19 June 2014

Watch Google Classroom in Action -->

Watch Google Classroom in Action -->

Google is hard at work trying to win over the education market, as is visible with its Google Apps For Education (GAFE) project. Many schools love and use GAFE on a regular basis and with the release of their new Classroom tool, there may be many more schools coming on board soon. Check out the newly released video below to see just what Classroom is all about.

D. Frank Smith:
The video shows off Classroom's biggest attraction — the assignments workflow, which blends aspects of Docs, Drive and Gmail. Teachers can distribute and collect assignments across a variety of classes without using a single piece of paper. The system also allows teachers to grade assignments and provide immediate feedback. 
Applications to preview the app are being accepted now, and Google’s plan is to roll out access to educators before an anticipated global launch in September.

What do you think about this new tool coming to the GAFE suite? Are you interested in giving it a try? I think it may become a direct competitor to some educational CMSs like Schoology or Canvas. It'll be interesting to see what happens with it all.

Source: EdTechMagazine.com
via Pam Turley

Reaching Every Student, Is it even Possible?

Source: StockMonkeys.com

Having just read an incredibly thought provoking post by the Nerdy Teacher himself, Nicholas Provenzano I have to wonder, can we really reach every one of our students? Should we worry if we can’t and/or don’t? Are we failures if we can’t and/or don’t?

How many of us feel the same way Nick does here:
I strive to make sure that I reach every student and that every single one of them feel like they are in an environment that support them in learning. For me, 20 Time was the best project for that because it gave the students the power to control what they wanted to explore. How could I fail at giving students the choice to explore their interests? In implementing 20 Time I had to make cuts in the curriculum. I trimmed fat that was not required and cut out assignments that felt were nice, but redundant. By doing this, did I hurt my students for next year? 
I understand that the perfect lesson is my white whale. In a class of 90, is it acceptable to have 15 that did not like the lesson at all be the deciding factor as to whether or not I bring a lesson back? How valuable is student feedback. I know it is important, but how much weight should it have in making decisions like this?
As educators, we need to make sure we are doing our best to reach every one of our students, but should we really cut out lessons and activities we feel are valuable because a small percentage of our students dislike them? Are we hurting them by making sacrifices, although seemingly beneficial, in the curriculum we are asked to teach? Just how important is student feedback? I know I enjoy receiving it, both positive and negative, and yet, do I always use it to make adjustments?

I think many of us have felt similarly to Nick at the end of the school year. I know I always have a sense of melancholy near the end of the year and especially in the days immediately following the last day of school. Many times I start to question my every move and lesson throughout the year and then I have to stop myself and just let it go, at least for a few days. I have tried to make myself take a couple of days after school has ended and I am checked out for the year to not think about the teaching and learning that occurred in my classroom. I feel like I need to let it simmer and then come back to it after a mental break when I can focus more and truly give the reflection and growth the time it deserves and needs.

As Nick puts it:
Maybe I need some more time removed from these year defining events and think more about what 20 Time, not only meant for my students, but meant for me.
We can’t let ourselves get too discouraged at the end of the year, especially if we haven’t let ourselves rest stop and think about what actually happened.

Thanks to Pernille Ripp for pointing me to Nick’s excellent post. It has forced me to do some difficult thinking and reflecting on my school year. But it’s okay because I’ve had some time removed from the classroom this year and have been able to actually make some progress with what need to be done next year.

17 June 2014

CMD+Space Episode 100 -->

CMD+Space Episode 100 -->

As I mentioned earlier on this site, I am a HUGE fan of podcasts and especially any that involve Myke Hurley, the amazing British podcasting personality. Myke recently celebrated the 100th Episode of his interview show CMD+Space on the great 5by5 network. If you enjoy podcasts as an entertainment medium, do yourself a favor and go have a listen. Making the episode even better is the fact that Stephen Hackett of 512 Pixels and one of Myke's cohosts on The Prompt turns the microphone around and interviews Myke.

Congrats to Myke on reaching 100 episodes of CMD+Space and for all his amazing work in the podcasting world. Good luck on hitting 100 more episodes!

(via CMD+Space Episode 100MD+Space Episode 100)

Making Space on iOS -->

How to Free Up Space on iOS -->

Bradley Chambers writes:
In 2014, 16 GB is becoming less and less manageable. Apps are getting bigger, we are consuming more media, and we are taking more photos. Time and time again, I've gotten calls and emails asking how to free up space on an iOS device. This is often a complex question. I want to run through some ways that you can deal with this issue if your phone gives you the dreaded out of space alert when you go to take a photo.
This is a great write-up answering a question that I get asked very frequently about how to make room for new photos or apps on your iOS device. Bradley has taken the time to detail 7 different steps you can take to make sure your iOS device has sufficient space to function as you want it to. I was amazed at just how quick and easy it is for your iOS device to bulge up like it's was on a months-long vacation.

I have to say, my favorite part of the entire article is below:
Using the above tips should help tide you over till you upgrade your phone again. Next time, move up to a 32 GB device (I am going with a 64 GB).
While I am currently using a 32 GB model iPhone 5, I think I may have to try to jump to the 64 GB model if I can swing it with the financial department. Until then, I need to go try a few of these ideas to make sure my iPhone stays lean and mean until this Fall and a possible upgrade.

(via Bradley Chambers on ChambersDaily.com)

16 June 2014

Analog Love

There is something very nice about being able to “unplug” from technology and return to nature. One of my family’s favorite traditions is to go up to my in-laws’ cabin and get away for a weekend or two each Summer. We love it so much, we always try for 2-3 visits per year, if not more. Now this isn’t a cabin that is more house-like with all the major amenities like satellite T.V., Internet connectivity, paved roads, etc., this is a rugged cabin where yes there is power and plumbing, but that’s about it. We have to travel up a bumpy dirty trail, I guess it is a road but it’s not frequently graded by the city or county so it feels more trail like, and then we finally arrive to this, a wonderful relaxing break from all things “connected” for the duration of our stay. 

Petty Family cabin

One of my favorite parts of coming to the cabin is the chance to truly unplug and not worry about my email, current RSS subscriptions I haven’t had a chance to read, other online planning for events I’m involved with, but take an opportunity to sit back and enjoy some family time. My daughter knows she can’t play iPad, which usually means watching a few episodes of her favorite PBS Kids shows, and she is perfectly fine with it because she gets to explore some awesome nature! We hike, throw rocks in the creek that flows by the cabin, pick wild flowers, and play card games (after little brother goes to bed so he doesn’t try to eat/destroy the cards). We have a blast and I really miss it all once we head back down the mountain to civilization. 

The amazing John Spencer recently wrote about something similar on his site Education Rethink about not having an app for that. He mentioned that his family has designated off-screen times and that it forces them to interact with the “real world” and not just the online fun that we create for ourselves. And what is his reason for being so hard on his family and not allowing them the freedom to be creative in a digital manner, “I want them to know that the world is round.” What? Can’t you learn that from Wikipedia or a Google search or looking at online pictures? Yes, all of those things can help one to learn about the world, but here’s an even better way to learn about the world, GO LIVE IN IT! Go explore. Go outside and play. 

No, not like that. Go outside and play with others and learn what the world “feels” like, what it “smells” like, what it “tastes” like (I do not condone the act of eating things that will either make you sick or kill you, but a little dirt or grass here or there is good for you, right?) enjoy the “real world” and not just through pictures. 

John goes on to talk about the fact that his kids play pretend and even get into sibling fights over nothing important, but the typical sibling fights. But one of the absolute best lines in the entire post (you really should go and read the entire thing, after you finish reading this post first, duh) is his last line, “it was augmented reality in a way that you can’t find on a screen.” I love technology and all the amazing things it can do you us and education, but it can’t show us the real-world things of this world better than actually going outside and living can. 

With all of this said, I think I want to add a new tag to ETB, Analog, to help us all remember some of the great things in this life that aren’t digital. I love a lot of analog tools, in fact I was recently asked to speak to a group of educators about some of my favorite tools I use on a daily basis and I couldn’t help but talk about my favorite index cards (yes I have a favorite) and one of my favorite pens (yes you read that right, pens as in multiple favorites, I blame Myke and Brad of the Pen Addict Podcast for this one, go listen and you’ll see why). Many of those in attendance seemed a little confused because I was here to talk to them about some of my favorite tools and I am the “tech guy” and yet I’m talking about analog stuff? Yep and I can’t help it. Some of my most used tools are in fact analog and I LOVE it! So I will be taking some time to review and write about some of these items and I hope you’ll be willing to read along and maybe even go out and give them a try, you never know, some of these analog tools may become some of your favorite tools too!

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