Friday, January 28, 2011

5 for Friday 1/28/11

A sick day for me this week caused me to be a day behind on scouring the internet for great resources.  It didn't seem to matter though because what I found over the next four days really made up for that missed day.  Google seems to have been pushing out a lot this week they made the list a number of times.

As an aside Google launched Google for education and google apps for education, I'll let you discover how that may impact you since I'm still searching and sifting through these items...

Check out the 5 best resources of the week here:

Google Forms are RIDICULOUS if you aren’t using them, why not?  Here are 62 ways to use google forms….

11 Ways Schools Can Be Relevant, Compelling and Effective in the Coming Transformational Years (how are we positioning ourselves, our classrooms and our schools in order to meet these new demands?)

Be a BIG thinker here….7 fascinating Education Ideas of the year

100 Google Search Tricks for the Savviest of students (and teachers) - there are MANY things I didn't know here, glad I found this….I wish I had this as a poster in the computer lab...

A couple weeks ago I attended the 2011 Reform Symposium.  It was a educational reform webinar series hosted entirely online.  You can still search twitter for all of the "tweets" about it using hashtag #rscon11.  Archives for the symposium are found on the link below.  Some awesome resources here, check them out, you can attend the whole conference on your own time.

Your Video(s) of the week

Great blog post: 7 Videos ALL teachers should watch, I tend to agree.  One of my friends is giving a professional development session on these 7 videos today.  I'm excited to see his blog post after his teachers watch and discuss them.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What happens when you try and teach Facebook?

The answer: You have a great evening with the community.

Last night was our first TechKnight at our school (as an aside Knights are our mascot and we were working with technology, I just didn't want you to think I couldn't spell).

My objective for these TechKnights:

  • To communicate and develop strategies to enrich the Kirkwood community in technology skills and resources.

The Lesson

I worked with my wife to develop what we thought we would cover and what were the key features of Facebook.  We opened up the lesson plan for people to comment through twitter and found some other resources through my google reader.

My lesson is a google doc, please feel free to use it, add to it, and share some comments.

The Set up

  • Gain administrative support.
  • Reserve space ( I used the middle school library)
  • Ensure we can unblock Facebook within the district for a period of time.
  • Ensure the doors can be unlocked to the school
  • Write lesson (above)
  • A flipcamera to document the presentation (which I forgot to use)
  • Create flipchart of questions and reflection
  • Secure activvotes for voting
  • Secure laptop cart for those who don't bring a laptop.
  • Advertise for 1 week over school announcements and at Mother/Grandmother breakfast.
  • Warning to all Facebook friends that we will be viewing "the Wall" so alert them to be careful what they say...

  • Have a partner to troubleshoot at the site while the group is instructed by the other person.
  • Coffee for the morning after because it's going to be a late night.

Evidence of learning

  • At the end of the lesson I assessed whether or not attendees wanted another session of TechKnight
  • Participants voted on lesson choices.

What will I do differently next time

  • Our district has a difficult security setting where we have to type the letter "s" after the http in order for the page to load properly.  This made for a difficult night.
  • The session needed to be divided into beginners, intermediate, and advanced users on three separate nights, or in three separate rooms....
    • Have specific objectives for each event.
  • Have more publicity and utilize the signboard outside of the school and the district webpage.
  • Have a mixture of PCs and Mac's for everyone to work on their native system.
  • have people bring their own laptops.
  • Communicate objectives over the techKnights more clearly to get the attendees necessary to complete the objective.


It was outstanding!  Everything I wanted it to be and more.  

I've been having this vision of monthly technology lessons publicized to the community for the community with topics chosen by the community.  I figure one hour a month, plus some set up time, is a great investment.  We are communicating values in how our school views the use of technology and creating a technology literate community which may benefit us in the long run of the district.  

I always felt we are in customer service in the education field and felt there is a need.  I'd rather the community come into our buildings, build relationships with us, learn with us, than learn about us and learn somewhere else.

I'll wrap this up with a video that just makes me smile...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

5 Stages of Failure

After receiving another tough phone call, it's time for a pretty transparent blog post:

Let's face it:  Failure stinks.  Over the last few years I've experienced a lot of it.  I'm not sure why, but professionally it's been tough.  Being the overwhelming optimist helps, being a good actor helps too.  More than anything, having a supporting and loving wife who is by far and away my best friend in the world, makes all the failure palatable.

Through these experiences I've noticed that the stages of failure are very similar to the stages of grief.

The stages of grief are (which by the way I was amazed how many different versions of this there were):
1.  Denial and Isolation
2.  Anger
3.  Bargaining
4.  Depression
5.  Acceptance

Through "job hunting" these past few years I've noticed that every "no" I received via a phone call, I seem to process the rejection the same way.

The phone rings,
I say "Hello?", "May I speak to Chris?"
"This is him..."
"Chris, this is _______ from the _________school district (inset name of school) with some disappinting news.  We've decided to go in another direction with the hiring of __________(insert position here)."  They say.
I reply, "I understand, can you provide me any feedback, words of wisdom, advice moving forward?"

Then I take out a piece of paper and document everything they say hoping to find that magical piece of knowledge that will help me move forward.

What follows phone call I'm referring to from now on as the stages of failure:

1.  Hurt - As soon as the phone is off, my head goes into my hands.  I feel less of a person, less of a leader, and my heart aches.  Bottom-line its an emotional reaction.

2.  Questioning - Is this really the direction I want my career to go in?  Am I doing something wrong, going the wrong direction, is this what I'm "suppose" to be doing?

3.  Anger - What were they thinking not hiring me?  The thinking that: 'It's not me, it's their fault.'  This is such a defense mechanism it's hard to even type the words without finding them petty and immature.

4.  Helplessness - Maybe I'll just go back to doing what I normally do, just give up, continue watching others succeed and redirect my passion to learn, lead and grow to something else like a hobby.

5.  Resolution - Wounds licked, scars healed, ego bruised....I get back up, I move on, I seek to inspire once again, lead from the spot I am, love what I do every day, and realize no matter how I feel when that bell rings and those kids walk though the door, I know everything will be allright.

Through these stages the resolution is so very important.  Every interview and every opportunity I get to reflect, learn and grow, I always ask, reflect and focus on how I can get better.

I know for a fact I'm not perfect, I have tons to learn and I will be a great educational leader some day.

If I'm not okay with failing, how can I ever expect my students to be allowed to fail, allow to learn and grow and get better?  I read somewhere that a successful life doesn't come without failure.

Thank you for this opportunity, I will get better...

Image credits:
Cell phone:

Friday, January 21, 2011

5 for Friday 1/21/11

Snow days, shortened schedules, missed doctoral classes.  You'd think we've never seen snow before.

Here's what I ran across this week.  The 5 best resources out there:

Your 5 best resource I ran across this week:

Livebinders:  Is this the new way students could be (OR should be) completing and compiling  work?

Free online searchable database of already made rubrics (light shines down from heaven and angels sing).  Sweet!  Even a great place to make your own rubric.

PuzzleFast is a great site for making different types of puzzles (word, crossword, etc).

What do you think about homework?  Here’s what kids think…  I might be at a point where I'm over assigning homework, I might want kids to start deciding what they need to do.

11 New Math resources for 2011

Your video of the week

What is Project-Based Learning?  It's the new hot trend in education.  This is well put together!
Is this the future of education?  How does this pair with Standards-Based Grading?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

8 Shifts needed for the 21st century learner

I watched Will Richardson's video (@willrich45) from MSDC (which was AWESOME) and tried to summ up his overall ideas here.  Links to resources are below:

Overall Ideas:

Networked classroom is very different than the traditional classrooms.

Conversation should change to being about learning, instead of schools.

How is learning changing?

  • Teachers CAN come in all shapes and sizes, as long as you can bring them into your world.
  • Kids today will never lose their friends (facebook and social networking).
  • My kids aren’t going to be living our "old" life.  Kids today have BILLIONS OF OPPORTUNITIES.  We shouldn't filter it or not give them the opportunities.
  • Even though NO ONE is asking you to change…..are you changing to a 21st century teacher?
8 Shifts Needed

1. Teach kids to talk to strangers.  Depending on the time/place, it’s not that unsafe.  Kids that get in trouble online, get in trouble off-line.

2. Build a G portfolio – What is your online presence?  Public is the new default.  People WILL be googling you! Put in any phrase, word, idea, person’s name, Should be one of our goals for students to be “googled well” by the time they leave? subscribe to to IMPROVE your online presence.

3. Create a Digital Paperchain – 750 pieces of paper at a tech conference.  We need to adjust to a world that DOESN’T rely on paper.  Think GROUPON and Apps. (There's an App for your paper.)

4. Students need to learn information management: 21st century students need to be able to manage analyze and synthesize multiple streams of information.  We live in a world of PULL instead of push, we teach in a world of PUSH.  How can we adjust? (Teaching the Jung blog post).  We need to teach students how to particpate WITH the information.  It can no longer be about content.

5. Kids need to be good crap detectors.  Walter Cronkite’s “and that’s the way it is” doesn’t exist anymore.  You can’t believe everything you see, read, hear, etc.  Howard Reingold (CRAP detection 101 BLOG), who do you trust, who’s an authority.  Social Capital, how valuable are your interactions within a network.  How Google RANKS – amount of links to and from a webpage.

6. Follow your passions.  If you are going into the learning world, follow your passion.  New standards:  Model for 21st century learner.  provide personalized learning instead of a one-size fits-all curriculum.

7. SHIFT to LEARNing.  It’s not about teaching, it’s about learning.  Learning is not an event it’s something that is ongoing.  It’s NOT about knowing things, it’s about HOW to learn.  Kahn academy mission to provide HIGH-quality education to ANYONE, ANYWHERE!  Learning HAS to be learn how to ….. BEFORE you come to the workshop.  We can’t have people wait for the content in a content rich society.  Value of schools is WHAT DO YOU DO with that knowledge.

Cool resources:
Dweeber, social homework and collaborating tool:
Game playing standardized test prep:

8. Solve Problems: Cretively, patiently.  Kids today don’t experience much failure.  We don’t teach kids how to “fail” well.  How can we kids to be okay with ambiguity, struggle, and patience.  “Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally.”  

How will we change?

  • Realize BIG change happens incrementally
  • We need a growth mindset
  • Education needs to be viewed as a process, not an acquisition of content.
  • Those who use technology are more likely to advance.

Presentation slides here:
conversation here:

MSDC Will Richardson Fall 2010 from msdc-mn on Vimeo.

Impact slides:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Teaching the "Jung"

I'm reading The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner and was struck by this passage on page 205 (great synopsis here):

Michael Jung believes there are only three reasons why people work or learn (in summary):

1.  Push - a need, threat, or risk which is the less credible motivating force why students learn.  I often hear teachers (sometimes me) saying, "You need to learn this for the test," or "Do your homework or else."

2.  Transfer of habits - habits shaped by social norms and traditional routines.  Think chivalry and saying please and thank you.

3.  Pull - learning because of interest, desire, or passion.

This made me think, in the age of Standards, Objectives, Understanding by Design, Standardized Assessments, etc.:  How can we design classrooms to allow kids to PULL instead of us always pushing content in the classroom?

Friday, January 14, 2011

5 for Friday 1/14/11

The link is the Twitter Chat schedule.  If you are ever interested in jointing a twitter chat, I'd be happy to meet up with you and show you how it's done so we can tweet together!

Your 5 resources for this week:

How to create self grading quizzes in google docs.  (This is one of those things that makes technology worth it and you see a bright light from above and a light shining down from the heavens while angels sing)

Corkboard Me is sort of a Wallwisher-like-page ( that is even simpler to use but has less features. You just paste virtual sticky-notes on a virtual bulletin board. Great for students to collaborate around a topic or interact easily on a topic.  Just give the the URL and watch them interact.

The best of the best on the web.  Hands down!

Convert to Cartoon is a simple little website that takes your photos and adds cartoon effects to them. It's quite similar to service called Be Funky ( Which for some reason is blocked by our firewall) that's previously been reviewed on Free Technology for Teachers ( To cartoonize your photos just upload them or provide the url, upload, or take a picture and click "cartoonize now." When the cartoonizing is done you can download your images to reuse anywhere you like.

Chinese top in tests but still have lots to learn:  fascinating look from NPR

Video of the week:

The 3 A’s of Awesome:  Motivational and mind changing discussion of overcoming adversity.  I was really motivated and inspired by this video.  Just A-A-A-AWESOME!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sailing Into Uncharted Waters

Okay, So I'm ridiculously excited (and Kristen Davis is beautiful, so perfect image).

I just received my newest rotation of students and we are in week two of figuring out about one another.

I have this sort of PET project of mine that introduces me to them, gives them an overview of our class, and allows them to show off to me.

My Class:
Reading Through Technology - To teach students to be better digital natives by learning tools, resources and tricks to collaborate and create a collective intelligence of reading strategies for the 21st century.

Their task:  
1.  Research a Web 2.0 tool and make a 1-3 minute presentation.
2.  Prepare a handout for students to walk away with something to learn about a topic.

Topics of choice:
Facebook, Twitter, Prezi, Blogs, Google, Web 2.0, Wiki, Voicethread

Some of the things I have seen students creating:
Keynote presentations, Pages documents, ActivInspire flipcharts, Xtranormal videos, Prezis, Google Presentations, Facebook organization pages, Blogs

Why can I do this
1.  This aligns perfectly with my curriculum, through reading strategies I ask students to read webpages and evaluate content.  Perfect for a creative lesson like this.
2.  I have supportive administration and a belief that these (usually blocked) webpages can be used for good and for helping student learn. (I love our tech staff!!!)

Why is this uncharted waters?
I have never done this project before but kids are learning more about presenting, researching, and web 2.0 tools than I think I ever imagined.

I'll edit this post and send it out soon with links to all their resources and more detail so you can do this project or help me make this one better!

By the way, did I tell you these students are in 6th grade.  WOW!

Student Work (SO FAR!)
Web 2.0 - Kids made an Xtranormal video.  Didn't publish it because there was a cost, but we watched their video in class, kids were amazed by the resource (I warned them of the inappropriate videos).

Google - So depressed they thought google was ONLY a search engine.  Lots of teaching opportunities here....

Twitter - Pretty good job here.  Student created a slide show using keynote.

Wiki's - Pretty good, this handout goes with this prezi (Link).  They forgot to create the path, but they took a risk, sailed into uncharted waters, and created a cool product.

Wallwisher - Cool presentation made on keynote and handout made on pages.  I love their creativity and use of the resource.

Web Browsers - His pdf doesn't translate to how cool the presentation was.  Students used ActIvinspire (and our activboard) used layers and interaction of the students to quiz them on their presentation as they went along.  This was a much cooler presentation than the pdf will allow.

Facebook - Students created an organization on facebook and embedded their project through the discussion.  Pretty cool.  They also provided a pretty neat handout.  This was a great classroom discussion, lots of warnings from the adults and some really neat warnings kids were sharing.  I was very proud.

Blogs - A student made a Blog about Blogs.  This one needs some more work.  Give him a comment or Two to motivate him for me :-).

I could not have done ANY of this without the passion and access and creativity of our administration.  They were invited to the student presentations and showed up t ask questions, give comments, pretty cool!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Focus on the Now!

As we begin the second semester I am bombarded with many teachers and students saying “XX number of days left until summer break.” 

I get distracted by countdowns, I feel they lessen the importance of the now and place attention and focus on what is to come.  I struggle with this concept.  

Now is good enough for me, now is important to me, I need to focus on the now.

Now is the attention and the focus I should give to my students, my school and my passion: Teaching.

If I were going to make a countdown to hang in my room it would read:

ZERO days left, Focus on the now!

And then I would play this song by Van Halen and every 6th grader would look at me and ask "Who's this?"

RSCON11 Keynote Presentation: The Networked Teacher

Today I was working on lesson plans when a well-known educator (Shell Terell @shellterell) tweeted about the keynote speaker (Dr. Alec Couros) beginning in 10 minutes.  The presentation was oing to be on “The Networked Teacher.”  I wasn’t doing anything so I figured I’d log in, give it a listen while I went along with planning, after all it was free.  Next thing I know it’s an hour and a half later and I haven’t planned a thing.  It’s was awesome:

The chat from the educators who were involved can be found here:

His presentation resources are here: I’m going to highlight a few of them here…

1.  Tools that exist for free on the web make it too easy not to network in some way.  Working alongside some of the best of the best makes you a better teacher.

2. The monopoly is ending – too much is free and too much is open to everyone, people are less held up in their classrooms doing only what they know.  Teachers are starting to reach out to other teachers across the world to share resources.

3. We are smarter together – If we all continue to build the collective intelligence items on a DOK of less than 2 will be simply something we call can easily find and we can devote more time to sharing at a deeper level.

4. Some fo the best teachers aren’t our teachers – you have to be willing as a teacher to know what you are good at, what you know, and not be afraid to go out and bring in or go to the best of the best to teach our students.

5. Geography doesn’t matter – There’s skype, google chat, etc. to go to others and bring people from all over the world into the room.  

6. Audience makes a difference – Don’t be afraid to publish your thoughts on the web.  You never know when an idea can find an audience and go viral.  The passion to collaborate is necessary.

7. Sharing is vital to learning – in today’s world we learn and grow more in a collaborative environment.  The sharing of one’s ideas and publishing of not only how you teach but how you learn benefits the common good.

8. Network literacy and digital literacy – As a crucial part of 21st century skills we must educate students, teachers and community about how to interact in a global, flat, and digital society.

9. Networks allow us to make the world better – Being careful not to fall into a world of passive activism networks allow us to help each other out and build a Professional (personal) learning Network (PLN) that will enable use to be better educators for our students

10. The end of education and the beginning of learning – As we continue to revise what education looks like in the 21st century it is paramount for us educators to strive to open doors for others, be a gateway to a better world.  Education is no longer a “sit and get” process like it was when I went to school.  Learning needs to happen at school and learning can’t happen without collaboration.

Resources I learned about:

Twitter chat schedule:

Creative Commons:

Be a mentor to others, or be mentored:

Other presentations from the conference can be found here:

Ridiculous Youtube videos:

Sharing the moral Imperative:

Virtual Choir introduction:

If you are on twitter and would like to check out the notes from the conference search twitter hashtag: #rscon11

Alec’s brother tweeted this video:

Alec Couros Self slanderous behavior:

Slides I loved

Friday, January 7, 2011

5 for Friday 1/7/11

Welcome to 2011!

So every week I read my google reader, participate in a few chats on Twitter and find great resources.  Currently I'm pulling form a 9 page list of resources and filtering those out to find the best of the best for each week.  I am not a huge one on resolutions but there are some really great resources here:  Resolve to check them out!

Your Top 5 resources I found this past week(and over break)

This is a favorite:  Homework, Homework, Homework, I love this challenge for teachers.  I've been really struggling with assigning not only the right homework, but the right amount of homework.  Some great thoughts here:

If you don't know what Web 2.0 is, or you want to know more here is a free Web 2.0 Ebook for educators:  A must have for all grade levels

Should I blog?  Blogging is a great way to reflect, grow and get better as a teacher, if you are wondering if you should blog or not, use this to help you answer that question:

The Web is filled with great resources to wrap up 2010, here are a few I like:
20 things that became obsolete in 2010

Teacher goals for a great 2011

Your Video of the week:

Essential Life skills for kids – Marshmallow test (I thought about doing this with my 6th graders, I guarantee some/most my students would fail....what does that say?)

Monday, January 3, 2011

You're just "Two Tents."

I met last week with my advisor from my doctorate program and my mentor.  One of the items of discussion that hit me was that I've become a "professional interviewer," one that makes the finalists but doesn't get picked for the job.  (For clarification I'm seeking an assistant principal position in and outside of my district.)

One of my flaws (of many I'm sure) is that I work very hard to do the best job I can do.  This does take an unorthodox commitment on my part to work well beyond the hours of my job.  Heck, I'm blogging right now.

Here's my point:  What I took away from the meeting was a description of my personality as "intense" and that I need to learn to "lighten up."  This (ironically) immediately made me think of the joke:

A guy went to a psychiatrist. "Doc," he said, "I keep having these alternating recurring dreams. First I'm a teepee, then I'm a wigwam, then I'm a teepee, and then I'm a wigwam. It's driving me crazy. What's wrong with me?"
The doctor replied, "It's very simple. You're two tents."

So, do you have any advice on how to balance high expectations of yourself, without being considered "TOO INTENSE"? (typed in caps lock to emphasize intensity.)

Have any advice for me?