Signposts

Tomorrow begins the second year of this blog. What originally started out as a place to share my visual reflections on learning has evolved though I have tried to keep a visual aspect running through all my posts. It only seemed fitting to create a anniversary blog post sharing some previously unshared visual notes taken over the last year. As I began going through my sketchbook, I saw a theme of signposts running through it.

Sketchnote excerpt from Kyle Pace's
Keynote at Chico #GAFE Summit
Sketch for LEC Online
Blended Teacher Portfolio
I created this sketch, when I began Leading Edge Certification for Online/Blended Teacher in February. At the time, I found myself positioned at an academic and professional crossroads with many paths available but not knowing which one to take. Now I know this is the wrong question. It's not about taking one path. It's more about which path to explore first. Learners are not confined to a single path but rather there are multiple paths for learning. A more appropriate question illustrated during Kyle Pace's keynote at Chico GAFE Summit in September is "What Can't You Learn?"

That is the beauty of personalized learning and what is possible with technology. Learning needs to be a crossroads with different signposts that are navigated by the learner with the assistance of a guide. This experience done well should not promote a feeling of confusion or bewilderment but rather excitement and exhilaration.

Sketchnote excerpt from
Jennie Magiera's Keynote
#CUE15
Sketchnote excerpt from Jeff
Downing's talk at #CSEd15
There are cautionary signs that accompany these multiple paths of learning. This was illustrated by both Jennie Magiera's Keynote from #CUE15 and Jeff Downing at a Common Sense Media Teacher Event in September. In both cases, focusing on the technology or the tool without asking the hard questions will not create the desired change. Technology, effectively applied, has the power to transform teaching and learning. But there is a need to be critical consumers and ask the hard questions. "Is it better?" "What is your ultimate objective?" If the answers aren't about teaching and learning but rather the tool than our signposts have led us astray.  There is a need to regroup and make it better. We need to be aware of the signposts along the way because they may be telling us to slow down, retrace our steps, and/or take a different path.  All actions taken in the name of learning and making it better.

Sketchnote excerpt from Lisa
Highfill's Keynote @ Solano
GAFE Summit Feb 2015
These sketchnote excerpts, pieced together from five different learning experiences over the past year illustrate much of my own journey of multiple paths, cautionary tales, and restarts which have all led me here which is exactly where I need to be. I am ready to begin a new year of learning that will surely be messy and have many iterations. No longer is there confusion but rather joy and delight in the process.

"We are our experiences." Whatever paths we inevitably take become our journey. There may be real or metaphorical signposts along the way that will guide our journey but only if we have the courage to make choices, ask the hard questions, and start again.

Mystery Draw #1

Mystery Drawing exercises have the potential to provide a fun listening exercise to reinforce key vocabulary and when presented digitally, provide students listening practice with different media.

Do you want to give this Mystery Drawing A Try? Make a copy of the Mystery Draw exercise shown on the left and try it out yourself. Since this is the first one I've created, I tried to keep it simple. Fair warning though, the audio directions will seem fast. This is deliberate as I want students to practice stopping media and replaying to capture critical information. Too often, I've heard students say that listening to something again or stopping and replaying is considered cheating. Yet another remant of practices promoted during the NCLB-era and this type of exercise attempts to provide authentic practice to help change these mindsets. I imagine the student who would be most successful will the one who takes their time and stops and replays.

Here's how I created this exercise.

1) In Google Drawing, I created the one inch ruler template on a landscape page setup. Want a copy?

2) Within Google Drawing, I downloaded the template as .png file.



3) Create a new Google Slides file. Change the page setup to landscape first. File > Page Setup > Custom > 11 x 8.5 inches



4) Change Background Image. Slide > Change Background > Image: Choose > Upload downloaded .png file as the background image. Setting this as the background image means that the rulers will not move. This is important as I drew most of my objects on top of the ruler images to get the correct size. If the rulers moved when I was moving my other objects, I would have been easily frustrated. Plus, I can see doing coordinate grid mystery draws in the future and having that coordinate grid not move is essential!

5) Write up Mystery Draw steps in a Google Doc. This is important step as it provides a transcript for students to critique or add to after the initial mystery draw.  It also provides an easy source for captions to your audio for maximum accessibility.

6) I recorded the directions on my cell phone using a Voice Recorder App. (I was hoping I could just upload this audio file into YouTube Editor but it didn't like the .m4a file type.)

7) Using iMovie, I combined the audio file and the Mystery Draw image and exported to YouTube.

8) Inserted the YouTube video onto the Google Slide. (If I were using this with students, I would place the YouTube video off-canvas unlike what is shown above. This would preserve canvas real estate and would still be accessible for students who wouldn't be working in presentation mode. For students who rely on captioning, size video accordingly.)

9) Distribute your Mystery Draw Google Slide Assignment to students so they each have a copy.

Lessons Learned.
1) Don't give up too quickly on an idea. I've had this idea since June but couldn't figure out a way for it to work. I was trying to make it work via Google Sites with an embedded AudioBoom or SoundCloud and then Google Drawing within an iframe. This idea appealed to me because it would easily allow for students to see each other's work. There is probably a script that could make this happen and duplicate pages for each student but I think the same can be accomplished by having students post their products within Google Classroom discussion post. Another option could be duplicating the slides and pushing out a single Google Slide file with students each working on their own slide.

2) You could use Web Capture within YouTube to skip a few steps and streamline the process.

Next Steps.
1) Try this out with students! See what happens. Gather feedback and refine moving forward.

2) Figure out a viable workflow on Chromebooks so students could create their own mystery draws for one another. Then, it's not just a listening exercise. It truly becomes a listening and speaking exercise and with multiple iterations it also incorporates writing practice.

Test Yourself.
My mystery draw object looked like this when completed. How did you do? Could you see yourself doing something similar with students?

Mystery Draw: A Listening Practice

A teacher recently asked me what were the top three skills they should teach in a computer elective course to prepare students for SBAC testing. It's not about explicitly teaching students skills to prepare them to take an assessment on the computer but creating authentic conditions that allow students to meaningfully use technology as they learn all the new standards.

With the CCSS standards, there is an emphasis on the listening and speaking standards. SBAC assesses the listening standards by having students watch or listen to media content of various lengths and complexity with the expectation that students will be able to extract and apply the information. Students struggle with this if media content isn't part of regular instruction. Many students don't realize that it is ok and they are expected to replay and pause content to allow them to capture the information they need. During a discussion with a friend and colleague about this and my obsession with Google Drawing, the idea of mystery drawing was born.

I remember doing mystery drawings in elementary school. The teacher would provide written directions to follow or read directions orally and repeat as needed. I'm imagining updating this practice and providing recorded audio directions such as:

  1.  Draw a circle with a diameter of 2 inches in the middle of your canvas.  
  2. Use the color fill tool to make your circle red. 
  3.  Create a 2.5 inch with a thickness of 8px that runs though the center point.
And the directions would continue. If students followed the directions correctly they would have a recognizable image at the end.

Mystery Drawing would provide a means to practice acquiring information from different media formats. Students would have the ability to control the flow of information and be encouraged to pause and replay as needed. Also, the tasks could be designed to help reinforce key vocabulary concepts. These tasks could be done individually as a whole class and then provide opportunities for sharing. Students would gain valuable speaking practice as they described their mystery drawing using the key vocabulary. There are so many possibilities with this. They could create the directions themselves and then others could help refine the clarity of their directions through feedback and critique. Now I just need to problem solve a few of the immediate challenges I anticipate in making this reality. I look forward to sharing my first iteration of Mystery Drawing soon.

Note: The above blog post has been marked as draft since mid-June. I've had this idea in the back of my mind since then but couldn't figure out a way to make it feasible within the classroom. I wanted to create a way that teachers could push this type of assignment out via Google Classroom as a single entity and not have to rely on different file types or multiple tabs open. It was also important that students be able to complete the initial assignment independently to get the practice of controlling the listening media. I think I found a solution that meets these parameters. As I was began writing my how-to blog post, I figured I should post this first to provide some context. So much for swift iterations. Better late than never!

Sketchnoting as a Mindfulness Practice

I began the Solano County GAFE Summit with my sketchbook and tweeting out my slightly blurry sketchnotes following Lise Galuga's opening keynote called, "Growing Up Google." Little did I know how that tweet would change my GAFE Summit experience.

Since beginning taking visual notes more than a year ago, it's always frightening to share with others especially keynote speakers. Knowing the time and effort speakers put into their presentations, it's scary to share something that couldn't be created without the speaker but in which the speaker is not the intended audience. I think visually and regularly taking visual notes helps me process information. So, it was a new experience when Lise wanted to meet me, take a picture together and see my other sketchnotes. We connected the next morning and the learning began.


 Pictures were taken, previous sketchnotes were reviewed, and conversation continued. The conversation quickly evolved into the idea of creating a time-lapse video on Sunday morning's Keynote by Roni Habib. Tables were swapped, apps were downloaded and tripod was set up and before I knew it my cell phone was capturing images every 30 seconds during the Keynote while focused on my sketchbook.

Ironically, a major theme of Habib's keynote address was the importance of being mindful and being present. It's so easy now to do things mindlessly. The presence of a camera created heightened awareness of my process and choices. I was more aware of the colors and images I was using. Regardless of the camera, that's what I appreciate about sketchnoting. It is a practice that allows me to be more mindful as I consume information whether that is from a book or from a live presentation. I can take something I read, see, or hear and make it my own through a very deliberate practice.

I had a full-circle moment during the last session as I presenting on Google Drawing. I was sharing a vector portrait I created and a teacher asked how long it took to complete. I found myself not answering the question directly but rather explaining how when I work on these projects everything else drops away. I am present in the moment and my mind is clear. It is my mindfulness practice.

Wondering about the time-lapse video? Here's the raw footage. I'm not done with this yet. There's another blog post or two about this process and perhaps even a workshop session in my future. Stay tuned.

Google Drawing: More Vector Portraits

Galileo Vector Portrait
When things get busy, creating helps keep me relaxed. Creating focuses my energies and immediately drowns out any stressors. In response to Monday's #TOSAchat with a commitment to blog weekly including an assigned blog buddy for accountability, there was a sense of urgency around creating a blogpost. As I considered topics, work-related ones came to mind until I returned to my favorite tool and pasttime, creating with Google Drawing. I decided to give Vector Portrait Drawing another try using one of my favorite early modern scientists, Galileo Galilei.

The original portrait was created in 1636 by the artist Justus Sustermans. Galileo was 72 years old at the time. He had already stood trial for his scientific writings and beliefs and was living under house arrest until his death a few years later.

Even though Galileo's nose looks like it was in a bar fight in my vector portrait and doesn't capture his age in the way of the original portrait, I have learned more about using Google Drawing for Vector Portraits.

Lessons Learned on this Attempt:
1) It is much easier to do a vector portrait with the original image beside the Drawing rather than tracing on top.


I placed the original portrait on the left. Using the Polyline tool within Google Drawing, I traced the shapes on the original image and then dragged it over to my canvas on the right. This made it much easier to match the colors and fill the shapes. It also provided valuable feedback along the way, even though it couldn't save his nose!

2) Double-click on the shape to reveal the purple nodes that allow for adjusting and fine-tuning. When using the polyline tool, every click creates a node as part of the closed shape you create. When you double-click on the shape, all these nodes are revealed and you can move each and every one of them to create a more seamless look to your portrait. My first attempt had a lot of gaps between the different shapes. Adjusting the nodes are the key to creating a more cohesive look.

I look forward to further refining my skills using this technique. The act of creation is a great stress reliever and a means to focus energies towards something that I find incredibly relaxing.



Google Drawing: Create Text Reflections

#Reflect31: My 3 Words
On Twitter today I came across the #Reflect31 hashtag and was intrigued by the images I saw associated with it.  Turns out it's a challenge for August that is described as "31 days of Reflective Creativity" that Laura Grundler is leading. A great way to start the upcoming the school year. You can read more about the challenge, including daily inspiration on GrundlerArt.com blog.

The prompt for Day 1 was to think of three words that describe your mindset for the upcoming school year and create an image.  As I transition into a new position this year, I know reflection will be key to my growth.  Using Google Drawing I wanted to reflect with words reflect. A very predictable visual representation but I didn't know how to do that effect in Drawing and now had an opportunity to learn. A quick google search revealed that within Photoshop you duplicate your desired text and flip vertically.

reflection not quite rightHere's what following those directions looks like in Google Draw. Not exactly the results I desired. I tried a couple other rotations attempts and even typing in the text backwards. The results were always the same.

Never fear...there is a way to reflect text in Google Drawing! You can flip vertically an image, not text, to achieve the desired results. Here's the steps.

resize google drawing canvas1) Create your desired text that you want to reflect within Google Drawing.  When you're satisfied with font choice and size.  Copy the TextBox.

2) Create a New Google Drawing.  Paste the TextBox into your new Google Drawing file.  Italicize text.  Resize Google Drawing Canvas by dragging lower right corner.  


3)  File > Download > .png
file > download > .png

4) Insert Downloaded Image into your Original Google Drawing. Insert > Upload > Choose Image File

5) Select Image > Right Click > Rotate > Flip Vertically

right click > rotate > flip vertically

6) Line up with your original text. Tip: Use shift + arrow keys to make adjustments 1px at a time.

7) Change transparency of the image to acheive desired results. Image Options > Slide Transparency Scale left to right until satisfied.

Change Transparency

Google Drawing: Vector Portraits

Maggie Vector Portrait 
Maggie Vector Portrait
 I continue to be amazed at what is possible with Google Drawing. This evening, I was playing around with making Thinglink-ish inspired hotspots using Google Drawings. This post has nothing to do with that skill. Why? Because as often happens when one goes to YouTube to find out how to do something, I got distracted by the possibility of using Google drawing to create create vector portraits. Intrigued by the style of vector drawings, I have been exploring Inkscape recently. But I wasn't experiencing a lot of success using this program because it has so many options that it was overwhelming. So when I saw the possibility of using Google Draw, I knew I had to immediately try it. Being my impatient self, I only watched a portion of two videos and then dove right in. What you see is my first attempt at a vector portrait using Google Drawing.  

Original Photo of Maggie
Lessons Learned:  
1) I should probably watch more of the tutorial videos, instead of just the first 30-45 seconds. I was not using the best drawing tool. I used the curved line tool and the polyline tool would have allowed me to edit the shapes and create a more cohesive look.
2) I did this by tracing. I inserted the photo of Maggie and then traced shapes on top of it. This was the method demonstrated by ptrsnja in Doodle Yourself in Google Drawing. Next time, I want to try the trace and drag method shown in Joshua Pomeroy's Vector Portrait in Google Drawing tutorial. This method would have provided me more feedback on the process to gauge my drawing against my original photo.

Overall, I am excited to uncover another application for Google Drawing. My obsession with this tool only continues to grow. I look forward to applying this method to other images and trying different approaches.

LEC-PLL: Content vs. Process

It's summer. I spent the school year working and enrolled in different programs. Those programs have finished and I'm not spending my summer training new teachers so I've begun a program that will help me continue to learn and grow in how I support adult learners. I am pursuing Leading Edge Certification for the Professional Learning Leader.

The program began two weeks ago and these are my sketchnotes for Module 2 on Professional Learning. (I'm slowly getting caught up on my draft blog posts!) The module readings have gotten me to thinking about content vs. process. To borrow the words from Elle Woods, unlike the rules of hair care the rules of professional learning are not simple and finite as any Professional Learning Leader knows. Most professional development focuses on content and with this being the sole focus its easy to understand how even the most well-intentioned professional learning experience can quickly become a dreaded sit and get. Process must get equal or perhaps even greater consideration than content in the design phase. Content that is experienced through a thoughtfully designed process not only encourages better retention but it models effective classroom practice. Content vs. Process communicates that these two things are at odds with one another and competing for attention. Content AND Process are the necessary ingredients for instructional design that supports student-directed learning.

It seems hypocritical when we get upset at teacher-centered classrooms when teachers consistently experience staff meetings where they are talked at or professional development via passive webinar or powerpoint read aloud bullet point by excruciating bullet point! On the same note, if we are delivering training for our administrators using similar methods, what are we communicating as a system in terms of what we value in the classroom? We need to hold ourselves to a higher level of accountability in our professional learning design. This is one of my goals for the upcoming school year and look forward to learning more in this program.

Google Drawing: Rotate Objects 15° at a time

Rotating Objectis 15 Degrees at a Time
Within Google Drawing, you have the ability to rotate objects and text 360°. If you are using a lot of rotated objects or text in a creation you will want things to do this quick with a consistent look.  You can rotate objects in 15° increments by holding down the shift key while you rotate.  This shortcut will allow you to make rotations quicker and provide a crisper look.

Finish/Starting Line

Today I graduated from my Administrative Credential Program after 9 months of every other Saturday, weekly online chats, countless papers, and countless hours spent on my leadership project.

Before a small panel of educational leaders, I presented my leadership project as the final requirement of the program. Then, I had an hour between when I finished my presentation and the ceremony. What did I do during this hour? Since I just returned from CUE Rockstar Chico, I created a short Google Drawing and YouTube animation while I waited. I imagine this is what any Rockstar would do, right? Actually, the creation process is quite therapeutic with its visual nature and routine nature of keystrokes. Just what I needed after a long week.

Even though this experience feels very much like crossing a finish line given the commitment and stamina it took over the last nine months, it really is a starting line. Besides the obvious credential I gained from the program that opens up more employment opportunities, the learning is really only just the beginning. The knowledge, skills, mindsets, and relationships I have gained through this experience serves as a foundation for leadership that provides a starting point in which to further my learning and growth.

Day 2 CUE Rockstar Chico Animations

Day 2 at CUE Rockstar offered more opportunities for creative expression using animation. Recently, I've been playing with creating animation and it was really nice to have dedicated time to explore and create today. In Corey Coble's session on 20% Time and STEAM we used Google Slides to create animation. I've used Google Slides with Drawings in the past to create animation but never created anything close to having 109 slides!! My previous methods were less than efficient. Prior to this session, I created Google Slides and then would screen cast the slides with me advancing through them to create the animation.  It worked ok especially when I was narrating the slides but you can hear the clicks in the background. There will be no more background clicks in my future. Corey showed us a much better way.   If there isn't a need for audio, the efficient method is to publish the Google slides and then change the URL at the end from the default "ms=3000" (or 3 seconds) to "ms=125" (or 0.125 second).  This is so much easier than creating a screencast!!  In the future if I need audio, I can still screencast the animated slides and then add narration in a video editing program. Amazing!

Speaking of editing programs, I spent the afternoon creating with Doug Robertson in his Adventures in YouTubery session. I entered the session wanting to play more with the photo slideshow feature thinking I could animate some sketchnotes. However, when I saw that you can place images in the YouTube editor, I shifted gears. Rather than taking pictures of images drawn using pen and paper I decided to use Google Drawing. I learned my lesson from the morning project that lacks balance and proportions because I didn't start with the end in mind first. This time, I sketched my ending scene on a post-it before starting my first Google Drawing. Only then, with a vision for my final product, did I create a new Google Drawing file.  First, I chose a custom canvas size (600 px x 450 px) and picked a background color and made sure the title name had a 1 in it.  Next, I made a copy of that file and changed file name from 1to 2 and added the circle for the sun.  Made a copy, changed file name from 2 to 3 and added a ray of sunshine, aka triangle.  I repeated this process until I had 23 Google Drawing files. I easily could have created more Google Drawings which would have led to smoother animation but it was only a 2 hour session! Then, I downloaded all creations as .jpg files (I think .png would provide better clarity for next time), uploaded the image files into the YouTube Video editor, inserted the images into the timeline (this is why using numbers in your naming conventions is so critical) and adjusted timing as desired.  Quickly, I added some music to the track and then published.  It's a lot of steps for 23 seconds of video but the final product looks cool for a first attempt. Moving forward, I can see myself applying this technique for different projects.

I look forward to playing with both of these animation options in the future, especially using YouTube as this particular option was very new to me and others.  I'll have to put this on my blog calendar for an upcoming post to include more step-by-step directions with accompanying visuals as I refine my technique and process with creating cartoons in YouTube using Google Drawing.

Day 1 CUE Rockstar Chico Perspectives


Day 1 of CUE Rockstar Chico provided several opportunities for creative expression. Brian Brigg's Photowalks session gave me the chance to view surroundings from different perspectives. I am so used to taking written text or auditory information and translating it into images. However, the process of taking visual information and piecing it together to create text or a story within a collage was a challenging exercise that I hope to continue to explore. In the end, my collage tells a story of different perspectives. In one image a seemingly impenetrable surface provides a pathway beyond what can be seen and possibly even imagine. Yet, in the other image there is no obvious pathway which when getting started or learning something new can be overwhelming. Depending on your perspective, things can be seen as barrier or a pathway that extends beyond what we can see. It's all a matter of perspective.

Perspective was a theme that emerged again for me during Kim Harrison's session on blogging. It took me a long time to begin this blog. Do I have time? What in the world would I blog about?  What if no one reads it? And it can be very scary to put your thoughts out into the world. These are some reasons that kept me from starting my blog for the longest time and still keeps me from maintaining any consistent blogging schedule. I realize that I have still been viewing blogging from an obstacle perspective rather than a limitless pathway. If I look at my obstacles or excuses from a growth mindset perspective as we did during the session today, consistent blogging can create more time by providing a means to clarify my thoughts. This reflective practice alone makes it worthwhile regardless if anyone reads it. Hitting publish remains uncomfortable but growth usually is.

The power of perspective to change one's outlook is enormous. Just like the cyclone fence that can be viewed as an enormous barrier, it can also be seen as a collection of openings that can be traveled through one at a time, rather than attempting to scale it all at once.  It's all a matter of perspective.



Digital Directed Draw: Ice Cream Cones

3 Cones in a Row
3 Cones in a Row
The weater is still quite warm so it had me thinking more about cool things. Building snowman isn't very realistic but eating ice cream is something totally cool to do. Drawing ice cream may be even better because it's zero calories!

This digital directed draw is a great starting point for those new to Google Drawing. It only uses two tools: triangle and cloud. Students will get practice with color fill, transparent line, and rotation. If your desired ice cream has mix-ins then there is an opportunity to try out some different tools. The possibilities are endless. The double scoop is by no means the limit. Students could create illustrations to support their reading of Shel Silverstein's Eighteen Flavors poem or any of his other many poems involving ice cream. Or, they could be inspired by Wayne Thiebaud and his ice cream paintings.

Here's the directions.


Do You Want to Draw a Snowman?

Snowman
Do you want to draw a snowman?
This post was inspired by triple digit temperatures.  It reached 104 degrees yesterday. And since I couldn't build a snowman, the next best thing seemed like drawing one. It's no Frosty or Olaf but it will survive summertime.

This directed draw is a little bit simpler with only a few rotations and fills.  It provides opportunities to use four different tools: circle, triangle, chord, and squiggle.  There are plenty of opportunites for customization.  The additions of a hat, corncob pipe (or a mouth for starters), or a scarf would allow students to take this to the next level.

Here's my steps.

Snowman

Digital Directed Draw: Banana Split

Banana Split
As someone who spent many years teaching in elementary classrooms, I enjoyed doing directed draws (or paints) with my students. One of my favorite directed paints was creating banana splits inspired by Wayne Thiebaud with students who were reponsible for mixing their own colors. I began to wonder what this might look like digitally? I searched for examples online and couldn't find anything so I thought I would try creating some.

Here's the steps I came up with on my first attempt.


























This particular directed draw requires some more advanced skills using color fill, line color, layering and rotating objects which my directions do not include in detail. For those just getting started with digital directed draws, I see the need for simpler designs at first. Even though I think there is tremendous value for students to put pencil or brush to paper (I prefer sketchnoting on paper), I can see benefit of doing quick digital directed draw activities with students.  It would help build their skills of different features that they can apply in their own work as well as help them conceptualize and visualize everyday objects in layers of different shapes.

Google Drawing: Moving 1px at a time

School
This is a Google Drawing I did recently for a video animation project. I needed to exert a lot of control over placement to ensure that the school windows lined up and that the flag was representative. The "stars" (dots) and the "stripes" (scribbles) are quite small. Even with the canvas enlarged, using the cursor alone to position these items would not have allowed all the representative stars and stripes to end up on the actual flag canvas. Fortunately, within Google Drawing you have the ability to move objects 1 pixel at a time in any horizontal or vertical direction with no mouse or trackpad involved. This ability is incredibly helpful when working with small objects and especially with layered items. Once your object is selected, hold down the shift key and the desired arrow key for ultimate control over your Google Drawing creation.

Moving Objects 1px at a time
Try it out! What will you create using this shortcut?

Google Drawing: Duplicate Keyboard Shortcut

Duplicate an Image using Control (PC) or Option (Mac)
Lately, my favorite tool in Google Drive is Google Drawing. Google Drawing is often overlooked with so many great features and possibilities. So far, everything I've learned has been the hard way only to discover a much more efficient method later. In an effort to spare others from a similar learning experience and share the Google Drawing love, this is the first of what I hope is many tips and tricks.

Need to duplicate an object? Do you consider yourself efficient because you use Control+C and Control+V to copy and paste items? I did. The problem with cut and paste is that it uses an extra set of keystrokes and you still need to drag the object to its desired location. Or perhaps you're using Control+D to duplicate? This keyboard shortcut eliminates the extra keystroke of pasting the item but you're still = left dragging the object to it's desired location. What if you could do this in a single step? You can. Here's the simple solution.
1. Select object you desire to duplicate
2. Press the Control button (PC) or Option (Mac)
3. Drag a duplicate of your object to its desired location and release
Your Google Drawing Object is now in its desired location and you have saved some time and frustration. I find this option much more fluid and it's easier for kids to use and remember.



#EdBlogADay: Why Blog?

Why Blog? One of many reasons is that it provides time and space for reflection. The process of writing or even creating a visual image helps to clarify ideas. We live in a fast-paced world and often our only speed is "Go!" It is so easy to get sucked into this pace without an obvious exit plan. I am guilty of this. It has been several weeks since my last blog and last reflection. It's easy to say that I've been busy which would not be a lie but in the frenzied pace if you never slow down, stop, and reflect, it creates unnecessary stress and imbalance. Currently, I'm finishing up final preparations for a big Teacher Professional Development day tomorrow. I stopped what I was doing, and just crafting this short post, I already feel calmer and more relaxed. Even though my to-do list didn't shrink as a result of this post, I am feel more prepared for tomorrow. I have been missing the process of allowing my mind to slow down and zoom out or in on some of my ongoing projects or ideas that blogging provides for me. Just one of many reasons to jump back into the #EdBlogADay challenge.

We Are All Literacy Teachers

Day 13 of #AprilBlogAday asks "How is literacy critical to the advancement of society today?" Lately, I've been reflecting a lot on professional development while providing input on PD plans for next year, I keep going back to "What are we teaching?" In California, with the adoption of Common Core (CCSS), Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and new English Language Development (ELD) Standards we have had a narrow focus on different buckets of standards as opposed to a broader emphasis on teaching and learning.  All too often our trainings focus on just one bucket. Does it really make sense for a teacher to get trained in CCSS and then NGSS, and the ELD with the hopes that at some point we step back and see the connections between the three? Similar to mixing paints, the tranformation occurs when we integrate these standards in our professional development offerings. One means of integration is a focus on literacy as well as technology. Each set of these standards have strong literacy and technology components. If we provide integrated professional development, then we aren't teaching CCSS or creating experts in NGSS or building capacity in ELD but rather doing all of the above in the name of literacy. Regardless of subject or grade level, we are all teachers of literacy and our professional development offerings need to better reflect that.

With so many initiatives being rolled out in a brief period of time, we have become lost in the details and lost sight of the big picture. The big picture is that literacy skills are absolutely essential to student growth and the advancement of society. Students who are equipped to efficiently locate print, digital, informational, and multimedia resources on a variety of topics, analyze them, and then critically evaluate them while creating a product that can communicate their understanding will have the literacy skills necessary to participate and thrive in a global society. Rather than professional development focusing on narrow knowledge or skill-based topical threads, there needs to be more integration and literacy can provide the rallying point for transformation to occur.

Basics for Admin

Basics for Administrators: Leading 21st century Skills Icon
Day 12 of #AprilBlogAday asks, "What's your passion project?"  The last few months, I've been working on a project for current and aspiring administrators under the tagline that 21st century students deserve 21st century leaders. This project grew out of my learning experiences in my current admin program that felt incomplete in addressing 21st century leaders and learners. With that in mind, I signed up for the CUE Innovative Educator Certificate program to help address my learning gap.  And my Basics for Admin passion project was born.

School Administrators are in a unique position to have a positive influence on ALL the students and teachers at their school and/or district. I truly believe that their digital leadership matters. Looking around my own district and with my local aspiring admin peer group, I saw a gap. I spend a lot of time supporting teachers but not administrators. There's very little support PD offered specifically for administrators. With so many things shifting in education, this ongoing project is an initial attempt to address this gap. Currently it focuses more on technical skills because that is our immediate need. It is still very much a work in progress. I'm still figuring out some coding issues and creating content to help promote anytime/anywhere learning and I want to ensure that the "why" behind using different technology is evident. I'm not sure any passion project is every complete but, I expect to have the introductory modules built out by the end of the school year.

With foundational skills in place through leveraging these online resources and providing tech coaching to principals, my hope is that my own district administrators will be more confident in their skills and be better positioned to lead by example in this area.

What I'm Reading

Day 11 of #AprilBlogADay asks, "What are you reading, either professionally or personally? Why?" So much of my experience thus far in April is connected to what I'm currently reading. Right before Spring Break, I saw the April #TBookC selection was What Connected Educators Do Differently and was intrigued. I purchased it with a vision of copious free-time over Break to spend reading. The free-time did not exactly materialize but I did begin the book. In the introduction, that explores what is a Connected Educator, the authors state that "Our view is that serving as a connected educator is a mindset more than anything else; a connected educator tends to adopt and live out a mindset that believes..."1 and then continues to list a variety of connected educator actions. Reading this statement caused a major lightbulb moment for me. Being a connected educator is first and foremost about mindset. It's the actions that follow the mindset. So when I came across #AprilBlogADay challenge a few days into April, I jumped in and haven't looked back. Prior to engaging in the book, I would have not joined the blog challenge because my mindset was that I didn't have much to contribute.

Having now shifted my mindset, my experience with the #AprilBlogADay has been extremely fruitful and rewarding. I appreciate the comments and tweets and push my thinking or just confirm that I am not alone in my thinking. I also participated in my first #TBookC chat on Thursday and the experience was great though slightly awkward given my surroundings. I was participating waiting for a School Board meeting to begin following closed session. The irony of being completely immersed in a chat about connected educators sitting in our city hall chambers as they filled up with educators who were seeking to connect face to face was not lost on me. Next time, I need to find a better balance between participating in the chat online as well as participaing in what was happening around me.

I'm only two chapters into the book so far but it is full of resources and ideas. Even if I read no further, the connection that first and foremost being a connected educator is about mindset has been huge.

1Whitaker, Todd, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas. What Connected Educators Do Differently. Routledge, 2015, xxiii.

PD Gamification

Day 10 of #AprilBlogADay Challenge asks "What have you not tried this school year that you want to?" I do a lot of training and professional development in my role and I really want to try gamifying a PD session. Earlier this week, I hosted a drop-in PD for a mix of certificated and classified staff on Word 2013. Since there is such a diverse knowledge and skill set among our staff, I asked during registration what people desired to learn. Using this information I created the game board below. (Game board was created using Canva and then imported into ThingLink.) It was well-received.

After quick introductions and an invitation to start anywhere on the game board depending on their learning goals, I found that most participants went through the entire game board in sequence. They were collaborating with people next to them as they tried out various things and brainstorming ways they could apply different features in their roles. The best part was the multiple inquiries I had once folks got started as to whether the game board would continue being available online following the training to reference and/or if it would be okay to share with people unable to attend. Of course, both answers were a resounding yes and now can be used without regard to time and place. Today, I was included in an test email today from an attendee who was teaching a colleague the mail merge to email feature that integrates with our Outlook groups. It only helps confirm if we provide conditions that empower the learner, then we support the learner becoming empowered.

This is why I want to try gamification for PD. I think gamification can provide even better conditions for empowering the learner by creating levels with clear outcomes, feedback along the way, all within  a low risk environment. Given the excitement around a gameboard of learning options, I am anxious to try gamification before the end of the school year.

Advice to my beginning teacher self

Be You
I would tell my beginning teacher self, plain and simply, "Be You." When I began teaching I had many perceptions of what good teachers did and what their classroom should look like. I tried to be these models of good teachers I had in my head and it was a disaster.  It wasn't authentic to me and it read very fake to students. For example, the advice of not smiling until Thanksgiving? It's difficult for me to go 5 minutes without smiling let alone 50+ days!  By trying to emulate these various narrow models I had of good teaching, I wasn't authentic and genuine with myself and was trying to be a teacher that I was not meant to be.

Once I settled into my teacher self as me instead of a completely disconnected teacher identity, things changed dramatically.  Classroom management was better, lessons improved, and students were learning. My initial perceptions of good teaching weren't "wrong" they were just not me.  I have to smile and laugh and be silly and encourage students to do the same as part of their learning. There exists a huge continuum of good teaching. Your best fit along the continuum is the place where you can be your authentic self.

How Does Your Question Garden Grow?

Question Garden
Day 8 of #AprilBlogADay Challenge asks "How do we foster question asking instead of answer getting?" I think of this similar to farming. The conditions have to be just right to cultivate a garden of questions. The farmer walks the land, tills and fertilizes the soil to create ideal growing conditions. Teachers do the same with the relationships they build with students and their families along with the classroom culture they help create and sustain. Then, the farmer plants their seeds and nurtures the environment by making sure the seedlings continue to experience ideal conditions for growth. The teacher does the same by facilitating learning experiences that help generate question seeds. They may even jumpstart the experience with an essential question.

But the next part of farming and teaching takes tremendous restraint and patience. Crops, just like questions, are not ready for immediate harvest. They need time to grow. It's hard to not automatically jump in, "pick" a question and provide an answer. A question answered too soon loses the ability to bloom into something more. We do kids no favors by jumping in and providing answers when we see struggle.  Rather, if we continue to nourish questions and maintain ideal  growing conditions, the questions will reach higher and higher. Questions will branch and cross-pollinate and create a garden unrecognizable from your initial vantage point.   This search for answers to student generated questions will produce a bountiful harvest that provides a great depth of understanding. As a crop of questions live out in a classroom, they provide essential nourishment for the next crop. And the cycle begins anew.

Update 4/9/15: After initially posting this, through the power of social media I became of aware of a much deeper and thoughtful analysis of Teacher as Farmer by Grant Lichtman on Edutopia.  Definitely worth a read!

Safe to Fail & Grow

I've come to call my 2014-15 academic year as "The Year of Rejection and Failure." As someone in her 15th year of education, I've experienced my fair share of professional success and recognition. This year has been quite different. I've found myself applying to different things only to get the dreaded rejection notification again and again and again. These rejections are failures that I am not accustomed to experiencing. One doesn't experience a lot of failures when they do they are doing the same thing again and again and this has been my comfort zone in recent years. Motivated, inspired, and encouraged by my supervisor, colleague, and friend, I reached, tried, and applied for things way outside my comfort zone this year and fell short on paper. In the process, I have learned and experienced more than I could ever imagine in a single academic year and nine weeks still remain! So many opportunities for learning. If someone told me last year I'd be participating in a blogging challenge, I would have called them crazy.  What a difference a year makes especially when one has a champion encouraging them.

Now, I can look back and be grateful each time I have been turned down. Each one has driven choices that I've made subsequently and it is that process that has generated growth. I am a much stronger educator today and continue to expand my comfort zone by risking continuous learning with inevitable failures. Everyone deserves a champion who makes it safe to fail so they can grow beyond what they thought possible. My hope is that I can return the favor and be that champion for someone else.

The Carts have landed!

Today was the first day back from Spring Break and for students in our  41 Innovative Educators pilot classrooms they were greeted with something entirely new. After a year of planning, wireless infrastructure installation, ongoing professional development, and endless discussions and meetings, over 700 mobile devices were in classrooms.  They weren't merely mentioned in LCAP, tech plans, school board agendas, purchase orders, or sitting at the district office.  Today the devices were in classrooms with students. Considering students during my first years of teaching in Baltimore City Public Schools back in 2000 had more access to technology in classrooms than our students, mobile devices finally arriving in classrooms is pretty awe-inspiring. It really is a small event in the grand scheme of things but it makes the hard work that remains seem that much more attainable.


Looking Back or Forward?

Looking Behind or Forward?
Jumping in on the April Blog a Day Challenge on Day 5. After blogging daily this past week to complete assignment requirements, it helped me realize how much I do enjoy the practice and routine. With Spring Break ending and a daily challenge ahead, fingers crossed I can keep up with the routine.

Day 5 asks the question, "What practice, tradition, instructional strategy or anything else must die? What needs to stop in order for Education to move forward?" We need to stop doing things in education, at a classroom, school, district, and systems level just because of historical practice. When decisions or practices are rationalized with statements beginning with "Traditionally, In the past, or Historically" with no mention of the present or future, we are stuck in park or neutral as opposed to making forward progress.

Think about driving your car. The rearview mirror allows you to analyze things happening behind you and provides data to influence your driving decisions. Simultaneously, the view outside the front and side windows continuously provides data as to where you're headed. We need both perspectives to successfully and safely reach our destination. Driving using only the rearview mirror is best suited for traveling in reverse. If we drive without consulting our mirrors, we lose valuable perspectives on what is occuring around us. As experienced drivers we rely on both perspectives but spend much more time looking forward than consulting the rearview mirror.

Within education, if we are continuing to do ___(insert practice here)___ only because that is how we have done it historically, traditionally, or in the past, then we are not neccessarily utilizing the view in front of us. This may be an indication that our educational rearview mirror has become so large that it clouds our vision. My fear is that the rearview mirror is often driving educational decision-making as opposed to providing important data to be considered in relation to a clearly visible destination ahead.
 

New Literacies and the Big Shifts

Module 13 of TEC-950 explores the New Literacies required in education. Literacy is no longer merely about reading and writing. There is information literacy, media literacy, and ICT literacy. This is a huge shift within education. In most cases, teacher prep programs did not prepare teachers to navigate or instruct these new literacies. Our younger teachers have lived in a world where this has been their reality but many did not receive preparation in incorporating or teaching these as part of their teacher prep program. This is the biggest challenge with integrating these new literacies within our educational system on any kind of large scale.

It is difficult to provide leadership in this area when you do not have experience or knowledge yourself. I can't think of a teacher who wants to return to the NCLB-era mandates that played out in many classrooms as scripted curriculums.  However, a script is safe and provides security especially when there is fear of doing something wrong. In my local context I have found that teachers are looking for a curriculum to teach these new literacies or prefer to have a designated teacher whose responsibility would be to teach these new literacies.  I understand where teachers are coming from if they do not have experience, basic familiarity, and/or understanding of these new literacies themselves. However, a bubble on the margin of a Teacher Edition that explains an opportunity to teach digital literacy isn't the answer. Additionally, students recieving weekly instruction from a tech teacher during release time will not build capacity among our staff nor create deep understanding in our students.   I believe both approaches are misguided and do not provide a solution to the challenge. What we really need to invest in is extensive professional development and support for teachers as well as updating our teacher prep programs to reflect these new realities.

We also need a shared understanding of 21st century literacies. In my work providing teacher training to new teachers, one mantra that I held dear was "First and foremost, you are a teacher of literacy."  This often created discord with my math/science teachers with push-back on what does the quadratic equations have to do with literacy.  My response has always been and will remain, "Everything."

 Our curriculum and content standard merely provide the vehicle for our instruction but our destination are those 21st century skills and literacies.  Until each and every teacher is a teacher of 21st century literacies who uses their curriculum and content standards to teach media, information and/or ICT literacy in a connected fashion, we will fail to meet the new mandate of preparing all our students upon graduation to college and career ready. This is not an easy charge but something that will take an investment of time. For most of us, including myself as demonstrated by this coursework, before we become 21st century literacy teachers we must first become students of 21st century literacies. As a system we must support our teachers in this process. As administrators and teacher-leaders we must model 21st century literacies.

Tell Your Story. Blog.

The Choice is Simple. Tell Your Story. Blog.
Module 12 of TEC-950 is focused on More Cool Web 2.0 Tools. The infrastructure is just now being put in place within our district to allow access to Web 2.0 Tools on any kind of consistent basis. I'm looking forward to the day when I see Augmented Reality (AR) in our classrooms being used by students. AR is intriguing to me for all its creative possibilities. But, we are not there yet as a system.

In the meantime, I want to see more blogging by students, teachers, and administrators within my district. Blogging is not flashy like AR but it is such a good reflection tool and provides another manner to demonstrate learning. The ability to add video, images, drawings to communicate ones thoughts does wonders to demonstrate learning and understanding. Blogging opens up a collaborative community to our teachers and students through commenting and gaining ideas from one other.

Mostly, blogging empowers the user to share their story publicly. As a coach who travels district-wide, I see amazing things happening in classrooms and I regularly talk with teachers who are exceptional in their daily work. These events should not be secret or hidden. They need to be shared with families, administrators, school board members, and the larger community so they know what's happening in our schools. Blogging gives students and teachers a voice and allows them to control the story as opposed to having TIME Magazine be our voice. Teachers are not rotten or to be swept away. If blogging took off within our district it would create a type of augmented reality that would provide an alternative view that's currently lacking on what is happening in our classrooms.

Using Audio in Schools

Module 11 of TEC-950 focuses on the recording and publishing of video and audio. I've created many videos for different purposes so I wanted to explore the use of audio. Typically, recorded audio is not something that I use in my instructional design because of my own need for visuals to construct meaning. But my experience and learning needs do not represent the needs of my students and/or teachers. So I spent most of the time exploring podcasts.

My experience with podcasts is limited but gaining momentum. During my long-time summer work providing teacher training to new corps members with Teach For America, curriculum sessions are created by an central instructional designer and then provided to curriculum specialists at Institutes nation-wide to customize based on their needs. In 2008, the instructional designer at the time made short podcasts of each session that talked through key points, potential hotspots, and suggested customizations. Listening to these helped tremendously in preparation to understand the original designers intent that sometimes is not communicated in written materials. Sadly, they were never redone and available in the subsequent years I worked for TFA.

Since then I haven't experienced podcasts much until only recently. As I continue to explore resources on Twitter, I've come across different educational podcasts that comprise of interviews with teachers or discussions of education issues with educators. Techlandia Radio and the EPT Podcasts are some of my favorites. Personally, I would still prefer a visual to accompany the audio but these make great listens as I drive to work where the visuals would be lost.

Within the classroom, podcasts having great value and potential.  They are much easier to create and publish than video because you only have to focus on one medium. This is a bonus for both teachers and students!  Many of my teachers are very reluctant to put themselves on video and podcasts would provide a great work around. Short announcements, directions for homework or projects, reminders for when their is a substitute, or even recorded books are just a couple uses that I could envision.  For students, recording their voice avoids some of the privacy concerns associated with using video or images. Audio samples of reading would be wonderful to gauge progress throughout the year as well as to encourage goal setting, thoughtful reflection and provide a rich source for feedback and reflection.

For the purposes of this assignment, I used SoundCloud for the first time to record directions for completing a particular self-assessment tool required for our BTSA Induction Program that I'm involved in.  Since it is a form that is visually overwhelming by the amount of text, it typically generates a lot of different questions each year, I created a Thinglink that describes the different components.  I can see a similar use in the classroom.  Student could "annotate" visual images with soundclouds embedded on a Thinglink.


Viewfinder Perspectives: Visual Literacy in Schools

Looking through the viewfinder
Capturing Viewfinder Perspectives
Module 10 of TEC-950 focused on photo-sharing (pun intended). I browsed through the materials with great anticipation given my personal inclinations towards all things visual. My disappointment was swift only to discover that all the sites recommended are blocked in our district, not just for students but also teachers. As teachers we do not have access to Flickr or Instagram on our networks or district-provided devices. As a result, these are not tools that I anticipate using anytime soon even through I found Flickr straightforward to use and set up. (You can see my cat pictures here.)

Google Drive Now with Google Photos
The ability for students to capture their thoughts visually is a tremendous asset. If I were still in the classroom, my students would probably be sketchnoting everything but I recognize that sketchnotes may not be for everyone. Visual imagery captured photographically though is easily accessible to all. Students who experience their education through a viewfinder have the ability to see how the subject areas exist in real-life and beyond the classroom walls. For our younger students, photo walks where they identify shapes in the environment or take pictures of objects with the beginning sound they are studying would provide another means for students to demonstrate understanding. Students sharing those visual perspectives with one another creates another level of discussion and learning in the classroom and beyond. The language production opportunities shared with their peers would do wonders for our students learning English and provide multiple opportunities to practice the Speaking & Listening Standards within the CCSS. A viewfinder really opens up the world to students in a very different manner that is powerful for learning.

Since most photo-sharing sites are not available to teachers or students in our district, I am very excited by the recent addition of Google Photos in Google Drive. This might be the workaround we need, if available on GAFE accounts without Google+ activated. With all the images located in a single location that students are already familiar with this limits the need to go to another site for photo-sharing. If teachers and students are able to sync photos directly to their Drive, the instructional possibilities will be more streamlined and I see more visual literacy lessons happening in classrooms in the future. I look forward to exploring these options once our GAFE account is live in the next couple weeks.

Social Bookmarking

Suzzallo Graduate Reading Room
Suzzallo Library Graduate Reading Room
at University of Washington
Module 9 of TEC-950 explores the use of social bookmarking. I have "used" Diigo over the past year but only passively. I hear teachers who rave about it but until now I didn't understand the hype mainly due to my own experience with social bookmarking.

My social bookmarking use has been limited to exploring resources as part of the CUE Innovative Educator Certificate Program as well as a site set up for the CTA/Stanford Instructional Leadership Corps that has numerous resources related to CCSS and NGSS. Both of these uses are very passive in nature. Leaders in both programs had already curated materials and used Diigo with it's ease of bookmarking and tag structure to put them in one place for use by a large number of participants. Given this purpose, Diigo has been useful but it didn't turn me into a user of the technology in my role or provide a vision as to how it could be used in the classroom.

With additional exploration time and with a renewed sense of purpose, the uses of social bookmarking within the classroom are limitless, especially if students are the ones actively using the site as opposed to being directed to already provided resources.  Social bookmarking sites provide a means for students to gather online research materials in a single location. This alone is remarkable and a tremendous asset for any researcher. However, the real power is in the tags and annotations. Students have the power to create their own tags for their research materials, read them online, and add annotation in the form of highlights, notes, and have multiple possibilities for sharing. These capabilities make me want to write another master's thesis or begin work on a dissertation because the research experience would be so dramatically different and streamlined than what I experienced many years ago with notecards and spreadsheets. I have such fond memories of time spent in Suzzallo library (pictured above) and can imagine the transformative experience that social bookmarking would have had in my previous graduate student/researcher life.

This is the real power of social bookmarking in the classroom.  It simulates the experience of a researcher and makes the process so accessible for students. As CCSS aims to create students who are college and career ready, this is a tool that helps meet those expectations.

Photo Credit: "Suzzallo Library's Graduate Reading Room" by Jkiang used under CC 3.0  / Social Bookmarking Icons created and added using Google Drawing

RSS Use in the Classroom

The Death of RSS?
Module 8 for TEC-950 focused on RSS. I began this module over a month ago and discovered Feedly and quickly set up an account and added some different blogs and websites to it. I installed the app on my phone so I could monitor the feed and have found in the past month that I really don't use it and don't anticipate that changing either for personal, professional or educational use.

Here's why. Most of the sites I added are those that I am already familiar with on Twitter, Google+, or have discovered on Flipboard. These three services I use regularly. An RSS Feed only duplicates things that I am already aware of. I used the search function in Feedly to find new content but found the process cumbersome. I think this is why increasingly RSS readers are dying and unsupported. They were from a time when content wasn't available dynamically from sources such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ but rather only from the original source. As a result, a need arose for a means to curate information from a variety of sources. However as information is increasingly delivered via Social Media, this process becomes redundant. For someone not using Social Media in this manner, I could see the value of subscribing to RSS feeds.

I do like Flipboard and have been a regular user of it for many years because it allows for customization of content but isn't narrowed by known sources such as was my experience with Feedly. It allows for discovery from new sources based on user behavior, along with following different user-created magazines. Not surprisingly, the visual layout is also very appealing to me. Within the classroom, Flipboard could be used by students to curate magazines, from multiple sources on a particular topic. Although I have found Flipboard magazines difficult to embed in Google Sites in the past, it was easy to add a gadget to this site. Flipboard is constantly updating their services. Yesterday, they launched private magazines for groups which offers a lot of collaboration, curation, and publishing possibilities for the classroom, especially where privacy might be a concern. Magazines could be created that focus on a certain assignment with all students work available in a one easily accessible location that is visually appealing.

Within the classroom, RSS could still be useful as a means of managing content for students. I can see current event feeds to be extremely useful in different contexts. From the teacher perspective, setting up an RSS feed of student blogs would be a boom for productivity but this woud only function on publicly accessible blogs.

Wikis

Wikis always make me visualize tikis.
Module 7 in TEC-950 was exploration of Wikis which are not a readily used tool in my tech toolbox. After exploration, I have an idea as to why. First, I never had the experience of contributing to a wiki before. I never realized how easy it was. I created a Wikipedia account and found a place where I could easily put the fact that misspelled words create a physiological response to immediate work. Edits were quick and pages available for editing were even suggested. It was crazy simple. I can see multiple opportunities for teachers and students. Rather than demonizing Wikipedia for research purposes, it seems like the perfect place to have students evaluate the credibility of soures or even practice editing. If sources are inaccurate, empower students to be part of the solution. In order to do this you must trust students and believe in their contributions to knowledge. I found contributing to a page about Web 2.0 tools also extremely easy and intuitive

What was difficult was creating my own wiki. Not from a technical standpoint but rather a logistical one when considering how I might use in my current role. Logging into wikispaces, I already had an account and had a wiki that I created last year as a pilot for 2nd grade teachers. It was quickly abandoned because it generated little interest. However, when the information was posted on a google site via embedded pdf document it was readily used. It made me realize why it failed. Wikis are built upon a mindset that knowledge is free and everybody has a contribution. There is also a level of trust that is extended to contributers that is described as SoftSecurity in the readings. However, in an environment where Teachers Pay Teachers for resources, many teachers work behind closed doors and are reluctant to share, a wiki seems completely foreign. A wiki is by design interactive as opposed to a typical web site which is passive in comparison.

This is the power of using a wiki in the classroom. It empowers students and reinforces the mindset that students have knowledge to contribute. However if teachers are to use this tool or any other Web 2.0 tool in the classroom, there needs to a certain level of personal proficiency as well as clarity of purpose around the tool. Moving forward, I want to find authentic opportunities within my own role to expose teachers to using wikis themselves so they are more inclined to use in the classroom. If teachers are able to experience wikis from the perspective as author and contributor, they can see the power of wikis and experience the simple user interface. Then, teachers will be better prepared to do use wikis for thier intended purpose within their classrooms.

Connected Learning and WIIFM

Week 6 of Share #YourEduStory asks "What is Connected Learning and WIIFM?" To help answer this question, I had to first google WIIFM. Education and Special Education in particular are an alphabet soup of acronyms and this was one that had escaped my notice. Now that I know that WIIFM stands for What's in it for me I have a starting point.

Connected learning creates bridges between interests, academics, and one another. It is the learner who is actively constructing and deconstructing those bridges and determining where it leads. This continuous process IS the learning and has the greatest effect on growth. Additionally, connected learning is social and promotes ongoing conversations which help generate and refine ideas, questions, and those a-ha moments. Passion guides this process along with ongoing reflection.

Connected Learning. What's in if for me? A lot! I can't imagine learning any other way.