Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Would You Starve Your Kids Now, If You Knew if A Famine Was Coming?

So if you knew food would be scarce in a couple of years, would you begin to make your kids know what it was like to be hungry now?  

Of course not.  It is far more likely that you would feed them well, lots of leafy green vegetables, fruits, proteins, make them as strong as they could possibly be so they could weather the tough times!  

We would never have them "practice" being hungry.

That is what I think of every time I am asked the question
"How will PBL students be  prepared to sit in a lecture hall of 300 kids in college?"  

I have kids in their 20's,  all newly in or out of college in the last few years, all three have had to collaborate, communicate, work in groups, present projects, find outside resources and experts, manage an internship,  take responsibility for their own learning and YES, they have had to sit in a lecture hall of 300 or so kids and believe it or not, they didn't need any experience to be able to do that.  The part they needed experience with was how to break down that lecture, apply it to their background knowledge, take and organize notes, find a group to study with, manage their time between work, school and fun, live on a budget, collaborate with others, give presentations, interview, plan for the future and more.

In a recent school tour, middle school students were asked this question about PBL and college, it stumped them a little, college is so far away when you are barely a teenager, their teacher tweeted out the question asking for a little help from project-based learning practitioners on Twitter who use the #PBLChat hashtag.  This crowd-sourced google doc was the result of @RyanSteuer 's tweet.  Feel free to add to that list!

In the meantime....Feed your children well!

(Now that Crosby Stills & Nash song is stuck in my head...Teach, your children well.....)


Friday, April 26, 2013

Building Bridges of Their Own #StudentsareAwesome

Just about a year ago I gave an Ignite Talk at our New Tech Network summer conference called "Bridges & Fences".  

As I rehearsed for this I could never say the ending without choking up, you can hear in my voice at the end that I barely made it through.  I think it makes me emotional because those of us in education know so many students who are surrounded by fences they didn't build but must somehow get over to reach their dreams and goals.  As educators we try to empower them to build a bridge to get over that fence.

A big part of project-based learning and the culture of schools in our network is  is to be connected to each other, to their community and to the world.  A few weeks ago we issued a challenge to students around the country, "How have you been building bridges?".  We received over 60 amazing 2 minute videos from students that , in spite of the fences in their own lives, are busy building bridges to help those around them over fences.

Take a look at this playlist and be inspired by these amazing students who are building bridges of their own!

Monday, April 8, 2013

I Don't Care What Device You Choose, Really, I Don't.

Laptop, iPad, Android, Chromebook, BYOT, what is a school to do?
The implications of each choice can be far reaching, touching teachers, students, budgets, tech departments and more!

I get asked "What device do you think is the best?" almost every day and, here is the deal,
I don't care what device you choose, really, I don't.
I care about what your teachers & students are going to DO WITH IT. 

So let's begin with a one questions quiz:

Why are we moving to 1:1?

A.  All the cool schools are doing it
B.  We got a grant for iPads
C.  The state says we have to prepare for online testing
D. Our mission & vision support transforming the way we support teaching & learning
E. Worksheets look awesome on LCD screens.

I bet you know which one was the correct!
As always you gotta know your WHY  (Thank you, Simon Sinek) before you even begin to think about a device.

Because this is much more than a technology decision, be sure you have lots of voices at the table, teachers, parents, students the tech team and more.

Since I tweet out or reply to an email pretty much every week at this point in the school year around this question,  I thought I would just link right here to the resources I routinely share out.

Many of these links help you get to your "why" not just your "what", but there is also good "what" advice, too.

Implementing a 1:1 Program via Nick Sauers ( )
New Tech Network 's Pinterest Board with BYOD/BYOT resources 
1:1 Essentials Program from Common Sense Media
4 Questions to Ask Before Choosing: iPad or Chromebook via Edudemic
How to Choose the Right Tablet for Your School via @CenterDigitalEd
How to Choose the Best Device for Your School via Adam Webster ( @Cagelessthink)
Project Red
5 School-Worthy Alternatives for Education

In addition to the above articles here are three helpful chats and hashtags.

#1:1techat at 9pm EST on Wednesdays
#BYOTChat 9pm EST on Thursdays
#iPadChat 1pm EST on Wednesdays

I look forward to you sharing resources that you have found helpful on this journey!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Miss People & Sometimes Paper

Like most of you who are a part of a variety of social media networks,  I'm hyper-connected. My cell phone is WAY more than a phone. we have no home phone or alarm clocks, I text more than I talk, at night after I shut down my laptop, I check my phone before going to sleep. I can go days and only get texts, not actually speaking to our kids.

My home office is equipped with a laptop, dual monitors, an iPad and google chat is always open.
Today, I have had  a Vidyo meeting connecting Rochester IN with Napa and Oakland CA. , exchanged tweets with students in Michigan and Indiana.  I have chatted with teachers in Texas, Ohio, North Carolina and Oregon, none of whom I have ever met in person.  In about an hour I have another virtual meeting where three of us in 3 different states will be collaborating around a project.

I work from home and can go days without seeing anyone face to face except my husband and my dog, Brinkley.

Don't get me wrong, most of the the time I love working from home! My morning commute is about 15 steps and I don't have to wait in line for coffee! The dress code is pretty relaxed, too.
But I miss people!

A few weeks ago I was able to attend the CoSN conference, conferences, for me, have become a place where I get to meet f2f people I've already talked to via Twitter or blogs for months or sometimes years.  I had no idea how conferences would change in nature for me as I became a "virtual girl".  They are still places of inspiration, learning and conversation, but now, they are so much more.

I'm super excited about the upcoming New Tech Network summer conferences. I'll get to see educators who I've been working with online face to face, to laugh and think together in person.

Also for Indiana's Summer of E-Learning conferences, I'll be attending and/or presenting at many of them. Indiana is the home of my very first PLN by way of the HECC list and #INeLearn.

Ohh and I can't forget two more!

EdCamp Fort Wayne is coming up in May, this will be my very first edcamp and I cannot wait!
Then another brand spanking new conferences in Grand Rapids, MI called Nova Now.  

I also miss paper

Not all paper, just sometimes.  At NTN we use google docs for pretty much everything. I have more docs than I can count (or sometimes find) but for some tasks,  I do better with paper.  I like my to do list on a yellow legal pad.  I make a new one everyday at the end of the day, prioritizing a la Stephan Covey's quadrants.  I have yet to find an app that is more effective for me!

During those virtual meetings, someone is always keeping notes on a Google doc, but I am also taking messy, scribbly notes of my own on that same legal pad.

I wonder... 

As we move towards blended learning, online learning, and less face to face, if we don't need to keep in mind that our students might miss face to face (and paper) too! Let's make sure they get time with people and with paper as needed!