Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How I use Voki to enrich teaching and learning


Below is my interview from the Voki blog explaining how I use this tool.
Goal
My goal with using Voki is to give every student a voice and a face in a fun and engaging way even if they only have access to a phone.
How I use Voki
Voki is a great tool that allows the 21st century student to capture, publish, celebrate and converse about any topic or subject.  I love helping innovative educators use Voki.  Here are some of the things they are doing.
  • Students can use Voki in the revision process of their writing by recording a Voki to make sure it sounds right. If it doesn’t, simply revise and re-record.
  • During publishing parties some students are uncomfortable reading their work. Thanks to Voki they can present their work without embarrassment.
  • English and Foreign language Learners can use Voki by recording themselves saying dialogue or reading a passage.  Listening to the Voki enables them to hear how they sound and work on fluency.
Some of my favorite things about Voki:
  • It enables students who might not be proficient at writing to tell their story or share their message.
  • It enables students to publish to an authentic audience in a format where others can comment and keep the conversation going.
  • It gives a voice to a student who might not feel comfortable speaking publicly.
What would I add to the Voki product?
The ability to add your own Avatar either via your photo or drawing.
My favorite Voki trick
Set up pages at the end of units of study where students can share one great thing they learned. This creates a page of our learning which serves as a great reflective tool.  I also suggest inviting parents, family members and others in the school to community to leave Voki comments for students.
See how other educators use Voki here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cel.ly Supports Schools: Group texting for education

Cel.ly is primarily a free group texting service. Group texting saves time, improves communication, provides documentation of texts, and sets the stage for easily using many other cell phone tools. The Cells referred to in Cel.ly are instant mobile networks. With Cel.ly, you can have open group chat, one-way alerting, or a hybrid where curators can approve messages.

Cel.ly also provides security and privacy as phone numbers are never exposed and there are controls. Cell curators filter messages before they are sent to the group. This keeps discussion on-topic and reduces abuse, impersonation, and cyberbullying. An @me feature lends itself to note taking. Cel.ly even has a built-in polling feature complete with the tabulation of results.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The hottest posts that everyone's reading!

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog this week. Below you’ll see the top weekly posts along with the number of pageviews. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired, share it with others and/or leave a comment.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tell social media gurus #YouMatter with a #BammyAwards vote!

Envision a world that values education like it values entertainment. That is the goal of The Bammy Awards. Earlier this month I nominated educators from across the globe for an award.  This time around, I’m nominating those I have the pleasure of working and connecting with in New York City. These are movers and shakers that I have come to know because of their pioneering work in the use of social media to support teaching, leading, and learning that will help guide students toward success with college, career, and citizenship.


The Bammy Awards nominations, are an honor that identifies and acknowledges the extraordinary work being done across the education field every day.  The Bammy Awards were created to help reverse the negative national narrative that dominates the education field.


Now, you, the online community, have a chance to bring recognition to those we know, admire, and respect by placing a vote for the Educator's Voice Award to recognize the nominees that you believe are making a significant difference in the field.  Below are my second round of nominations. Please take a look and if you like what you read, click that little “vote” link to find out more and vote for this person if you agree they should be honored.  


Deven Black - School Librarian
Deven makes a difference in many ways. For his students, he made a difference by taking over a library that had become moribund, out of date, anachronistic, completely disorganized and with no technology. In two years he turned it into a much more modern, way more up-to-date, fully automated functioning library that circulates 200 books a week. He also is always on a quest to support students in learning in ways aligned to their interests, strengths and talents as he wrote about in this great lesson that he implemented http://educationontheplate.com/2010/12/26/my-one-great-lesson-this-year/

For his colleagues at his school, Deven has led the development of a more technology-capable staff through one-to-one training of tech-phobic or reluctant teachers. On a larger scale, Deven has served on the review committee to help implement the new social media guidelines for NYC DOE employees.

You can read more about Deven and vote here.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Remind 101 provides simple & free texting tool to enrich teaching and learning

Remind101 provides a safe, one-way, mass text messaging system created specifically for use in Education. It keeps your phone number, and the phone number's of your subscribers completely private, stores all of your sent messages, and it's completely free to use. Just sign up and create a list for others to join via a simple text or email. Because of the convenience of sending messages directly to phones, Remind101 is a perfect tool for announcements and reminders such as school holidays, school events, photo days, fundraising events, testing days, and more.

Who's doing this?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Free book chapter - Tried & true cell phone tools

Access all the chapters at The Classroom 2.0 Book

The Classroom 2.0 Book is now live, and I am proud to have a chapter with my co-author Willyn Webb (Tried and True Tools to Get You Going with Cell Phones) in this free e-book that was created as part of Classroom 2.0′s 5th Anniversary Project.  
The project was put together by three fantastic leaders in education: Steve HargadonRichard Byrne, and Chris Dawson.
There are dozens of chapters uploaded with contributions for our communities brightest and best minds. 
Here are just a few of the entries you have to look forward to:  (Did I mention that the book was FREE!!!)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The hottest posts everyone's reading

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog this week. Below you’ll see the top weekly posts along with the number of pageviews. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired, share it with others and/or leave a comment.



Friday, April 19, 2013

Newsflash: Social media is real life

Co-authored by Lisa Nielsen and Lisa Cooley

A recent Common Sense Media story about Facebook Home warns parents that the new Facebook Home app will be an ever-present distraction in the lives of young people. It states that as your teen's engagement with friends via Facebook goes up, engagement in the “real world” can go down.  

Adults need to wake up. We need to take a step back from the notion that online communication is interaction in a world that is not real or is somehow less valuable than face-to-face life.  This impulse to dismiss social media as a “distraction” is detrimental to both ourselves and our children.

Social media has come to be a modern day tool, just like those we use to build houses and cars. While you can, of course, build a house or assemble a car without machines, it would be hard, if not impossible, to run a successful company without doing so.  Likewise, in today’s world, if you want to run for office, run a business, or change how things are run where we live, work, or play, you probably use social media to do so effectively. Just like the machines that build our homes and cars, social media, has become the tool that makes college, career, or success in building a movement more attainable.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Know the "Other" side on Facebook

One of the best practices that I recommend for educators who are using Facebook with students is to create a group or a page where teachers and parents or students can connect, collaborate, and create. One of the nice things about groups and pages is they allow you to message members without having to be Facebook "friends" with them.  Recently however, a new twist has been put in place that innovative educators should be aware of. 

If you want to message a student with whom you are not friends, it will cost you a dollar for the message to go straight to their inbox as you can see from the below message. 


But not to worry. Here's how to get around the fee.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Preparing students for real-world financial success

Students often begin pursuing employment as early as high school, but they are not taught best practices when it comes to managing their money. Everyone should know how to make healthy financial decisions, yet it is rarely found in the high school curriculum. While the new Common Core Standards stress the importance of career readiness, it’s not clear in what context students would learn strategies for real world financial concerns--like staying out of debt and the benefits of having good credit.

Whether or not we are teaching this, students are watching it. It is not unusual for a young person to witness from their own family how smart choices can lead to a comfortable lifestyle or how one mistake with your personal finances can take years to erase. Knowing which is which can indeed lead to not only career, but also life, success. Despite the obvious necessity of this, it seems as though it is kept as some sort of secret, or in some cases, it is almost a shameful topic. The result is that in many cases neither families nor schools are helping students understand the importance of building credit, planning for the future or knowing how to think about life after work, how to save, or knowing when to take social security benefits.

Monday, April 15, 2013

#StuVoice Summit Recap via Twitter

The Student Voice movement was born and grown from using social media as a tool to connect like-minded individuals via weekly #StuVoice Twitter chats (8:30 p.m. EST), a Facebook Book Page to share and celebrate success, a Facebook Group to interact, and a website to get information.  The weekend, was the first ever Student Voice Summit. It provided an opportunity for individuals to see the faces of so many of the minds they had already gotten to know through their passion to give students a voice in the educational policies that affect them. The Student Voice, soon to become a non-profit, strives to create an international network of empowered students by providing them with the tools they need to use their voice in policy discussions.

Twitter provided a great way for attendees to interact, connect, make meaning of big ideas, and share them with the world.  Here is a recap.


Who are the Tweeps talking about Student Voice? Follow them!



How many Tweets?


What were the big words used at Student Voice Summit? 


Student Voice Images.

What were folks at the Student Voice Summit?  
Check out the hashtag #StuVoice and join the chat tonight at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Will you let an exam result decide your fate?

Has an exam ever changed, influenced, or decided your fate?

It has for me, and for many, exams have been the gatekeeper to experiences brilliant people close to me had hoped to pursue. An algebra exam kept one friend who has run a successful business for years from completing the a Bachelor's program she wanted to pursue. Two friends who have proven track records as education technology leaders were denied consideration for a doctorate program because of their GRE scores. A high school student renowned for his successful political activism was denied entrance to numerous colleges based on his SAT scores ALONE!

The insanity of it is brought to life by Suli Breaks. The talented young man who brought us the viral video, "Why I hate school, but love learning" is at it again, with his latest, "I won't let an exam result decide my fate." Breaks message to us is that these exams and the academic opportunities they promise are no longer the one and only way to achieve success. He inspires today's youth to think outside the exam and stop valuing that as an indication of what we are worth. He suggests we all take note of so many of those in our world, who pushed exams aside so they could move on and achieve their dreams. Watch Break's latest effort to inspire us to reconsider this destructive practice and forge new paths to success in his latest spoken word piece, "I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate."

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The hottest posts everyone's reading

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog this week. Below you’ll see the top weekly posts along with the number of pageviews. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired, share it with others and/or leave a comment.

Entry
Pageviews
Apr 9, 2013, 1 comment
2751
Mar 27, 2013, 7 comments
2013
Apr 7, 2013, 2 comments
1894
Apr 8, 2013, 3 comments
1820
Apr 3, 2013, 2 comments
1640
Apr 5, 2013, 2 comments
1604
Jul 15, 2010, 24 comments
1409
Dec 25, 2010, 3 comments
1237

Friday, April 12, 2013

Educators connect with students & parents using Voki animated avatar

With Voki (www.Voki.com) you can share a message using an animated avatar that talks. It is created using a student’s own voice recorded right from any phone. You can design the avatar’s appearance, add voice, and can get an embed code to pop it into any web2.0 compatible site (Wikis, Blogs, Facebook, Websites) or even powerpoint. The avatar moves and speaks based on what the caller says.

Not only does Voki provide a fun way to share information with parents but you can also capture anyone’s message with a cell phone. This means once you set up the Voki up on any computer you can hand phone to a student, teacher, principal or yourself to capture a powerful words and ideas to share.


Who's doing this?

  1. Greg Miller - Primary school principal Since Vokis are easily embeddable school staff often use Voki to record introduction messages for their school websites. For example, special education teacher Kim Gill embedded a Voki to welcome students and parents to their home page (http://teachers.wrdsb.ca/gillk). Primary school Principal Greg Miller recorded a personalized welcome message and embedded onto the school website.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Yeeah! #BammyAwards nominates The Innovative Educator

Well isn't this fabulous? While I was out nominating awesome folks from around the nation for the Bammy Awards, I opened up my own email to find the Bammy Nomination Committee had selected me for the Education Commentator/Blogger category. How cool is that?
Click here to check it out and vote.
If you haven't heard of the Bammy's, it is the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences Award.  "The Academy exists solely to recognize what is right in education by identifying, honoring and celebrating the collective contributions of professionals, paraprofessionals and support staff across the entire education community." 

Here is the nomination:
Lisa Nielsen thinks in very liberated and liberating ways about education. She pushes the envelope in the area of reinventing what schooling means, what the objectives should be and how do it. Outspoken and courageous, she has taken many bold and controversial positions based on her belief that educators and education must be reinvented to be relevant in a brave new, technology-driven world.
Lisa is a strong collaborator and works with many groups to help move education reform forward. It's hard not to be impressed by the extent to which Lisa will go to push others forward, to empower and support the people she believes are on the right track. Her passion, energy and bias for action puts her in the league of proactive bloggers/commentators who go beyond writing and speaking about education reform to actually organizing and acting to advance the reforms she believes are critical to the field of education. Thoughtful, way out of the box thinker, more than and idea person...a "doer."
Perhaps most important to me is the fact that each vote has a short statement by the voter. It's an amazing feeling to be praised for exactly those qualities that I value and strive for. This one comes from my friend and fellow-nominee, Lee Kolbert:
"Lisa is a truly innovative educator who clearly articulates that which the rest of us are thinking. She is very knowledgeable and courageous. She deserves this award."
I would be honored if any of you who have believed in, been inspired by, or taken action as a result of my words, showed your support by clicking this link, then registering or logging in with Facebook, and submiting your vote (and if you’d like, I'd love to read a statement from you as well).

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What's your digital footprint? Take this quiz and find out!


I developed this quiz with members of my personal learning network (found at end of post) to get students thinking about their digital footprint. The quiz was created at the request of high school students I spoke with who thought the creation of a such a quiz could lead to a smart conversation about ways students can update their digital footprint so that it is one that leads to college and career success.

Check it out with your students and let me know how it goes in the comments below. 


Per popular request, here is a link to the digital version of the quiz. Upon completion, quiz takers will receive a score.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

6 Reasons Why You Should Use 6 Laptops in Your Classroom




Guest post by Bradley Lands  | Cross posted at The Landscape of Learning

The 1:1 student to computer ratio initiative is a great goal for schools to have. I mean, what school would not want each of their students to have access to a personal laptop computer? The problem is that most schools can't afford to spend the kind of money that it takes to provide each student with a laptop, especially when the nation is trying to climb out of a recession. Moreover, lots of schools are not budging on their Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, preventing students from bringing their own technology devices to school such as their phones, ipods, tablets, e-readers and laptops.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tell educators #YouMatter. Place your #BammyAwards Vote!

Educator's make their way to the red carpet.
I'm in the purple dress with my boyfriend, back right.

Envision a world that values education like it values entertainment. That is the goal of The Bammy Awards. It’s time for The Bammy nominations, a cross-discipline honor that identifies and acknowledges the extraordinary work being done across the education field every day-- from teachers, principals and superintendents, to advocates, researchers, education journalists and parents.  The Bammy Awards were created to help reverse the negative national narrative that dominates the education field.


Now, you, the online community, have a chance to bring recognition to those we know, admire, and respect by placing a vote for the Educator's Voice Award to recognize the nominees that you believe are making a significant difference in the field.  Below are my first round of five nominations. Please take a look and if you like what you read, click that little “vote” link to find out more and vote for this person if you believe they should be honored.  


School Board - Lisa Cooley
Lisa Cooley brings real education change to the school board table. Her position on progressive education and opposition to high-stakes testing and standardization bring the wider world of school transformation to a rural New England school district. She brings her ideas on meaningful student learning to every aspect of school board activity, from the budget, to curriculum decisions, to student expulsion hearings.


Her goals are to bring students’ interests, passions, enjoyments and curiosities to their everyday work at school are why she should receive this recognition.


Vote for Lisa here.  
David Bernstein - Education Reporter
David is a passionate father of two sons both of whom have learning differences. He has become a prolific writer for such publications as the Washington Post and Education Week on education innovation and learning differences. Some of his thoughtful work includes this article in the the Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/02/06/is-school-reform-making-america-less-competitive/ and this from Education Week http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/04/03/27bernstein_ep.h32.html


You can vote for david here.
Kris Nielsen - Middle School Teacher of the Year
There are innovative educators in thousands of classrooms all across America. Having served as a middle grades educator and instructional leader for six years in New Mexico, Oregon, and North Carolina, Kris L. Nielsen is one of them.  Nielsen became frustrated as he watched political policies put in place that are strangling the drive and desire for educators to be the innovative class leaders they grew to be. As a result Nielsen was compelled to write Children of the Core www.childrenofthecore.com written with parents in mind, and with students as the inspiration. Nielsen says, “We--parents, students, and teachers--were promised a revolutionary new system that would narrow the achievement gaps in reading and math, create environments for deeper and critical thinking, and prepare our students for life, career, and college.  What we’re finding is that none of this is true.  It’s all totally opposite.”


Vote for Kris here.
Secondary School Principal - Chris Lehmann
Chris Lehmann not only talks the talk. He gets right in their and walks the walk...and in some cases, like when he does races with students, he'll run the run to keep up with his kids.


The best way to explain why Chris should be recognized is to share some of the talking that Chris walks in his own words:


  • "If you dare kids to do real stuff that matters, you better be prepared to get out of the way."
  • “Technology should be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.”
  • "I want kids to be "thoughtful, wise, passionate and kind."
  • "Schools can be places of great passion where students learn what it means to be scholar-activists, fully invested in authentic work that matters to them today, not someday."

When Chris is not talking the talk and walking the walk, he is writing about it. His blog (http://practicaltheory.org/blog) is a continual source of inspiration to educators, parents, and students around the globe.


Vote for Chris here.
Education School Professor - Mark Naison
Ever since the community history projects he was doing in Bronx Schools were pushed out to make room for high stakes testing, Mark Naison has been taking a stand to end the demonetization of teachers and restore what is best for students, staff, and parents who are a part of our schools. Naison is the funky fresh Fordham University professor known as Notorious PhD. He spreads his message via his blog “With a Brooklyn Accent” (http://withabrooklynaccent.blogspot.com); through his “Teachers Talk Back” listserve; and through the speeches and educational raps he gives at rallies and demonstrations in defense of public education. Check out his “Achievement Rap” which he performed here (http://youtu.be/IZfj5XMKVyc)at a “Save Our Schools” March.


His most recent initiative is a Teachers Oral History project (http://withabrooklynaccent.blogspot.com/2013/03/teacher-oral-history-project-to.html) that will document the damage that has been done to public education and  teachers professionalism in the age of high stakes tests.


Vote for Mark here!
Jessica Smock - Education Policy Research
Jessica served as a teacher and curriculum coordinator for more than a decade before turning to research and writing. She recently defended her doctoral dissertation about the educational experiences of African American female graduates of a nonprofit. Currently, her focus is related to the role of innovative programs and individuals to transform education. Specifically she has been looking at what can be learned from models such as home education that empower young people to learn outside school settings which you can read here http://gettingsmart.com/cms/edreformer/what-an-educator-learned-from-home-schooling-parents/


You can read more of her work on her blog, School of Smock (http://www.schoolofsmock.com)


Vote for Jessica here!
Jean McTavish, High School Principal
Jean Schutt McTavish is a unique school leader for her activism in ensuring our children have healthy bodies and minds. She gave up a considerable amount of office space to build a student kitchen where students can cook food that they have grown in the school’s garden and teaches a spin class at 7 a.m. three days a week. In addition to supporting the health and fitness of students’ bodies, she also works hard to support their minds. McTavish works to instill students with self confidence and the belief that they can do anything they set their minds to. Part of her work to instil confidence in students and ensure their success involves speaking out about the deleterious effects of high stakes testing on students who are most at risk in America. McTavish believes educational leaders must stand up for our children and will fearlessly call out any leader willing to sell out the education of children to advance their career. She speaks, writes, and acts to effect change in this area and opts her own children out of high stakes testing.
You can find her activism at Our Village, Our Schools
Vote for Jean here!
Me! Education Commenter / Blogger
I was excited to recently learn that I too was nominated for an award.  Exciting!!!


Here’s what the nomination said:
Lisa Nielsen thinks in very liberated and liberating ways about education. She pushes the envelope in the area of reinventing what schooling means, what the objectives should be and how do it. Outspoken and courageous, she has taken many bold and controversial positions based on her belief that educators and education must be reinvented to be relevant in a brave new, technology-driven world.


Lisa is a strong collaborator and works with many groups to help move education reform forward. It's hard not to be impressed by the extent to which Lisa will go to push others forward, to empower and support the people she believes are on the right track. Her passion, energy and bias for action puts her in the league of proactive bloggers/commentators who go beyond writing and speaking about education reform to actually organizing and acting to advance the reforms she believes are critical to the field of education. Thoughtful, way out of the box thinker, more than and idea person...a "doer."


Vote for me here :)
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