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

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Looking for an ISTE PLN #Hashtag?

Hello Reflectors;

I hope that you are all familiar with the incredible network of educators that ISTE supports.  They have a mega-community of educators comprised of over 20 specialty communities (PLNs) that range from Global Collaboration to Digital Storytelling to Inclusive Learning to STEM Networks.  

One of my favorite aspects of these communities is the incredible connections with educators who have similar interests to mine - or even better - with educators who I can contact if I want to forge new paths.  As an ISTE member, I can join these communities and benefit from their vibrant (and newly-revised) communication system that includes discussion groups, blogs, and email systems. 

ISTE PLNs on Twitter  

ISTE PLNs also have a presence through Twitter.  You don't have to be an ISTE member, but when you meet the incredible ISTE educators who populate the Twitter channels, you will probably want to become an ISTE member or attend the next ISTE conference in Philadelphia (2019).

ANYWAY - - - Recently, I was trying to advertise an upcoming Twitter Chat that we were having at #IAedchat (not an ISTE affiliate, but a great one to follow on Sunday nights at 8:00 pm Central Time).  I knew a couple of the ISTE #hashtags but couldn't find a listing.  I connected the ISTE PLN organizer, Simon Helton, and he said that they didn't have an overall listing.     Soooooooooooooooooooooo . . . Simon provided me with the list and I am publishing it here for your convenience.    (THANK YOU, Simon!)

Below you will find a list of 21 ISTE PLN Twitter #Hashtags and Han.  Please use them. Contact me if you have any questions about them or you have some changes/updates that I should make.

Enjoy talking with your educator colleagues.  It is a wonderful group.

List of ISTE PLN Twitter #Hashtags and Handles

Thank you, Laura Campbell

Friday, October 19, 2018

Join us for the #iaedchat on Sunday (10/21) @ 8:00 CDT

Identifying Technology Needs for Today's Educators 

This Sunday, I will lead a tweetchat at #iaedchat on Sunday (10/21) @ 8:00 CDT.  We will discuss the skills, tools, and mindset that teachers who are successful in using educational technolog have in today's classrooms.

These are the questions that we plan to use:
  1. Are new teachers coming to your schools with the Ed Tech skills necessary to optimize technology in your classes?
  2. What Ed Tech skills do you expect your new teachers to have?
  3. What future technology-enhanced projects do you have planned?
  4. How are you aligning the ISTE standards into your curriculum?
  5. Are digital portfolios important to you when you are reviewing applications for employment?
  6. How important is it for a new teacher to have an Ed Tech minor?
  7. How would you advise Teacher Education programs to better prepare your new teachers for success in your schools?
I must admit that I recommended this topic to Dan Butler et al. because I wanted to find out what ed tech skills you expect of your new teachers. Having said that, Dan pointed out that this is a question that spans the whole teaching experience from beginning to end. As usual, Dan was right so we want to discuss this in reference to all teachers.

Audience? We hope to have administrators, coaches, teachers, parents and anyone else who is interested in this topic.

New to Tweetchats? If you have never been engaged in a tweetchat or want some pointers about how to get the most of the experience?  Check out my posting, 11 Tips towards Engaging in a Terrific Twitter Chat. 

Leave a comment below if you are planning to attend.  You don't need to RSVP to a Tweet chat, but it's fun to see that educators are reading this and plan to engage.

Have a SUPER weekend.  See you on Sunday.


11 Tips towards Engaging in a Terrific Twitter Chat

Twitter Chats are AWESOME!!!

I have talked about Twitter Chats (I like to call them Tweet Chats) before in Dr. Z ReflectsHere are a few posts you might find interesting. I have shared some links to resources for finding Education Twitter chats but I would like to introduce Participate as a rich resource for finding, sharing, and engaging in Twitter chats.  Unfortunately, Participate no longer works with Twitter Chats. 
One of my personal favorite chats is #iaedchat.  This Twitter chat meets every Sunday night at 8:00 pm Central Time.  We have Iowa educators, but you will find chatters from all over the country and even throughout the world.   I am inviting some of my EdTech Minor students to join the #iaedchat chat on Sunday and it has inspired me to provide some direction for "getting the most" out of Twitter Chatting.
Here are some suggestions for succeeding in a Twitter chat:

  1. Select Your Tool: EDITING NOTE:  Originally I had recommended  Since then I have had problems with that tool so now I am recommending   Tweetchat is simple.  Enter the hashtag on the opening page (e.g., #iaedchat ) Log in using your twitter account. This leads you to a page for your conversation. Enter your tweets in the text box.  Remember to click the "Start Stream" button to begin watching the chat. Here is a 3-minute video on how to use TweetChatIf you want to make your own selection, here is a recent listing of the 5 Best Tools for Twitter Chats.
  2. Show Up Early: Even if it is only 5 minutes, get settled before the chat because the pace can get rather fast and furious.
  3. Share Your Intro; Be prepared to introduce yourself at the beginning.  This is where we can learn about the location, profession, and grade level of the participants. 
  4. Engage in Questions and Answers: Questions will be introduced throughout the hour-long chat - usually 6 questions. Sometimes they are available before the chat. Each will be identified by its number (e.g. Q3:). Begin your answers with the number of the question you are answering (e.g., A3:)
  5. Answer as Much as You Want: You don't have to contribute lots of answers. You can lurk throughout  the whole thing but you won't get much out of it. Aim to post at least 4 answers throughout the hour-long chat. You are welcome to talk as much as you want, but placing a minimum will ensure that you at least dip your toe into the flood of genius that will flow across your screen.
  6. Reduce the Stress: If there are lots of chatters, the discussion can zoom past you. You can feel overwhelmed because you don't have time to read all of the posts.  You can take control of this by just identifying 3 or 4 chatters who are interesting.  Just follow their postings and respond when you have something to say.  Most Twitter chats have archives so you can go back and read the other postings at a later date.
  7. Follow Them: If a chatter looks interesting, click on his/her/their name to visit his/her/their Twitter page.  This will show you more about him/her/them and give you a chance to click the FOLLOW button.
  8. Remove the Retweets: You will see some Retweets in the chat. These add more lines for you to read.  The software allows you to Hide Retweets.  Click this button and you will see each posting only once.
  9. Tell Your Followers: Before the chat, tell your followers that you will be engaging in a chat. This way they won't be surprised by a deluge of wisdom coming from your Twitter account. (This is something you should do before you begin, but I shared it here so that I wouldn't confuse the new tweeters.)
  10. Have Fun: This is an opportunity to meet other people and learn other's opinions.  Enjoy it and make your contacts.
  11. Follow up: This is a great opportunity to make connections. If you liked what one chatter was doing in the classroom, contact him/her/them later to further discuss the topic, set up a classroom collaboration, or even schedule a meet-up face-to-face or virtually.  If you learned something from leaders in schools, and you think that you might like to work in those schools.  Make the connection and begin the conversation. 
Twitter Chatting is an easy and fruitful way to make connections with like-minded people. I hope that I have a chance to connect with you through a chat some day.   Until that day, perhaps you could leave some comments about what I have written or maybe in answer to some of these queries . . . 

  • What is YOUR favorite Twitter Chat tool?
  • Which chats do you recommend?
  • What other suggestions do you have for successful chatting?
  • Share a Twitter Chat story about what you learned or who you met.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

3 Major Challenges to Teaching Online and How to Beat Them

While there are many advantages to teaching online, I want to begin with the challenges because those are the demons in the room that we have to confront.  This list is done completely from my experience.  I have purposely not reviewed the online lists that others have created because I wanted this to come from my heart.  After I complete this post, I will search the web for a few lists that others have created and might expand your knowledgebase with items that I may have missed or answers that I hadn’t considered.  It will be a learning experience for us all.

To keep this from being a Whiners Fest, I will try to include strategies that I am using to confront these challenges.  I can not say that my suggestions are the only answers to these challenges and I would be MIGHTY GRATEFUL if you could share your ideas for addressing these challenges.  I might also note that I am providing the  plans that I have had in my head and tried to implement.  Posting them here requires me to bare my soul to the world and makes it more of a commitment for me to accomplish them.  (Please note that these are not curricular challenges.  Those I will save for another day.  These are personal management challenges):

“Out of Sight, Out of Mind” – It can be mighty difficult to stay engaged in an online course.  We are advocates for keeping our students engaged, but it is easy to get involved in my day-to-day activities if my students are not going to be meeting with me in person on a regular basis. This is not to say that these students or their work are not important to me, it’s just that it requires discipline to keep engaged as a teacher as well as a student.

  • Schedule: I try to organize my schedule so that there are specific times when I am reviewing their work.  Most of my classes meet on Tuesday.  Their assignments are due the Monday before we meet so I have allotted Monday for reviewing their work and preparing for incorporating their work into our Tuesday meeting.  I don’t think that it makes sense to grade their assignments before we meet, so I will go through and take notes about what they said and then use that to guide some of our discussion.  I can use these notes to make grading much easier when I grade.  
  • Schedule to go online daily.  I haven’t fully achieved this yet, but I need to create a checklist of things that I will check on a daily basis in each of the classes.  This might include Checking email; Checking assignments submitted; and Reviewing discussions.
TimeZones -  This is a challenge for which there is no cure.  One of my sections begins at 6:00 AM CST because I have students in South Korea where it is 9:00 PM and a student in Nepal where it is 6:00 PM. I am also meeting at 6:00 PM and 7:30 PM (CST) that same day because I have students in Iowa who are home from work and ready to learn. 

  • Schedule: The key is to create a schedule that will work for all of you. I have to be flexible. It is my job to teach these students and there are more of them than me.  Most of them have teaching jobs where they work all day and then meet with me at night.  You can also address this issue by recording your class sessions and making them available online for students to watch at a later time.  I have had courses where there was just no reasonable possibility for the student to attend the course live so he watched it the next day as a video and then asked me any questions that arose. I even teleconferenced with him periodically to keep him "in the loop."
Providing Support for Students – When you have a classroom full of students, it is easier to tell if there are issues with group work or interest in the class than if the students are on the other side of the “Big Pond.” I try to deal with this by keeping an open line of communication going between the students and myself. Some of this is covered in my previous posting, Communicating with Students Online, but here are a few other things I have tried:
  • Use Email Filters: I use Gmail filters to sort my incoming emails into folders (labels). (I will provide a video later to show you how to do this.) I have asked my students to send me email through the Blackboard LMS that we use so that there will be a specific heading in the subject line. The filter that I have created will then move the email into a folder specific for that class. I have positioned these labels in such a way that I can see immediately whenever students have sent me email. 
  • Consider Your Students' Experience: This may be a no-brainer, but I was just discussing working with students in collaborative groups with my colleague the other day when something dawned on me. Working in collaborative groups can be difficult for students. I do what I can to discuss the roles of members in collaborative groups and how they can best work together. I was noting that the undergrads were having bigger problems with this than my graduate students when it hit me that our graduate students are mostly practicing teachers who use collaborative grouping with their own students in their classrooms and have had experience working together as professionals.  My undergraduates are less experienced in collaborative grouping.  Sure, they have had teachers do it throughout their schooling but they haven't had to take responsibility as an adult to "get the job done."  This means that I need to have weekly feedback from the group members about how they are progressing. I need to work with the students to address any situations where students are not doing their part.
  • Make Personal Connections As Necessary: Based upon what I just said above, let me say there is no replacement for personal contact. When one of your students informs you that isn't doing his/her work, there is nothing wrong with you, the teacher, contacting the students in need. At first you can do this by e-mail. But if you don't get a response from your e-mail, don't be sure about making a phone call. If your students are in your country or continent this probably won't be a problem in today's day of cell phones and no long distance charges. I have had many situations where it was simply a matter of getting the communication going. In some cases I had students who were working three jobs and having problems connecting with the rest of the team. But in some cases I just had students to work doing what they need to do.  Receiving a phone call from their professor often handled the matter.
  • Use Social Media: This strategy has an interesting twist to it. I have created Facebook Fan Pages in the past and asked my students to share their ideas and frustrations there.  These didn't seem to work. When I asked my students to create the Fan Pages and administer them, the students used them much more readily. They used this venue for asking each other for clarification about assignments.  They were sharing interesting stuff they found. They asked colleagues for advice on professional situations. They even use it to share things that they are learning (while they are learning it) in professional workshops.  The best part is that the Facebook Feed for this academic medium appears with their social feeds through Facebook.  It is a constant part of their lives.  It was much more effective because they took ownership.  Try it.
  • Online Office Hours: Having office hours is easy in a face-to-face world.  You just sit in your office for the same 5 hours a week throughout the semester and wait for nobody to come. =-)  In the online world, it's not that easy. First of all, you can't expect them to come to your brick-and-mortar office. Your students will need to meet with you through some online channel.  This might be by phone, but more likely they will want to video conference with you through Zoom, Google Hangout or Facetime.  I have identified 5 hours on Tuesday (2:00 - 5:00) and Wednesday (3:00 - 5:00) to meet with me through Zoom. This means that I have opened my ZoomRoom on my computer and I am sitting there (usually correcting homework) waiting for students to drop by. I have selected times that are after school for my practicing teachers but sometimes I set up specific meetings with students who contact me for evenings or weekends.  It's whatever it takes to assist my students.
Here are some additional resources for you to review:  
What do you have to add to the discussion? 
What is your greatest challenge (or fear) with online learning.  (Mine is that you won't leave a comment on this blog posting so that this PLC can respond to it.)


Saturday, June 16, 2018

RWLDs - Readings/Watchings/Listenings/Doings: Textbooks No Longer Sufficient

Textbooks are not enough anymore . . . Use RWLDs
California has tried to address these needs using eBooks to replace their paper textbooks. but that isn't enough.

Our students are in the Multimedia Generation. These Millennials spend most of their waking hours Reading, Watching, Listening to, and Doing multimedia. This means that their brains are wired to acquire and assimilate information through multiple forms of media but most of our teachers still use paper textbooks.

Sooooo, how do we provide recent and relevant materials for our classes? Our answer is the RWLD. RWLD's provide the Readings, Watchings, Listenings, and Doings that will inform your students in their field of study. 

Readings: Just because you aren't reading from a textbook, it doesn't mean that your students won't be reading. It means that you will be able to direct them towards recent and relevant readings in the form of articles, books, and reliable websites. Just because I list the resources on the web, it doesn't mean that I don't assign books to them to read. In my last Emerging Instructional Technologies course, I had them read Disrupting Class by Christensen, Johnson, and Horn.

Watchings: These are the videos or vlogs that you want them to watch. These may be videos that are already available for you to use, or they might be videos or screencasts that you have made to help educate your students. While YouTube is probably the most popular resource for ready-made videos, there are many other resources that you can access. 
Here are some of the educational resources:
Listenings: Some of your resources will be auditory. These will primarily be podcasts. There is a huge selection of podcast resources online. The most complete directory of podcasts is iTunes. It doesn't matter if you are a Mac or Window or Linex user. iTunes is available on all of these platforms so you should be able to find them and use them.
     My dream for using the Listenings is that my auditory-learning students will be able to download them to their MP3 players and then listen to them as they walk to school or workout. The only problem that I have had is that not all of my students knew how to download sound files to their players. You don't necessarily know how to do that if you are a Digital Native. =-) It may require showing them or creating a screencast to instruct them on how to download these files.

Doings: These are the activities that your students will do. I have my students complete surveys, do online searches, create projects, or whatever. This is the section that includes the things that don't fit the other sections. 

Check Out These Successful RWLDs
Additional notes:
  1.  Notice that I create my RWLDs using a blog. This is the easiest way to get things on the web. Another advantage is that a blog will provide an easy RSS feed for students to capture their assignments on their PLN. Finally, it is even possible to feed the RWLD blog into their YouTube accounts - that means no excuses!!!!
  2. Include an image on each of the postings. Be careful about copyright - you are the model. You may find what you need using the Creative Commons selections at 
  3. These resources don't need to be ONLY teacher-found resources. I have opened up the RWLD to the students so that when they were taking over the class for a day, they could add their own RWLD resources.
  4. Another advantage to putting your RWLD in a blog is that you can reuse your postings. You just need to reset your postings to appear on scheduled dates at the beginning of the semester.
We have been using RWLDs for over 10 years now and they have been quite successful. What do you think?  Will they be useful to you?

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

30 Resources for Stopping Bullying at YOUR School
What are YOU doing to stop bullying at your school?  

Bullying comes in many flavors. It can be angry gangs on the playground. It can be a punch in the shoulder or repeated namecalling in the school hallways as students move between classes. It can be "cool" girls making fun of others to add to their feeling of superiority. It can be "macho" boys intimidating their gay classmates. It can be a class of students standing around a special needs student calling him "Stupid." It might be kids (or parents) waging anonymous online wars against a classmate who "rubs them the wrong way."

Fortunately, the anti-bullying movement is actively engaged in a fight against this aggressive behavior in our schools and in the general public (online or not). The U.S. government has taken a stance against bullying and supported with the website and grants for fighting this problem. The most important thing is to be informed of what can be done.

Here are some resources that I have found you might find valuable in building your program:

Stop Bullying Songs:

Bullying Stories

 Stop the Bullying Programs

Stop Bullying Websites

Stop Bullying Articles

Stop Cyber Bullying

NOTE: This is based upon a posting I did on Stopping Bullying back in 2013.  After talking about it in class today, I realized that it shouldn't languish in old posts.  It needed a rebirth. I have added some resources.  
Do you have other stories of success, programs for fighting bullying or ideas about how to combat this unfairness?  If so, please provide your ideas in the comments below.
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