Saturday, October 12, 2019

Barbara Bray and Dr. Z discuss Making Learning Meaningful in a Global Society
I was just honored by Barbara Bray when she asked to interview me for her Rethinking Learning podcast. Must admit that this was an interview that went far beyond any interview that I have ever done.  She started with my childhood, traveled through my teaching experiences, and explored my many interests in education and beyond.

Barbara Bray is an amazing woman who is totally dedicated to improving the learning experience. She is an author, speaker, podcaster, coach, and difference-maker who is passionate about transforming teaching and learning.   I have known her for many years and value her as a friend.

You will learn things about me and my philosophies that you never even dreamed true.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

What Would You Ask a Real Teacher?
Think about the time when you were studying to be a teacher.  It might have been last year or many years ago or you might still be in an Educator Preparation/Teacher Education program (hopefully at the University of Northern Iowa๐Ÿ˜‰).  The most important part of your program was your interaction with real teachers while you were observing classrooms, engaged in classroom teaching, and/or student teaching.  This was an opportunity for you to ask practicing teachers about why they taught a certain way or how they interacted with a student.

Imagine connecting with practicing teachers on your own and asking them about their opinions concerning teaching.  This is something that we are challenging our students at UNI to do.  We are asking them to expand their PLN (Professional Learning Network) to find teachers in the field.  Once they have found them, we are asking them to begin a discussion with them about teaching.   In some cases, it is a one-shot experience and in other cases it turns into an on-going connection.  This is a process that we use with our future teachers, but it is a practice that could be just as valuable with other practicing teachers.

Finding a Teacher

How do you find other teachers?  There are multiple ways to connect with other educators, but here are a few that I especially like:

Twitter #Hashtag: 

Did you know that if you searched Twitter for #3rdchat that you would find a plethora of 3rd grade teachers who want to connect with distant colleagues?  This holds true with #2ndchat and #8thchat  and #HSchat  and #MSchatHere is a whole list of educator #hashtags by Cybrary Man. (Yes, I know that these #hashtags are also used for Twitter Chats, but they are a treasure trove for making connections.)

Global Collaboration Databases
You can also find teachers waiting for connections in Global Collaboration databases.  These are databases where educators post their names and contact information hoping that they can find other educators with whom they can connect.  There is a variety of these databases out there, but one that I share with my students is Classroom BridgesThis is a project created by Katie Siemer for her Google Certified Innovator project.  

What Should I Ask?

I have had a few students who have searched this database to connect with educators.  One of my students recently made a connection with an educator in Colorado.  They have an appointment to have a Google Hangout discussion next week. Everything seems to be set except when this student sent me an interesting question:     What should I ask her?

Great Question!!  I had been so intent on them making the connections that we didn't actually talk about what she could/should ask this teacher. Should she ask about running a classroom? Should she query about building connections with her students?  Should all of the questions be professional or should some be about the personal side of being a teacher?  What about time management?

So how should I answer her?  I asked some of my Ed Tech and Design team and these are some of our suggestions.
  • What skills (technology and otherwise) do you wish you had when you started teaching?
  • Why did you become a teacher?
  • What have been your favorite projects and learning opportunities you have had with your kids?
  • What global collaboration projects have you done?  Tell me some stories.
  • How diverse is your class?  How do you use technology to enhance your classroom's cultural inclusivity?
  • Do each of your students have their own computer/tablet?  If so, how has it changed the way you teach and how they learn?
       And Finally, "Can we stay in touch?"

What are your suggestions for what she should ask her new professional connection?  What would you ask another teacher if you were in this situation?  

Leave your suggestions in the comments sections or tell us a story of when you connected with another teacher this way.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

The State of EdTech 2019-2020

cover for Stet of EdTech 2019-2020 report

What IS the State of EdTech?  

EdTech Digest has released their perception of what to expect for the next year. State of 

This includes the top 100 influencers in EdTech.  
It also includes a list of upcoming trends.  These are surprises, but that is because they are trends - not surprises.  Trends are opportunities that evolve.  Learning Computer Science has been building recognition as an important process for problem solving, critical thinking, and potential job qualifications. Inclusion in this list is important because it provides the necessary recognition.

I won't list all of these trends but here are a few:
  • The increasing importance of STEM
  • Big companies will be more involved in EdTech
  • Computer Science has ARRIVED!
  • Virtual Schooling
  • Coding
  • EdTech Leadership
  • Career Preparedness
  • Celebrating Teachers
  • eGaming/eSports in schools
  • Redefining Literacy
  • VR, AI, and VR in the Classroom
To Mention a few . . . check it out!  Do you agree with the predictions?

Monday, April 08, 2019

Knowing How to Keyboard Is IMPORTANT!!!!! . . . especially on State Tests!!!!!!

Keyboarding is IMPORTANT!!!!

Photo of an illuminated keyboard
Photo by Yingchih Hao on Unsplash
I remember taking keyboarding in 7th grade and then again in 10th grade (slow learner).  I learned to type at about 40 wpm.  It is a skill that has been incredibly useful through my life of high school, college, doctoral studies, and into the rest of my life.  

If I have ideas, I can easily express them as my fingertips blaze the keys on my MacBook Air.  I don't have to think about it.  I just think of the words that I want to write and my fingers click out those words without me even thinking about it.   My attention is on the words, NOT the keyboarding.

Keyboarding in Schools
Unfortunately, a number of schools have decided not to teach keyboarding. They figure that students are learning how to keyboard by themselves so they don't need to know how to hit the keys automatically.  This means that they don't learn the placement of the keys on the keyboard and they have to really think about which keys to hit to enter the letters they want.

Iowa schools are in the process of completing the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP).  These are tests that range from 3rd - 11th grade in Reading, Language and Writing, Mathematics, and Science.  (There is more to the specifics.  You can learn more about it at the ISASP link above.)

Students will be expected to exhibit their writing using a computer.  I don't know how they are divided, but they will be allotted 120 minutes to complete the Language/Writing test. Students will be expected to write their stories/essays on their computer.  This means that they need to organize their thoughts and then tap the proper keys to create words on the screen. 
Students who type less than 15 Words Per Minute (WPM) will have a problem. (15 WPM is 75 letters which is a little faster than 1 key per second.) . Unfortunately, they will spend more time worrying about tapping the keys than creatively (and correctly) expressing themselves. This is a problem!!!


Research-Based Keyboarding Instruction for the 21st Century
A few years ago, Sunburst Digital found my blog - Keyboarding Research and contacted me about working with them on developing their Type 2 Learn program.  This has been a successful tool for teaching typing but they wanted to enforce it through a research approach.  They hired me to consult with them on refining their program and then writing a white paper about the best ways to teach keyboarding so that they could share this with their customers and highlight how Type 2 Learn followed these findings.

More recently, Sunburst Digital asked me to update the research.  They shared it on their website, but I have had educators ask me about this research so I decided to share it on my blog.  You will notice that Type 2 Learn is emphasized throughout.  It is a wonderful program, but if you don't use Type 2 Learn, the research can still be valuable.   I hope that it can inform how you and your schools are addressing this necessary skill.

(Click on the document to enlarge it. Click on the link below to access the .pdf)

Research-Based Keyboarding Instruction for the 21st Century - Zeitz by Leigh Zeitz on Scribd

I will be interested to see how the writing scores fare in Iowa this year.  I hope that I will be able to make another posting in the future to say that the Iowa writing scores are in great shape, but I don't count on it.

I look forward to hearing from you about your experiences and opinions on this so leave some comments about how keyboarding is handled in your schools.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

#GivingTuesday Fund Drive is Successful for WOW!!!


We just wanted to thank you for supporting Write Our World yesterday on #GivingTuesday.   We had 32 donors and raised over $1800.  We almost made it into the top 20 fundraisers for yesterday (we were #21).  They donated an extra $100 to those in the top 20.

The drive is not over. Our goal for December 31, 2018, is $5000.  You can still donate through our Write Our World Global Giving website.  Have you ever thought about becoming a sustaining supporter who donates the same amount each month?

This funding will enable us to provide:
  • training for teachers in how to integrate creating multilingual ebooks into their curriculum.  
  • access to the library for classrooms of writers.  
  • support for maintaining and improving Write Our World.
We are making a difference in students' lives - - - - YOU can too!!


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

It's #GivingTuesday - - - Give to Write Our World

It's #GIVINGTUESDAY at #GlobalGiving.

This is the day when you donate to Give Our Marginalized Youth a Voice! Your support can help us further develop a system for young writers to share important times in their lives.  They can share their lives in their native languages and in English.

Today, we begin our fundraiser to raise $10,000. We are doing this through the GlobalGiving Foundation. We have been selected to participate in its Accelerator program which is a fundraising opportunity for nonprofits around the world.
In order to succeed, we must raise $5000 from 40 donors by December 31, 2018. If we meet this threshold, we will be permanently featured on GlobalGiving’s website, where we have the potential to benefit from corporate relationships, connect with new donors, and access online fundraising tools. Additionally, we could earn bonus prizes from GlobalGiving for raising the most money.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Give Our Marginalized Youth a Voice!! - Write Our World

If you are reading my blog, you are probably a person who has spent (or will spend) most of your life working with people and making the world a better place. I am writing today to ask you to support an important online library that enables kids to share their ideas and connect with others.  It is Write Our World.

You have heard me talk or seen me present about this program. I first heard about Write Our World at the 2016 ISTE conference in Denver.  I realized that Write Our World was an opportunity for recognizing children’s stories and reflecting their personal multicultural experience by sharing their tales in English as well as their native languages. A year later, I was asked to join their board and now am working with Write Our World to make a difference in the world.  This is beyond being a professor at UNI. This is what I am doing to help kids around the world.

Write Our World is . . .

Write Our World is an interactive online library that empowers our youth to tell their stories and share them. These are multilingual ebooks written and orally recorded BY KIDS FOR KIDS in both English and their native languages. Around the globe, more than 450 child authors have created 180 books in 27 languages. Write Our World is making a difference in youth’s lives because it gives them a platform for sharing. Learn more about Write Our World in this 3-minute video

Kids share important parts of their lives:

Support Write Our World

We are a startup non-profit organization. Presently we operate with a handful of staff and volunteers.  We want to make a greater difference in the world so we are running a fundraising drive to raise $10,000 over the next 5 weeks.  Write Our World is participating in the Global Giving Accelerator Program from November 27th-December 31st.  We need your support to help bring this writing opportunity to more children around the world.

Your Contribution is More Meaningful on Tuesday

Tuesday, November 27th is #Givingtuesday. This is the day when Global Giving will match whatever you donate. It’s not necessarily a 100% match but will add to Write Our World donations. All funds raised on November 27th will increase our chances of getting additional matching funds and bonus donations in the future.  Every donation helps refugees, immigrants, indigenous and multilingual youth feel empowered and lets their voices be heard!

Share Your Wealth on Tuesday. The Kids of the World will thank you.


Dr. Z