TIES Day 2, Many Days Later

Over a week later, here are the highlights of TIES#13, Day 2:

Session 1

Great session on “The STEM of Social Studies” by Elk River teacher Ron Hustvedt. Ron teaches 6th grade social studies in a STEM school, and I was overjoyed to watch him compare the work of historians to the scientific method! Ron said, “Inquiry is the scientific method” and showed how doing the work of a historian mimics the work of a scientist. It is an important perspective to share in this world that values tested subjects over the humanities.

My session

I presented a poster along with Craig Roble on our favorite topic, digital primary sources. Here’s our poster description:

A win-win situation: museum curators + creative educators = great digital content for your classroom. Learn how collaborating with local history organizations can benefit you and your students.

This is my second poster session, and I think I’ll stick with that format for awhile. It is tons of fun to talk with people, rather than talk at them. We had 15 people or so stop by, and had some really good conversations.

One teacher asked if MNHS will translate primary source documents into other languages. This is not something we can do, for a variety of reasons. (It’s expensive, way too many documents, and then the document is no longer actually a primary source!) We suggested she use visual primary sources with her students learning English. There are many powerful activities you could do with students using photographs or objects that don’t rely on strong English reading skills. For many native English speakers younger than high school, reading primary source written documents is a challenge. Use visuals! This seemed to be a new idea to many of the teachers who were talking with us. Hopefully they’ll try it! We definitely see teachers focusing on written primary sources.


Pinterest Board with links to Digital Primary Source resources

We know teachers want new sources and places to find digital primary sources. Craig and I started a Pinterest board linking to various resources. It’s not a perfect solution, but we really liked the visual nature of Pinterest vs. a Google doc with a list of links.


Parent Session

George Couros presented a session, “Involving Parents in the Process of Learning.” See next post for a more detailed discussion of this powerful and motivating talk.

New Tech Tools

Learning about some fabulous new tech tools for teaching. Just listing here due to time constraints!

  • Videonot.es
    Allows you to add notes to a YouTube video (and perhaps other video sources). The links will take you to the spot in the video where you took the note.
  • Thinglink
    Add links, video, resources to a still image
  • Infogr.am
    Easy infographic builder
  • Wordle
  • Tagxedo
    Another Word Cloud builder

Yup. The Students Need Tech

Another blog post supporting the need for students to have technology — not just the teachers. In his post, “Wrong Focus: Teacher-Centered Classrooms and Technology,” Ryan Bretag echoes the findings of the study I referenced in my last post where personal ownership of the tools is the best indicator of success.

In one district I work with, they made a concerted effort to get white boards in all the classrooms, at least at some of the schools. I know there are some teachers who have them who never use them, other teachers who would like them but are reduced to asking for grants to get them. (Oh, that irritates me. Why should a teacher have to drum up the money to get tools that they need? Whether or not I think IWBs are the answer, still!!!)

But moving to getting tech in the hands of kids is a slow, arduous process. It’s been painful. In past posts, I’ve referenced how hesitant teachers are to have kids use cell phones for educational purposes. Nearly every classroom has a NO CELL PHONES sign. They say they are BYOD, but wow — there’s no evidence. My daughter could have an iPad, and even has an accomodation that says she can have it, but she won’t because it sticks out.

Those fancy white boards? They don’t do much if it’s just the teacher and one or two students who can do stuff. I loved Mr. Bretag’s comment about converting a lecture to powerpoint to IWB….

I’m working on a curriculum. We get many requests for prepared IWB slide shows. I can only hope these slide shows are being taken apart and used for something besides lecturing — even with fancy white board slides.

It’s NOT a Book!

I’ve been working on digital content delivery of a curriculum for the last year or so. I haven’t seen very many good models out there, and am constantly looking for an appropriate way to delivery content in way that truly takes advantage of the media (online – be it iPad, computer, whatever) and doesn’t just look like a book.

My kids have “online books” that really are just that: print books that have been put online. Oh, there might be a few videos dropped in or an audio of a vocabulary word, but basically, it’s a book. Most are pdfs, with perhaps an interactive element or two dropped in. It’s a book.

I love books. I have thousands in my house. I read print books. I strongly prefer printed books to ereaders.

But digital isn’t a book! Digital delivery offers us different things. There are so many more options, choices, opportunities. When building digital content, we sell ourselves short if we retain the print model. By taking advantage of the interactivity and multi-media possibilities, we can create richer platforms for learning.

Screen shot 2012-12-22 at 8.53.23 AMA recent feature in the New York Times, “Snow Fall: Avalance at Tunnel Creek”, is an interesting use of digital media to deliver a story. An Atlantic Monthly article refutes the claim that “Snow Fall” is the “future or journalism” because of the time and personnel resources required.

I can see their point. But it’s a great model for education content delivery. I can easily see how I could use this model of delivery for content. It’s not cheap – the multimedia time/expertise is pricey, as is the content development itself.

But it’s a great concept — far better than a pdf of a print book!


Processing a great two day TIES workshop, even with crazy weather.

I presented two sessions on Monday, so most of my day was taken with that. I did catch a couple of sessions:

  • Android and Friends: got some great suggestions for device agnostic tools, such as Primarypad.com, Screenleap, Infuse Learning, Cloud On and Layared
  • I missed the Simon Sinek keynote, but it sounded excellent. May try to find a TED talk.
  • My session on primary sources – -a couple of the sites people liked were Beyond the Bubble, Crash Course, Piktori and Thinglink
  • Chromebook session with Molly Schroeder: I’m checking out Chromebooks for my son’s school. They are thinking about buying a cart of Chromebooks to replace an aging cart of MacBooks. Chromebooks are a real possibility. The new version is $249 + $30 in maintenance. Info from this session: https://sites.google.com/a/flippededucation.com/flippedevents/home/ties-2012/chrome-and-chromebooks-in-the-classroom
  • Keynote for iPad: I have recently discovered Keynote for the iPad. I will never look back! I love love love it. So, was excited to see a presentation by Chris Russell all about Keynote. Chris always has great tips and tricks, and I learned a few new things. Fun to say hi, even if just briefly. (Chris – your show was incredible, by the way! My daughter was drooling at your facilities….)

Tuesday: Much more relaxing, no presentations.

  • Doug Johnson on Technology Manifesto. I so enjoy hearing Doug’s talks. I’ll go, no matter the topic. He’s funny, incredible insightful, and leaves me with many new perspectives and ideas. This session was no different. Here are his materials, including the Manifesto and powerpoint slides: http://dougjohnson.wikispaces.com/manifesto.  I have to say, reading this manifesto sounds different than at the session. He’s a strong proponent of tech, and using it to embrace existing best practices. the manifesto sounds almost anti-tech. Some of the comments I got from the session:
    • Is there an articulated goal for tech use? An educational outcome that you want?
    • THere are NO jobs that do not require tech skills.
    • Tech itself doesnt‘ improve achievement. It’s tech used to support best practices that does.
    • Good examples: using Google docs to support writing. It’s the collaboration, wide audience that improves writing, not Google docs. Or, Google spreadsheets allow data to be visualized instantly, allowing discussion of which graph/chart is best.
  • Hierarchy of Tech Needs
    • Adequate Infrastructure
    • Efficient admin
    • Expanded resources
    • Improved teachings
  • Thinks librarians should be the tech trainers

Keynote: Tony Wagner

I do love a good keynote. They can be impractical, yet so incredibly inspiring. Tony Wagner didn’t fail. His had great quips, tweetable comments. Critical of standardized tests. Critical of multiple choice tests, of tests that are content recall (um – most of my daughter’s tests!)

  • It’s competencies, not content that should be valued now. No need to memorize content
  • Survival skills:
    • Effective written and oral communication
    • Collaboration
    • Accessing and analyzing info
    • Curiousity and imagination
  • We need people who can identify and solve problems, not spit back content (50 state capitols example)
  • Global achievement gap…
  • Critical thinking is learning to ask the right questions
  • Teachers that make a difference are the outliers. Culture of school is at odds with learning to be innovative:
    • School values individual achievement. Innovation is always a team effort
    • Schools compartmentalize knowledge – subject specific instead of cross discipline
    • Schooling involves deeply passive approach. Innovation requires creating, not consuming.
    • School is a risk averse environment. Awards compliance – for kids and teachers. Innovation is the opposite
    • Culture of school relies on extrinsic motivation of grades. innovation needs intrinsic. Parents, teachers who raise innovative kids emphasize PLAY, PASSION and PURPOSE.

He has some great ideas, such as sample testing – not testing every kid every year. Require capstone projects. EVERY student should have a digital portfolio! Teachers, too.

Great Keynote. I need to look for his TED talk, and requested his book from the library.

Brad Flickinger

Great ideas for ipads. And, guess what – he only has 12 in his school!

Zen Design

Oh, how i needed this session! He had some great ideas for better design in slides. Quick rundown:

  • Remember the Grid and the Power Points. (seriously – yes)!
  • Have pics go off the slide
  • Use FACES
  • lay text over an image – fabulous idea
  • Use images. Use images. Use images. If a picture can say 1000 words, let them
  • Books: Presentation Zen by Gar Reynolds


I finished my day with a techie session — using HTML5 widgets with HYPE and iBooks Author. It reconfirmed my plan to build some NL content in Author. I just need more time!


In the exhibit hall, I connected with Providence eLearning. They are publishing some great iBooks about classical literature. Interesting conversation about epublishing models. I need to connect with them.

This was a different conference for me, in that I knew so many more people! Roseville people were there, bummer I didn’t connect with any. I talked to a number of the folks I’ve worked with recently: Charles Duarte, Craig Roble, Ryan Canton, Chris Hesselbein, and Marti Starr and Rebecca Slaby, who presented with me. Also saw some folks from edcampmsp, and Mark Diehl from Little Falls. I must say these connections start to make a conference like this a whole different experience — one where the connections start to become the primary learning opportunity. We made plans to continue working on projects, which is super exciting.

On a personal note, I am really bummed I didn’t see more Roseville folks there. I give them credit for getting stated, but every time I attend one of these conferences, it just confirms how far they have to go. It’s a paradigm shift, a change in philosophy. I don’t want my kids in this environment anymore.