Posted in digital parenting, good books to read, innovation, parent education, parents and technology

Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner: A Short Review

For some time on this blog I’ve listed Creating Innovators as my current read.

Tony Wagner’s book looks at young adults who are successfully navigating a transforming world of work, where a deep understanding of teamwork and innovation is a prerequisite for success. His profiles focus especially on the educational and parenting experiences that helped each young person flourish. Wagner prods us to identify what we — educators, parents, concerned adults — need to do to engage young learners and help many more of them grow into innovative and creative thinkers.

Creating Innovators features two blended tracks — one text and the other media. Wagner supplements the traditional book with a host of videos that extend and amplify what we have just read. QR codes in each chapter make it easy to access the videos, so we need only scan the image with a smartphone app and off we go to view the related media. If a reader does not own a smartphone — and I’ve discovered that for financial reasons quite a few of my younger colleagues don’t — Wagner’s website includes a page with links to all of the videos.      Continue reading “Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner: A Short Review”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, collaboration, digital learning, parents and technology

What in the World is a Wiki?

A wiki is an online document, viewed in a web browser, that allows a user or users to add and accumulate information on a topic. Usually, but not always, people work collaboratively on a wiki, so it’s a terrific learning tool.

The word wiki comes from a Hawaiian word that means fast.

Anyone can set up a wiki and invite others to contribute. All of the pages are visible and can be edited in the browser. What is unusual about a wiki, compared to many other forms of writing, is the ability of all users to edit and change the work of fellow collaborators, definitely a “we’re all working together project” that teaches group members to cooperate with one another and respect their work. A wiki document can include text, links, pictures, and video.

The In Plain English Wiki tutorial provides a good introduction filled with useful information. Also, check out the comprehensive wiki explanation with an emphasis on wikis in the workplace at OreillyNet. A wiki tutorial at TeachersFirst walks people through the basics of starting a wiki and includes a page with wiki ideas for the classroom. Wikipedia, as its name implies, is a wiki.

A Few Suggestions for Wikis at Home Continue reading “What in the World is a Wiki?”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital learning, Evaluating Web Resources, networking, parents and technology

My Extreme Professional Development

Over the past 10 days I have attended multiple, jam-packed professional development events. I’m beginning to think of it in reality show lingo as my extreme professional development experience, because I’ve encountered so many colleagues along with ideas, hands-on strategies, learning theories, and thoughtful approaches, all focused on becoming better teachers, collaborators, and learners in the 21st Century. One over-arching idea applies to all of my activities: learning, unlearning, and relearning are now routine. Anyone not comfortable with these three concepts — connected and in tandem — needs to get acquainted with them ASAP.

I’m reminded of a quote from futurist Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the future are not those that cannot read or write. They are those that can not learn, unlearn, and relearn.

My extreme adventure started about 10 days ago when I presented in the Virginia Shenandoah Valley at the Virginia Association of Press Women. I described how technology has transformed the way we all learn and how specific content is now less important than our skill at discovering information, evaluating it, and using it well. The digital content is out there for everyone to find, I told the group. The role of adults and teachers is to ensure that as we teach one area of content we also ensure that children are developing the skills to recognize, evaluate, and use quality information.

I drove home on Saturday and left again on Sunday for the annual AIMS Technology Retreat on the Maryland Eastern Shore.

Continue reading “My Extreme Professional Development”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital citizenship minute, digital learning, digital world conversations, parents and technology, teaching digital kids

The Digital Citizenship Minute: Digital Digressions in the Classroom

Read the piece at NetFamilyNews.org.

A year ago I asked my fifth-graders to write podcast scripts. They wrote about teasing, cyberbullying, gossip, intention vs. consequence, advertising, digital footprints, and the lack of facial cues in electronic communication. Working mostly in collaborative groups, my students recorded complete “’casts” in our informal laptop studio.

As always when it comes to 21st Century learning, a few students improved upon my lesson plan and asked to write podcasts for their other teachers. The resulting efforts helped students refine their digital citizenship perspectives. One student noted, “When an electronic problem [like cyberbullying] becomes a ‘big problem,’ teachers talk about it at school. How come we don’t talk about these things when they aren’t [big] problems?”

Continue reading “The Digital Citizenship Minute: Digital Digressions in the Classroom”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital parenting, online education, online learning, parents and technology, teaching digital kids

Finding TED Talks Just Got Easier!

Finally!!

Identifying relevant TED Talks on various subjects just got easier.

Parents, teachers, lifelong learners: these talks contain wide-ranging information, ideas, and lots of content that 21st-century learners be used in reports, presentations, and other learning activities.

According to the e-mail with the graphic below, TED Talks will now be posted on iTunes organized by curated collections students, educators, families, and, of course, lifelong learners.  Click on the image to visit iTunes, choose a collection, and download the lectures that interest you. The link may be slow, but you can always go directly to iTunes.

Expect more from TED.

Check out this post about Teaching With TED. You can also read TED Talks for Teaching English. Another essay, by Georgia Tech professor Amy Bruckman, addresses the tremendous growing power of the TED Brand.

Posted in cultural changes, networking, parents and technology, social media, technology changes

Growing Connections and Leaders — Technology and Beyond

A view from the convention center.

As an educational technology faculty member attending the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference, I enjoy the opportunity to meet with lots of colleagues and friends. More interestingly, at these events I always come face-to-face, for the first time, with a number of people with whom I’ve previously connected via personal learning networks, LinkedInTwitter, blogs, and even via old-fashioned listservs.

While it’s always a joy to meet and greet these people, I am always aware that dozens more connected friends and colleagues are probably attending any given conference — I just haven’t met them yet. Today, in fact, I sat down at a table to eat lunch, looked at the woman across the table, noticed how familiar she looked, and realized that she and I are  Twitter followers.

It wasn’t always like this! More than 20 years ago, when I received my first email account, I desperately wanted to meet other teachers who were online.

Continue reading “Growing Connections and Leaders — Technology and Beyond”

Posted in cultural changes, digital learning, digital parenting, online learning, parents and technology, privatization

Good Ed for Kids? Then Don’t Expect Online to Replace Teachers!

One of my students summed it up perfectly with this poster.

Check out the article, Why Online Learning Should Not Mean Replacing Teachers With Computers, at the MacArthur Foundation website. The post describes an article in the Nation Magazine that examines how online learning companies are manipulating the futures of our children.

I am peripherally involved with a new middle school Khan Academy project. As I’ve watched the program get started and observed the teacher combining her experienced teaching skills with the online opportunities that Khan presents, I am impressed. This dynamic classroom environment combines the best of face-to-face interaction with online learning tools, but the teacher-student connection continues, just as it always has. It’s a joy to watch children work in this setting.

What makes my colleague’s classroom so amazing is how she blends learning resources together — the activities that have always been in her classroom are now expanded with the online Khan materials. And with these additional digital materials she can more easily analyze the needs of her students, reinforce skills, and expand assignments. It’s this blend of rich teaching together with a unique online educational resource, that creates a strong educational environment in her classroom
How sad it will be if some children only have an opportunity to learn online, because the human interaction — and by this I mean the face-to-face moment-by-moment connections and not the digital communications between teacher and student — will never be completely replaced. As one of my colleagues commented recently, blended instruction (a combination of online and connections to real people) will always the easiest way to learn.

We are all living in a time of transformative cultural change. These days teaching — and learning for that matter — seem to be under fire everywhere we look — even in districts with the highest achievement levels in their states. Good digital resources present us with lots of opportunity and the potential to expand and improve the traditional classroom in infinite and exciting directions. Run-of-the-mill digital resources do very little and may, in fact, create more problems.

The bottom line?   Continue reading “Good Ed for Kids? Then Don’t Expect Online to Replace Teachers!”