Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thank a Teacher

"Did you have a teacher that inspired, challenged or supported you to look at the world differently? One you can thank for the path of life that you've taken? Give us 5 minutes of your time...create a short thank-you video on 10.11.11 and post it on YouTube with the tag thankateacher. Oh, and pass this along to everyone you know!" Here's mine

Thursday, September 22, 2011

9/22/11- Meeting Demand

I have mentioned this before, but Thursdays are our days for team meetings, training meetings, and other meetings. On the plus side it is so good to get together with the team each week and to talk about what is going on. On the minus side, we are all so fried by Thursday that we don't have the energy that I would like to see us have at our meetings. I don't have a solution, but I still enjoy Thursdays immensely. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a meeting to get to. :)


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sept. 21, 2011 - The faster I go the further my behind gets.

Well this daily posting thing is going swell, isn't it. The title pretty much spells it out. But I am determined to get this done as often as possible. 

This has been a great week. All week I have had teachers seek me out for things beyond "it doesn't work." A lot of "how can I do this?..." This morning at Willow Canyon, I had so many questions so quickly I didn't even have time to put my glasses on. Mind you I can't see much of anything on a computer screen or anything up close without my glasses. So it was kind of the blind leading those who need help for about an hour. 

Speaking of glasses. I bought some new reading specs. My prescription lenses are progressive lenses and they kind of worked. They were hard to get used to, and all they really did is make my neck progressively more painful as I wore them. So I gave them up and went back to reading glasses. So now I just have to do the grandpa thing all of the time. 


I was working with a class and a set of iPods yesterday, and I told the kids not to let the glasses bother them. The first time I pulled them down to I could make out kids faces one of them blurted out, "wow, you are old, aren't you?" I nodded, sighed and kept on going. The biggest problem is that I know it's my mind that is going next.


Monday, September 12, 2011

9/12/11-Of long times and shortcomings

First, a huge thank you to all of you who have responded with your thoughts and prayers for David Miller, my cousin who is missing. As a small update, his car was found about 20 miles from his home on Saturday, but still no sign of David. We still have hope that he will be found safe. 

On Saturday, my daughter and my brother and one of his son-in-laws drove down to Cedar City to help search in that area. We were driving through some pretty rough terrain and it seemed as if he were in there, how would we ever be able to search everywhere. It seemed like it would take a very long time. 

This set me on another course of thinking with regards to that which we do. My primary job function for the past 12 years has been training teachers. There has been a forrest of teachers out there for me to work with and it seems at times that too has been pretty rough terrain. I remember thinking early on that this is going to take a long time. I think I have now defined a long time as forever, or as long as I choose to do this, or others chose to allow me to do it.

By that I mean by that is there will always be something new to learn, or at least there better be. We always seem to talk as if at some point we'll be finished helping teachers to learn what they need to become 21st Century Educator  or whatever it is we want them to be. Too often I think we keep that long term view of what we would like to see them be in 3 yrs., 5 yrs. etc.

This is kind of me in a nutshell, but what I am realizing as a shortcoming for me is that I have to accept all of the wins with teachers as they come. There are small victories everyday and they need to be celebrated as much as saying, "Wow that teacher gets it!" That seems to imply that we are done, and I really don't think we will ever be. I used to think that was a bad thing, but I now realize that as long as it is like that I will continue to have a job I love and work with great people who do great things with kids everyday. 

So I am resolving to do just that, enjoy those daily wins with teachers, because that is a win with 30 kids as well and that is what is most important after all. At least I think it is.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Please Help Spread the Word

I've never done anything like this, but would appreciate any help you can give in getting the word out. My cousin's son is missing from the Las Vegas area. The image gives his information.
Thank You,

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 31st 2011 - Movin' on Over

I start out on Wednesdays at Willow Canyon. It makes it nice to spend the afternoon then the next morning at a school. It feels like there is a little more continuity. I checked in on a couple of the teachers that were unable to attend the iPad session we did last night. They are set up with email and ready to go. Also helped a teacher with an issue with Smart Response Teacher Tools.

Took a break from WC to go to Crescent to get ready for a College and Career Ready activity with Kindergartners on Friday. Dr. Doty and staff will be visiting the school. I will be working with Kindergartners on iPads. They sure didn't need much training. I showed them where the app was and they dove right in. The will do great on Friday.

Back at WC, got to help Mrs. Kaskimaki get her lunch count straightened out in Skyward thanks to Eric Taylor. Our helpdesk does a great job. Then worked with the resource teacher on a few issues. Need to get back to her to finish up a couple of things next week.

This afternoon I spent the time moving my office space. I have been in an office down the hall from the team for about 2 years. I moved into a space adjacent to where the team is and that we still intend to use as a podcast studio. I hope I can use the move as an impetus for doing that.



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 30, 2011 - Doc Cam This!

I spent the morning at Oak Hollow Elementary. I helped a Kindergarten teacher with a couple of needs. I really like working with K teachers. It makes me almost feel like I'm helping my wife who teaches K. We set her up with a couple of mailing list for her parents and also worked out an issue with Microsoft Word that wouldn't allow windows bigger than about 1"x2". 

I worked with 1st grade to make sure their projectors and sound systems were working with the in-house A/V system. Simple things but every little bit helps.

The team had payroll meetings with Dr. Draper today. It was nice to see some of them even if only for a few minutes. It seems like we really don't get to spend very much time together anymore.

I worked at Willow Canyon this afternoon. The prime activity was meeting with a few of the teachers who received iPads last week. They set up their email. We talked about management of the devices and we looked at a few apps that they were really interested in.

Today marked the beginning of our Fall professional development offerings. Colleen, Diane and I are teaching the Using Technology Tools and Applications to Enhance the Curriculum and Engage Students  course this fall. Today was all about document cameras. We had 8 teachers in the class and it looked like they had a good time learning new things about their document cameras. They are one of the most popular devices we have introduced in the last few years.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

How about a little attention to detail!

 So this is the box that Apple puts giveaway t-shirts in when they hold a store opening.
This is what the box looks like when opened. 


Seriously, who pays this much attention to detail other than Apple.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Summer of Adventure

This is going to be of the funnest Summers I have had in awhile. 2 more days of work then off on a 10 day romp to New York City and Philadelphia with my wife and 2 youngest kids (not that 19 and 16 are young). This will include participating in ISTE '11 in Philadelphia. I will be presenting a workshop on Tuesday afternoon/evening with some other ADE's on "ePub: How to Create Interactive E-Books for the iPad"

My directors and 5 other team members will also be presenting during the conference. It will be a great ISTE. I hope I can combine the work and family time effectively.

When we return home, my Son and Grandson will be making a 10 day visit from California. We miss them being far away from us, so we will be partying hard with them while they are here.

Then to finish out July I will be in Phoenix for a week at the ADE Summer Institute rubbing elbows with another group of terrific educators who will teach me so much. Then there will be the UCET Board retreat in Cedar City the last few days in July.
I don't think I have been gone for so much time from home in such a short timeframe as I will be in June and July. I am grateful that I will get to spend so much of it with at least part of my family and some of it with all of my family.

It will truly be a summer of adventure, and I can't wait to get started.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week

I've not done anything like this before, but I am going to create a post everyday this week. I would like to take the week to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week. I may take a slightly different bent though as not all of those I celebrate were necessarily teachers, but people who have taught me so much in my life.

However the first person I would like to celebrate was one of my teachers. It was the beginning of my 5th grade year, so late August, early September 1969. Two weeks previously, the day after my 10th birthday, my father passed away from a lingering illness. Struggling to figure out what was going on and what my life was going to be like I certainly did not want to go to school. 

I had always loved school and been a good student, but I knew I was different now and I didn't want to be the different one at school. So I didn't want to go. I told my mom, that I was not going to go to school and that she could not make me, which of course she could, and did. She did convince me though that I should go and meet my teacher. I didn't know it at the time, but she had contacted the school and the teacher about the situation. 

Mrs. Anona Leishman was in her second year of teaching when this 10 year old lost kid was brought into the classroom by his mother. She immediately made me feel so welcome and comfortable, that I lost my apprehension about going to school. When I struggled, especially the first few weeks, she put her arms around me and told me that she understood and asked what she could do to help. Things got easier, but her caring never waned. That year ended up being a great year for me in school. Probably my favorite year ever. That is probably why some 20 years later, I settled on fifth grade as the grade I really wanted to teach. 

You hear stories from teachers often about inspirational teachers they had and how they may or may not have had an opportunity to thank those teachers. I was fortunate enough to be able to live near Mrs. Leishman as she was winding down her career. I often expressed to her how grateful I was for that year and what an influence she had been on my life. 

Her example was not directly responsible for me going into education, but when I did I always tried to show the same compassion and kindness this great woman showed to me that year. 

Mrs. Leishman passed away about 3 years ago. That was really hard for me. My wife and I both felt very close to her and I still miss her to this day. Her compassion for me never ended. I love visiting with her husband and having him share stories about her. The stories are not surprising because most of them mirror my experience with her. She had an impact on hundreds of students. I will always be grateful for that year and for the friendship we had together through the years. 

Thank you Mrs. Leishman!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The iCougar iPod Touch Program at Kearns High School

 There has been a lot written about this project in the local news and not all of it positive. However, what I saw today while visiting the school was nothing short of amazing. I saw engaged students and teachers using the devices in a variety of ways. 

From their website:

Welcome to our 1:1 iPod Touch program called iCougars! The iCougars@KHS project seeks to increase student achievement of our high school students through a student-centered, one-to-one mobile technologies model by providing every student and staff member with personal access to a mobile computing device in a wireless environment. The mobility of these devices will allow staff and students to use them for learning both inside and outside of school, engaging a 21st century 24/7 learning environment. Mobile devices in class will enable students to engage in research, team projects, classroom activities, and academic coursework. Beyond the school campus the devices will remain in the hands of students, available for homework, email, extra-curricular activities, independent learning, and problem solving. Using the devices for formal class work as well as independent study and personal interests, students will gain not only immediate academic benefits but also valuable 21st century skills that will benefit them in their lives and careers. 1700 students and nearly 100 teachers will participate in the largest iPod Touch implementation to date.

We were able to visit 4 classrooms today. We saw students in a Japanese 1 class using a variety of apps to learn not just to speak but to write the Japanese language. We saw a photography class using the devices to copy notes from the teacher, then using those notes heading off to different websites to do research. The next part of their assignment is to create flash cards with definitions of terms on them. Finally, they are to "bump" their devices with at least two other students to share their flash cards. Then they can compare and determine which definitions are better and can delete the ones they don't select.

We were also able to visit with a multimedia class, actually the class that creates student news show at Kearns. They have a lab full of computers yet the students were out shooting video and recording audio and video interviews with their iPod Touches connected to some of the coolest homemade tripods, and steadycams I have seen. This teacher has found apps that at least illustrate and mimic the concepts as all of the software he has on the PCs. He stated that the students actually grasp the concepts better from the iPod apps and are able to transfer that learning to the PC software. 

Finally we visited a debate class. These students told us stories about how they use their iPods for 15 minutes and would have kept going for hours I think if school wasn't ending. One young lady talked about the difference the iPod had made for here. She talked about the fact that her handwriting was so terrible that even she couldn't read her notes. So she rarely had anything to study from for quizzes and test. With the iPod (and she had an iPad keyboard dock she was using with it). She could now take notes quickly and most importantly read them easily Due to this her grade were rising. Then another girl shared that her GPA had gone from a C- in the first quarter to a B+ in the second quarter after the iPods were rolled out. She attributes that success a lot to the iPod. Someone in our group asked if anyone else's grades had gone up. 24 of the 26 students raised their hands and a few more shared stories of how the iPods had helped them feel and be more successful. One young man offered that his biggest problem in school was keeping organized and the iPod helped him to do that. 

Finally we asked one more question of the group. "Have your feelings about school changed since the introduction of the iPods?" All but one raised their hands to signify that their feelings towards school had markedly improved since the start of the program. 

This is all anecdotal evidence, but I think when real measure are taken, Kearns High will see some astounding achievement growth. They have already seen astounding school pride growth.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

iPod Touch/iPad Lesson Plan - Graphing Using Easy Chart and the Weather App

Apps Used:  Easy Chart - $ Free for iPod/iPhone $0.99 for iPad; Weather - $ Free

Subjects that can be taught using apps:  Math (Graphs and Data), Geography, Science (Weather)

Grade Levels: 4th-6th, could be adapted for younger grades.  This activity works well individually or in pairs.

Time:  60 minutes

Lesson:    Once students have the devices available, start in Easy Chart. I like to have the students familiar with how the app works before gathering the data. 
Once in the app have them go to the settings. Change the input from slider to keyboard. You can adjust the output size for the charts as well here. 
 Tap Save.

Once back in the app, scroll to the bottom of charts that have already been created. You will find a green plus sign. Tap that plus sign to start a new chart.

The chart opens with a Chart #, that can be changed by selecting the name and then tapping the x.

You will see two data points labeled one and two. You tap on the names to change those. Then you can tap on the numbers to change those. You can add more data points by tapping on the next line.

 With that instruction you should be ready to go into the Weather app and gather your data.  

Here is a city already set up in the Weather app. To set up a new city in the app, tap on the information ( i ) button in the lower left hand corner. 

This brings up the  screen to add and delete cities.  Ask the students not to delete any cities as there may be other groups using those.

Tap on the plus ( + ) sign to bring up the search screen.

Type in the name of the city you would like to add to the app. Be aware that many states and even countries may have cities with the same name, make sure you select the correct city to add. 

 After they have added the 3 cities, have students get out a piece of paper and pencil. Have them create a data table with the expected high temperature for the next 5 days for each city. 
Now they can go back into Easy Chart and enter the data for their chart. I have them build 2 charts to begin with. For the first chart I have them do a comparison of the highs in the 3 cities for one of the five days.  

Next I have them build a chart of the highs for all 5 days for one city. 

When the charts are built, have the students discuss whether the default chart (pie chart) is the best way to display this data. Have them tap the chart button in the lower left corner of the screen to cycle through the different chart options. Ask them to decide which chart best tells the story of the data. 

Now have them tap the button next to the chart button. This changes the color scheme for the chart. They can cycle through and choose the scheme they like best for any particular chart. 

I like discussing how different kinds of charts tell a different story with the data. 
For a final activity with this lesson I like to do some live data collection. I may choose favorite ice cream flavors or favorite candy bars, but I let students give me five choices. Then I ask all students to vote on one of the five and we graph that data. This helps to bring data collection and understanding data home to the students.

Monday, February 21, 2011

iPod Touch Lesson Plan/Review Stack the States

Apps Used:  Stack the States - $0.99 - Universal App (works on both iPad and iPod Touch/iPhone) No VPP discounts available

Subjects that can be taught using the app:  U.S. History, U.S. Geography, Geometry, Physics

Time:  30-60 minutes depending on how long you give them in the app.

Stack the States is a game that allows for a variety of activities. There are a total of 4 games available although you must reach certain milestones to unlock all but the beginning game. 

To begin you enter your name for a profile. There are slots for up to 7 separate profiles. Once you have selected your profile the game begins. The player is asked a question about a state. Questions include capitals, landmarks, bordering states, and abbreviations. If the player selects the correct state, he/she is presented with that state to drop onto a platform.

The goal is to stack the states above the checkerboard line on the screen. If you accomplish the task you are rewarded with a state. Not quite as easy as it might seem. The states are not all geometrically suited for stacking. Also, when you drop the states they tend to bounce and rock and roll. If a state falls off of the edge of the platform then you have to keep going. Touching the state brings up a white circle with dots around it. With the circle on-screen you can move the state by dragging it. You can rotate the state using the white dots. While not ultra-challenging it is a lot of fun. 

As you earn more states you can unlock 3 more bonus games. Having worked with 4th, 5th and 6th graders in this game, I can tell you that students really enjoy it, find some challenge and even learn things they didn't know about the states.

The school where I have taught this has a mobile cart of 30 iPod Touches. I have the students retrieve the iPods from the cart, taking note of the number of the iPod so they remember where to put it back after the activity. 

I begin the lesson by talking about relative size. One of the things that I really like about the app is that the states in correct proportional size to each other. Alaska is really big and Rhode Island is really small. 

Next we discuss the physics of the game. Gravity is in play as you drop the states, balance comes into play, as does the bouncy nature of the states. 

I use a document camera to demonstrate setting up the profiles and the basics of gameplay.  (This is probably not necessary as the kids have it figured out in seconds on the own, but just in case.)

At this point I lets the students start playing. I give them about 10 minutes to begin with, before stopping them. When I stop them we take a quick poll to see how who has gained the most states. This seems to be really motivational for the group. In each class that I have tried it, after polling the group, when they start playing again, they get quieter and more focused. I give them another 5-10 minutes to play then take another poll. I found that 2 to 3 rounds seems to be optimal. 

I love Stack the States, it is one of my favorite apps. I think students really enjoy it as well and learn quite a bit at the same time.  

Friday, January 28, 2011

What I'm Doing This Weekend

In the fall I talked about the K-12 Online Conference. I am still viewing sessions from that conference, some 3 months later. This weekend I will be attending a conference in Philadelphia called EduCon 2.3. Actually, I won't be in Philadelphia, but I will be attending the conference via online sources. I will be home in my jammies on my couch or recliner viewing my selected sessions remotely. The scheduled sessions start tomorrow, but today there is what are called Unconference (informal) sessions. I am following those conversations today as I work via Twitter. There are tons of messages coming out every hour and lots of good information in those messages. (search #educon on twitter to follow the conversation.

The conference is hosted by the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia under the direction of their visionary principal Chris Lehmann. The conference is staffed by teachers, STUDENTS, and parent volunteers from the school. In fact today, Philadelphia schools are closed due to weather conditions, but the students and parents would not be denied the opportunity of Educon and still showed up en masse. To me that in and of itself is a powerful message.

So, I will have other tasks to do this weekend, but every free moment I will be attending EduCon conversations. Oh, by the way, our own Dr. David Doty, Scot McCombs, and Darren Draper will be presenting a session at 12:30 pm MST on Sunday. I can't wait.