three skill levels – Beginner, Coder and Expert. This example is in Coder which is my favorite unless I need something from the expert feature set.

Just as the sample I was working from was not my cup of tea I thought that my style might also not be for everyone. I’ve had students who really preferred Beginner. So I switched skill level to see that that would look like.

It looks like this:

Wow! Colorful! And the nesting of the loops is abundantly clear with indentations and color coding. I like it. I can see how a beginner would find that much easier to understand. I still prefer coder for my own work but I can see real value in this Beginner mode.

We have an abundance of coding tools these days. Drag and drop languages, traditional text based languages, tools like TouchDevelop which are sort of in the middle and they all have valid uses. I’m not sure it is fair to pick one or two and say this is the right way to do things. Different people see things differently. I’ve seen students who have been taught multiple drag and drop languages (Alice, Scratch and Kodu for example) and they can all justify their favorite. There is no unanimous agreement on the best one. We visualize things differently. Sometimes the best use of time is experimenting a bit to find the set of tools that fits ones individual learning or visualization mindset.

Of course once one is out of the classroom one often doesn’t have a choice of tools to use. At least once the concepts are learned and internalized learning the new tools becomes easier. And easier still with each new tools. Variety is a good thing.

BTW, this next image is a side by side look at the three skill level views in TouchDevelop. Note that you can easily do some really advanced things in Expert mode.

Categories: Planet

Qualities of an Effective Teacher #gesf

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 16 April, 2015 - 19:33

What are the qualities of an effective teacher? This was one of the main questions that one of the panels at the 2015 Global Education and Skills Forum tried to answer. Over and over again, all the panelists seemed to list the same characteristics that they believed an effective teacher possessed: knowledge of the subject, motivation, emotional intelligence and empathy, stamina, and passion.

This session was recorded at the Global Education and Skills Forum. Student Elizabeth Glass writes her views on this session which she attended at the forum in Dubai. — Vicki Davis, Teacher

Studies show nothing is as critical to a child’s education outcome than their teacher. However, in many societies the role of the teacher has been strongly critiqued. This plenary explores how we might rethink education systems so that they champion the teacher in society.

Moderator: James E. Ryan, Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA
H.E. Vedran Mornar, Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia
H.E. Esteban Bullrich, Minister for Education, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Geoffrey Canada, President, Harlem Children’s Zone, USA
John Bangs, Senior Consultant Education International and Honorary Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University, UK
Jacqueline Jumbe-Kahura, Bofa Primary School, Kilifi, Kenya

Find out more at: https://educationandskillsforum.org/

  1. Knowledge of the Subject: First off, this quality is an absolute necessity to being an effective teacher. It does not matter how motivated, passionate, or creative you are if you cannot teach your students what they are there to learn. How can you expect them to learn if you don’t even know what they are supposed to be learning?
  2. Motivation: To be an effective teacher one has to be motivated, motivated to learn and to help others learn. That motivation for learning and self-improvement is what separates the truly great teachers from the rest. They are always trying new ways of teaching and engaging their students and they never tire of being students themselves. Effective teachers are always learning different ways of doing things and take the time to learn from other effective teachers.
  3. Emotional Intelligence and Empathy: Understanding your students is an integral part in being an effective teacher. Being able to connect with students on an emotional level and help them through the problems that come with growing up is what effective teachers do. For many kids, teachers are the ones they turn to for support when they can’t find it anywhere else. This emotional intelligence and empathy can go a long way in not only helping those students be able to learn but in changing their lives as well.
  4. Stamina: As most teachers will agree, it takes a lot of energy to teach and keep students engaged. It also takes a lot of stamina, because you never know what will happen next. Every day as a teacher is an adventure, and you have to be able to handle it in stride and keep on going.
  5. Passion: To me, this is the most important characteristic of an effective teacher. Passion in teachers is what inspires students to want to do their best and to dream big dreams. Passionate teachers are not those who chose to teach because they could not do anything else. Passionate teachers are those that find true happiness in their profession and in the everyday aspect of helping kids discover who they are and who they want to be.

Teachers are some of the few people who have the power to change the world because the future of the world is sitting in their classrooms. Those teachers who have knowledge, motivation, emotional intelligence and empathy, stamina, and passion are able to make an impact in the lives of their students. They inspire them to dream their wildest dreams while giving them the tools to achieve them and those are the ones who have the greatest impact.


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Categories: Planet

Similar but different?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 16 April, 2015 - 08:25

As I was walking through several schools today, I noticed objectives and goals that could have been the same when I went to school. How we get there today and what they mean, may be different, especially as we learn more about pedagogy, but also connect learning and opportunities to the changes that have happened/are happening in our world.

Here are some questions that I have that are pushing my thinking.

If we promote students learning in a “safe” environment, do we mean only in school or in learning?  Does ignoring technology in a world where we learn so much from “strangers” keep our kids truly safe?

If we want students to be literate, what does that look like today in schools?  How does it go beyond basic “reading and writing”?

If a school has a focus on “citizenship”, how does a world where we are all connected to one another change what that looks like?

If parent participation is beneficial to the learning of a child, how do we use technologies that are easily accessible to both schools and parents to tap into our community?

If you look at the key components of each question, they are the following:

1. Keeping Kids Safe.
2. Promoting Literacy
3. Citizenship and Social Responsibility
4.  Parents as Partners in Education

If I would have shown you those as objectives in a school in 1980, they might not look any different in the wording, but in practice, they look significantly different.  I was taught over and over again how to cross the street so that I could access what was on the other side, but do we teach kids how to keep their information safe while they are connecting to others across the world?  The idea of “safe” has changed.

There is a lot of areas where schools have changed, but some of the objectives are the same.  How do we make sure that we are keeping up with what our students need for today and tomorrow?

What do you think?


Categories: Planet

Sketchnoting Fans: Paper 53 Built a Sketchnote Community

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 15 April, 2015 - 21:11

Paper by 53, a favorite sketchnoting app of many, gets major updates like cloud backup and Activity Center where you can share and find sketchnotes of others. This is very cool for sketchnoting fans and those who just like information. While I struggle with sketchnoting, I have this app and will be playing with it more this summer.

Via Paper by Fifty Three Gets Updates on App Advice

Sketchnoting is awesome!

3 Resources To Get You Started with Sketchnotes
  1. Sylvia Duckworth’s incredible presentation Sketchnoting for Beginners.
  2. Kathy Shrock’s Sketchnoting guide
  3. Smashing Magazine’s Article on Sketchnoting


The post Sketchnoting Fans: Paper 53 Built a Sketchnote Community appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Why Would You Do That?

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 15 April, 2015 - 03:10

Students ask interesting questions. One of the more frequent questions they ask is “why would you do that?” Often it comes, not because you didn’t already explain why one would do something, but because the answer doesn’t really register in the abstract. For example we are spending some time on creating methods (subroutines/functions) in our programming class. When I introduced them as a concept I explained multiple reasons why we use them. Simplification, ease of testing, reuse, etc. Then we worked on how they are created and used. As is typical I started with something very simple. Perhaps too simple? In any case what we did was to break out some equations (temperature conversions) and put them in their own methods.

The methods are very simple. Sometime like this:

1: private double CtoF(double x) 2: { 3: return x * 9.0 / 5.0 + 32; 4: }

My goal of course is to explain the mechanics of setting up and calling a method. So a method with very simple code in it seemed like a good idea. And then the dreaded question “why would you want to do that?” This actually adds some complexity to the code in some ways. It feels like extra work and it is hard to argue that it is not.

The discussion was now open though and that was a plus. I asked the student if they’d like to write code to replace the ToString method. Of course he said yes and it working on it but most of the class is fine reusing the existing method. Having done some string and char manipulation the students have some ideas about what is involved. Asking them if they would want all that code in their program everywhere they currently call the method makes the value of methods start to sink in.

It will become even more evident when we start writing our own classes in the near future. But I have a feeling that at some point, probably when talking about data hiding and using methods to access class data I will once again hear someone say “why would you do that?” No matter how many times I have already tried to answer the question in advance.

Categories: Planet

If I’m Such a Great Teacher, Why Do I Want to Quit?

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 14 April, 2015 - 21:16

April and May are tough times of the year for me. Every year. Right now, I teach straight from 8:11 until 2:11. Then, at 2:11, my room is usually full of kids working on projects for other teachers — needing password resets and help. Then, at 3:03, I sit down to try to grade and plan lessons but I’m so tired, I just wonder what to do.

I’ve written about How to Step Back from Burnout, but this is more than that. Right now, I’m approaching 100,000 Twitter followers, and that is awesome. But in some ways, it is intimidating to me. I don’t feel special. I know I don’t have all the answers. All of you have caused a tad of crisis in my tweeting (which I will get over). Being paid attention to sounds like a very odd problem but really, it is a reflection on responsibility. I want to do right by those of you who trust me and right now, I don’t feel at my best. I’m struggling to stay in the classroom.

I want to encourage and be helpful to teachers. No doubt, that is my calling. And yet, I have this agreement with myself that when I’m too down and have nothing good to say, that I will be very very careful about writing. I am a professional, and there are right and wrong ways to handle problems. There are those who  air their issues on the Net and wait for thousands of vigilant friends to come to their defense. Come on! Grow up. That isn’t how we handle things, in my opinion. There are times but not every time. There are lonely battles I fight by myself.

Exercise is a big part of my coping mechanism. I take time every day to do it. It helps deal with the stress and makes me feel better. Even a walk around the building can clear my mind and yours.

The truth is that I’m having an epically hard time right now. Each morning I get up and work hard to exercise and eat well — anything that I know will boost my mood and help me teach for six hours straight. I stay late grading and have adjusted my schedule to spend time helping students after school. I often wonder how I’m going to make it through the next five weeks. I work hard to keep hold of my thought life and not let it spiral into despair.

So much of my energy is being tied up in “making it” that it becomes quite overwhelming to try to inspire others. I feel insufficient. I feel like you need someone who does everything perfectly, has a perfectly clean room and has all the answers. Yet, one thing I have also discovered: if I see a person who says they are a perfect teacher, they are a liar. Because perfect teachers don’t exist. There are no perfect humans. We all mess up.

A pull towards excellence as the school year ends can help you make it. Let’s encourage each other.

There are many days when I think that the best answer is just to quit.  And yet, I know that it is not my time to leave… yet. When I leave the classroom, I will not quit – I will decide to leave and know that I have another classroom of another kind to tackle. Quit implies giving up. Sometimes there is a time to move on after you finish well.

I think that perhaps it is my time to feel the depths of the struggle that most normal teachers feel. It is my time to push through and find answers for myself that can help others. I had vented a tiny piece of a struggle I had last Thursday, and someone else tweeted back at me, “somehow knowing you had a rough day too, makes mine not so bad.”

I always ask myself: “What direction am I moving?” I may only take a small step but if it is in the right direction, I’ll take that as a win.

So, maybe this post is just to encourage those of you out there who are real teachers. Some may struggle with the fact that I am not, despite some who argue to the otherwise, a modern day Pollyanna.  I am a realistic optimist. I know the reality of how hard it is going to be to go for another five weeks teaching 6 hours a day straight. I am also optimistic that, as always, I will find a way to soar (even if I feel like I’ve fallen in a mud puddle right now.)

Maybe this post is to help you know that many of us struggle to make it one day to the next. In fact, I’m down to one-minute-at-a-time right now.

Maybe this post is to help you know that you’re not alone. So many of us struggle.

It is not a lack of love for the kids. It is just the reality of all of the bazillions of things that we deal with as a teacher that no one could put in a book. Kids who get sick at the worst times and parents who think they prove their love to their children by how loud they yell at their teacher. People who yell at you without even getting their facts straight. Too many responsibilities and too little time and a struggle to achieve a balance that never quite gets there. I’m not resentful against this profession I love; this profession is what it is. No one can change this for me. I either accept it, or I don’t.

I am a teacher. I am glad to be a teacher. I am glad that it makes a difference in the lives of children. But this profession, like few others, wears on the soul of the person who dons the mantle. It is worthwhile, but it is hard work.

If you’re with me, and you get every word I’m writing then let me tell you this.

I love you and your sacrifice. If I could reach through this computer and give you a hug, I would. If I could sit across from you and buy you a cup of coffee and tell you that you’ll make it, I would. But I can’t do that.  I can only write these words:

Teacher! You are important. Your job is noble and incredible. And you will make it. One foot in front of the other. Do your best, and that is enough. Keep going. Wait and make the big decisions about life when you’re a little more rested and I will too.

We can do this.

KEEP GOING! Teacher! Your job is noble and important. And you will make it!Powered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This

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Categories: Planet

The Mindset of an Innovator

The Principal of Change George Couros - 14 April, 2015 - 04:21

The notion of the “Innovator’s Mindset”, and what it actually looks like, is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately.  The more I dig into the topic, the more I believe that this should be the norm in education.  Innovation is not something new to education, but it is something that we can do better.  The access to people and information changes a lot of the opportunities that are available both for students and educators, which calls for all of those being involved in education to see ourselves as learners.

As I thought about this, I wanted to write some statements on what this means, and what it looks like in our world today, ultimately leading to one statement for myself.  This is what I came up with:

I am an educator.

I am an innovator.

I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask “what is best for learners”.  With this empathetic approach, I will create and design learning experiences with that question as a starting point.

I believe that my abilities, intelligence, and talents can be developed, leading to the creation of new and better ideas.

I recognize that there are obstacles in education, but as an innovator, I will focus on what is possible today and where I can push to lead towards tomorrow.

I will utilize the tools that are available to me today and I will continue to search for new and better ways to continuously grow, develop and share my thinking, while creating and connecting my learning.

I focus not only on where I can improve, but where I am already strong, and I look to develop those strengths in myself and in others.

I build upon what I already know, but I do not limit myself to myself. I’m open to and willing to embrace new learning, while continuously asking questions to move forward.

I question thinking, challenge ideas, and do not accept “this is the way we have always done it” as an acceptable answer for our students or myself.

I model the learning and leadership I seek in others. I take risks and try new things to develop and explore new opportunities. I ask others to take risks in their learning, and I openly model that I’m willing to do the same.

I believe that isolation is the enemy of innovation, and I will learn from others to create better learning opportunities for others and myself.

I connect with others both locally and globally to tap into ideas from all people and spaces. I will use those idea along with my professional judgement, to adapt the ideas to meet the needs of the learners in my community.

I believe in my voice and experiences, as well as the voice and experiences of others, as they are important for moving education forward.

I share because the learning I create and the experiences I have help others. I share to push my own thinking, and to make an impact on learners, both young and old, all over the world.

I listen and learn from different perspectives, because I know we are much better together than we could ever be alone. I can learn from anyone and any situation.

I actively reflect on my learning, as I know looking back is crucial to moving forward.

I am an educator.

I am an innovator.

I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask “what is best for learners”.  With this empathetic approach, I will create and design learning experiences with that question as a starting point.

This is meant to be more of a process of my own thinking, as opposed to a finished product.  But going through this process made me realize that similar to how we are dropping the word “digital” off of many terms (digital leadership, digital citizenships, etc.) because it is becoming invisible and just implied, will we get to the point where what we see as being “innovative” simply become the norm in what we do in education?  Is there anything above that is out of the realm for any educator?  I hope not.

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 13 April 2015

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 13 April, 2015 - 20:08
Spring may actually be coming. Only of few piles of snow left on my property and I was able to take done the Christmas lights on the tree in front of my house. Usually I can get to them a lot earlier but we had a lot of snow this year. I also filed my taxes. Not my favorite thing but I have to say that modern software makes the job a lot easier than it used to me.

Speaking of leaving things to the last minute – if you are a CSTA member have you voted for the board elections and by-law changes? Please do so. It is a key opportunity to make a difference in your organization.

I spent some time over the weekend checking out the TouchDevelop curriculum by @michaelebraun. Looks pretty interesting. 

I’ve really been seeing a lot of Kinect resources lately so I am really looking forward to the Tuesday session at the annual CSTA Conference called "Out of Your Seat Comp Science: Coding Using the Kinect"  being presented by: Doug Bergman.

Which reminds me that early bird  registration for  CSTA 15 ends 4/15/15 - save $50, register now! There's only a couple of days left for you to take advantage:

Speaking of Kinect, - Kinect to Small Basic is now available. That is pretty exciting I think as it makes Kinect more approachable to more developers.

Scratch Jnr is now available for Android  which seems like a good thing.
Some articles to think about:
Everyone gets excited about these but are they as good as we’d like to think they are? And what do they prove anyway?

Categories: Planet

Community Creator Dan Harmon Unlocks His Storytelling Technique: Meet the Embryos - mentorless

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 11 April, 2015 - 18:05


  • Writer Dan Harmon sets out the elements he considers are needed for a satisfying story. He uses them to map out nearly most of his stories. They are simple and the list is a useful tip for other aspiring writers. - Rhondda Powling

Tags: elements, structure, writing process, tips, how to, Infographic, technique

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

TED - How to tell a great story, visualized By Andrew...

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 11 April, 2015 - 17:58


  • Infographic: Clues to tell a great story. "How to tell a great story, visualized by Andrew Stanton. " - Rhondda Powling

Tags: elements, structure, writing process, how to, storytelling, Infographic

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News


Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 3 April, 2015 - 13:04


  • From the Teachers pay teachers site. "A visually appealing PowerPoint covering Roman History from the First Triumvirate of Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey through the death of Mark Antony and rise of Octavian. Each slide includes images and graphics that hold students' attention and keep them focused on the lesson.
    Topics covered include the rise of Julius Caesar, Pompey and the Senate's plan to bring him home, his crossing of the Rubicon, the civil war, his relationship with Cleopatra, his assassination, and much more. It concludes with an open-ended exit ticket that has students thinking critically about the things they learned. " - Rhondda Powling

Tags: Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, powerpoint, classroom activities, lesson plans

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Exploiting Opportunities

Chris Betcher - 1 April, 2015 - 19:58

The following is from an email I wrote to someone who asked if I was going to be presenting at the EduTech conference in Brisbane this year. As you can see, my answer is no, but I think what’s important is my reason for saying no. If you’re planning to present at EduTech, I hope you consider the effect of saying yes.

To be honest, I am not a big fan of EduTech, mainly because I really don’t like their policy of non-payment for Australian speakers. I find it quite insulting that they are willing to pour outrageous amounts of money into getting overseas speakers but are not willing to pay anything for local speakers. I think they need to approach this with greater equity and offer ALL their speakers some form of payment, even if the locals just get a token amount. As I’ve no doubt pointed out before, this is a (very) commercial event run for profit by a professional conference-running company, and yet they expect the vast majority of what they are offering to their customers (at a significant price) to be provided to them for free.

On http://www.edutech.net.au/apply_speaker.html it clearly states that “in the vast majority of cases, we do not pay speakers”. Obviously that blanket statement is not true, as they pay many of their “big name” overseas speakers. What they mean to say is that they don’t pay local speakers because they feel they can get away with that. They also make the very generous point on that page that they “don’t charge speakers to speak”. Woop-de-do, EduTech.

While I’d be very happy to present something, on principle I’m not really willing to be exploited by the EduTech organisers who expect that all Australian presenters should be willing to present for them for free. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I’d love to see all Aussie presenters just say no to EduTech but it probably won’t happen.

There are many many great things I’m happy to give my time freely to… helping other teachers, sharing resources, giving time and energy at the grassroots level. But I’m not ok with helping EduTech carry on their culture of exploitation of Australian presenters just so they can make more money.

Featured image: CC BY-SA www.flickr.com/photos/neubie

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