Tech Lab Blog Challenge

This week, I’m asking my EDU219 Tech Lab students to step up to a blog challenge. Lots of PLNs (Professional Learning Networks) take part in meme-based blog challenges. These offer a writing prompt and push us to follow/comment on each other’s blogs.

I’m lifting our challenge from “Be Great and Get Better!” Matt Degner’s blog. Mr. Degner is the Principal of South East Junior High in Iowa City.

Here are our rules:

  • Acknowledge the nomination blogger (that would be me!)
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions your nomination blogger has created for you
  • List 11 bloggers (OK..for our purposes, since we’re new at this, find just one or two bloggers you think deserve a little recognition)
  • Optional: if the original challenge, each person finds 11 MORE bloggers to “nominate” to the challenge (and comes up with their own set of 11 questions). If you’d like to jump in and try this – AWESOME! No worries if you’re not there, yet.

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. I’m originally from South Dakota, but have lived over half my life in other places. I’ve met more than a few people (even in the Midwest) that think there is one large area called “the Dakotas”
  2. I know the words to a lot of songs. I like to sing them out loud. I do not have a good singing voice.
  3. The first time I was in an airplane was to shoot video of The Golden Knights Parachuting Team (Army). It was a big cargo plane, and I was strapped in next to the large (open) door, laying on the floor with my head and camera hanging outside.
  4. I love to ride my bicycle.
  5. I like to cook and bake with my kids, but I dislike cleaning up afterwards.
  6. I’d like to become a better photographer (and I’d like to win the lottery so I can buy better lenses for my camera).
  7. There were 18 people (including me) in my HS graduating class.
  8. My dad was the principal of my high school.
  9. I feel aimless or lost if I do not have a book to read (electronic or solid surface does not matter)
  10. After my daughter started competing on a swim team, and I sat through the first meet (2-3 minutes of exciting racing followed by an hour of waiting for the next event, times 4-5 hours) I called my parents and thanked them for sitting through all of my junior high, high school and college track meets. For 8 years I competed in the FIRST and LAST event of every meet.
  11. My parents grew up on farms roughly 3 miles apart, but didn’t know each other until they got to High School.

Since I didn’t actually get nominated, I’ll answer the same 11 questions (as I interpret them based on answers) that Mr. Degner answered posed by @aaron_becker32:

  1. My favorite book to read as a kid was the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Barrows, read the entire series out loud after lunch every day, and I read them all myself at least 3-4 times, too.
  2. My two favorite athletes: John Elway (I have a dog named Elway) and Wilma Rudolf.
  3. My favorite teacher was Mrs. Barrows, my 4th grade teacher. The lasting lesson I have from her is how important it is to recognize and acknowledge good things in each other.
  4. The best party food I make: can’t narrow it down, but I did made some incredible hammie sammies for both New Year’s Eve party and most recently the Super Bowl. They’re baked up with a glaze of butter, brown sugar and soy sauce (and they’re delicious!)
  5. Favorite location: right now I’d way anywhere warm!
  6. One place I’d like to visit: Greece. Love the food, interested in the history and geography.
  7. Historical figure I’d like to meet: Susan B Anthony or Amelia Earheart.
  8. If I had 4 extra hours in every day: I’d hang out with my family and read more.
  9. Favorite Quote: “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” – Dr Wayne W. Dyer
  10. Something in our field that I’m interested in learning: I want to explore and learn more about game-based learning theories.
  11. How would I change education/educational model? I’d quit thinking of students as the sum of their years. Why do we put all of the 9 year olds in a room together and assume this is the best way to group them in a learning environment?

Bloggers:  (I’ve got 12!)

My 11 Questions (so in addition to the 11 things about yourself, you’ll also answer these 11 questions)

  1. What’s one book you’ve read that you think everyone should read? (it can be from any age level)
  2. What has been your best educational experience?
  3. What was your worst educational experience?
  4. If you were not pursuing a degree in education, what career field would you be heading toward?
  5. What is your favorite thing to do with a free hour? (assuming you had no homework or pending projects)
  6. Who was your favorite teacher?
  7. What’s your favorite quote?
  8. What’s something you’ve heard about (or read about) that you’d like to know more about?
  9. What’s one thing you’d like to change about our current educational system(s)?
  10. What is your stress reliever?
  11. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If so, what’s one of them? If not, and you had to make one, what would it be?

New Semester

I love the start of a new semester. It’s like a chance to start everything fresh and new, with new perspective gained by the experience of last semester! I’m excited enough to say “YAY!”

We’re mixing things up in Tech Lab this semester; after Spring Break we’re going into ‘game mode’.  I hope everyone finds this as fun and intriguing as I am, so far!

To my students – welcome! I’ll use this blog to write reflections on what we’ve been doing in lab and to share what I’m doing outside of lab.

Currently I’m experimenting with a new online tool called eduCanon. It’s a platform to add time-embedded questions to video. For example; you’ve got a great video on YouTube (or TeacherTube or Vimeo) that you’d like your students to watch. You’d like to make sure they’re getting it, though, right? This platform allows you to embed questions in the video. I’ve been playing with Sir Ken Robinson’s TEDtalk “Changing Paradigms“.  If you watch it, you’ll see there are several times where the video pauses and a question pops up. I’ve embedded ‘food for thought’ type questions, not the type of questions that really require a right or wrong answer. The platform does allow you to embed multiple choice questions and you can collect and analyze answers. This is a work in progress. I’ll report more as I continue to learn more. The tool is designed with Classroom Flipping in mind.

The Final Project

Your final project is a research project: select a topic, research it – from multiple angles if possible, and then prepare to present it back to the class. No paper for this lab! Your final project will be presented in a digital format.

Step 1: Pick a Topic (if you have an idea for a topic not listed, please email Lisa + Christy/Sarah with the topic). Think about something you’re interested in, and something you’d likely have to advocate for as a teacher. Some suggested topics:

Classroom Flipping | Differentiation | Student Engagement | Classroom Management | Digital Citizenship | Social Media | Collaboration | Game-based Learning | iPads/Devices | Digital Divide | Cell Phones in the Classroom | Textbooks (who needs them?) |

Need some ideas on how these topics might lend themselves to your presentation? Check out the page Final Topics Projects above.

Step 2: Research. At a minimum, find at least three sources to base your project on. A minimum of one source must be academic in nature; another could be a blog you’ve been following or a contact you’ve made via Twitter. Remember, your sources represent a factual approach. If you’d like to get a personal or emotional perspective (or a “person on the street” perspective) that’s great – cite the personal interview as a 4th (or 5th or 6th) source. Your final presentation may also include YouTube videos and/or images (all must be cited).

The reference librarians at Stewart Memorial Library can help you find academic sources for your topic. In addition, here are a few places to start (this is not an all extensive list):

Step 3: Analyze and interpret what you’ve read and take notes as if you were writing a research paper. You should come up with formal definition of your topic, with at least 3-5 supporting details. Consider presenting multiple view points (for example: there are strong proponents and strong opposition to the concept of classroom flipping. How does the research support or oppose both sides?)

Step 4: put it all together in a stand-alone (meaning it could be viewed/understood without you explaining it in person) multi-media presentation. You can you use any format/application (with the exception of MS PowerPoint or Word) to put together your research. Your final creation will need to be linked or embedded on your blog, and Tweeted. On your blog you will also need to include a bibliography. Use MLA for citation style. Note sure how to cite web journals? Use EasyBib – this website will help you create the appropriate MLA citation for web journals and blogs.

A few digital tools to consider (not an exhaustive list – you might have stumbled upon something exciting you’d like to try – now is the time!:

  • This is a mash-up type media presentation (using YouTube videos, images, text, your own voice recording, etc.) Consider recording portions of your message and incorporating them to create a full story.
  • ThingLink is a free tool for creating interactive images. To create an interactive image upload an image from your computer to your ThingLink account. After uploading the image you can add pins to the image. Each pin that you add to your image can include a video clip, a link to another site, a SoundCloud recording, a block of text, or another image. Consider recording your own videos to incorporate!
  • VoiceThread is an application that’s been around for a while and has a wide following in the K-12 market. Upload images/videos, add your own audio or video comments, and invite others to comment/collaborate.

*If you have an app on a device you think would make a great presentation tool (like Educreation on iPad for instance), please let me know. I have hardware that can connect your iPad to our classroom displays.

Your bibliography and a draft of your presentation are both due on your blog by 11:55PM on Tuesday, Dec. 3. Details for in-class presenting will be posted next week.

A Story in Five Frames

What is A Story in Five Frames?

5 photos that tell a story. No words, except for a title.

A Story in Five Frames or a Story in 5 Pictures is a meme that started over six years ago on Flickr. Flickr still has an active SI5Fs group that hosts a monthly storytelling contest. Since then, though, the concept of documenting a story (which could be a narrative, a journalistic-type report, sequential photos to reveal a moment, a documentation of beginning/middle/end of event) has spread. What ways could you use the concept of  Story in Five Frames in your unit/lessons? Could this be another way to assess learning (without writing a test?)

Flickr Group

More resources:

  • A classroom wiki describing “A Story in Five Frames” as a class project.
  • From – a 3-lesson unit on Visual Storytelling focused on the 5-Frame concept
  • From Mapping Media to the Common Core by Wes Fryer, this Story in 5 Photos lesson is geared toward elementary and lower-elementary

Tech Lab – November 22

Quick update:

Be sure to have your pre-test/post-test and getting to know your surveys embedded on your webpage (not linked). Be ready to share them in lab on Friday.

We’ll also be working on an in-class project. If you have an iPad or other tablet-based device with a built-in camera and wifi connection, please bring it to lab.


Getting Ready for Tech Lab: Week of Nov 11-15

photo-13I know we all missed each other Friday as we split to go our separate ways. I hope the time at Prairie with Megan Hanson was great for Secondary; and I know the PE and El Ed group had a great time with our “students” in Eby Field House.

Let’s reflect on our experiences Friday: Secondary – recap your experience talking Flipping the Classroom with Megan in a healthy paragraph on your blog. To wrap it up, what questions still remain? What’s still fuzzy? What else do you want to know before you’d try it? OR, what’s your one take-away from the afternoon?

PE/El Ed: reflect on your experience with iPads & kids. What did you set out to do? How did it turn out? If you could repeat this exercise, with the same age group, what would you do differently or amend? How did the iPads play in to your lesson? How could you have used them more effectively/differently?

Everyone should have their blog post completed and Tweeted by 9AM on Thursday, November 14.

PREPARE FOR FRIDAY: we’re working in class. Come to lab with the following:

  • 6-10 “get to know” questions. For secondary, these questions should be directed at your own students. For elementary ed direct the questions toward your parents. For PE – you get to decide. What do you want to know about your students or about the parents of your students at the beginning of a school year?
  • 5 questions relating to your unit or a lesson you’re developing that could be used as a true pre-test of knowledge.

November 8 Tech Lab – Applications

Secondary Practicum: you’re going on a trip (in your favorite rocket ship = use comments to name the tune/show!). You’ll be visiting Prairie Point Middle School and meeting with Coe alum Megan (Olson) Hansen. Logistical details will be covered in Practicum on Wednesday.


PE/ElEd: we’re playing with iPads! We will be meeting in Eby 120 and we’ll actually have kids there! You’ll be working in pairs, and will be assigned 3-4 kids each. You will get iPads in Practicum on Wednesday.

Paige & Ben: you’ll have three 4th graders (Hannah, Ethan & Chase). Your task: Come up with a skill that includes at least 3-5 steps. It could be a yoga progression, a dance step, a weight lifting technique, or something else. Create a simple instructional way to teach it to the students. Practice with the students.

Review and select one of these apps: Educreations, Knowmia, Showme or Snapguide. Your students will use the app of your choice to create their own lesson to teach the steps to their classmates. They will need to break down the steps, take photos and write instructions for each step and then put them all together using the app. You will guide them.

Extension: have the kids determine their OWN step by step lesson to produce.

Davin & Gage: you are working with three Kindergarteners – Eli, Tyler and Collin. Come up with a exercise or skill or skill based game (how to do a sit up/push up, how to do a jumping jack, how to shoot a basketball, how to kick a soccer ball, how to pass a soccer ball from out of bounds). You will teach it to students, they’ll practice, then you’ll record them using one of the following apps: Instant Replay, O’See or Slow Pro. Review the skill with the kids using the functions of the app; point out improvements. Re-do the exercise. This time during the review have the kids point out the critical components. Secondary: have the kids record YOU doing the exercise and point out the components and/or improvements of your attempt.

Extension: Use the Heart Rate Calculator app to help the kids determine resting heart rates and active heart rates.

Hailey & Ashley: you’ve got second graders – Micah, Allison, Grant and Summer and you’re working on story creation. First, work through the basic parts of a story with your group. You may want to bring some simple books (or find them online or through iBooks or other apps) to review parts of a story. Then, you will use one of the following apps to create a new story with your students: Scribble My Story, Toontastic, or My Story Book Maker.

Miranda & Renee: Sadie, Ollie, Ellie and Isaac are your 6th graders, and you’ll be guiding them through a physical science lesson. You’ve got a variety of apps to explore for this session: Bridge, Simple Physics, Contraptions, Drop the Chicken, TinkerBox, Cut the Rope, Water? Amazing Ants, Jelly Car and more. Look at the collection on your iPads labeled “Physical Science” and play through the games. First, look at the concepts of many of these games (falling paths, how matter moves through space with propulsion or gravity, how a bridge works, etc). Determine a simple lesson based on one simple concept (how energy from one moving ball will transfer to a still ball and move it, perhaps?). Once students can demonstrate this concept back to you – turn them loose on some applications that can cement physical science concepts. Think about the best way to get them engaged with the content in the applications: perhaps staging a contest – which group of two can figure out the next level fastest?

EVERYBODY: If there is a lesson from your Methods or Practicum class you’d like to ‘practice’ here – this is your chance! You’ve got a low-key/low stakes setting, you’ve got a small group of willing kids, you’ve got a controlled environment. If there are other uses of the iPads that would complement your lesson more than what’s listed above, drop an email to Sarah and me to let us know your change of plans. You can use your own iTunes account to add apps to the iPads.