Monday, November 16, 2015

5 Question Structures to Improve Higher-Order Thinking

Looking to improve the discussions in your class so that they are engaging your students in Higher-Order Thinking?  Here is an InfoGraphic that I found on the Four O'Clock Faculty website.  It has a number of great ideas.  I especially like the Question Flooding idea.  It involves your students generating as many questions as come to mind about the topic at hand.

At first, I was thinking "How can I write fast enough to get all of those questions written down so we can discussion them?"  Further consideration brought me to the realization that this should be a student centric process.  Just getting the flow of ideas is enough to kindle the fire of examination.  Field the questions and then go back to them to see which ones stuck out in your students' minds.  Another idea would be to have your students post them in the cloud through Tweeting (with a specific hashtag) or entering the questions into a Google Doc or Padlet or Etherpad.

Which one makes the most sense to you?  Do you have any ideas that you would add to these 5 question structures?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

World's Slowest Rube Goldberg Contraption - a REAL Learning Experience.

Rube Goldberg Contraptions are defined as "a series of chain reactions designed to accomplish a simple task."  These are incredibly fun and always include a good dose of mirth.  Notice that there is nothing that says anything about the length of time this contraption will take to accomplish the task.  

I just found a video about the slowest and longest Goldberg contraption (Thank you, Marcy Seavey).  This contraption involves all of the slowest materials that you can imagine. It involves a tortoise, a stream of molasses, melting popsicles, and even growing grass that pushes the golf ball along to its destination. 

Below I have included a video of this contraption running from beginning to end.  No, it is not a 6-week YouTube video.  It is carefully parsed and includes time-lapsed photography that takes you from the beginning to the end in 3 minutes.

Wasn't that amazing?  Below is a Behind the Scenes video of how Bob Partington conceptualized and created this sluggish invention.

Wouldn't this be fun to do?  What else would you include to create a slower contraption?


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

11+ Apps to Organize Your Life

This fall I was invited to speak at The Way Up Conference 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.  This is an organization that is engaged in "Developing Women Leaders to Enhance Iowa Higher Education."

I have spoken there twice before and it is quite an experience.  First off, this conference is completely women.  It is fascinating to listen to the woman's perspective on how things are happening in the world. It is enlightening to hear women discuss their experiences in leadership.

Anyway, I was asked to share something about using technology to benefit professional lives.  After I ruminated a little, I decided to share apps that they might find handy in organizing their lives.  This proposal was accepted and I will be discussing it Thursday, November 6.

This session will be replete with firsts. This will be the first time that I have spoken on using phone apps.  I will be using Google Presenter for my slides - that's a first.  I will be running sharing my phone on the screen and controlling everything from my phone - another first.  Whether I will be directly connected or wifi connected to the projecting computer will depend upon how the wifi and other technologies are configured tomorrow.

While I am going to be suggesting apps that they might find useful, I don't want it to be a show-and-tell.  I want it to be more of a show-and-share.   While I have been doing oodles of research on this presentation, I am by no means an expert on organizational apps.  I plan to begin with sharing about what their phones can already do with Siri and/or Google Now.

To begin with, there are definitely more than 11 apps.  I used that number when I proposed it because I had no idea how many I would find.  At last count, there were 34 apps to be discussed. For the sake of organization, I have identified 9 areas of organizational tools.  I will be sharing suggested apps in each of these.  As I explore each of these areas, I will share what I know and ask the attendees to share their favorites as well.

The Question is "How can we capture all of these ideas for the future?"
I have answered this ominous question with a Google Doc.  I have aptly named it 11+ Apps for Organizing Your Life with Your Phone. This document contains all of the apps and resources that I will be sharing.  It will also be open for public editing so that the participants will be able to add their own suggestions or add the great ideas that they hear in the room from other people.   This way, if any of the attendees want to follow up on these apps, the information is there for them to use.

You can find my elaborate slideshow at:  11+ Apps to Organize Your Life

  • If you attended, please leave a comment about your opinion of the presentation.
  • If you didn't attend, please visit the Resource Page to find, read about and add apps to the collection.  Tell us what you did in a comment below.



Monday, October 12, 2015

Building Innovative Thinking through Rube Goldberg Invention

Innovation is what separates the winners from the losers - Steve Jobs.

How do we foster innovative thinking in our students?  Do it through invention. 

Today I have the opportunity to share my ideas and experiences with doing just that. I will work with educators at the Iowa Technology and Education Connection conference in Des Moines.  It should be a rocking event.

Here are some of the materials I used and the resources I have consulted for this presentation.   Some of the materials I will be covering are also covered in previous Dr. Z Reflects postings so you will find some links at the bottom of this post.

Rube Goldberg-Related Resources:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Have You Seen the Taxonomy of Global Connection?

In their 2012 book, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time, Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis created a Taxonomy of Global Connection that shows a hierarchy of 5 different levels of online interaction.  It begins with connecting students in a class using Web 2.0 tools and ends with students managing their own global connections with other learners across the world. 

The interesting part of this hierarchy is that it isn't just about the technology.  It has multiple strands of complexity:

  • Geographic Location: This strand begins within the classroom and then extends into the school/district and finally traverses the globe.
  • Project Management: The second strand involves who is in control of the interactions.  The bottom two levels are local interactions controlled by the classroom teacher.  The middle level involves an online global collaborative experience that is managed by an external educator or group of educators.  The top two levels involve student-to-student connections in an effort to achieve agreed upon goals.  Level 4 is managed by teachers who manage, facilitate and monitor the project as well as managing the timeline.  Level 5 uses teachers as facilitators but the students are actually running this peer-to-peer project.
This is a fascinating way to look at global learning.  How does it fit your collaborative projects or your idea of how global collaborative projects should be organized?


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Iowa Education Hashtags

How do we contact the educators in Iowa?
  • We could email them, but we would need all of their email addresses.
  • We could send them post cards, but that is costly.
  • We could text them, but we would have to know their phone numbers.
  • We could tweet them, but then we they would all have to be following our twitter persona (i.e., @zeitz)

They would hear our short but important messages if they were following Iowa-Specific Twitter Hashtags.

It's easy, it's quick and it segments specific sectors of people . . . It's PERFECT!!!

The other day I was trying to find Iowa Education specific hashtags when I realized that I didn't have to do this alone. There are thousands of Twitter-using educators in Iowa who could help me.

I created a Google Doc (editable by anyone with the link), Iowa Education Hashtags.  I then created a tweet asking colleagues to help me create this collection of hashtags. I tweeted it a couple of times and the content began to grow.

Presently, the list looks like the one that is below, but it is growing.  Please visit it, Iowa Education Hashtags, and add any that Iowa-specific Education Hashtags that you might know.  Please include your name and the URL of a website that might be linked to the hashtag.



Here is a snapshot of the Hashtags on the Iowa Education Hashtags site.  Take a look to see what the updated list includes:

Similar Job Types

#IowaTL - Iowa Association of School Librarians (
#IACoPI - Iowa Communities of Practice on Blended Learning
#Iowa1to1 - 1:1 in Iowa
#iaedldr - Iowa Administrators
#ialegis - Iowa Legislature - @jasonellingson

Iowa Specific Topics

#IAEDFuture - Future Plans describing ideas after the Iowa Education Summit
#iowacore - Iowa Core Standards
#iowaaiw - Authentic Intellectual Work - @jasonellingson
#iacomped - Iowa Competency-Based Education - @jasonellingson
#iaedreform - Iowa Ed Reform - @jasonellingson
#NoBullyIA - used before/after the bullying summit - @jasonellingson
#SBAC - SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium - @jasonellingson
#iastem - Iowa’s STEM initiative - @jasonellingson
#iowa1to1 - 1:1 schools in Iowa
#iowatl - Iowa teacher-librarians - i.e. @scsdmedia

AEA Hashtags

#gpaea - Great Prairie AEA - @sethdenney
#gwaea - Grant Wood AEA - @sethdenney
#plaea - Prairie Lakes AEA - @jasonellingson
#nwaea - NW AEA
#aeatech - Iowa AEA instructional technology consultants - @sethdenney

Specific Schools/Districts

#BCLUW - BCLUW school district
#VanMeter - Van Meter School District
#2020HowardWinn - Howard Winneshiek School District
#Westmonona - West Monona school district -@techytweecher

#soloncsd - Solon Community Schools
#newellfonda--Newell-Fonda School District

Iowa Technology Organizations

#itec - Iowa Technology and Education Connection - @sethdenney  (

ALERT:  Here is a GREAT schedule of Education TweetChats across the country.  
It is created by CyberMan.  He is an AMAZING educators who has catalogued everything.  

Can you add any hashtags?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Benefits of Blogging in the Elementary Classroom

This is a wonderful 4-minute video by Linda Yollis and her 2nd/3rd grade students provides a realistic examination of how blogging in your classroom can turn writing projects into communication projects.   

Mrs. Yollis shares how she has used it to change how she is teaching and her students share what they are learning.  I especially like how the students talk about how they rate their comments on other people's postings.  They rate them using 1 or 2.  The 1 comment responds to the posting but the 2 comment asks questions and continue with the discussion.

I know that I will be using this in my Using Digital and Social Media class.  What about you?  Is it benefiting your blog use?


Please respond with a 2-type comment below.