Saturday, October 3, 2015

Final Post at the Drive-thru

Photo courtesy of Nick Papakyriazis
I coached basketball for 21 years.  When it was time to quit, I knew it. Nothing dramatic had happened. . . . I simply realized I was doing it out of habit more than passion.

I've reached the same point with the Drive-thru.  For several years I have regularly posted twice a week (at the onset it was three times a week). It is something I have enjoyed but I am simply not brimming with ideas about educational technology like I was in December, 2008 when the Drive-thru started 808 posts ago.

At the present time I am overcome with the demands of old technology-- trying to find folks to tend to Mercy's boilers and mow the grass.  That is indeed a drag. Plus being an administrator takes me once removed from the excitement of day to day discoveries in the classroom.

Nevertheless, I am too curious and egocentric to forgo outbursts of enthusiasm about educational technology. When the mood strikes me I can use our I.T. blog, Twitter, or Facebook. Who knows, I might even revive the Drive-thru. But right now I'm not feelin' it.

It's been a great ride (drive?). But it's time to ask Dale and Roy to say good-bye for me:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Quotes on Innovation, Technology, and Wonder

Photo by Michael Kirsh with permission

“It is not about the technology; it’s about sharing knowledge and information, communicating efficiently, building learning communities and creating a culture of professionalism in schools.”
— Marion Ginapolis

“Where you innovate, how you innovate, and what you innovate are design problems.”
— Tim Brown 

if you’re waiting for the Twitter workshop, you’re missing the point.” 
— Will Richardson

"It is no exaggeration to say that international copyright treaty obligations have contributed to a legitimacy crisis in the contemporary copyright system. Survey data suggests there is declining public respect for copyright.” 
Copyright Reform for a Digital Economy

"Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”
 — Socrates

"You can tell if an administrator likes taking on new challenges by tallying up how many times you hear 'Why?' vs. 'Why not?'” 
— Aaron Hogan

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Learning Spaces, Rigor, and the Look of Education in a More Open Future

Learning spaces: The subconscious teacher
Imagine yourself within a soft, white room. The room feels safe, perhaps even feminine, not unlike a blank canvas or white egg. Bright, sloping whiteboard walls surround you so every inch of wall space can be drawn upon. Creativity is celebrated here. This is a fresh environment where ideas are free to emerge. Curved, stretchy chairs meet flexible tables, with writable surfaces. Both stand atop Astroturf; a sign of nature and an open field of exploration. The windows are Tetris-shaped and multicolored.

Photo of commons in Hillel Day School by Gary T. Bank
What Will Education Look Like in a More Open Future?
Open learning systems need to promote the freedom to innovate, and therefore the freedom to fail. How many school systems would be allowed such freedom? Fear of failure paralyzes schools and system leaders and is our biggest innovation killer.

5 Tools Students Can Use to Keep Track of Assignments This Year
Fetchnotes is a neat service for creating and keeping notes online. Fetchnotes uses an interface for creating and sharing notes that will feel familiar to Twitter users. When you write a note, just use a hashtag to label your note. Then whenever you want to search for a note just enter a hashtag. For example, if I was a student taking notes in a history course I might use the hashtag "#revolution" for all notes related to revolutions.

The top 10 edtech lessons I’ve learnt after 15 years in schools
3. There’s no such thing as a digital native
Despite the popular myth, no-one is born with a magical ability to understand computers. The inverse is also true, no middle-aged teacher has a mental block on anything developed after 1985.

How Technology Can Increase Rigor In The Classroom
According to Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, increasing rigor also requires multiple steps to accomplish the assignment rather than one single step. Instead than simply writing an essay about a famous scientist, students can create a fake Facebook page. Through their research, they must generate information to complete the profile, add friends, “like” pages, and complete status updates. This process is far more complex that a simple writing assignment, and requires multiple steps for completion.

No time for PD? 5 ways to embed it into your day
Instead of sending people out, keep them in. Consider applying your substitute budget to hire subs to take over for staff during a professional development day. Rather than sending educators offsite for training, release them from the classroom for job-embedded training and collaboration.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Maker Movement, Favorite Apps, How Tech Increases Rigor and More!

Why the Maker Movement Is Important to America’s Future
The Maker Movement has the potential to bring techies and non-techies alike into the world of being creators — some hobby-related, but for many, they could end up making great products and selling them online. In fact, Kaplan pointed out that Etsy has become an eBay-like vehicle for makers to sell their products to users around the world. Of course, eBay and Craigslist are also sources for them to sell their created wares.

Teacher Recommended: 50 Favorite Classroom Apps
Educators have become proficient with their favorite classroom apps and are getting more creative with using them to achieve teaching goals. “You are giving them an opportunity to improve their own expectations because they aren’t just dealing with the technology,” Luhtala said. “They are thinking about how to best integrate the innovation with content.”

Titanas via Compfight cc

Tech Tip: Using Mobile Devices to Empower Introverted Students
There are a few platforms, like TodaysMeet and Backchannel Chat that allowyour classes to backchannel, or have an online discussion while watching a video or presentation in the classroom. Participation is as easy as typing and hitting “send” so it feels less threatening and unnatural to an introvert. The transcript of the chat can also be saved as collaborative class notes.

Netflix Refines Its DVD Business, Even as Streaming Unit Booms
Netflix now counts more than 65 million streaming members in more than 50 countries and plans to expand across the world in the next 18 months . . . . Netflix has 5.3 million DVD subscribers, a significant falloff from its peak of about 20 million in 2010.

How Technology Can Increase Rigor In The Classroom
Consider if the teacher did not use analysis vlogs. Instead, he or she simply asked students to write a paragraph or paper comparing and contrasting the texts. Certainly comparing and contrasting is higher level than summarizing, but the technology transforms the activity. With the vlogs, students are required to put themselves in the position of a book reviewer for a TV network. This means they have to analyze the text materials, synthesize the information, and then present it in a manner pertinent to a TV audience, which typically has a short attention span. Therefore, the students must identify the most important points and back them up with evidence, rather than telling everything they know.  These expectations are far more rigorous.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Palettes of Choice and Control in School and Workplace Environments

On Thursday I attended Reocon at NBS Commercial Interiors. Featured at the exhibition was a "Think Better" presentation by Katie Pace of Steelcase. She discussed research pertaining to the cognitive challenges presented to workers and students by the bombardment of "distraction" created by technology. She explained that innovative design of workplaces and schools could increase health, happiness and productivity.

Katie concluded that ideally we should present employees or students with choice and control over their working environments. The variety of choices should provide for . . . . 

"A palette of place"

"A palette of posture"

"A palette of presence"

"A palette of privacy "

At Neocon I saw furnishings that created lounge environments suitable for collaboration and individual pods for those seeking to close themselves off from distraction. Foot rests and foot stools were common as were adjustable tables that could be adjusted for sitting or standing. Just as one might have a choice to communicate by face-to-face or by teleconference; one can choose to sit, stand, or recline. Workers or students should be able to work with background noise or in silent, cell-phone free spaces.

My biggest take-away from this presentation was that too many school buildings provide a "one size fits all" approach to learning environments.  In a traditional high school students march hour after hour from one nearly identical set of desks to the next. Those are usually aligned in straight rows, facing the "sage on the stage". Even if they are studio or rehearsal room, their places and furnishing are more or less selected for them. 

At Mercy we have been on the quest for more collaborative spaces and open, flexible working environments. This mimics a trend in business. However, there was evidence at Reocon that he pendulum may now be actually swinging back toward allowing workers greater access to private, distraction-free space.

My visit to Neocon was very thought-provoking.  Below I have shared three of the photos I took for my records.

These Eko furnishings looked perfect for collaboration or a waiting area.

Activity stimulates the brain. Here is a treadmill desk for those who can't make it to the gym.

This was my favorite-- Steelcase calls it a "Brady" (combination of brain & body).
It creates a comfortable private realm in an open area.  The seat was unbelievably comfortable.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Baker's Half-Dozen Quotes from Wagner, Couros, Whitby, etc.

"A good library not only has answers to our questions, past and present and future . . . it has a place, a physical domain in which we can be absorbed in those answers." --The Language of School Design

"Change in education is slow -- it's a very conservative system. Our tech-driven culture, however, is less forgiving and will not wait. If educators aren't striving to be relevant, they're falling behind more and more." --Tom Whitby

"If you assign a project and get back 30 of the exact same thing, that's not a project, that's a recipe."  --Dr. Justin Tarte

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
“People do not fail in life because they aim too high and miss" --George Couros

“Now, adults need to be able to ask great questions, critically analyze information, form independent opinions, collaborate, and communicate effectively. These are the skills essential for both career and citizenship.” 
--Tony Wagner

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Boomerang, Flipped Staff Meetings and More!

Photo from Wikicommons
Boomerang for Gmail review
Boomerang essentially makes your emails go out and, wait for it… arrive when you want them to. Scheduling sending and postponing of incoming emails seem to be the basic staples of the app that most of its users love.

The Importance of Low-Stakes Student Feedback
Many classes in the U.S. assign a grade by tallying up cumulative points on all tests, quizzes, assignments, and projects throughout the semester. But quizzes given early in the course tend to benefit those students who come into the class with prior knowledge of the subject. If a student has a mother who’s a chemist, for example, or a father who’s a history buff might perform better on early assessments because she’s familiar with the material.

5 Challenges We Overcame Moving To A Flipped Staff Meeting
So if staff meetings tend to be ineffective, boring, and repetitive, why do we continue to run them the way they have always been run?

School Librarians Want More Tech—and Bandwidth 
iPads, maker spaces, 3-D printers, and coding skills top the tech wish lists for 1,259 school librarians across the country, according to School Library Journal’s (SLJ) 2015 Technology Survey. Educators are hungry to bring their students even more—whether that’s robotics classes or Arduino kits.

A PD approach that educators love (and learn from!)
The leader usually begins by asking, “So what are you teaching next week?” Participants share their lesson plans and spend the session creating products with the new technology that they can use in their classrooms next week.  

Ramsey Musallam: 3 rules to spark learning

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Furnish It and They Will Come!

I asked these students if I could snap their picture when I was leaving for the day.

The new lobby furniture that I described recently New MHS Lobby Design Promotes Collaboration is a great hit! Primarily selected to accommodate students who stay for activities after school, it is designed to promote collaboration.

Each time I have wandered through after school, almost all 53 seats are taken. We were pleased to learn last week that will could order phase 2 of our lobby seating design. A prospective donor was touring the building, was smitten by the new furniture and learned about the need for more. Imagine how delighted we were when she offered to cut a check immediately to complete the plan.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Six Quotes about Innovation

Photo with permission by fmfm166
"Our research shows that innovation starts at the top. It’s leaders who set the tone, not only by creating a climate that encourages it but also by making it possible for people to put forward new ideas without fear of failure." -- The Hay Group

"If innovation is truly a desired outcome, how is it specifically supported and encouraged in the system other than empty platitudes?" -- Tom Whitby

“When all think alike, no one is thinking.” -- Walter Lippman

"Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we've been thinking about a problem." -- Steve Jobs

“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas." -- Dr. Linus Pauling

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Transforming Libraries, Teaching Critical Thinking, and Much More

Transforming Monticello High’s Library Into the Creative Hub of the School
We gave purpose to many of our spaces. We transformed our markerspace library from a blank canvas to a veritable craft room with art supplies and tools. This makes it a perfect space for all those messy things that teachers want to do in their classrooms but can’t because they’re, well, messy. An area of the library that we dubbed “the hacker space” for its innovative technology usage got a green screen, a gaming system, and glass boards to make it perfect for filming and for group projects.

Future Ready: Roadmaps to Tech Integration
Districts must commit to supporting these initiatives consistently. There should also be a tiered approach to professional learning offerings. Much like we differentiate our instruction, we should do the same for different levels of professional learning. Ultimately, the professional learning opportunities should resemble a conversation and allow time for staff to connect, share, and learn from each other.

Is Learning Increasingly Self-Directed in the Digital Era?
Research shows that teachers' and peers' encouragement and support significantly influence student adoption of technology for self-directed learning. Thus, the success of self-directed digital learning depends significantly, at least in early stages, on the teachers' expectancies and instructional practices to teachers' encouragement and guidance in the use of technology-enhanced materials for learning.
There’s a Better Way to Teach Critical Thinking: 9 Rules of Thumb
“The reason teacher preparation programs fail to place critical thinking at the heart of the curriculum is two-fold,” says educational psychologist and critical thinking specialist Linda Elder. “First, faculty who control and teach the curriculum simply don’t know what critical thinking is. Second, they think they do.”

Photos For Class 
Teachers have told us they need a place to access safe images that are available to be used in the classroom and for educational purposes. Plus they want accurate image citations. We’ve heard you and created “Photos For Class” to meet your needs for images! - See more at:

To Apple or to Google that is the question
The discussion of which tool to use is worthless if all we are doing is automating old education methods. Don’t take tools and put them on top of current systems. Instead, ask how you can design meaningful digital learning experiences for students.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

New MHS Lobby Design Promotes Collaboration

This past week was a milestone in terms of re-design of spaces in two major areas at Mercy High School. First, we made the furnishing choices for the collaborative area and digital creation room that I have described in recent blog posts

Secondly, we took delivery of Steelcase furnishings that we have installed in our auditorium/gym lobby. The students love the comfort and lay out of the new design. And while it will allow students to socially as they wait for practices to begin or rides to pick them up, you can see that our choices also allow for collaboration on projects. This is phase 1, which creates seating for 53 students.

Take a look!

We await funding for phase 2. Here is a diagram of the entire project:

Designed by TMP Architecture

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Class of 2016 iWizards Well Prepared for their Futures

Four iWizard seniors (and a senior citizen!)
As I recently posted, some of my iWizards have grown up! As originally formed three years ago, all members were ninth graders.  While still skewed toward younger members, the iWizards will now be represented by students from four grade levels, among them the seniors pictured above.

Three of my seniors have been vitally involved with the program since its inception. We have shared many wonderful experiences and I have promised them that for all of their efforts I will write them absolutely superb college recommendations. I am presently in the process of drafting these letters. In those recommendations I will be remarking upon how the iWizard experience has helped these young women develop the following qualities:

The iWizards do not have fixed leadership positions. For each project, leaders are self-selected or selected by project teammates. Senior iWizards have been leading projects for four years now and have been continually identified as take-charge individuals with exceptional leadership skills.

The iWizards are accountable to each other rather than an adult leader and the team bond is the most effective system of accountability. Students who do not follow through don't remain iWizards very long.

Self Direction
iWizards are given free reign to develop their curriculum and instructional plans for projects like the new student iPad orientation and iCreate! — an arts workshop for middle school students. They do not need “approval” from a teacher though they select mentors who critique their work. The mentor's participation is more collegial than hierarchical.

Problem Solving
The iWizards become good at problem-solving. These problems could be technical, logistical or inter-personal.  

Presentation Skills 
All iWizards are involved in making presentations at student-to-student workshops.  This includes developing slide presentations or designing ice-breaker activities. The students whose letters of recommendations I am writing also presented last spring at the largest teacher technology convention in our state. They were invited by Apple to present on “ iWizards-- Empowering Students as Leaders“.

Outside of developing our collection of iPad Tips and Tricks, all of our projects have been completed as teams that have required continual communication through digital means such as Google Apps.

Stretching Technical Skills
It is not uncommon for the iWizards to join a particular project team so that they can learn more about a technology. Perhaps the best example of this would be a project team which intended to introduce the Schoology LMS to new students. They were required to learn how to use and develop tutorials before the school actually adopted it. Consequently, they became proficient long before the great majority of teachers did.

Finally, after mentioning all of these intangible benefits the iWizards gain from their participation in the group, it should be noted that all of their projects perform a service to the school or greater community. The benefits of this program flow in both directions.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Visit to Hillel Day School Part 3 -- Places to Make & Create

This is a third reflection on my visit to Hillel Day School and how it impacts my thoughts on redesigning major spaces in our building such as Mercy's Media Center. The first post focused on the marriage of design and innovative instruction. The second focused on collaboration and student agency.

This post reflects on the "maker spaces" provided for students by Hillel. The maker movement is one of the hottest in education. As explained in the Harvard Education Review:

The learning that occurs through the experience of making and the learning that occurs through instruction in new media share an unexpected pedagogical kinship. As Groff (2013) points out, we are reaching a period where it is just as easy for young people to produce. . . .The phenomenon that some have termed the “maker movement,” which describes the wave of interest in constructing and sharing personal inventions and creative artifacts, reconfigures the learner as a producer rather than a consumer. -- Harvard Education Review.

Hillel has assorted areas throughout the building for students to engage in self-directed "making" or the creation of products for projects. It is an ideal environment for the the kind of Challenge Based Learning Mercy students have done in the past. Students have access to cameras, power tools, 3-D printers, and a rich variety of assorted gadgets which they can use in areas like the green screen room, maker space, learning studio and Da Vinci Room.

At Mercy I am intent on reclaiming a space for making, the focus being the use of multimedia equipment. It would be a place where an individual, group, or club (iWizards, Robotics Team, etc.) could have access to equipment that was not tied to a course or a specific academic department. Below I have shared a design with which we are working. While is relatively small it would give us a toe -hold on our own maker movement. I expect to initially equip it with a portable or painted green screen, cameras, mics, MacBooks, and iMac and a 3-D printer. We are writing a grant application for this venture....But if you are a wealthy alumna reading this post, perhaps you would like this room named for you!

I will be writing more about these projects as they develop. . . . And I am hoping to visit the Hillel 7th/8th section with my principal when it is finished.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Marriage of Design and Transformative Instruction - part 2

In my last post I described a visit to a neighboring school which I believe is engaging in transformative educational practices which are accommodated by ingenious design elements. Fundamentally,  Hillel Day School has eliminated traditional classrooms. Consequently teachers can/must consider the optimal learning space for each lesson. 

In this post I want to reflect on how important flexible design is to collaboration and student agency. As I mentioned previously, Hillel's gathering spaces are open and transparent. Conference rooms have glass walls. Teacher "offices" are common spaces, encouraging collaboration. 

The Hillel students can create their own furniture arrangements for working in small or large groups. They can gather in a variety of commons areas or can sit at furniture in the hallway. 

Open spaces, mobile furniture, comfortable seating at Hillel (photo by G. Bank)
This fascinated me because at Mercy we are also trying to repurpose large spaces in our building and create more opportunities for students to collaborate. A great example would be the courtyard re-designs which allow students to comfortably gather.

Of course the courtyards are subject to weather and Michigan's hard winters. However, we are taking advantage of an enormous underutilized space in our  lobby. Next week our new furniture is arriving for a phase one 53 seat arrangement depicted. Currently students are forbidden to go into this lobby during school. That changes once the Steelcase furniture arrives (photos to come!).

However, I anticipate the lobby usage will largely be social. On the other hand, for our Media Center pilot we intend to repurpose a corner of the room clearly aimed at project work. With the help of NBS designers we are selecting furniture that is very similar to Hillel's: it is movable and supported by media, not unlike the corner configuration below, though with additional options. 

I was blown away by how many markable walls, surfaces and boards existed throughout Hillel. We also hope to bring this feature into the Media Center-- the object of course being to expand on our pilot throughout the space

NBS is also helping us take steps toward creating maker spaces in the Media Center to promote student agency. Hillel has done an astonishing job in this area too. This subject will serve as the third installment of my reflections on that fine school and how it is influencing the initiatives at mine.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The 2015 iWizard Tech Orientation (aka "My Babies Have Grown Up")

This was Izzy's third year leading an iPad orientation session
Three years ago Mercy adopted the iPad as its 1:1 device for the class of 2016. Shortly afterwards we formed a club of ninth grade iPad enthusiasts who named themselves the "iWizards". Those ninth graders set upon an ambitious project: They would conduct the two and a half hour tech orientation for the next group of ninth graders.  While the iWizards now pursue additional projects, they still produce the new student tech orientation before school officially starts. This year every Mercy student will have an iPad, and some of the iWizards who originally formed the club are now seniors. Learning with them over the past three years has been a fabulous experience.

Last Friday (August 14), twenty-four current iWizards provided an orientation for the new students four separate sessions. This actually meant that eight teams of iWizards independently taught sessions with a teacher of their choosing in the room for support.

The process of choosing the subjects, creating the curriculum and presenting the material is a great experience for these young women. They acquire presentation and technical skills but also they gain self-confidence and leadership skills. They hold each other accountable and each year we have been delighted to find that none of the iWizards bail out on the project over the summer.

By all accounts the iWizards did a splendid job on Friday. I have shared a small slice of the experience in the following video:

Top photo by Gary Morris

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Hillel Day School-- A Marriage of School Design with Innovative Educational Practice

As I recently posted  I am preoccupied with the potential redesign of our Media Center. I also am participating in redesign projects of two other major areas of our building— the lobby to our gym/auditorium land a proposed multi-million dollar renovation featuring the creation of a large student commons. These redesign aspirations motivated me to ask a friend if she could arrange a tour for three colleagues and me of Hillel Day School. To our delight the tour was led by Head of School, Steve Freedman and we were accompanied my friend, PTO president, Robyn Presser.

What a tour it was! The renovations occurring at the Hillel are not only eye-popping, but intellectually engaging. They have been conceived by Prakash Nair of world-renowned architectural firm Fielding Nair, and the ambition is lofty. To quote the Detroit Jewish News, “The intent is to break hard from the traditional feel of a classroom-driven school and develop new gateways of learning."  In my opinion the project designers have successfully married physical design to leading edge educational practice.

There is so much to say about the innovative approach to learning that is evident at Hillel, and I could not possibly do it justice after a one hour visit. However, I will reflect on my visit in three short blog posts. 

This post focuses on some major design features that greatly impressed me and "broke hard" from traditional school design.

The terrific openness of the physical spaces struck me most. Besides large commons areas (such as the example below) the rooms— as Steve put it— “flow” from one to the next. 

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see that natural light enhances the area and the furniture is on wheels, which is true throughout the building. This highlights a second feature--flexibility of space. Consequently a teacher must consider the optimal spacial arrangement, and has an assortment of spaces and furnishings from which to choose.


Room choices include interesting spaces such as the "Learning Studio", Seminar Room, and Da Vinci Room. We were allowed a sneak peek of the 7th and 8th grade learning areas under construction  on the upper floor, the design of which has been determined by the teachers of those levels. One can see the same principles at work.

Related to the flexibility and openness of the building is the transparency of activities that occur in these spaces. But I would like to take this up in my next post that will also touch on collaboration and student-agency-- two themes close to my heart.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Good Reads by Hayley Hutchinson, Tom Whitby, Mary Stemier and others

Use Blogging for Reflection and Assessment
Initially, I asked students to find additional resources to share. But no matter how much I stressed that they should be compelling, I often got links to bad websites. That prompted me to ask students to share something new that had not been mentioned in class, such as a video, a picture or any tidbit of information (properly cited, of course). Suddenly, instead of giving me links to websites that they might not have even looked at, students were sharing content that expanded on class discussions.

Is Isolation in Education A Choice?
The real game-changer for collaborative learning is technology. With the introduction of social media applications, we have the ability to connect with anyone at anytime. . . . What that means in terms of education is that educators are only isolated by choice. As I have said in the past, any educator has the right to choose to live in a cave, but they don’t have the right to drag students in there with them.
Here Is How to Use iPad As A Document Camera in Class
An interesting way to use iPad with students in class is through turning it into a document camera. The concept is very simple, you use your iPad as a mirroring device to project documents to a bigger screen. The whole class will be able to follow with you as you go through the document. For this to happen, you will need to connect your iPad to a projector either through a VGA Adapter Cable or wirelessly using a third party app.

'Flipped' Classrooms Help Students Become College-Ready
“The more instruction can be personalized using these technologies, more students will be successful because they are getting something that’s tailored to their individual learning needs,” said Thomas Arnett, an education research fellow at the San Francisco- based Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. “Over time, I think we’ll see these models will actually get a lot better at helping students master the skills that they need to master, and that will drive a lot of adoption.”

The 37 Best Websites To Learn Something New
These websites and apps cover myriads of science, art, and technology topics. They will teach you practically anything, from making hummus to building apps in node.js, most of them for free. There is absolutely no excuse for you not to master a new skill, expand your knowledge, or eventually boost your career.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Learner Agency, Flipped Professional Development, 3D Printing, and More

3 Reasons Why Faculty Meetings Are a Waste of Time
Flipping leadership sounds like a gimmick but it's not. Co-construct the meetings with staff and make sure there is a focus on learning. Decide what the learning focus is together. Look at data, listen to the discussions and questions that go on around the school. There is so much to focus on in education that revolves around learning.

Year One With a 3D Printer: 17 Tips
16. Plan longer-term projects.
If you taught in the days when classrooms had only one computer, you'll remember how we used to plan. Students "took turns." Think of 3D printers in the same way. If you have a class of 30 students working in teams of five, you'll need at least six days of class time.

8 Steps To Flipped Teacher Professional Development
This is the anti-program program. Less about experts and more about staff capacity. To achieve a self-sustaining, always-on program, the program has to be turned over to the teachers through dozens of sources, from books and district resources to blogging and social media.

7 Essential Principles of Innovative Learning
Every educator wants to create an environment that will foster students’ love of learning. Because the criteria are intangible, it’s difficult to define or pinpoint exactly what they are. But one group is giving it a try.

Scientists have created 3D holograms that you can touch
The research team . . . .has managed to create a display out of femtosecond lasers, which they’re calling “Fairy Lights.” These lasers pulse at one quadrillionth of a second and turn air in a specific point into plasma—or ionized air—which you can touch. . . .the plasma feels like sandpaper.

Learner Agency-- The next Big Thing in Educational Technology


Sunday, August 2, 2015

School Library Redesign on My Mind

For the bast few days I have been completely absorbed in a redesign pilot for our Media Center. This flows out of A) The new movement to renovate libraries from places to receive information to places where information is used to create things. B) The need for today's learners to have flexible collaborative spaces. 

I have plowed ahead with my planning and you will hear more about this as I gather input from my project team. In the mean time I am pausing to share some interesting resources that I have come upon.

Innovations at Monticello High School Library Recognized
In alignment with the County’s “maker curriculum” philosophy, Ackroyd and Craddock’s focus has been on making library spaces more flexible to facilitate active instruction and learning that isn’t possible in a traditional classroom. “It used to be you go to the library and check out a book on how to sew things,” Craddock said. “Now you will get the book, and sit down at the sewing machine in the library and make something. It’s knowledge that doesn’t sit still, but creates.”

Designing Collaborative Spaces for Schools
According to researchers Heron and Heward, not only do ambient characteristics such as sound, light, temperature, air quality, and spatial support for bodily movement affect how individuals acquire knowledge, but social relationships and cultural values play an important role in students' level of engagement in learning.

10 Steps to a Better Library Interior: Tips That Don’t Have To Cost a Lot
If displays are taking over your library, consider paring them down so remaining fixtures have more impact. If you have painted walls to enliven your interior, did you use too many colors and lose the effect in the process?
Formulating Research Questions with birds of Feather Collaboration and Writable  Surfaces
While I know there are virtual mediums for doing this activity, I increasingly feel that being “unplugged” and having students do this work in a tactile and physically present way makes the thinking more concrete and gives students chances to interact socially in an academic context that would not happen through a virtual tool.
My High School Library Redesign Pinterest Board

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Staff's Self-Measurement of ISTE Standards Revisited

In 2013 we developed a likert scale survey for our teachers at Mercy several of the the ISTE Standards and published the results to iMercy.  We are now nearing the completion of an iMercy second edition.  In order to update the book's section on the "Compelling Evidence of Success" of our iPad program we revisited the staff with the same survey.

We were pleased to discover that a greater number of teachers agreed when applying ISTE standards to themselves than they did in 2013. 

I conclude that this across-standards improvement is due to the faculties' greater experience with Apple technology and our decision to adopt a more user friendly LMS.

For a look at the survey results from our ninth graders, see Strong Evidence of iPad Success with Mercy Students

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Solution for Finding Files You Squirreled away in the Cloud.

I just discovered an app that is hugely helpful to me.  You may be interested too if you use more than one location for cloud storage.  I am particularly guilty of this-- I have files stored in Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive (two accounts) and Box.  I actually like each of these services and the search functions work very well within each one. But too often I can't remember where I stored a particular file.

ClipCard has been developed for this purpose.  After setting up an account it was easy for me to link all of the aforesaid storage sources to ClipCard.  Now I can run a single search in ClipCard and it will scan all of cloud storage for hits.

The only drawback I have found to date is that the app is only available in OS. I haven't recommended an app in this space for a while, but this one could be quite valuable to others who have spread files throughout the cloud.

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