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

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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. 


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.  


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.

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.


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.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

You may have noticed, but I'm guessing you haven't.  I haven't blogged very much lately. 


My focus for this blog has changed. When I first created this blog seven years ago it was going to be all about EdTech tools and how I was using that educational technology tools in the classroom.

I'm burned out on trying to drink from the firehose of tech tools that are continually being introduced.  I played the game. I would sign up for each new tool I ran across on Twitter. I'd share it with my teachers, encouraging them to integrate it into their curriculums.  One after the other.  It was an endless cycle. 

My role as an integration specialist has progressed over the last seven years,  I've realized that it's not all about the tool.  Don't get me wrong, it's so fun to play with all those shiny new tech tools! There's an app, extension or website for everything.  I've learned one important lesson from my experience.  It's ALL about finding and supporting the needs of each individual teacher in my school district.   Yes, it was fun playing with all the tools, but I've learned that I was EdTech tool drunk.  

I've learned that some teachers like the new tech tools, some need an ear to bounce an idea off of,  others need a person to vent to. Most want someone to catch them if they fall or fail using technology. 

I've struggled the last two years with blogging because I didn't want to just slam a post out about a tech tool that I wasn't vested in.  I found myself become more interested in pedagogy in the classroom.  

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.  I had a few teacher requests to do some beginning of the year planning.  Brandon Timm was one of those teachers.  He invited me to take some time to meet with him before school got started.  He wanted to talk shop and had some ideas he wanted to bounce off of me.  I am so glad that I accepted.

We got to chatting about teaching and learning like we usually do, but he challenged me.  He not only challenged me, but he gave me honest, blunt feedback.  Especially about this blog. He noted that I had so much more to share than ideas about educational technology.  He encouraged me to blog more about my coaching and parenting experiences that are so well documented on my Instagram account.  

And THAT conversation was the reason I am changing the title of this blog from "Comfortably 2.0" to "A Teacher, Coach & Dad."
It's the real me, people.

It's what I am passionate about. It's what makes me tick.

 I felt like I need a place to share my experiences in all three areas.  I kicked around the idea of starting a blog about golf, but Brandon encouraged me to share about all three here.  So....if you have subscribed to this blog wanting only tech updates, this blog is going to be changing.  You are now subscribed to the real me.  A Teacher, Coach & Dad. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

This August I will begin my 18th year in Education. WHERE has the time gone?  

It seems just like yesterday that I walked into Room 211 at Centura Junior/Senior High School to prepare for the 1999-2000 school year.   I was so excited to get started with my career in education.  It's hard to believe it's been 18 years.

I often find myself looking back at my younger self, realizing how much I have changed.  Especially as an educator.  So much that I wanted to write a blog post to myself as a first year teacher back in 1999. What five pieces of advice would I have for myself as a first year teacher?  

I've had this blog post in draft for about two years now and I am finally taking the time to finish it.  Here it goes...

Hey, Craig!  It's me.  Well, YOU in the year 2017.  I've learned a lot during the last 18 years. A lot about life and a lot about being a better teacher.   I thought I'd take a couple minutes to jot down a few pieces of advice that might come in handy to you as you begin your teaching career...

1.  Don't be such an authoritative teacher!  Quit being such a hard ass and taking pride in how "well behaved" your students are.  It's not cool to raise your voice and lead with fear.  You learned this from some of your favorite teachers/coaches in high school and you are now teaching/coaching like them. Stop it!  Don't try to emulate teachers you had.  Be YOURSELF.  You'll figure this out in about year eight of your teaching career.  

2.  It's about the STUDENTS, not YOU!  Your classroom isn't yours, it's your students.  Get rid of the 25 year old ego that's screaming, "I'm the Boss!" If you are going to post "Classroom Expectations" for your students on the bulletin board you sure as heck better post another poster next to it titled, "Expectations of Me, Your Teacher."  You set rules for students, you better have visible rules you have for yourself.  It's about give and take.  You need to not only build strong relationships with you students but you MUST develop and practice empathy in your classroom.  Developing empathy is the foundation to building strong relationships. 

3.  Get the hell out of the way in your classroom! Get out of the front of your room. Quit lecturing. Quit assigning worksheets and assessing with the test creator that came with your textbook.   Be CREATIVE, it costs you nothing! Empower your students with leadership roles in your classroom.  Engage in powerful conversations with them.  There's this thing you've started to use a bit in your classroom called the internet...it's going to change your role as a teacher (if you embrace it) tremendously in the next couple of years. This will all eventually make sense and it's going to be the best three years of your teaching career.  

4.  Don't let your part time job (coaching) get in the way of your full time job.  Yes, you have a full schedule of duties after school.  You are coaching junior high football, girls/boys' basketball and then boys' track in the spring, plus driving the shuttle bus to take the students back to their respective towns.  That's a lot on your plate.  But remember this, you are a teacher FIRST.  You were hired to be awesome in the classroom.  It's easy to let some of the things you need to get done in the classroom slide.  It's easy to work on coaching duties when you should be working on making your classroom an awesome experience for your students.  Balance.  It's all about balance.  Yes, sports are fun.  But they aren't everything.  You might think so right now, but eventually that will change.  Trust me. 

5.  Enjoy the ride!  Teaching is awesome, isn't it?  There are so many great (and bad) memories that you are going to have over the next several years.  Take some time to write these memories down.  Yes, the good AND the bad.  Learn from them.  Take time to reflect at the end of each year.   DON'T do the same thing year in and year out.  Hone your craft.  You are a paid professional.  Make yourself better.  There will be times that you will wonder what in the world you are doing in a classroom.  Teaching is hard, but it is one of the most rewarding professions on the planet.  Enjoy the ride, Craig! 


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