Month: November 2015

McDavid Mania; and a word of tech advice…

1704050871_4490304210001_connor-mcdavid-1040x572
Connor McDavid. (Darren Calabrese/CP

For those of you that are not professional hockey fans, you might not be familiar with the Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, but you probably have heard of Wayne Gretzky, and if all the hockey fates align, McDavid should soon become as common a household name, stateside as well.

McDavid was not only a first-round draft pick this 2015 NHL season, but the first overall draft pick, and his coming up from the juniors hasn’t caused as much fervor in the media since Gretzky in 1982. For Canada, a star of this magnitude is like a professional athlete, screen icon, and true to life super hero all in one. You can only imagine the glorious abundance of groupies that are paying homage to this young icon through social media nationwide, with over 136 thousand followers on Twitter, and a dedicated fan Facebook page that was recently created as the NHL 2015-16 season kicked off.

McDavid only 18, as part of the Millennial Generation, the first generation that has truly grown up with technology integrated into their everyday lives staying connected and cultured with a constant stream of social media filtering through their fingertips all day long, has some sound advice for his peers when staying focused on your goals, “turn off all social media, turn off your phones, try to make the world smaller, go out and do stuff.” Huh?

As unexpected as it may seem from his generation, advice that he took to heart. He spent all last year in the junior leagues off social media, because he said it distracted him from concentrating on playing and his goals, and in hockey, we know literally, goals.

Now that he is in the NHL, he has reinstated his Twitter, and a Facebook fan page is up and running, so we can as devoted McDavid maniacs, follow and “like” his every move. Will it be distracting? Probably not, his point is more so for young people that haven’t accomplished a specific goal they are working on. For him, it was making it into the NHL, and making sure he did it with the best stats he could put up. And boy did he, during the 2014-15 regular season, he scored 44 goals and 76 assists, finishing third in the OHL, and during the playoffs, he scored 21 goals and 28 assists and led all players with 49 points.

What words of wisdom can we take away from such a young millennial when it comes to using your tech devices in life? When they become distracting to your goals, shelve it for a while, stop using it and stay off it. Get your goals in focus, work hard, go out and make it happen. Once you get to your milestone, go ahead and share it, Tweet it out, Facebook and Instagram it. Nothing is more gratifying than setting a goal and making it happen, and in McDavid’s case, we sure liked watching it happen, as with all the “likes” he will soon be seeing, as we continue to watch, and if the hockey fates do align, all hundreds of thousands of “likes” to come.

Cheers,

Robin L. Stockmar M.Ed.

Technology Integration Specialist

 

Busy or Productive? How Technology can Help Teach the Difference

 

DAZED_AND_CONFUSED
Jon Reeve’s motion picture: Dazed and Confused, 1993.

 

Every day you teach, you have moments where the students are buzzing in your class with books, notebooks, pencils, pens, markers, and erasers flying. You might have a student at your desk asking questions and ones turning in papers or sitting in groups working on projects.

You get a small euphoric high off the excessive learning that is taking place as you get ready to tell the class to wrap it up and can’t wait to see them tomorrow with all the assignments due, and what wonderful feedback that you will be expressing as your students leave clutching their books smiling with eyes gleaming and brains full of new and exciting knowledge to be applied and shared.

Yet, the next day comes, and your class shows up unprepared, homework unfinished, forgetful of what they learned the day before and as if the crawled into a black hole of despair and lost all hope of passing your class at all. How does this happen?

It happens because even though it appears your class was buzzing with learning, they were actually just busy, and the productivity of learning is only proven through hard evidence, the unfinished homework, or test review they failed in class.

So how do you keep the sense of your students being busy confused from being productive? One way to do so is by using some technology tools that relate the productivity in a timely factual manner, that cannot be argued with.

Some of the more helpful products out there are classroom management sites, like  Edmodo and Google Classroom. These sites allow teachers to set up a virtual class, so to speak, where not only can discussions and groups be assigned, but work can be turned in, revised and graded. When students get on these sites to work, they will be immersed in the lessons you not only share with them but have to supply you with the feedback to ensure that the learning is taking place without just “feeling” like it is in your class. It is a way to organize the evidence without hoping it is just going to happen in a random notebook students walk out the door with.

The other added benefit to organizing student work online in a virtual classroom is that they can do it from anywhere there is internet access. This means that once the students walk out the door, it is less likely that they will lose the work, or have to be reminded the next day what it was you went over in class to keep them on track.

Without knowing it, by setting up a virtual classroom you are now teaching your students the benefit of getting organized by participating in a forum where there are specific discussions, assignments, and deadlines. You have just led students across that bridge from being busy in your class to being productive in your class.

 

Cheers,

Robin L. Stockmar M.Ed.

Technology Integration Specialist

Learn more: Google Classroom

https://www.edmodo.com/

Technology in Education Resolution for 2016: Cease, Start, and Celebrate

Considering resolutions for the new year is something we all do. For educators, it is considering best practices when it comes to helping students achieve. Are the new programs and new strategies working? Are they going to continue to work, and what can I do to make them better this year? One area educators tend to overlook at times is the technology they are using in their setting.

Most computer-lab-rulesschools  do a technology assessment, which means that you take inventory and assess what is being used, what is not, and what the educators and students are using that is effective. This may seem easy enough, but there are some philosophical shifts that need to be considered in the overall field in education that should be applied to technology as well.

If we want to achieve the ultimate goal of sending high school graduates into the workforces and off to college with a deep understanding of how to problem solve in multiple disciplines in a moment’s notice, we need to consider more than just how the computers and devices in the classroom are being used, but also how they will build student skills and experiences that will better prepare students.

Three things to Stop doing:

  1. Stop thinking that the technology will provide the answers. It is easy to do, just Google it….but then what? What if the device or internet is not working? If the device isn’t working, ask the students how else they can find answers, or what they might do to use it more appropriately to do so. An inquiry-based approach to learning will foster problem-solving understanding.
  2. Stop believing it will make learning quicker. Just because software and devices can provide a quick way to access feedback, doesn’t mean it will make the students learn concepts quicker. Conceptual understanding takes time and requires more than just feedback, but a deeper understanding.
  3. Stop “required” computer time. No set amount of time on computers will make students better learners. Spending time on computers might help students acquire skills, but it won’t deepen the learning, it takes problem-solving and reflection to do that.

Three things to Start doing:

  1. Start using the technology as a problem-solving tool, rather than a crutch. If you have computers, Ipads, or a BYOD policy, start asking the students ways that they can use the devices to make your class time more efficient, let them problem solve for you, rather than be expected to show them how to use the technology. This helps them enforces their ability to work as a community and as a positive force for change.
  2. Start sharing your passion through technology, don’t force technology for technology’s sake. Whatever it is that excites you as an educator, find a way you can share it through the technology as a platform for deeper learning. Give it some bells and whistles that will excite your students about the content, and allow them to return the sharing with their passion as well.
  3. Start using the technology to share and showcase student work. There is nothing like feeling your hard work is appreciated, and imagine how students feel when they can experience sharing their work to the school, district, parents, and the community. Today’s technology allows you to do so in many ways and platforms: websites, blogs, videos, podcasts, etc…

The three things to Celebrate:

  1. Celebrate professional staff milestones, and use the technology for professional development. One of the best ways to help students achieve is to help teachers achieve. Use the technology to help deliver professional development, and help your teachers be comfortable with it. Praise them for reaching milestones in the technological realm. This is a win-win, if the teachers are comfortable, then the students can take off in their learning.
  2. Celebrate the use of technology to collaborate as a community, with staff, students and parents.  Email, school websites, Edmodo, Google Classroom, and other online communication tools have really taken staying connected to students and parents to a new level. Continue to do so, and think about how to use the tools to connect to the community and celebrate the success as well.
  3. Celebrate and share each student’s potential, and ensure the positive change you want to make through the technology. Every student has something to share and make a positive impact. Use the technology to tell them so, email them or their parents, post a video or quote on a blog, send reminder texts to tell them they are doing a good job. Being mindful of praising the good work in your students is a simple way you can encourage them to become positive contributors to their community, and productive citizens as a whole.

Cheers,

Robin Stockmar M.Ed.

A Digital Show Up; better than a no show..

Staying connected or showing up, is there a difference? Yes, but who has time to sit and have a conversation, or meet a friend for coffee when they want to discuss their divorce, or stop to visit a sick Aunt in the hospital?

Let’s face it, we spend a great deal of time as Americans on devices that keep us connected with text messaging, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and online, but are we just linked by devices, and not truly appreciating our friends and family?

Americans spend up to 12 hours a day on digital devices and media staying connected, the statistics may be alarming:

chartoftheday_1971_Electronic_Media_Use_n

Connected, yes, but showing up? We have our phone or smartwatch and the tv on in the background while maybe working on the computer, or streaming shows on a device while we make dinner. And even though you text or chat for a minute with a friend or family, do you really make time to truly have a conversation with someone when they need you? Do you show up?

Showing up is one of the most important things you can do in life and knowing the difference between staying connected to someone and showing up can be crucial. Caring is good, but not enough, as Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter explains, “a great idea is not enough.” Kanter’s number one rule for inspiring positive change? Showing up.

Consider this, why not use the devices that you have become so comfortable with to show up and talk, chat, converse, pontificate, share pearls of wisdom, and offer your support? It is easier than you think with Skype and now Google Hangouts, you can do face time anytime, and actually show up.

An excellent example, when one young hospital bound Dever Broncos fan wanted to see star player Demaryius Thomas, he showed up, even if he couldn’t physically be there.

FB_IMG_1447825907350 (1)

Imagine how this infirmed boy felt. Better than just a text from Demaryius, right?

Next time you think you may not be able to show up for someone, maybe you can, just take a minute to learn how to do some face time on your device, and soon you can show up for people, even if you physically can’t be there, you can digitally, and really make the connection that counts.

Robin Stockmar M.Ed.

To learn more about digital face time:

https://support.google.com/hangouts

http://www.skype.com

 

The American School Teacher, the last human interactive device standing…

bigstock-Hispanic-Male-Teacher-39888520

According to a study done almost 5 years ago by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average young American spends up to seven hours a day on electronic devices. Some more current studies are indicating that the number is actually up to 9 hours a day if you include texting. Many children ages 8-18 are only getting quality adult human interaction during school on a daily basis.

The trend of schools going more digital and having more adopting a 1:1 device ratio and BYOD programs, the time children spend on electronics might be even higher than known.  Students that attend a regular school day and a school that is not using electronics as a source of curriculum delivery may be getting the only adult human interaction for more than just a couple hours a day, not coming from home but from their teachers.

Consider a high school student that spends 2 to 3 hours working on a computer in classes a day. This would be in addition to the average 8 hours outside of school, which means students could be spending more than 10 hours a day on an electronic device. 

States all across America now have technology requirements that students must master, and many state exams require advanced computer and online use skills. Schools and districts have hopped on this trend with implementing more electronic device usage than ever before, and many have even hired specialists, technology coaches, to teach staff and students to make better and more frequent use of devices in the classroom.

One might ask, is it the schools that are trying to keep up with the usage that the youth has become comfortable with or is the schools feeling that it is a required skill for students to be employable and successful in our society?  Whatever angle it comes from, the result is that one of the few human interactions that our children will get today is from their school teacher, and with the trend of electronics in schools increasing, who knows how long that will last?

The Star Wars Onslaught, Teachers, embrace it, or chase it….

tfa_poster_wide_header-1536x864-959818851016

With the melding of Star Wars and Disney, if you are an educator you will soon be seeing an onslaught of media, merchandise, and even new vocabulary among your students. Much like the Frozen takeover for elementary teachers, Star Wars will seep in from kindergarten to high school, and if you are not a fan, brace yourself.

If you feel that the merchandise is already starting to get crazy, remember the movie has not even been released yet, and fervor of the holidays with the marketing will bear its ugly teeth after the winter break more so as a new generation gets to have the sci-fi spectacular that Star Wars is get Disneyfied.

There is hope, just as Obi-Wan Kenobi gave Luke hope in episode 4, you as an educator can not only jump on that land cruiser bandwagon but embrace the story and give your students an opportunity to learn some of the most important literary skills and concepts that exist in our universe.

Enter the Hero’s Journey. If you are not familiar, get familiar: https://vimeo.com/115006689

http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero’s_journey.htm. Star Wars is one of the most perfect examples of Joseph Campbell’s Opis in storytelling that exists in our culture.

Karn V. from Maricopa Unified Schools has been a lifelong fan, so it was easy to embrace the last series that came out in 1999. Karen worked with junior high behaviorally challenged students at the time, and recalls how she introduced literacy in story creation, and how the students were able to see examples from the movie to develop their own stories about life from it.

She states, “Not only was I able to have students understand storytelling and character development, but I was also able to teach character education through how people can work together to achieve a common good.” She is also proud of how she was able to create a whole classroom full of fans, that may have never had the opportunity to be exposed to the movie and books in the series.

So educators, rather than running from what you might think is a ridiculous marathon of merchandise and series of movie making, take advantage and use the story to teach some literacy and character development. Look closely at the creation of the story, setting, plot, climax, outcome, and think of ways students can understand these elements as literature, create projects that get them excited about the process of storytelling and how it impacts the world we live in. You can embrace it, or you will guarantee, have to chase it….to a galaxy far, far away.

The Rise of the Watch: Teachers take note

apple-watch-selling-points

With the news of Apple Watch 2 being released in the Fall of 2016, one might question if the sales of the watch have started to fade or have they started to rise? According to Apple themselves, they have not been too clear on the sales, estimating anywhere from 2.5 million, to 6 million in that last quarter.

Is introducing a new watch so quickly a tell tale of how they need to update before they lose their audience and as wearable technology seems to be on the rise, how can we really gauge if the Apple Watch, the leader in the craze has really taken off?

Take a look around you…in the grocery store, in school, and in line at the theater, and I bet you will see someone that has a watch, and take a closer look and you will see it could be an Apple Watch. I have especially noticed it in schools. And why?

According to Jenny Hanna of Phoenix, that is an instructional coach at Borman Elementary, she loves it. She states, “It helps me as an appointment reminder, where I need to be….I have a built-in timer, and can watch how much time I have for appointments without being rude, and having to check my phone.” She also likes how she can get texts from her admin, and can view them instantly. And with the voice recognition getting better, other tasks are easily done without the distraction, especially driving.

The idea of your phone on your wrist, and the freedom to continue to drive, work, and even help you teach….just look around, I think you can see the Apple Watch or smart watch maybe soon replacing your phone.

The Kiosk Teacher, is it a thing?

kids

As a teacher, I have heard it in certain circles about how there is a fear one day the technology will replace the teacher, and we will be out of a job. With the age of people being replaced with kiosks in airports, grocery stores and now fast food restaurants, it is only natural that the next step would be replacing teachers with machines that can deliver the material to students.

In reality, until the machine can replace the person, and have the ability to react as a human to certain situations, then this will not happen in education.

Everyone on education knows Bloom’s taxonomy, and we are at the point in the digital age where computer programs can work through questions with students through the levels, having students evaluating and problem solving, with built games and reward systems. So maybe the fear of being replaced by a kiosk is not so far fetched. Or is it?

Would parents would be happy with students in a school where while they are in class that uses kiosks to do the academics, and  a person work as monitor kind of like the one clerk at the end of the self-checkout? This is already happening in computer labs all over the country.

But consider this, for a kiosk to completely replace human interaction with students in a class, the computer must have more capacity and ability to learn, adjust, and have emotional balance than the human brain itself. Even with a room full of kiosks, there still has to be someone in the room with students to monitor them for this purpose.

And what about the nature of what happens in a school on a daily basis, as long as kids go to a physical school, there will need to be humans there to interact with them.

Technology can only replace people when it has becomes equal or better than that person. As far as teaching goes, who knows when that time will be or ever come.

Google’s Philosophy on Education: may not be exactly what you thought

Google, a true advocate for education, promoter of literacy for students, and sponsor of schools all over the country may have a different idea on education than we think as Americans.

How is that so? It is so in the concept of public education in our country.

Public education has been one of the foundations in this country that has set us apart, and has made us outshine others with the output of creative and innovative thinkers we have produced that have changed the world over the past 200 years. No argument, hands down, the US has produced more inventions, ideas, ideals, and institutions that have influenced the rest of the modern world than any other country. Public education, free and available to all, much like the Google approach, is truly what sets us apart.

large-schmidt-quote-graphic

Enter Google, they do believe that supplying our country’s children with free and accessible education is part of their philosophy, for all the reasons stated above, but what makes it different than what are idea of “public” is? The “public” in education means a place free of ideology and religion to most Americans, but what if there was a religion, so to speak, or at least an ideology we all adhered to in public education?

Here, public does not mean necessarily a government funded entity that spits factual information to students that memorize it and spit it back. In fact, the exact opposite, the idea of sharing information, being creative and opportunistic is something a standardized test cannot measure, nor should public education endorse as the end all, or has it been until the inception of No Child Left Behind.

As Google continues to take steps forward in their operating systems, and advocating for education in the digital age, their philosophy maybe the square peg in the round hole as public education currently stands. Much like the Enlightenment Era of our founding fathers, the ideology of free thinking, is Google’s idea of free, or public education.

Robin Stockmar M.Ed.

Women, the Tech Industry is Calling!

computer-science

What is the one industry that has the best equal pay when it comes men vs. women? Not something that requires a Ph.D. but rather something you can do with a few years training or less, and doing so by earning it through a certification program or sometimes an internship. The Tech Industry, specifically the technical part of it networking and computer repair, as well as tech administration.

Although this may not be the groundbreaking executive position, or hands-on helping the world be a better place career you are interested in, there is a place for you to make a difference in it, and career advancement is promising.

A cetification program at a community college or even online you can get you started on this path, and with many course options that include categories such as networking, marketing, cyber-security and project management, you can really diversify your skill set, without a huge amount of money spent, and a possible huge financial gain in return.

For more information, check out some of the links provided:

http://shop.trainingcamp.com/

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Cisco_Certified_Network_Associate_(CCNA)/Salary