Thursday, December 13, 2012

State of the Curation

So I am still thinking critically about curation and it seems like there are new tools all the time.  What do they accomplish?  Have I properly maintained the tools I launched?

So let's start with the very beginning,
This newsletter was a great introduction to curation, but it was confusing. Many of these tools are still regarded as spam, but if they are maintained they can be very valuable information aggregators. If I don't want to waste time online, I will read from one of these service. allows me to draw form sources, like lists on twitter, as well as # searches and individual twitter users. In comparative terms Paper/li has one of the broadest ranges of manually assignable inputs to the search.

After, my attention was captured by  While the topic was just Edtech, I set up the to look at student engagement and BYOT.

The engaging part of was the emphasis on pictures.  This focus pervades much of the new web 2.0 tools.  The newest one to catch my eye has been NewsMix.  Newsmix is a visual composite blog built from a designated list of up to 25 people on twitter.
I have assembled 2 of these channels.  The first is "YOUR ADE NEWS" For this channel I searched for Apple Distinguished Educators and used them as the sources.
apple distinguished educators, great ideas from apple distinguished educatorsThe ADE and GCT teacher communities are great points to start for best practices in ed tech curation. they have been identified as generous active members of the community and they have received training and support.
In each of these curation projects I have tried to create a specific focus.
The second Newsmix I set up was in support of the Palo Alto Tech Using Educators (#PATUE). This page was seeded with many of the great people I have connected with through PATUE.  So far the hardest thing about writing this post has been how much I have read from each of these sites as I am trying to grab screenshots or embed codes.  Which brings me to a bit of a sore point on Newsmix.  I can't find the embed codes, and I don't know enough to code up my own bridge.  But as you can see above, has a high performance widget and it isn't a premium feature, it is functionality.

Another difference in functionality, as I compose this in blogger, the widget is grinding away up there.  On the other hand the widget is invisible and only appear when published.
Out of these 3 I like the search structure of the best, while owns the widget world. Newsmix is new and does a great job of making twitter visual.
I hope that the ADE page helps me connect to members of that community, as quite frankly, I would like to be one.  The #PATUE page I hope to use as an extension of the community building around the PATUE Talk and Chat events.
While one of my friends dismisses all of this as spam, I hope to use it for good through intentionality and reflection. (learning is living)
Use the comments to weigh in, is this spam and do you hate it?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

PATUE TALK with Eric Simons

patue, palo alto technology using educators, palo alto twitter using educators, spitting distance from silicon valley, teachers and parents, teachers, parents, parents and edtech, edtech, educational technology, learning online, twitter chat, weekly conference series, professional development for teachers, professional organization for teachers

PATUE 4 12/4/12  CLACO and a web 2.0 workflow for teachers

patue, palo alto technology using educators, palo alto twitter using educators, spitting distance from silicon valley, teachers and parents, teachers, parents, parents and edtech, edtech, educational technology, learning online, twitter chat, weekly conference series, professional development for teachers, professional organization for teachers
Erin Klein on Eric Simmons

PATUE TALK: This workshop, presented by the Palo Alto Technology Using Educators on 12/4 will featured Eric Simmons, Founder of  Eric has been profiled by many media outlets as the AOL squatter.  Eric talked with us about his vision for and education.  

Here is the talk as it happened! (the livestream video was better quality than the handheld)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cake-Based Assessment

Last Thursday's (11/28) #literacies Chat explored the multitude of literacies people know and communicate with.  It was an enjoyable chat that sparked a memory for me.

I shared that my students have many choices on demonstrating mastery of content.  In our 9th grade class we read The Odyssey and we write many small essays, but you have to allow them to explore other modes of expression.  If you do it right you can really prompt some critical thought and reflection.

NOTE: in these cases cake-based assessment works because it fit the needs and matched the learning objective.

I was prompted by the discussion to dig through my video file and find the recording of Raquel discussing the 4 tier cake she constructed to discuss the interconnected narratives of William Faulkner's Light in August.  But before we get there, let's talk about another occassion of cake-based assessment.  Dr. Landers, my wonderful colleague, requires her students to read independently in addition to the assigned reading in class.  One of the options for reporting back on the independent reading was to do some interpretive baking.  Each student has to present their response to the class and discuss the critical and analytical elements. (In this case knowing your audience also includes knowing if they are allergic to peanuts or soy.)

These cakes, and giant cookie, worked will for independent reading reports.  So much of the process is joyful engagement in the act of reading and sharing about what we have read.

In my AP language and composition class we finish the year with Faulkner's Light in August.  Light in August is difficult.  The narrative structure is innovative and manifold.  I ask my students to do a creative interpretation project to help keep them invested in the challenge of building their own understanding of the text.  Here is a the cake that I was first talking about in #cakeliteracies.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Livescribe Pilot On-site Training

This Thursday, only two weeks after joining the Livescribe Sky pen pilot program, we had 50 SKY pens in the building along with Janet Sankar, an education specialist from Livescribe.  Janet worked with me to help the kids set up their pens.  We learned as we went along, our second class of kids was much smoother than the first.  What made the big difference? Janet preloaded the spreadsheet with the kids names.
Video streaming by Ustream We are tracking the pen serial number, name, and user ID.  We have also engraved ID numbers into the back of each pen.  So far only one of the 50 pens has any technical issues, shipped with a blown speaker.
We trained the kids in the computer lab.  I was able to work on capturing the sessions with the camera.  I had to create a helper aid because the day after Janet leftI still had 1/3 of the freshmen to run through the pen setup.
IO hosted a parent info night and Janet was great with explaining to the parents how the pen works and I got to share some of the goals of our program.  You can watch most of the program here.

Video streaming by Ustream

Unconference Day 2

The session on life's "Secret Curriculum"
Our campus climate proJect seems to reach into every corner of student and campus life.  This means that there are always a number of interventions going on.  The other day Michelle turned to me and said "Got through the whole day without a student crying with me, feels good.

Sharing about social media
This week we had our second Campus unconference. as the student came into the MPR I heard several of the ask, "Is this another unconference?" Tone is everything and I would call the tone of this question hopeful.The topics for the second unconference included:

  • Finding our purpose
  • Israel 
  • What do we do when we mess up 
  • Bullying 
  • Gossip 
  • Social Media, How to
  • The Secret Curriculum
  • Stress Management

At the end of the first session we had groups return to the MPR and report out to the large group.  This really cut into several of the conversations, so this time we worked for closure in the individual sessions.  We asked the facilitators to push students beyond identifying the problem and move into describing next steps the community can take to respond to the issue.

Some discussion were lively, others were more subdued

Some discussion were very small
A group discussion on  Israel, in the news and our hearts
Each of the facilitators came out of their sessions with some good notes.  These notes are fed back into the ongoing conversation about the campus community.  Next steps move in many directions.  We are working on a health curriculum that will be responsive to the students needs and be respectful of parents wishes.
We love how this conversation is evolving and one of the key factors is keeping the students in the center of the conversation.  The unconference model allows us to shake up the expected flow of information and gives the students a chance to be heard amongst their peers.
Trust them\, recognize them, invite them to learn about our shared space together. Afterall, learning is living.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Self Harm and Social Media

I can feel the voices I hear shifting, even on twitter.  A few weeks ago I found a great person, @ERHSnicewords, on twitter.  HIs user name is "Against Bullying."  Following his tweets I was impressed by the number of positive and supportive messages he sends.    On his site he explains:

ERHS Nice Words started as a Twitter account on August 18, 2012. @ERHSnicewords. Created by me, Tyler McKeever, a student at East Ridge High School looking to impact kids of every age and every background in a positive way! This website and Twitter account are both Anti-Bullying based. They strive to eliminate all the hate and negativity around the country and world. My long term goal is to help as many people as possible change their ways, or stand up to the person of whom they were once afraid. We can reach this goal with enough effort and determination! Once again, Welcome to a place where you fit in. #TylersWarriors 

As far as I know I don't follow any other 16 year olds, but Tyler is doing amazing work and has developed quite a community.

self harm and social media, @learningsliving, @erhsnicewords, bullying

Tyler talks about stopping self harm, helping with depression and eating disorders.  His current initiative #TylersWarriors asks people to write #tylerswarriors on themselves instead of harming themselves.  They are warriors against isolation with Tyler.

Tyler is a powerful model for using Social Media for a social good.

Please note that some of the stories and almost all of the images shared in this project are challenging and deeply discomforting.  That is a good thing.  The stories being shared are discomforting.  I think that anyone working with students needs to have some idea of this often hidden narrative of self harm.  I like Tyler's transformation of self-harm pics into "team support" pics.

I follow @ERHSnicewords even though it means that twitter will remind me, everyday, that everyone carries secrets, pain, and fear.  Tyler is helping the people who find him and he is building a community of love in a world of need.  

If you know of someone who has found a way to use the power of social media for Good, leave some info in the comments.  Got a great idea?  DM @learnignsliving and we will set up a Guest post.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

PATUE TALK, Teachers, Parents, and Ed-tech (ers?)

Tuesday 11/13 was the first session of PATUE TALK, a weekly professional development conference for teachers, parents, and members of the ed tech industry to talk and work together.
PATUE, Palo Alto Technology using Educators, teachers using tech, twitter for teachers
Jack frm Claco Tweeting @ PATUE 
patue, palo alto technology using educators, palo alto twitter using educators, spitting distance from silicon valley, teachers and parents, teachers, parents, parents and edtech, edtech, educational technology, learning online, twitter chat, weekly conference series, professional development for teachers, professional organization for teachersMy goals as the organizer were several.  First, I wanted to get more teachers in my immediate community connected to technology. I have been working on developing best practices in ed tech application and it is visible in the work coming out of my room.  I also want teachers to experience the support and growth I have experienced in my time as a connected teacher.  When I talk about connected teaching I think I always start from the challenges, because that is where most teachers get stuck.  Teachers are not running a start-up and can't embrace the possibility of failure.  So they need to talk with people who have experience with tech tools in order to decide which are truly worth trying.
patue, palo alto technology using educators, palo alto twitter using educators, spitting distance from silicon valley, teachers and parents, teachers, parents, parents and edtech, edtech, educational technology, learning online, twitter chat, weekly conference series, professional development for teachers, professional organization for teachers
Finally I want to build more casual community around education and technology.  To create the connected leaders of the future we have to define, shape, and model what that means.

I want all teachers to be able to find the support and community I enjoy through my PLN.  Towards that end I am trying many ways to capture and share these sessions.  Look for livestreaming via google hangouts.  For this First session I caught a bunch of it thanks to josh, a student on the camera.  I have produced three "micro-PD" videos of twitter tips and folks to follow.  Let me know what you like and I will make more of it.

Short Names are Cool  

 Finding Teachers to Follow  

Teachers to Follow

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sky Pen Pilot Program

I am so pleased to announce that Livescribe and Kehillah Jewish High School are parentering in a Pilot program for the new Sky smart pen from Livescribe.
the sky wifi pen captures ideas and text and makes them sharable

This program is an amazing opportunity for the freshmen and their teachers to explore, discover, and share the possibilities of a fully digital workflow that begins with handwriting.  Here is a description of the program:

K12 Sky wifi smartpen Pilot Program
A pilot program at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto, California will explore how high school students can use smartpens to engage in a connected and searchable education workflow and reflect on their own work to show student growth over the school year, as well as year-over-year. Students and educators will use the Sky wifi smartpen to actively support collaboration and communication.  Schoolwork and assignments, stored in Evernote notebooks, will be privately shared with students, parents and other teachers.  This makes it possible for teachers to respond and comment on work digitally.

“We’re developing a digital workflow model that makes best use of this emerging technology and empowers our students to be fully connected learners.  We are excited to finally enable our teachers to respond directly to student work in the cloud.”  Sam Patterson, Dean of Student Advising at Kehillah, sees not only to potential for greater digital connection, but also a greater personal one, “The more we are co-users of technology with students the more open they will be to learn and explore with us.”
The sky pen is an amazing tool in education. Learning with the sky pen is awesome.
A computer, calculator, pen: SKY is amazing

The Sky wifi smartpen pilot program will culminate in the spring 2013, at which time Livescribe will share highlights and results of the program.

The school will be working with Livescribe throughout the process to support the teachers and students.  The students will have a chance to learn about using the pen with Janet from Livescribe on Thursday 11/29, she will be training all of us for the day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Texting and Blogging in Education

PATUE TEXTING and blogging in education
This iPad case has a BT keyboard,
should work w/ iPhone
Can those words and ideas even be in the same sentence?  I am sure that there are many logical arguments against using cell phones in class.
Here's the thing.  All my kids have their phone, everyday.

  • My students don't leave their cell phone at their mother's house during the week they are staying with their father.  
  • My students don't lose their phone for 3 weeks because someone moved it.  
I think you get the picture.  In my school, phone ownership is universal and there are a growing number of smart phones.
patue texting and blogging in education
Yep, the journal prompt was
Why would English class live-stream?
Our school cell phone policy is that no phones can be out during class.  My students use their phones to take pictures of the white board so I can post the journal prompt I wrote by hand on the class blog
One of my students does all of his writing on his iPhone.  I am going to see if I can get him to use a bluetooth keyboard.  His sentences are short and his paragraphs are small, but his ideas don't look underdeveloped on his iPhone.  I am hoping that the keyboard allows him to use the other half of the screen and maybe his writing will get twice as long.
I think I might be showing my hand already.

Let's hear from Teachers and Parents about this in conversation during PATUE CHAT on 11/20 5-6 PST.  Christine from Remind101 and Matt from Kidblog will be our co-moderators for the chat.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Campus Unconference, power of choice

When we shared the unconference with the families at our school, we did it after the fact and this was the blog post: 

Beit Midrash this week was a Campus Unconference. An unconference is a loosely organized meeting of people with something to say. The direction of the conversation is managed by the groups’ interests. To prepare for our unconference, the student government and faculty brainstormed areas of interest for our community. We narrowed these ideas to nine sessions and we were ready for the Campus Unconference.

Rabbi Greenberg introduced the Campus Unconference with a midrash. She explained that each person has the Hebrew letter alef on their face. The nose makes the center line, and each eye is one of the smaller lines. Alef is the first letter of God’s name. When we look upon one another, we are actually looking at what is holy. When we remember the spark of Godliness in each individual, we are able to approach our conversations and interactions with more trust, more honesty, and more compassion. 

Dr. Patterson explained the nine available sessions (see just below) and reminded our community that we are all equal participants – students and staff – in discussing these ideas of interest. Following the session breakout, we returned to the large group and shared some of our conversations. Students and staff were very present for these conversations. We talked about what we felt and thought. We also spoke about things we would like to see in the future, like a Beit Midrash on addiction. This is an ongoing conversation for us. We began at the Kinnus when we said Hinenei, here I am; and we continue today as we articulate our individual thoughts and the value of our community.

Kehillah Campus Unconference Sessions from this past Wednesday:

• Session 1: How we treat each other?
• Session 2: How do we express differing ideas kindly, respectfully, appropriately?
• Session 3: Social Media: how do we do it right?
• Session 4: Gossip
• Session 5: How and what is a role model?
• Session 6: What is our mission?
• Session 7: Who are we Jewishly and secularly?
• Session 8: Suicide/Depression
• Session 9: What does a strong and safe community look like?

If you want to know more, please be in touch with Rabbi Greenberg or Dr. Patterson.

Each week we have an hour long assembly, sometimes it is programming, sometimes a speakers, recently we watched the movie "I Am." (it was just about then Michelle and I really started collaborating.) 

The unconference format was one that Michelle and I had both experienced in different settings.  Figuring out a way to give 175 people choice and still have a good conversation was tricky.  We managed it in 2 steps.  The first step was with the faculty.
Last week in the faculty meeting we had the teachers generate topics and choose which discussion to participate.  We did this to give the teachers a sense of the structure and process of the unconference.  So from this process we had 5 topics.  The second set was to ask the student government to think critically and generate topics.  
This was a great option for our time constraints.  The student government generated topics overlapped with the faculty topics 100%, and most are reflected in the 9 topics we gave the group to choose from.
Choice   is huge.  Our community was suffering in part because everyone was taking it for granted and not engaging in the community.  The choice of session is a choice to engage.  This is so powerful and the kids have said just that.
In a debreif today the staff were also more engaged and thoughtful, we talked about next steps, but mainly we talked about the process.
We are going to have a second campus unconference in just a couple of weeks.
If you trust your kids, bring them this format and allow them to become engaged in their own lives.


Build your PLN: Host a Tweet-in

In my daily work I email things out from twitter, and I think of it more than I do it.  I wish my colleagues were on twitter.  But wishing is really nothing but not acting on a good idea, so I am answering the call to bring twitter to my colleagues.

Next Tuesday Nov 13 from 4-6 I will host the first Palo Alto Technology Using Educators (PATUE) meeting at Kehillah Jewish High School.
PATUE, Palo Alto Twitter Using Educators will host their first tweet-in, basics and beginnings on Nov 13, 2012 at KJHS in Palo Alto

The first hour (#PATUE class) will be an entry-level workshop on:
  1. How twitter has transformed my teaching
  2. How to set up a professional account, build a professional platform
  3. How to find people and interact
  4. Feeding and care of  PLN
This workshop will also give you a chance to meet and greet educators in the area working on integrating tech into their workflow.

In the Second Hour (#PATUE Chat)
We will be talking in person and online with digital curation experts about curation for the classroom.  Our in-the-room experts for this will be founders Tina and Barbara, and Scott one of the principals at Claco.comAmy Erin Borovoy, a video curator from will also be joining us via twitter chat.

Twitter is a great network, but my relationship with the tool changed when I really started to see and value the people on the other side of the tool.  I am inviting as many people as I can in person and they are nervous and they don't know anything about twitter.  That is great, we are going to learn this stuff together.

Please leave a comment to let me know you are coming, I will have a room, a screen wifi and a plan, bring your laptops, questions, and love of learning, because learning is living.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gamification = Critical Thinking About Assessment. . .from Students

When I looked at bringing badges into my class I thought about how can badges be used to open a discussion of goals and assessment.  From the reading I have done it seems like at their best, badges improve student engagement by allowing them to act like the stakeholders they are.  I brought my students into the process.
During one class, after we had discussed the essay we are writing, I introduced the idea of badges and asked them to design badges for The Odyssey unit.
My students would like me to point out that this is just a SMALL sample of the badges created.  This sample was bounded my the media, I set up the paper gallery first.  The stickers you see on the posters are votes.
What do these badges reveal about my students and my classroom?  Let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Helping Children after a Natural Disaster

Had a great SatChat West Coast this morning. Here is a transcript, how well is your school prepared to shelter in place, how will you communicate?

Friday, November 2, 2012

It is Bigger Than Bullying

I am the dean of advising at a small Jewish high school in Palo Alto California.  When I say small, we have 155 students.  I love the fact that I know all of the students in my building, but having that level of access does not make a great community automatically   At times it seems like the students who know each other well are all too willing to treat each other poorly.

The issues we deal with at the school may seem mild compared to other schools, but they are felt deeply.  Students are mean to each other both face to face and online.  There are rumors, and people spread them.  Too often when a student could make a choice to improve a situation, they don't.

I recently asked the advisers to lead a discussion on isolation, and I shared the prompt with them.  In the hall afterwards several students referred to this prompt and discussion as a bullying talk.  I think bullying gets a great deal of press, but the issue is bigger than that.  The problem we have is that too often our students are not choosing to treat each other with compassion.

We are on a mission to help our students become compassionate and connected learners, and some of our students reject this goal out of hand.

In the discussion I lead about isolation 2 of the 8 students said "the world is tough and people just need a thicker skin."  There was a great deal of defensiveness in these comments, and I did my best to ignore the tone and focus on allowing each student to share their point of view.

In a related activity we showed the movie "I Am".  I had never seen this film before and I was unprepared for how deeply it touched me.  I had a transformational experience, and so did many of the kids.  Interestingly enough some of the students viciously went after the film and attacked it as pseudo-science.  As these students shared their experience of the film, I could hardly believe we had seen the same movie.  I was prepared to believe and they were not.

We are working on developing ways to get the kids talking to each other and to get the staff engaged in this conversation.  To this end, we are going to have a community unconference during our 1 hour assembly time next week.  We are going to work with student government and develop sessions before hand and ask students to go to the session that interests them the most.

Our goal is to create and support a conversation that is about more than bullying, it needs to be about what students need from the school and from each other to feel safe.  What do students need to be able to learn and to be their best selves.  How do students know that they matter?  While we haven't yet brought her voice into the conversation, I think Angela Maiers has a great deal to say to us about the teacher's role in creating an awesome community.

Working with teens to develop a more kind school culture is difficult. While so much of the public discussion seems to focus on bullying, the issues are bigger than that. I don't remember bullies in my childhood, I remember isolation. I know that many people feel isolated for a variety of reasons.
Sometime around 1985, Note mom holding 3 autograph books

My isolation was linked to the fact that I have an older brother with Down's Syndrome. I say linked to because I don't even know that many, or possibly any of the people at school knew this. I remember being called 'retard's brother' but I also remember that being mainly in the neighborhood.  For much of my schooling I felt less than and invisible.  I can now say that it gets better, but I feel we need to protect my students from the isolation I felt.  I do that by working everyday to connect with each of them in a way they feel as real.

How do you support a positive community on your school campus?

Blogging with my Students

Yesterday another administrator and I ran a staff meeting using a unconference design. This was a great process, and one I have to write about more. (and we are going to try to use the same design with the students next week)

The faculty developed 7 discussions focused on topics from "how to respond to students being rude to each other" to "what is the vision of the school."

in an unconference all the sessions are pitched and run by participants and decided in the moment.  In our staff meeting we used poster paper to design and share session ideas
our unconference session board
The focus of the session I began in was focused on the question of "How do we teach and address the rise of electronic media?"

This is a question I have already been working with this year. In the groups discussion we really tried to first define the schools obligation re:SM. I firmly believe that schools cannot be the Facebook cops and that the solution to this does not rely on reacting to what students do online.

We have to teach students how to interact with their online community by crating spaces where it is safe for students and teachers to work side by side.

This year I am using as this shared online workspace. The class space created by the site allows me to visit their work as they are creating it, as well as give students feedback that is either public or private.

I want to use this space as the foundation of my digital citizenship unit. I want students to see tht their work can connect with others. This has already begun, Kid Blog added a visitor map and the students can see where the site is being viewed from. We have at least one reading in Indonesia. This is a revalation to the students, someone across the world is learning about Storm Sandy because of their blog post.

I don't know what opprotunites will come out of this next, but I can say tat if we want to teach students to be better community members online, we need to get into an online space with them and guide them, and respond to how they inteact with the online community.

If you need an invitiation to blog with your kids or students, here it is: get blogging!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How I use my Livescribe Echo Pen in the Classroom

Livescribe logo

I am an everyday user of my Livescribe Echo smartpen, in fact I just upgraded to the 8gb model.   Livescribe announced yesterday their next "Sky" pen.  The new pen is designed to take advantage of wifi integration and have a native connection to evernote.  I am completely drooling of the new features, but since I don't have a sky pen to review yet I want to walk you through my day with my smartpen.

Brings Chaos to my Notebooks, and Compensates for my Sloppy Notebook Organization

I teach 9th grade English and I am the Dean of Student Advising.  The pen serves me well in both of these roles.  I am a list maker as well as a notebook collector, and few of my notebooks are full.  My pen collects the writing I do in various sources (I have a flip notebook, a portfolio A4 size, a single subject 8.5 x 11, post-its, a bound journal, and I use the self-printed note books).  Later in the day I can find the lists I have made, and all of the notes I have written, even if I handed the post-it to a student, because all of the documents are stored in my pen and view-able on my computer as well as exportable.

I can use the option to create a notebook to make a notebook on my computer that pulls together all of the notes I have written about the Odyssey in a variety of different notebooks.

For managing my work and keeping track of my notes I use mainly the writing capture features of the pen, but once I step into the classroom the audio capture utilities come to the front of the stage.

Captures my Class and Makes the Moment Re-visit-able

Content Capture is the key to the transformation I have enacted in my classroom.  It used to be that if a students did not understand or hear what I was saying in class they had missed it.  Now my students have an opportunity to "go back" into the key pieces of instruction and improve their understanding.

I use a combination of the Smartpen, projector, and document camera.  This puts my note pad in front of the class so they can see what I am writing.

Echo platform records, connects, and more
Ease of use is the factor that keeps a tool in my workflow or relegates it to the file cabinet of technology long abandoned. (currently on file my stand alone audio CD burner, 2 VCRs, a cassette recorder, an early model flatbed scanner and a video camera that uses VHS-C tapes).  The smartpen exports simply and quickly allowing me to choose between image only(PNG or PDF), audio only(MP4), or paired image and audio (pencast).

I can upload or embed these files to our LMS (we use schoology, but edmoto, edline, or any blog site will do this too).  With the connection scripts set up, I can do this in about 1 minute.  When I am trying to decide if I will use a piece of technology in my classroom this is my choke point.  If the tool requires too much post-production or has too great a risk of total failure, I will not use it.  My Smartpen only fails when I forget to turn it on. (so it also has limited user error).

Promotes Asynchronous Learning (or makes me flip-ready)

The ability to record something has so many potential uses, here are 2 I am really excited about.  The first is working with one of our students with learning differences.   Part of his accommodation plan includes having a test reader.  The biology teacher used the smart pen to record herself reading the test.  When the student took the test he was able to click on the question number with the smartpen and hear the instructor reading the question.  The student loved it.  In the past he had a hard time with this accommodation because he felt like he was wasting his reader's time.   He reported being much more comfortable using the smart pen and being able to click on the question as many times as he needed. 

The second use I love this year is my ability to move some of the time-consuming reading comprehension work outside of my class.  As we read The Odyssey, I am reading the text into my smartpen and writing down the line numbers.  This creates a read-along index.  I work with the kids and show them that when they get stuck they can click on the relevant line number and hear me read the section and briefly discuss what themes are active in that section.  Here is the document I created for book 9.
Odyssey Book 9
brought to you by Livescribe

While I admire teachers who are making videos of themselves teaching, Kahn academy style, I still don't have the equipment or the knowledge to make videos in a timely manner.  The Livescribe pen has allowed me to make my lesson more accessible to my students and it has allowed me to change how I spend my time in class.

Do you have questions about using a Smartpen?  Please leave them in the comments.  Suggestions on how I can up my game?  Leave those to.  Thanks for taking the time to learn with me, learning is living.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Prompt for Talking about Isolation

 In response to the theme of 'isolation' I have been hearing in my discussions with students

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gadget of the Day, Ipad Apps for Ed (part 2)

Time and again I repeat the refrain "It is not about the Apps."  This continues to be true, when applying tech in the classroom, start from your objective and let the tools assist you, don't begin planning with the tech.

Having said that, here are some notes on Apps I like and use.

Browsing: None of the browsers have the flexibility to manage Blog post composition, for that I sometimes use bloggsy, but 9 times out of 10 I just open the laptop.  I am really beginning to see this as a limitation of hardware (memory, screen space, keyboard) more than a limitation of browser.

Safari: Hooray for the default browser.  when I was first using Safari a little over a year ago I was frustrated.  Since then the browser has matured and works for most of what I need it to do.  

Chrome: I love the incognoito tabs, and the availability of a wide range of plug-ins.  When I get frustrated in Safari, this is the first stop.  I like to have several browsers to choose from and Chrome is one I alsways want available to view my work in a couple of different browsers.

Puffin: I bought this browser and it is my "flash secret weapon."  I think that the browser is actually loading the webpages on a proxy someplace and then sending it along via a remote-desktop-like mechanism.  This is evident in the lag as you wait fot he browser to connect and then refresh.  While it might seem a bit more slow, it almost always works.  When I need to check a setting or fix a layout in blogger (requires flash inside of flash), Puffin gets the job done.  

Superpowers: I have these apps on my Ipad and I think I could really do cool stuff with them, but I haven't put the time into them

Ignition: This allows me to connect to my desktop through my Ipad.  The cool part of this is I can control presentations on my IWB from the Ipad.  I also discovered I could open my web-cam and remote view into my classroom from ANYWHERE.  Pairing this with my remote microphone allows me to see and talk to my class without them knowing where I am.  This, it turns out is super-creepy and rarely pedagogically helpful.

Netmaster: This app, at the minimum allows me to see my network.  Beyond that, I don't know what it does.  I suspect I could do and know some great things, but mainly this app is here because it seems lame to have only one app in a category labeled "superpowers."  I think this app might me a radioactive spider, but I have not yet been bitten.

Building your PLN: follow these Education Hashtags

Popular Educational Twitter Hashtags
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Friday, October 19, 2012

An Open Letter to my Past Teachers

a letter of gratitude to my past teachers.  Thank you for meeting me with a smile, even when I was a relentless smartass.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Parent's Guide to Responding to College Essays

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why Digital Handwriting Matters

College Essay Guide for Parents (pt2)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Power of Handwriting

A Parents' Guide to College Essays

Created using a Livescribe pen

Sunday, October 14, 2012

It's College Essay Season

This entry was handwritten using a Livescribe SmartPen.

Digital Handwriting as Content Creation

Link to another discussion of Handwriting

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Building Your PLN- Gratitude Builds Relationships

When I work with my kids on digital citizenship I talk about Personal learning Networks and how they are an ongoing exchange.  One of the best ways you can interact with others is to share your own gratitude.  As a case in point, My wife runs the site, and the accompanying facebook page.  Recently she put together a post thanking people in animal rescue for the work they do.

She didn't do this the generate page views, she did it because animal rescue work is very emotionally engaging and difficult.  In almost no time the post went crazy.  When I pulled this screen shot the post had over 21 THOUSAND shares.    My wife and I have been talking about this, and not just because I am competitive.

When I told her how the post had taken off she was completely surprised, especially since the revision of facebook pages our views have been down considerably.  This post connected with people and motivated them to share, and this is all the power of honest gratitude.  As my wife often reminds me: find your gratitude and don't keep it a secret.

Monday, October 8, 2012

From Digital Native to Digital Citizen Without Repeating the Mistakes of Colonialism

In honor of Columbus Day, I am pushing this outline into at least a short version of what will be a longer work.

I hear the term Digital Native in discussions used to describe our students who have always lived with technology and the internet.

As I was musing on the variations and implications of the extension of digital native (think digital colonialism, digital imperialism) we risk viewing our kids and students as digital noble savages.  The internet is a culture thing and becoming a good citizen is about learning effective behaviors.

As I assemble my resources and plan for my ongoing digital citizenship units, I am using the following as a guide.

Keeping the kids engaged in a BYOT class is not a hardware or software issue, it is a pedagogy issue

1. Recognize and value the culture.  Student come into my class with a unique set of user experiences.  I have to acknowledge and value these preexisting skills.  They may well be transferable.

2. Evaluate, recognize and praise best practices.  Digital citizenship involves writing and students only grow as writers when they have ongoing feedback.  As they try new things we need to give them feedback and support.  We build good digital citizens by working side by side.

3. Model mindful and purposeful internet use. You have to be the user you want your students to be.  When I open up my twitter and I discuss the people in my PLN, they know I am telling the truth.  The students can see me as I work.  I allow them to follow me, but I don't usually follow them with my work-twitter because they don't build the resources I need in that account.

What lessons from history do you think we can apply to teaching?  Share in the comments below