These Kids Spent 8 Hours Coding And Broke A Guinness World Record


Coding

Microsoft approached Guinness when it had the idea to host the marathon training session. Guinness World Records set a benchmark of 1,300 students who had to take part, Microsoft representative Katie Fazzolari told The Huffington Post.

via These Kids Spent 8 Hours Coding And Broke A Guinness World Record.

I read this article and it made me think of ways to increase the number of children coding in our schools. What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Note: “Leave a comment” is underneath the title of this post.

3 Chrome Extensions I Can’t Live Without


Check out a few extensions for Google Chrome to make your web life easier!

OneTab

When web browsing, it’s a common thing to have too many tabs open at once. Well The folks at OneTab have the solution all figured out! Simply head over to your chrome store, add the extension and with one click, all of your tabs will be condensed into a list on a page under one tab. You can choose which tabs you want to reopen, which ones you want to delete, or even ones you want to revisit that you condensed last Thursday! The best thing about it (especially for PC users) is that it cuts down on the amount of RAM you’re using by up to 95%!

OneTab

 Evernote Web Clipper

If you conduct lots of research on the web on a daily basis, sometimes you might reach a point of cognitive overload and have to store materials for later. Although there are scores of other bookmarking extensions and tools out there, you’ll love the way Web Clipper organizes annotated articles in Evernote. You can choose how to annotate: Only the article, just the written words with no media, the entire web page as-is, a bookmark, or a screenshot. Be sure to download both Evernote and the Evernote Web Clipper from the Chrome Store.

Evernote Web Clipper

Fabulous for Facebook

This isn’t really a do or die extension, it just makes me feel better inside whenever I use Facebook. I manage several school and auxiliary pages. Sometimes, I get lost in the sea of Facebook “Blue”. Fabulous is an extension that sits on the right side of the Omnibox (search/address bar) if Facebook is open in that tab. I can click on it and totally trick out my view !

Fundamentals of Bliss: 5 Amazing Ways to Love Yourself


I was talking with a friend recently who was a bit depressed. The gloom and doom had begun to overtake her and Lord knows, I’ve been there and done that! Oddly, I decided not to give any advice that day: No words of wisdom, no “What momma used to say”-isms, nor any kind of philosophical coping mechanisms gleaned from my illustrious Kindle Library. I simply asked one question.

“Food for thought: If you had to give a split-second answer to this question, what would it be? Do you love yourself?”

“No,” she said flatly. “No, I don’t.”

I still resisted the urge to advise.

I said simply, “That’s where it starts. That’s how you get out of the darkness.”

giphy

If you don’t already, loving yourself is the type of thing that has to come about gradually. It is a process. No one else can make you do it. You have to get tired of being tired! As I had hoped, a few moments later, my phone buzzed in my pocket. It was my friend, who didn’t want to talk, but could muster this text:
Continue reading

You Won’t Believe His Racist Remarks!


Moms Article

Picture it: Murfreesboro (NC) 1982. A black woman and a diverse group of workers who were recently laid off from the Tylon Zipper plant (which had closed it’s doors for good), decided to open their own worker-owned plant. What that would have meant for them, was that employees could invest in their own business and all share in the decision-making processes.

Here’s an excerpt from an article written in The Journal of Southern Changes 1978-2003.

A few miles from the WOSCO plant in Windsor, North Carolina, a Talon zipper factory, located in Woodland, North Carolina, closed in February 1982, throwing over two hundred skilled workers into the depressed job market of Northampton County. Eight of these former employees are now trying to start a worker owned factory called United Zipper Company. At first, they approached Talon to discuss buying the closed plant or its equipment. Talon, fearing further competition, refused to talk. Rather than sell, company agents destroyed the zipper machinery and let it go for scrap.

According to one worker, Beulah Sharpe, the cost of building a plant and purchasing equipment will amount to $700,000. The city of Murfreesboro has applied for $325,000 from the North Carolina Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program to be used for this purpose. The balance will come from other lending sources (remember this sentence). When the business begins, by late fall of 1982, there will be ten worker owners. Their plans project eventual growth to a workforce of thirty-seven.

“At Talon,” says Ms. Sharp(e), “we were never involved in making decisions. Now we have to learn how to make decisions for ourselves. We’ve made mistakes along the way, but we have learned from them.”

So, a few obstacles stood in their way. As stated above, the decision by the executives at Tylon to refuse to sell the old machines to the workers created a need for additional funding. The second blow was one that I hate to even speak about, and it did not make the article above. Now it is time to tell this part of the story.

One day, after crafting a plan B, the group of hopeful plant owners entered the Tarheel Bank and attempted to apply for a loan to supplement the funds needed to add to the monies acquired by the town of Murfreesboro to buy equipment to open the new plant. Beulah Sharpe handed the application to loan officer while the rest of the team looked on. The caucasian gentleman (We’ll call him Roy) barely touched the paperwork as if to avoid a chemical burn before he tossed it right back to her.

Perplexed, Beulah said, “But, you didn’t even look at…”

Before she could complete her sentence, Roy leaned back in his chair and uttered, “We don’t give loans to women and (n-word)s.”

That was my mother, sitting in that chair, totally chastened by that man’s racist, anti-feminist remarks. I would imagine that for a few sullen moments, she forgot that she was leading the way for others, both black and white,  to overcome economic disaster for their families. She forgot all of the hard work she and the others put into the research and community partnerships to make this thing happen. In that moment, all she was aware of was that aside from all else, she was a negro woman and single parent in the south. Nothing more.

Beulah Sharpe went into the Tarheel Bank that day with three strikes already against her already: She was not white, she was not married, and she was not a man. That was reason enough for the group to be turned away, empty-handed and defeated. I’d imagine she cried two buckets of tears afterwards. Rest assured that my mother didn’t pity herself. I remember this very vividly: they were tears of pain, and anger. She was essentially powerless, and felt very separate and unequal.

A child cannot bear to see his or her mother in pain. If you’ve ever witnessed it, I bet you can say you were hurting too. I was. I am.

Beulah quickly regained her footing and she found another cause to fight for. A close friend and supporter, Frank

Cindy Arnold and Beulah Sharpe, 1984

Cindy Arnold and Beulah Sharpe, 1984

Adams encouraged her to open a non-profit organization. In September of 1984, she and Cindy Arnold launched the Center for Women’s Economic Alternatives to teach financial literacy in the community. The Women’s Center is best known for their fight for justice on behalf of workers at the Perdue Farms Inc. in Lewiston, NC who had developed carpal tunnel syndrome due to poor working conditions.

My mother died less than a year later, and Cindy eventually left the area. Bernice “Liz” Sessoms led a team of hard-working women who essentially carried out Beulah’s dream. Due to a severe shortage in funding, the center shut down in 2002.

I have to give my mother credit. In spite of her experiences then, and years before, she always taught me NOT to see color. I was certainly aware that I had color, but that it should have no bearing on how I treat others as human beings.

Thanks to Cindy Arnold Humiston, Frank Adams, David Cecelski, and Katherine Charron for sharing this compelling story with me as it happened, and thank you more for NOT being color-blind!

 

Modeling The Power of Blogging


SAMR: From Substitution to Modification/Redefinition

2364304_origMeet Jon. He is a Social Studies teacher at Bertie (pronounced Bert-Tee) Early College High School in Windsor, North Carolina. He’s a consistent tech infuser, who was chosen to go with a group of us to the NCTIES conference just last month. He came away with some wonderful notes and information to share with his staff.

That’s the thing, though. What a wealth of knowledge there was in his email, and he shared with all of 12 people. I replied and thanked him for the recap and asked him to allow me to seize the teachable moment. Had Jon posted his information to a blog, and used his social media networks to share world-wide, he would have reached many more people, and maybe even gotten loads of feedback from other people in attendance. Take a look at what he shared:

BEC Staff,

Just wanted to share a few quick tips from the NCTIES Conference.  The theme was “Make it Personal”, so it was all about how do we attempt to connect with each student in our classes and how can we use technology to help students succeed?  Here is the online resource if you want to explore the many topics discussed at the conference.  https://docs.google.com/a/bertie.k12.nc.us/document/d/1qttFNWhujby8046b-LE2kKP-YjTA09OFT3Vz3JzzEFw/edit
–  If you have about 9 minutes I highly recommend taking a look at this video from Kevin Honeycutt.  He was the opening speaker and he really drives home the point of trying to reach kids and not being afraid to embrace technology in the classroom.  He is also pretty funny and a really engaging speaker.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5Sck2EkxJ4
–  3 Elements of a Personalized Learning Environment
   1.  Know the Learner (Learning Styles, Cultures, Learning Paces, Giving Students Guided Choice)
   2.  Guide with Standards (Knowing the Curriculum and Guiding Toward Mastery)
   3.  Flex the Environment (Student-Centered Atmosphere with the Physical and Digital Space In Mind)
–  Research has indicated that educational games can really benefit student learning.  Resources for educational games:  http://www.changegamer.ca/  and  http://www.gamesforchange.org/
–  Remember that it is natural for the human body to stay in motion, so don’t expect students to sit perfectly still for 75 minutes.  How can you incorporate moving around in the classroom to student learning?
–  And maybe the most important tip from the conference was a quote by Maya Angelou to remind us that teaching is really all about relationships with students and trying to make a positive impact in their lives and help prepare them for their futures.  “People won’t remember what you said or did, as much as they will remember how you made them feel.”
 Join me in my quest to inspire more teachers to redefine their lessons and experiences by becoming bloggers. If we model blogging as teachers, students will soon see the value. Writing will improve, and students in 1:1 programs will have a one more way to create with their devices, aside from finding information on the web. The call to action? However you found this post, please share it with your network so that I can show Jon the power of blogging, and developing a PLN.
Regards,

Tackk Makes Blogging Easy!


Afraid of Blogging? Tackk Makes it Easy!

Tackk

Earlier this week, we talked about the 3 Keys to Global Instructional Design. Among the keys was blogging for teachers and students. I failed to include what is perhaps the best tool for beginners who are skeptical about using platforms with complicated user interfaces. If you want to create a simple, easy-as-pie web space, then Tackk is the answer to your prayers. Here are some examples:

Angie Bush uses Tackk as an online parent information blog/newsletter. Each week, she creates a post and shares it with the Madison City Schools First Class Pre-K Center parents.

Rafranz Davis uses Tackk to spread the word on the awesome trends she picks up as she journeys to major conferences.

Kristi Combs, Instructional Partner at James Clemens High School in Madison, Alabama recently posted a Tackk on news and celebrations going on in her school.

I am encouraging you to consider Tackk for blogging. I am saying very emphatically, that blogging is an important skill for students today. Beyond clicking the publish button, they need to know how to share their creations, get meaningful feedback from their peers and experts, and get better at it each time. The key concept is STUDENT CREATIVITY.

Come again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Keys to Global Instructional Design


Instructional Design is defined as: The process by which instruction is improved through the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of learning materials. Students across the United States want to know each day at school, “When will we ever use this?” and “Why do we have to know this?” They’re both age-old questions, to say the least, and I think it is about time that we empower students to have more flexibility when it comes to their own learning.

With that said, in order to show students how to do so, I charge teachers to model digital competencies that span beyond the confines of the my documents folder on their respective devices. Those of us  who understand this concept have begun to approach instructional design from a broader perspective. Global awareness is trending in education, and we must prepare our kids for success on many levels. Learning is taking place at very rapid rates for some. Those learners do not wait for the knowledge to come to them; they go get it. Do you want to foster future readiness in your classroom? Here are 3 keys to global instructional design.

Develop a PLN and PLE

I. Feel. Redundant. Still, I will carry on with my crusade until the majority of the teachers I serve find that this key is as vital to success as I do. Today, educators can ill afford to neglect their personal learning. There is so much information out there, that teachers must not rely solely on their district personnel to deliver all of the rich professional development that they receive. I once wrote about Personal Learning Networks (and Environments) where there’s a graphic about all of the different resources, apps and tools available for professional growth. Suggested tools include Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, and more! You can find a simple step-by-step guide to learn all about Twitter for Educators here.

Become a Blogger (for Teachers and Students)

Think about the SAMR model (fan  or not) for measuring levels of student-engagement, and note the importance of varying the activities you plan for using technology in the classroom. Although it’s virtually impossible to operate in the Redefinition level all of the time, it is important to give students a global voice from time to time. Our kids are great writers, videographers, artists, and creators. Blog writing provides an opportunity for them (and you) to share their views and talents with the world. Please note however, that it is necessary for teachers to give feedback (such as through Google Classroom or Google Docs) to students and check for authenticity and content before posting. Here are a few websites I suggest to get started.

Blogger

Blogger.com connects with Google+ and can be easily shared with all of your communities. If you are in a Google Apps for Education district, I suggest using this service simply because of the ease-of-use and Google compatibility. It also tracks traffic so you can easily see how far your posts reach. The user interface is much like Google Docs. The editor’s look and feel is very similar, and if you’re already familiar with Docs, learning to navigate Blogger will be a breeze.

WordPress

Sometimes “simple” isn’t enough. This is my personal favorite. Why? Because the themes are BOSS! I really like the user interface and the stats area lets me know which posts are getting hits and from where. I highly recommend it for educators who are serious about blogging. I will caution you that if you are considering using WP for students, there are a few problems: The learning curve is a bit steep compared to most other sites. So, if you are a teacher-blogger who likes a challenge, (and the ability to sell products and control most of your site’s functions) then WordPress.com or WordPress.org is for you. Your student’s might find the interface at WordPress.com a bit overwhelming, so be prepared to have a tech day (or THREE) exclusively for WP.  Here’s a comparison of the two WordPress sites, which may have you running back to “simple.” The self hosted site requires the purchase of a domain and a web host, and should probably be avoided for beginners and hobbyists.

Weebly

Weebly.com is the best of both worlds: Website and blog in one. The templates and layouts are all very similar, but are aesthetically pleasing. In design mode, adding pages is fairly simple. As with Blogger and WordPress, you may add a standard page or an external link, but with Weebly, your class website can double as a class blog by adding a “blog page”. As a starter, pro, or business member, you can add several pages to your site, add your own custom domain, or upload various multimedia. There is a cap on how many pages you can add using the free version. How much you can do with Weebly depends on whether you’re willing to make a small financial investment in your site, or not.

Edublogs

If you want total control of what your students post, without the hassle of vetting through the exchange of Google Docs or email, then Edublogs will give you switchboard-like capabilities! Again, the more you are willing to pay for services, the more powerful the hosting service will be. The options are limitless. Take time to choose the service that is right for you and your students.

Have a Social Media Presence

So you’ve used Web 2.0 to find several tools and resources to sharpen your saw. You’ve followed the best of the best ed tech bloggers like:

Richard Byrne: Freetech4teachers.com

Vikki Davis: Coolcatteacher.com (Read here why she moved from Blogger to WordPress!)

Jamie Forshey: Edutech4teachers.edublogs.org

and a host of others (as listed in Education Week!)

Let’s consider how the power of social media can amplify your learning to the max! For example, If I need answers to questions that my colleagues cannot answer, then I can tweet to one of the many experts in my PLN. When I find useful information, I can share it with my friends and followers, and they can share it further. There are times that I stumble upon wonderful posts that deserve to be shared and shared again, and I do. Explore the possibilities that extend far beyond Facebook and Twitter.

Be a global citizen and share this post!

Regards,

More Resources:

http://www.instructionaldesign.org/

http://www.p21.org/about-us/p21-framework/256

 

 

Selling Teachers on Blogging: Back to the Drawing Board


20150304_102255

Richard Byrne and The TechChic

Morning folks! I’m at NCTIES (Technology Conference) in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. I am proud to be attending a session facilitated by none other than THE Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) who writes the Free Technology for Teachers Blog. Seriously…he’s the guru of tech tools! I am a WordPress junkie, but I am open to Blogger.com for our teachers’ and students’ sakes. I’ve been the lone blogger in my district (mostly) for about five years, so it’s time to bring others on board.

Although I blog at Social Juggernaut, I am hoping to learn some selling points and strategies to sell this global strategy to the teachers I serve. Blogging and sharing are Augmentation and Redefinition level activities in the SAMR model that transform student-products from written, typewritten and emailed documents to beautiful posts that can be shared with the world!

Wish me luck, spread the word about this new space, and of course, follow me on Twitter (@jovan367)!

Even When They’re Not


Joan McCullough:

Stuart’s impact felt far and wide!

Originally posted on Carolina Blues:

Stu

If you watched the Louisville game Saturday, you know there’s a lot I could talk about. I could talk about how the best defense is a good defense, and how when you force turnovers and hold teams to stretches of five minutes without scoring, you give yourself key opportunities to make offensive plays on the other end of the floor. I could talk about how [my boy] Marcus is back, but you can read my previous blog post to learn how I feel about that. I could talk about the sweet taste of victory when it’s on the tip of your tongue—almost eluding you before it’s deliciously captured. Instead—and this might be an unpopular choice—I want to talk about Wednesday’s Notre Dame game. More importantly, I want to talk about Stuart Scott.

But I’ll indulge my unadulterated Louisville joy for a few minutes longer. My favorite games to win…

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How to Nail Blended Learning


As Abraham Maslow (The Psychology of Science, 1966) stated: “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

When our children come to us for learning, rather than hammer them all, we’ve got to find the appropriate tools for each individual, thus offering a variety of learning experiences to achieve the ultimate goal: Positive learning outcomes!

As it stands, it’s the spring semester, the first semester test scores have come in, your principal has redefined the school focus and your district has revved up the professional development all at once! In our district, we’re adopting the blended learning model. A few schools are making a transition from traditional delivery to project based learning. Instructional Tech Facilitators deliver Wired Wednesdays, Tech Tuesdays, and whatever else we can squeeze into their hectic schedules. Plus, teachers meet at least four times per month in PLCs, staff meetings and school improvement team meetings. Overwhelmed yet?

After listening to Dr. Alex Kaulfuss explain blended learning to our teachers, the clutter is totally cleared from my mind, when it comes to bringing it all together. In the following concept descriptions, I’ll break down how to transition from point A to Z seamlessly.

1. TPACK/SAMR

TPACKAny lesson you deliver must begin with a plan. TPACK is a model that explains what the teacher must know when preparing for students. The standards tell us what content to teach (CK). The pedagogy is the collection of tools and processes with which you will engage your students to facilitate the learning process (P). Whether it’s a gallery walk, jigsawing, or writing to learn, your lessons should go well beyond lecture/note taking and worksheets. The technology (T) you integrate should be about a means to learn, create and discover – not about the device. The key is to make sure you have a blend of the three components of TPACK in your lessons. It is also important to understand that not every lesson will be an even mixture. Rather, some lessons may be PCK or PT, and some may be TP or TCK. As long as over the course of a unit, children have been exposed to all three in even amounts, you’re on your way!

The SAMR model is all about the levels of student engagement while implementing technology. As with TPACK, no classroom should operate in the Redefinition area of the model all of the time. You’ll be burned out in no time, and so will your students. There are times when Substitution level assignments (typing a paragraph in Google Docs) are appropriate. Some lessons will require no technology at all. It’s about knowing when to infuse technology, and to what degree. Again, having a good balance is essential. Click here for more on TPACK and SAMR.

2. Blended Learning

The SAMR Model

The SAMR Model

Now that you have a plan in place, let’s think about the ways we will provide students an avenue to learn. Blended learning gives students opportunities to learn both face to face, and online. A learning management system (LMS) such as Schoology or Edmodo is a great platform for online learning. I say emphatically however, that an LMS should not take the place of valuable face-to-face interactions between the teacher and students. It is good to expose students to content in advance which will free up class time for hands-on activities, and high levels of student engagement.

3. Project Based Learning (PBL)

Referring to the TPACK model as I explain this, PBL is a type of pedagogy. It requires students to learn by problem-solving and discovery (PCK), while preparing them to show evidence of mastery by producing a final product, by (in most cases) using technology to research, communicate or create. Students are assigned roles and carry out the learning process as a team. It takes planning in advance, and a blended learning environment to make PBL most successful. It fosters student-choice, independence, presentation and public speaking skills, and self-confidence.

PBLChart

 

 

Still unclear? I’m a huge fan of Edutopia and you should be too! Check out the following links to help you better understand:

Edutopia: How to Integrate Tech When it Keeps Changing http://goo.gl/FY1QHg

Edutopia: Blended Learning http://www.edutopia.org/blended-learning-

Edutopia: Resources for Getting Started with Project-Based Learning  http://goo.gl/GmwPF8

Until next time, happy learning!