Good Tech Stuff

Last school year I was blessed with the privilege of being designated The Academy Director as part of a special bond for our school district. The bond was special funding from the state to have major upgrades to our facilities that were badly needed. Being The Academy director  allows me to do one of the many things I love about teaching and technology, research new and awesome technology that is helpful to our teachers, students, parents and community!!!That being said checkout the Good Tech Stuff here: http://www.ocisd.net/theacademy/about-the-academy

Choose an Academy Quick link to access the Good Tech Stuff!!

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Technology Reflections

If you have not figured it out by now, I am an IT Teacher, and I suppose one could say Technology is my “superpower” http://scotwright.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/super-heroes/.  I am easily bored and I find Technology and everything about it fascinating! There is always something new and exciting to explore and I NEVER find it overwhelming or frustrating, if anything, sometimes challenging. But, I do love a good challenge.  I not only teach technology subjects, but use technology in new ways in the classroom to (hopefully) engage students to learn.  For me technology is an extra appendage that I don’t think about using, it just happens. Sometimes I find it odd when asked questions about my passion for technology like “Don’t you get eye strain”? (LOL), “How do you know how to find or where do you get your ideas for technology use”? Well, I evolved, Technology has not always been my “Superpower”, but, I am extremely curious and when in the early 90’s technology began to take a huge surge in the public domain (The WWW and GUI OS ( Graphical User Interface Operating Systems) were introduced by Microsoft), I just had to know how it worked! Much like taking apart a clock to see what makes it tick. I have Been “On Line” ever since. See this awesome trailer from “The Internship” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jir62_ptloI. (So funny) As we are everchanging so is technology and you are never to old to evolve into a CONFIDENT technology using teacher in the classroom.  How do you become confident using technology in the classroom ? BABYSTEPS and Google. The Internet is THE pot of gold for any teacher if you just use it. Research it, check it out, pick something that sounds interesting or advantageous or that some other teacher has used and loved! Just one thing each year and then reflect on how it worked out. Add another new thing the following year and then reflect again.  Keep adding, reflecting and building and before you know it -you will have evolved!

Creativity and the Brain

For quite some time I have been researching “Gamification” in the classroom. I am an Information Technology teacher and last year’s group of Freshman were very challenging due to their lack of reading comprehension skills, sometimes that just happens, you end up with a class that has particularly low skills in a given area.  This being the digital age I could easily compensate with visuals to address the reading problem, but could never quite gain the percentage of engagement that I wanted at all times.  I needed something innovative and novel. I knew Gamification was out there in the cloud of information but could never find enough time during the year to even partially implement it. In doing the research this Summer I came across some examples that allowed for freedom of choice in activities completed by students which led me to 20% Time and Genius Hour ( I use Twitter as my PLN and I follow some awesome educator folks). I had previously completed a webinar on EdWeb “The Brain and Learning” which focused on Creativity and the Brain.  Now, what all of these have in common is Creating. Students having the freedom of choice to create their own learning. Quite frankly, I think this is a novel idea, allowing students to pursue their own interests for one hour a week. Of course there has to be some parameters involved to ensure true learning is taking place and that can be measured by a teacher. First, I want to address Creativity in the Brain from the “Creative Brain: The Neuroscience of Creativity” webinar found here www.edweb.net/brain. This is a very interesting webinar and I would recommend that all educators view this, you have nothing to lose as you will receive a certificate if you have a free account with EdWeb that can be used towards your required PD hours. The presenter for the webinar is Dr. Robert Bilder as seen here with his credentials.

Creativity in the Brain

He opens with this quote: All children are born geniuses and we spend the first six years of their lives de-geniusing them.  He states that when surveying children about their education and what their preferences would be we hear: Engagement, Freedom and Connections- Not having to seek right or wrong answers but the freedom to explore and forge new connections between areas of interest and thinking.  Science is now being used to track the experience structures of the brain, and using what we know about the brain to change how it works, causing experiences to maximize the areas of the brain thet we would like to maximize. Surprisingly enough, studies also show that new growth of cells and neurons can continue well into adulthood-connectivty shows active dependent plasticity. We can change the way we think, our brain and brain structure at any age. Science can now prove “that an old dog can learn new tricks”. What are the ways that we can study creative cognition in humans? And, what are the operational definitions of creativity?

  • Novelty with respect to domain
  • Value with respect to domain

The intersection of novelty and value cause the truly big changes and shifts and occur at the edge of chaos. The core contributors of creative cognition are abilities most associated with creative achievement.  The Foundations of Creative Cognition can be seen below.

Foundations of Creative Cognition

 

  • Generation– Executing ideas and getting products out in large numbers, externalizing allows us to free up brain space and continue with new connected creativity.
  • Memory– Working memory or short term memory- to generate novel ideas, we need to maintain multiple ideas just long enough to manipulate them and  yield new connections and new concepts.
  • Inhibition– To foster innovation we need to inhibit habits and go beyond the first thing that comes to mind. See the following video for a fine example of inhibting habits and true problem solving.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QflRbYdCbNg

  •  Drive, Emotion and Visceral States- Connection to core motivational systems drives all action and perception and is the perfect mix of flexibilty and stability in the brain- the edge of chaos. Connecting cognitive states and bodily states connect narrative with emotion,-feeling states of communicative ability.

Concept of Flow

An automatic, effortless,yet highly focused state of consciousness

Balancing stability and flexibilty

High generativity, productivity

Flexible memeory combination (working short term memory)

Successfully inhibiting intrusive habits

Connecting drive to action and perception promoting creative achievement

(there is that p word @RitaClawson)

And Finally leading me as a teacher to:

http://www.20timeineducation.com/

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/20-percent-time-a-j-juliani

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/09/living/genius-hour-education-schools/

http://www.geniushour.com/

I will be incorporating Free Choice Creative Learning as a part of the novel Gamification implementation of  converting my curriculum, with true value in engaging students in my classroom this Fall!

All information from the “Creative Brain: The Neuroscience of Creativity” is directly from the webinar and in no way am I claiming this as an original work but merely as a summary.

More On Teenagers and Technology

As an Information Technology Teacher I am always on the lookout for interesting articles that are science based that give me an insight into what I am dealing with in the classroom.  I tend to be more open minded about teaching methods that involve technology and the everchanging technological world we live in. I can see both sides concerning teaching with and or without more or less technology.  I think a good happy mix is required to keep students engaged.  Scientific studies show that teenagers more readily adapt to everything technological and those over 30 , not so much.  Knowing this as teachers, and being over 30, we should reflect upon  what resources we are using in the classroom and perhaps (for those that stubbornly believe the way they learned is just fine for students today) incorporate more technological resources.  Yes, it can be a challenge, but well worth the effort if just one student learns more readily when using technology.  See the article at Science Illustrated for an eye opening read from an adoloscent brain expert Dr. Jay Guiedd http://scienceillustrated.com.au/blog/features/teenage-brains-in-the-digital-world/

I Am A TEACHER! And Oh so Glad!

Kind

Sometimes I am just so very glad to be a Teacher,  it makes me happy!  I can’t tell you that I always find perfection in life but I do find perfection in students everyday that are a part of my life!  It’s not always the big things, sometimes just the tiniest thing, but I SEE it and I tell them I see it.  I care,  I love them each and their amazing, oh so different qualities that they bring everyday. Aren’t we all oh so different?  Do we see the amazing qualities and individual quirks that makes each of us what we are?  Do we see the positive or do we see the negative?  Everyday when I get up and get ready for school  I make sure before I walk out the door, no matter what is happening at school, at home, that my outlook is positive.  I want to make sure I can SEE my students and all that they are and what makes them tick, what are their passions and loves and what makes them happy.  I want to touch those sparks and create BONFIRES!  I want them to be Everything they can, and I want to help them get to and find their EVERYTHING, not just because it’s my job, but because I care!  So, what quality is it that makes me feel this way and other teachers like me?  I know I am not alone,  I work with some fine, amazing teachers, who like me, put themselves out there everyday because we care and we love.  I think the qualities we share are compassion, understanding, sympathy and empathy.  These qualities force us to go the extra mile, the extra hours, the extra emotion,  whatever is needed and necessary to reach our students and make them successful in their passions and loves and life goals!  KUDOS, KUDOS, KUDOS to all teachers who care about and want everything for their students and work very hard to make success, self esteem and confidence a part of their student’s characters and lives on a daily basis.

For the last couple of days I have been back at school for the Professional Development week prior to students joining us back at school next week.  I ended up sitting next to what I refer to as a “Grumpy”, oh it was miserable and rubbed  me wrong until there was a point when I could change my seating arrangement.  This “Grumpy” mumbled at every thought or word spoken of compassion when students were linked with the idea!  Really!!! My thoughts were “So this is how you really feel, why are you even here”! This actually caused me pain,  my heart clenched and I “hurt” for our students.  Yes,  I know, it is really hard to be a teacher sometimes, but if we can’t find care for our students, what are we doing teaching?  Being a teacher is far more than just teaching the curriculum and if you don’t care about your students, they know it, and what are they actually going to learn from YOU or want to learn from YOU? UGH!  Thank YOU Jesus that teacher is not the norm!  Check out the following link presented at my PD yesterday and makes my heart swell! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMD0XtQqfkg  All  students need to hear this and believe this!  What do you do that makes your students feel important and loved?  I want my students to know it and feel it and live it !!  This is how I want my students to feel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z19vsCuRK94  !!!

Care for them, Love them, Inspire them,  YOU ARE A TEACHER!

Brain Interest #2

letfrightbrain

As teachers in the Digital Age we know that our students have an obsession with Social Media, so much so that I purposely created a Unit in  my first year Principles of Information Technology class to address it.  I figure that if they love it soooo much they needed to know everything about it, right? HeHe,  they learn far more than they ever wanted to know!  I found an interesting article about how Social Media impacts the brain here: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/03/the-impact-of-social-media-on-our-brain.html  .  So,  now I know exactly why they love it so much and why some teachers can’t stay off of it. There have actually been many studies done about this, apparently “Posting about yourself on Social Media sites rewards your brain the same way that food and sex do”.  What??!!  Yes,  The pathways that are affected by Dopamine in the brain are all right together; Social Media, Sex, Food!!!  At the link listed above there is an infographic that visually explains it precisely.   And,  apparently resisting Twitter, Facebook and other Social Medias was more difficult than resisting Smoking, Drinking, Spending Money, Sleeping and Sex.  Well,  I’d rather Spend Money and Sleep more than posting on Twitter and Facebook! LOL! Social Media is so addicting because it is all about YOU!  How is it affecting our students when we know we did not grow up with it and yet we are addicted, so lets just imagine how it affects our students.  Studies show that students graduating in the Digital Age:

1. 1 in 3 of the people under 30 say they value social media freedom over salary. (Huh?)

2.  56% of these say that they would not take a job that did not allow access to social media regardless of salary. (Huh?)

3.  The average person gave up 17-25% of possible earnings to talk about their own feelings on social media. (Huh?… feelinngggsss, nothing more than feelings….)

Yes,  Well,, if students feel this strongly about it maybe we should be using Social Media to teach them with and maybe they will also become addicted to that.  It seems to me that online collaboration would fit nicely into the “talking about yourself, and talking about your feelings (better known as opinions).  But, it also seems that as teachers we should be doing a better job of addressing the importance of the workplace and making a decent salary versus personal time spent on Facebook.  But wait, I think the better employers/companies are addressing that and using these Social Medias for their employees to collaborate with and advertise about their company and products. Oh, and I use social media to collaborate with other educators as part of my PLN.  Social Media is here and it is never going away, so jump on the bandwagon and be creative, use it to teach with, you might just be surprised what you might learn!

 

Brain Interest #1

Seven things for teachers to know Brain

I have this interest in the brain and how students with special needs and all students really, need us as teachers to have a very in depth grasp and understanding of how the brain works so that we may as much is absolutely possible teach in ways that allow them to comprehend the content we are teaching.  Educators Technology has posted an article and image about the brain and students that all teachers need to review as a reminder about effective teaching and how to accomplish it http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/08/7-things-teachers-need-to-know-about.html. Quote from article states this: “The core concept behind effective instruction is differentiation and adaptation particularly now that technology and digital media is taking over every facet of our life. Being able and ready to adapt your teaching methods to your students emerging learning needs is the key to  successful teaching”.  So, do you try, really try as a teacher to use technology in ways that help your students learn, grasp and comprehend the content you are teaching?  Well, if you are not really doing that on a daily basis, you are falling behind in your teaching career! You are becoming outdated!  A new and wonderful technology that can and will reach any student and will get you as a teacher using technology the way you should is Thinglink, go here and use it!     http://www.thinglink.com/   Thinglink can be used in any subject and they just may have something you can use that you do not have to create!  The internet is just full of catchy little tools that students will sit up and take notice of and learn with, if you as a teacher will just use them!  Collaborate with other teachers if you are not sure what is out there.  Leave me a comment with your e-mail if you are looking for something specific to use.  I will gladly help,  if I do not know about somethimg to attack your issue,  I will find something..  Let’s understand the brains of our digital students and use what is a daily part of our student’s lives to Teach Them!

Using Technology for Your Personal Learning Networks

Image

So.. What do you use?  I use Twitter and Edmodo mainly.  I can connect to teachers and educators all over the world.  I can ask questions about something I am unsure about and  BOOM !! I have an answer.  Edmodo has subject and topic groups and a search bar that shows posts about whatever I have entered.  Twitter has hashtags #??? that I can search and find relevant tweets on any given subject.  Another good one I have discovered is Google +.  I can add specific users (educators) to a specific circle I create and follow them and what they post.  I LIKE being able to learn what I know I need and that I am Interested in.  Let me know what you use and why.

Technology in the Classroom Today, EdmodoCon

Edmodo image

 

Today I am taking part in Edmodocon, an online webinar for professional development.  I am a user of Edmodo, a free online classroom management system.  Edmodo has allowed me to go paperless!  I love Edmodo,  I teach Information Technology so my classroom is a computer lab, but even if you do not have a computer lab handy, Edmodo has an app that can be used on any device.  EdmodoCon today has not just been about using Edmodo, tons and tons of resources about how to use technology in the classroom, for every subject and every app imagineable and how to use them!  This is a fantastic professional development so if you have missed out,  it will be available next week recorded at Edmodocon.com,  So,  if you need any new ways or ideas for the new school year that is fast approaching, be sure to check out EdmodoCon!