Future Vision 8-C

My future vision is bright. The world is increasingly becoming more and more technology oriented and technology literate. I see this continuing at a rapid pace. I anticipate a time when technology devices will be accessible and affordable for everyone, everywhere. I think in 2020 it will start to happen in schools since there will be more 1:1 programs for kids to take home devices. I think that neighborhoods will have free Wi-Fi. This will eliminate the potential barrier to technology teachers fear when there is an assignment from home involving technology.

I think business and politics will help to push the 21st century entrepreneurial, communication, and collaboration skills that pair so perfectly with technology. I see even more competition for jobs as education and opportunities increase worldwide. This will increase the need for being multilingual. Because of increased contact with native speakers I see a world where it will be easy to learn a language if you are a child because of virtual teachers, formal and informal. I think communication will cause language learning to happen more naturally with those you are connected t o world-wide and apps to help the learning occur more efficiently. Can you imagine an avatar with the ability to hear the sounds you produce and know exactly which game to use to design remediation for you?

Students today are very comfortable with technology and using web tools to figure out how to do things and to find answers for what they want to know. I see learning as becoming more global rather than school or classroom centered. Knowledge is everywhere and teachers will assist students to get at the best content and to research critically and safely. Teacher education, like most college education, will be free and will take place in MOOCs. Those individuals who think in a more linear fashion will start to disappear or learn to compensate out of necessity as the world uses more nodes and admits that connectivisim is a learning theory after all. Professional development will continue in this fashion, as well.

Many of us became teachers because we wanted to impact the lives and futures of students, and we do. Teachers will continue to make impacts. I see in the future educators becoming even more important to students. They will have the role of setting students on the course of learning that meets an individual’s learning preferences and learning passions. I imagine in just six, short years there will be apps that will assist with this task. Students will have more choices about what things to learn and teachers will guide them to the right technology and help build learning networks and connections.

New technology will mean not just new applications but also new ways for students to engage in learning. I believe more content will be delivered in a digital fashion. At the present time, using Skype or Face Time is mostly seen as more of a recreational activity to contact personal friends and family. I predict that future students will use it to contact experts and even peers around the world. Students are already using so many interfaces, including education, as an anytime, anywhere platform, they will need contacts in different time zones to communicate and get their questions answered. Skype is being used more and more for presentations so I do not for see travel for routine business as much in the future. I see more virtual trips and experts coming to the learner via this platform.

Earlier, I wrote a blog about going paperless. Greener spaces and paperless places are certain to be in place in the future. Students will surely be creating and crafting and sending works rather than using paper and pen. The rapid pace that new information is being shared, and new theories and inventions are being created, means we are certain to be operating with virtual texts instead of books that would probably be out of date before the ink dries. I love how, even now, students can use visual and video encyclopedias and dictionaries to make learning engaging and sensory.

Collaborative work, like that of Wikipedia, will not seem strange in the future. Collaborative work with people you will never meet will be the norm. Once upon a time students were told not to share work and answers with peers. We are already moving toward using the web instead of memorizing facts and figures. We will all be urged to process and rethink the meaning of things deeply and share with as many people and in as many ways as we can. I think this will lead to more creativity in the future. I predict copyright will move back towards making works available for sharing instead of being sold to publishers for profit. Creativity and sharing will lead to more nonprofit organizations because it will not be more important to heap monetary rewards and personal acclaim than to share right away so your ideas and findings can be tested, prodded and poked as it is being pushed lightning fast in all directions. That is how current diseases will get cures and we will just get to run marathons for recreation not money to support causes.

I envision in the future more authentic activities and more opportunities for students to share work. I see teachers and students really mastering the art of mashups and app smashing. I think it is fabulous to concentrate on the skills and have with the swipe of a finger, or through voice activation, the perfect applications and tools to assist and engage learners.

I think there will be more student collaborations through Google Docs with all of the many useful tools and enhancing applications. I see more multimedia presentations as part of what students will use as the framework for learning that caters to all multiple intelligences. When students write papers, even today, embedded videos and photos and info graphics are used automatically. I think what we call “writing” will probably be more audio-visual. These works will probably be quickly translated in whatever the future devices will be. Of course photos and shared videos will continue. I do think we will be less egocentric and Selfies will not be the thing to do.

Gaming is going to be seen as a much more useful teaching tool. I think there will be less resistance to letting students “play.” The features of games that attract and engage students need to be capitalized on to increase learning and community building not shut it down and feel this will happen and be a non-issue in the future. I think adults who are learning to play and explore with tech tools will be ahead of the pack in a few years. The young will continue to lead the older population as they embrace technology and become even better teachers. Older individuals will have an easier time since tech apps are becoming less and less complicated and you can just say what you want.

Social networking is sure to increase. Older people are using Face Time and Skype to keep in touch with loved ones because families are scattered. I like the idea of continuing to use it for professional development opportunities. There will be more groups sharing best practices via social networking than ever before. I feel that for students and teachers, virtual connections will be the way to make and cultivate: friendships, peer groups and colleagues. I think because of the increased virtual community we will find ways to make them real and meaningful. As well as embracing diversity in culture and gender.

I, regret to say, but I feel I must, that it will be even more essential to make sure people are able to use web content safely. I think there will probably be more laws governing cyber bullying and other lack of netiquette online will be punishable by law. Unfortunately, I do not feel parents and educational systems will be able to just let kids “loose,” at least not in six years. It will be even more necessary to make sure digital citizenship is taught and appropriate digital footprints are left.

Assessment design in the future will probably be mostly of the digital variety, tailored to really get at the skill and learning that has been taught. Assessment will be independent of the teacher and not according to a group timetable or in a standardized manner. It will be individualized and used to help design the next learning module for the student. It will be authentic and probably project and possibly group based, too.

Parents have access to student records and assessments online at my school, now. Lunches can be ordered, things purchased from the school store, causes funded, after school activities registrations completed and much more. This will only continue to be quicker and easier with new technology. Students in the public schools in my neighborhood already get grades online even for routine assignments. I think we will soon be able to access our health care in this manner as well as information to get easy passports, driver registrations, and all those things that used to be on paper, involve money and time spent in lines.

Technology will continue to be cheaper, smaller, more capable and accessible to all. How do you imagine it will change you and the world?


Google Docs 8-A-1

Google Docs is free. The word free is always something that makes me pay attention and listen closer! Google Docs is an office suite platform that is useful for group collaboration. Spreadsheets, word processing, templates, folders (I like that I can stay organized by putting what I am working on into folders), drawings, forms and presentations are all available. It is extremely easy to compose, create and edit. I love that it is compatible with Microsoft office products. There are also dictionaries and translation programs there. Because work is saved to Google Drive, everything is available anytime, anywhere. I don’t have to be worried that work will be lost because it is not backed up. This great if you have attention issues or are just busy!

Google Docs makes it easy for large or small groups to work together on projects and papers at the same time. While working with a group in a wiki recently, we discovered it was hard to work at the same time! Working with a different group project, we noticed how unwieldy our responses got to be. It was hard to keep track of who said what even after we tried to impose our own individually assigned colored coded system. Google Docs allows for easy simultaneous collaboration. Workers don’t even have to think about if they are Mac or PC users because there are not formatting compatibility issues. Since I am a strong visual learner, I totally appreciate the color coding that lets me see who is editing what. Other visual learners will appreciate this also.

Students can easily get ideas from others and benefit from just putting ideas out into the mix to stimulate and spark the creative ideas of others with Google Docs. This great if you have difficulty getting your voice into the mix. Teachers can easily see who has contributed by checking the revision history section. Students with much to say can check to see if the work is a balance of ideas from the group. Like wikis, if something is deleted, it can be retrieved. An added plus is that for those of us concerned about being greener and going paperless, Google Docs can help us achieve this goal. Also, no more lost, misplaced, ruined papers to lug around!

What apps are you using to make your life and the lives of your students easier? Are there apps that you feel are perfect for certain learning styles or preferences?

Wrapping Up Homework: Summary of Blogical Discussion 7

Thank you all for your comments on homework. Clear directives from schools and districts about homework varied for our group. There were formal and informal school policies, some detailed and some rather loose. Karen would not mind a district policy because of homework frustrations a relative has had. She mentioned lack of consistency in assignments and the time some work takes as stressors, as did others. Mary considers her college syllabus a binding policy. Tiffany and Sharon individualized according to student learning needs and style. This includes giving some students chances to do “homework” at school. Some policies include the percentage of homework that goes toward a grade and a few include a late assignment policy. Only one person mentioned a time when an individual teacher decided to give an option for opting out.

Most of the group felt homework was okay if it were meaningful, grounded in information taught at school, and stressed quality over quantity. Some of the group gave details about the kind of feedback given to students and why feedback and positive affirmations helped students although it was time-consuming. Preparation for college, learning time management, gaining life-long reading habits, establishing positive work ethics and reflection time were given as positives for homework. Daren reminded us of the politics behind homework and gave compelling reasons as to why homework helps and hurts. He spoke of homework as another way students can be divided and disadvantaged through no fault of their own. He cited the lack of resources, lack of parental assistance, and lack of clear “collective educational goals” as detrimental to homework success.

Yup! Homework continues to be a hot topic! I know we will continue to talk about it at my school. Will you?

Imagining Paperless Classes 7-B-1

photo paperless As I consider a paperless class, I first think of how easy it would be for me to access student work. I will no longer need to tote around so much paper! My back would be quite appreciative and my chiropractor fees would decrease, I am sure. Whenever students send me work via the web, now, I am able to quickly send back a response that keeps them working and interested in their task while ideas are fresh and formative. I love the idea of being able to broaden the thinking of writing to include multimedia. It is easy to include multiple intelligences as students can embed audios, videos, and performance pieces that they create as well as those of others. I love when visual/ global kids send info graphics or mind maps to explain thinking and support points they make or link to a rap or song they have composed. Paperless classes are more inclusive of learner strengths and preferences.

Since we are becoming a collaborative world, I think by becoming paperless we make opportunities for students to link to works of others instead of plagiarizing (sometimes unconsciously or unknowingly). I think students will find ways to extend ideas and stretch thinking by being able to quickly access information as they create in a paperless world. Quality research is a click away for connected students. We are allowing students access to multiple perspectives to broaden and reshape thinking and learning.

It certainly is easier to read and markup text online than to have to remember to bring notebooks, text books and trade books back and forth, and to take legible notes on paper or hope the bargain dollar store post-its stick where they are supposed to stick. Online work also allows students to see what passages are of importance to other readers and what others find confusing or are wondering about, as well as letting them be able to access the connections and inferences others make.

As a teacher, I welcome empowering students more. Students who are able can decide what is important to help them grow as learners and can delve into topics they are passionate about and even find and cultivate passions and interests. I imagine needing to have an excellent framework and core bank of knowledge and skills to offer students in order to let them connect to learning that is personally meaningful and feels important. I also know this will mean tech access for all learners(despite the expense), ongoing safety skill building, and ongoing learning for me in order to learn and teach online skills and methods in accordance with current, valid scientific research. Also, know I will need to be able to explain, convince, and reassure parents about a paperless space and why paperless is the way to go,i.e., how it looks and feels as well as the potentials and possibilities it can unleash.

In an independent school I do envision some downsides that would have to be figured out. Administrators can no longer walk through a classroom and find new evidence of learning by examining the walls in the classroom or checking our bulletin boards for student work. Admission tours happen in independent schools. It is hard for prospective families to get a sense of a school when the space is paperless. I noticed this transition when interactive white boards came to the school that captured the day’s lessons in a way that made the chart paper lessons and experience stories obsolete. Math problems can be easily stored in Smart boards and math thinking returned to with the click of a button. It does mean, however, unless math is happening when you walk in, the rich and detailed thinking and demonstrated problem solving trail is not explained or retraced. I also noticed the effects of going paperless when student writing and portfolios were inside of the computer instead of lined up in pizza or cereal boxes portfolios or lining shelves for someone to flip through. Even book boxes that would give a passer-byer a glimpse into the reading life of a student disappear as students use e-readers. If artwork is kept via digital portfolios instead of lining hallways and filling glass enclosed cases and wooden shelves how will it be appreciated? Perhaps there needs to be room for both. I do know that new ways to communicate learning need to be established in paperless spaces.

I see paperless spaces as a way to broaden learning networks between students, teachers, parents and administrators. Teachers do not have to be the only ones viewing, asking questions that challenge, and making positive or supportive comments. In a paperless space work can be viewed by a broader audience and the feedback can be richer, more wide-spread and more authentic. It also can allow a back and forth communication between learner and the learning network.

Shifting Thinking About Writing 7-A-1

One of the shifts new technologies in the educational system gets me thinking about is that writing is not just about words on a page. It certainly does not mean having good or even legible penmanship or keyboarding skills. When thinking about reasons to write, I settle on the thinking that we write to communicate ideas.

Effective communication remains a skill that is included on 21st century “must teach because students must have” lists. Teaching “writing” in the 21st century no longer means just having correct spelling and mechanics or even varied sentences and word choices. Effective writing can mean communicating ideas via video or audio platforms. For example, a recent grad class assignment asked that a collaborative group design a position paper on an assigned topic. The group did not think twice about whether or not that meant we could include links to and embed videos in our “paper” and the course facilitator commented on how they were enjoyed. 21st century writing can take the form of music, computer programming language, photo blogs, video logs, and any conceivable thing we can imagine and probably some that we cannot.

A big change in the way writing needs to be thought of is that the ideas that are communicated get published for a worldwide public to view content. There is more to the process than just reading and getting information from the content. The process includes reflecting and commenting on it, asking questions, and making critiques. When composing the position paper, information to support our topic position was just a few keystrokes away. With super speed connections, we could link to a wealth of varied content. Our group could connect our ideas from where ever we were because today writing is much more collaborative. Collaborative writers connect even across continents! There can be collaborations taking place at the same time through chats and Skype session or asynchronous partnering in wikis. In some instances users are able to take what is there and remix or mash up the content to create the next idea and keep the connections flowing and growing.

The change in writing accommodates more of the multiple intelligences than an academic system pushing just verbal-linguistic skills in writing programs does. This means teachers need to give choices about the ways students can communicate ideas and be open to the possibilities that writing can take using technology and collaboration. It means teachers must educate themselves about new technologies that will make exchanging ideas easier. It means schools have to be open to new ways of looking at curriculum. And of course, we have to think about how to make access equitable and teach safety and netiquette, too.

What shifts in writing have you thought about or embraced?

What is your position on homework? 7-A-2

Most teachers assign homework according to school district and individual school requirements. Homework is given in different amounts to different ages and stages. Some teachers assign it only 4 days a week and some teachers have homework that extends into the weekend. Some parents want more, some less, and some insist on none at all. There are those parents who are completely hands off when it comes to homework while others take over the job and do some or all of it themselves. What is the purpose of homework, anyway? Is homework really giving students opportunities to practice concepts taught in class? For some students, research says homework is harmful. What kinds of feedback is best to challenge students and not cause stress? How much should homework count towards final assessments and grades?

Recently a colleague sent this to all faculty and staff. It got us thinking about the homework policy we have, how, and if, it is followed, and how we as a whole school, as well as individual teachers, articulate homework policies to students and parents. Homework has been talked about and reconsidered numerous times during my long career at this independent school. I am not surprised that it recycles and always becomes a hot topic because we are not sure we know the right answers. New research, different students, tuition paying parents with loud opinions, and now a more connected curriculum makes us think about homework, yet again.

This article speaks to making homework effective and worthwhile. How much and what kinds of homework do you assign? Does your school or school district have a written policy? What is it? Can students be exempt from homework at the request of a parent? What are your personal thoughts about homework?

Skype Ideas 6-C-2

Skype is not new to me. It is not something I use personally because I am fine just speaking to friends and family without the visual aspects it offers. The message feature is similar to other texting features on other devices. It is easier for me to just use the phone and the handy quick text list I have there with half phrases ready to go. There is not anyone I care about who has been far away for a really long time. If I missed seeing someone, I might have a desire to Skype. Besides, the iPad offers face time which is super easy. I must confess that I usually use “talk time” to clean out a junk drawer, empty or fill the dishwasher and complete a dozen other mindless chores. I would not want to Skype while scrubbing a counter or floor!

I have Skype on the desktop at school. Recently, while completing this class Skype assignment, I ran into frustrations because I had to ask for password assistance since I have it on autopilot at school. I also discovered I needed to use an administrator’s code that I did not have handy in order to download on the laptop I was using. I could access the account but could not make a connection. Finally, after getting the Skype app downloaded on the iPad and actually making a connection to a colleague who happened to be online and was kindly attempting to politely make an appointment to Skype, we ran into some sort of tech difficulties. I could not hear the voice of my colleague although it was nice to actually see the person. We ended up using the chat feature. I do have that nice visual in my head of a kind face when I read his engaging blog!

At school the Skype feature is ready to go and attached to an interactive white board for easy viewing in the classroom and also in the social room on a full auditorium screen. There is also an IT person to assist teachers to assure a “no frustration” experience. Skype has been used at my school to sing with buddies in Costa Rica. Students have practiced language skills by Skype with classes in Switzerland and Columbia, discovering both similarities and differences in cultures and educational systems. When a teacher was in the Czech Republic, she used Skype to let us know what sights she was viewing. While participating in a Fair Trade event, several schools, including ours, ate fair trade bananas together and got to meet. Sometimes alums, like one who completed astronaut training at NASA, are the guest experts via Skype. The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (cilc) has also been a source for learning initiatives. We have used Skype to host music, theater, author talks, virtual field trips and other types of assemblies. These opportunities have enriched students and helped create connections and communication in a way that just reading or seeing pictures could not. It is great for students to be able to ask and answer questions. It really makes all of us feel like participants.

The school has used Skype for professional development opportunities as well. Some years back, when we were receiving feedback for re-certification, the outside team communicated to faculty and staff via Skype because of the forecast of inclement weather. I think Skype is great for professional development because it creates an easy way to have conversations and discussions minus the travel expense. It is also a way to screen and interview individuals and groups who might come to the school.It is a way to build professional collaborative learning networks.

I think Skype is useful and definitely has a place in schools for students and teachers.

Responding to Connectivisim 6-A-3


I enjoyed the wiki page of Group B who was assigned a position against Connectivisim. Several points stood out from the cons list. An argument against connectivisim made there is that it does not give educators many opportunities for positive reinforcement. Another argument is that since students work at their own pace, it is difficult for teachers to offer guidance, see student expressions, and evaluate learning. It was mentioned that multiple intelligences are not taken into account. Also listed was that everyone does not have tech devices.

I like that connectivisim puts the learner in charge not the teacher. Teachers must take cues from students and take the lead of the student. This is difficult when current school systems are pushing content. Connectivisim is not content driven; it is process driven. Connectivist theory says let the learner be empowered to decide which direction to take with learning. I agree that connectivist theory might not be the preference of those who proceed in a more concrete, linear manner in the same way traditional educational systems are not the learning preference for those who are out of the box, big picture, growing by leaps and bounds not sequential, tiny pieces thinkers. Technology offers many different platforms for diverse learning preferences and processes. There can be virtual face to face environments as part of learning.

Yes, I agree everyone is not connected and sometimes it is because of the great economic divide. Technology is getting cheaper and more accessible. We have to figure out ways to get it into the hands of students to provide equitable access. Sometimes, this is at a Kids Club, community center or library not home. I love that the learner gets to decide if learning is successful by self-evaluation. Positive reinforcement leads to extrinsic learning. Connectivisim promotes more self-driven learning and that type of intrinsic learning will outlast fill your brain-and-dump for the test learning. Hopefully life-long curiosity is being reinforced. How to consider multiple perspectives, how to develop a learning network, how to share publicly and many other positives are results, too.

Food and Podcasts 5-B-3

food and ipod
I love food! I grew up in a family where Mom, Dad and siblings planned meals, shopped, cooked, baked and ate together. Happy times with family and friends for me seemed to involve food. During these times of eating and laughter we were also given a very strong message that stays with me still. We were taught that fruits and veggies and meat were once living things that made sacrifices so we should appreciate the Earth’s contribution to nourish and sustain us and not waste food. That is why this podcast, Love Letter to Food, from one of my favorite collections, Minute Earth, immediately appealed to me. Another reason I was drawn to it is because I volunteer with Anti-Hunger organizations to help others be food sufficient. It never ceases to amaze me that there are people in America that go without food yet so much food ends up wasted.

I can imagine using this short podcast that packs a powerful message to introduce many food related activities. It would be interesting having small group discussions to react to this podcast. Several times a year the school where I work has food drives to collect nonperishable food for local food cupboards. We have a compost program where food scraps from lunches are used to make compost for our school garden. We also take part in the local farm Seed to Table Program. Another activity many classes engage in is making casseroles as part of service learning projects for a feeding program that serves daily meals to the homeless or working poor. My class also bakes banana bread from the bananas that kids used to dump in the garbage from lunches.

My school teaches mindfulness. A mindfulness activity that I love is How to Eat Mindfully. Students are given a few raisins or orange segments and are asked to eat them by really taking the time to explore and get to know the food intimately before it is chewed and swallowed. We discuss the process. Kids are surprised that they usually just put food in their mouths and do not really stop to taste and notice the food being eaten. The objective of this activity is to become more aware of how we eat by merely slowing down and noticing.

I think this podcast does a nice job making us mindful of the concept of food waste. The rest is up to us.

Do you have any podcasts that you use related to food sufficiency or mindful eating?
How does your school teach students to take care of the Earth?

Possibilities: Flickr in the Classroom 5-A-1

Brand New Bricks*

Imagine the possibilities for building lessons and projects given an endless number of colorful photographs. That’s how I felt after thinking of just some of the possibilities for using Flickr in my classroom. Searching through the photo storage area I noted how easy it is to find pictures of all types and varieties. There is an easy upload and comments and annotations can be added in a jiffy. There is a private viewing area that is important for securing sites for classroom and can serve to alleviate potential administrator and parent anxiety. In fact, a photostream can be setup for parents to subscribe to a RSS feed to view school and class photos.

Flickr certainly has appeal for promoting multiple intelligences especially serving visual learners well and those cut from the more creative out-of-the-box side ilk than I. The offerings on Flickr will probably light up parts of the brain yearning to mash up and remix the photos in ways I can probably not even imagine.

If writers need illustrations, this is certainly a starting place. Photos can also serve as sources for writing prompts for all genres. Check out this to create photo books. I learned of a new term, Flicktion, while exploring about Flickr, where comment lines from photos can be used to start stories. Because the photos are copyrighted or attached to Creative Commons licenses, this is an excellent way to get in a few authentic lessons about intellectual property rights. There can be geography lessons about where the photos were taken. A geographic visual can be resurrected by using the tags. The class can examine the various folksonomies that exist and brainstorm new ones using this open source platform.

Teachers remember you can create virtual field trips with photos or even lesson plans for substitutes by showing your class through pictures exactly what needs to be done. A definite plus of Flickr is that the students come to you and Flickr because everything can be stored through an easy organizational drag and drop along with annotations. That saves time and effort.

I am sure there are many more ways to use Flickr in the classroom and build upon and remix the ideas listed here. Send in comments about your favorite ways to use cin education. Feel free to send some photos via Flickr links, too!

*Image Citation: Fdecomite. (2008, July 27.) Brand New Bricks. Fdecomite’s Photostream. Retrieved June 30, 2014, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/fdecomite/2710132377/.