Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sharing insight on how technology can truly impact learning

DSC09399This Spring I had the opportunity to work with the amazing Kristi Zoerhof and her first graders at Bentheim Elementary School. Through Sony's Education Ambassador program, I was afforded the chance to develop a case study where we would see how big of an impact we could make on teaching and learning with the company's Xperia tablet over the course of three weeks.

It was a whirlwind of an experience, but a great one. I recently completed a blog post at Sony's detailing the case study, how we followed the SAMR progression, and  complete with a video that offers not only the kids' reflections but Kristi's as well.

A Case Study: Great Teaching And The Sony Xperia Tablet Impact First Grade Learning

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stop training. Start Learning.

As we approach August, a lot of professional development initiatives are ramping-up. A word that drives me nuts is "training".

It is a pretty bland word and it has gotten to be so prevalent we don't think much about it, Here is what bugs me though. The results of training are mindless. We train monkeys to ride bikes. We train bears to ride bikes and we know from YouTube that letting them race is a really bad idea. Football coaches train linemen to take the proper footwork so the player can put all energy into exerting physically without having to think. Choreographers do the same with dancers.

Teaching is a creative, artful process that takes constant decision making and reflection. When you "train" a teacher to use a piece of technology you are essentially just programming them to use it in one way without thinking about the device or app's full capabilities or new ways learning can be impacted. When we are in the "training" mindset we get future questions like "Who said it was okay to use Google Chrome? They showed us Firefox."

That type of thinking is inherently a death nail to innovation and problem solving. All we create when we train is very expensive robots that are easily distracted by "The Bachelor", Kardashian's, and fantasy football.

This might be semantic hair-splitting, but consider the alternatives available. When I lead professional development sessions I really try to adopt the "lead learner" approach. I state right away that by no means do I know everything about what I am sharing and that my presentation should simply be a launching point for conversation and many questions that begin with "What if...'. I want my co-learners to share their ideas. This creates an atmosphere of collaboration and an expectation that the conversations and exploration will be ongoing and not just a one-shot lesson in button pushing. That type, the training type of PD doesn't stick. Learning sticks!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Teach the Path to Innovation

edheadsWe want  our kids to be creative and innovative. What do we do beyond hope and roll the dice that activities we give them generate creativity and innovation?

In a true serendipitous moment I discovered  this great activity: Design a Cellphone. I was at Edheads looking for an activity that a substitute teacher could lead to keep students engaged. I thought that a cellphone link would be a good place to start. What I learned is that the activity has a much big picture it helps teach.

Students learn that in order to be a successful designer, engineer, or a challenge-based learning problem solver  they need to

4)Evaluate their results

The effects of the lesson really translate to future teaching and learning as it provides a great reference point to different stages of projects and challenges.


Monday, July 22, 2013

The Road to Redefinition: Teaching with iPads and Android mobile devices

The Road to Redefinition: Overcoming the impossible by teaching with iPads and Android mobile devices

The SAMR model describes the progression educators make with technology from simply "substituting" analog tasks with digital tasks to "redefinition" which entails changing teaching and learning to the degree results were inconceivable before the invention of the technology. Investigate the progression and explore practical examples of how real teachers are accomplishing this with iPads and other Android devices.

Below are my presentation slides. I will be presenting this on Wednesday July 24 at Learning in Disguise in East Grand Rapids, MI and then again on August 22 at the St. Clair RESA 21st Century Symposium in Marysville, MI.

Sony Education: First Grade Xperia Tablet Case Study: Lite version - Extended version


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Action Movie FX plus green construction paper equals iMovie McGyver gold

While finishing an unconference session with Dennis Grice at the Discovery Education Summer Institute on ways to create cool effects and titles for iMovie by using Keynote slides with the funky asparagus color, I had an "oh wow" moment.

"What if?" I excitedly asked myself, "I pulled out the silly JJ Abrams created Action Movie FX app and instead of filming an object to flood or explode I just filmed green?"

[caption id="attachment_212" align="aligncenter" width="248"]free app available for the iPhone. free app available for the iPhone.[/caption]

Would it work in iMovie (iLife '11 not iOS version) as a green screen layer?

I frantically raced around looking for green construction paper and to my assistance came Kyle Schutt and Chad Lehman. They pulled a piece out of a supply case and I was off to try it.

I recorded the effect and saved to camera roll.

[caption id="attachment_213" align="aligncenter" width="283"]Record a few seconds of green. Record a few seconds of green.[/caption]

Next I imported the effect clip over green I had saved to iMovie and created a new project. I dragged a clip up onto the project timeline of Dean Shareski who was one of the lead facilitators of the institute. Another group of guys and I had been working on a silly mashup video and we had a fun clip of Dean acting surprised.

The next step was to drag the effect clip of the flood directly on top of the Dean clip until an options menu appeared. You have to be using iLife 11 and you need advanced tools selected in your iMovie preferences.


Next I selected "Green Screen".

select green screen

After getting the effect clip in the right place, I tested it and the water was coming in too high. I simply used the crop option and tweaked the effect oh so slightly. This tweaking was a Dennis Grice idea and really speaks to the increased flexibility that creating the effects on green provides over trying to do everything with the iPhone.


Below is the final product.

Sure...this is silly. Just think though of the creativity that students can generate. Think of the fun. Think of all of the language arts that can be fostered by creating "What if..." video writing prompts like "What if dinosaurs invaded the Obama inauguration?" or "What if Justin Bieber was trapped under a rock?" and kids had to write about how the problem was solved. Seems like pretty good pedagogy starting out with an anticipatory set like that.

What I plan to do for my students is record all of the different effects on green paper and then place them on Google Drive in a folder students can access. For appropriate use, students can then download effect clips and import them into iMovie projects. There is then no need for them to all have devices with the app on it. Since the app is free I also feel good that we aren't skirting any process that would be outside the ethical bounds of sharing. We can apply to an endless amount of footage which expands the app's capability exponentially.

See what other cool ideas you can think of. I would love to hear them in the comments.