Friday, November 03, 2017

Dr. Z Reflects on a Successful Lesson in Ed Tech that He Just Taught

This is a first for me.  In the past, I have internally reviewed lessons that I have taught.  I have made notes about how I might improve the lesson next time I teach it.  I have never shared any of these reflections with others - - - until now.  Dr. Z Reflects - for real!

This is an extemporaneous reflection on how I introduced our final project.  Instead of just beginning the session by saying "Today we are going to be learning about our final project for the semester."  Instead, I began by contextualizing the upcoming project by beginning with us reviewing an article I had asked them to read before class, Five Characteristics of Learner-Centered Teaching.  I broke them into groups by tables and had each group review a specific characteristic and discuss how the assignments we had completed this semester fit that characteristic. They all share good observations and they agreed that we had been following the characteristics.  I followed this with an explanation that this final project is the culmination of our learner-centered experience and I showed them some examples.  The students left completely involved in anticipating the upcoming challenge.  Watch the 9-minute video and it will complete my story.

Here is the reflection.  I have some more ideas and resources that I will post below the video.  I hope that you find this interesting. PLEASE provide feedback in the Comment section at the bottom of this post.

Here is the graphic for the "5 Characteristics" article that I asked our student (Emily Caylor) to create.

Motivating Achievement

I also tried something new with our students.  We have a couple of assignments that they are responsible to complete throughout the semester.  
  • One assignment involves having them create a Blog and write 4 blog posts about things they are learning or things that interest them concerning educational technology.
  • The other assignment challenges them to expand their Personal Learning Network.  This means that they connect with other educators through Twitter or Facebook or ???
The problem is that many of them keep "putting it off" and the end of the semester is rapidly advancing. Many of the students are sorely behind on this assignment.   Last night I was talking with one of my Instructional Technology masters students who is interested in research the effect that self-monitoring can have on students.  I thought that one way for my students to monitor their own progress on these two assignments by sharing their successful progress on these assignments.  

At the beginning of class today, I created a table on the whiteboard that asked them to post their name if they had worked on their blog or their Personal Learning Network. As they entered the room, I suggested that they might want to put their names on the board if they had worked on either of these projects.  Twenty of our twenty-eight students registered success.  It will be interesting to see if that number increases next Friday.

So what do you think?  Was this reflection meaningful for you (it DEFINITELY was for me.)  Do you think that you will be doing some vlogging on your blog?

Respond in the comments below

Friday, September 15, 2017

Happy International Dot Day and National Online Learning Day!!

Just wanted to wish you a happy International Dot Day.    

This is based upon Peter Reynolds' book, "The Dot"  It is a short picture book that celebrates creativity and helping develop the creative mindset.  Here is a 4-min read aloud of the book.  You will LOVE it!

I first found this book a few years ago at the ITEC conference in Des Moines.  They had Peter Reynolds as a guest speaker.  Peter spoke about The Dot book in his presentation and I immediately fell in love with the book.  I stood in line for an hour to get him to autograph a couple of copies so that I could give them to our grandsons.

My favorite part of this story began while he was drawing a picture related to the book in the front cover.  I asked him, "When you draw, do you have the picture in your mind and then work to represent it on the paper?"  He thought about it for a minute and replied "No, I see the picture on the paper and then I just need to connect the dots."  Fascinating!

Originated by an Iowan

International Dot Day was originated in 2009 by Terry Shay, music teacher at North Tama High School.  Last year, I had a student in my Ed Tech and Design class who had Terry Shay as a teacher. He said that Mr. Shay was an amazing teacher.

Wait, There's More!

Just found another video created by the author, Peter H. Reynolds, that explains how he creates wonderful graphics . . . all beginning with a dot.


This is also National Online Learning Day.  This day "showcases how students of all ages are thriving with the ability to learn online—anywhere, anytime."
There is another webpage where you can read other students' online stories or share your own:

Follow the Twitter discussion today using the hashtag #onlinelearningday

Have a GREAT DAY!!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane-Affected People - Use Zello to Communicate

Hurricane-Affected People! Communicating with your families and friends can be a difficult thing to do in a disaster like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Texting isn't always enough and phone calls take too much bandwidth. 
I have been told that people are communicating using a walkie-talkie-like phone app called Zello. I found a link to a set of directions that were written as an article about how you can sign on and use it.
Since it is filled with ads, I have condensed it to a 3-page .pdf format. This could make the distribution simpler. (Please note that I have included a link to the original article.)

Our hopes are with you and your well-being.  Please contact me if there is anything that we can do to help you. or through the comment section of this blog.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Students Building their Personal Learning Networks

21st century learning is all about teachers and students being connected people and resources around the world. 

This is often discussed in teacher education classes but how often is it really experienced?  Do students' assignments include challenges that encourage them to find and contact practicing teachers or subject experts as part of the learning process?

Unfortunately, the answer is usually "No."

We teach the required Intro to Technology course for preservice teachers at the University of Northern Iowa.  This course, Educational Technology and Design, is designed to engage the students in learning about learning with the support of technology.

We introduce the concept of Personal Learning Networks (PLN) to our students and challenge them to find and connect with other educators, authors, and experts around the world. We have them draw a map of their PLN at the beginning of the semester and then a post-map at the end where they depict how their PLN has grown and reflect on the process. 

Here is a link to the assignment that we use. 

Building Our PLN through Twitter

Last week I was introducing this assignment to my students. We were discussing why it is useful to be connected to other educators as well as how we might do that.  I pointed out that if we wanted to connect with 2nd grade teachers, we could just search on the #2ndchat hashtag on Twitter and we would have a collection of tweets for those teachers.  We could use the same process to connect with 4th grade teachers (#4thchat) or 8th grade teachers (#8thchat).  (There are hundreds of other educational hashtags - you can find them here.)

Anyway - I suggested that we do a search on #2ndchat to find some 2nd grade teachers. We found scores of tweets from the primary grade teachers. Most of them were sharing
their strategies, experiences and fears about school starting. We scrolled through and found a posting with some interesting photos of a teacher's classroom (See tweet image above.)

I suggested that we send a tweet to this teacher. Many of my students (freshman to senior undergrads) said thought that making such a connection was a little creepy. I pointed out that the reason that teachers post things on Twitter is so that others can benefit from them and these teachers would be interested in talking with other teachers.

While in class I sent a tweet to this teacher, Hannah Hartman, to begin a conversation.

This kicked off an interesting conversation with Hannah Hartman from San Francisco that lasted over the Labor Day weekend. We even had another 2nd grade teacher, Shawn Reed, from Vallejo, California get into the discussion. Here are the tweets:

The day before I was going to meet with my students again, I asked @teacherhartman if she would be interested in Skyping with my students for 5 minutes on Wednesday. Hannah was excited about the opportunity and we decided to Skype at 8 AM (her time) and 10 AM (our time).

Unfortunately, some things came up with her 2nd grade students so we had to cancel the session but we plan to connect our classes in the near future.

Here are the classes that are engaged in this process (photos posted with permission):

Twitter IS a great way to build your Professional/Personal Learning Network. Find some interesting tweets and send a tweet directly to their authors . . . you will be glad that you did.

How have you been building your PLN?
Share your experiences with building your PLN in the comments section.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

21st Century Learning - a Zeitzian Perspective

What does 21st Century Learning mean to you?  In the late 1990s, this term had meaning. It was a brand of learning that was breaking the mold of the past century.  The opening of the 21st century came and went seventeen years ago.  The term 21st Century Learning is still here.  What does it mean?

21st century learning is not about a timeframe.  I don't know what else to call it, but 21st century learning involves creating learning environments that are student-centered active learning experiences.  Here is a short video that I recorded for Bob Greenberg's Brainwaves Video Anthology

What do you think?  Do you agree with these ideas?  How would you rename 21st Century Learning?

BTW, Bob Greenberg's Brainwaves Video Anthology is a significant collection of thinkers, dreamers and innovators in education. This series is meant to inspire and engage the viewer to dig deeper and learn more. In the words of Georges Melies, (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) "Now sit back, open your eyes and be prepared to dream."

Spend some time reviewing what he has collected and prepare to dream. Share your ideas on his comments and add them to this blog as well.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

ISTE PLN Webinar with Fran Siracusa - The Relevance of Connection

Wednesday, May 24 (CDT) - Tonight Fran Siracusa from Florida lead us in a webinar
entitled The Relevance of Connection. She shared her experiences of engaging her students with other students and people around the world. Most interesting were her experiences in the Teach SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) project.
Fran Siracusa
We invited Fran Siracusa to lead our webinar because she was selected as our ISTE Global Collaboration PLN’s first place winner for Innovation in Online Global Collaboration. She was chosen from 17 applicants from 8 different countries. 
Well Done, Fran!

Fran began her webinar by explaining how global collaboration allows her and her student to follow their passions. It empowers them to engage in activities that connect them with the rest of the world. She shared the Sustainable Development Goals and the types of resources that a available to address each of these goals. It was good to see examples of the actual projects that her students had completed.  Finally Fran shared a number of resources that we could use to develop collaborative projects ourselves. 

Bonus: The bonus for the evening was when Fran provided a brief tutorial on using Buncee.  You may notice that her slideshow was created using Buncee. 

Here is the link to her slideshow.  

Here is the 1 hour 23 minute recording of the webinar:    Chat Transcript

Monday, May 08, 2017

Do You Discuss with your Students to Check or Create Understanding?

click on image to increase size +
Are you discussing with your students to Check for Understanding or Create Understanding?

It seems to me that these are not mutually exclusive.  I would submit that you would want to begin with Creating Understanding and then integrate questions throughout the discussion to "check for understanding."

I could see that it would be of value to share this chart with my students at the beginning of the semester and to use it as a guide for discussion throughout the semester (and for the rest of our lives.)

What do you think?

Monday, May 01, 2017

Mirror Displays on your Mac with a Keystroke
I realize that I am WAY behind on postings for Dr. Z Reflects.  It has been a busy semester.  I just discovered something that ALL THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW!!!!

Did you know that you can toggle between Mirroring Displays and Not Mirroring Displays with just a keyboard shortcut?

That's right.  You don't have to click on the Apple menu to get to the System Preferences to get to the Displays and then click on the Arrangement button in one of the Windows that appear on your screen so that you can click or unclick the Mirror Displays option.

Command - F1 is the answer!!!!

It amazed me when I first tried it.  I was tired of all the wasted steps and hours of tedium that I have incurred as I have flipped between Mirrored/Non-Mirrored display settings.  It's amazing.   I merely Google searched for "Mac OS utility mirror screens" and I discovered this wonderful keyboard shortcut at OSXDaily. 

This is a quick tip and I hope that it made your day the way it made mine.

Are you still out there?  Is anyone still watching Dr. Z Reflects?  Should I begin writing again?
If so, leave a comment below or Tweet me at @zeitz

Have a GREAT and Flipped Day!!


Friday, March 24, 2017

Using Blogging in the Classroom
Reading Blogs
Blogging is today's newspaper, book, magazine, and thinking pad all rolled into one.  The beauty of a blog is that it provides the creator with a true freedom of expression.  It allows us to create freely and express ourselves in ways that weren't available 20 years ago.

This form of expression is ripe for the classroom:  
  • Many teachers at all levels use blogs to provide a painting easel for students to create. 
  • Some teachers use them to share information about what is happening in their classrooms (a much more direct form of communication than sending newsletters home each week. 
  • Many teachers use blogs to share their projects or ask advice of other educators.   The opportunities are endless.
Here are some examples:

Student Creations
Sharing What's Happening in the Classroom
Sharing Ideas with Other Educators
The best way to learn about blogging is to read blogs. Select at least 3 blogs concerning your educational interests to follow throughout this class. You can select from the list above, or you could look for suggestions at 52 Education Blogs You Should Follow ( or you could Google it by entering the term, Blog, and then your area of interest, Universal Design for Learning.

Following Blogs
Once you have found the blogs you want to follow, you need to find a way to get to them easily.  Yes, you could bookmark them in your browser and then click on them daily.  BUT, there IS a simpler way. 

It is possible to use a Feed Reader to check your blogs daily and inform you when something new has been added.  There are many of these feed readers, but to make it simple, I am going to suggest using Feedly.  

Here is a short video on how to install Feedly as a Chrome Extension.