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.