In July 2016, I will be visiting THE Googleplex in Mountain View, California! If you live/lived in that area please let me know how hot it usually is so I know how to dress for the Google Geo Teachers Institute (GTI). I have been selected to visit Google for the two-day professional development session and become one of the elite GTI teachers!
I know several ed tech teachers and tech specialists who have been at previous GTI sessions and will be attending this session. Excitement is running rampant in our Google+ community! I am honored to have been selected and know that part of the reason I was selected was my online presence and reach via this blog, Twitter and Facebook so thank you in contributing to me being selected for this opportunity!
When late July rolls around, think of me and celebrate with me as I make my journey to California! Thank you to all of my connections, readers and those who made this opportunity possible – I can never thank you enough!
Quite often teachers want students to acquire collaboration skills and create group project assignments requiring students to work in groups. This is definitely a needed skill to learn and requires students to use critical thinking skills and the upper tier of Bloom’s Taxonomy when collaborating on a group project.
Having students in online learning programs participate in group projects is a lot more challenging to structure. Finding a time that is convenient for everyone and some type of meeting platform must be used like Skype or a VOIP platform like Blackboard or Adobe Connect. There are many other platforms for students to use to meet but those are the most prevalent ones. I keep a wiki on web conferencing platforms so feel free to review the wiki page for alternatives if you are looking for a meeting solution: http://caisefiles.wikispaces.com.
One of the frequent challenges that arises is that one person doesn’t show up or contribute to the project. One blog author, Torria Davis, Ph.D., shared that one of her colleagues recommended the “Survivor’s Clause” where the student is ‘voted out of the group like on the Survivor TV show.
How do you handle this situation regardless of whether you are teaching online or face to face classes? Do you give that person the whole assignment and they do everyone’s part? Do you counsel that student or colleague and hopefully they come around in time? I would love to hear your thoughts on how you handle this situation. Please share in the comments.
Personally, I am a huge fan of online/blended learning both as an instructor and student. In the past though, my interaction has primarily occurred through the use of Moodle or some type of LMS as the instructor of the course and student taking the course. One important goal of online learning that I consider paramount to student success as a result of my past experiences is the importance of the instructor facilitating the course to create engaging lessons and opportunities for discussion and interaction among students and the instructor. The courses I created and participated in didn’t encourage or foster engagement with other students as much as engagement with the content and I felt something was lacking. Through my experiences teaching and participating as a student in recent online learning opportunities, my goals as an instructor in online learning have changed and are centered around discussions and lessons where students have to internalize, conceptualize and actively participate in the activities and discussion forums for successful achievement of course goals. Engagement is my key goal for my students and a new experience and focus for me via online learning courses as a result of not having experienced this to a large degree in previous online learning courses.
Engagement with other students is a critical component for students to learn and experience as much as they can in this type of learning environment. Creating and structuring opportunities to interact with one another is most important and I hope to gain more information on how to create motivating and engaging lessons for my students. Interaction will be a critical component as well as activities that focus on critical thinking and communication. Although interaction will be asynchronous, I hope to structure and facilitate discussions so that students get the feeling of participating in a synchronous course. This is another factor that I feel is critical for students to experience and is something I hope my students participate.
I have been challenged in several ways in some of the online courses in which I have been a student or teacher. As an instructor, giving neutral feedback and knowing how much to respond to a course discussion forum have been very challenging for me. I know with time the challenge will lessen as I refine and develop my skills in these areas. Practice, practice, practice is the key solution for me. That and the guidance of my instructor. Without that guidance, I won’t know if I am straying off task and not effectively instructing and engaging my students.
For those of you that teach online/blended courses, what are your thoughts and goals for instruction in your courses? What do you want your students to accomplish? Feel free to leave a comment below sharing your thoughts and opinions.
In early March 2016, the Florida Senate voted to approve a proposal that would allow classes that offered coding and programming to count as foreign language credits for graduation. This is exciting news!
I don’t know if it passed the Florida House and if the Governor enacted the proposed legislation or not. Democratic Senator Jeremy Ring, former Yahoo employee, was asked if coding is bilingual and Senator Ring indicated that he felt it definitely was.
The article went on to state,
It’s interesting logic that some district officials might find hard to swallow. In a state like Florida, where Spanish is spoken heavily in many cities and towns, creating a system in which computer science and foreign languages compete in order to exist might not do students any favors.
Hopefully the legislation passes and other cities follow suit. Coding and programming is a language in itself and is becoming increasingly necessary for many jobs that today’s students will hold in the future. Having the coding knowledge and skills will definitely give some students an advantage by being able to demonstrate coding and programming skills.
Several cities, like Houston and Los Angeles, have plans to offer computer science to all students and want to include coding/programming as a requirement for graduation. It will be interesting to see how many other cities join forces with Houston and Los Angeles.
What are your thoughts? Please respond in the comments area as I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.
Do you want to learn how to easily implement technology in the classroom? Do you use streaming services including Discovery Education Services? Well, I have just the resource for you! You need a how to book of ideas on using technology with students and my book is just what you are looking for!
To honor the Easter holiday, I am offering a special of only $15 for an autographed copy of my book, ‘Kid Detectives Classroom Learning Activities: Mystery Adventure Quests’. To purchase fill out the contact form and let me know you are interested. That includes shipping and I can also send you a very brief sample of the book as well. If you purchase on Amazon, the book is $20.00 so don’t delay in getting your book on sale!
Recently I received the honor that I was part of the PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Community. I received the following email sharing the good news and I wanted to share this with my readers as you helped me reach this goal by providing an avid audience for me to publish the treasures I find and learn about:
On behalf of PBS and your local PBS station, I am thrilled to welcome you as a Local2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator. Please accept this email as your invitation to join our growing community of hundreds of educators like yourself who share a passion for integrating digital media and technology into the classroom.
As a Local Digital Innovator, you will receive a year of professional development and training, access to exclusive resources and membership into a robust professional learning community.
The official kickoff of the 2016/2017 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators program will take place in a virtual event in May 2016.
- In the coming months, you will be receiving an invitation to join our online community, as well as more information about exclusive virtual trainings and professional development opportunities for the next school year.
- Your acceptance into the program includes a free one-year substribtion to the PBS LearningMedia Custom service, an enhanced version of PBS LearningMedia that includes premium content and alignment to State Standards. You will receive details from a member of our team in advance of the 2016/2017 school year about how to activate.
- Follow us on Twitter at @PBSLrnMedia. The program hashtag is #PBSDigitalInnovator.
- Download and proudly display this PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators badge on your website, blog and/or social media!
About the Program
The PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators program is a yearlong, free professional development program designed to foster and reward a community of highly engaged, tech-savvy K-12 educators who are using digital media and technology in classrooms. You have been selected to join the program as a Local Digital Innovator, with exclusive access to all affiliated virtual events and trainings and the potential to partner with PBS in-person at specific education events in your community. Another educator from your state has been selected as a Lead Digital Innovator and will attend the 2016 PBS Digital Summit and ISTE this June, in addition to the virtual trainings throughout the year. We encourage you to work with your Lead Digital Innovator heading into the next school year to learn from their experiences at these events.
Congratulations again and welcome to our community! You do not need to take any further action at this time to confirm your spot in the program, but feel free to reach out to me with questions.
Thank you to my readers and the PBS community that made this honor possible. I truly appreciate it and hope for more to come due to your support of my professional efforts.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I am reducing the cost of my book with shipping to just $17! If you are interested in finding out what a mystery adventure quest is or how to gamify your classroom, check it out and get your copy today! All you have to do is send me a message through the contact form and I will get your autographed book out to you!
If you are teaching the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution, you can do so and ‘visit’ the Boston area without leaving your classroom! You can Skype with the museum and have the students experience the American Revolution ‘in a Revolutionary’ way! If you are visiting the Boston area or teach in the area taking your students to the floating “Boston Museum” would be such an exciting way to teach the history surrounding the Revolutionary War and have students experience the ‘related events’ in a multi-sensory and memorable adventurous way!
The Museum offers live actors, high tech, interactive exhibits and authentically restored tea ships so that students truly get to see, hear and feel what it was like to be a soldier in the war during that era.
If you can’t travel in person, you can do using your computer, Skype and a projector.
Skype Experience by the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum $150
Learn about the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution without leaving the classroom! Students play an active role debating taxation without representation, and the issues that pushed Massachusetts down the road to revolution. Your class will storm aboard one of our eighteenth century replica vessels and cast off the yoke of tyranny by destroying the Crown’s tea. They will get a taste of what life was like in the eighteenth century by exploring below decks onboard one the vessels that moored at Griffin’s Wharf that fateful night. Finally, students will discover how the Sons of Liberty successfully overcame obstacles to accomplish their goals, and achieve independence. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to teach your class about the single most important event leading up to the American Revolution!
If you have read my book, Kid Detectives or this blog, you might know I a huge proponent of virtual field trips and engaging learning activities to enrich instruction, especially in the history content area. There are additional types of Skype experiences that don’t cost as much that you can explore. If the fee is too high, the other experience is $89, then try a resource like Donors Choose to help fund these types of projects.
If you have taken your students to the Boston Museum either physically or via Skype, please let me know in the comments how it went and what your students experienced. This is a must see/do in my book!
A few months back, Google released a feature that allows you to edit Google docs with your voice. Now it is expanded with more editing and formatting features using your computer’s microphone and your voice. To center text, all you have to say is ‘align center’. To move the cursor to the end of a line or sentence, all you have to do is say the command, “go to __________” and it completes that command.
Using the voice feature is very similar to the program Dragon Naturally Speaking. If you like using voice commands then you will appreciate the expanded capabilities of using the voice feature in Google docs. I use the voice feature when texting all the time as I am a slow texter and my long nails get in the way of typing on the small texting virtual keyboard. If only the iPhone would come out with an external keyboard of some sort like a Blackberry I would be one happy user (not to say that I am an unhappy iPhone user now because I am not).
To access the voice feature, look for Voice typing under Tools. It is available only by using the Chrome browser. You can also click the “Click to Speak” button to make sure your mic is enabled. As in the above example I have enabled the microphone yet. Once that is completed you will be able to type using the ‘Voice Typing’ feature under the Tools menu.The list below shows the commands that you can complete using the Voice Typing tool.
Try it out and see if you find it useful. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and what kind of experience you had using this feature. Remember to use the Chrome browser.
Since today is Leap Year Day, I decided to discount my book purchased through my website by 29% for a price of $14.20! That includes the full book and shipping to your destination. AL and HI will have a bit higher shipping charge so please let me know if that is where you want the book shipped. International shipping will be higher as well on an as ordered basis and I will send a price quote prior to invoicing you. This special won’t last long so take advantage of this spring and Leap Year special price and order yours today! Access the Contact Page and let me know you are interested in the book at the Leap Year special!