iOS For Elementary

Today I am leading a faculty meeting at a elementary on the potential of iOS devices and urging a couple in their hands. Here are my kid app screen shots and a kid using a non-iOS device.

Video Your Trials

Today in the student presentations I am learning that taking video of every trial in an experiment is both instinctive and essential for today inquiring minds.

In the attached example it was actually part of their planned data collection: they measure the height later in logger pro. But several of my students have used video of early trial to improve experimental process and or recover from errors. Great stuff and cellphones and iPods were out in force.

What Is Most Important For Learning

I attended the orientation session for a Massive Open Online Course yesterday. The is a course entitled Learning and Knowledge Analytics. It is only a short course. It is a topic I think I should be more well versed in. I have always wanted to know what my motivation to take a free course would be. It is based in Moodle, and I have always wanted to be a Moodle student, having taught so much within it. Most importantly I might meet some wonderful new people

This slide caught my eye. In a traditional classroom the big words are reversed. Students track (take notes), interact (do something with the notes) then create (if they ever get to do this). So in this course we create first. It is essential because there will be more content than we can consume, and by creating we will focus on the conversations and content that we need most.

I often get stuck at the start of a project. Then I remember, just put something down. Any part, any order. Then the rest start to flow and I know what other information I need. Classrooms need to create first.


I hear teachers talk about all the things that they have to cover. It is sometimes an excuse for not changing the way we teach. How could I possible cover everything if I allowed time for inquiry? How could I possibly have the time for a discussion? How can I cram more technology into my course?

As a technology integration person I have never sold technology as a time saver. I have always sold it as making the time we have better, more fun, relevant or engaging. Yet some of this urgency has spilled over into my own frustrations with how problem solving gets taught in my own class. I have forgotten that I am not in charge of when something is learned.

I was reminded of this in a great little book called Serving With Eyes Wide Open. It is a book specifically about short term mission trips. It is really so much more. It is about opening up your perspective on the world to see your own cultural viewpoint so that you can enjoy other cultural viewpoints. While some of the chapters are specific to Christian ministry, much of the content is about culture.

This quote convicted me, "Our drive to make everything happen 'now' rather than seeing what unfolds can lead us to be judgmental of people in more laid-back cultures." I wonder if we can apply this statement to schools, where teachers are asked to live increasingly in the adult results now world of business but teach kids who are by their nature are revealing slowly to themselves and the world around them what they know.

School is about seeing what unfolds. We do not know what each person in a classroom is going to bring to that classroom until June when we close the door on that class. It does not mesh with what is being demanded of us, which is frustrating for us. However we must let our students continue to reveal who they are as they discover who they are.

Learning and Ribs

Ribs in the smoker

I love ribs. I love them with BBQ and with rubs. I love them all year long. I can eat a lot of ribs. I love to look at them at the meat counter and pick out my ribs. I love to cook them. And I cook them like you have too... slow.

So here is what I observe about my heat and temperature inquiry. It was a process. And I think this is OK. Learning that takes time lasts. My objective was to have student run into a need to understand both specific heat and latent heat in their quest to show me a scenario that matched my conditions. Many groups did. I would get great questions and answer them with more questions. This was especially true as student prepared their presentations. One of the main components of the presentation is telling us what a physics professor would have said would happen. They dig into the book and the wikipedia and the physics classroom trying to figure out what someone more trained might say, and they come with more questions. Many times questions that I do not know the answer to.

It just feels like it take a long time. Mainly because, like tasting the ribs after hours of cooking, I know how good it is when you understand something new about the world. I find myself explaining things perhaps more often, and in orders that I would not have chosen, but students hang on the words. Instead of me wondering if they have ever cracked the text, they come with it open asking for help with a passage.

By the way, not every group gets there. Some get it during the presentations when I highlight stuff and ask questions. Others seem to need a problem set to get it. Some need the first quiz, but even that is fine because they can take it until they are happy (SBG!). Some probably escape from the topic somehow, just like they always have, it is just not as many as it used to be.

Diigo Educators Group

In my third period class a couple weeks back a student asked about her old bookmarks and whether the school would have a backup of them. I wondered why a junior at a one to one laptop school did not know about Delicious, and proceeded to show it to her and the class, including how to upload her current bookmarks. Then someone else in the class said, "That sounds a lot like Diigo." This made me very happy and I showed the class my Diigo account. The original student who had asked the question asked why anyone would use Delicious when there was Diigo? I did not know the answer. So that day I imported all my Delicious bookmarks into my Diigo account and set it up to post everything to delicious just in case.

This also prompted me to investigate the free Diigo educators account, and the email exchange below with our district Technology Integration Specialist.

Recently when I switched to using Diigo I applied for an ad free educator account. The process was simple and I had created a couple of groups that had students posting in them so they approved me a couple of days later. You become then a member of their educators group, which I am finding to be a rich but not overwhelming source of outside perspective. It is not all the usual suspects posting links there, which makes it different. A little more practical. If you have not joined or if you delete the group emails take a look.

I recommend the educator account to all the teachers I talk to about Diigo.  It really works well for teachers who want to manage their students in groups.  I get the emails from a variety of Diigo Groups and I find them very valuable - Diigo in Education Group, The Apple Group, Group I Love Teaching Math, Google in Education, Group Classroom 2.0.  Sometimes I can't keep up with the links even though they come about once a day.  But usually when I look at the links they are some great things.  I have really bought into Diigo for the past year - hopefully it doesn't go the way of delicious.  I recommend Diigo to teachers now as a tool for finding those nuggets online.

I should add that I have at least one teacher doing the same thing with a Posterous account, which can also be linked to Delicious.


It is easy to read Seth Godin and say yes. Especially when he says this:

It's so tempting to shut people down, to limit the upside, to ostracize, select and demonize. It makes things a lot simpler. Not seeing means you don't have to take action. Not opening means it's easier to announce that you're done. And not raising the bar means you're less likely to fail.

I am adding it to my list of people who think we have to have a posture of the Image of God. Each student. Each colleague, each administrator and board member. Each one has something that is only revealed in them.

What I would like to do as I explore this is figure out how to make that posture happen in reality. It is really easy to read and agree with. It is really hard when every fiber of your being and the entire culture around you is crying out to close people down.