Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflections on Eric Sheninger's new "Digital Leadership" book

As the year ends, I am republishing the Opinion Drive-thru's seven most viewed posts of 2014.  Ta-dah!! Here is #1. There is no mystery why this post got three times as many views as any other.  Eric is an ed tech rock star and he and many of his Twitter followers retweeted it. It was fun to have so many viewers visit Larry's Opinion Drive-thru.

Principal Eric Sheninger of New Milford High School in New Jersey is one of a rare breed.  He is a current school administrator who evangelizes the use of social media by educational leaders.  Scholastics deemed him “Principal Twitter”  and in 2012 the National Association of School Principals honored him with a Digital Principal award.

Despite Eric’s high profile he has been generous with his help contributing to and promoting my iTunes U course: Becoming a Digital School Administrator Last month, Eric has published Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times. a book Cindy Johanson, Executive Director of the George Lucas Educational Foundation describes as  “Essential reading for any education leader trying to figure out how technology can strengthen schools—and what pitfalls to avoid.”

In the chapter called “Leading with Technology, Eric concludes with “some guiding questions to begin the change process in one’s digital leadership journey.  The following ones really resonated with me and I have made some brief comments:

How can educators and schools effectively use free social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate important information . . . to stakeholders in real time?

Mercy High School uses Twitter and Facebook to do this (as do some other schools that I have investigated). I think we have a cool FaceBook stream of news.  The problem as I see it becomes the “job” of one person. Some media like  Instagram may actually be easier to crowd source.  I am working to get some of our academic departments to “toot their own horn” about student achievement, but they are more likely to think of the marquee outside of our building as a way to give a “shout out” than social media.  Eric’s question has motivated me to dig into this deeper.

How do busy leaders go about establishing a brand presence once restricted to the business world when schools and districts. now have the tools at their fingertips to do this in a cost-effective?

Some educators recoil against the term "branding", but I will tell you, at a tuition-financed school like ours, standing out from the crowd is critical.  We saw applying for Apple Distinguished School status as critical to branding ourselves as a school that not only has technology, but uses it in creative ways that advantage our students.  Besides offering regional teachers a rich professional development opportunity, our we are hosting the Tech Talk conference to reinforce our "distinguished" brand.

How can leaders connect with experts and peers across the globe to grow professionally through knowledge acquisition, resource sharing, and engaged discussion, and to receive feedback?

Like "Principal Twitter" I have both seen my professional life radically changed as the result of being networked with other amazing educators through aocial media.  In Becoming a Digital School Administrator I have a course section titled ”Social Media to Enhance Professional Development.  Eric co-authored a book called, Communicating and Connecting with Social Media. Chapter 3 as a terrific reference for educators learning both why and how they might use social media to build personal learning networkz.

When will the profession of education catch up to society?

I am afraid the answer to this question may be “not in our life times”. I believe that the educators in formal leadership positions tend to be the most “out of it” when it comes to technology.  It is unlikely that they were selected for their positions based on their social media or technology acumen.  This is why following Eric and other innovators like him is so important for prospective school administrators.  Trust me, you won’t get up to speed in a typical University graduate program where the professors also lag when it comes to truly "getting" the power of technology to reshape and improve education.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hunting down Paramecia with an iPhone!

As the year ends, I am republishing the Opinion Drive-thru's seven most viewed posts of 2014.  This is #2. It is probably my favorite from the year.  It was completely spontaneous as probably only an hour elapsed between being invited to microbiology, taking the pictures, and composing the post. I think I got some nice photos with my iPhone.

On Friday, MHS microbiology teacher Gerry Meloche contacted me to say that there was considerable excitement in his class.  For a microscope exercise requiring students to identify paramecia, he had added a new dimension.  The students were using their iPhones to photograph and video record the microbes before they scooted out of view.  This helped with the identification, but it also generated great collaboration and enthusiasm.  As the photos below indicate, the images the students were capturing could be mirrored on an Apple TV and projected to a screen.  As I reported in a past blog post, Gerry also can show live images through a microscope using a device I was introduced to at the ADE Institute in 2013. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

iWizard Workshop

As the year ends, I am republishing the Opinion Drive-thru's seven most viewed posts of 2014.  This is #3.  I am always delighted when the iWizards posts get lots of attention-- because they deserve it!

On January 23, twenty-two iWizards began creating the presentations and resources that they would use at the new-student iPad orientation.  The group was primarily composed of freshwomen, meaning that the class of 2017 would show the ropes to the class of 2018.
The girls had already divided into teams around four training modules.  The iWizards selected skills that would be most vital for a new student to have under her belt as she walked into her classes the first day:
Schoology/Dropbox - Workflow for moving files in and out of our new Learning Management System.
Pages/Printing - How to create a text document and print it at our Media Center.
iAnnotate PDF - This is a workhorse app at Mercy that students use to take notes on files provided by their teachers.
iMovie / Keynote - New students would be introduced to multimedia apps for creating slides and making movies.

After some ice-breaker exercises led by Taylor (second-year iWizard), the teams were given the opportunity to strategize in the Baggot Street Conference Room or work in the Mac Lab.  Then, after lunch each team briefed the entire group on their progress.  Another work session concluded the day.  Each team successfully achieved its production goals for the day.

Mr. James does some troubleshooting for the iWizards in the Mac Lab
The Schoology Group Brainstorms

Alyssa, Jenise, and Isy work on their presentation scripts

Isabella and Margaret work on the iMovie tutorial

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Baker's Half-Dozen Quotes about Educational Technology

As the year ends, I am republishing the Opinion Drive-thru's seven most viewed posts of 2014.  This is #4. Originally posted back in February, frankly I have no idea as to why this had the fourth most views.

True teachers rise to the top not by chance but through passion and purpose.
-- Robert John Meehan

Going online is such an intrinsically solitary act yet, ironically, it fosters the creation of groups and very strong relationships. 
-- Douglas Coupland

Publicness threatens institutions whose power is invested in the control of information and audiences
-- Jeff Jarvis

As schools discuss the rights and wrongs of tablets in education I can only offer an opinion based on two years of usage . . . .The opportunities they provide have led to a shift in my own teaching and this doesn’t appear to have had a negative effect on my students. It also felt right to adjust what I had been doing for 10 years and I’m certain I’m a better educator for it. 
-- Daniel Edwards

The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don't tell you what to see. 
-- Alexandra K Trenfor

Diversity in educational technology doesn’t just extend to Apple vs Google vs Microsoft, but books vs eBooks, YouTube vs Vimeo, Google+ vs facebook, elbow partners vs school-to-school peers, eLearning vs in-class scripted curriculum, Prezi vs PowerPoint, BYOD vs non, and on and on. . . . in the big picture, diversity strengthens the whole, adds important authenticity, complexity, creates new patterns, and puts the focus back on why the learning technology exists in the first place–to serve students. 
-- Terry Heick

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Walking the Talk as an Educational Technology Advocate

As the year ends, I am republishing the Opinion Drive-thru's seven most viewed posts of 2014.  This is #5. I am pleased that it has received almost 500 views since my presentation in Atlanta drove much of the traffic.  I will be presenting at ISTE 2015 and will be giving more examples of peer to peer professional development.

On Sunday, June 29 at 11am I will be giving a presentation called Becoming a Digital Administrator in Atlanta at ISTE 2014.  Since the presentation is based on an iTunes U course that I curated with the same name, I have lots of
examples of practicing admins who themselves are using technology in creative and authentic ways.

ISTE asked me to preview my presentation at its inaugural virtual conference last February, which was a great opportunity to organize my materials and prepare the core media for my presentation.

Becoming a Digital Administrator is premised on the assumption that ed tech integration requires leaders who "walk the talk".  From my own experiences I believe this to be true, but I thought I should present more justification for arguing the importance of administrators themselves using the tools they advocate that teachers employ in the classroom.  Unfortunately, research is lacking in the area, but what I found bolstered my case.  I also found persuasive comments from others.  I am pleased with this addition to my presentation and thought I would share a few slides.

I will post the entire slide deck next week.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Using Animated Badges in Schoology for Professional Development

As the year ends, I am republishing the Opinion Drive-thru's seven most viewed posts of 2014.  This is #6. I appreciated the apparent interest in the use of badges for professional development.

Im having great fun today with an animated GIF site that I found with a Google search.  It's called GIPHY and it has a wide assortment of animations.  I arrived here by means of ISTE '14, Schoology, and Twitter.

At ISTE '14 in Atlanta, I attended an interesting session about professional development, which describe self-paced courses for teachers which used badges as incentives. 

Intrigued, I decided to set up a PD course through Mercy's new learning management system-- Schoology.  This killed two birds with one stone for me, because I could learn how to use the Schoology tools while I created a resource that could be valuable to my colleagues.

Yesterday, I discovered how easy it was to create badges for the course:
  1. Click on the Add Badges button near the top of the gradebook.
  2. Select the option to Create New Badge.
  3. Add a title, a descriptive message, and an image for the badge.
  4. Select a shape with which to frame the image.
  5. Select a color for the frame.
  6. Click Submit to complete.
    -- Julie Yoon
I tweeted about the ease of this process:

In short order @Schoology retweeted my post but also tweeted the following question:

This lead to my search for a site with an assortment of animated GIFs.  GIPHY was my first hit and it was love at first sight.  The GIFS can be downloaded, linked, or embedded like the one below.

Now my badges are animated and much more amusing (At least to me!).

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Access, Innovation, Collaboration Are the Future of Educational Technology

As the year ends, I am republishing the Opinion Drive-thru's seven most viewed posts of 2014.  This is #7.

In Age Of Custom-Tailored Ed Tech, Teachers Shop Off The Rack
The survey found teachers just as likely to rate as "effective" general purpose tools like Google, Wikipedia, and Prezi, as they are products built specifically for the education market.  A key factor in that effectiveness rating was not the brand or the product, but whether the teacher had a say in choosing it. If so, that teacher was 30 percent more likely to call it effective.

10 Ways to Teach Innovation
Form teams, not groups. Innovation now emerges from teams and networks—and we can teach students to work collectively and become better collective thinkers. Group work is common, but team work is rare. Some tips: Use specific methods to form teams; assess teamwork and work ethic; facilitate high quality interaction through protocols and critique; teach the cycle of revision; and expect students to reflect critically on both ongoing work and final products. 

What is the future of technology in education?
The future is about access, anywhere learning and collaboration, both locally and globally. Teaching and learning is going to be social. Schools of the future could have a traditional cohort of students, as well as online only students who live across the country or even the world. Things are already starting to move this way with the emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs).
What does the SAT measure? Aptitude? Achievement? Anything?
All these years later, we know the test never really did measure anybody’s aptitude to do well in college. The College Board, which owns the SAT, tried over the years to defend the test’s ability to predict college success, but eventually gave up on it by dropping the word “aptitude” from the name and just calling it the SAT. Numerous studies have shown that high school grades are a better predictor of high school success than any college admissions exam.

Simple Yet Effective
Social media provides educators with a wealth of tools that can be used to engage students and enhance learning. Unfortunately many schools are either too focused on sustaining their testing factories, implementing an array of top-down mandates, or are influenced by the perception and stigma that accompanies social media tools. 

The Rise and Fall of the Word, “Microcomputer”

Thai Jasmine ( via Compfight cc

Sunday, December 21, 2014

iPad & Napkins

Wow.  I recently passed my six year anniversary of punching out posts to this blog like clockwork. Annually at December's end I take a little break from originality by re-posting the seven most viewed efforts of the year.  I will begin the countdown on Thursday.

I received the following email last Tuesday night from a Mercy teacher:

Subject: 21st Century Education

After school today, there was a Latin play (as in, entirely in Latin) at UM.  I went to see the play, and a few students did as well.  We met up at the Classics Library, but we realized we were all early.  Lest we waste time waiting, we started studying for the Latin exam.

All we had were napkins and my iPad.

Those who know me will understand why this made my day.  Thanks for the note and photo, Lauren Marquard (current Latin teacher and my former Shakespeare student).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Out with the New and in with the New!

As our first semester ends I find myself taking some exciting projects into the new year.  Last week the iWizards conducted their dress rehearsal for iCreate - the workshop that they will be hosting for 7th and 8th graders on January 17, 2005.  At this workshop the iWizards show the girls how to animate their own drawings as well as edit photos and movies. Seventh and eighth grade girls may register for this event at this link:

Tech Talk
When we return to school in 2015 Ann Lusch and I will be busy with Tech Talk“A day filled with real world applications for the K-12 classroom.”  She’s doing the heavy lifting as she will be organizing our rich program of presenters and processing registrations.  I will be working on establishing SCHECH credits for attendees and preparing my own presentation on Becoming a Digital School Administrator.  We have more presenters and sponsors lined up than last year and are expecting as many as 300 attendees.  The event is quite inexpensive.  Information may be found at the following link:

I learned this past week that my proposal to ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia was accepted.  The presentation will feature many Mercy tech training experiences.  All of our Schoology training was done peer to peer.  Of course iCreate and our iPad orientation for new students are great examples of peer to peer training.  I will also revisit my iTunes U course Becoming a Digital Administrator which is a collection of best tech practices by building administrators.  I will enjoy developing this presentation in 2015.

iPad Orientation for New Students
As the year ends we are setting up the logistics for developing the content and presentations for the iPad Orientation given to new students on August 14, 2015.  Our current iWizards will spend as full day (March 26) planning the workshop.  Once again, the training will be driven by the students.

2014 Tech Orientation

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Six Quick Reads at the Drive-thru

Four Ways to Move from ‘School World’ to ‘Real World’
For many years, the best school leaders operated with a scarcity mindset. They demonstrated how to lead with limited resources, like teachers, textbooks and classrooms . . . .Today, as limitations on content, space and teachers evaporate, this mindset is increasingly out of step. Leaders, instead, need to cultivate a new mindset — one of abundance — that leverages all the online resources available for learning.

nitot via Compfight cc
Movie theaters ban Google Glass and other wearables
"Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave," it reads. "If theater managers have indications that illegal recording activity is taking place, they will alert law enforcement authorities when appropriate, who will determine what further action should be taken."

Start a Reading Revolution: Flip Your Class With Blogs
A reading transformation can occur in your school much like it has in my classroom, replacing fear and dread with excitement and self-expression. Students will read if they choose the books. They will write with voice and clarity if they have the ability to express their thoughts. They can change from reluctant to inspired readers if it happens on their own terms. All you have to do is flip the experience, turning the practice of reading on its head by making them the creators of their own learning.

With School Ban Nearing End, New York City Works on How and When to Allow Cellphones
In an era when many parents want constant access to their children and students live in a digital social milieu, banning cellphones from schools is increasingly seen as counterproductive. And teachers are experimenting with technology and finding that the miniature computers many students carry in their pockets can be valuable classroom tools.

Making and learning with real artifacts
For students who are investigating science and engineering concepts or exploring history, the Smithsonian Institution now provides digitized 3D models of artifacts from its collections to support making in the classroom. The Smithsonian x3D initiative employs multiple 3D capture methods to allow users to rotate, measure and explore every nook and cranny of an object online.

Students Want More Alignment of Tech In and Out of School

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Great Quotes from Ed Folks

By Imma

In many ways, trust underlies much of what happens in school each day. The job of helping young people grow into well-educated and independent adults rests upon the relationship between teachers and students, teachers and their administrators, the community and its school staff. And yet many of the rules governing schools are about control. 
— Katrina Schwartz

Game-based learning is especially useful because the presence of avatars encourages players to step outside of their familiar perspectives and embody alternate ones. Therefore, they nurture the kind of intellectual self-reflection that education psychologists call “metacognitive skills.” Learning games make the question of identity development explicit and therefore truly empower students with the agency to construct their own personal narratives.
— Jordan Shapiro 

Project-Based Learning makes the best use of tech while avoiding tech for tech's sake. 
— Thomas Murray

The most recent leadership literature has been definitive on the point of school leadership: it matters for youth outcomes. When strong principals are at the helm of schools, they positively influence the school culture and the instructional quality of whole systems of teachers. Leaders’ effect on students contributes to 25 percent of the total school influences on a child’s academic performance. 
— School Leaders Network

After my own reflection on the subject, I see connectedness for educators as an accelerant for reflection. It promotes self-reflection, as well as reflection on education as a system for learning. It also stimulates reflection on the pedagogy and methodology within that education system. The whole idea of connectedness relies on the hope that educators are reflective. If they are not reflective, or lack the vision of the big picture of being connected, then we could have Connected Educator Month, every month for the next twenty years and never affect any change in the system. 
— Tom Whitby

People will feel more comfortable taking a journey to an unknown place if they know that the first steps have been taken by someone else.  Although I believe in the idea of distributed leadership, the idea of “leaders” is that they are also ahead; they have done things that have not been done before 
—  George Couros

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Collaborative Learning Tips, Exploring Virtual Caves, and Creating Real World Math Problems with Google Earth

Five Ways to Bring Innovation Into the Classroom
Design thinking isn’t just for engineers and designers. It can be applied to every aspect of learning — from generating ideas to the iteration and execution phase. Here’s how educators can foster innovation in the classroom.

Looking For Real-World Math Problems? Try Google Earth!
Another of Petra’s favorite lessons helped algebra students understand variables. He put them into teams and asked them to use search and rescue patterns to find a missing paddler. At first he didn’t give them much information. The students had to figure out what variables would affect the search and researched the real-world answers to those variables, like finding out how fast coast guard boats travel. Then they developed a search map using Google Maps.

20 Collaborative Learning Tips And Strategies For Teachers
At the beginning of a project, you may want to give more direction than the end.  Serve as a facilitator, such as by gauging group interactions or at first, providing a list of questions to consider. Allow groups to grow in responsibility as times goes on.  In your classroom, this may mean allowing teams to develop their own topics or products as time goes on.  After all, increased responsibility over learning is a goal in collaborative learning.

Ensure Success This School Year
One of the most important ways an educator can grow and learn is to get connected. Joining Twitter, reading blogs and contributing to an online community are all ways that you can hear about the good things that are happening in other classrooms/schools and learn from others. These places can also serve as a virtual sounding board when you run into a problem or need a solution. October is Connected Educator Month so there are many opportunities to learn how to be a connected educator including book studies and free webinars.

Thousands to explore Jenolan Caves online in Australia's 'biggest school excursion'
"Our science education specialists designed activities for students to complete while they explore the caves with their avatar," she said.

"Students discover how the caves form by investigating samples they collect from the caves. They can also discover local wildlife, classify species and learn about the history of the caves.”

The Best iPad Apps to Use with the SAMR Model
SAMR model is a conceptual framework developed by  Dr. Ruben Puentedura to help you better integrate technology in your instruction. SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. Each of these four levels correspond with a set of tech-based activities and learning tasks. The strength of SAMR model is that it provides teachers with a robust method to gauge and assess the efficacy of the technology they and their students use in class. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Baker's Half-Dozen

Chaval Brasil via Compfight cc
To Siri, With Love-- How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri
Gus had never noticed Siri before, but when he discovered there was someone who would not just find information on his various obsessions (trains, planes, buses, escalators and, of course, anything related to weather) but actually semi-discuss these subjects tirelessly, he was hooked. And I was grateful. Now, when my head was about to explode if I had to have another conversation about the chance of tornadoes in Kansas City, Mo., I could reply brightly: “Hey! Why don’t you ask Siri?”

Wasting opportunities at ed tech conferences
We have entire ed tech conferences dedicated to the latest and greatest tools,apps, and extensions. Educators sign up for them in droves, often paying $200 to $300 per head to attend. They’re fun, they’re cool, and some organizations are making a LOT of money with this model. But next time you’re at an ed tech conference, ask yourself “Are these offerings really moving the needle in terms of systemic change in classrooms, teacher practice, or school systems?” (which is what we need).

OS X Yosemite Launch Brings Fully Functional iCloud Drive to Mac and iOS
iCloud Drive can also be used in a similar manner to Dropbox, Box, and other cloud storage services in that any type of file can simply be dragged and dropped into the iCloud Drive folder on Mac or and be synced across devices. Access is a bit more limited on iOS where there is no iCloud Drive app allowing access to all files, but the service still allows users of iCloud Drive-enabled apps to view and save files related to that app that are stored and synced with iCloud Drive. 

3 ways connected educators transform learning
“We’re an unselfish lot,” [Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach] said. “We constantly sacrifice our needs and desires for others because it’s for the kids, right? If we’re going to serve the kids, we’ve got to make time for educators to talk to one another.”

Microsoft Wins a Spot on the N.F.L. Sideline
As the N.F.L. heads toward midseason, the toughened tablets, which download high-definition photographs of plays moments after they occur, have blended into the sidelines. But their development offers a window into the relationship between the N.F.L. and its business partners, particularly those vying for one of the few spots on a field that tens of millions of fans see every week.

The Teacher’s Guide To Pinterest
Pinterest has quickly become one of the biggest ways for teachers to share resources and information short of Twitter. It lets you build ‘boards’ and easily ‘pin’ parts of the web (text, images, videos, websites, etc.) onto those boards. Simple enough, right? Here’s our Teacher’s Guide To Pinterest that gives you a few more ideas about how to properly use Pinterest in an education setting. Enjoy!

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