Sunday, November 27, 2016

The dinner party

A little while back, a Facebook (and real life) friend of mind made this observation. With their permission, I am sharing the thread. 

Teaching analogy: teaching is like putting on a dinner party for 30+ people everyday (90+ in middle school) mostly by yourself, with a wood stove, and only one pot. And sometimes there is no wood and the pot breaks, but you have to have the dinner party anyway. Seriously - it should not have to be this difficult!
Photo: Getty

  • Renee: Very good analogy! So true

  • Sandra: Yeah, but you know you love the dinner party!

  • Andrea: And if you're on various committees, it's like helping the neighbors, advocating for quality food with the market managers, and communicating with the non-food suppliers, too, while also trying to still create a perfect dinner for your guests. And then one of the guest's associates stops by to discuss the meal...

  • Joy: I loved this! It described my day to a "t"! Thanks!

  • Karyann:  And some of the guests will need different meals than the others, and 1 or 2 will not eat at all:)

  • Shannon:  FOOOOOD FIIIIIIIGHT! ...hehe, couldn't resist. But in all honesty you nailed it!

  • Andrea: Some guests need organic baby food, but it should be the same food the other guests are eating. Other guests need gourmet food and eat with chopsticks. The guests may have difficulties swallowing the food if you don't cut it up for them, especially if they order their own food off a menu of standard items. All food should be perfectly prepared, done at the same time, and consumed by guests on the same occasion, or at least before The Grand Meal.

  • Sandra: Yes, some guests just won't eat. You can't make them. They are not hungry. And some will ask for seconds and thirds, and still need more. Some will be grateful, but may not tell you until 20 years have gone by. And some will have bad manners. But you love to cook, and you love the dinner party. So you cook again another day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Schoedinger's President-Elect

I couldn't take it anymore last night. I went to bed. Around 1030 maybe it was 11.  I just didn't want to know. it wasn't going change anything and I needed to sleep. When I woke up this morning I wondered and I was afraid. As I reflected on the potential outcomes of this election I decided, much to my surprise that it would probably be better for our country if Donald Trump won. Now hear me out.

If Hillary Clinton won, then she would face indictments, a combative Congress and a populous at least half of which are Trump supporters.  And of those,  a small, perhaps, but vocal percentage are fanatics. He has previously urged his fanatics to create some not so civil unrest. My real fear is that if Clinton won, Trump supporters are going to create such havoc and unrest, the likes of which our country hasn't seen in decades. Now on the other hand if Trump wins... well,  we got a little taste last night as Clinton supporters were starting to read the writing on the walls or the tea leaves or whatever. Some of the posts to Twitter and Facebook were along the lines of,  you're not alone. we still will love. love wins. we're still going to get up and continue to fight for positive change. 

So I'm thinking that if Trump won, then Clinton supporters are going to fight even harder to make the world a better place. That said, I still was lying in bed this more morning in the fetal position with my blankets pulled up over my head.Tthe things that Donald Trump represented: arrogance, greed, self interest before others, bigotry, misogyny... all those horrible things that he said and did do not make him in my mind an ideal candidate for president. Regardless the people have spoken and Schoedinger's cat is going to have to come out of the box one way or the other

Monday, April 11, 2016

LOA Diaries: CUE Rock Star

I have been a member of CUE  since I started teaching. I found the conferences I've attended to be engaging and inspirational. I also attend EdCamp un-conferences and local events sponsored by my school district as well as several workshops at SCCOE, our county office of education. Considering the salary structure of most educators, I appreciate that many of these events are local (meaning no travel expenses) and free or very reasonably priced. In addition to the annual SVCUE event, I've also attended some amazing CUESF events just up the road.

After a two-year CUE Conference hiatus, I attended the annual conference in Palm Springs last month. This is kind of the big daddy of #edtech conferences in California, and I am willing to take the hit for the conference and travel, usually working out to about $1000. The conference fee itself is $250-ish for members of CUE. I have never questioned the cost of this 3+ day event. The keynote speakers are high profile folks, from Vinton Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet to The Brad Montague, the creator of Kid President.

I had heard about CUE Rock Star Camps and honestly didn't even look twice. I resented the implication that if those attending were Rock Stars, then the rest of us were not. CUE has at times felt very cliquish to me and I just did not want to be part of that. Three things changed my mind, sort of. Our school district is opening a new STEAM school this coming fall and I have been privileged to be part of the planning and implementation from very early on. While at the conference in Palm Springs, I learned about an upcoming Rock Star Camp which was a STEAM edition. I was intrigued. When I saw it was in Orcutt, CA, a week before I needed to be there for an iPad Academy workshop I was facilitating, and the home of a dear friend, I was almost sold. Finally, on the flight heading home from PS, I sat next to +Jason Borgen, currently on the CUE Board of Directors. Jason and I used to teach at the same district (at different times) and we met at the first CUE I attended in 2008! We have stayed in touch, connecting at various ed tech events over the years. As we sat on the plane, and I explained my reservations about Rock Star events, and even just the name, he encouraged me to give it a try. I have a great respect for Jason, and I have heard such great things about the camps, it all seemed to point to yes, so I bit the bullet and paid the $249 registration fee.

And so, I packed up my car and my dog and headed south for a week in Orcutt. I was impressed with the sessions I attended. I left feeling inspired to try new things such as YouTube (creating, not consuming), some really exciting resources for integrating Science and Engineering activities and maybe even Minecraft. That said, I do think the $250 price tag is a little high for this format. I asked CUE Rock Star's 'baby daddy', Jon Corippo (actual title, CUE Dir. of Academic Innovation) about the price and he explained the costs involved and how they calculated their price from that. I get it, but think there is room for corporate sponsorships to help reduce the hit to already cash-strapped educators. There were no "big name" speakers, of course, it was more structured than the free EdCamps but I feel the price simply adds to the "us vs them" impression I first had about Rock Star camps. But the cliquishness I had experienced at my local affiliate was not apparent here and even though I was not local, I felt welcomed and appreciated. That was a nice surprise. There were inside jokes about ice cream and pickles and such that made no sense to me, but in general, it was a very inclusive experience. The faculty was incredibly generous with their time and resources, sharing lesson plans, links and even physical items such as books and maker supplies. Ed Campos, Jr. was a perfect Master of Ceremonies and the Orcutt team was flawless. Their superintendent, Dr. Deborah Blow, attended sessions right alongside us each day!

Cambrian Represents!

So here are some of my key takeaways from the weekend:

What is a Maker Space? The maker session was facilitated by Henry Danielson, director of Technology, Coast Unified School District in Cambria, and his middle schooler son, Max. While Henry was great, Max stole the show. I love hearing from kids how they work, think and learn. Max was articulate, thoughtful and enthusiastic. The two of them plus the rocket guy were definitely guides on the side, letting us explore and fail forward. Henry provided a google doc with so many resources that my head spins just looking at the doc, but I am thrilled to have it!

Minecraft. Get Crafting: Led by Chris Scott,who runs Minecraft camps and presents at conferences, this session really forced me out of my comfort zone. While I appreciate the value of games in learning, and I totally get how much kids embrace Minecraft, I've felt it has been a little overhyped and overdone. Plus I have never enjoyed playing video games myself. I was happy to finally get into a Minecraft world and see what it was all about. However, I was totally frustrated. Chris kept telling us to find a turtle and nothing at all looked like a turtle to me! Chris reminded us "the moment we forget the struggles of a learner, we stop being an effective educator."

I am still not sure the hype is worth it, but I am less daunted and willing to learn more. In a later session, Scott Spector shared several resources for using Minecraft across the curriculum so I have a lot of learning yet to do!

NGSS, STEAM, STEM What's it all about? Scott Spector, Coordinator of Innovation and Academic Events at the Santa Barbara County Ed Office, blew my mind with the plethora of resources he shared. He talked about the difference between the importance of performance expectations over rote learning as well as the integration of content across all subjects, something we elementary educators have been doing forever, but now have so many more resources and tools at our disposal.

YouTube on Your Side: Another session with Chris, we started out by watching 10 minutes of a daily vlogger's video. Ty next to me asked, 'why?' I think you either enjoy watching the mundane daily lives of others or you live your own. We moved on from that to talk about the power of such a potentially large audience to give ourselves and our students a voice with an authentic audience. I don't want to be a daily blogger or a daily vlogger, but I do know I have a unique voice and if I don't tell my story, someone else will. I have made many movies with my students and as a teacher, but this was my first foray into becoming a youtuber. It's not pretty, but here it is. I appreciate the push!

And finally, a few tidbits overheard at Cue Rock Star: STEAM

From Ed. Campos, Jr.'s 360 Math session - "Why buy an interactive whiteboard when you can get all this for less?"

In the youtube session, we watched a short video of building a pyramid of pennies. A math teacher in the room recognized it as part of the Dan Meyer Three Acts of a Mathematical story. I'd never heard of his work so I will do some research. It is an interesting approach.

"Are you going to learn more looking at a piece of paper or making it yourself & explaining it?'~ S. Spector

Granted there were about 5500 fewer people at this event than the Big CUE but there were zero tech issues, the wifi worked great, the site custodian was cheery and helpful and the IT group, Kirby and Janet, were available and on their feet the whole two days. So, I guess I am on the bus, and I need to start saving up for my next CUE Rock Star Camp!

For more, see my storify summary.

Friday, March 25, 2016

LOA Diaries: #CUE16

It has been a long, strange road to get me back to CUE. I really appreciate +Edmodo making good on the contest prize I won (but was unable to use) two years ago. I find the CUE conference to be inspiring and invigorating and this year was no different.  The opening keynote was none other than THE Brad Montague, the co-creator of +Kid President. Not a dry eye was in the house after his motivational pep talk.

Making Sense of Creative Commons Licenses

Interview with Jane Park

Last week I was fascinated to interview Jane Park, director of Platforms and Partnerships at Creative Commons. I always have to look up what the various licenses mean, so I was happy to have the opportunity to listed to Jane make sense of it for me! Following is a transcript of your interview. 

Tell us about you and your role.
I've been at Creative Commons (CC) for a number of years and currently I lead our platform initiatives. Which means working with OER platforms like Edmodo, Amazon, and Microsoft, as part of the U.S. Department of Education GoOpen initiative.

What is Creative Commons?
We're a nonprofit organization and we offer a suite of legal tools that make it easy for creators to share their creative work online. Prior to us, there were only two options if you wanted to share your work- all rights reserved copyright, where you had to ask for permission every time you used any part of someone's work, or in the public domain (you had no rights to that whatsoever). CC licenses are a set of copyright licenses that allow the creator to flexibly say, 'you can use my work and you have to give me credit,' and they allow the creator to manage those different permissions.

What does "open" mean in the context of OER?
The "Open" requires the 5 Rs. Retain (you can retain a copy- download/duplicate/store on your own computer), Reuse (use it in a class, in a study group, re-share it in a website or in a video), Revise (modify it, adapt it to your classroom, translate, and alter the content in other ways),Remix (combine the work with other works to create a collection or mashup), and Redistribute (share it on a website or video publicly).

On Edmodo Spotlight we have 3 choices: Attribution, Attribution Sharealike, and Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives. Can you tell us about what those three mean and why I would choose one over the other?

Attribution is the most liberal and accommodating of the licenses we offer. It essentially says hey, you have to give me credit for my work, but you can do whatever you want to do with it- you can remix it, adapt it, even use it for commercial purposes. We recommend this license as a default for OER.

The second option is Attribution Sharealike, which is basically the Attribution license with one extra condition attached. If you alter or modify the work in any way, you have to Sharealike your derivative work under the same license. You're still allowed to use it commercially. For example, if you take a song and sync it with a video, that video with the song you would have to Sharealike under the same Attribution Sharealike license.

The third license- Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives - is actually our most restrictive license. It signals to the user that you can redistribute my work verbatim, but if you make any modifications or changes, you cannot share it out. So it's saying "don't change my work but you can share it widely." 

What about paid resources?
If you're the owner, you can always sell it and/or add a Creative Commons license. If you're not the owner, you can use works under the first two licenses for commercial purposes, but not the third one, since it has a non commercial condition.

Do I need to worry about using someone else's work in my classroom? We teach our kids about fair use. How does that apply to this?

When you're using work in the classroom, it's more lenient than re-publishing in the open web, since the classroom is a closed setting. If the work is under a CC license, you're free to use it as long as you abide by the terms of the CC license. It applies in and out of the classroom. When it comes to using all rights reserved copyright works, you're free to use them both in and out of the classroom, the difference is the rules might be more liberal in the classroom, under fair use.

I'm not a fair use expert but there are 4 fair use factors that any court of law will judge fair use by. That is: the purpose and character of your use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion you use, and the effect of that use upon the potential market. But I would definitely read the wikipedia article on it, it will explain much better than I do.

What's the most common mistake teachers or students make when labeling using CC licenses?
If you are not the owner of the content, you should not be adding a CC license to that work. That's a common mistake, people put a CC license on works they don't own. A second one is adding a Noncommercial No Derivatives license, and say it's OER. As we discovered with the 5 Rs, if you can't remix it, then it's not OER. So if you want it to be OER, choose one of the licenses that allow derivative works or allows Remix.

What's the most important thing you want teachers to know?
There is a large world of OER out there. If you take 10 minutes to familiarize yourself with the CC licenses and how they work, you can tap that world of OER and clearly figure out what you can and cannot use and under what conditions. CC licenses really provide clarity, where there is often ambiguity, especially when it comes to fair use. That being said, we do encourage teachers to rely on fair use, exceptions and limitations to copyright, when using any educational resource.

Thank you Jane, for helping to make sense of this for us!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Quality Content on Edmodo Spotlight


Edmodo Spotlight is a repository for Open Educational Resources, (ROER) as well as a source of content which is not considered "open" but is being made available, either for free or a nominal cost, from educators for educators. Edmodo Spotlight hosts and facilitates access to these resources.  

To be truly open, content must satisfy the 5 Rs: the consumers ability to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute the resource. In an article published in the online Research in Leaning Technology journal, titled: Questions of quality in repositories of open educational resources: a literature review,  J.Atenas and L.Havemann discuss certain indicators of quality in the design and implementation of ROERs, and some of these include user evaluation tools, peer review and use of keywords (emphasis mine).

Call to Action

To ensure high quality content is available for Edmodo users, users such as the Luminary community can provide the most meaningful, authentic reviews. To help with the review process, I've come up with some suggestions.

When I introduce  Edmodo and blogging with my students, I use an acronym, R.A.M.E to remind them than any comment should be relevant, appropriate, meaningful and edited. The same is a good start for reviewing teacher created content. 

RELEVANT: When providing feedback, be sure that you have actually looked at the contributor's resource and that your comment reflects that - what is something you liked? what didn't you understand? what connections can you make to your own possible implementation? in short, is your comment relevant to the resource you are reviewing?

APPROPRIATE: Consider your audience. Is the public comment section the right place for your feedback? As fellow teachers, we may be reluctant to give negative feedback publicly - I know I am. When I see an issue that I feel needs to be addressed by the resource owner, I direct message them.The good news is, Edmodo understands this reluctance to 'call someone out' and they are building in a messaging option on the product (Spotlight Resource) page.

MEANINGFUL: The Huffington post had a nice article written by Kim Pisolkar about Why Good Job Isn't Good Enough where she provide the analogy of a gift:

Feedback is like a gift... and as with any gift, the initial impression is in the wrapping. Think about how you’d feel receiving a gift not wrapped nicely, just sort of thrown your way with little thought or sincerity. Now think of how differently you might feel receiving a gift that is lovingly wrapped, given with pride and thoughtful consideration. That analogy represents the difference between giving ordinary, bland feedback like “Nice job” and delivering effective, sincere feedback that actually tells a person what was good.
The article goes onto cite the SBI model developed by the Center for Creative Leadership. SBI is an acronym for situation, behavior, and impact:
1. Describe the situation where the behavior was observed.
2. Describe the behavior- the specific and factual actions or interactions that were observed by you or others.
3. Describe the impact - the effect the behavior had on others such as clients or team members, and/or the results.
So please include meaningful, perhaps even actionable feedback. Contributors are able to update their resources in Spotlight and often will based on community feedback.Your words do have an impact. 

EDITED: In general, please try to make sure your review comments are edited.

After studying Socrates, my students also added the final two letters of the acronym: N and N to make RAMENN - is your input nice and necessary? Are your comments, even criticism delivered with kindness? 

When you look at at resource in Edmodo, you have the option to rate it 1-5 stars. You can also post a comment, preferably using guidelines similar to what I have outlined above.

A final note about keywords. Users, content consumers, look for and find content using keywords. When you are reviewing a resource, if you notice they are missing some valuable keywords, please let the owner know. If they add them, your suggestion might make the difference for someone looking for just the right amazing resource.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

LOA Diaries: Earning NerdCred at Skywalker Ranch

I was extremely honored to be invited by +Edmodo to the US Department of Education's #GoOpen Exchange. +Office of Ed Tech's  #GoOpen campaign encourages states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning. From the day I started teaching, I've advocated for a more open sharing of content, why, after all, should we re-create the wheel in thousands of classrooms across the globe? So this event was an exchange of ideas on a subject I am passionate about. The fact that it was being held at Skywalker Ranch in beautiful Marin County, just two hours north of my home, was icing on the cake.

I met like-minded educators from across the country and was truly energized and invigorated by the exchange of ideas. We even got to watch the original Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, in George Lucas' theater. I couldn't help myself, the sound of the THX 'Deep Note' caused me to break out in cheer!

I tend to use Twitter as a note taking device and below is a compilation of my tweets about the event.

Thank you to +Kevyn Klein,and  +Julia Gitis from Edmodo for making my attendance possible, and to Andrew Marcinek and Katrina Stevens from the US Dept. of Ed, Office of Educational Technology for making me feel so welcome and putting together such a fun and inspirational day!