(reading time 4 minutes) Author: Carol Glanville
I love the dictionary tool in Google. As an arm-chair linguist, I’m fascinated by the etymology of even simple words. Take the term distract. The archaic use is to perplex & bewilder. And today it still carries a negative connotation in actual meaning. ‘Bother, disturb, divert, side-track’ There’s definitely something subversive about a distraction. Current research shows that recovering from a distraction can take 20-30 minutes. That’s a lot of lost time. And especially soul-crushing when you (or your students) would way rather be enjoying the warm evenings and lake-worthy weekends that late May / early June bring our way.
So, allow me to share a post from last year at just about this time. With a few updates.
Finish Strong (May 13, 2016)
There’s always tomorrow…until there isn’t. It’s the end of the school year folks and that means crunch time; for students and teachers. Unfortunately, as the days get warmer and sunnier, it becomes that much harder to stay motivated and focused. And as the seniors dance out the door a month earlier than the rest…it’s even worse!
So this week I’m offering a couple of tried and true tech tips that to help you stay focused, on task, and true to your priorities. That means increased productivity, which doesn’t mean more time working, rather more work done in the same time (or less!)
*”A Life of Productivity – Practical ways to get more done.” 2014. 13 May. 2016 <http://alifeofproductivity.com/
Notifications: If you’re like me, your device(s) buzz, ding and blink incessantly! And although I may not feel compelled to read or respond to every notification that appears, the mere knowledge that it’s there or the glance away to read the lead text can cost up to 25 minutes of focused work.
So, whenever you’re working on a priority task, silence all notifications. There’s really no need to know about something until you can act on it anyway, and you can’t get to it any sooner if you’re losing 25 minutes every time you get tapped. Another benefit? You’ll feel more in control; no longer at the beck and call of every email, ‘like’, tweet and text.
*2017 update: Love it!! But it does take some re-training. It’s hard to resist tools that are so well-designed to disturb. I also felt guilty at first, which has weakened to mildly guilty at times over the last year. But what I’ve gained makes it worth the effort. I’m more respectful and attentive to those around me, I engage more purposefully in even the most mundane tasks. (I actually taste food when I eat without scrolling through FB or the latest news headlines!) Also? As soon as I recognize that I’m letting distraction set in, I recognize what’s really going on, that it’s time for a break. I bring myself to a stopping point and intentionally switch things up. So I no longer spend hours watching TV or on the computer, but really doing nothing.
Reminders: Disruptive notifications don’t just appear on your device. Many times they’re hiding in your own head, way down deep and silently work their way to the surface. Ever find yourself relaxing with a book, bingeing on netflix, or grading projects and suddenly you have no idea what happened to the last 10 minutes? Or a student name abruptly reminds you of a forgotten email? It’s nice to know your subconscious has got your back, but don’t let it derail you.
Start a list in your reminder app. As soon as you notice your mind wandering, make a note of what’s there. This allows you to let go of whatever it is without worrying it will be forgotten or buried and to focus on the original activity.
I have two lists. I check my work list every morning to prioritize my day. And I check my personal list before I head home so I can stop for milk and plan my evening.
*2017 Update: I like this one too, but have to admit this one didn’t stick as well. I”m really not much of a list maker so it wasn’t a natural inclination. However, whenever I feel like things are getting overwhelming, I head back to it.
Implement: These tips are equally valuable for students. At this age,their pre-frontal cortex (which controls impulsive activity) is somewhat under-developed. Invite them to a shared experience of testing these tips out. Take 5 minutes to explain each one, then check in each day to see if it’s working and what suggestions they have. They may not all try it at first, but the repetition and discussion will draw them in.
*2017 Update: I have shared these ideas with many people. It seems the biggest obstacle is, as usual, ourselves. It’s your time. However, it is a static, finite asset. Honor those around you (and yourself!) by making the most of every moment. Even your distractions can be planned to the point that you welcome them!
(reading time 3.3 minutes) Author: Carol Glanville
Regardless of which camp you live in (Apple, Google, Windows) one has to admit, Google has done a fantastic job of making technology accessible across the various ‘digital divides’; particularly the socioeconomic. Via Google and all its component parts, students, teachers, and even school districts have access to a plethora of tools that support creative, collaborative learning, increased productivity and budget constraints. And they’re responsive. Google updates happen so regularly, you hardly even notice it. And they don’t kowtow to the faint of heart. There are plenty of ways to stay up-to-date on Google happenings, but there’s no build-up of anticipation or fear-mongering around changes. Google respects all users. Google doesn’t treat you as helpless. They treat you as a relatively intelligent person capable of taking the next step without the ‘tech guy’ pushing the buttons for you after hours.
Of course, with all the tools at your disposal and constant updates in response to user feedback, knowing how you can get the most out of Google can be daunting. Never fear, the Internet knows all and tells all. So, here are a few go-tos to help you get the most out of the Google tool(s) of your choice.
Google Teacher Tribe (aka GTT) Podcast, @gteachertribe or Google Plus community. GTT has all the answers. Join the community to get real-time answers to your real-time questions.
Alice Keeler | @alicekeeler: Veteran classroom teacher, Ms. Keeler has been helping educators get the most out of Google for years. But she’s not just about listing tricks & tips. The support she provides comes from a ‘how to enhance learning’ perspective. So when she posts something, it’s about the how and the why.
Google Classroom | Classroom Disrupt: Are you a hand’s on learner who benefits learns best from a live teacher? Then we have the perfect opportunity for you. The Diocese of Grand Rapids will host a session of John Sowash’s Classroom Disrupt this summer. This two-day workshop takes place July 24-5 at Cathedral Square. Follow this link for complete details & registration.
Google Certification Academy: Another hand’s on session hosted by St Stephen’s June 26-7. This is an update of a perennial favorite the diocese hosted in 2014. Both trainings are appropriate for any educator using Google tools on any platform (iPad, Chromebook, Windows)
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We wrapped up our 1st year of implementing Design Thinking (aka Human Centered Design) last week with an amazing showcase hosted by Aquinas College. 200+ community members came out to see the innovative work spanning grades k-12 in our schools this year. Below are some comments and a photo gallery for those who couldn’t make it. You can access this Google doc for more details on each individual project. Feel free to contact any of our teachers or the Office of Catholic Schools if you have any questions about the project. See my previous posts on this topic for the background. A Time to Dance | Innovate with Empathy
Response to the event:
“How exciting to see all your culminating work at the showcase! You are all humble Catholic school teachers, and it sometimes doesn’t feel natural to “show off” what you’ve done. I heard many positive responses from those who attended — parents, future parents, other educators, administrators — as your work has helped them to see innovation in our classrooms and your leadership in teaching others about what you’ve learned. Thank you for your continued commitment to our year of learning.” Assistant Supt Jill Annable
It [design thinking] has completely transformed the way they teach. They are so excited and energized about using this process. Teachers have requested mixed grade level classes because they see so much potential. ~Suzi Furtwangler, Principal St Thomas
“Thank you for inviting us! It was a wonderful collection of Design Thinking in action, and I loved the conversations that I had with Sara Olson about how she changed the direction of her Art 4 class utilizing Design Thinking (going to try some of this out myself with my art students next year).” Tricia Erickson, Art Teacher Northview High School
“This year I learned that failing is a good thing because you have the opportunity to really grow! If you don’t fail sometimes that means you aren’t really doing anything new or hard. God created us to DO things!” ~anonymous student
(reading time 2.5 min.) Author: Carol Glanville
This week has been a flurry of activity as we put the finishing touches on our inaugural spring student showcase. This year, we’re showcasing work from the 1st year of our design thinking in the classroom initiative, aka. innovatED.
A bit of history. Last spring we started exploring how we might bring the design thinking (aka human-centered design process) to our schools. We discovered that Xavier University in Cincinnati has an undergrad degree program in exactly that. So, we connected with them and created a customized 4-day workshop where staff from five or our schools, St Thomas, All Saints Academy, St Pat’s Parnell, West Catholic and Catholic Central participated as teams of teachers to learn all about it. We also explored coding, computational thinking, simple design software, 3-d printing and much more. We all left excited about the possibilities and many of us, without any experience in such things, were emboldened to discover how simple it really was! For more information on that program check out this posting from my blog archive: Innovate with Empathy.
Over the course of this year, we’ve continued to support each other, sharing our successes, failures and learnings along the way. The culmination of that work will be on display this coming Thursday, April 27 at Aquinas College. Teachers, students and administrators will be on hand to demonstrate and discuss how we’ve implemented this process and how it is related to future curriculum planning.
We’ve also made some exciting new connections throughout this experience. We’ve been invited to host sessions related to this work at the annual MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) conference, the iie (Institute for Innovation in Education) gathering at U of M, and Aquinas College School of Education. We’ve also made some valuable new connections partnering with local industry experts to demonstrate the connection from school to life; Kendall College of Art & Design, IDEO/Steelcase, Spectrum Hospitals Architecture and West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology, and the design team at Mercy Health Innovation Hub In addition, by participating in West Michigan Design Week events, we’ve connected with Wolverine World Wide and a local Stanford d.school consultant.
This exciting work has helped us broaden our reach and stands to benefit our schools not only in terms of the skills we teach our students but in ever-growing access to real-world application of learning and partnerships that can enhance our educational programming.
Please join us at the showcase to explore and celebrate the innovative teaching, learning and administrative practices of our journey thus far. As an added benefit, you’ll also have the opportunity to see the Documentary Screenagers; Growing up in the Digital Age. We showed this film last fall to a sell-out crowd of 300. It was very well-received and this showcase event provides the perfect venue for screening it again for those who missed the first go-round.
The event is free. The showcase is open-house style with no ticket needed. However, you do need to reserve seat(s) for the film. Follow this link for complete event details.
You think tech is overwhelming in your position? Try being a tech director! One of the things I love most about my job is the constant renewal, learning, moving forward. But it makes it very difficult to remember all the cool little things. The annual MACUL conference is one way I not only learn lots of cool new things, but it also gives me a chance to revisit the cool old things I heard about in the past. Much of this comes from chatting with staff who attend. When I ask them about their sessions, they excitedly tell me about a few neat tips/tricks they picked up. Having been around this block a few times, those sharing moments usually result in an ‘Oh yeah’ moment for me as I’m reminded of a neat tip or trick that has fallen by the wayside for me. So, this week I’m sharing a few of my ‘Oh Yeah’s’ with a little spring break twist. Enjoy!
If This Then That: A fantastic tool is full of little apps (aka Applets — get it?) that help you live your life better. Get a notification when the International Space Station passes over your home. Or a reminder to bring your umbrella if the forecast calls for rain. Send a text to someone when you leave work. Sync SoundCloud or YouTube likes with Spotify. Sync Instagram photos to auto-post on Twitter. Ok, some of those are just fun. But there are a million applets on IFTTT that consolidate lots of the little things you do every day, or remind you to do the little things every day (hourly reminder to drink a glass of water!) Can’t find what you want? Dip your toe in the programming waters by creating your own applet. For spring break, I’m going to set up all my staycation photos to save to DropBox.
Voice texting. I actually use this simple walkie-talkie app fairly regularly, but I keep hearing about new ways to put it to use. Create an account, get your friends/family to join and goodbye annoying group texts! As communication happens, everyone in your pre-determined group is guaranteed to get the message. And if there’s a flurry of activity, nothing gets lost, you know exactly who said what when. I especially like the voice memo. It’s just easier lots of times than typing. For spring break: Set up your family and keep track of what everyone’s up to in one convenient place.
And last, but not least; .gif (Please, don’t call me Jiff!)
When a standard image doesn’t quite fit the bill, go for the animated version! You can easily copy/paste .gif images into any doc, presentation, blog post, etc. Head on over to Google images and under tools, select animated. Spend an unnecessary amount of time picking just the right one, and away you go!
(reading time 2.5 min.) Author: Carol Glanville
About a dozen Diocesan educators attended MACUL17 in Detroit last week. As we wrap up the year, Everyday Tech will be one platform for sharing their learning across the Diocese. Today’s topic comes from Angela Critchett, West Catholic tech teacher.
They say a picture is worth 1000 words? Well, with Gone Google Story Builder a few words draws a vivid picture!
This interesting little tool that allows you to create a short story on the fly. You can have up to 10 characters and add background music from stock music choices. Of unconventional story-builder note does not incorporate images. It’s 100% dialogue-driven. When you watch a story on Gone Google Story Builder, you’re actually watching the typing unfold and essentially read along. Check out this short sample to get the idea:
Potential classroom uses:
Things to be aware of:
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MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) hosts their annual conference next week in Detroit. A number of Diocese of Grand Rapids teachers and administrators will be in attendance as casual observers, presenters and award winners. MACUL’s mission is “ignites learning through meaningful collaboration and innovation.”
With 5000+ attending (including teachers, admin, support staff, coaches, school board members, and state education leaders) and over 300 sessions the MACUL annual conference is one of the largest, and well-recognized state ed tech conferences in the nation. MACUL draws speakers of international acclaim, such as George Couros, Jaime Casap, and Kathy Shrock.
This year, as in years past, our own Office of Catholic Schools will be represented among the rock-stars of ed tech by a range of educators and administrators. Our presenters include Asst Supt. Jill Annable partnering with Josh Aldrich (English – CC) and Brett Lynch (Math – WC) to share work they’ve done around using metacognitive strategies to improve student growth. Director of Ed Tech (me, Carol Glanville) will join with Abby Giroux (ASA – Principal/science teacher) to lead a session on integrating design thinking in the classroom. And Pam Thomson (Tech Director/teacher St Stephens, Level 1 Google certified educator) will be guiding educators on how to best use Google for ed tools for effective instruction and content management.
Catholic schools are further represented by the Diocese of Lansing presenting strategies for recruiting reluctant teachers to engage with technology. (Renee Hornby) And the Archdiocese of Detroit; tried and true tricks for teaching the modern student (Maria Gonzalez). Larry Baker (Mercy High School Farmington Hills) leads three sessions; best practice for administrators, becoming an Apple teacher and creating dynamic student tech teams. We’ve partnered with Mr. Baker in the development of our own tech team program at Catholic Central — born out of a previous MACUL conference.
But, I’ve saved the best for last. MACUL also presents annual awards at the conference. This year, Angie Dressander (St Stephens) was selected from 100s of applicants to receive the Technology-Using Teacher Award. The application process involves letters of recommendation, evidence of practice as well as a personal narrative. This is a great honor for Angie, St Stephens, and the Diocese. We’re proud to be actively supporting teaching and learning that is regarded as the best in the state. Congrats Angie and all our presenters past and present who embody our vision to be an “alliance of Catholic schools expanding outstanding Catholic educational ministry.”
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One of the programs we’ve been developing alongside our Learners 2 Leaders 1:1 program is the student tech support team. Since it’s inception 3 years ago, the student help desk support team at Catholic Central as grown from a couple volunteers opening iPad boxes to a solid team of student leaders who help run the freshman device orientation. They also test products, participate in focus groups, run Digital Learning Day and assist staff and students with tier 1 support. This year, they’ve been working on a school app and recently formally connected with an international network of student tech support teams. This network is run by our student help-desk mentor Larry Baker of Mercy High School in Farmington Hills. Participating with the tech team hub gives our students an exciting opportunity to collaborate with student tech teams from around the world. And all of this is without the pressure or expectation of a grade. Students volunteer for the Cougar Connection and participate on a daily basis during study hall.
As we continue to enhance technology in learning at both schools, the role of the tech team is expanding. We’ve tinkered with blogging in the past, but this semester, it’s really getting off the ground. Follow this link to the Cougar Connection blog. And return often for updates. We’ll also be cross-posting from them on the grlearners2leaders tech-knowledgey blog page.
The first post highlights one of the activities in the new makerspace at Catholic Central. And this week they’ll be sharing the story of the pre-engineering students who won a grant to funding their make-your-own drone project. Follow this link to get “the rest of the story”.
If you’re interested in starting a student tech team in your school, contact the Catholic Central Tech Support Specialist, Josh Friederichs firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital Learning Day 2017 is officially in the books. Each year, the Alliance for Excellent Education sponsors DLDay as a celebration of “any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience.”
West Catholic and Catholic Central high schools have participated in DLDay for the last two years. We use this day as an opportunity for students to recognize staff for their excellence in the integration of technology to enhance learning. We survey the entire student body a few weeks prior and on DL Day, the students award teachers who meet or exceed their expectations in digital learning. Each school records the day using Storify. For a round-up of activities at each school follow their link. West Catholic | Catholic Central
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Thomas Edison has been credited with once saying, “I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” (Erica Hendry, Smithsonian.com, 2013) But we rarely hear or teach about those 10,000 times. In schools, we tend to focus on the final outcome of ideas that have shaped the world, and then expect students to go through the process of discovery on their own. They do research, work problems, and perform experiments all with a very clearly expected outcome, but rarely any examples of how to do that work. And typically when they miss the mark, they are penalized in the form of a number or letter that places them on a fairly limited scale of success and failure.
There is great pressure on students to just get the right answer, with no reward for the process of learning. And equally, there is great pressure on teachers to produce students who can get the right answers.
I recently came across the concept of the Biography of an idea in the book LAUNCH. And as I work with our Human Centered Design cohort (aka the innovatED team) it’s come to light that students generally stop being naturally inquisitive around middle school. And by high school, really struggle with inquiry and research. They’ve become so acclimated to the ‘game’ of school, they’re afraid to break the rules.
In a panel discussion the innovatED team had this week with area experts from Steelcase, Spectrum, Kendall and WMCAT, we learned that among soft skills employers are looking for, demonstrated curiosity and acceptance of ambiguity rank pretty high. A popular interview question is “Tell me about the best vacation you ever took.” That story tells prospective employers more about the type of person sitting in front of them than anything else; including, their risk-aversion level, if they are planners or jumpers, and how easily they roll with the punches. Each panel member also talked about marathon sessions of brainstorming and idea generation the regularly happen in their work. The ability to perform those tasks with humility, work as a team, and be genuinely collaborative were also touted. They fully supported teaching the design thinking process and were excited to hear that we’re moving in that direction here at the Diocese. Indeed, they lauded us as leaders of the pack in this area and are excited to continue working with us.
So, how might we create a culture in our classrooms where the process is as important as the outcome; a culture that supports risk-taking and discovery on the road to the right answer?
While there are many possibilities, the following three apps are tools that have been used in our classrooms and are accessible across platforms; including iPads, Chromebooks, laptops, and a variety of mobile devices. Each tool plays a unique role in recording every step of a great or, in the spirit of Mr. Edison, maybe not so great idea.
Start with Padlet. (YT video Overview) Padlet has many potential uses, but at the simplest level, it’s a place to generate ideas. It’s essentially an electronic version of sticky note brainstorming. Students post their ideas on a padlet wall and can then manipulate them to sort ideas into clusters. This can be done as a group on a shared wall, or individually. It would be a great tool just for getting unstuck in an assignment. A student could just throw out the options they think might work, and then work them through without forgetting what else they thought might work. I think I’ll start using it to collect my blog ideas!
Once ideas have been sorted and students choose a couple to work out, move to Mindmeister. (YT Channel) A powerful mapping tool, Mindmeister works to really organize and add detail to ideas. Students can add the type and order of tasks to get them started inquiring and researching their proposed process. They can record notes, questions, and observations as they move through the ideation process.
Once organized in Mindmeister, students move on to heavier lifting including observation, research and creating a draft. This may or may not be electronic as students sketch, draw, model, experiment, write, or attempt steps in a problem. During this work phase, students test their ideas and come to a conclusion that works, or doesn’t.
Remember if their answer isn’t ‘right’ (aka doesn’t work) that doesn’t mean they failed. The ultimate goal is always that they have learned. So success is in the learning, not in getting the right answer. But of course, you (and they) need to be able to evaluate their work and what they did learn.
Enter Explain Everything (YT Channel) This tool supports the evaluation phase. With Explain Everything students can record what they did, include screenshots from Padlet and Mindmeister, talk through the draft phase and explain why it did or didn’t work, what they might have done differently where they went wrong. If they are unable to articulate that, you know they haven’t mastered the topic.
I encourage you to take a look at these three tools. If you’re a student, investigate how they might support you in completing class work. If you’re a teacher consider how you might teach students to utilize these tools in their processing. Even if you aren’t doing a full-blown project, these tools can be incredibly useful for many daily classroom activities as students work to make sense of their world. And who knows, you may be helping invent the lightbulb of tomorrow!
Want to learn more about Edison’s path of learning? Check out this Forbes article on “How Failure Taught Edison to Repeatedly Innovate.”
Carol Glanville, M.Ed.
educator, presenter, strategist, coach, design thinker
Virtue In Media is a faith-based k-8 digital citizenship curriculum aligned to the ISTE standards. Click the image above for more information.
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