Thursday, April 23, 2020

Becoming a Change Agent in Your School

Think of a time that you liked a change in your life. What or who made the change? What was the result of that change?
Image from Flicker:

Look around yourself. Is there anything that could be done more efficiently? If you always think about how you can do something more effectively, or advocate and encourage your friends/colleagues and yourself to make changes, you are a change agent. 

Change comes with challenges. As a teacher, when you change the content or the way you teach the content, often you have to come up with a new test, new statements that describe your students learning outcomes and how you are meeting those, new assessment tools and techniques. If you are not up for all of that work, you would do anything to avoid the change (until you are forced to make the change because your content or teaching pedagogy is out of date!). A change (whether big or small) comes with an expense, so you have to be able to justify and communicate the time and money that is spent and its benefits for all the stakeholders.

Todd Rose, author of The End of Average, describes the historical reasons and influence of using average (an average student, average successful person, average time for a test, average age for marriage...) and how it has influenced many decisions that we make as an educator, without realizing the thought-provoking idea that the average is a myth. In the TED Talk below, he describes how average-based designed airplane cockpits in 1952 were the reason that many good pilots failed. When the air force realized that the issue was the design, and requested personalized cockpit designs, they faced a pushback from the companies, however, when they resisted buying more planes, the airplane companies came up with the idea of adjustable seats (that we use in our cars today!). Rose then shares how we are in an age that our education system is failing, and the need for better designs that sound as impossible as making personalized cockpits, but as possible as the invention of adjustable seats!

As a teacher in the information age, you have access to an endless amount of information, technology, and tools that can make life better or worse. Your decisions regarding how you will use everything that is available to you leads to good or bad changes. Alan AtKisson, in the TEDx Talk video below, uses some great examples/songs to explain how you can be an effective agent of change. He discusses the importance of different roles that you can play in your organization to advocate for a good idea, whether it is yours or your colleagues’ idea, which could lead to a change. He also shares the personalities who try to shut down the change for different reasons. Knowing about these different reactions, and personalities, you can choose which one you would like to be, and how to manage working with those different roles and still advocate for change. 

P.S. In our Becoming Change Agent lecture, we have asked our Professional Learning Network, to share their idea of change agents, the challenges that they have faced as change agents, and the reasons that they hire change agents. 
Listen what they had to say.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Interactive Learning

Listening to lectures and reading books is one way to learn but few people will say that it is their preferred way to learn. It may be their favorite way to go to school, but is it the most effective way for them to actually learn and master a topic?

Interactive Learning 

Interactive learning is driven by the learner.  The learner engages in the lesson and receives immediate feedback about how well she has done.  Based upon the learner's success, the learner will then encounter learning opportunities that are at the appropriate level of difficulty. Unlike lecture classes where the teacher is teaching to what s/he considers the average student, Interactive Learning provides a learning environment that is tailored to each learner's needs. 

Does Interactive Learning require technology?  No. Before the personal computer, teachers were able to provide interactive learning environments using carefully selected worksheets and textbooks. Students would be pretested to identify their skill levels and then they would work on activities that fit their needs. Upon completing an assignment, it would be corrected and if enough answers were correct the student would move to the next level. 

Does technology make Interactive Learning easier?  Yes. Instead of worksheets and correcting keys, computerized systems can quickly assess a student's skill level and then provide the appropriate learning activities. Technology increases the speed and accuracy of the Interactive Learning experience which can enable the learner to master the content more quickly.

Let's Try this Out!

Visit one of these Interactive Learning systems:   ALEKS or Khan

Each of these systems uses Artificial Intelligence to present instruction that fits your needs. Each system will spend some time getting to know you by asking you questions.  First, they will ask you about what you want to learn and then they will ask you specific questions about the topic you selected. The questions will begin with the basics and then expand your horizons based upon your answers.  Once they get to know you well enough, they begin to instruct you in your selected subject matter. 

ALEKS began as a mathematics tutorial system. Using artificial intelligence, ALEKS identifies what you know. 

Go on the Journey Yourself.  Get a free trial subscription and spend 20 minutes experiencing the artificial intelligence pathway to knowledge.   Here are some hints for your journey through ALEKS.
  • Click on Free Trial
  • Select Independent Users
  • Explore the Student Module
  • Sign Up for the free trial account.
  • Enter your information and then select Independent User Type: College or K12 Student.
  • Choose your market as K-12
  • Select a level and then Select a course.
  • Enter ALEKS.  You will encounter some tutorials at the beginning and then you will get your artificial intelligence-driven pretest.
Want to try a Video Tour of ALEKS?  

Khan Academy is another system that uses AI (and some selections by you) to identify where to begin and uses interactive learning to take you down Knowledge Lane. KHAN began with mathematics but now it teaches everything from Math to Science to Humanities to Economics to SAT Prep.

Begin Your Khan Academy tour. Use the Learners, start here button. 
  • Select a Subject Area and Sign Up.
  • Continue with your UNI Google account
  • Enter Khan Academy and explore the Interactive Learning environment.

Flipped Learning/Classroom

Flipped Learning is another form of Interactive Learning. It involves watching lectures at home and then engaging in activities using your newly-found knowledge in the classroom.  This form of interactive learning is available because technology empowers you to watch a lecture on your own and then come to class to engage in activities using what you learned at home. 
What is the Flipped Classroom? - provides a basic understanding of the flipped classroom structure. 

Building a Flipped Lesson Plan - introduces you to a method for creating the actual lesson activity that will help you flip a lesson in your class.  Notice that they are using the format similar to the debriefing that the Face-to-Face Ed Tech and Design classes use on Wednesday to discuss the week's lecture.

Virtual Reality in the Classroom

The foundation of Interactive Learning places the learner in the center of the learning event.  We have discussed situations where content is presented at levels appropriate for the learner's learning. Flipped Learning emphasized engaging the learner in activities that facilitate understanding.  Virtual Reality takes book learning and places it in the experiential realm of our learners. Our students can experience a 360-degree view of the 1969 moon landing. Hearts can be held or dissected using a 3D Virtual Reality system (Z-Space). Virtual reality can provide ways to immerse learners into places they have never before experienced.  This is truly Interactive Learning.

Read and visit the article, Will Virtual Reality Drive Deeper Learning?  It is filled with links to websites that demonstrate the capabilities of VR.  Spend some time enjoying the article and clicking on the links to see examples of Virtual Reality in Education.

Interactive Learning Tool

Interactive Learning provides learners with opportunities to become engaged in their learning content.  Another way for learners to engage in learning is to create tools that can produce products that fit their needs.  This is a Learner-Centered Way to Learning.

Your final assignment in Ed Tech and Design will be to create an Interactive Learning Tool.  This challenge will involve you identifying an activity to address one or more of your thematic unit's learning objectives and then use multiple mobile apps and/or online tools to create an instructional learning experience for your students. We call this App Smashing!!  It is the "process of using multiple apps in conjunction with one another to complete a final task or project."

Prepare to smash some apps/tools while producing a learning tool for your students.


Additional Resources for Exploring and Creating Apps for Your Tool.

Schools have changed drastically because the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many schools to go online.  Educators have provided a plethora of resources that teachers could use.  Here are some incredible sites that hold a wealth of tools you might want to include in your Interactive Learning Tool.


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Information Literacy

Do you want to know...

Remember, all I'm offering is the truth... nothing more

The Matrix could be a great allegory for finding truth in the chaos of disinformation. It could be about breaking an information bubble we may live in and choosing the right path. Unfortunately, we cannon load the skills like Neo could, fortunately, our information and fake news Matrix is not as grim as the one in the movie...or is it?

Information literacy is more than possessing information. Information literacy is the ability "to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information." (ACRL, 2000)

What kind of practical steps can you and your students take to critically evaluate information found on the Internet?  How can we protect them and ourselves from fake news, scams, and phishing?

Consider pinning or bookmarking the resources above and below for future use (build that PLN!)

Watch this short video explaining the theory of Connectivism. I will be further discussed in the lecture.

What strategies could students adopt to make decisions or solve an information problem?  
  • Analyze the Big6 and Super3  process models of how people should solve information strategies. Super 3 is a simplified model for the youngest students. 
    • Connect it to the ISTE Student Standard #5: Computational Thinker: Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.
      • 5b Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.
      • 5 c Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving. 

Challenge yourself (optional)

Quote from The Matrix movie: There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path

Using Stephen Downe's Principles for Evaluating Websites and other resources above analyze the f websites below

  • Can you find an argument to support or discredit the legitimacy of your website? It is not enough to use "gut feeling" or common knowledge.
  • How can you prove it? 
  • Can you see the purpose of the website? 
  • Could you use it in your classroom?

Exhibit A: (elementary):

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Exhibit D:

Exhibit E:

Additional resources (to use, bookmark, or pin for later) :

Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning (pdf) provides a conceptual framework and broad guidelines for describing the information-literate student.

Siemens and Downes theory of Connectivism

Battling Fake News in a classroom

Kathy Schrock guide to Critical Evaluation of Information - TONES of resources for  your classroom - Don't be fooled by media bias. Think for yourself. See news and issues from multiple perspectives, discuss like adults. - The International Fact-Checking Network is a unit of the Poynter Institute dedicated to bringing together fact-checkers worldwide. - Follows the money. Data on campaign finance, Super PACs, Industries ect. - nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. Address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels. - Get the truth about rumors, inspirational stories, virus warnings, hoaxes, scams, humorous tales, pleas for help, urban legends, prayer requests, calls to action, and other forwarded emails. - AI-powered article evaluation tool - dedicated to" debunking email hoaxes, thwarting Internet scammers, combating spam, and educating web users about email and Internet security issues" - a collaborative resource for  documented information about the corporations, industries, and people trying to influence public policy and public opinion - a collection of domain name ownership records in the world (also look ; ;

ISTE Standards for Students connection:

Standard # 3: Knowledge Constructor: Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
  • 3a. Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.
  • 3b. Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility, and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.
Standard #2 Digital Citizen: Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical

Standards #5: Computational Thinker: Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.
  • 5b Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.
  • 5 c Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving. 

ISTE Standards for Educators connection:

Standard #2: Leader: Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning
  • 2c. Educator model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation, and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.
EdTech fastest growing minor - fake yahoo news
Standard #3: Citizen: Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.
  • 3b. Educators establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.
  • 3 c mentor students in safe, legal and ethical practices with digital tools and the protection of intellectual rights and property.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Compu-WHAT? Iowa Department of Education to incorporate Computer Science and Computational Thinking in K-12 Education image by Dr. BB (Bryans-Bongey, 2019)

Each new era comes with new words to support and reflect innovations that impact our daily lives.

Like selfie, YouTuber, binge-watch, Internet, Netiquette, buzzworthy, emoji, and Google, the term computational thinking is a phrase whose time has come!

Computational Thinking is "a problem-solving process in which people formulate problems or instructions so that a computer can solve or implement them" (ISTE, CSTA, 2016). This logical and precise approach can be applied by people and transferred to various situations and questions. At a time when ubiquitous computing is transforming the way we live and work, it is important to introduce students to computational thinking and computer science at an early age. This will help them become creators as well as consumers of technology.

Watch this brief video introduction to computational thinking:

Four facets of computational thinking include decomposition (break down data and problems into small parts) (2) Pattern Recognition (observe patterns and trends in data) (3) Algorithms (determine what steps are needed to solve a problem, and (4) Abstraction (remove details and extract relevant information) Source: intolearning (2019))

Computational thinking will be important to you and your students. The Iowa Department of Education adopted computer science standards in 2018, and is emphasizing complete courses at the high school level. In fact, with additional involvement from UNI, Iowa's highly ranked public education system is taking steps to ensure that teachers at all levels can address computational thinking and thus equip students for success in a world where "65% of jobs of the future do not yet exist. (World Economic Forum, 2016)." 
Twenty two states have K-12 computer science standards (Washington, Idaho, California, Nevada, Iowa,  Oklahoma, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pensnsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin)

Computational thinking can be applied at all grade levels. Here is one example from an elementary teacher (sharing on Twitter). According to the tweet, Ms. Harrison's students each followed identical written instructions to draw a creature. They then got together to discuss how their drawings compared.

Comparing drawings after following written instructions. How could the instructions be improved? (The drawings are quite similar)

At the secondary level, students in Miss Wallace's class work with a simple programming language  to code a scene and dialogue based on The Hunger Games! Computational thinking came into play with the need to break down the scene into step by step components, with students communicating the information to a patient and objective interpreter (the computer program). 

This brief video from Google provides additional details about computational thinking:

Can computational thinking really be incorporated in language arts, social studies, music, or art? Or is it only for secondary students entering STEM fields? Teachers across the country are creating interdisciplinary lessons and incorporating computational thinking in all subjects and even at the kindergarten level. 

Tweet your ideas to #UNIETD, #csk8, and #CSforAll.


International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE Standards) for Educators (ISTE-E) connection:

Standard 1 - Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning.
  • 1c - Educators stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.
Standard 6 - Educators facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the ISTE Standards for Students.
  • 6c - Educators create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.

ISTE Standards for Students (ISTE-S) connection:

Standard 5 - Computational Thinker: Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.
  • 5a - Students formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.
  • 5b - Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.
  • 5c - Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.
  • 5d - Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions. 

ISTE Computational Thinking Competencies

Iowa Department of Education Computer Science Standards (voluntary standards initially developed by the Computer Science Teachers Association).

Free Training Courses for Teachers

Further Reading and Viewing

ISTE's Computational Thinking Page

Getting started with Computational thinking...

  • Explore digital story creation with a simple (and free) web-based programming tool called Scratch
  • Create timelines and complete sequencing activities (can be with technology or 'unplugged')
  • In music, reading, or writing - explore pattern recognition with rhythm, structure, and rhyme - try creating new forms
  • In social studies - have students generate step-by-step directions to complement the creation of community maps
  • In art, Student A describes an image or object that is hidden from Student B, while Student B follows those instructions to draw or re-create that same object.
In identifying computer science as "a basic skill in today's economy," the Iowa Department of Education offers a Computer Science Web page.  The lesson plans and resources even include off-line (or 'unplugged') activities and games for all ages.

Have fun exploring these great resources. You have plenty of support for implementing computational thinking in your future practice as a teacher.

The goal of this blog post is to assist you in incorporating computer science and computational thinking in the K-12 classroom. Have fun, and consider teaming up with a classroom teacher during the Hour of Code this December!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Global Collaboration

Global Collaboration is an empowering opportunity for students and teachers to connect and engage in authentic, meaningful experiences. It is an opportunity for students to learn about people from different cultures and backgrounds. These connections don't need to be with learners in other countries. You will find people of different cultures and backgrounds in different states, cities or even down the street.

This Primary Sources video talks about our world without global collaboration.  While this video is an advertisement for the services they offer, it provides a thoughtful opening for our exploration into global collaboration.

Empowering a student to become a Global Collaborator is one of the seven ISTE Standards for Students. This standard includes indicators where students use digital tools to connect with distant learners; they collaborate with others to examine issues and problems; they challenge them to contribute to these collaborative projects, and they use collaborative technologies to explore local and global issues.

You won't have the opportunity to actually engage in a global collaboration project in this course, Ed Tech and Design, but learning about the various projects/strategies, resources, and digital tools will help prepare you for turning your students into global collaborators.

Write Our World

We will have an opportunity to Zoom with Julie Carey at the University of Colorado Denver.  She developed Write Our World where she is building a digital library of ebooks that have been written "by kids for kids" that document their languages and culture.  The best part about this project is that the kids write the books in both their own language and English so that it will be a way to preserve their language.

Visit the Write Our World website and read a few of their books. Explore what kids are writing from around the globe.

Global Read Aloud

The Global Read Aloud project involves students around the world reading one or more of a set of selected books during a 6-week period and then they try to connect with other students who have read the book so that they can share their ideas and thoughts. Watch the What is the Global Read Aloud? video and then visit the official website where they have identified a set of 10 books from which they can select their reading material. These books range from picture books to young adult.   Envision how you could do something like this in your future classes.

What's Possible?

This 13-minute video provides an overview of what is possible with Global Collaboration.

How to Connect with Another Classroom

These ideas are great, but how do you find another classroom of students?  There are many resources but consider Classroom Bridges website. This is a website that was actually created by a classroom teacher, Katie Siemer, in Cincinnati, Ohio.  She created an online database where over 250 teachers from around the world have signed up because they want to connect. 

Visit the Classroom Bridges website. Click on the Find a Classroom link and see if you can find a classroom or classrooms that you would probably want to collaborate with when you have your own classroom.   

Global Connection Taxonomy
Finally, it is very important to manage a global collaboration project. The following graphic gives some ideas about the steps that you can follow for implementing global collaboration in your future classroom.

Lindsay, J., Davis, V. (2012). Flattening classrooms, engaging minds:  Move to global collaboration one step at a time. Chicago: Pearson Publishing. 

Imagine extending your Thematic Unit to include global collaboration.  What would YOU do? 

Begin your dreaming here . . .