Thursday, June 26, 2014

Getting the little things going

As I head to #iste14 tomorrow, I can't help but think about where I was a year ago and the "little edu things" that have transformed not only my year, but the educators' around me.

Nearly a year ago, I was sitting in #gtachi, having the networking experience of a lifetime. Now, I'm gearing up to present at #iste14, sharing the experiences of my last year and preparing for the GTI academy.

And, after a week of educating teachers on the importance of process over product, I think about the learning I have seen in the teachers around me. Many times, I've focused on their ability to create a great Google Site rather than the process of getting them to collaborate and them providing their students the opportunity to innovate.

So, as I enter this next transformative year, I plan to look at those little edu things that signify learning in educators and students. Because, at the end of the day, I don't want teachers and students who can make stellar movies. Instead, I want those who are leaders, team players, listeners, collaborative - and all of those other soft skills that distinguish individuals.

What are the little edu things you're doing? What are the little edu things you want to see in educators & students?

Share them on the Little Edu Things site and join the community! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

See, think, wonder means...

Today, I did a training as part of a series on metacognition - thinking about thinking. It's something we all want to do, but don't always know how to do. In fact, it's something we often forget when integrating technology.

Today, though, it was during a discussion with a teacher regarding a series of questions (thanks to Tracy Clark for the questions!) on art and the thinking thought process, that I realized our end goal: to create. At the end of the day, we want our students to explore and create. We don't need to know their end product. Rather, we want to equip with them with the knowledge, skills, tools, and opportunities necessary to be creators.

In looking at a commonly used picture, the teachers analyzed:


  1. What do you see?
  2. What do you think about that?
  3. What does it make you wonder?

In the end, though, I asked - what is the purpose of these questions. Teachers responded with: to interpret.

When we interpret, are there correct answers? As the teachers responded, no, there are not. When we ask students those questions, we are not looking for any specific answer, but a certain way of thinking, a certain way of exploring the material. When we give them the ability to explore and interpret, we give them the ability to create. Because, to create does not have a specific outcome.

We need to train our students and teachers to not work toward a desired outcome, but provide them with the thought processes that produce creators and innovators.

What do you expect from your students? 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Getting the Little Edu Things Going

Recently, I decided to create a site, Google + community, and a Twitter account to document all the little things that happen that make big changes. For the past year, I have tried to come up with the big idea that will change the world. But, recently, I gave a training on the basics of Chrome. After the training, I had teachers (who previously did not understand the term browser) syncing bookmarks, going incognito, and increasing their productivity by at least 100%. It was then I remembered that it's the little things that change the world. By teaching these educators to organize their bookmarks, they are now more confident and productive in Chrome, and will therefore, be more apt to use it and use it in effective ways in their classroom. Perhaps the change that happened from that training was the increase in confidence in reluctant teachers.

So, I've decided to document those little things, map them out, and watch as the little things change the world. And, in the process, help a few teachers share their ideas for products or change and grow as entrepreneurs.

The idea is basic, but the concept is grand. It is built upon collaboration and its success will be in sharing and communal support.

So, join in now and document those little things you have done. Watch as you start seeing the little things pop up on our map and changes begin to take hold.

Here's the Website for now and, here's our Google + Community.

You can follow us on Twitter @littleeduthings

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Learnings from two schools' first exposure to EdCamps

This Monday and Tuesday, I led an EdCamp at each of my two schools - an elementary and a high school - in two slightly different fashions. Since both had never had exposure to this type of learning before, we did some of the session planning ahead of time. However, the intent is to allow them to move to full-EdCamp by the fall. Nevertheless, this modified way still held onto the holistic approach that makes EdCamps what they are. 

Today, the halls were filled with teachers holding onto phones, papers, tablets, and laptops searching doors for their sessions. Teachers carried their backpacks, laptops, tablets, and more to come learn about topics of their choosing. With over 60 sessions to choose from, teachers had created lists of options for their sessions. They had done their homework and came ready with a variety of sessions to attend. 

From day one, teachers submitted over 60 ideas they wanted to learn and submitted nearly 800 votes on Google Moderator to show the sessions they most wanted. The moderator votes gave me ideas on total attendance numbers. I wanted to keep each session under 10-15 people each so, if a session had over 30 votes, I repeated it three times. I also created overflow rooms for teachers. For instance, if a session went well and teachers wanted to stay and learn/play more on a topic, they could move to an overflow room and continue learning. Learning was kept teacher-centric to allow for the most authentic experience. 

All rooms had signs posted on them with QR codes to complete the attendance survey (Google form) at the end. This was, yet, another attempt to get teachers using the technology they learned. 

However, the EdCamps have been more than technology. In some rooms, facilitators were not as confident in their topics. However, the attendees then had a more active role - the sessions became discussions and information was gained through collaboration. In some sessions, the facilitator was very confident, but the pace was slowed down to meet the needs of the learners. 

We hope to do more of EdCamp PD with our teachers. However, I'm torn between doing true-EdCamp style learning with topics chosen on the spot and doing my blended EdCamp with topics chosen in advance. In the advance method, teachers had a long time to vote and continue suggesting ideas so the options grew. However, in the true format, teachers must break loose of traditional schedules. So, the question is: why can't both ways work? 

How have you seen EdCamps grow and change PD? Have you modified your EdCamps any?

Stay turned for more feedback from my two campuses' first exposure to EdCamps (and modern PD in general).