Monday, December 22, 2014

Do Students Keyboard Faster on iPads or Computers - Research says . . .
While the research that compares keyboarding speed between ipad virtual keyboards and regular real-world keyboards is sparse, here is an article about some research that Brady Erin Cline did with his students, Typing: iPad vs Computer.  They were grades 3 - 6 (8 to 11 years old)

He found that his elementary students DID NOT type faster on the traditional keyboards than on virtual flat screen keyboards.   He found that they were about even in their speeds between the two venues.

He cited another study where young adults typed considerably faster on traditional keyboards (Chaparro et al., 2010)  

The limitations with these studies are that they are small populations and they both have to contend with familiarity with the new medium.  Either way, they are interested studies that should be followed up with additional studies that would compare these types of keyboards. 

Do you know of any studies that compare keyboarding effectiveness and speed on virtual and traditional keyboards?


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

How Rube Goldberg Led Our 6th Graders to Pursue Their Passions in STEM (STEAM)
Last May, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks with 6th graders in Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School in Iowa.

I had the wonderful opportunity to work with 6th graders for a few weeks.  We explored the Crazy World of Rube Goldberg using Problem-Based Learning.

It was my pleasure to share this at the ITEC fair in Des Moines this month.  I was joined by the 6th grade teacher and 3 of the boys who participated in this session. The guys did a great job of presenting their thoughts and actions as they were engaged in this process. 

I also took this presentation and turned it into a video. I submitted it to the K-12 Online Conference and they accepted my proposal. My video was just posted on the K-12 Online Conference. It is an honor to be included in this group.
Join me in the journey our 6th graders took into the Crazy World of Rube Goldberg. You will experience the fun they had developing “complex chain reactions to accomplish simple tasks.” Using a Problem-Based Learning format, these students explored physics while they built contraptions to drop a marble in a bucket, dip a chip in salsa, pop a balloon and even create a banana smoothie. Dr. Z shares how the inventors expressed their experiences through KidBlog and how these activities aligned with Common Core Standards in Science, Technology and Writing. It’s 20 minutes of fun and exploration into exciting ways to learn.
I would love to hear your reactions and suggestions about this learning experience.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Teacher Spends 2 Days as a Student and is Shocked at What She Learns
I just read this revealing post in the Washington Post blog.  It is about an educator with 15 years of teaching experience who spent 2 days being a high school student.  She sat through the lectures, took the tests, asked the questions, did the labs and sat through hours of teacher lecturing.

I found it quite interesting to read her TakeAways from the experience.  She identified realizations that 1) Students sit all day and sitting is exhausting; 2) High schools students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90% of their classes; and 3) You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long.

I must admit that these are not the realizations that I would expect from this experience.  What do you think?  Is this the experience that your students are probably having?  What are you doing to make it different?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bloom's Taxonomy According to Andy Griffith

There have been many mash-ups that use TV shows to explain the various levels of the original Bloom's Taxonomy but this is the first time I have seen them do one on the revised (1996) version of his work.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Do You Fit Any of These 7 Signs That You Are a Fast Learner?

So how many of these signs do you find in the way YOU learn?  

How about in the ways your students learn?  

How can you use this to support your students' learning?

What do YOU think? Does this fit your ideas about learning?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It's All About Accuracy, Speed and Technique

== Summary ==

Image via Wikipedia
Lots of school districts are launching 1-to-1 initiatives in their schools, but they are necessarily providing the keyboarding instruction that their students need to receive if they are going to get the most out of their new computers.

Some teachers believe that the students need to take a full semester of keyboarding before they should be allowed to touch the computer.  Other educators believe that the students already know how to keyboard (albeit Hunt-and-Peck) from all of the computer work they do on a day-to-day basis.
I would like to weigh-in on these issues by providing this brief posting as the framework of my argument and then linking you to my other postings that further explain these points. I will begin by discussing the 3 necessary elements in teaching keyboarding and then discuss how it would be most efficient to teach keyboarding in a school setting:There are 3 basic issues to consider when teaching keyboarding: Accuracy, Speed and Technique (including Ergonomics.) Certainly keyboarding classes worry about proper business letter format but that isn’t keyboarding.  That is business communication and technically is irrelevant to the act of keyboarding itself.

The need for accuracy goes without discussion. When someone keyboards, they need to be able to type the correct letters to convey the ideas that they want to share. The method for achieving accuracy is what is up for discussion. There are primarily two methods for knowing how to press the correct key:
  1. The most obvious method is to look at the keyboard, find the desired letter and press the key. This can be accurate but not too efficient. Everyday you see  that students have learned to use the hunt-and-peck method to key but this limits their speed.  Speed is ultimately important.
  2. The more productive method of being accurate is to learn touch keyboarding.  This is the method taught in schools. Keyboarders memorize which fingers are used to tap each of the keys. After sufficient practice, this connection becomes automatic and the keyboarders can accurately key without even thinking about it.
Speed is essential if we want to keep up with our students’ thought processes today. One of the realizations that we need to make is that people use keyboarding differently than offices used typing in the 60s, 70s, 80s and early 90s.  Back then, we were training people to type what someone else has written. Often typing pools or executive secretaries would formalize the handwritten letters of their bosses.  Today, people use keyboarding for original composition.  Whether it is writing a paper, email or Instant Message, there is a flow of ideas coming from the keyboardist’s thoughts that s/he is trying to capture. Poor speed can certainly get in the way here. I don’t know how fast you type, but on a good day I can type 60+ words per minute.  That means that I am striking at least 5 keys per second. Even with this speed, I often get frustrated because my thoughts are flowing faster than my fingers can move. I don’t have any research to back this up, but I would guess that hunt-and-peck will limit a keyboarder’s speed to 35 wpm.
Who Touch Types?

Technique involves the methods that keyboarders should use to optimize their speed and the ergonomics that will lessen physical injuries. This is important and you will be able to read more about it in the articles I am going to recommend from my Keyboarding site.   As you probably noticed, I have cataloged the research on this website by the categories in the right-hand column.
You can get a good review of the keyboarding research by reading  the White Paper that I wrote for Sunburst and their software, Type To Learn 4. I was also the research consultant for their work.  Type To Learn 4 won a national award for excellence in software in 2009.
A New Look @ Research-Based Keyboarding Instruction

How to Teach Keyboarding
How should you teach keyboarding?  Everyday for 30-40 minutes for 4 weeks.  This will provide a good basis.  Here is an article that I wrote on this.
Why are you teaching keyboarding?

I hope that this is helpful and you might want to  review more of the Keyboarding Research website to find the references that I didn’t include here.

What are you doing in your schools to teach keyboarding.  Have any of you decided NOT to teach your students how to keyboard?

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Who is Attending the ITEC Conference Next Week?

Are you attending the ITEC Conference next week in Des Moines?  You should!!!!

It will be an opportunity for over 1500 educators (1350 have registered now and all of the rest of the registration will be done on-site) to get together and share how they use technology to support learning in education.  Who is attending?  The majority of the attendees will be classroom teachers, but they also include tech coordinators, instructional tech integrationists, administrators, professors, vendors, IT administrators, IT support, parents, students and a plethora of other professional people.

WHO will be attending?  Here is a Wordle picture of the names of the ITEC attendees who have already registered.  Looks like you are pretty popular if your last name is Anderson . . . are you there?

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Join Us at the Online PD Community at ITEC

Are you going to the ITEC Conference on Oct 12 - 14?  

Will you be heading to Des Moines, Iowa to engage with 1500 other educators on October 12 - 14?   It will be an incredible opportunity to learn about what other educators are doing with Educational Technology in their classrooms and schools.

Can't make it physically?  Join us virtually.
Join our Online PD Community  (OPDC) virtually through your computer or phone on Monday or Tuesday.  

This is your opportunity to connect with speakers who are joining us from Shanghai, Sydney, Chicago, Atlanta and even Torrance, California. These are leaders who will be speaking on a wide range of topics including Maker Rooms, Badging, Flipped Classrooms, Coding for Kids and Digital Apps.

Here is a 7-minute video which will tell you about OPDC and how you can connect to these exciting discussions through your digital device.  The schedule of presentations follows (along with links to get there.)

Monday - October 13
Tuesday - October 14
8:00 – 8:50
11:10 – noon
11:00 – 11:50
Jon Bergmann - Chicago, IL
1:10 – 2:00
Sylvia Martinez - Torrance, CA
1:00 – 1:50
Chris Betcher - Sydney, Australia
2:50 – 3:40
David Lockhart - Atlanta, GA

NOTE to Virtual Attendees:  We will be using the video conferencing platform for our broadcasting.  I would suggest that you click on the Zoom link before the conference to download a small applet beforehand. 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

ISTE EdTekHub Publishes MY Two Truths and a Lie

In my last posting, Getting to Know Your Online Students Through Truths and Lies, I was telling you about an online activity that I using Google Sheets. The activity went well during our first class meeting (instead of reviewing the syllabus and all of that boring stuff) so I thought that I would share it.

I was thinking about how I could easily share this activity with other educators and I submitted it to ISTE's EdTekHub.  I worked with an editor, Andra Brichacek, and they published it with the title, Build Community Online with this Google Game.

Have you heard about ISTE's EdTekHub? It is a new online publication that ISTE is providing for educators to include the tips, how-to articles and practical guidance for members that used to be covered in Learning & Leading with Technology (L&L).

The beauty of EdTekHub is that it is completely interactive. Instead of the printed format of L&L, this online publication allows authors to augment their story lines using hyperlinks, videos, screencasts, soundtracks and an almost endless list of options. I published an article for their initial kickoff issue for the ISTE Conference, Create Collaborative Research Projects with Google Apps. This collaborative research project explained how to integrate Google Docs, Presentation, Forms, Sheets, Jing and Twitter to identify, collect, analyze and then present information on their research. This activity is really more about integrating collaborative tools than research, so I included 4 screencasts to demonstrate how these tools were used.  It added multiple dimensions to the depth of the discussion.

Another exciting aspect of EdTekHub is that it is updated weekly. The editors are an exciting lot. They readily accept your work and turn it around in a timely fashion. Would you believe that I taught the Truth and Lies assignment in the last week of August and they just published it on the last day of September. I would strongly suggest that you submit the ideas, activities, realizations and insights that make your classroom the lively learning environment that it is. You can make a change in our schools by sharing what works for you.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Getting to Know Your Online Students Through Truths and Lies

It’s your first night for your online course.  You meet with your online students through video conferencing (We use so that your distant students will have a feeling of belonging to a group instead of just talking with each other through discussion forums. This is when you have to take attendance, review the syllabus and preview the class so that your students will know what to expect, right?

Wrong.  Involved learning is a social process and if you want your students to feel “part of the class”, it is more important for you to help them connect with you and the class members in the first class session.  This is especially important in an online class where faltering technology and unfamiliarity can get in the way of students feeling part of group.

There are plenty of ice breakers that teachers do in face-to-face classrooms, but they don’t usually translate to  online interaction well.  I teach an online course entitled Using Digital and Social Media in Education for undergrads and graduate students at the University of Northern Iowa. I was looking around for a way to create an easy-to-use interactive ice breaker and I happened upon an idea for the age old game, 2 Truths and a Lie.

Two Truths and a Lie is a great party game where you make three statements about yourself.  Two of the statements are true and one is a lie. This activity allows people to share about themselves at a comfortable level of disclosure. The only problem is that if we just make the statements orally, the interaction with the class can get lost. The trick is to  create an interactive tool.  I did this using an Open Google Spreadsheet.  This was a document where students could type their statements simultaneously and then post judgments about their opinions about each of their colleagues’ disclosures.

Preparation Steps
  1. Begin by creating a Google Spreadsheet like the one in Figure 1.  (You can actually make a copy of my spreadsheet,
  2. Set the “Share” settings so that “Anyone with the Link” “Can edit” the file. This will allow your students to add their Truths and Lies and add their voted in the appropriate columns.  Your students won’t need to sign-in to do this.
  3. Add your name in the “0” row and then add your students’ names in the appropriate rows.
  4. Add your 2 Truths and a Lie in your section.  This is a great way to share something about yourself while demonstrating the process.
Running Truths and Lies
  1. Share the link to your spreadsheet with your students.
  2. Show them their names and the number next to each of their names. 
  3. Point out that there are numbered columns in the table and that each of their columns align with the numbers next to their names.
  4. Have them read each of your statements and cast their votes about whether they are Truths or Lies.
  5. Once they have casted their votes, you can tell the story about each of your statements.
  6. As you tell each story, add a T or L in the Answer column. The column has been set so that letters into this column will be red.
  7. Now it is time for your students to share about themselves. Each of the students will add their statements (2 truths and a lie).
  8. Once they have added their statements, they just need to cast their votes.
  9. The best part comes now when your students explain their statements like you did with your proclamations.   You might want to break it up so that half of your students share now and the others do it towards the end of your session.
Caution: I found that students who were connecting through their ipads had problems completing the table.  This seemed to be fixed by downloading the Sheets App from the Apple Store.

Give this a try.  I would love to get your feedback and hear about how it worked in your class.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Can Statements - Can You?
I Can This and I Can That . . .

What does this all mean?  Students saying that they can do things instead of teachers telling them what they need to know using the time-tested ABCD (Audience, Behavior, Condition, Degree) performance objectives that we have been using for year?

What is this all about?

For a long time we have been running a school system where it is all about the Teacher.

The Teacher Teaches and the Students Learn.

If the Teacher Taught and the Students DIDN'T Learn, it was the Students' fault because they weren't trying hard enough.

Observant educators realized that maybe the reason students didn't learn was because they didn't know what they needed to learn.  That meant that the teachers had to share the Learning Objectives that they had hidden in their Lesson Plan books so that the students would know what needed to be learned.

So Teachers were told to write their objectives on the board at the beginning of each day so that the students would know what to learn.

On a written exam, the 4th grade students will be able to multiply two 3-digit numbers together with 80% accuracy.

Unfortunately, the students (and parents) didn't always understand the objectives.  This was a precise definition of the expected outcomes of the lesson, but it didn't necessarily mean anything to the 4th grade students.

Soooooooooo, the key to getting students involved is to make the objectives understandable for the students . . .

Instead of the teacher writing on the board "The students will . . . "
                 the students can assume a personal note with "I can . . . "

The I CAN statement provides a personal proclamation of intent. It is written in Kid-Talk.  I have also read about writing I CAN statements that are written in Parent-Talk, but I haven't found any examples.  Isn't Kid-Talk good enough for both students and parents?

Here is a wonderful video which features Ellie Brunner, 5th Grade Teacher at Kennedy Elementary School in Willmar, MInnesota, discusses how to use I CAN statements with students in the classroom as objectives for state standards.   This video is quite useful because she discusses how she creates the I CAN statements and then demonstrates how she uses them in class.

The only question that I have is the level of Measurability (I can make-up words like that because I am a professor =-)    Ellie talks about how important it is for I CAN statements to be Measurable but doesn't define the level of success that is acceptable.  Do her students need to achieve 100% success?  How about 90%?  Is 60% ok?

I spoke with Pam Zeigler, the Director of Elementary Education at the Cedar Falls Community Schools here in Iowa. She said that her teachers use 80% as the level of proficiency.  Since it is assumed that this is the acceptable level throughout the schools, this doesn't need to be included in the I CAN statement because it is assumed.

How do you use I CAN statements?

Additional Resources:

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Alfie Kohn Doesn't Like Open Badges and Gamification - Do You?

Are you using Badges in your classes? 

Alfie Kohn definitely isn't using badges in his classes. He doesn't like them. 
The video above is his discussion of caution about using badges and gamification. 

As you may know, Alfi is an advocate for change in schools.  He has written a number of books about making learning more relevant to students.   In this video, however, he is talking about how using badges and gamification in classrooms are merely manifestations of the behavioralist strategy towards learning. 

Kohn begins the video talking about how badges limit education to mere skill acquisition. He points out that the Kahn Academy  uses badges and that is a limiting factor because it doesn't deal with application of the skills. He says that this is the basis for another modern educational model, the Flipped Classroom. He also questions who is going to validate the criteria that will be used to identify success in knowing and mastering specific skills. 

Later on, Kohn criticizes using gamification in the classroom because we are taking gaming aspects from video games and applying it to the real world.  He also discusses the need to build intrinsic motivation in learners rather than extrinsic motivation where every success is rewarded by points or other external awards. He points out that psychological research actually states that extrinsic rewards will damage the acquisition of internal motivation. (His emphasis on this is understandable based upon his Punished by Rewards book that he wrote in 1993.)

While Mr. Kohn brings to front many good points about things that need to be considered when using badges and gamification in learning, I think that he is missing the boat.  He is presenting this in an either/or format.
  • He presents badging as an uncontrolled system for relegating the learning experience to mastery of skills with no application.
  • He limits his scope on gamification to the use of rewards for learning.
The important thing to remember in either of these situations is that they are NOT the only strategies that need to be used in today's learning environments. Today's students need to have authentic learning situations where what they learn extends beyond master of skills. They need to be organized in a way that will provide a relevant testbed for using the skills that need to be mastered. This can be organized in a fashion where students can earn badges as they master their skills but concurrently, they are applying their skills to create things that are relevant to themselves.

This morning I came across a CNN interview with Salman Kahn where he talks about how his video instruction can be used to provide content for flipped classrooms.  This provides more context for understanding the limits of Kohn's perception of education's opportunities.

Kohn's understanding of gamification is limited by a 20th century perception of learning. Learning is an ongoing process of trying to accomplish something and then receiving feedback on your success. This feedback might be a grade on a test, points in a game, feedback from a colleague or teacher or just having the real world tell you if it worked or not. 
It IS best to have a learning situation where students have an internal need to do well on a project, but learning is a gradated process that has multiple levels of success.  Success on these successive levels needs to include feedback for the learner to gauge his/her level of accomplishment and adjust future activities accordingly.

What is your opinion about Alfie's opinions?  
Are you using badging and gamification in your classrooms?
Is it the only way your students are learning or are you integrating it into your curriculum?
How do you do this?


Monday, June 09, 2014

Zooming with Amy Kangas about SAMR & TIM

I am privileged to be Zooming with Amy Kangas and her wonderful class of educators who are spending the next week exploring what it means to be a 21st Century Teacher.  

While I will just be there to answer questions and share some experiences, here are a few resources that might be useful for our discussion.

Video Conferencing:

Technology Integration


Technology Integration Matrix:

UNI Instructional Technology Masters Program

Saturday, June 07, 2014

9 Steps for Successfully Engaging in the #IAedchat to Discuss "Math in America" on 6/8/14

You have heard about the most successful Educational Twitter Chat in Iowa. It is #IAedchat.

Every Sunday at 8:00 (except 6/8/14), the gang from #IAedchat get together and hold a discussion between educators. The topics vary and the formats vary (sometimes include video broadcast) but the excitement remains the same. 

Administrators, educators, parents and interested professionals from across Iowa and across the nation get together to discuss education and, more specifically, the topic of the day.

Get involved in this!!! You can learn about #IAedchat by visiting these sites:
  • #IAedchat wiki - This is where it all begins
  • IowaTransformED - Good intro to #IAedchat by Shawn Cornally
  • #IAedchat Storified - Aaron Becker captured each of the TweetChat sessions using Storify. You can experience sessions gone past right here.  Maybe you want some specifics about something that you remember from a previous session - Storify.
#IAedchat Begins at 7:30 this week.

Even after telling you about the 8:00 weekly sessions, I found out that it will begin at 7:30 this week. Word has it that #IAedchat will join with an Iowa Math Organization so they will be able to discuss "Math in America."
Here are the Steps for Getting Involved with the Math in America discussion on Sunday.
  1. Turn on your computer at 7:15 on Sunday night
  2. Open browser and go to (This is a TweetChat tool. There are others, but I find this to be the most efficient.)   
  3. Sign in (upper right corner)
  4. Enter the hashtag  #iaedchat
    1. You will probably see older tweets.  The number at the right of a tweet (i.e., 1:09) will tell you how long ago the tweet was posted.
  5. Play with it a little bit.  Post tweets (remember that will enter your hashtag automatically after you sign-in.)
  6. Click on the icons to the right of a posting (Reply, Retweet, Quote, Favorite)
  7. As people begin to appear, greet them with "Hello @casas_jimmy" or whoever appears.
  8. As the session begins, you will see the coordinators posting questions for the whole group to answer.  Post your own questions.
This can get a little overwhelming because it will probably become impossible to read all of the posts, much less answer them.  It is OK to lurk for a while. You will be successful if you 1) identify a few people and respond/converse with them and 2) find a few new people to follow on Twitter.

Most importantly, you want to have fun and see how your PLN can expand by attending a session like this at least a couple of times per month.

Share with us your past experiences with #IAedchat or come back and talk with us after this session.