Tuesday, April 04, 2023
Sometimes Educators can be their OWN Worst Enemies.
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Dr. Z Shares his Research on Building Student-Teacher Connections on the Teaching-in-10 Podcast
I recently had the privilege of being interviewed by Dr. Sarah Montgomery for her Teaching in 10 Podcast. This podcast is designed to allow higher education faculty to share teaching strategies and stories about how they engage students and support student success and well-being.
In my session, I discussed how I have been using an Opening Question Activity in my classes (both on-line and in-person) to build connections with my undergrad students.
I begin each class session by asking each student the question for the day. These questions might be "What are your hidden talents" or "If you could have a super power, what would it be?" Taking the time to ask each individual provides them a chance to share something about themselves and for me to learn more about them. The most important part is that it builds a connection between me and my students. It makes a BIG difference.
We discuss the research I have been doing on using these questions to start a class. You may remember that I discussed this earlier in Dr. Z Reflects (Connecting with Students through Opening Questions). We even discussed the additional research that I did at the same time about Why Students Turn Off their Online Cameras which I also shared on this blog.
Please give it a listen and give me some feedback about what you have experienced using icebreaker questions or other methods for connecting with your students.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Mind-Up for Life with FlipGrid
Dido Balla was the main presenter. Goldie joined us through some pre-recorded videos but she was informative. Dido shared the intricacies of the mind and how mindfulness can help you get the most out of our noggin. His website identifies him as a "brain trainer."
|Dr. Z and Dido Balla|
I reviewed Balla's blog and it is filled with videos and postings that discuss dealing with emotions, memories, happiness, optimism, and much more. I know that I will be spending my evenings learning from this blog.
An interesting benefit of this event was my discovering the MindUP Brain Break. This is a 3-minute video where Dido Balla leads you in mindful breathing. I plan to use this with my students to show them how they can engage in mindfulness.
Have you had an opportunity to explore Mind-Up or engage in mindful learning? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
Friday, November 05, 2021
Go BEYOND ZOOM BASICS with OK Zoomer!!
I have asked the OK Zoomer, Doug Shaw, to share our journey:
It seems like an eternity ago, but it has been less than two years since we teachers experienced a global pandemic and associated quarantine. Take a moment to reflect on that – less than two years.
In the meantime, in the professional facilitation world, people were creating new techniques to use in business contexts. I remember being part of that process – it was so exciting. I’d be on for two hours in the afternoon (for one part of the world) and then two hours after midnight (for another part of the world) – sharing ideas, talking, but mostly playing around. We took ordinary features of zoom and tried to break them – or at least use them in ways that they weren’t intended. And we facilitators from all over the world came up with exciting, wonderful techniques, but nobody was telling the teachers . . .
|Dr. Doug Shaw|
This is an exciting, fun, but most importantly intermediate workshop aimed specifically at teachers who were now remote teachers. Word of mouth was amazing, and after the first 100 participants came the first thousand, then the second thousand, and it kept growing. The United States became the US and Canada, and soon Dr. Z and I had officially taught over 3000 teachers from over 20 countries.
People love this workshop. We have dozens and dozens of testimonials, but I think I want to share this one, that I don’t even think Dr. Z has seen, and it really encapsulates a lot:
"I loved the extreme density of useful information in this presentation. So many of these pedagogy webinars (and I've been to quite a few at this point, some by very expensive and famous people) end up padding out 2-3 minutes of semi-useful insight with 60-90 minutes worth of time-wasting filler and restatement.
Speaking of Dr. Z . . .
If you would like to know more, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Monday, October 11, 2021
The ENTER key is LAVA!: a Massively Multiplayer Participation Technique
|Enter Key is Lava|
Technique name: The ENTER key is LAVA
This technique enables students in an online synchronous class to share their opinions on a prompt or their answers to a question and to then engage with each other’s thoughts.
Time: About 8 minutes, but this will vary.
Step one: Tell the students, “I’m going to ask you a question. Please type your answer in the chat window, but do NOT hit ENTER! The ENTER key is LAVA! Just type your answer in the window.”
Step two: Ask your question. Type your question in the chat room as well in case they didn't hear it. Follow by typing, “You have [x] minutes. Remember: The ENTER key is LAVA!” I’ve found that two minutes usually works for me and my students, but it really depends on your topic and your class.
Step three: While the students are working, I like to play some low-volume music in through zoom. You can do this by clicking “share screen”, the “advanced” tab, then select the box at the bottom of the window that says “share computer audio.” Now cue music on your favorite music player. (I’ll tell you why at the end)
Step four: After the time has elapsed, stop the music, and say, “Okay, we hit ENTER on three! One! Two! Three! PUNCH IT!” Observe the huge stream of comments.
Step five: Explain to the students that their next task is to read all the comments, find one that resonates with them, and type a response in the chat window. But DON'T HIT ENTER. As they do this, cue music and type the instructions in the chat: “You have [y] minutes. Read, respond, and the ENTER key is LAVA again!” The amount of time you give them will depend on how many people are in the class.
Steps six and seven: Again, stop the music, “One! Two! Three!” and their final task is to take [z] minutes to read these new comments.
Equity: The problem with the Zoom Chat window is that it is modeled after our familiar texting apps. This means that the place where you type is right below the place where you read responses. For thoughtful students, this means that they see other students have “finished” with a question before they’ve had a chance to really think it through. And for easily distracted students (and Zoom has made many people, including me, easily distracted) it becomes difficult to focus on their own answer as they see others’ answers cascading in their field of vision. Both of these issues are even worse for neurodiverse students. “The ENTER key is LAVA” technique removes those problems. Every student gets the same [x] minutes to write, the same [y] minutes to read and respond, and the same [z] minutes to read.
Encouraging contributions: By designating time for students to read as well as write, “The ENTER key is LAVA” technique demonstrates that both activities are equally important. This message is also reinforced by the music cues – they get music when they are writing, reading, and responding, implicitly signaling that these three actions are all part of the same process. If we want our students to consistently contribute in classes, it is important to make it obvious that their participation is valued.
Generality: Because this technique works for a variety of types of prompts, after students go through it once, you will be able to use it effortlessly throughout the semester. It will go from a novelty to “this is how our class works.” You will be able to get large amounts of participation and engagement with little work. You will even be able to use it spontaneously, based on what is happening in your class at the moment!
This technique was adapted from a workshop by Aneta Key from the Applied Improvisation Network.
Dr. Doug Shaw is a Guest Blogger. He is a Math Professor at the University of Northern Iowa. He originated the OK Zoomer online workshops in August 2020.
Friday, September 24, 2021
Cherish Their Dots
The Dot by Peter Reynolds is one of my favorite books. This picture book is a reflection on how to nurture creativity in people. It is simple. It is beautiful. It is insightful.
The story begins with a boy in an art class. He sits with a blank piece of paper in front of him. He is frustrated because he “can’t draw.” His art teacher asks him to make a mark on the paper. The boy slams his pencil onto the paper and makes a dot. “There!”, he says. The teacher admires the dot and says “Now sign it?” The boy is surprised, but he signs it and leaves.
The next week, he returns to art class to see his autographed dot framed and mounted above his teacher’s desk. Astonished, the boy looks at the dot and says “I can make a better dot THAT!” He proceeds to create red dots, purple dots, little dots, big dots, on and on. His dot creation is so profuse that he holds an art show to share his creations with the world.
What happens at the exhibit is wonderful. I won’t share it with you here, but it is well worth getting the book to find out.
The message of this book is that everyone must begin somewhere. It takes a great deal of bravery to stick our toes in the world of drawing or painting or writing or cooking or whatever. Making this initial venture can be scary, and whether or not a person continues will lie greatly on how the public reacts to their work.
This is where The Dot demonstrates the importance of that reaction. We MUST cherish new ventures. Every venture is better than the vacant space that would be present if nothing was tried. Every venture needs to have a supporter who cherishes the bravery and fortitude necessary to begin this experiment.
When our children/students/friends "make a dot", we must support them. We must ask them to sign the dot and cherish what they have created. This can nurture the strength it requires to do it again.
We MUST Cherish their Dots!
Sunday, September 19, 2021
ARGH!!! Today Be "Talk Like a Pirate Day!"
"Shiver Me Timbers, Matey."
What Can You Do on "Talk Like a Pirate Day?"
- Dress like a pirate.
- Translate your writings into Pirate Talk. (See Below)
- Gather your mateys to have a Pirate Party.
- free printables, a pirate-themed cake, or hold a "best pirate costume" contest.
- Get Free Booty at Long John Silver's - Free Fish
- Tell Pirate Jokes
- Go on a pirate scavenger hunt
Translated into Pirate Lingo . . .
"Shiver Me Timbers, Matey."
Wha' Can Ye Do on "Natter Like a Pirate Day?"
- Dress like a pirate.
- Translate yer writings into Pirate Natter.
- Gather yer mateys t' 'ave a Pirate Party.
- free printables, a pirate-themed cake, or hold a "best pirate costume" contest.
- Get Free Booty at Long John Silver's - Free FishTell Pirate Jokes
- Go on a pirate scavenger hunt
Sunday, August 29, 2021
The EASY Way to "Share Your Screen" Smoothly in Zoom
Monday, July 12, 2021
How Does Watching/Listening Faster Affect My Learning?
Good Question. The answer is - It all Depends! Some research supports accelerated watching/listening. Some research found that students do poorly on tests after watching/listening to videos 2x times the regular speed. The problem with these studies is that they approach it as an either/or situation. They have students listen to content at 2x and then test them.
Success with this process is a personal outcome. It depends upon:
- Content of the video/audio.
- Your ability to understand the audio language.
- How much attention you are paying to the audio track.
People typically speak English at about 150 words per minute (wpm). (I would assume that this applies to other languages as well, but I didn't find any research on that.) Our maximum rate for comprehension is about 450 wpm. This means that we might be able to triple (3x) the speed of discourse and still understand it.
What Will Work for You?
I must admit that I usually keep my listening at a 1.5x or 1.75x rate. I have tried 2x but don't find that comfortable. Your choice must be based upon what works for you . . . but what is that magic speed?
The Oxford Online English center suggests a short test to identify which speed works best for you.
Oxford Online English - How to Understand Fast Speech.
Begin by finding an audio track (maybe on a video) containing the type of information you typically need to learn. Wouldn't make sense to listen to a highly-technical medical video if you will be listening to lectures for typical education videos. It will work best if you have a transcript of the piece, but not necessary.
- Warm up by listening to a few sentences in the video. Try to remember what they said.
- Listen to another sentence.
- Try to type/write out the sentence exactly.
- Repeat this for 2 more sentences.
- Compare what you typed/wrote to the transcript (or listen to it again.)
- How many mistakes did you make? Every missing, wrong, or forgotten word is a mistake.
- You are only allowed 1 mistake. Any more, then you need to slow down your speed and try again.
- If you got them all right, try it again at a faster speed. Continue until you find the speed you want to use.
Watching faster can mean a big difference in how much you can learn in a short period. This can be a great boon to your students' learning as well. Chances are that many of them are doing this already, but they may think it is cheating. Let them in on this secret. Try doing it in class so they can see how it works.
Introduce your students (and yourself) to another way in which you can understand the world.
Have you been speeding up your watching/listening? Leave a comment about what you have accomplished.
BTW, Speeding up podcasts to make listening more efficient is called PodFasting. It's a great way to catch up on the podcasts that you missed. Check it out.
Inouye, M. (2016) Can We Speed Listen and Still Understand?
Friday, July 09, 2021
Learn Faster by Watching Faster
Friday, June 25, 2021
Why Students Turn Off their Cameras in Online Classes
I HATE it when my students turn off their cameras in class!
I didn't select teaching as my role in life to talk to a bunch of boxes on the screen. I want to talk to my students and see their responses as we venture into new ideas and experiences.
Unfortunately, when we had to move our classes online, educators met with a number of students who didn't turn on their cameras. I have spent the past year presenting OK Zoomer webinars for Higher-Ed and K-12 teachers. The #1 question they have is "How can I get my students to turn on their cameras?"
Good question. There are a plethora of solutions. Some answer that question by mandating students to keep their cameras active. This may be unfair because it is an invasion of their privacy. Other educators build empathy with their students by sharing important it is for them to have the opportunity to have eye contact with their students. Some instructors give extra credit points to students who show themselves.
I have been interested in learning about why students turn off their cameras. This Spring semester, I taught 100 students in three sections through Zoom. At the end of the semester, I asked them to share their reasons for turning off their cameras. I presented them with a list of 14 options and then provided a place where they could provide other reasons. They could select as many reasons as they wanted.
Reasons Why Students Turn Off Their Cameras*
Survey Results: Why Students Turn Off their Cameras
I have broken these results into 6 groups: Self-Conscious, Technical, Considering Others, Status Quo, Other Activity, and Privacy:
How Can We Use These Results?
This is Only the Beginning
I NEED Your Help Higher Education Educators!!
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Connecting with Students through Opening Questions
- If you were to write a book, What would be the topic?
- If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
- What class do you wish we offered at UNI? Why?
- How do you help others?
- Where would you like to travel?
- What is one thing you could do all day long without stopping?
- What do you think is your hidden talent?
- What is your favorite type of music?
- What is the hardest part about being a kid?
- Who inspires you?
- What are 3 things you cannot live without?
- What Bugs You?
- When are you MOST creative?
- What would YOU ask a teacher?
- What do you like to do outside?
- If you could travel back in time 3 years and visit your younger self, What advice would you give yourself?
- Which country would you like your class to collaborate with? What would you like them to do? (preceded a discussion on Global Collaboration)
- Have you ever used QR codes? How could you use QR codes with your students? (set the stage for our QR Codes lesson.)
- If you could select a nickname, what would it be?
- What is your favorite card, board, or computer game?
Do Opening Questions Make a Difference?
Sunday, April 11, 2021
Take Attendance through your Zoom Chat Room
Taking attendance can be difficult through Zoom. Your students are on multiple gallery screens and you don't have the time to flip back and forth between screens while you check them off in your grade book.
Taking attendance doesn't need to be difficult. It can even be fun!
Use your Zoom Chat Room
Use your Chat Room to take attendance. Have your students type "I'm Here" into the chat room and, Viola!, your attendance has been stored in the archives.
Save your Zoom Chat Room
An important part of this process is to save the Chat Room to a file so you can see it later.
Click the ... box at the bottom right corner of your Chat column (see illustration). Select Save Chat and it will save your chat comments to the Zoom folder that Zoom created on your computer when you started Zooming a year ago.
Other Ways to Take Attendance
If you are interested in other options, you will find some other postings in Dr. Z Reflects with suggestions:
Thursday, March 04, 2021
How to Update Your Zoom Client Version
I have had many educators and students ask how to update their Zoom client version so that they can use some of the more recent functions like moving between Breakout Rooms.
This video is for you:
Monday, February 15, 2021
Dr. Z Loses Power in Zoom Class
Even though I have made a reputation for teaching other educators how to use Zoom; regardless of the fact that I have been teaching synchronous online classes from my basement for the past 11 months; In spite of the fact that I have been teaching online for over 2 decades; I want you to know that sometimes things go wrong in online classes for me too.
Today, I was just beginning to teach my Ed Tech and Design course through Zoom. I had EVERYTHING prepared. My screen was shared so we could review our schedule and the requirements for the upcoming assignment. I had already spoken with each of my 36 students by asking them the question of the day. Each of my students had already renamed themselves by putting their group numbers at the beginning of their names to make it easier to break them up for their group work later.
I immediately phoned my Graduate Assistant, Lindsey. She answered quickly My computer connection was cut so I needed to reconnect another way. Lindsey affirmed that they had noticed that I had disappeared. I had not yet made her co-host so hosting had been passed to a student . . . How embarrassing! When Lindsey discovered the host, they asked the new "chief of the class" to make them host.
My computer was busy recharging so I hung up from Lindsey, and signed into Zoom with my phone. This allowed me to address the class to start them with their class activities. The next activity was Breakout Room group work. Lindsey placed them all in groups and sent them on their way to collaboration.
My computer soon regained consciousness. I was able to sign back into Zoom to regain control of my class. Things went well after that.
Here are some of my Lessons Learned:
- Remember to have your laptop plugged in before you begin class.
- Have your laptop charged before class.
- Add this plugged in/charged reminder to your checklist. (You may remember that last week I posted my checklist in prep for a Zoom class. You will notice that I have since added this to the list - near the top.)
- ALWAYS assign your assistant as Co-Host before class.
Monday, February 08, 2021
My Educator's Checklist for Successful Zoom Sessions
Checklists are incredibly important for presenting an effective session. Most of us have them in our heads, but it wasn't until I created a written version and hung it on my wall that the checklist really improved the quality of my sessions. This is what I use:
Before Your Zoom Session:
- Restart Computer (?) - Since most of us are teaching on laptops, it's easy to keep your computer on ALL THE TIME. Sure, you might put it in Sleep mode every night, but as we work various programs and tabs and ???, it is easy to fill your computer's memory with useless RAM-ivorous memory gobblers. These gobblers can get in the way of your computer running efficiently so it is best to rid your system of them at least once a week. You don't have to restart before each class but reboot your computer at least once a week.
- Laptop is Plugged-in or Fully Charged - Your computer can die on you in the middle of class. This can lead to your students disappearing from your screen and you disappearing from their Zoom class. This may sound obvious, but I began a class running on my MacBook's battery and it died in the middle of class. I returned in a timely fashion but it was embarassing and interfered with their learning.
- Close the Door - I am an active teacher who believes that laughing and interacting with my students is an essential part of a good learning situation. This means that I need to close the door so as not to interfere with other people in my house.
- Fill my Water Glass - You need to be comfortable when you teach so identify the "creature comfort necessities" that you need and ensure that you have them all at hand.
- Pad of Paper and Pen - I use Notes and Google Keep for notes, but I still seem to need to have a pad of paper for quick notes. Using a couple of notebooks which are each divided into 5 parts, I can organize my notes by topic. It's always good to have a couple of pens available.
- Check the Mic and Camera - I use the camera on my laptop, but I always try to clean the lens using an eyeglass cleaning cloth before class. I have an external mic so I check the USB connection and test the quality of my recording. If you are running multiple cameras, plug them all into your computer.
- Check for Host/Cohost - Usually, when you begin your Zoom session, you are the host by default. Don't Assume ANYTHING! Today, 10 minutes into class, I found that I wasn't hosting. NO ONE was host. I don't remember how, but I had to sign-in again to claim Hostdom.
- Add your Assistant as Cohost - My Graduate Assistant, Lindsey, is a valuable support person. Your support people should be your cohost. ALERT: If your assistant is going to organize your breakout rooms, they MUST be made the HOST and you take on the role of CO-HOST.
- Label the Breakout Rooms - It is easier if you already have the breakout rooms labeled if you are going to be manually putting students in breakout rooms or you will allow them to enter their own.
- Turn Off Breakout Rooms Timer - Zoom's capability to time a breakout room meeting is useful. Unfortunately, it has caused some of my Breakouts to end prematurely. I have had 15-minute meetings end in 8 minutes because the timer had been set to 8 minutes and I hadn't changed it. The WORSE PART of this is that there is no way to change the time setting once the meeting has started. PLEASE FIX THIS ZOOM. Until then, I try to just turn off the timer.
- Test Sharing Your Screen - Test your processes like Sharing Screens before class. It is too easy for this to be a problem and roadblock in the class.
- Test your Presentation - If you are using a slide show to supplement/guide your class, you MUST test this before class begins. Thoughtfully go through your presentation as a presentation to ensure that all of the videos work and the animation provides the effect that you planned.
- Preload Links into Tabs - Linking to other websites is an important function of my slides. Often it takes a long time to load. This causes an unwanted delay. Preloading these sites to various Chrome tabs is a good way to reduce potential delays.
- Start Recording - I usually ask a student or my Graduate Assistant to help me remember to record each class session, but there are times when that doesn't work either. Keep it on your checklist.
- Save your Chat - Chats hold important information. It is possible to set your settings so that your class's chats are saved automatically, but ALWAYS save your chats.
- Convert your Recording - You have to quit Zoom to convert your class session recording, but it is best if you do this immediately after your class. I don't know what the formula is to compute how long it will take to convert your recording, but my hour-long sessions usually take about 15 minutes to convert.
- Save your Converted Recording to Google Drive - I save my recordings to my computer and then copy them to Google Drive so that students can access them. Last week, I realized that I can tell Zoom where to save the converted file. Turns out that I can direct it specifically to my Google Drive. This saves a lot of time because I don't have to do it separately after it is save on my computer harddrive.
- Include a Link from my LMS folder to a Recording - Making a recording of your class sessions is not useful unless you have a link for your students to follow it. I have a specific place in my LMS system where my students can go to find the link.
Thursday, January 21, 2021
9 Strategies to Optimize your Zoom Bandwidth
My Zoom is SO SLOW!
Let's Connect with Our Students!
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Using Zoom on a Phone or Tablet
But what if you have to use your phone or tablet? How can you do all of the operations that are required in an engaging class? Is it possible to TEACH through Zoom on a phone or tablet?
The answer is FOR THE MOST PART - YES!!! Most of the commands that you can do on a computer can be achieved on your mobile device.
Here is a list Mobile Zoom commands. (Warning, this was tested on an iPhone. Android and iPhone apps are virtually the same, but if you find that this doesn't work on your Android, please leave a comment or contact me at @zeitz)
These commands are presented in the order that we are presenting these actions in our OK Zoomer: Beyond the Basics workshop. It is a workshop that has been enjoyed by over 2200 faculty members so you should check it out.
Mute and Unmute Yourself
- Tap the icon in lower-left corner.
How to Enter Chat
Tap … in the lower-right corner.
Tap Chat in the menu.
Hide Non-Video Participants
Tap … in the lower-right corner.
Tap Meeting Settings in the menu.
Deselect the slide bar for Show Non-Video Participants.
- Tap Share Screen in the menu.
- Tap Screen.
- Tap Start Broadcast.
- Tap the screen.
- Share Device Audio: should be On.
- Move to your music application.
- Tap on Participants
- Tap on your name.
- Tap on Rename.
Opening Green Screens
Tap the … in the lower right corner.
Tap Virtual Background
Tap the desired background
Adding Green Screens
Tap the + button in the lower-right corner.
You might see a screen asking you to give Zoom access to your photos,
Tap the Change Settings button
Tap All Photos or Selected Photos
You will have to rejoin Zoom
Tap the + button again in the lower right corner.
Select the photo you want to use as a background.
It should appear on your background and be added to your collection.