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Interesting Links 19 October 2014

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 20 October, 2014 - 20:50

You know those school weeks with lots of interruptions, strange schedules and little normal routine? Yep, had one last week. I also managed to record a good number of Office Mixes on various programming topics. I’ll post a list of them as soon as I have a few more under my belt. One of my earlier Mixes is a finalist for a contest Microsoft is running. The winners are chosen by community voting, so if you are willing to help me get some computers for my school, please vote for my mix at https://mix.office.com/Gallery/Category/vote 

Now for a few links I collected last week. Lets start with a couple of good articles addressing the question of why CS should be in schools.

I backed Notable Women in Computing Card Deck on @Kickstarter I signed up to get a deck of cards and a matching poster showing all 52 cards with information about women in computing. It will go up on the wall in my computer lab when it comes in.

The Null Professor a post by Crista Lopes   via @cristalopes  in which she shares some thoughts on CS education prompted by Mark @guzdial's recent posts.

Creating Surveys using OneDrive is a post by Rob Miles about a tool I’ve also been using a good bit in my classes.

I ran across this Ultimate List of UK Education Blogs last week. A lot of education blogs there that will probably be useful for educators in the United Kingdom and else where.

Categories: Planet

Developing students' digital literacy | Jisc

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 20 October, 2014 - 17:27


  • "Even today’s students need support with some areas of digital practice, particularly in an academic context, so it’s important to make sure that these needs are met.
    We define digital literacies as the capabilities which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society. To help with thinking about this, we have outlined seven elements of digital literacy for consideration, which can be seen in the accompanying diagram" - Rhondda Powling

Tags: digital literacy, digital citizenship, internet literacy, digitalliteracy

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Travelling Norse

Darcy Moore's Blog - 19 October, 2014 - 07:03

It was a wonderful autumn day, cold and bright; as we drove inland from Bergen in the morning, frozen mist was lying over the fjord. The trees on the mountainsides were displaying red and yellow leaves, the fjord below was like a millpond, the waterfalls immense and white.      Karl Ove Knausgaard

We are in Norway. In Bergen mostly. It has been stunningly autumnal, as Knausgaard describes and perfect for photography.

My sense of geography and history – traveling from Iceland by ferry via the Faroe Islands and Denmark before arriving in Norway’s second largest city – has developed considerably during the last month. In my mind’s eye the sea lanes that linked the British Isles with Iceland, Norway, Denmark, the Shetlands, Orkneys, Faroe Islands and Sweden are now quite vivid. The stories told in the Icelandic Sagas and other literature of the Middle Ages that tell of the earliest voyages and ancestry of the Norsemen are becoming more familiar and my understanding of the flourishing trade along these sea-routes is growing.

This new perspective is helping with the unfolding of a personal genealogical map. This now includes ‘Viking’ ancestry from Denmark, Norway, Scotland and the Isle of Man. I am making considerable progress with potential Manx ancestors in the distant past as my web of researchers, biological relatives, academics and online connections grows. You may have read this post and will understand why the following excerpt excites me, whetting my appetite for an even earlier chapter of the story:

…the royal family emigrating to Norway, where their descendants are still to be found in the Norwegian family of Skankes, the Swedish family of Skunck(e)s and the Danish family of Barfods. The emigrants took with them as their Arms “the three legs”, which had been the Royal Arms of the Sudreyan Kings since about the middle of the 13th century. These Arms (a modification of the ancient Indo-Germanic sun symbol) were simplified in Norway and Sweden to one leg and in Denmark to three bare feet, and later to one bare foot.”

Young, G.V.C.: A Brief History of the Isle of Man, The Mansk-Svenska Publishing Co. Ltd., Peel, Isle of Man, 2001: p. 12


Bergen is one of the rainiest places in Europe. That fact has made our sunny, blue-sky week even more enjoyable. So often, in Australia, we take the good weather for granted. I mostly complain it is too hot, preferring temperatures below 25 degrees celsius. Rarely have I appreciated sunshine so much.

Our accommodation, a loft apartment overlooking the old Bryggen wharf area, is just stunning and central. The view at night was something special. Fires, over the centuries, have destroyed most of the town (established in the 11th century) and very little remains prior to the 19th century. Håkon’s Hall is one of the older buildings and certainly is impressive but unfortunately, during WWII, was extensively damaged on Hitler’s birthday. Apparently that was a coincidence and nothing to do with the resistance. The stone remained and the restoration gives one a sense of the space. It is part of the Bergenhus Fortress. We did learn more about World War II and the Norwegian resistance movement at Bergenhus Festningsmuseum

Bergen was an important base for trade, especially from the 14-16th centuries and we learnt about the Hanseatic LeagueThe trade between Grimston, in England and Bergen seemed to illustrate the larger networks that existed between cities during this wealthy period in the life of the city. Stockfish was traded for pottery. Almost all of the pottery unearthed was from this one town in England. We liked their face pottery a great deal.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

The University Museum of Bergen  is impressive. The archaeological, historical and cultural exhibitions are superb and very immediate. There is a distinct lack of glass cases separating the viewer from the artefact. The staff were really very helpful and we particularly appreciated the assistance with understanding Norwegian script. The pre-reformation church art, statues and iconography, including stained glass windows were wonderful. 

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

“The exhibition design is innovative and will act as an incentive for debate and engagement.”

The exhibition that commemorated democracy (1814-2014) at the museum celebrated by offering opportunities to challenge ideas of what Norwegian democratic culture represented. The short film of Karl Ove Knausgaard, Norway’s most controversial (and one of my favourite) authors, reflecting on what the massacre in 2011 meant for him, as a Norwegian, I viewed twice. I guess he is reading an excerpt from Book 6 of My Struggle which is not yet published in English. I have contacted the curator and hope to gain access to the text, or even better, the short film, in coming days. I will update the post if possible to include what I found to be extremely affecting insights into the horror and challenge for a progressive democracy of the massacre. His comments about his own children, and yours, were deeply moving. The film is shot simply and Knausgaard’s presence captured well. The lighting and camera angles are very effective. It is a quality production.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Museums & Galleries

My knowledge of Norwegian art was limited to Edvard Munch prior to this trip. We certainly saw more his work and development courtesy of  KODE: Art Museums of Bergen. The ‘art museums’ are 4 different buildings that house different exhibitions. There was much art on display I personally found banal but several younger artists stimulated the senses. Chief amongst these was Toril Johannessen who explores the spaces between art and science. She plays with language and examines scientific journals, often in a playful but dry and humorous manner. Tom S. Kosmo made me laugh…albeit darkly. I loved the ‘Great Blue Heron‘ by Kjetil Kausland.  We were challenged by Robert Overby too (which was in another gallery). That one was definitely not for the kids.

There were two discoveries of Norwegian artists that resounded, for different reasons, in quick succession. Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928) really grabbed my attention and I can see why he is such a favoured Norwegian artist. The colours in his early 20th century paintings are stunning. However, the work of Bergen born JC Dahl was interesting on many different levels. He was Norway’s great romantic painter and did much to develop the arts in his country. I really liked his paintings of clouds and landscapes. Like JMW Turner, he seemed to have a superior appreciation of light. 

A Blind Eye by Rune Eraker (b.1961) made us all feel guilty. We are travelling in wealthy, first world countries when so many people are eking out subsistence-level existences in hostile environments. The land, their politicians and disease are often insurmountable opponents for so many people. The photography was thought-provoking and the kids wanted to know more about many of the images. It is easy to forget how much context, we as adults, have to bring to images. Political and geographical knowledge that can be imparted, often, easily. I like it when the kids ask good questions that elicit those kinds of responses.

On the way how from a big day of art galleries (we had just exited through the gift shop) we spotted a’ Banksy’ (see below) to challenge us even further.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

My daughters love Questacon in Canberra and the Science Centre in Bergen impressed them endlessly. We were there for half-a-day. The opportunity to record weather forecasts, our family obsession kicking-in perhaps, was pretty hysterical. I loved watching my 8 year old filling the robot up with different kinds of food to see the calorie intake. She really messed around with different combinations of food. The kids were recording and analysing data without even knowing it. This kind of kinaesthetic learning, on offer at science centres like these, really engage the kids…and tire them out. They were saving goals, riding bikes and testing their reflexes in many different contexts. It was a joy to behold. Just for fun, I did manage to make some photographic abstractions from the displays, while wandering around.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Fjords & Photography

My understanding of that famous Norwegian geographical feature, the fjord, has deepened beyond Slartibardfast’s insightful ruminations on his award-winning designs.  Previously fjords have been ‘crinkly bits’ on maps so spending time exploring them has been very cool indeed. We spent a day on the river, in and around Flåm, exploring fjords. Stunning Nærøyfjorden is understandably a UNESCO World Heritage site.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Closing thoughts

We loved Bergen. My eldest daughter celebrated her eleventh, and first birthday overseas here – so it will be a special memory for her into the future too. We had a great, relaxing day with exquisite chocolates, instead of cake, after spending quite a few hours bathing, on water slides and enjoying the spa and sauna at yet another delightful Scandinavian pool complex. I am often guilty of “go go go” when travelling and having a chilled-out day was excellent (and appreciated by all no doubt).

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore


Norway feels very different to Denmark or Iceland in a way I cannot put my finger on at all. It is very hilly comparatively but people seem different too. One could certainly live in Bergen, it is the most liveable of cities. If you are considering coming, do factor in that Bergen is the most expensive city I have ever visited. It really is extraordinary. Of course, one can live inexpensively but there is a real dearth of cheap restaurants and cafes. Save your pennies.

Here is the portrait my daughter made of me in Bergen and a selfie while visiting some stunning fjords.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Next stop, Prague!

Featured image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Darcy Moore: http://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/14931878944

The post Travelling Norse appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

Which team are we on?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 19 October, 2014 - 00:24
#89133748 / gettyimages.com


Through a Twitter conversation, someone brought up an interesting analogy on how administrators should be the “offensive line for their staff”, blocking distractions and unnecessary “stuff” that takes away from great teaching and learning.  I loved the analogy, and really thought about how administrators need to be seen as those that do whatever they can to ensure teachers are successful so that their students can amazing learning opportunities.

Yet from many conversations and observations, it seems the opposite.  With technology, teachers seems to be jumping through hoops, having decisions made for them without their input on experience being utilized.  It seems that the “offensive line” concept is not protecting teachers, but sometimes blocking them from great opportunities.

For example, if you want teachers to use social media, how would a 50 page document sharing the guidelines actually help them?  With every page that is turned, you lose teachers who just see that it is not worth it to go through all of the roadblocks to even start.  Or the computer that takes “only two minutes” to log on because of network protocols. Yet two minutes, times 30 kids, can be an eternity, especially if one of those computers doesn’t work as expected.

With every page, every policy, every filter, many teachers just choose to do what they have always done and do not see it is worth the time to do something new.  We encourage “risk-taking” yet we have created such a risk averse culture in education.  We can say “take risks” all we want, but actions will always be louder than words.

So if administrators are the “offensive live”, we need to make sure that we are blocking for the right team.  Otherwise, we can only blame ourselves for not moving forward.

Categories: Planet

Why I Now Friend My Students on Social Media [Video]

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 17 October, 2014 - 22:23
Being unpopular and saying things people don’t want to hear isn’t fun. Neither is admitting you’re wrong. Perhaps that is why this 5 minute speech I felt compelled to give was so hard for me.

I’m convinced that we’ve isolated students in a world without teachers on social media and every day we are reaping the consequences. We need to rethink this now so we can move forward to a better tomorrow.

Sometimes unpopular, uncomfortable things need to be said and positions should be reversed in order to do the right thing. Ultimately, my students said that I needed to give this one. I had at least eight kids who came up to me afterwards who said it was what educators needed to hear.

A teary eyed young man moved me most:

“My Mom died this year, I had a teacher who helped me get through it. I couldn’t have lived without my teacher. Literally. We students need our teachers and sometimes we need to talk to them on social media. We need a way to do that sometimes.”

Yep. These kids are worth fighting for and if the only casualty is my own ego in the process, that is indeed a very small price to pay.

This is truly an issue where both sides are right. We have to face the truth of the consequences of what we’ve done. We have to come out with some sort of workable answer in the middle.

What is my new policy?

I tell my students that if they choose to friend me, I will friend them back but they need to know that I’m relating to them as a teacher. Anything they communicate to me is as if I am at school.

They can unfriend me at any time and refriend me — just as they wish, no questions asked. If they communicate anything to me, I keep screenshots (with time and date stamps.)

Don’t headlong disregard your school policy. I would never ask you to do that. I do ask that you discuss:

  • How would you feel if a student at your school reached out to a stranger because nobody at your school could connect with them?
  • How would you feel if that student got bad advice or was harmed because no one at your school was allowed to help the child?
  • Do you think many bullying incidents and other things happening on social media would be less likely to happen if students thought teachers might be connected?
  • Do you think more incidents would be reported if students could friend and unfriend teachers?
  • What would an educator “certified” or “allowed” to communicate with students via social media look like? Could this be a new role of guidance counselors?
  • What do we need to advocate for from social media companies to allow such interactions to occur safely?
Be Somebody Because Nobody Won’t Do

Best wishes, I hope you have a great day and I hope you’ll be that somebody for your students. I also hope we’ll consider if we’ve inadvertently isolated kids from those who can help and forced them to chat with strangers because we’ve given them nobody. I think we need a new age and new type of educator at each school and new ways to communicate with a generation who talks differently than we did.

Courageously consider if we’ve made mistakes. Discuss and good luck with this one.

The post Why I Now Friend My Students on Social Media [Video] appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Help Me Win Surface Pro 3s for My School

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 17 October, 2014 - 11:09
OK so the good news is that I am one of 15 finalists to win 15 Surface Pro's for my favorite school. The winners are chosen by community voting, so please vote for my mix at https://mix.office.com/Gallery/Category/vote Mine is the one on Binary Numbers.
Each person can vote for one mix per day, now through October 30th. You have to sign in (only one vote per person per day) using a Facebook, Google, Microsoft or Office 360 organization account. You can vote once every 24 hours. Note that the sign in is at the top of the web page not the button under each entry.
Please vote and ask your friends to vote.Thank you for your support.
Categories: Planet

In Second Factor We Trust

Chris Betcher - 17 October, 2014 - 00:49

You hear of so many security compromises and hacks these days. There are major security breaches happening, with millions of passwords being stolen and used to steal or damage your stuff. So what can you do about it?

With so much of our lives now being lived in online spaces, losing a password, losing an account, having someone get into your stuff online,  would be a nightmare. What would happen if someone got into your Google account? Your Facebook? Your bank account?

I lost my original Twitter account (betchaboy) last year after a password breach and have never been able to get it back. These security breaches DO happen.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to turn on Two Factor authentication. Sounds complicated. Its not. It basically means that there are two passwords required to get into your account instead of the usual one… there is the normal password that you usually use, plus a second one that changes every 30 seconds or so. Even if the bad guys were to get your password, without the second factor – which only you know because it’s generated on your phone, in your presence, on demand – the first password is useless.

It’s a bit like having a door with two locks on it. You’d need both keys to open the door, not just one. Either key on its own won’t open it.

But wait, what? A second password that changes every 30 seconds? That sounds like a lot of messing around! I know it sounds like a hassle, but it’s actually not. Most Two Factor systems form a trust relationship with the devices and computers you use all the time, so you don’t need to use the second factor most of the time on the computers you use regularly. It’s just needed when you log into a different computer for the first time, or phone that you don’t normally use. Just like the one that a hacker might be trying to use to impersonate you.

I’ve had my main Google account using two Factor authentication for a while now. I resisted turning it on for ages because it all sounded too hard. I eventually relented and decided to give it a go. It’s something I should have done a long time ago. And it’s something that, if you haven’t already, you should do too, Right now.

I spent some time tonight setting up Two Factor authentication on all the rest of my Google accounts (about 5 of them), plus my Facebook, Evernote, WordPress, PayPal, Dropbox, Lastpass and Apple ID.  Here’s a good article on how to do it.

For most of these, the second factor an be generated by an app on your phone called Google Authenticator, available for Android, iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Phone. It uses Google’s open source token generation algorithm, and it spits out a new code every 30 seconds, specific to each account. Just log in to the site as usual, but have your phone handy to generate the second password. It’s very straightforward and easy to use, and well worth whatever minor inconvenience it might cause (which honestly isn’t much)

If you haven’t set up Two Factor yet, can I strongly encourage you to at least give it a try. You can always turn it off if you want, but really, you should be using this! There was a report of a password breach for Dropbox users yesterday and it was such a relief to think that it didn’t really bother me as even if they got my password it didn’t matter. It was useless to them anyway.

Do it. Do it now. Seriously.

Related posts:

  1. In None We Trust
  2. A Policy of Trust and Respect
  3. Dear Twitter… Help!

Categories: , Planet

The Life You Make

The Principal of Change George Couros - 16 October, 2014 - 01:57

I shared two tweets last night that both show optimism and growth, but at different points in life.  The first is the following video of this 114 year old still learning and growing, signing up for Facebook and connecting with people.  I love that she had to actually lie about her age since Facebook only allows those up to 99 to sign up.

This shows you that age is no barrier to trying something new.

The second tweet was about this 17 year old in a hospital, talking about all of the awesome things that she gets to do while she is in the hospital:

Her optimism is contagious and she makes the best out of what many would consider a bad situation.

It is easy to focus on all of the negatives in the world (there are a lot if you look for them), but videos like these two remind me that whatever you are looking for, whether it is the positive or the negative, you will eventually find. This reminded me to keep looking for the positive even in bad situations and reminded me why I love the ability we have to share our own stories of humanity.

I am reminded of someone once saying, “it is not the date on the tombstone of when you were born or when you die that matters, it is the dash in the middle.”  It is important to keep making the best out of every single day we have.

Categories: Planet

Idea vs Implementation–Using What We Learn

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 16 October, 2014 - 01:23

You’re at a great conference and you are hearing all sorts of great ideas. It’s exciting! You hear about tools and techniques that are working wonders in the presenter’s school or in the schools the researcher or vendor repeats stories from. You love it. It could make a world of difference in your class. And you get home and never use it. Has that ever happened to you? It has to me though I am embarrassed to admit it.

What happens to us? Lots of different things. Sometimes the tech is too expensive. Even when it is free perhaps we don’t have hardware capable of running it. Most likely though we start our planning for the year and it looks hard to find a place to use the tools. We may not have gotten a good idea of how the presenter uses it. It’s cool but what does it really teach? Perhaps we get push back from other teachers who are more resistant to change than we are. Or perhaps we just don’t have as much time as we’d like. Taking the idea/tool we heard in a conference and translating it into our own curriculum and style can be hard, at least in part, because we don’t know enough about who to teach with the tool. What does it teach? How well does it teach? When/where in the curriculum does it belong?

So much of what we hear at conferences is presented as how to use a tool with implementation in the curriculum left up to the teacher. Scott McLeod has a great post on Wasting opportunities at ed tech conferences that puts a lot of the blame (largely correctly) on the sessions presented at conferences. There are 78 comments there as I write this BTW. .

This problem isn’t limited to conferences though. How often do we teach tools to students where the focus is more about how to use the tool (this is how to format in Word, this is how you create a graph in Excel) without teaching them how to use the tool to solve problems or do useful things or learn other things?

One of the things we’re focused on in my school in our first course in the CS department is teaching with context. That is to say solving problems with the tools and learning more than the mechanics. We’re trying to make it more about the concepts and the ways you can learn things than about the tools themselves. I feel good about that but we still have a ways to go.

Two of the tools I learned about over the last year (Code Hunt and Office Mix) are relatively new. Teachers, especially including me, are still figuring out how to use them to teach better. I’m off to a slow start. I planned on creating a whole bunch of Office Mixes over the summer – I made two. I introduced Code Hunt late when I should probably have introduced it early. Currently I am working on a couple of Office Mixes that incorporate Code Hunt. I’m excited about seeing them in action but they’re not ready.

I bring this up in part because over the weekend I was thinking that I’d wished I’d submitted a proposal to the CSTA Conference to present on these tools. After all I think they are really cool. But then I read Scott’s post and realized that I am really not ready to present them. I don’t know yet how well they work with students or how I am going to fit them into my curriculum. Oh I have ideas and I have excitement. but how will they work in reality? That I don’t know yet.

While I hope (assume) they will be good and have some tentative plans I will not have real (or even good anecdotal) evidence until the spring. So while I might have a great talk for the summer it is not a sure thing. I may be missing an opportunity to present or have saved myself embarrassment. Fortunately I have a blog and I will be able to share what works and doesn’t work that way. Not the same perhaps but I think the important thing is that sharing goes on and that it is more about how to teach than how to use the tool for its own sake. That’s my goal anyway.

Related posts:

Categories: Planet

What Are Teachers’ Rights and Risks on Social Media?

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 15 October, 2014 - 22:09

Scott McLeod talks with Vicki Davis about teacher’s rights and legal issues to consider when using social media. In this episode of Every Classroom Matters, Scott reminds us educators should be aware that  teachers are representatives of their employers and legally do not have a right to privacy even in their lives outside of school. If this sounds extreme, take a listen so you can understand the legal aspects of a teachers using social media.

Listen to Scott McLeod talk about teachers and social media 

Listen on iTunes 4/13/14

Add Scott Mcleod to your PLN
Twitter: @mcleod
Blog: Dangerously Irrelevant

Scott McLeod – Show #66 – Teachers’ Rights and Risks on Social Media

Scott McLeod reminds us — legally educators have limited free speech when they are employed by public schools. Educators who work for public schools are always representatives of the public schools and can be held responsible for anything they say or do either at work or outside the school environment. (This can apply to any teachers at any school depending upon your contract, however.)

Teachers can still feel empowered. Be cautious with words and actions within the social environment and community. Online anonymity is an illusion. US courts set the precedent that public school teachers do not have the same speech rights other people enjoy. Scott prompts us to always be thoughtful in all our words and actions.

Every Classroom Matters is a bi-weekly Radio Show by Vicki Davis on BAM Radio network with best practices for busy teachers.  Subscribe.

Show notes prepared by Lisa Durff, Production Coordinator for Every Classroom Matters.

Need help listening to the show?
If you’re clicking “Play” on the BAM Radio Site, this often works best in Internet explorer. Or subscribe in a podcatcher. If you need help, use this tutorial.


The post What Are Teachers’ Rights and Risks on Social Media? appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Beyond curriculum

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 15 October, 2014 - 18:10

I have lost count of the number of curriculum reviews I have lived through as an educator and I’m yet to be convinced that past or even current curriculum reviews actually address the real issue of how teachers’ work.  It is one thing to strip back a curriculum to allow teachers greater flexibility and freedom to go deeper into the learning but there needs to be focus on how we develop teachers’ capabilities to teach a contemporary curriculum.

My concern with the latest curriculum review is that it distracts attention from the critical issue of how teachers’ work and how we make decisions about the quality of that work to improve student learning.   I agree that we must focus on literacy and numeracy as the foundation to good learning but it is contingent on teachers who not only know how to teach the basics but also continue to build on and deepen student knowledge through challenging tasks and activities.

One of the main problems with a prescribed curriculum is it focuses on delivering content. While content is important, what matters is how students understand it, construct it and apply it.  Effective learning relies on effective teaching and in Singapore for example, there is heavy investment throughout teachers’ careers on developing their pedagogical and content knowledge.

Now we’ve had the government’s review of the what (curriculum), I believe we need a teacher led symposium on the ‘how’. How do we engage all teachers in the type of inquiry and critical reflection that we expect students to engage in to become independent learners and critical thinkers?

Curriculum will always be subject to heated debate and ideological divides so the opportunity for real change lies in exploring new ways of working, new modes of teacher practice that reflects the changing nature of the world, the tools and today’s learners.  As my colleague, Br Pat Howlett, Principal of Parramatta Marist High says how can you teach in a traditional way and expect students to think critically and work collaboratively.

As Richard Elmore et al Instructional Rounds in Education notes:

….if your improvement strategy begins with a curriculum solution … then you have to invest in the new knowledge and skill required of teachers to teach that curriculum if you expect it to contribute to new student learning. A failure to address teachers’ knowledge and skill as part of a curriculum-based improvement strategy typically produces low-level teaching of high-level content.   There are only three ways to improve student learning at scale. The first is to increase the level of knowledge and skill that the teacher brings to the instructional process. The second is to increase the level and complexity of the content that students are asked to learn. And the third is to change the role of the student in the instructional process. That’s it. If you are not doing one of these three things, you are not improving instruction and learning.













Categories: Planet

Where’s the Coding?

Chris Betcher - 15 October, 2014 - 13:25

The following press release  was written by Dr Jason Zagami, president of the ACCE, in response to the recent review of the Australian Curriculum. This review, undertaken by Ken Wiltshire and Kevin Donnelly on behalf of the Liberal government makes a number of recommendations that are hard to understand in their inconsistency and lack of vision.

Here is Jason’s press release. Please spread it around.

For immediate release

Australian Council for Computers in Education has deep concerns with inconsistent support for school computing in the government’s response to the Review of the Australian Curriculum

ACCE has considered the Review of the Australian Curriculum Report and Supplementary Material, and is deeply concerned by some of the recommendations being considered by the government in the Initial Australian Government Response.

While ACCE acknowledges concern about a perceived overcrowding of the primary curriculum, there are many ways to address this other than a return to 19th and 20th Century curriculum priorities. It is an opportunity to refocus the curriculum on the 21st Century and to acknowledge ways in which subjects can be taught together in the primary years. This interdisciplinary collaboration in industry has stimulated many of the great innovations we now enjoy in modern society.

The USA and UK have identified the teaching of the computing discipline as a national priority. It would be a threat to Australia’s economic future if Australian students are excluded from being able to fully contribute to such innovations by a curriculum that limits their learning about digital technologies to a comparably superficial treatment in the senior years of schooling. Students in other countries will be advantaged by a developmental curriculum throughout their schooling. We do not expect students studying mathematics or science to start their studies in upper secondary for the same good reasons.

It is perplexing that the lack of support for computing as a discipline in the report is inconsistent with the Australian Government’s recognition of the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). ACCE was encouraged by the government’s investment of 12 million dollars in the Restoring the focus on STEM in schools initiative that includes “the introduction of computer coding across different year levels in Australian schools leading to greater exposure to computational thinking, and, ultimately, expanding the pool of ICT-skilled workers.” ACCE is subsequently dismayed that this is not reflected in the proposed curriculum models.

For Australia to have a world class, 21st Century curriculum, students should have the opportunity to engage in meaningful ways with how they can develop digital solutions that improve their lives and solve problems that increase in complexity over time. This is necessary to develop students’ capacity to creatively develop digital solutions, and in doing so, enable them with the ability to make considered study and career choices that involve the many facets of digital technologies, be they in information technology, science, the media, service, construction, medicine, arts, entertainment, law, teaching, politics, or other careers.

ACCE maintains that the teaching of computing as a discipline should be a core subject in any modern curriculum. Unfortunately, that view was not expressed in the report. Curiously, this view was expressed by the report subject matter specialist in the supplementary material. Of the two models presented in the report, the one proposed by Dr. Donnelly includes study of Digital Technologies only as an option for educational authorities in the states and territories. Such an approach loses much of the value of an Australian curriculum to further national goals. However, this is preferable to a mandated limiting of the study of the computing discipline to just the upper years of schooling as proposed by Professor Wiltshire. ACCE reiterates the need for Digital Technologies to be included as a core subject to some degree at all levels of schooling to enable a developmental approach to the discipline.

ACCE strongly recommends the government consults more widely with industry and professional groups such as the Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE), Australian Computer Society (ACS), Australian Information Industries Association (AIIA), and Digital Careers, and relevant government departments, to resolve how Digital Technologies can be included as a core subject in a 21st Century Australian Curriculum.

Dr Jason Zagami
President of the Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE)
j.zagami@griffith.edu.au 0755528454

The Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE) is the national professional education body for the teaching of computing in Australian schools. It comprises representatives from all state and territory associations and the Australian Computer Society (ACS).

Related posts:

  1. Discussing the Australian Curriculum: Technologies draft
  2. Time to retire the Stagecoach
  3. Coding for Kids

Categories: , Planet

National curriculum review: experts respond

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 14 October, 2014 - 23:29


  • "The much awaited review of the National Curriculum has finally been released with the reviewers calling for more of a focus on Western literature, and recognition of Australia’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage." - Roland Gesthuizen

Tags: TheConversation, curriculum, AusVELS, reivew, Auspol

by: Roland Gesthuizen

Categories: International News

Heart’s Cry to Great Teachers: Bring You

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 14 October, 2014 - 22:19

Don’t ask your students to be you. You are not creating mini-me’s. That is not your goal.

The average teacher thinks about talking cessation – the superior teacher cares about inspiring the next generation.

Aimless people are Columbus kind of people — when they set sail, they don’t know where they are going. When they get there, they don’t know where they are. When they get back, they have no idea where they’ve been. (heard from a Brian Tracey recording)

Be purposeful. Know where you’re heading. Celebrate the accomplishment when you return. Be epic, purposeful, and clearly know what you’re doing. Happy accidents happen sometimes but let your teaching and planning be purposeful adventures in learning.

Have a crystal clear vision of what you want your classroom to be. Hold it out and compare it to who you are today. Compete with yourself. Level up a little bit every day. Be you but be a better you everyday. Never settle to just be better than the person next door or down the hall – that is beneath you. Be a better you. Your students deserve to see a lead learner improving upon what you learned yesterday.

If you already have your copies made for the next six weeks, take them out back and burn them. We don’t make copies in school – we make originals. When you get too automated, you start making automatons who leave small puddles of spittle on the desk and spitballs in the corner thrown to wake up their friend sleeping in the back. You can do better.

If they spit in my classroom it will be in hot debate about things that mean something not dead dates of things done by dead people. Those heroes who have gone before will not be the lifeless bones laying in the grave who did something awesome sometime but will come to life as living, breathing heroes making their decisions in front of the class in all of their heart-rending blood-boiling fervor. History comes alive. Everything comes alive – especially my students.

Your mission: to do something wonderful in your classroom.

But more than that…

Your mission: to find something wonderful in every child and hold it up to the light so they can observe the glistening facets of their own uniqueness. For they are beautiful contributions to the world – more beautiful than diamonds and far harder to shape and encourage unless it be done from the inside out.

I am in sales. I’m selling you on yourself. Buy yourself, teacher. For you can have all of the ancillaries and topiaries in the the world and nothing is more exciting than you. Nothing is more pivotal. Nothing is more hopeful. Nothing is more driving. And nothing is more joy-killing either.

It is you. Buy yourself. Buy into the fact that your learning, your excitement and your raw determination determine everything about your classroom.

You are the one. It starts with you. All of it. The epicness, the excitement, the wonder-full-ness. You.

Take out a finger and point it up into the air — high high high into the sky. Then take that finger and point it right back at yourself… at your heart… at your mind… at your hands and your feet. These are your weapons and it isn’t a secret. Great teaching is done by great teachers. Teachers who have bought into themselves and the fact that they can improve their art if they learn.

A dwarf standing on a giant’s shoulders can see further than the giant. You don’t have to be the giant, just learn from them.

Teaching is a profession — on of the few — where you can rise to the status of almost being a saint – were that possible. Yet, those true saint-teachers aren’t in it for sainthood, they aren’t even in it for any attention. They are in it for the epic challenge of dealing with problems that come with hair on top.

Superior teachers don’t see problems, they see possibilities.

So teacher, I am asking you this moment. Buy yourself. You’re the greatest thing you could ever bring to your classroom. If your heart is not in your classroom, your students won’t want to be either. You — you’re the greatest thing you can bring to class today.

Bring it. Bring you.

The post Heart’s Cry to Great Teachers: Bring You appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

8 Characteristics of the Innovative Leader (Document)

The Principal of Change George Couros - 14 October, 2014 - 11:08

I wanted to create a “rubrics” (for lack of a better term), that discusses some of the questions and ideas based on my post “The 8 Characteristics of the Innovative Leader“.  Since I believe innovation often starts with “questions” that guides practice, this document starts from there, but gives a few suggestions as well.  So instead of doing a traditional rubrics, I left a column open so people could write their own ideas on how they are meeting the characteristics.  If it was truly innovative, then the idea might be sparked from this, but should not be limited to what is shared here.  It is more of a starting point than an endpoint.

Please feel free to use as you see fit.  The writing is small so I uploaded it to Scribd so it could be downloaded or expanded for a better visual.

The Innovative Leader Rubrics

Categories: Planet

Iceland: North of the Wall

Darcy Moore's Blog - 14 October, 2014 - 06:25

It rained incessantly and the wind was fierce but our time in Iceland was rewarding. The light, the landscape, the relaxed ambience and the people were all worth a journey to what is probably the furthest point one can travel from our home in Kiama. It felt well ‘North of the Wall’.

There is a clear pattern that has emerged during the last five or six years we have travelled overseas with our children. We usually book apartments in central locations and rarely stay in hotels. Mostly we stay for a while rather just visiting for a couple of days. Walking is always central to the experience and driving in a car a relative rarity. We try to meet and talk with local people and this is more possible without a car and living away from hotels. Eating in the places locals frequent is good too but often we prepare our own food to reduce costs. Doing regular things, like shopping at the local markets or grocery stores, is usually fun as one attempts to decode the language on packets and buy the correct milk. It gives us all a sense of the similarities and differences of life in another country. The secret is about exploring the ordinary as closely as the spectacular.

Historical sites, museums and galleries are rarely a disappointment to us and we get to talk and spend time together outside the routines of our regular busy lives.  Everything is interesting when travelling with a camera. Often the smaller details found walking around city streets are as interesting as the big tourist destinations. As our children grow older, 8 and almost 11, it is clear that these trips are memories that we share and at some stage, in the not so distant future, travel will again be ‘without children’. It is important to remember how quickly these experiences will no longer be possible and to savour them now.

The streets of Reykjavik

We had great accommodation, for ten days, near the architecturally impressive Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland, in the ’Neighbourhood of the Gods’. Wandering the streets of Reykjavik, all the way down to the Old Harbour, was easily done from such a centrally located apartment. It soon became evident why only tourists had umbrellas. The locals knew brollies would be inverted, twisted into broken birdcages within seconds.

The wind was often unbelievably wicked and we noted that Icelandic park benches and signs, cleverly mounted with springs, were well-designed to survive the extreme conditions. Everything was very heavy. I made purchasing warmer head-ware and covering my neck a priority and didn’t worry too much about the rain (or how silly I looked). As always, we walked many, many miles exploring everything from the flea markets to the national parliament. Occasionally, especially in the wilder weather, everyone just had had enough for the day and it showed (see below).

It is certainly noticeable that people have time for casual conversation and are very personable. One of the shots below, of posters with spray paint over them, was a real mystery to me; what was it all about? I asked a local shopkeeper who did not know what I meant so he got me to take him to the posters (which look like they are of missing women). It turns out they are advertising to encourage Icelandic women to have cervical cancer screening. This is a minor anecdote but many times it was clear that people have more time to chat than what one may expect. I also notice plenty of jokes and cartoons about Icelanders having a poor sense of punctuality.

I guess everything has a price.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Museums, Galleries & deCODE

We had a great experience, mostly because of the knowledgable and friendly guide, at the Árbær Open Air Museum which is like a town square or village on what was once a working farm. Most of the buildings have been relocated from central Reykjavik. It is interesting that similar projects in Australia, like Old Sydney Town or Timbertown, always fail commercially. This museum is funded by the taxpayer. Our guide told us the story of Jorgen Jorgenson (1780-1841) who in 1809 arrested the Danish governor and proclaimed himself the leader of an Iceland that would be independent of Denmark. His reign lasted for two months before he was out-manoeuvred. By the mid1820s Jorgenson’s other indiscretions led him to be transported to Van Diemen’s Land where he ended up exploring much of Tasmania. It was skilful of the guide (whose nickname was ‘Silly’ – he joked this does no translate well into English) to integrate this story into his patter. Indeed, Jorgenson is an interesting connection indeed between Iceland and Australia.

When the weather made walking around or driving less than safe or fun we visited museums and galleries within walking distance. Reykjavik’s Museum of Photography had a challenging exhibition Lauren Greenfield’s, ‘Girl Culture’ that was probably a little too much for an 8 & 10 year old but it certainly led to some insightful conversation about popular and consumer culture as well as the pressure on girls to conform to stereotypes. We also thought the Settlement Exhibition, built around the oldest known ruins in the capital, to be a unique and quality museum. The curators emphasise +/- 2 years when dating the site based on volcanic layers. The fundamental importance and primacy of using authoritative evidence seems to be a source of ethical pride. I would not recommend the Saga Museum which seemed ahistorical and tacky. NB The kids loved it!

The National Museum of Iceland is excellent and taught me a great deal. The digital and audio information provided was extensive and genuinely complemented the displays and artefacts very well. For example, I learnt that genetic testing had recently revealed 80% of males have Norse ancestry but females are much more likely to originate from the British Isles (62%). The company deCODE genetics provided the data and analysis found at the museum. The information I discovered on this first day of our stay led to many subsequent conversations with Icelanders re: their opinions about DNA testing. Most emphasised that the Norse brought women as ‘slaves’ with them but it was also pointed out that immigration to the British Isles by the Norse may have meant that some of the men also left directly for Iceland from what we may consider to be Northern Ireland or The Republic.

The company is particularly controversial with Icelanders and people expressed a variety of opinions in discussions with me about the data being collected. It came up several times, as mentioned in this article, that it felt like blackmail that NOT donating ‘a swab’ meant an important search and find rescue organisation would NOT receive a donation from deCODE. Currently, approximately 1/3 of the population has had DNA swabs. Many of these people can now calculate risks posed by their dispositions to a variety of diseases, as well as ancestry. One local Reykjavik man told me he had originally invested in deCODE shares, such was his enthusiasm for the project, only to make a largish loss when the Icelandic economy collapsed in 2008. The company was refinanced in 2010. Coincidentally, my barber, when I asked his opinion excitedly mentioned, as he trimmed my beard, that was his client was the CEO.

Icelanders have always been interested in genealogy and have always had both an oral and literary culture that allowed them to trace family lineages very accurately indeed. However, several people I spoke to at length about this said that historical NPEs (Non-paternity events) were coming to light more and more via the DNA testing as written lineages were examined for a range of reasons. For example, Iceland is one of the most racially homogenous nations in the world and the small population is conscious of avoiding incestuous relationships. Last year, you may have seen in the news, a new app that allowed Icelanders to make sure the person they were dating was not too closely related. One of deCODE’s projects is the database Íslendingabók which contains genealogical information dating more than 1,200 years back. An Icelander can type their name and search the database.

NB The original Íslendingabók or The Book of Icelanders, is an important work about early Icelandic history.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Culinary surprises

 “Dried fish is a staple food in Iceland.This should be shredded with the fingers and eaten with butter. It varies in toughness. The tougher kind tastes like toe-nails, and the softer kind like the skin off the soles of one’s feet.”  

                                                 Louis MacNeice, W. H AudenLetters from Iceland

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Mostly we shopped locally and ate at the apartment but really enjoyed our meals at Cafe Loki which included some very flavoursome shark, traditional dried fish with butter, flat cake with smoked lamb, egg and herring along with rúgbrauðsís and cream. I think Auden a little rough on the dried fish. It is an acquired taste but certainly adding the butter improves the experience.

The traditional Icelandic fish or meat soup were my favourite dish, especially considering the weather conditions. The soup is relatively inexpensive and comes with bread, sometimes it even is in the bread. We had an incredibly salubrious wild mushroom soup at a monastery we visited in East Iceland before catching the ferry to the Faroe Islands and Denmark. It made me remember picking mushrooms as a kid with my family and cooking them in variety of ways. 

The Golden Circle and The Blue Lagoon

My friend and colleague, Mark O’Sullivan, gave us sage travel advice after his trip to Iceland last year. He convinced us a car was needed and that the roads were fine. We hired a car at a ridiculously good off-season rate and Kate soon acclimatised to driving on the ‘wrong-side of the road’. The weather for our day trip around the Golden Circle was pretty ordinary but we had fun anyway. The landscape and light were extraordinary but the rain made it challenging to take photographs. When we arrived at Geysir and later, Gullfoss, it was so bad that we just laughed and laughed with the wind. My silly hat (see way below) certainly helped on multiple fronts).

We had better luck for our day at The Blue Lagoon. I had read comments about how expensive this thermal pool was, and how ‘touristy’ but the truth of the matter was it was a certified ‘wonder’ and I would recommend you visit. We had a thoroughly relaxing and fun time. We also visited a local ‘hot pot’ in Reykjavik which we loved too.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Reindeers & Horses

The drive to Vik was excellent. The weather was good (although we did have a hail storm and ice to contend with) and we saw volcanoes, horses and more waterfalls. The girls enjoyed visiting a horse farm and talking with a horse-trainer. It was too cloudy, on the day we took an internal flight, to see the currently active volcano but we did see Eyjafjallajökull and the farm that lays below it (owned by the same family since 1906). 

We also had another good day exploring in East Iceland, near the absolutely stunning ferry port of Seydisfjordur. We checked out an interesting monastery, excavated earlier this century, where locals showed me where to photograph reindeers in the nearby woods. There were many friendly Icelandic horses along the drive too. My favourite shot of our time in Iceland was this one of horses and reindeer below.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore


It interests me to take everyday photographs and digitally manipulate them to create more abstract pictures. A few experimental shots follow. I really like the photo of my daughter in the Blue Lagoon and the chair. My self-portrait was made in the Icelandic opera house, Harpa. I love the shapes.


creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

The Icelandic Yule Lads

We enjoyed spending time in book stores and I certainly learnt a little more about the Icelandic Sagas and some authors previously unknown to me. My daughters bought a great little book, a novel about our planet and also learnt all about the cheeky Icelandic Yule Lads in local Christmas tradition. My favourites are ‘Meat-hook’ and ‘Pot-licker’. You can read more about them here.


Source: http://www.iceland.is/the-big-picture/news/celebrating-christmas-with-13-trolls/7916/
…and last but not least…

Very silly but incredibly warm hats have given us all a laugh during the last 10 days ‘North of the Wall’ where it has been what you would expect from a place named, Iceland. I am sure they will get some use on the ferry to the Faroe Islands, Denmark and our week in Bergen, Norway.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

 Visit Iceland! Even though we had some pretty ordinary weather it did not dampen our spirits!

Featured image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Darcy Moore: http://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/15455404491

The post Iceland: North of the Wall appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

E-Learning Journeys: Highlights of ACEC 2014 - Citizenship, Global Competence, Badges, 21C ideas!

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 13 October, 2014 - 22:57


  • "My first ACEC (Australian Computers in Education Conference) was two weeks ago in Adelaide. Many colleagues and ISTE friends from Australia and beyond had shared their past experiences with this reputable event, so now I am 'back' in Oz it was time for me to find out more.
    " - Roland Gesthuizen

Tags: acec2014, conference, event, blog, summary

by: Roland Gesthuizen

Categories: International News

How to Connect Your Classroom: Case Study with Andrew Cohen of @Brainscape

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 13 October, 2014 - 22:13

Start-ups are good for our country. Most students don’t know what they are. I want to infuse a start-up mentality in my classroom as I help students understand innovation. Creation is good. Inventing is hard. If you’re an independent thinker: hire yourself and create a start-up. Recently my ninth graders connected via Google Hangout with the CEO of Brainscape, Andrew Cohen.

What is Brainscape?

Brainscape is a scientifically-based flashcard tool that lets students learn faster than traditional flashcard services. (Learn more in the video.) My classes have Brainscape study groups.

Connect Your Classroom: Steps to Success

As discussed in Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, students don’t want to talk about the world – they want to talk with the world. Effective 21st century educators connect their students.

After Andrew and I set the interview appointment, here is how I prepped my students. (Adapt this to use with politicians, scientists, and any type of job.)

Step 1: Introduce the Person’s Job with a Bellringer Activity (10-15 minutes)

The day before the interview, we completed a bell ringer asking:

  • What is a start-up?
  • What is the job title of a person who creates a start-up?
  • What are the benefits of creating a start-up?
  • Are there risks of creating a start-up?
  • With your team come up with 3 questions to ask of a person who created a technology start-up?

Time taken: 5 minutes in their groups and 10 minutes of discussion

Ask questions introducing the topic and role without having a specific company or person named. If they can get their arms around who this person is, they’ll be more excited when you say — we will interview one. (If you tell students who you’re interviewing first — nervousness may stifle the learning.)

Step 2: Plan the Interview: Split Students into Questioners and Evaluators

After we completed the bell ringer, they discussed their answers. Then, I introduced what they’d be doing today. They split into 2 teams: question creators and evaluators.

Good Questions Make a Great Interview

The question group worked to formulate questions to ask Andrew based upon what they learned. They looked up information about Andrew (like reading his Twitter) and Brainscape.

Give Feedback

The other team evaluated Brainscape and compared it to other apps and services they use. This group’s purpose was to offer feedback from real students to Andrew. Students must learn to evaluate websites and apps with an eye for improvement and suggestions.

Evaluating is useful for the company you’re connecting to because they are getting feedback on their product. If you take this approach, don’t film or record this segment of the interaction because you want an honest exchange beneficial for both groups. (Students can see how successful people respond to suggestions. I’ve found this fosters a growth mindset of ongoing improvement. Suggestions are not the enemy- they are how we improve.)

How Students Planned

Students drafted their plan on a Google Document. I provided feedback via commenting. Each team had a PM (project manager) and APM (assistant project manager). They were ready to go by the end of class. Not everyone spoke but everyone had to be involved in  planning.

Step 3: The Interview

We set aside 30 minutes for the interview. Plan on 10-15 minutes for you to connect with your guest.

Technical Aspects of the Interview Can you record?

I used Google Hangout linked with my personal account (Google Plus is not enabled with my school account right now.) We live streamed the session and recorded it to YouTube. You don’t have to share it live (although I did). I think recording is important to use the video with other classes. You can’t recreate a magic moment so prepare to capture moments where magic might happen. 

For example, I have 2 preps for 9th grade. I don’t want the other class left out. They will watch this recording and take notes. The next time, the other class will conduct the live interview.

Note Google Hangout is NOT a video call, if you want to record, you have to set up a live event and create a hangout. I’ve found it to be tricky. (If you can’t find a tutorial, let me know in the comments and I’ll take time to write one.)

Check your mic setup

You have to check mics and make sure you can hear one another. You’ll notice me sitting near the computer. We turn the mic off an on to prevent feedback from the speakers when Andrew replied to the message.

Setup the lower thirds

We use the Google Hangout toolbox and do the lower third to show the name and the class information. The recording becomes a permanent part of our class library that other students can access later.

Invite parents

I invited parents via the school Facebook page and over email. After the interview, I shared the recording.

Great Start!

Besides a few nerves, (who doesn’t get uptight?) it was a marvelous start! I’m proud of my students!

While this was their first interview of the year and many of them were nervous — they did a great job overcoming their nerves. They’ll be pros by the end of the year.  I hope this helps you plan for and integrate this into your classroom. Flatten those walls! Connect and collaborate.

Thank you Andrew Cohen from Brainscape for taking the time to connect with my students today. Tip for start-ups: what a great way to interact with students! Thanks Andrew! If you’re creating products they use, give them a voice. 

The post How to Connect Your Classroom: Case Study with Andrew Cohen of @Brainscape appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet
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