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12 Jan 2015
Comments: 3

Social-Emotional App-tivities that Really Work

WHS has embraced social emotional learning as a focus this year. Edutopia has done a fantastic job of delineating this topic further with “Self-Assessment Inspires Learning” and “Social and Emotional Learning Research Review“. Last week I posted a blog on the WHS Wifi site entitled, “Creative Risk Taking in the form of a Final” and shared it out with our parents and staff. This week I would like to go one step further and re-post this blog with a few more anecdotes for the greater edusphere…

Hybrid Exams

This past semester a few of the English II Pre-AP teachers offered a hybrid exam meshing both a paper as well as a digital presentation. As the presentation was not to be longer than a minute and to focus more on social-emotional self-analysis rather than the bells and whistles of a high end video production app, students selected the FREE Shadow Puppet EDU app to create their final product.

Digital Discoveries

I sat in on a few of the final presentations and took notes. Below are some of the digital discoveries that I gleaned:

  • Deeper Awareness of the Socio-Emotional: Meeting student’s social-emotional needs has been a focus with all content areas this year. While the video projects were all created using the same application, each one personally touched on a social-emotional self analysis with a text to self approach to Catcher in the Rye (the novel they had just finished). Many times we have students complete assignments but they don’t have ample time to reflect. As reflection and self-analysis were at the heart of this assignment, students had built-in time for students for self awareness. Within this forum, I noticed topical trends like transitioning, worry, future goals, stress, anxiety, lying, depression, isolation, introversion, bullying, perfectionism, adaptability, perseverance, performance anxiety, unrealistic expectations, responsibility, coping with change and death etc… and the coping mechanisms that many use to overcome these struggles. In HS, where these emotions and issues can seem heightened, I felt like this assignment really validated these sensitive issues. Some of the more poignant quotes were:
    • “Being a teenager is like testing the waters”
    • “You can’t change the future unless you change the now.”
  • The Power of Audience: Both Michele Benage and Lee Bergen mentioned that the power of sharing these projects with their classmates allowed for bonding and empathy (e.g. some students realized that they were not alone in their feelings and struggles and others felt like they had initially misjudged their peers without knowing the full story).
  • Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners: Due to the hybrid approach of this project (e.g. both an essay and a video), learners had the opportunity to articulate their voice in both written and visual form. I felt like this really met the needs of our group of learners. Some may be more articulate with words and others with visuals and this gave each student an opportunity to be successful in their own way. Additionally, those that suffered from performance anxiety – that would rather record their thoughts rather than stand and deliver had a venue to successfully convey their ideas behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight.
  • Polishing PresentationsWith any project, some presentations were better than others (both visually and content-wise). Truly, if we don’t give our students these types of presentations, they will never have an opportunity to improve in this arena. Additionally, by seeing their peer’s presentations, this allows students to note best practices for this form of content delivery. I also think there is power in providing an assignment that can not be easily pulled and replicated from an online source – a task that requires both self-analysis and the ability to create something that doesn’t already exist.

Student Exemplars

While observing the presentations during finals week, three students presentation stood out to share as exemplars for poignancy and creativity. Each of these students not only completed a thoughtful self-analysis but took a creative approach in the delivery… as they all included original artwork. Before I shared the examples I made sure that I permission from all 3 students as the content was of a personal nature:

Shadow Puppet

 

  • Catcher in the Rye: I loved that this student created all of their own illustrations in Adobe Illustrator and then incorporated them within his video.
  • It Takes a Listener: This student used a very creative and poignant approach to blending hand- drawn original images with 2D and 3D environments.
  • Hello Classmates: I enjoyed the questions that this one raised and the hand-drawn images.

Gleaning Creative Commons Images

Though most of the exemplars featured above include original art work, I did want to mention the power of the built-in Creative Commons image search available within the Shadow Puppet EDU app. It includes maps, landmarks, Library of Congress, Met Museum of Art, The British Library, NASA, NOAA, Web Images, Flickr Creative Commons, Wikimedia, and Open Clipart. When images are selected from the the built-in image search to be used within a project, Shadow Puppet automatically cites all of the images used within the work at the end of the video.

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Collection and Submission Logistics

Since Shadow Puppet publishes to a url, I suggested the easiest way to collect, organize, and view all of the student submissions proved would be with a Google Form (see example posted below). As this was the first year using this hybrid approach to a final exam, students had the option to allow permission of their project to be shared so future classes could have a possible model for the assignment in upcoming years.

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Reflections and Strategies

While I do enjoy showcasing these projects, I can’t help but add the lens of Instructional Technologist and my own reflections for future professional development needs…  similarly to as I did in the “iPad Project Plan“. As I reviewed the projects, I considered a few tweaks for next year…

  • Limit Non-Original Images: while the ones featured above did include original art work, there were many others that blended personal photos and stock images. Providing a limit of images that are non-original forces students to look inward and utilize personal or original images for the bulk of the project.
  • Collaborate with Counseling Department: I hesitate a bit with this one as the nature of this project is very personal and introspective. However, many times a student’s perspective can help another student going through the same issues. One thought was to have students work in conjunction with the counseling office to design posters or pamphlets with a QR code to their video to add an additional layer of purpose to the project by supporting their fellow classmates through similar issues.
  • Fleshing Out All of the Themes: This was an idea from Carolyn Foote @technolibrary. As this project was a final, there was not dedicated class time to circle back on these projects and flesh out themes (e.g. stress, depression, anxiety). Provided there were time to do this, pursuing a class discussion of all of the themes addressed in the student projects and how they could be linked back to the book would be a worthy activity.

Many thanks to Lee Bergen and Michele Benage for allowing me to “crash” their classes and share these in depth reflections and to our students for letting me share their work with others in hopes that it might inform and inspire!

 Support Resources

I have to tell you that I was truly impressed by the quality of work and introspection that was infused within these projects and feel like Shadow Puppet was the perfect tool to illuminate this type of assignment. I would be remissed if I did not share some of the excellent support resources that Shadow Puppet offers on their site to complete app-tivities! From classroom stories and lessons to printables… they really have thought of it all!

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.38.03 AM

 

 

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05 Jan 2015
Comments: 2

21+ Things Every 21st Century Blogger Should Do in 2015

I have been struggling with a post that will set the stage for 2015 and serve as a worthy inaugural nugget for the new year… and I finally happed upon it. The inspiration came from a blend of Carl Hooker’s “21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This School Year” and a tweet from a dear friend, Brianna Hodges, sharing her new site, “Educationally Techtastic” hot off the blog press. I found myself disseminating a few tips and best practices for blogging through a series of texts and next thing you know it I had drafted a list of 21 Blogging Do’s for the 21st Century Blogger.

Before I release the list, I wanted to share Brianna’s insight and a link to her own blog beginnings that I hope will serve as support and inspiration for you to create (or amplify) your own blog in 2015:

“I absolutely love being an educator and, as a lifelong learner, I am continually searching for inspiration & exemplars to incorporate in my classroom. One of those searches led me to TechChef4U and, there, I found my touchstone, my source of energy & innovation. I truly believe that we are at a pivotal moment in education and, in her blog, I found the perfect combination of creativity & practicality, sprinkled with a hefty dose of foresight & imagination. Moreover, Lisa helped me see that I can have a voice and a place at the EdTech table. I believe that we owe it to our students and children to help form tomorrow’s learning environment &, to do that, we need to share our experiences, ideas, failures, & successes. With that, my blog, educationallyTECHTastic, was born.” – Brianna Hodges

So here we go… can I get a drumroll? Or should it be a drumstick (#foodpun) 😉

Miami Device PD Recap (used with Evernote) #TechChef4u #iPad #Evernote

Truly, these are not in any order and not all necessary to accomplish at once. I do hope that they provide you with a festive feast of fresh ideas to make the leap to a blog or spruce up your own blog in 2015:

1. Choose a Template that you can Customize and Grow with…

When choosing a template and a blogging service, consider what widgets and themes are offered and if you can truly grow with the site over the years. Though my site has changed designs over the years, I am and will forever be a WordPress girl… this time I just had to shell out a little cash for their paid templates.

2. Buy Your Own URL

This is an easy thing to do. Sites like GoDaddy and 1 and 1 offer this service. Trust me www.techchef4u.com plays a lot nicer on a business card than www.techchef4u.wordpress.com.

3. Plugin Your Feeds

If you are social geek like me, then you most likely already have a Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Add these feeds using a plugin to your site so people that visit your site know how and where to connect with you further.

4. Test Your Contact Page

I say this with a bit of frustration as my current contact page had to be taken down and recoded and in its place is a Google Form. Contact Pages are very integral for people to communicate with you for a variety of reasons ranging from permission to use your work to possible collaborations. Always test your contact page (and have others do so too) and if it doesn’t work, then add another means to initiate email contact. It never hurts to add social media contact info here as well. (Truthfully, I am fifteen times faster at answering a tweet or DM than I am an email.) I really like Holly Clark’s contact page because it includes a form as well as additional means of contact.

5. Tag All Posts with Your Name

This is something I have “stolen” and adopted from George Couros. Many times we tag posts with relevant terms like #iPad or #EdTech but we don’t even think to tag with our own name. Tagging with your name helps with Search Engine Optimization as well as brand recognition.

6. Infuse Pictures of Yourself

I have read many a blog with paragraphs of text. Truly there is nothing wrong with text but I find the sites that share relevant content blended with pictures of themselves and their students during these projects tend to resonate better and deepen the text for those of us that are visual learners. These posts also pin better. 😉

7. Watermark your Images

I truly wish this was something I had done from the beginning. I have found my images floating all around the internet and Pinterest completely uncited with no way to find their way back to me. Matt Gomez does an excellent job of using the Signature Watermark Ultra WP plugin to add a special watermark using his own logo to each of his images. I also stumbled upon this Listly of 15 additional tools to watermark your images. Not only does this help with his branding but it allows people to find him and his work through his images as they are pinned and tweeted. Kevin Honeycutt takes this idea one step further and adds a personal quote to many of his images… they are called Honeyquotes!

8. Include a Disclaimer Statement

This is really key. When I started my first blog, it was considered “rogue” as it was not a district regulated website. To ensure there were no issues with my postings and my job, I added a simple disclaimer statement, “The content on this website in no way represents the opinions or beliefs of … district”.

9. Connect Content you Curate and Create

Many bloggers curate and create additional and supplementary content for their blog on other sites. Cathy Yenca not only blogs… she has a booming Teachers Pay Teachers store, an iBook, and a variety of Nearpod lesson bundles which are all directly linked from her site. People don’t automatically know what else you curate and create unless you share it so don’t be afraid to add this content as badges or even a tab on your site. Laura Moore of Learn Moore Stuff also does a fantastic job of connecting you with her other resources as she includes links to her bulb, Padlet, Smores, and much more on the right hand side of her site.

10. Add Links to Presentations, Videos, Podcasts, and Webinars

As you begin to prepare presentations and deliver webinars or even create videos for your class or school, share them on a tab on your site so others can get to better know you, your content, and your flavor. In the interim of cleaning up my site, I have posted all of my videos and webinars in a Pinterest board for easy access. If you don’t have speaking videos or webinars, consider posting video content that you have created. Both Carl Hooker and Dean Shareski do a most excellent job of blending their recorded speaking engagements with their own content ranging from Carl’s app smashes and iPad Orientations to music videos and to Dean’s workshop promos and success stories to his archived presentations and YouTube creation! The Langwitches genius, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, includes her latest slide decks as a panel on her main site.

11. Creative Commons Your Work and/or Your Site

As you begin to blog and create content and resources, it will inevitably be tweeted, reposted, downloaded, and repurposed. Providing a Creative Commons Attribution license on your site allows your audience to know exactly what they can and can’t do with your work. One can provide a blanket statement for all content on the site or an individual statement for each piece of work. The Creative Commons site easily allows you to create these licenses and even populates a custom embed code for your site. Kasey Bell has an excellent example of the blanket statement at the bottom of her Shake Up Learning site and I have included a singular license for this list after #21. Beth Still provides and excellent write-up on how sites can be perceived when they do not properly attribute work within the Creative Commons framework.

12. Share Both Your Failures and Your Successes

It is easy to share and celebrate our successes but much harder to make public our failures or lessons learned. Everyone fails… let’s face it and embrace it. One of my favorite bloggers truly tackles the tough conversations – she is bold and honest and never sugar coats the truth and I simply adore her candid thoughts on life and education. Her most recent posts “From Midway Negativity to a Positive Ending” and “Facing Insecurities: You Are More Than Enough” frankly address the struggles and obstacles so many of us quietly face and endure.

13. Don’t Be Afraid of Lists

I often shy away from lists because my O/C gets the best of me and I feel the list must be comprehensive before posting. That being said, there is a real time and place for lists. For some reason, we are drawn to numbers and the potential to see if we measure up or can relate to the list and so the power of the list is maintained. I was inspired by Carl’s “Top 10 Things Not to Do in a 1:1 iPad Initiative” and “21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This School Year” and recently wrote “11 Useful Tips for Managing iPads in the Classroom“, “6 Do’s and Don’ts for Secondary iPad Deployment and Support of New Initiatives” and “9 Must Read iPad Instructional Support Resources“. And I have to say there is nothing better than an infographic from the amazing talented Sean Junkins to revive or amplify even the finest of lists. I love how he put a spin on both Carl’s and my lists (scroll to the bottom of both posts to see the infographic). Another creative take on lists is the idea of dividing one in to reasonable time frames for completion as Ashley Cronin did with her New Things to Try in 2015: Things to try in 5 Days, 5 Weeks, and 5 months.

14. Break Up Text with Interactivity

As I mentioned in #6, images help others to connect with you and your content. With the fire hose of information at our very finger tips, we have become a society of scanners and skimmers. I find that I tend to glean more information from a blog that has some sort of interactivity to support or extend the content. Sites that embed beautifully into a blog and offer this type of interactivity range from Tackk and Haiku Deck to Thinglink and Listly (all embedded in posts linked above). Not only do those tools jive up your content, they drive traffic to your blog as they are also hosted on additional sites.

15. Provide a Link to your Blog on all of your Social Networks

This goes hand in hand with #3 and #10. Most of the traffic to my site comes from Pinterest and I want to ensure that people not only come to my site from the pins I post and curate but know how to connect directly from my boards. Any social network you maintain (e.g. Linkedin, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Thinglink, Snapguide, Scoop.it) should include both your brief bio as well as a link to your site so people can connect with your content no matter how they initially discovered you.

16. Build In Twitter Quote Widgets Within Your Posts

This is a recent development for me. I discovered the Tweet This WordPress Plugin on my brother-in-law’s site and have been itching for a way to begin incorporating it into mine. Essentially, the plugin allows you to build the content of a tweet for someone so all they have to do is go to your site and click on it and tweet it. If you build it… they may tweet it 😉 If you are interested in seeing this type of plugin in action, check out one of Book Creator’s most recent posts.

17. Proudly Display Badges

The design of my site makes it difficult to host badges next to my posts. This is something I am looking to remedy in the future. While bragging and boasting are bogus… celebrating accomplishments is important. An easy way to do this is to post badges. Jamie Forshey, Erin Klein, and Gwyneth Jones do a fantastic job of highlighting their achievements and badges on their sites. Badges can range from awards and nominations to blogs that you cross post too. An added bonus of cross-posting or blog tailgating is that you offer your content to a wider audience. Technology Tailgate is one of my favorite sites for this process and offers a special badge you can embed if you author content within their feed.

18. Provide Consistency with Images for Brand Recognition

For me variety is the spice of life and I tire easily with the same color schemes and fonts. Unfortunately, my need for diversity sometimes leads to confused branding and attribution. That being said, two of my counterparts have really carved out their niche within this realm. Kasey Bell’s Google Resources, Gwyneth Jones Comic TutorialsMathy Cathy’s Math Thinglinks, Brad Ovenell-Carter’s Sketch Notes, and Ryan Read’s App Dice are all recognizable and each contribute to a cohesively branded collection (wow – was that a nod to Project Runway?).

19. Provide Consistency with Content

People like to know what to expect and how frequently it will be posted. Richard Byrne does an excellent job with his Free Tech for Teachers site as most of his posts have a consistent framework which includes a summary and educational applications for each highlighted tool. Terri Eichholz is a shining example of consistency with  frequency of postings as her site Engage Their Minds typically releases a new post every day. While I am not a daily poster, I do try to provide some consistency to the time of day my posts are released by auto-scheduling them to publish at either 9:30 or 10:00 am CST.

20. Build Your PLN by Answering Where?

As people start to really connect and relish your content, they like to know where you will be (e.g. upcoming conferences or speaking engagements) so they can connect in person and or even attend one of your sessions. You can add this information on a separate tab or at the footer of your posts. Many conferences offer an “I’m Speaking at…” badge that you can add to your site as well.

21. Start a Trend or a Tradition

After blogging for a few years, I found myself in search of a little whimsy. Thus, I decided to start an alliteration collection of posts ranging from Marvelous Monday and Thought Leadership Tuesday to Wicked Good Wednesday and Freebie Friday. I didn’t post one of these each day of the week but I did try to post enough of them that people knew what to expect. In the same realm as a tradition of weekly alliteration, Technology Tailgate offers a Techie Tuesday Link Up where you can feature someone else’s content on your own blog and build off of it and then link back your thoughts to the main site.  Another fun trend in education is #hashtags. Consider starting your own or building off of a hashtag that can connect your content with others. Carl Hooker used #student4aday to share his reflections.

22. Share Your Why

This is a nod to Simon Sinek and a post I wrote earlier in the year. I started this blog almost 4 years ago and have crafted 315 posts since then. The blog has evolved as I have so this year I wanted to carefully craft my WHY for the blog and the content I share to ensure that I stayed true to the path and meant the needs of my audience in doing so. As you embark in to 2015, consider establishing a WHY or a mission statement for your blog to guide you in the future.

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Creative Commons License

“21 Things Every 21st Century Blogger Should Do in 2015” by Lisa Johnson @TechChef4u is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Bonus Blogging Tips

To be quite honest, I strived for 21 but ended up with a few extra so here goes: keep a notebook of ideas for posts, reduce the size of your images so your page loads faster, install a Pinterest widget so all of your images can be easily pinned, add a blog subscription so others can receive your latest scoop in their inbox rather than having to hunt it down, and make sure links within the post open in a new tab rather that redirecting your audience away from your post (this typically is a default for most WP blogs but that is not always the case for other blog hosting services). This list for me is a work in progress as there are a few I need to tweak in 2015 to amplify my own blog but thought there was no harm in sharing the ideas in advance of their completion.

Stop Being a Secret Genius…

As I am still on a bit of a professional development high from Miami Device and some of the epic quotables gleaned from that event, I thought I would leave you with a little inspiration from Kevin Honeycutt:

Add a little bit of body text-7

 

 

HAVE YOU SEEN THE LATEST TECHCHEF GAZETTE ISSUE? Preparing for Back to School and Beyond

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Where Will TechChef Be Next?

Contact TechChef4u to schedule Spring and Summer PD and Workshops: lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com or request booking here.