Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Dr. Z in Star Trek

Sometimes we share things that aren't necessarily about using technology in the classroom.  Sometimes I like to share events outside of the classroom.  Here is an event that I experienced with my family over 25 years ago.  

After combing the Star Trek archives, I have found the long lost Star Trek episode where the Zeitz/Klink-Zeitz clan worked with Leonard Nimoy and William Schatner to create perhaps one of the greatest shows ever created. 

This episode was created in June 1993. Chris was 7 years old, Jeff was 9 years old, I was 40 and Kathy was her typical 29 years old. It is obvious when reviewing this digital masterpiece that any of us could have chosen to have pursued a life of fame and fortune through acting . . . 

I hope that you enjoy this 10-minute wonder.

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 Iowa😉).  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,

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 them?

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 they ask about running a classroom? Should they query about building connections with their 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 what should I answer them?  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.