Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's the Point?

My son recently took a science test over rocks and minerals.  He studied for an hour with me the night before and completed his study guide which consisted of two pages of fill in the blanks.  On his test he did a fabulous job of answering all of the multiple choice questions by circling each answer correctly.  I was really happy for him when he came home from school boasting that he got all the answers right!  

As an educator what would you give this student?  An A?  Well guess what?  He failed, yup he failed!  Why?  Because he didn’t write each letter on the line to the left of the question.  His teacher only gave him half of the points for each question.  

I was not a happy mom at that point and neither was my son a happy kid.  He met the learning objectives over rocks and minerals yet still failed.  What is this teaching my child?  It taught him that he has to do what his teacher says, exactly as she says it.  It taught him that school sucks.  It taught him "why bother"?  It teaches him that there is only one right way.  

Any educator in the 21st Century knows this is exactly the opposite of what we should be teaching our kids.  We must provide the opportunities for multiple solutions and a chance to explain their thinking.  We must think of Mastery in a new light.  It isn’t just getting the facts correct, which my son did, but allowing for broader ideas and multiple ways to share ideas.  

Science is one of the funnest subjects!  This is a kid who is addicted to Myth Busters.  I want his love of science to grow and flourish.  This experience for him is like ice on a tulip.  It just isn’t going to help a flower grow.  I wonder why a teacher would put herself in this power struggle.  Doesn't she have bigger fish to fry?  How about coming up with some experiments or a virtual field trip using the Smartboard she has in her room.  It just boggles the mind. 

A couple of thoughts about technology- had this teacher used some technology like a clicker response system this would not have been an issue.  In my Twitter circles of Master 21st Century Teachers, this would not have happened.  Sometimes I wonder, what year are some educators living in?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Solving the Rubik's Cube the iGeneration Way

 My 12-year-old son is  part of the iGeneration, born in a world with Internet, wi-fi, Google, and abundant iDevices.  Recently, he mastered the Rubik’s Cube, and did so accessing all he needed from the palm of his hand. 

What device did you use for your searching?
“I used my iPod Touch, and started at Google doing a search for How to Solve a Rubik’s Cube. This led me to where I found a step-by-step solution guide on how to solve a 3 x 3 Rubik’s cube. There were also links to some videos.  One was from Tyson Mau. It was pretty good, so,  just watched it.”

Why did you choose Google?
 “Well, I went to Google because you can find anything on Google, anything you want, and anything you need, go to Google.”

Why did you use the iPod Touch?
“Because it was easiest.  I took screen captures of the algorithms on so I could try to memorize them even if I didn’t have Internet. “

What did do once you mastered the Rubik’s Cube?
“I sent it to YouTube.  I recorded myself with my iTouch, edited the it with iMovie on my iTouch, and posted my video to my YouTube channel from my iTouch.”

What’s the trick to solving the Rubik’s Cube?
“Practice. Spending time with it. Memorizing the algorithms. An of course, my iTouch and Google.”

Upload, Share, & Discard DVD’s!

As a full-time working mother I often bare the guilt of not being the volunteering, cupcake-baking, carpooling mother of my great kids.  So recently I jumped at the chance to help out a committee of moms create an end of year 8th grade video.  After all, I know how to create a great movie using iMovie.  I enthusiastically showed up with my iPad and all of my knowledge as a tech trainer ready to get to work with ideas and digital content.  As soon as we got started however,  I knew I had to treat lightly while offering my services when the committee chairperson couldn’t get the DVD player to work and was taking notes on a yellow pad of paper. 

After watching some of last year’s video I basically got the gist of what they wanted for a movie and so we began the official planning.  The discussion started with the idea of charging $5.00 for each DVD, just like the previous years. 

I suggested uploading the movie to YouTube so that the kids could watch the movie whenever and wherever they wanted.  Let’s just say that if there were crickets in the room we would have heard them.  I realized I had to tread lightly and be gentle.  I also felt like an alien in the room, but I’ve experienced that feeling before so I just kept going. 

As the meeting proceeded it was agreed that I would put the movie together.  Next came the paper envelope, (again from last year) that would require every parent to submit a photo of their child to be used in the movie.  And again, very gently here, I suggested creating an account somewhere online where people could submit their photos digitally so that I could just grab those photos.  This way we could just skip the whole scanning process.  cricket-cricket noise> process> reaction.  This reaction was a lot more positive than the YouTube idea, and I felt like we were getting somewhere. 

So this is what we decided to do, with a little nudging, we would use for people to upload their photos to one folder and a new YouTube channel for people to upload their videos.  I choose because it allowed me to drag the photos right on to my desktop without a charge.  Snapfish and Flicker would have charged me .25 a photo.  Once the videos are downloaded into my iMovie I could easily delete them. 

I created a how-to sheet on a Google doc and shared it with the committee chairperson.  I might have to walk her through a few steps on sharing the how-to sheet, but I know it will be worth the time in the end. 

Why is it though that some of us are just stuck on how things were done in the past?  Isn’t this one problem in our classrooms?  Do things the way it has always been done?  The only ones who want a DVD are the parents who don’t ever go to YouTube!  Their own kids are on YouTube every day.  Hand them a DVD and you will feel like an alien!

My goal as the movie creator is to go paper-free and not make it into a huge time drain!  Of course, I will have fun creating the movie as I always do. Wish me luck.  I will have to be gentle!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Recently, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday my Colleagues @techiefeldie &@jennykbps traveled West to York, Nebraska to present on Google Docs at the York Public Schools In-Service Day.  @chericson & @mrbadura & @Coach_Sautter were the gentlemen who felt highly enough of us to invite us & bring us out to present on their amazing Professional Development day.  It was #dukepd12 if you are familiar with Twitter.

On our Road Trip West we came up with this slogan in HONOR of Dr. King - - - Google Docs is like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. empowering people to be free!  

My colleagues and I love Google Docs and are passionate about sharing it with people.  It truly is a game changer and revolutionizes what we are familiar with in Microsoft Word.  The power & potential that is within Google Docs is endless & bringing that to teachers in any city, state, province, or country I would do if I had the chance in a heartbeat!

Here is a link to what we used for our presentations at #dukepd12

Interestingly enough, in my district, we were off / out of school on this PD day in York.  So theoretically we could have stayed home with our families, rested, relaxed, and enjoyed the day off, but because we love to share, collaborate, & connect with teachers & people we jumped at the chance for the ROAD TRIP! 

It's not everyday you find teachers / people willing to do this I think.  I am by no means trying to toot my own horn here so if you are misinterpreting me I am sorry, what I am trying to point out though is teaching is about PASSION.  I love knowing I may have helped someone in the York PD day #dukepd12.

I love working with my colleagues @techiefeldie & @jennykbps and seeing there passion come through them in their work as well.  I love knowing I may have sparked someone to use Google Docs in a new way.  In my dream world we would all be using Google Docs, we would all be using Twitter, and we would be collaborating and flattening the globe with these 2 simple yet complex WEB tools.  Districts could dramatically improve the way they do business if they only used these 2 tools.

In closing, I was humbled & honored to come to York, NE to participate in #dukepd12 and I hope we did well enough that folks got something out of it & our twitter friends from York will still follow us! 
;  )


An easy way to build enthusiasm is to say yes AND!  My colleagues and I are dreamers.  When we collaborate, we create an energy by building on to each other’s ideas until we have developed something that none of us ever would have dreamed of alone.   This happens because we are all fired up about, encouraged, and validated with saying yes AND to each other!

This can be difficult if there is a Yeah--BUT in the room. You may have seen a Yeah--BUT or two where you work.  A Yeah--BUT is an idea stopper.  A Yeah--but stops collaboration and brainstorming. Ideas die.   Individuals in the group are fearful to raise a hand to timidly suggest another ideas after witnessing a Yeah--BUT in action.

Twitter is a Yes-AND environment.  In the Yes--AND world, an idea is sent via a tweet, a follower sees the potential of the ideas and retweets the idea, and before long that idea becomes viral.  That same idea that fell flat by a Yeah- BUT in the room is validated and nurtured by a PLN (personal learning network) online.  

Yes - AND can move mountains.  Collaboration is spontaneous. Tangential thinking is  encouraged and nurtured.  There is time for creativity.  Teachers need to be learners for a lifetime.  A Yes - AND attitude is the key to moving forward, being open to new ideas and initiatives, to trying new technologies, and to make a difference with students and colleagues.

Techno Advice from Mom

As a mother of a couple of teenagers, I am often dismissed when offering up technology advice to my family.  Even though I do this all day long in my school district and it is part of my title at work, I am just Mom at home.  It is quite humbling actually, but sometimes I actually get through to them. 
This is what happened last week that I wanted to share with all of you!  
Converation one:
My 14 year old daughter:  Mom, can Lucy come over to work on an essay with me?
Me:  Sure what time?
Daughter:  Not sure maybe around 4:00.
Me:  OK.  Is that enough time to get it done?
Daughter:  I think....

So a little while later I am thinking to myself, “Hold on!  At work I would have told a student to just use Google Docs and share with each other!”  I was out of context at home with this question as I have gotten used to the “Mom, don’t treat us like one of your teachers you are training!”

So instead of talking directly to my 14 year old, which doesn’t always go well. I sent her a text from work about how she and her buddy could complete their essay from two different houses if they needed to.

Here is how our text messaging went:    

Me:  I was thinking about your essay today.  If Lucy has a gmail account, you can both be writing at the same time on your docs.  
Just create a new doc and then share it with Lucy.  Might be a fun and a quick way to work together.  Just need two computers.

Daughter:  Wanted to tell u tht me and lucy used google docs   (notice the quick and short reply)

Me:  Great!!  Did it work well?
Daughter:  Yah she was working on the big mac on a paragraph about al capone whilte I was working on the laptop on a paragraph on economy all on the same document!!!  (notice the excitement)  

Me:  Cool!  (Feeling very smart and manipulative!)

Now, if I had gone at her right after our first conversation she probably wouldn't have been as receptive.  It just goes to show that timing and delivery are critical when imparting change.  The other point is that Google Docs just works so well for collaboration and sharing is huge for kids!

Monday, January 16, 2012

You Had Me at Share

Google Docs is my FAVORITE Web 2.0 tool!  Why? Because it can be SHARED!  Sharing takes Google Docs to a whole new level.  No longer are we isolated in our work.   Google Docs frees us from the shackles of word processing like Dr. Martin Luther King empowered a nation of people to become free. Google is moving us forward into a collaborative, cooperative, team centered environment whether we like it or not.  It is just up to us to get our heads around it and use the tools to make our workflow simpler, more powerful, and collaborative.

Sharing documents is revolutionizing workflow for administrators, teachers, and students.  The share feature allows documents to be shared between people in a variety of ways.  The best way for the workflow to happen is to leverage share feature in collections.  Collections not only allow work to be organized or grouped but the collections can also be shared just like a doc, spreadsheet, or presentation. 

For example, a teacher creates two collections and calls one Student Work View Only and the other collection Student Work Handed In.  The teacher shares both folders with all students and sets the sharing settings to view.  From this point forward, the teacher creates docs and spreadsheets and simply drags files into the Student Work View Only folder.  It is so SIMPLE to share it with a group of students.  Google Docs make it as easy to share a folder with students as answering the phone.  Students have access to view all documents in the collection.  For students to utilize a document, they simply open the doc and click File>Make a Copy.  This places a copy of the doc in their Google Docs Home Directory and they can edit it as needed.

Start using the power of Google Docs today! What are you waiting for?

-Ann Feldmann

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Attitude and Victories

I’ve been relatively unplugged for Christmas and New Year’s, and now am ready to roll!  I will admit to checking my twitter feed a few times, but didn’t do much with it.  I downloaded a book and read it in two days.  I posted two things on Facebook.  I looked up a few recipes and worked on family picture orders using Google docs.  For me this was very little time spent in the digital world compared to what I do on a daily basis at work!  It’s important to give yourself a break and be more available to those you love.  That is what I hope I did over the Holidays.

Now that I have made it through the Holidays, I am back now at my desk pondering what is ahead of myself and my incredible teammates this year!  We’ve got some lofty goals ahead of us!  Some of those goals are focused on our own professional development and others that hopefully include some changes for our district.  We know there will be some obstacles that we don’t have control over, but we also know that with our positive attitudes and persistence we will learn more, change more, create more, and impact student achievement! 

It’s a great feeling to come back from a break and be ready to go.  To be excited about the future.  It really is attitude that makes a difference.  We could be worried about what is ahead and wondering if we can actually accomplish everything we’ve set out to do.  But that would only waste precious time and energy.  Instead we focus on what we can accomplish and relish our small victories!  If you look closely enough you can find at least one victory a day and know you’ve made a difference.  Small victories include a pat on the back, a smile from a child in your classroom, learning a new skill, getting a phone call from a parent who just wants to say “thanks”.  These matter!   We will reach our goals big and small this year.  I just know it! 

So here’s to 2012 and all the victories yet to come - BIG and small!