Tuesday, November 29, 2016

11/29 Techie Tuesday

The newest edition of Techie Tuesday is out!

This week we take a look at using Google Drawings to create graphic organizers. People are always amazed when I share digitized graphic organizers. Even more amazement comes when I tell them my students made my templates. I made a few of these graphic organizers that required more time and details, such as the writing graphic organizers, but the others, including more I don’t have listed, were student made. I’m all about crowdsourcing. Why spend precious lesson planning time creating graphic organizers on the computer when you can ask your students to create their own? I always put a nice spin on it. I tell them that the one who has the nicest and most effective graphic organizer will get it saved on My Drive and then shared out as a template with the rest of the class.  Once you put that spin, they take their time and produce some amazing work trying their hardest to be selected.

The Techie Tip is about using the revision history in the Google Suite. This has been a lifesaver for me personally because my cat likes to walk across my keyboard at home when I step away. Instead of clicking undo a crazy amount of times I simply access the revision history and go back to the version of my document BEFORE I stepped away from the computer.

Revision history also comes in handy with my students. With groups you get to see who has contributed, what they have done, and how long they spent on it. Individually you get to see when the student first began working on it and when they last accessed it. This has come in handy because I’ve had students brag about getting their work done late at night, so I look up their document, show it to the class and reveal the revision history which shows they hadn’t even started working on it until late at night. We then have a long talk as a class about being responsible and getting work done in a timely fashion. During class, I can also see who’s doing what on their documents and when. So when I get reports that someone is playing around, I can look up their revision history and see what they have been doing.

Finally, we tie it all up with talking about Hour of Code which begins next week! This is huge and is such a great program to expose kids to the amazing world of coding. Hour of Code puts it all in a fun perspective and shows real-world application of math. I love that they include fun and recognizable characters that the students love. If you haven’t tried it with your class, you totally should! It’s a lot of fun, even I do it with my class. Thanks to +Rae Fearing  for sharing your Hyperdoc on Twitter!

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Monday, November 28, 2016

It’s Easy for You, You’re ______

It’s Easy for You, You’re (techie/creative/smart/crafty/insert whatever you’re good at)

Have you ever had these words said to you? It is one of the worst phrases anyone could say to a teacher or any professional in that matter.
I had the pleasure of seeing the amazing Dave Burgess at Fall CUE on October 28th, 2016. When he shared how much this phrase upset him and how it totally was set to destroy him, I wanted to jump up out of my chair and shout a couple of “Amens” as if I were in church. It was a point that completely hit home with me.
Being a tech teacher I hear this phrase A LOT!
It gets exhausting after a while and for some, just SOME it becomes an excuse for them not following through or not doing the work themselves. As Dave Burgess stated, “This completely dismisses all of the hard work I have done to get where I am and what I do in my classroom.”
“It’s easy for you, you’re techie.” “It’s easy for you, you have the smart kids” “It’s easy for you, your class is well behaved.” You want to ask them, how do you think I got there? How do you think I push my kids to perform their best? How do you think my class got their behavior under control?  It’s all because I worked hard, did research, and found things that worked in my classroom. It just didn’t hit me in the middle of the night and everything changed.
I love Dave Burgess's example of the “Blinding Light” syndrome where we just walk around and get hit by flashes of lights with good ideas or naturally graced with technology know how . That’s not how it works, we work hard to come up with our ideas and see them through to the end. It takes a lot of our time, lunch periods, staying after school, taking work home, until we come up with (what we think) is the perfect plan. Sometimes these ideas rock, other times they blow up and “break the class” (love Doug Robertson’s phrasing of that).
Do I have random ideas? Yes I do, sometimes. Do they all come this way? No, the majority of them I have to work for and go over the content, standards, materials, and see how I can get creative with integrating technology, PBL, go cross-curricular, etc. It takes a lot of time and work! Regardless of who you are, if you have a family or if you’re single, it takes a lot of work and this phrases just kind of dismisses all of it as if you had this great idea and then it magically left your brain and transformed into your unit, activity, or experience you are providing to your students.
People tell me I must be naturally good at using technology. They are always surprised when I tell them no. There is no way to be naturally good at something that is constantly changing and transforming. I’ve seen tech transformed from my days in elementary school playing Oregon Trail in the computer lab to our touchscreen tables, VR, AR, and robotics. There is no way anyone is just naturally good at that (unless you’re a super genius… which I am not…) What I am good at is pushing all the buttons and googling answers, and within all of that I start learning new things about technology. Just recently, I have been trying to fix some software on my computer and one of the fixes was to go into the command prompt and enter commands in the script. I was like woah… slow down… you want me to do what? Then I just went for it.
Is everyone at that comfort level? Of course not, but what they do need to realize and acknowledge is that whatever you are good at isn’t something that came naturally and easy. It took time to get where you are now and it still takes time to flesh out a good idea (even if it breaks the class). People need to just go for it and push all the buttons or take a new risk in their class.
Please… no longer use the phrase “It’s easy for you, you’re (creative, techy, smart, crafty, etc). Instead of using that phrase ask that person what tips they would have to get started on the journey.

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