Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Future jobs; training required
On a recent episode of TWIT (This Week in Tech) the host and guest were talking about jobs and what types of jobs Amazon Go store uses technology to charge you for what you take and also how automated cars will take away driving jobs, and how AI will lead to computers that program themselves. This has been a discussion that has happened on this show many times and I have seen play out in the news recently as well. What was interesting to me was when they started talking about training needed.
were needed for future careers. They context of the discussion was in regards to technology taking over jobs such as grocery clerks, drivers, warehouse stocking, etc. They were advising a kid in the audience on what kind of training/schooling and jobs he should look for as he gets older. Their discussed how the

What I found interesting is the type of training/schooling the host and guests recommended. They talked about programming and computer science degrees but shot each other down based on AI taking over programming, automation taking over driving, & eventually settled on skilled trade type jobs of monitoring and maintaining automated devices and code. As well as skilled creative jobs that require out of the box type thinking that humans do better than machines. It was funny to see them fumble for words or a description of what kinds of training this was. I wish I had watched it live so I could post the description into the chat room as I found myself screaming it at the recording. 😝 I wanted so badly to say they were talking about CTE (Career & Technical Education).

You might notice in my posts on social media and on hear that I get fired up and passionate about this topic. After working as a CTE teacher in robotics and programming as well as in PLTW (Project Lead The Way) Flight & Space class I find that the focus on the college part of college and career readiness is a bit too much. I am a passionate supporter of CTE classes as a pathway for kids into a career as well as college, because lets face it there are some kids whom college is not and option.

Back in my day in middle and high school we had shop class as well as home Ec,_Ontario,_1959.jpg
. In middle school we learned about general topics like sewing & cooking and wood & metal working as well as plaster work. We made things like aprons, omelettes, pies, checker boards, plaster & metal casts, etc. We learned things like the importance of safety, especially when pouring molten metal & operating power tools, and the importance of accurate measurement, as well as taking your time to plan things out and reading instructions. In high school we had some of the same things but more focused like adult living, small gas engines, drafting, consumer math, etc. What I found is that where I struggled in an academics setting in these shop or Voc ed classes I excelled. I had to take algebra 2 times and did poorly in geometry. I struggled with reading and writing and math, it would take me several attempts at homework and extra credit to simply get a passing grade since I struggled on the the tests. It wasn't until many years later I found out that the reason I excelled in the Voc Ed classes on some of the same problems and algorithms and work I was doing in academic classes as in the Voc Ed classes were put in context.

I now try to keep this in mind with my teaching but I also try to keep it in mind when I talk with colleagues and other teachers and online. It is important as we move forward with change in education we don't forget about those kids like me who need that context when teaching a skill or subject. It is helpful if we teach reading to put it into context of reading for pleasure but also reading for career. Same for writing, math, science, etc. Simply teaching someone to write an expository paragraph on a topic that relates to kids lives is not enough. Having them write up an explanation of a recent event in a school news paper is better as they see the reason for the writing. Having them write a copy of the morning announcements regarding the daily happenings is better so they see their work published. Teaching kids math like fractions and equations just so they learn them for a test is not enough. That info needs to be embedded in design rooms, programming robots, building towers. Things they can apply or can see themselves doing in a real world context. This is what college and more importantly career ready means.
Lastly I want to say that we need to be careful when we plan work and design course and help our kids pick out classes that we are not doing so though the rose colored eyes of everyone needs to go to college to be successful. For some of us that isn't true and for some of us college is not in the cards. I was amazed when I started teaching CTE classes and meeting with industry partners and was told the following story. A professor as a local tech school shared that he had trouble keeping girls in his robotics classes. Our group asked why this was the case, wondering if girls were not going into the program or losing interest or what. His answer shocked me and others. The answer was that they were being hired out of his class by employer's to complete their training on the job for on average $70,000/year.  Think about that for a minute. A young girl 19+ years old being hired out of a 2 year trade school and making $70,000 to start. That is better than I did with a masters degree and teaching certificate. There are good paying jobs out there that don't need a 4+ year degree to get.

What I will end with is that we need to make sure we are designing school/education that allows kids to make their own choice about the future. Whether that be college or career.
I would love to hear your thoughts regarding this topics so feel free to post your comments below.f

As always go forth and do great things.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Social Media Learning
As I read the news this week about a girl who went to her prom and was attacked, berated, supported, etc. for the style of dress she chose to where.  I wonder what would be different if we took the time to time to teach social media as part of schools ELA curriculum and not part of what we call digital citizenship.

I know that ELA teachers might disagree with me on this one with the argument of social media is destroying writing. Kids can't write complete sentences and use letters for words etc. While I tend to agree but I also see a different point of view. I have always read, heard, etc. that the English language is a living language
that is is constantly evolving with new words, phrases, and colloquialisms. Social media is just the next evolution of language. Kids have learned to adapt their writing to fit the medium with which they use to communicate.  Instead of chastising kids for adapting a language we should be learning from as to how they do it and how they develop the rules. However that is not what I want to address here in this post. I would much rather address how students are using social media as a communication tool.
Social media is very much in it's infancy and I don't think it will ever be out of its infancy with all the new tools and forms of social media coming out. kids are using it as best they know how to share information with each other for good or for bad. I wonder if it was like that when books, writing, music, etc came out as ways of communication. Did we fight it and say they were going to ruin society? Yet we now use them as not only a form of expression but also as a way to communicate information. We also now teach kids how to use music, writing, etc. as a way to express themselves and how to express themselves properly and effectively. Our efforts are used for good and for bad but we still teach them how to use the tools.

The same goes for social media it is used for good and for bad, yet we often times focus on the bad more so than the good. I pose we should focus on the good and learn how to teach it. If it were part of an ELA curriculum we could leverage it to teach grammar and persuasive versus expository writing. We could help mold new spelling rules ass well as combine old ones with the new. Kids could learn how to express themselves in a positive and effective manner rather than trying to figure out through trial and error on their own. Some say that this is better done as part of a digital citizenship unit where we are teaching them how to be good citizens. The problem is that it is out of context and often times pot on the back burner. It is put on the back burner due to the fact that often times in education we put items like ELA, Science, Math, etc. ahead of other subjects because it is tested. I would argue that if we incorporated the use of social media we could capture student interest and teach what is tested and possibly see better results.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Professional Development: Google classroom Stream & Student tabs

The next post in my Professional Development series is on the Stream & Student tabs in Google classroom.

The Stream Tab

Think of the stream like the Facebook news feed or twitter. It is the primary way of communicating info via classroom. I like to think and describe it as social media
for the classroom. It is a great communication tool for you and your students and allows them to communicate in not only a way they are used too but also in a more collaborative way, which is something employers are looking for.
In the stream you have 4 types of "posts" you can use, announcements, assignments, questions, & reused posts.

The first type of post is an announcement
, which a lot like a typical Facebook post or tweet. It is as its name implies an announcement to the class. You can attach files from your computer, your drive, YouTube, and/or share links. Students and you are able to post comments to announcements which is a great way to teach and encourage collaboration (more about this later). Some teachers use announcements as a way to "hand out" work/assignments as a way to cut down on the amount of emails they get. I primarily use them to update the class on info they may need or find helpful. I also use it as a way to stay in contact when I am out of the classroom physically.
The second type of post is an assignment.
An assignment is just as it sounds an assignment you want students to complete and hand in. As with announcements you can attach files, drive files, YouTube videos, & links. With an assignment you can add more details/instructions as well as due dates & times and attach a grade/score. You can also track who has completed the assignment as well as which ones you have handed back. What I like about the assignment post is that it eliminates the dreaded no name paper. I also like that it assigns a date and time to when students have submitted their work so there is virtually no question about when it was handed in to you.

The third type of post is the question.
A question is simply that a question. You can treat it like an assignment with due dates and attachments as well as instructions. However, a question gives students the ability to type in or select an answer. It is a great way of doing entry or exit tickets as formative assessment. Students can respond to each other as well as see a cumulative summary of responses.

The forth type of post isn't really a post so much as a way to post past assignments, questions, and announcements. It is the reuse post feature. This feature allows you to go back to other classes (both current and archived) and select posts you would like to use in the current class. This is a handy feature to cut down on the about of retyping you do if you teach the same class in the future.

I mentioned that student are able to post comments to posts. Some teachers may find this intimidating or annoying at first but I have found that as with any tool if taught how to use it and manage it, students can use it effectively. I encourage students to post comments as a way of sharing helpful info, asking questions, and looking for advice. It makes the work more social and real life rather than just another boring class. I won't kid you by thinking students don't misuse it and use it as a way to chat. I usually let them do this for a day or two and use it as a teachable moment which helps take the novelty away. You can also mute specific students and turn off the feature all together.

The Student Tab

The student tab is pretty simple and allows you to manage students and guardians. You can add students to classroom by using either a code (easiest) or by inviting them via email. I find using the code to be the simplest way. I simply create an assignment (paper or via Skyward) with directions on how to setup classroom and the class code. Once students setup their classroom correctly the first assignment they see is a setup google classroom assignment that they simply need to mark as done. Although I do know some teachers who invite via email each of their students.

You can also invite guardians by clicking on the 3 dots next to the student name and select invite guardian. There you type in the parent email address and it sends them an email link to sign up. This does not give parents access to the classroom it simply signs them up for email alerts to posts in classroom. You can also send out mass emails to parents and students from the student tab. You can also click on a student's name and see a filtered list of their work as well as scores. 

Instructional Video

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Professional development: Google Classroom setup

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To start off my professional development series I am going to work on showing the tool google classroom.

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Google classroom is a powerful tool that is part of the google apps for education suite that teachers and administrators can use to hep organize assignments, observations, conduct professional development and more. I liken it to social media for the classroom, as it is more a communication tool than what some might call an LMS (Learning Management System) like Blackboard, Schoology, and others. Classroom does not have all the bells and whistles of a true LMS but it is a powerful tool in helping kids learn organization and communication skills.

To start off the Classroom series I show you how to set up classroom as a classroom teacher and how to invite students. Some important things to keep in mind as you start your journey into Google Classroom.

  • When first signing up make sure to sign up as a teacher. If you sign up as a student you don't get access to all the features and to switch your account takes some work
  • There are 2 views, Teacher  & Student. It can be frustrating if you want/need to show students their view
  • Be prepared for an upswing in the amount of email you get.
    • You can manage this in the settings by turning off email notifications
As I mentioned earlier Google Classroom is more a communication tool than a true LMS. It has some features of an LMS like:
  • Assignment distribution and turn in
  • Interactive questions
  • Messaging (Announcements)
  • Google Calendar and Google Drive syncing
However currently some of the features it is lacking are:
  • Linking to an LMS or IMS (information management system) like Skyward
  • One stop shopping for grades, payments, announcements, etc.
  • School and district info
There are numerous ways classroom teachers and administrators can use google class. Here are a few suggestions (please share how you are using it as well):
Classroom Teacher:
  • Classroom homepage
  • Classroom Communications
  • Assignment distribution and collection
  • Formative assessment (questions)
  • Classroom library (about tab)
  • Lesson Planning 
  • Professional development portal
  • Evaluation portal
  • School resource library
  • Staff meeting portal
  • Observation document repository
I am sure there are many more uses to which I can't wait to hear more about. 

Too start off these series I have a video below on how to setup Google Classroom. In future videos I will show you how to utilize the 3 tabs (Stream, Students, About), as well as how to submit feedback.

Professional Development series

One part of this blog is to start a tag/label called professional development. the goal is to start expanding my skills in helping teacher perfect their craft. Under the professional development tab you will find short posts, videos, links, etc. on tools, sites, techniques I use in my practice. I will show how to use them and break down their parts as well as share how I use them in/with my classes.
I want to say as I start this new journey that I am by no means a definitive expert on technology in the classroom. That being said please if you notice things that could be done a different way or are not quite right please share your comments. Also, please please please share how you use the tools I am sharing as more heads are better than one. As my principal says "We are all in this together" and I know that I could use your help in expanding the tool box I use in my teaching craft.

Lastly I want to encourage your suggestions of not only tools you would like me to add to this series but also on how I can improve. I have been doing screencasts in the classroom as part of the "Flipped Classroom" model. I have received some wonderful feedback from my students on how to improve my videos and I hope to get some great feedback from you.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Gone but not forgotten

As  you can probably tell I have been gone for awhile but I haven't forgotten about my blog. I will be picking up my blogging work this year in earnest as the summer gets closer and time becomes more free.

A little bit about what I have been up to over the last 5+ years since my last post. I have been working as a middle level Technology/Engineering/Robotics teacher. I have also been working as a technology PD leader for my school and district helping teachers better integrate technology into their practice. Helping teachers perfect their craft through integration is my passion and what I hope to use this blog for moving forward. I also hope to use this blog to have some discussion and discourse about the use of technology and when and where it is appropriate to use technology in the classroom. I also hope to hear from those of you out there about your uses of technology in the classroom as I want to learn from you as well.

Recently our district went 1:1 with Chromebooks. It has been an interesting transition from computer labs to 1:1 computers for every student. I still work in a computer lab but am looking at changing over from a traditional lab to one that enables students to sync up their Chromebooks with an AWS server. I am excited for the possibilities this brings to my classes both in and out of the classroom. Anyone out there currently use AWS or something similar and can give me some feedback or advice or thoughts that would be greatly appreciated.

So before I leave you today I want to sure something I am doing with my classes that is making a difference in getting students to engage with learning how to manage a project. I am doing what is called 20% time. I model it after a story I heard about Google giving their employees 20% of the day to work on a project that they enjoy. We have what we call a late start Monday where we meet with other teachers in our building and/or district to align curriculum, plan out unit and lessons, and other stuff normally relegated to after school or other off times. This is see shortened periods for our kids which amount to about 20% of a students time in my class. I start off the semester with a definition of what 20% time is and then move into a couple of weeks helping students choose a project or skill they would like to focus on. From there I teacher how to use a Gant Project Planner found in Excel to manage their project. Then I let them go on their work for the rest of the semester. Students work on projects ranging from planning a composting project at school, to soccer skill development, to programming, to typing, to vlogs, and much more. This is just my first year at trying this but what I am finding is that kids enjoy the time to focus on their likes/interests and often times what they are doing relate back to what we are learning about in my classes. It also gives me more time to see their passions as well as work with those kids who need a little extra attention/differentiation during the week because if students are done with the lesson or work I have given them for the day then they know to work on their 20% time project. A book you can read (I am just starting it) is called "The 20time project: How educators and parents can launch Google's formula for future-read innovation" by Kevin Brookhouser. I hope to get some more ideas on how to grow and improve this time so kids.

I welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My first video for my flipped class

Attached, linked, embeded in this post is my first video for my flippled classroom. It is rather long and I am already thinking I might cut it down but thinking I might like some feedback before I go and re-record.
I will be using this video to serve 2 purposes. One to introduce to concept of watching videos at home as well as how to take notes while watching the video. After a talk about note taking and introducing the cornell notes format students will watch the video as a class to practice watching a video and taking notes. I will be guideing a discussion around what they think is important and how they know it is important as well as the concept of "pausing" the teacher.

I welcome your feedback and suggestions in the comments. Click on the link below to view the video as it is a little too big for Blogger to handle.

NXT Piece Basics