Friday, October 23, 2015

Speak Up about 21st Century Education and Technology

Calling all participants! Speak Up, a national online research project facilitated by Project Tomorrow®, gives individuals the opportunity to share their viewpoints about key educational issues, particularly concerning 21st century education and technology. Each year, findings are summarized and shared with national and state policy makers. Let your voice be heard!

 WHO TAKES THE SURVEY? Students, Staff, Parents, Administrators and Community Members are invited to participate. Let your voice be heard.

NEED HELP? View participant tutorials here:

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Show and Ask - Fun with a Mystery Object

There it abacus and I couldn't resist. I'm going to get a big bang from the buck I spent at a yard sale this weekend!

Remember Show and Tell..why tell kids what your object is, ask them instead! But instead of having one kid blurt out the answer and then everyone knows, use a Google Form to see who knows what the object is and what it's used for. Dig a little deeper and also ask how kids would find out what it is (if they don't know) and how they would learn to use it. It's a great way to get kids thinking about how they learn.

Add an  image to Google Form
Google Forms are great for surveys, but also lend themselves to a variety of other uses. You might or might not know that you can add images and videos to a Google Form. Look for the options when you click the "Add item" drop down. Inserting an image or video is a fun way to conduct a "Mystery Object" activity. Images can also serve as powerful writing prompts or story starters. Have a look at this simple Google Form:, a partial screen shot is below.

Google Form
Once kids know what the mystery object is and what it's used for have them figure out how to use it and then create a short video to teach others.

Need help getting started with Google Forms? Visit the Google support pages for Google Docs and look for "Forms":

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Come on in, the water's fine...but it's moving fast!
Jon Sullivan, Public Domain
Today is October 1 and is the first of 31 days of  connected activities during Connected Educator Month and I feel like it's time to get my feet wet again. A couple of weeks ago I came across a post on The Learner's Way by Nigel Coutts titled Why Build a Personal Learning Network.

Highlights from the post include the usual: building a case for collective knowledge, finding value in your own contributions, and getting past the day-to-day dealings that keep us gasping for more time as if were precious air.

We've heard it all before. But, there was something different here. Something so simple, yet so wise I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It was the the most straightforward explanation of the power of  building a personal learning through social media. Anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed, lost, or felt like they were going to drown in the torrent of information on Twitter, Google+, or other platform can's OK. Social media is not like a bucket for "collecting ideas that you will later sort through and make sense of". Instead, it's like a "fast flowing stream that you visit when you have time. You enjoy the ideas that flow past while you are there, you grab the best ones for use at a later date and you let the rest float by."

Yes, it's OK to let things just float by. We don't have to grab onto and feel compelled to hold onto and sort through every bit of information. We should, however, visit the river when we can to revel in the moment of a refreshing idea. There are times when we take a daily swim, but there are also times when we just have to sit it out and wait for another day.

As Nigel so elegantly states: "If you are not watching the stream you don’t think about it, you just know it will still be flowing when you next visit and most likely some new idea will float by."