"Creativity is contagious, pass it on." ~Albert Einstein

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Monday, January 8, 2018


I didn't pick a #oneword for 2017.  

I'm gonna give it a go again this year.  My word this year stems in part from my 2016 word and an event that has recently transpired in my life. 

My word this year is "perspective."

My son was diagnosed with Crohn's disease during his eighth-grade year.  You probably didn't know that.  He doesn't share that too often.  From what I understand, a lot of Crohn's patients don't openly share about their disease. I completely understand. 

As I compose this blog post I am sitting in the hospital with my son as he recovers from surgery that was needed because of his Crohn's disease.  We are on day 4 of recovery.  It's a hell of a lot better than day 1.  Day by day he is getting better.  

Watching my first child work through this whole process has been a challenge. If you are a parent, you know that there's an instinct we all have that makes us want to protect and help our child in their times of need.   

There's not much I can do right now as a Dad.  

I try to offer words of encouragement.  

I lend a hand when getting out of bed or walking down the hallway.  That's about all I can do. 

Since my son's diagnosis four years ago, he has never complained about having Crohn's disease.  It's a battle he will fight the rest of his life. 

He has never complained.  Not once.   

Since being in the hospital (Dec 21-24 and Jan 3-later this week) my son has not complained once.  

I would have.  A lot. 

I've learned a lot from my seventeen-year-old son throughout this whole process.  

Most importantly, he's taught me a lot about perspective.  From time to time I may gripe and complain about mundane things.  Why?  Because it's easy.  I needed better perspective in my life.  I have it now. 

My son has taught me to look at things a bit differently than I have the last 45 years. 

I am looking forward to jumping head first into in 2018 with a new perspective. 

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Who didn't like watching MacGyver?  It was an action-adventure TV series full of drama. If you are unfamiliar with MacGyver let me give you a brief synopsis.  MacGyver, the main character, always got himself into a bind.  He always managed to get himself out of these problems by using ordinary objects to manipulate a way out. He was a jack of all trades.  

I wasn't a die-hard fan but would watch an episode if I ran across it while channel surfing.  

I got to thinking the other day about some of the apps that our students are still using to create with on the iPad.  Even after five years of being one to one, they love creating with a handful of certain apps. 

They are the "go to" apps students gravitate towards when wanting to create something for class.  You know what I'm talking about.  These apps never get stale with students.  

Now, for some teachers they do.  I've seen signs banning these apps in classrooms because teachers want their students to use something different. 

I get that. 

BUT, it says something about these apps that have stood the test of time.   I call these apps "MacGyver" apps because you can do about anything with them, just like the TV character could do with ordinary objects. 

MacGyver apps have some identifiable characteristics...

Easy to use

Free (not always)

Multifunctional

Never grows old

Only limited by user imagination

I'm sure you are thinking of some of those apps right now that you currently integrate into your classroom.  

Below is a list of my must have "MacGyver" apps.  If you aren't already using them, click on the app below to download them and explore.  There are so many ways to use these apps in your classroom! 

iMovie

Spark Video

Book Creator

Pic Collage

Seesaw

Canva

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

I've noticed something at our elementary school lately.  I hadn't seen it until about six weeks ago.  When I tell you what it is, you're  going to say to yourself, "that's not that big of a deal," I think it is. 

What is it that I have noticed?  

Students using the voice dictation tool on the iPad.  

I have noticed our primary students using the tool on their iPads without their teacher or me prompting them to use it.  I was teaching a Book Creator lesson a couple of weeks ago in fourth grade and a student found the newly added voice to text feature all on their own.   I sat and watched the student dictate a paragraph (with no errors) to add to the Halloween book they were authoring. 

Stop.

Let's go back to 1988.  I'm sitting in Mrs. Soderman's typing class at Centura Public School.  The hum of 25 electric typewriters fills the room.  I'm sitting in the second row trying not to look down at my fingers to make sure they are on the home row keys.  I'm trying to type as fast as I can.  I LOVED that class. In fact, it was my favorite.  It was all about winning for me.  I didn't care that Mrs. Soderman told us that we would need this essential skill someday.  All I cared about was typing faster than the classmate seated next to me and getting to my goal of 82 words per minute.  Yes, I achieved that goal, and I am so glad that I learned the skill of keyboarding.  It has served me well.  It's a skill that I use every day in my job.   Heck, I even got paid to type up a couple of papers in college!  

Back to 2017.  

We are having conversations about what keyboarding programs we should be spending money on in our schools.  We hear from business leaders in our communities that keyboarding is an essential skill that will be needed. 

Yet I have a first grader hammering out an assignment using the voice dictation tool.  Do I tell them to stop and show them how to place their hands on home row? Or do I let them use a tool that allows them to easily express themselves? 

I'm trying to imagine what their world will look like 10-15 years from now knowing how efficient voice dictation has become just in the last three years.

And most importantly...

I wonder if our pre-established norms as adults sometimes get in the way in the world of education.  









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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

My Dad called me the morning of August 9, 2010. He asked if I wanted to get a round of golf in before I had to head back to school, I hate to admit it now, but at the time I wasn't interested. We all know how "busy" August can be when getting ready to head back to school.  
Reluctantly, I took my Dad up on his offer. As we walked off the second green it started to rain. My Dad always preferred to ride when he golfed, so we quickly jumped into our cart and pulled under the Linden tree that you see over to the left. We parked exactly where my bag is standing. I don't remember the specifics of our conversation that day, but I do remember a vivid feeling of happiness. Happy that I chose to take my Dad up on his offer of a round of golf. It was a round full of great conversations. I played playing exceptionally well for that late in the season. I remember I shot one under that 9 and was relishing the compliments about my game from my father. Little did I know it would be our last round of golf together before he passed unexpectedly ten weeks later from a stroke.

I find myself smiling each time I walk by that tree, thankful that I said "yes" to my Dad that Monday in August of 2010.
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Monday, September 25, 2017


Looking for an easy way to utilize what I consider the two best tools in Seesaw?  Here you go!

1.  Have your students take a selfie and post it! Your students will love looking back on that photo at the end of the school year.  Spend some time familiarizing your students with the camera tool once they tap on it.  I like to teach our students to take photos with the iPad in landscape (horizontal) mode.  I talk with them a bit about digital leadership as well.  We talk about not taking pictures of other students, paraprofessionals or teachers without asking permission first.  I like to model what a good selfie "looks" like, being sure to include my whole face and not part of it.  Be sure to teach your students to LOOK at the camera.  This will take a bit of practice at first with your younger students.  You may have to practice this a couple of times.  Happy snapping!

2 .  Have your students create a video tour of their classroom (while narrating) using the video tool in Seesaw!  I love doing this activity because it gets students up and moving around the classroom with their device.  Too often we want students to remain stationary while using their device for fear of them dropping the iPad. Let's teach them how to move around the room while holding a device! Again, emphasize holding the iPad in landscape mode while recording.  Before we begin recording or videos, I discuss with students what a good video would look like.  I then encourage students to move around the classroom while narrating about certain areas in the classroom.   When done recording, I have them come back to a central meeting place to review their videos.  Your students will notice that their first attempts aren't very good. That's okay!  Talk about what they could do better if they were to shoot the video again...and then have them go do it!  Turn those videos in when done so your parents and students can view them.  This will also be a nice digital artifact to look back on to measure progress as your student create and hone their video skills throughout the year. Below is an example of our second graders recording their classroom tours.




3.  Make thinking visible in your classroom by having students use the video tool to reflect.  Pose a question to your students after a lesson, chapter or unit of study then have them reflect.  It's a great tool for you to gauge where they are at in the learning process.   What about a video reflection exit ticket?  Easily done with the video tool!  Perhaps you are having student presentations in your classroom. Pick two or three students to give feedback to each student presenter.  It's so easy!  You can also have students reflect using a still image.  Snap a pic and have students record their reflection with just their voice.  Below is an example of how I had 1st-grade students reflect on our lesson after I shared my Digital Citizenship Survival Kit with them.





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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Let's start with the "why?"

Why did a school teacher and administrator decide to start a podcast?

I could say Tim and I had always planned to start a podcast.  We could just never find the time. We'd change the world of education with all of our fabulous ideas when we finally managed to find the time. Right?  Nope.  It didn't happen that way. 

It was Tim, myself and Taylor Siebert having one of our never ending, solving all the problems of the world text conversations and I believe it was Taylor that said, "Dude, you guys really should start a podcast."  There it is.  The birth of the podcast, "EDU with an Edge."  Thanks for the push Taylor!

Our first couple of episodes took place in Tim's one hundred-year-old barn. We aren't out to have a professionally polished, perfectly sounding podcast.  It's just two passionate educators talking about all things EDU.

Yep, we might get a little "edgy" for your taste. We might hope to challenge your way of thinking a bit.  That's good.  Keep listening.  I kept thinking of this quote by Jackson Kiddard as I prepared to drop our first episode back in June, nervous because I was afraid of what others may think, 

“You’re going to ruffle some feathers if you want to fly, it’s inevitable. It is impossible to please everybody. It’s far better to meet your own expectations and let someone else down than to let yourself down to meet someone else’s expectations. If you’re serious about success knowing this will help you get there.”

I don't know how many people will listen. It doesn't really matter. It just feels damn good to reflect and talk about education with other passionate educators. 

I do know one thing that I learned from this experience.  It was probably one of the best summers of learning I have had since I began teaching 18 years ago.

It was a summer full of awesome conversations with great minds like Kory Graham, Don Wettrick, Alec Resnick and Tim Huls

Give us a listen here.  Pique a little interest?  Shoot us some feedback on Twitter.  We'd love to hear from you.  
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