I was fortunate to have the opportunity to connect, learn and present at the Edtech Team Summit in Bloomington, Minnesota. This two day event was jam packed with great learning. I even got to collaboratively make Godzilla using cardboard and Makedo. Below are the resources from my sessions.
As I sit here in the airport on my way to Orlando for the FETC Conference, I can't help but notice the amount of access we have. My computer is connected to the free Wi-Fi at the airport while my phone is charging plugged into my computer. In addition, if I want to order food, drink or simply play a game, you can see the iPad behind my computer that allows seamless access to their menus and entertainment. Moreover, on my connecting flight, there was free Wi-Fi which allowed me to message people for free. I was able to have a real-time conversation with my wife while above 10,000 feet on the airplane. I can't help but think about what impact access has on the current state of education?
I know there are multiple facets to equity, but I would argue that access does create equity to some extent. Information is no longer isolated to school settings. Many students have on-demand access to an abundance of information. However, education still might be antiquated in their beliefs about where scholarly information can be obtained. Why does learning have to be this magical power that only teachers possess? Why must learning only take place within a brick and mortar setting?
What in the world is this picture? This is a $13 example that represents the power of access. The check engine light recently came on in my wife's van. According to the mechanic it was in need of a new thermostat. Enter YouTube as the savior for becoming a mechanic at home. After watching a few videos on replacing a thermostat, I was up for the challenge. A quick trip to O'Reilly's and I had my $13 thermostat ready to install. I heated up the garage, grabbed some tools and launched my semi-professional career as a mechanic. Fifteen minutes later I had a brand new thermostat installed in my wife's van. I certainly could have taken the van to a local mechanic and gotten the part replaced for $130, but YouTube saved the day.
I bring this up to showcase the power of access. We are no longer restricted by face-to-face interactions to learn new things. The internet has created an opportunity unlike anytime in history.
we tap into the power of access?
students have autonomy over their pace of learning in the classroom?
we leverage outside experts to enrich learning?
we empower students to explore their passions?
students amplify their voice to make a difference in a connected world?
#oneword 2019---> Deviate
I have seen many people post about their #oneword for the past few years. However, I have never took the challenge myself. I am jumping on board in 2019 and putting myself out there.
There are various elements within the definition that led me to choose this word for 2019.
:to stray especially from a standard, principle, or topic
:to depart from an established course or norm
Standard and norm have their place, but I would make an argument that we have created a standardized or normed learning environment in educatoin that is based on outdated practices. Change is scary. It is uncomfortable. It is a journey into the unknown.
Deviation is necessary!
I can't remember the name of the podcast or who the speaker was, but what I do recall is the image that I frantically sketched while running on a treadmill and trying to capture the speaker's points that resonated with me. The speaker was sharing the art of goal setting and broke it into three groups.
1) Comfort: goals that are comfortable, but don't equate to growth/change
2) Discomfort: goals that cause discomfort, but yield growth/change
3) Disillusionment: goals that are unachievable and unrealistic. No growth or change.
Where would you put standard or norm when thinking about education? I know where I would put it. How do we shift to a zone of discomfort?
Learning is at the heart of who we are as humans. It is essential that we adapt to our changing world. Our education system is starting to realize that there might actually need to be a different approach to our thinking around learning. If we fail to make adaptations in a modern world, we are doing a disservice to those we serve. Let's not become another Blockbuster that failed to adapt.
I am not attempting to rebel and protest against our current reality in education. However, I am focusing on how I can foster deviation from the norm.
How might we....
Empower and amplify Voice
Innovate within our constraints
Imagine, Iterate and Inspire others
Connect to a greater purpose
Value creation over regurgitation
DEVIATE FOR OUR STUDENTS?
In closing, I will leave you with a picture. I came across this image on Nick Proud's Twitter feed. I think it is fitting for my #oneword and a nudge for others looking to deviate from the norm to reimagine learning for our students. Here's to the crazy ones....
My journey was launched at the #WDC17 Google Innovator Academy in 2017. I was introduced to so many amazing #edurockstars. However, I was super intrigued by a little Flipgrid gnome that Jen Giffen (@virtualgiff) was toting around everywhere. As our time together drew to a close in Washington D.C. I was able to have an awesome conversation with Jornea Erwin (@savvy_educator) about Flipgrid and how easy it is to amplify student voice. I was sold!
My school was taking part of the Global Read Aloud project in the fall of 2017 and I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out the power of Flipgrid. My students loved how simple it was to use Flipgrid as we connected with schools across the United States. To date, it has 28,260 views which boggles my mind. So awesome!
More #FlipgridFever Fun
Students even created memes and recorded positive messages. We grabbed the QR Code for the positive messages and printed out our own little tickets that we could give to students to reinforce their awesomeness. You can check out the blog post about our process here.
A project that I started during the 2016-2017 school year was called Lenses of Diversity. I wanted to connect multiple 5th grade classrooms within my district to have meaningful conversations about race and culture. We continued this project during the 2017-2018 school year, but moved the learning space to Flipgrid from Google Classroom. It was amazing to hear and see students as they shared their experiences and thoughts about diversity. While I couldn't share the entire grid to the Discovery Library, you can find the three individual links.
I was fortunate to be part of the Appsmash Madness 2018 with my use of WeVideo and Flipgrid for student podcasting. There were so many great ideas shared. The unfortunate part was being matched against Jen Giffen for round 1. So my partner in crime at the #WDC17 Google Innovator Academy, who was toting around a Flipgrid gnome, and was integral in sparking my use of Flipgrid, was now matched against me. Jen, connected with me right away and said she thought my Appsmash would win it all. Her prediction was very close to being correct. I made it to the championship round where I was outed by Sean Forde and his amazing appsmash.
The Mic Drop Moment
This project makes my heart happy. I had partnered with another teacher to create an online writing space for our students in an attempt to make writing more "sexy". Through this partnership, I realized how much students wanted to share their voice. This led to the idea of creating student podcasts using Flipgrid. AMAZING!!
While we were at the Iowa 1:1 Conference, we had the chance to connect with Matt Miller remotely and record an episode for his Ditch That Textbook Podcast. It was such an empowering experience for these students to record as well as for their classmates to see how their voices and ideas matter. You can give the episode a listen here.
When the opportunity opened for mic drop session proposals, I put my students to the challenge of creating a submission so we could share their awesome project.
My mic drop session was accepted and I had the opportunity to share our story at Flipgrid's first Student Voice Conference. It was such an amazing event with so many passionate educators. Matt Miller and Holly Clark shared some inspirational keynotes to energize us for the upcoming school year.
My year officially came full circle. The two amazing #edurockstars that I met at my time in DC for the Google Innovator Academy and who opened my world to Flipgrid, were able to connect again to celebrate, not only our one year anniversary of our Google Innovator Academy, but a year of awesomeness with using Flipgrid to amplify student voice!!!
Cheers to another amazing year!
I recently came across a post about the driverless future that will have an extensive impact on all our lives. I would encourage you to watch this six minute video.
There were a few things that stood out to me while watching this video. However, I think the most prominent point that I continue to reflect on is the far reaching impact of autonomous vehicles. These autonomous vehicles are suppose to reduce the amount of accidents each year. This in turn will decrease the amount of community helpers we will need such as law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, etc. Furthermore, we won't need as much capacity in hospitals which means fewer nurses and doctors.
This doesn't take other autonomous travel into consideration. For example, check out this article about autonomous pizza delivery. If that doesn't start to paint a picture of where we might be going, check out this video:
So far these examples have been grounded to Earth....literally. What about autonomy in the skies? Check out this article in the New York Times or watch the video below about a drone saving two swimmers in Australia.
With a rapidly changing world, we continue to rely on an antiquated system for equipping kids for the future. When you start thinking about where the economy is headed:
Why do we still teach......
Why not start teaching.....
What are your thoughts on what we should start teaching? What about what we should stop teaching? I know this will ruffle some feathers and spark some strong feelings, but why can't we start having conversations where we focus on what is best for kids and not "this is the way it has always been done".
One of my favorite shows growing up was Curious George. I loved how George was so curious about the world around him.
Be like George
I have been reading Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring out the Maker in Every Student written by John Spencer and AJ Juliani. There was a statement in this book that resonated with me. "Every child is born with natural curiosity. It is not something we have to teach, but it is something we must cultivate and nurture." (Juliani and Spencer 2016).
Do the following really cultivate and nurture curiosity?
You might be able to argue that some of the items listed above do cultivate and nurture curiosity, but I would argue that the theme that emerges is one of teacher dictated experiences that promise to squash curiosity.
George's curiosity is intrinsically driven and not forced by initiatives or standardized curriculum. His curiosity mirrors true learning in which the drive to understand the unknown leads to falling flat on one's face (failure). However, The Man in the Yellow Hat (teachers) is there to support George so he can learn and grow from those failures.
I will put myself at the front of the pack for those needing to cultivate and nurture curiosity. My classroom is by no means exemplar---yet! Juliani and Spencer provide some tips for growing the curiosity in your classroom (Juliani and Spencer 2016):
My goal from this post wasn't to point fingers. It was an attempt to promote conversations about the types of cultures we are creating/fostering within our classrooms, schools and districts.
You are the architect of the culture present in your current setting. Don't be a squasher. Be a catalyst for curiosity!
The school I teach at uses PBIS. Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports is meant to be a multi tiered approach to social, emotional and behavior support. While I don't necessarily agree with the extrinsic drivers that seem to be a central component of the system, it does provide a great deal of common language.
My school use little tickets to reinforce positive behaviors. While younger kids are driven by that extrinsic motivator, it seems as if my 5th graders have outgrown the drive. I do like that the tickets remind me to recognize positive behavior. However, how do I create student ownership of the system?
Flipgrid + Google Drawing for the Win!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So I thought, why not try to find a way for students to own the pictures on our tickets. Enter the meme....because who doesn't love to create memes?
The first phase of this ticket redesign was creating positive messages in the forms of memes. My 5th graders used Google Drawing to insert images they had permission to use. Once the images were added, they used text boxes to add positive words for their memes. You can see some of their creations below. These memes became the fronts of our tickets.
While the memes were a fun way to vary what kind of ticket students would receive, we wanted to add another layer. We wanted students to be able to scan the ticket to hear a verbal recognition of their awesomeness. We used Flipgrid to create and house our positive messages. The best part is that Flipgrid generates a QR Code for every recording that is posted to a topic. As long as the grid has sharing enabled, simply open up a video post and find the airplane at the top right. Once you click on the airplane, you can grab a URL, Embed code or a QR Code.
We took our video QR Codes and placed them onto the back of our meme creations. Not only would students get a positive message from the meme, but they would also have the option to scan the QR Code and hear another positive message. When we started this process, I was hopeful that students would not only enjoy the process, but that the newly designed tickets would help grow our class culture to one that oozes empathy and kindness.
When I gave out the first ticket, the student was already on a Chromebook and went to Web QR to scan the QR Code. The video message was only a few seconds long, but he immediately turned to the student who created it (even though it was someone he normally doesn't talk to) and said, "Thanks for the message." The message creator looked a bit dumbfounded and replied, "Oh, um, no problem." This was so cool to see two students that normally don't chat come together over a simple meme and positive video message.
Something I would change
If I was to change one thing, it would be recording our positive videos on a different day. It just so happens that Halloween took place on the day we recorded our videos. Fail on my part, but adds some extra fun to the positive messages. See some examples below.
I have wanted to try flexible seating for quite some time. This year I decided to jump into it by building my own flexible seating options. Here is my original post on my table design. Unfortunately, it was a complete failure.
As you can see from the pictures, the whiteboard paint failed to wipe clean. Even after scrubbing with soap and water or even using Expo whiteboard cleaner, I was still able to see what had been written on the tables. While it was frustrating, I felt that it led to an even better iteration of my tables. Below you will find more information and directions for the tables that I created.
The foundation of the table was in the legs. I created the legs out of 2 x 4 studs that were roughly $3 for an 8 ft. piece.
When it came time to attach the legs to the table tops, I placed a couple beads of glue in each corner where the legs would meet the table top. I also screwed two 3" screws from the top down into the leg.
Table Leg Supports
After attaching the legs to the table tops, I needed to add some supports to the legs to keep them from folding in on themselves. These supports were made out of furring strips from Lowes. You can get them in bundles of six for about $1 a piece. They are 8 ft long and 1" x 2". They aren't the highest quality and have some knots, but work fine for this project. I placed beads of glue on each piece that would make contact with the top and/or legs. I also used finishing nails to add additional strength.
There was a horizontal support that went between both legs on the ends of the tables. This horizontal support was attached using glue and finishing nails.
Table Leg Wheels
I wanted each table to be moveable so I added lockable casters to each wheel. They were 2" Lockable Casters for $2.47/each from (Menards) (I had to order these online). They are threaded so I added T-Nuts to each leg that allowed the caster to be screwed in. However, I had to add two screws with washers to the edges of the T-Nuts to keep them from falling off. In hindsight, I would have bought casters that you attach with screws instead of a threaded shaft.
For the tops of the tables, I began by cutting a 5/8" piece of sanded plywood into two foot by four foot sections. After getting the two foot by four foot pieces, I then used a table saw to trim the pieces down so they measured 23 1/4 inches wide by 47 1/4 inches long. This shortened length allowed me to cut the whiteboard panel in 2 ft. x 4 ft. sections. These sections were then able to be slide into some notched furring strips which I explain in a bit.
To the left you will see the underside of a table top. I measured in 1/2 inch all the way around. I then cut furring strips so that they butted up to the lines that I had drawn from measuring in 1/2" from the edge. I attached these furring strips with wood glue as well as some finishing nails. You can also see in the corners that I placed a 2 x 4 that I was going to use for my legs. I traced around the 2 x 4. I then pre-drilled two holes so I knew where to screw into the legs. Legs were then attached with wood glue and screws.
I used furring strips to create an edge around the tops of the tables. You can see in the picture to the left that I had grooves in each of these furring strips. The grooves allowed the whiteboard panels to slide right on top of my plywood top. These furring strips hold the whiteboard panels in place.
I used a table saw to notch out all of the furring strips. I set the fence 1/4" away from the blade. I then ran the furring strip through the table saw to create my first notch. I then adjusted the fence so that it was 5/16" away from the blade. I repeated the process of running the furring strips through the saw. I did two different distances so that the notch had some play when the whiteboard panel was slid into it. Only one pass at 1/4" created a very tight fit for the whiteboard panel and didn't allow it to slide at all.
I securely fastened furring strips to the two long sides and one of the short sides. I used my finishing nailer to secure the furring strips to the sides. The final short side was predrilled and then screwed into the plywood. You can see one of the predrilled holes in the picture to the left. This will allow me to easily change out any of the whiteboard panels that might get damaged throughout the year.
As you can see in the picture to the left, the whiteboard panel simply slides into the channels that were notched into the furring strips with the table saw. The whiteboard panels were cut exactly 2 ft. x 4 ft. This created an overhang that would fit into all the channels within the furring strips.
I have long been wanting to change the seating within my classroom. I preach about student choice within the classroom, but I still assign seats for students. While I do provide flexibility where student may work during independent work time, I have yet to provide more autonomy for student seating.
I have a vision to completely revamp my classroom for this school year. I want to ditch the desks and create a variety of seating choices within my classroom. I want all of the seating options to have dry erase tops and be on wheels for easy reconfiguration. Below is the first part of this classroom redesign.
As I started to brainstorm standing desks, I gave myself a budget of $20 per desk. This was ambitious, but I wanted to keep the cost low so others could see this as an attainable option for flexible seating.
5/8" 4 ft x 8 ft Plywood sanded (Lowes) $19 *This makes 4 table tops with 2 ft. x 4 ft dimensions
2" x 4" 8ft stud $3/each *Need two per table
1" x 2" 8ft furring strips $1/each *Need three per table
2" Lockable Caster $2.47/each *Need 4 per table (Menards) (I had to order these online)
T-Nut *Still waiting for my casters to arrive to determine exact size
2 1/2" Wood Screws
Cut the plywood into four pieces measuring 2 ft x 4 ft.
Round the edge of each corner. I used a spray can lid to trace and cut each corner.
Use a router around the edges. Make sure to do both sides of the board to round off the edges.
Measure 1/2" in from each side and draw lines
Cut your furring strips to edge your board. The edge of the furring strips will go against your drawn lines so that you have the 1/2" buffer between the furring strip and edge of the plywood. Run a bead of wood glue and clamp the furring strips to the sheet of plywood. I used a finishing nailer and put between four and six nails in the long sides and around three in the short sides.
*My long sides were roughly 47"
*My short sides were roughly 21 1/2"
Cut your 2 x 4 to length. I cut mine at 37". The caster is around 2" and my goal was to have the table top right at 40". After cutting four pieces to length, trace the 2 x 4 on each corner of the table top. After tracing in each corner, I predrilled two holes where each 2 x 4 would sit. I then ran the 2 1/2" wood screws up from the bottom so the tip was just coming through the plywood. I then put a bead of wood glue where I had traced, set the 2 x 4 in place and then screwed the screw in from underneath.
**This is with the top of the table resting on the saw horses (facing the ground) and the bottom of the table facing up.
After the 2 x 4 legs are attached in each corner, I then cut a furring strip 15 1/2" long and put 45 degree cuts on each end. I put some wood glue on the furring strip and used the finish nailer to attach one end into the furring strip edge of the table and the other end into the 2 x 4 leg.
Next, I cut a furring strip piece to go horizontally across between my two angled furring strip pieces. I added some wood glue and used the finish nailer to attach. This provided stability to the legs so they wouldn't move front to back.
Set the table upright and add wood filler to the top holes that were created from the screws and finishing nails.
I am in the process of letting the wood filler dry so I can sand it. Once I get it all sanded, I will be painting the top with dry erase paint. It is roughly $20 and says it can do coats on around 55 sq. ft. I am figuring one box of dry erase paint for four tables.
I am still waiting on my casters to show up. Once they arrive, I will be installing them and then painting the legs on the tables. Once I have them completed, I will make sure to post about it.
Final thoughts on cost for one table.
2 ft x 4 ft cut plywood: $5
1" x 2" furring strip x 3 @ $1/each: $3
2' x 4' 8 ft x 3 @ $3/each: $6
Dry erase paint: $5
Casters x 4 @ $2.50/each: $10
Tee nut: $0.20/each x 4: $0.80
Total Cost Per Table: $29.80