Monday, June 30, 2014

Universal Design For Learning: Reaching All Learners Institute

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I am looking forward to attending the Universal Design for Learning: Reaching All Learners Institute next week at Harvard University.

Universal Design for Learning guidelines covers providing multiple means of representation, multiple means of action and expression, and multiple means of engagement to help all students have optimal learning environments and experiences.

Plus, did I mention the institute takes place on the campus of Harvard University in the School of Law - look out Elle Woods!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Minnesota eLearning Summit Presentations

I'm presenting at the Minnesota eLearning Summit coming up at the end of July.
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I will be doing two presentations. One will focus on easy ways to do formative assessment on iPads, Chromebooks, and other mobile devices with an assortment of fun and easy-to-use apps.

The second presentation will be about Bridging the Digital Divide and the efforts that have been underway this year by my department in my school district to accomplish more equitable access to devices, the implementation of personalized learning, and the role of student voice and choice in helping to engage students.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Chilly Gonzales - Finding Joy In Limitations

Earlier this week I was looking for one of the first TV commercials for the original iPad and found the ad featuring the snappy, fun little tune "Never Stop" by Chilly Gonzales.

Chilly Gonzales (Jason Charles Beck), a Canadian pianist, producer, and songwriter, created the Re-Introduction Etudes, a book of 24 easy-to-play piano pieces for frustrated pianists looking to renew their joy in playing the piano. In the video below he talks about how limitations lead to joy and some really great piano compositions, including the Jaws Theme and Gonzales' own tune Tarantula, played with a limited number of keys or semitones.

In much the same way as Gonzales describes how both he and Sting have used limitations to compose, it seems that beginning with a limited number of apps on the iPad can lead to that same joy for teachers by providing a limited set of content creation and consumption apps to learn and master before needing to expand their repertoire to additional selected apps that enhance their own content subject area. By limiting the number of new apps that teachers need to work with, they can produce their own iPad etudes that will allow students to demonstrate their academic skills and techniques.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

ISTE 2014 - Things To Do In Atlanta

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As ISTE 2014 draws near, it's time to start planning what to do and see in Atlanta before the conference begins and during the few hours in the evenings after each day's events are over.

I would definitely recommend at trip to the World of Coca-Cola museum while you're in Atlanta. The museum features tons of Coca-Cola memorabilia ranging from antique signs to an assortment of Olympic torches. Want to know what Coke flavors are available in Europe and South America? The Coca-Cola Freestyle area features over 100 variations of Coca-Cola soda from all around the world.  For those who want a more interactive experience, a downloadable app now allows you to save your mixes and earn badges as you sample your favorites!

The World of Coca-Cola is only open for limited hours in the evenings though, so you will need to plan your visit strategically so that you don't miss out.

Friday, June 13, 2014

TED - Simon Sinek - Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe

Revisiting a TED Talk by Simon Sinek today about how good leaders make employees feel safe.

Looking forward to continuing my courses for administrative leadership license this summer and further developing my own leadership skills.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Apple App Aptitude

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Apple will be leading a two-day 1:1 Curriculum in an iPad Learning Environment training for us next week and participants will be divided into subject area groups. I'm interested to see which apps the Apple trainers will be featuring and demonstrating.  It seems like almost every blog has their own set of recommended top apps for the iPad with only a little overlap.

Not getting caught up in the need to constantly be searching for, trying out, and downloading apps for each content area seems key to a successful implementation of iPads in the classroom. Teachers need to be able to rely on a core set of content creation apps that work consistently for all subject areas and then supplement with a few specialized apps that enhance their content curriculum.

I'm excited to get started on our district's 1:1 rollout and can't wait to get iPads into the hands of our students.  So much needs to be done in advance though to ensure a smooth rollout.  Lots of work to be done by many this summer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hoteling - Day 1

First day in new summer office location. First day of "hoteling." First day of "Argh, I packed that (fill-in-the-blank) not knowing that I was going to need it.

It's actually kind of liberating not to have a desk and to be able to sit in a different location every day.  Right now we just have a large conference table and a few desks, but I'm looking forward to seeing what our Facilities department will create for us for the fall in terms of table spaces and movable storage.

One possible downside of hoteling may be an overloaded bag though.  I will definitely have to be more aware of how much "stuff" I am hauling around and what sort of neck and shoulder strain that excess stuff may cause.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Paper Free Moving Day

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Today is moving day at the office.  We are moving to a temporary summer location due to remodeling taking place at the school that our department is located in.

For the last year, I've been attempting to be as paper free as possible. It's actually more challenging than it sounds. Most meetings and trainings that I have been to involve anywhere from one to two to an entire packet of paper. I have been trying to scan any documents that I really think I need to keep following each meeting, but sometimes other things needed to be done and those extra papers somehow found their way into an assortment of folders in my desk drawer.  As I was packing up my desk today, I had to deal with those folders, and of course, there was no time for scanning today. So into the moving box those folders went!

When we move back in August and I unpack my two boxes, I'm sure I will have other things on my mind and task list at that time and back into my desk drawer those folders will go.  Or will they? We're scheduled to begin "hoteling" in our new office space, meaning that we won't all have an assigned desk or a desk at all anymore.  It will be even more important for me to keep up with reducing the amount of paper build up next year in order to offset not having a drawer to stick those folders into.

One day perhaps all meetings and trainings will evolve to the level of offering PDFs of any handouts posted online to be downloaded for those who like to have paper to take notes on and doodle on and for those who want to import a PDF into an iPad app and create digital notes and doodles.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Evolution of iPads

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Ever since my school district announced that we will be rolling out 1:1 iPads for teachers and students over the next two years, I have been thinking about the evolution of the iPad.

Over the course of just three years, Apple has developed five different models with a sixth soon to be released. Each one touting a new iOS operating system with hardware and software features better than the one before it. With the multitude of tablets on the market, Apple has found a way to distinguish themselves from the rest and to garner a sizable chunk of the education market in the process.

Issuing iPads to our students will help teachers to personalize learning for students by integrating technology and leveraging the content creation apps available on the iPads to allow for more student voice and choice in how students will demonstrate their learning.  Content creation apps will allow students to show their learning through Keynote presentations, podcasts, iBooks, videos, etc. Using the iPad will allow teachers to tap into the innovative playful social multimedia consumption and creation apps that appeal so much to students.

I couldn't help but search on YouTube for one of the first commercials for the original iPad!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Countdown To ISTE 2014

Looking forward to some great learning at ISTE this year and to presenting. More to come on that later.

The Connected Learning Connected World theme this year has many great sessions, keynotes, and learning opportunities.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Phones - Then and Now

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Cell phones have come a long way from the original Motorola DynaTAC handheld mobile phone created 41 years ago by Dr. Martin Cooper in 1973.

Who would have guessed that mobile phones would eventually evolve to the streamlined size and amazing capabilities that the smart phones of today have?

The evolution of smart phones is a testament to the development and rapid advancement of gadgets and technology in general. Just as mobile phones have expanded in rich feature sets while lowering the purchase cost, the continued development and production of other technology such as iPads and the myriad of Chromebook laptops is following a similar trajectory of more features with a smaller footprint size and a lower cost of ownership.

As the use of mobile technology and phones in the classroom approaches a new level of acceptability and proliferation, iPads and smart phones allow for students to connect and collaborate in ways unlike ever before.

Friday, June 6, 2014

How Did We Remember Anything Before Facebook?

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Life has been hectic for me over this past week. Hectic might not even be an adequate enough word. Lots of memories of family gatherings, every day happenings, and precious moments bubbling to the surface during long travel to and from my father's funeral. I felt myself mentally straining to remember the names of some absent distant cousins and locations of vacation spots from long ago as I listened to random stories of his exploits great and small, unusual and commonplace, some familiar and others totally new to me.

Prior to Facebook, remembering or even knowing about all of the day-to-day events in a person's life, ranging from mundane occurrences to exciting events and vacations, depended upon either being present or sharing details afterwards during family or social gatherings or during the weekly or month phone call home. How many small details were forgotten by the time those calls were placed and how many details were remembered afterward?

Social networking tools like Facebook have created a fabric of memories that can be shared with family members, friends, and strangers alike, both near and far, and revisited and referenced afterward. How much richer will memories be for those with whom we choose to share the events of our lives enriched with photos and links to videos and websites compared to relying on the dendrites and synapses of our brains to record and retrieve the same information?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

#Blogjune Begins

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I'm beginning the month of blogjune in which I'll be attempting to blog every day of the month. Blogjune is a month-long blogging initiative first started by Constance Wiebrands and is now in its fifth year.

The entire list of participating blogs can be found on Wiebrands' blog, Flexnib.

There are no penalties for not blogging every day, but the effort to do so is reward in itself. Blogging on a regular basis has been a long-standing goal of mine for this blog, but due to life happening on a regular basis I have not been able to maintain even a weekly schedule. I'm looking forward to attempting a daily blog, even if for only one month.