Thursday, April 28, 2022

Becoming a Change Agent in Your School

Think Different
- An inspirational Quote by Steve Jobs

Think about a significant change for the better in your life. What or who provoked the change? What was the result of that change? Was it easy? Was it worth it? 

If you often question the status quo, see the need for change. If you raise above your day-to-day responsibilities, if you act, encourage, or inspire people around you to make a change, or if you actively follow someone who advocates a change for the better, you are a change agent. 

As a teacher, you will be a part of a larger institution with a set of rules and customs. Sometimes you will have to advocate or even fight for change to create the best learning opportunities for your diverse students. Much like in your private life, change at work may come with challenges. The following three videos, along with this week lecture, will prompt you to think about your future as an educator and change agent:

1. In the thought-provoking TED Talk below, Todd Rose, the author of The End of Average, describes the historical reasons for using average (an average student, an average time for a test, the average age for marriage...) and how it has influenced many decisions we make as educators. He argues that the average is a myth!
Watch this 18 minutes TED talk and find a parallel between the design of a cockpit and the design of a new learning environment to nurture every individual's potential.  What formula for success we could take from the Airforce? 

2. 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 lead to good or bad changes. 
    Watch Alan AtKisson TEDx Talk (18 minutes) below. He 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 your 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:

3. Finally, listen to this short by mighty inspirational advice of the late Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and Pixar. The quality of this historical recording is not the greatest, but the message is timeless:

In our last lecture of the semester, Becoming Change Agent lecture, Dr. Maryam Rod Szabo has asked her 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 to what they had to say (as usually, link in a lecture folder).


Extra (not required)
Scan through The Digital Change Agent's Manifesto and see what could apply to you. I especially like the information from pages 10-15.   The manifesto results from more than five years of research and 30 interviews with those who have led digital transformation initiatives within the world's most renowned brands. 

Image from Flicker:

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Computer Science in a Classroom

"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." Isaac Newton

1. This week we didn't create our RWLDs (there is no accompanying lecture or quiz). Instead, we direct you toward this very comprehensive article by Chontelle Bonfiglio titled: 8 Reasons Why Every Child Should Learn to Code

  • Read the article
  • Browse the linked resources
  • Save, pin, or bookmark ideas for your future classroom.

2Complete one of the coding activities to earn the certificate (Required!).  
  • Go to
  • select the grade level and topic, 
  • pick a game, and follow the steps to complete an hour of code. 
  • In the end, you should see the place to print the certificate. 
  • submit the certificate of completion to the assignment submission dropbox located in a Class Projects, Labs > CS in a classroom folder

3. There is no lecture for this week. Concentrate on analyzing the article above and hands-on activities provided in the CS Scaffolding Activities outline.

Hour of Code event at Schindler Ed Center

Extra resource for early childhood (not required)
7 Super Easy Ways to Introduce Coding to Preschoolers:

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Compu-WHAT? Iowa Dept of Ed to incorporate Computer Science and Computational Thinking in K-12 Education image by Dr. BB 

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

Like selfies, YouTubers, 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 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 classwork 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 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).

Want to Learn More? Here are some EXTRA resources you might find interesting:

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 we will be exploring this further during our Hour-of-Code and in-class activities in the upcoming weeks. Finally, please consider teaming up with a teacher to implement CS-related activities in teaching and learning!

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Digital Citizenship

an avatar of Magda

Hello! Begin by familiarizing yourself with the 9 elements of Digital Citizenship, followed by the S3 framework:

As you read in a resource linked above, Safe, Savvy, and Social (S3)are the main guiding themes in digital citizenship. Some educators argue teaching digital citizenship should be also enhanced with the idea of  Digital Leadership: Using technology to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others. The links below provide the background information and resources for you and your classroom organized around these four themes. 

To Read:  Principle #V. of Model Code of Ethics - Responsible and Ethical Use of Technology by the National Association of State Directors and Teacher Education and Certification.

To do: Netiquette: Browse and bookmark for later resources related to the common do's and don'ts of online communication . Never assume that your students know how to behave in an online environment. 
To do: Play Interland game from designed to help students gain digital citizenship skills- notice the "Be Internet Awesome" Curriculum available to download, and also linked below.

Browse and bookmark for future use: -  A vision for a  Platform for Good is to start a dialogue about what it means to participate responsibly in a digital world. While recognizing the potential risks, they celebrate technology as a vehicle for opportunity and social change.

Browse and bookmark for future use: "Everything you need to Teach Digital Citizenship"  free lessons and resources for K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum by Common Sense. 

To be a digital leader in a truly borderless world, one needs to possess certain global competencies. We discussed it a bit in previous RWLDs. This 1min video and this website explain the elements of Global Competency:

Check resources at WorldSavvy - an organization that helps students develop 21st Century skills for Global Competency browse the resources and opportunities for schools worldwide. Bookmark for future use!

Browse and bookmark for late use the Be Internet Awesome curriculum, a program designed in collaboration between Google and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (, that teaches kids the skills they need to be safe and smart online.

Follow our Digital Citizenship board on Pinterest.

SNL meme

Extra Credit Opportunity!!! Complete Google Digital Citizenship and Safety training, take a screenshot of the page with the information about the completion and submit it to the Extra Credit assignment dropbox.

Standards Connection: 

ISTE Standards for Students connection: 
  • Standard #1.2: 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.
  • Standard #1.3: 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.
  • Standard  #1.7: Global Collaborator: Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.
ISTE Standard for Educators connection
  • Standard #2.3  Educator as Citizen inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world
  • Standard # 2.4d: Educator as Collaborator demonstrates cultural competency when communicating with students, parents, and colleagues and interact with them as co-collaborators in student learning.

Additional resources (not required):

Stay Savvy: Test your knowledge and rid yourself of the most common global misconceptions: 

To Read Five Myths About Young People and Social Media - Five Myths About Young People and Social Media  - article based on Danah Boyd's book, "It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens."

To Read about: Second Screen Culture 

Access to the Be Internet Awesome curriculum, a program designed in collaboration between Google and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (, teaches kids the skills they need to be safe and smart online.

Bookmark for future use the blog with great cyber safety tips and resources -  The Trevor Project -  The leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. - It Gets Better Project -  video website created to sent the message and to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. Created in response to several students taking their own lives after being bullied in school.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

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.

What is Global Collaboration?

Global Collaboration involves using technology to connect learners in different parts of the city, state, nation, or world. These partnerships are made for the purpose of working and learning together to accomplish goals and learn/develop new things. When learners work with people from other locations, they can become aware of people and cultures outside their immediate surroundings. 

Learning about the structure and content of global collaboration is important, but the real question is whether the students can learn anything from this experience.  Students are looking for authentic learning events and this can provide them. Watch as 4th grade students in Fairfax, Virginia, share their experiences through connecting with other 4th graders in Costa Rica.

What is Cultural Competence?

Learning about cultures other than our own is the first step towards achieving "Cultural Competence."  Cultural Competence is the ability to understand and interact effectively with people from other cultures.  These people may be from another country, state, or in your own classroom. 

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.  It's the recognition of differences and the interest in learning about those differences to better communicate and work with others. 

Professor Juanita Sherwood describes cultural competency in the video below.  Pay careful attention to how she explains the importance of cultural competence in our lives.  An interesting aspect is the need for understanding one's own culture as well as other cultures.

ISTE Standards

Global Collaboration and Cultural Competence are important parts of the ISTE Standards for Students and Educators. Global Collaborator is the 7th standard. "Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and work effectively in teams locally and globally." More specifically, 7a states that we should "Connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning."

As educators, we are expected to "Demonstrate Cultural Competency when communicating with students, parents, and colleagues and interact with them as co-collaborators in student learning." The world is a big place and it is our duty as educators to prepare our students (and ourselves) to recognize, communicate, and collaborate with people of a variety of backgrounds.

Global Collaboration Projects

Connecting with other classrooms requires organization and connections. The most efficient way to get involved in global collaboration is to join projects that are already organized. This is called Managed Global Collaboration. The managing organization has already created the activity and all that you need to do is join and get engaged. It is suggested that this is usually the best way to begin introducing Global Collaboration into your classroom. Here are a couple of projects that have connected thousands of learners around the world.

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 adults.   Envision how you could do something like this in your future classes.

Rock Our World (ROW) 
Rock Our World WAS a global collaborative project that began in 2004 where students from all 7 continents collaborate to compose original music (using GarageBand), make videos, and meet each other in live video conferences.  Unfortunately, Rock Our World was discontinued recently, but it is still an important program to study.
Participating schools were divided into groups of 8.  The first school was tasked to lay-down a Drum track to set the beat for the song. The track was sent to the second school in another country who then laid-down a Bass track to complement the drum track.  This continues with each of the schools, from country to country, as they laid-down additional tracks using a variety of instruments including Guitar, Percussion instruments, Lead voice, Backup singers, etc. Ultimately, they created a shared song track that had been developed around the world.

In the true sense of our RWLD, you can get a sense of the process and atmosphere that Rock Our World created. Watch this video to enjoy the process that leads from utter boredom to creative singing and dancing.

Rock Our World was a truly collaborative project that enabled students to learn about the world while developing songs that they could sing forever.

Making Your Own Connections with Another Classroom

These ideas are great, but how do you find another classroom of students? There are many resources but the Classroom Bridges website is a great place to begin. This is a website that was 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.   This is an easy way for you to make an educator connection for your Personal Learning Network.

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.

Consider how you can enrich your students' learning opportunities through Global Collaboration.  You are preparing your learners for living in a global society where it is important to connect with and understand other people.

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

Begin your dreaming here . . .