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Surface Pro 4 Unboxing

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 21 April, 2016 - 02:02

My Surface Pro 3 has been my constant companion and major computer workhouse ever since I got it over a year ago. It’s pretty much ideal for a school computer. I’m seeing more and more students carry them around the building all the time. So when the opportunity came to apply for the MIE Surface Experts program I jumped. I was accepted and today I received a Surface Education Expert Kit. I thought I might share the unboxing with you.

The outside of the box really highlights the inking features. That’s something I really want to start using more. I think the combination of projecting on the screen and writing by hand will let me do some things I have been thinking about but haven’t really done much yet.

Now my first look inside the box. Everything is neatly arraigned and pretty easy to find. I went with the small things first.

 

 

This is a wireless display adapter. I’m going to connect it for the LCD projector in my room. I’ve been using a mostly software solution to connect with our existing wireless connection but it’s been slow and doesn’t have all the functionality I’d like. Based on what I have heard this will be better. I’ll report on that soon.

Ok the computer is out of the box. It’s a little larger than my Surface Pro 3 but still very light. I think it is a pretty nice looking device. All smooth and clean. It’s got an Intel Core M3 processor and 4GB of RAM. Not exactly top of the line but should be more than adequate for school use.

Next up the Touch Keyboard. This seems to be upgraded from the keyboard I received with my Surface Pro 3. Blue is my favorite color. How did they know? It works very well and feels natural.

 

 

Here is a side by side look at the new Surface Pro 4 (on they right) next to my older Surface Pro 3 (on the left).

One unexpected difference is the Pro 4 supports Microsoft Hello – logging in by it recognizing my face. I need to try that once the software installs are finished.

And there are some marketing materials. I’m planning on doing a show and tell for the teachers in my school soon. We’re buying new faculty computers for next year. I think there is will be a lot of interest in inking as time goes on and teachers see what you can do with it.

As I write this software installations of Office 365 and Visual Studio Community Edition 2015 are taking place. Open Live Writer for blogging is already installed and I have connected it to my OneDrive. More updates after I’ve run it through it’s paces.

Categories: Planet

The Policies In Your Head

The Principal of Change George Couros - 20 April, 2016 - 22:09

Working with educators and trying to help challenge the traditional notion of schooling, many of them will come to me privately and say, “I would love to do some of this stuff, but our policies won’t allow us.”  When I talk to their principals though and ask them about those same policies, they will tell you that they don’t exist.

Sometimes we create something in our head as a barrier, or we hold onto something from years previously.

At a session with a group of teachers in Winnipeg that I am working with, one of the comments was that they were reluctant to go on Twitter because “the union wouldn’t allow it”.  Serendipitously over lunch, the following tweet was sent by the same union:

Very cool to see members joining Twitter through work with @gcouros.Follow us to stay in tune with your professional assoc. #WinnipegSDITLL

— Wpg Teachers’ Ass’n (@WinnipegTA) March 23, 2016

The barrier was either in their own mind, or no longer existed.

I know people will always say, “Ask for forgiveness instead of permission”, but I have never been in that mindset. I like not getting into trouble.  One thing that I would always say to my teachers as a principal is that “I cannot solve problems that I don’t know exist.”

Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the pursuit of doing what is best for kids. Otherwise, the thing that might be holding you back is your own thinking, and nothing else.

Categories: Planet

Failure is the cancer of good learning and teaching

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 20 April, 2016 - 09:47

According to folklore, Albert Einstein failed his college entrance exam, Walt Disney was told he lacked creativity and Bill Gates dropped out of school. While it didn’t stop them achieving in their respective fields, I am left wondering why we eschew failure in education.

My younger brother told me recently that he felt like he had ‘failed’ at school – a belief he has carried for more than 30 years! The prevailing view in education that failure is a negative experience does so much damage to kids’ confidence.  Sir Ken Robinson says this is because we have created school systems were mistakes are the worst things you can make and children are afraid of failing.

Failure is the cancer of good learning and teaching. This reductionist approach defines learning as a set of numerical or letter grades that can be manipulated, often misused and generally misunderstood.  The high stakes test of the Higher School Certificate – the gold standard of learning – is even more misunderstood in its practical application. It is not a description of the achievement of a student across 13 years. Rather it is a ranking process derived by adding together internal assessments and exam marks, then running them through a ‘black box’.  The public perception is that anything above 60 is good, between 50-60 and you’re OK. Anything below 50 and you’ve failed school.

Sir Edmund Hillary

We need to be very careful about how assessment is understood and used because of the tendency to equate it with test scores. A better way to talk about student achievement is to concentrate on performance.  In sporting competitions, points are awarded for technical skill but they are also balanced against points for non-technical skills. The question is what would we include as the sum total of performance in education?

Sir Edmund Hillary’s feat on Mt Everest was shaped by learning from past failures. Reflecting on his momentous achievement, Hillary was quoted saying: “I was just an enthusiastic mountaineer of modest abilities who was willing to work quite hard and had the necessary imagination and determination.”

Every student is a potential Edmund Hillary with their own Everest to conquer. Learning must be a celebration of failure, discovery and success.

 

 

 

 

 


Categories: Planet

10 Cool Ways Teachers Use Social Media to Enhance Learning

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 19 April, 2016 - 21:00

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Doing work that matters. All students should be able to be part of that. No longer working for the teacher’s wastebasket, students across the world are connecting and sharing like never before. They are led by teachers unafraid of the world but who escort their kids out to meet the future.

While a recent poll showed 9 out of 10 teachers do not use social media in the classroom, there are teachers who are. Social doesn’t have to be a distraction and kids can be safe. Let’s dive into ten ways teachers have used social media in the classroom to enhance learning. These are some of my personal favorites among many. Please share yours in the comments.

This question is part of CM Rubin World’s question of the month, “What are the best examples you have seen of teachers using social media to enhance learning?” Check out her blog for all the answers. 

1. Jacques du Toit and the Tweeting Aztecs

Aussie teacher Jacques du Toit has his students create Twitter accounts as many of the well known Aztecs. They tweet events as if they are happening. This creative use of Twitter is allowed because Twitter permits the use of pseudonyms. He told me that his students became so engaged into what various characters would be saying and doing. How did they link together? A hashtag.

2. Karen Lirenman and her Tweeting First Graders

Using a Twitter account, @MrsLsClass, Karen Lirenman and her class share their work with the world. When I interviewed her, she has a system and way to keep them safe and share their best work. Worth a follow!

This is our teamwork tower. pic.twitter.com/gWW5iohBvv

— Ms. L's Class (@MsLsClass) April 14, 2016


 

3. Kathy Cassidy’s Blogging Six Year Olds

Kathy Cassidy’s classroom blog is an endearing example of when students are allowed to blog and share their work. When I interviewed Kathy, she said,

I really want our classroom blog to be a digital portfolio of their developing skills.

4. Julie Hembree’s Global Poetry Unites Project

Global Poetry Unites is all over Twitter right now for National Poetry Month. It may be a US month, but classrooms are participating from everywhere! Just look at the hashtag #ClrPoem on Twitter and you’ll see lots of kids involved in the current challenge to write a poem using the color red. The challenges change but follow along in Julie’s Online Notebook about the project.

 

5. Michael Hayes’ 9 o’clock Science Challenge on Facebook

So, Michael Hayes is a science teacher. He has a YouTube channel but the world becomes his classroom at 9 pm each night when he posts his 9 o’clock challenge on Facebook. He gets prizes and sends them to people all over the place. Many people compete although he started this for his students. What a blast!

6. PS22 Chorus on YouTube and Facebook

If you’ve never heard the PS22 Chorus voices or seen what their teacher, Gregg Breinberg, has done, then grab your headphones and a hanky and take a listen on YouTube or Facebook. They sang to one of their teachers who had recently been diagnosed with cancer– I’m Going to Love You Through It. Wow. They’ve had Pop Stars, Rock Stars and done so much. Social media has transformed the program and the school.

7. Lake Brantley High School and To Be Kind

I recently learned about Lake Brantley’s movement when seeing some kindness bulletin boards posted by Stacy Eck. I interviewed them about their junior high school’s program to encourage kindness. #tbk is becoming a movement of sorts with many schools seeing it as a way to stamp out bullying by teaching kids to be kind. They are on Instagram and many places.

8. Yollis’ 366 Project

While Linda Yollis has a fantastic classroom blog, her 366 Project is incredible. She has clear instructions for how students from around the world can submit their photos to be shared. These photos make great writing prompts, conversation starters, and can spur on so many ideas in the classroom.

9. Kevin Jarrett’s STEM Lab Projects and Capstones

Kevin Jarrett is one of the leaders in STEM / STEAM lab creation. His students are sharing their 2016 capstone projects on their blog. They are using design thinking and combining it with empathy. What a powerful, unique way to use science and math and socioemotional learning!

10. Making Apps that Matter

I’m partial to this group of students. My classroom is one of the five  classrooms programming apps that matter in MAD about Mattering. We are doing it right now. As I write this post, students are firing up their social media posting and creating the web pages for the apps that they have programmed meeting the heartbreaks they have. The first week of May 2016, they’ll be sharing their creations with the world and using social media to share the message, encourage people to test their apps, and ask for support for their projects. Susan Bearden has made a list of their handles and is adding them as they are created. Here are some sample tweets:

Bullying is the reason why about 160,000 students skip school each day. (https://t.co/K5ehbMU64D)

— Bullyproof (@Bullyproof2016) April 18, 2016


 

Studies suggest that there is a relationship between intimate partner violence and depression and suicidal behavior. #EnoughIsEnough

— Domestic Violence (@DVHeartBreak) April 18, 2016


 

There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today. #STOPSexTrafficking #Fact

— Break the Chains (@BTCappDev) April 18, 2016


 

"Band together to end the world's problems" – Overty #Poverty #Overty #Hunger #App

— Overty (@Overty_App) March 29, 2016


 

"Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light." – Norman B. Rice pic.twitter.com/ZDHuKqGnsd

— UnCut (@UnCutSSH) March 22, 2016


 

There are many more stories to tell. Please tell yours in the comments or tweet me @coolcatteacher.

The post 10 Cool Ways Teachers Use Social Media to Enhance Learning appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Communities of practice

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 11 April, 2016 - 07:36

Comments:

  • I am researching the value of communities of practice for early career secondary teachers. This is my short survey. If you are an ECT or would be willing to forward this on to ECTs in your school I'd be very grateful.

    https://usqadfi.au1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_4MDJ57p9jTRN2xD - bernadette mercieca

Tags: communities, learning, education, teachers

by: bernadette mercieca

Categories: International News

The Most Dangerous Phrase In The World

Chris Betcher - 1 April, 2016 - 15:38

If you’ve been in education for a while there is a phrase you’ll hear regularly if you listen for it. It’s just seven little words but the impact of those words can be enormous. The people who utter this phrase often mean well, but it rarely leads to much that is positive. This phrase can kill a potentially good idea, ruin a worthwhile initiative or demoralise others who want to make a difference.

It may just be the most dangerous phrase in the world.

The phrase is “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”

You may have been on the receiving end of these words. Perhaps you came up with what you believed was a brilliant, clever, innovative or time-saving idea. You honestly feel your idea can improve an existing outcome and make a huge difference. So you approach your colleagues with your idea, knowing that by making just a few simple changes the world will be a better place. And while they might listen and thank you for your interesting suggestion, they inform you of all the reasons why your idea cannot possibly work, because the way things are currently done is just the way they’ve always been done.

It might not be said with these exact words, and it sometimes comes in many variations. There’s “We tried that years ago and it didn’t work”, or “We’d never be able to do it because the others won’t go along with it”, or “That might be ok for other schools but it would never work here”, or even the time tested “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However it’s phrased, the message is essentially the same; we like the way things are and we don’t want to change them.

The irony is that while all these phrases are used to resist change, the world around us constantly changes. Change is just a natural thing.

We want our students to learn, which is just another way of saying we want them to change. Of course we want them to be better tomorrow than they were today. We want them to know more at the end of each term than they knew at the beginning. We want them to be more mature, have more wisdom, and make better decisions. All of that is based on the idea that they need to change. We call it growth.

And yet, far too often in schools we see systems and processes that stubbornly resist change. We see outdated curriculum, often locked in time by static syllabii and aging textbooks. We see processes being repeated each year, often without ever stopping to consider whether there may be a better way. We sometimes stick with “proven” tools and technologies without looking around to see if there may be better alternatives. And we also see the occasional teacher who does not realise that their 30 years of teaching experience has in fact been one year of teaching experience, repeated 30 times.

“That’s the way we’ve always done it”, or TTWWADI for short, is the reason we see the same old worksheets, the same old assessment tasks, the same old resources, used year and year. It’s also often the reason that we structure our schools in ways that contradict everything we know about how students learn most effectively. We want to make decisions in the best interests of our students, but we don’t because those decisions often contradict the way we’ve always done things.

Despite the fact that the outside world changes constantly it is still far too easy to find classrooms that don’t. TTWWADI-thinking does a grave disservice to the students that pass through those classrooms.

I recently overheard two sisters talking. The younger of the pair had the same teacher that her elder sister had five years before. Despite the five years that had passed, the older student was listening to her younger sibling talk about the work she was doing in class and remarking “Oh yes, I remember doing that assignment when I had that same teacher”. Unless that assignment was perfect and timeless, repeating it year after year without considering alternatives makes is seem like that teacher is simply on autopilot.

As this new school year begins, stop and think about what you’re doing. Are you reaching into your files and digging out the same teaching program you used last year? The same activities and worksheets you gave your students last year? The same letters to parents that were sent home last year?

If you’ve been in a school for more than a few years, think about how much has changed in the world around you. Even just five short years ago, most of us were not storing work in “the cloud”, or working collaboratively with others on shared documents, or learning by being digitally connected through various social streams. Technology provides great examples of these rapid changes but it’s hardly the only area of change. (Although you could probably argue that technology is the main driver that is forcing change in so many other areas). However you look at it and whatever the driver may be, it seems that change really is the only constant.

So why do some teachers embrace change and get excited about the possibilities of doing things in new and different ways, while others cling doggedly to doing things in ways that they have always done them? Why do some people immediately dismiss new or innovative ideas because they are not “the way we’ve always done it”?

Before exploring that question, it’s important to also recognise that just because something is different does not necessarily mean it’s better. Some of the things we repeat year after year may be done that way because they actually are the best way to do them. It can be exhausting to constantly be reinventing wheels that have already been invented. We don’t need to throw out everything we do and start again but we certainly should look at everything we do with fresh eyes and continually ask ourselves the critical question “Is there a better way to do this?”  

Carol Dweck’s work on the ideas of Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset is a good place to start. Without restating all of her research, essentially Dweck found that people see their world differently depending on whether they embrace a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. That is, whether they believe they are capable of growing and changing, or not. Those with fixed mindsets tend to believe the abilities they were born with, or that they have right now, are the abilities they will always have. Those with growth mindsets believe that they are capable of growing, so they see change as an opportunity for learning and trying new things. Ironically, having a fixed mindset is not fixed; once you realise that you are limiting yourself with this kind of thinking you can catch yourself doing it and consciously decide to respond differently.

Responding differently is hard. It’s not always easy to see past “the way we’ve always done it” and reimagine how things might be done differently because many of us have not been conditioned to think this way. But you can start by consciously and deliberately asking yourself one very simple question. Begin by asking yourself “Why?”

  • “Why are the desks in my classroom arranged like that?”
  • “Why do my students do that same geography assignment every year?”
  • “Why do we always study that same novel?”

Thinking bigger, consider some of the many aspects of school we take for granted, such as…

  • “Why is our school day structured the way it is?”
  • “Why are our lessons 50 minutes long?”
  • “Why does the school day start at 8:30 and finish at 3:00?”
  • “Why do we group students according to the age they were born?”

As you begin to ask “why?”, take note of your answers. If you find yourself answering the question with “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” then dig a little deeper. Why have you always done it like that? Is it because it is the best way? Maybe it was the best way at one time, but is it still the best way now? Could there be a better way? So many of the things we do, we don’t even think about anymore. We get so used to the way things work that we forget to question them.

One easy (and fun) thing you can do is simply to visit other schools. Just walking into a different environment and looking around can be enlightening. When you walk into someone else’s classroom you cannot help but notice how things are done differently. You find yourself noticing little things and saying “That’s interesting. I wonder why they do it like that?” You’ll see ideas that you hadn’t thought of. Ways of doing things you hadn’t considered. And when you return to your own classroom you’ll see it just a little bit differently. Looking outside the world you experience every day helps you have fresh eyes.

Consider this. Kodak, the once great film and camera company, is these days little more than a footnote in the history of photography. The reason? Their entire worldview was rooted in the idea of film cameras and film processing. When digital photography came along they dismissed it as a fad because it was “not the way we’ve always done it”. They failed to respond to the changes around them and that failure hit them hard. History is full of similar examples where entire industries – often large, seemingly entrenched empires – have been decimated because of their failure to respond to change. The Swiss watch industry refused to adopt the quartz movement because it was not the way they always made watches. It took them years to recover. The record industry initially rejected digital downloads because they were not they way they always distributed music. They eventually relented, but it put them years behind where they could have been had they chosen to lead that change. The list goes on.

There is no denying that we live in a world of enormous change, where a single technology can make “the way we’ve always done it” obsolete very quickly. As educators, we need to be leaders in the ability to change and adapt and learn. The students we teach today will be the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and world-changers, and will be the ones who must address the big, wicked problems that need be solved in our future. If we want the education we offer to our students to be the key to making the world a better place, then we need to develop mindful, creative, critical thinkers, who constantly ask “why?”

We will never get the future we want if we keep saying “that’s the way we’ve always done it”.

An edited version of this post was also published as an article in the March 2016 edition of Education Technology Solutions Magazine

 

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Categories: Planet
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