Wednesday, June 21, 2017

CORE Academy @Southeast Day 2 Recap #semocore

This morning was AWESOME. First, we started off with George Couros (@gcouros) speaking on Innovation. His presentation was incredibly engaging. Much like when I give keynote speeches, he talks fast! But, his integration of fast moving visuals, video clips, and his passion really made it so great to watch.

As always, I had out my paper and pen to make notes (I still old school prefer to write and then type up later) and scribbled away. As he became a new dad in August, he shared some of his life story with us and talked about how his child was born with internet access, YouTube, all kinds of technology as a given. Like breath. I think we often forget that. Kiddos come to school and are told to put away their critical connection to the world. He said that we live in a "culture of don't" and students are frequently just told what not to do. But, none of us are as engaging as YouTube and if given a choice between you and a great YouTube video, you may not be able to compete with that. But, if you have a good relationship, you will have a better result. I totally agree... I try really hard to build positive relations with my students. I'm sure I fail many times, but it's a priority for me.  Oh, and one more big takeaway--he said that social media (like Twitter) is literacy now and students need to learn how to use it or be considered illiterate (and adults too). I agree! (as a business teacher, it is difficult to teach some of this with so much blocked at school and it's a big part of business nowadays)

I digress, but man, it would be amazing to teach under the leadership of this guy!

Then, I attended his breakout session, which turned into an open forum. We had to ask questions in an online form, and he picked mine to answer (I'm not sure how thrilled I was about that... lol). I questioned him on how to better deal with cell phones in the classroom. I teach in a lab and trying to find the fine line between 'you can use your phone' and 'put it up' is difficult for me. I wanted some advice on how to better deal with it. I've asked my daughter, who is 15, about her feelings.. .and of course, I know that if "students are engaged they will tune in" but I also know they are teenagers and they experience great FOMO so phones can easily distract (and many are not mature enough to self-regulate). I had already planned to loosen up my policy for the next school year, but I just needed some help. His advice was basically to set the bar--tell them what you expect (you know they will be on SnapChat or Instagram, etc.) and that it is fine to use their technology for what they feel is suitable. But, that only works as long as their WORK meets a specific standard. So, if you are able to listen to me, learn the content, apply it... it's fine. If it's a distraction FOR YOU, then it's something we need to work on.

Well, I'm going to try! I hope it works. I suppose George can expect a report from me in August or September with how this works out! (and, let me tell you, I am terrified starting loose that I will be stuck the whole semester if they don't respond well to this, but I am going to give it a shot! Oh, and I am a "Desktop" person btw. Follow up: After the session, I found this interesting blog post about phones. Check it out.

Lunch was up next and we had students share technology things happening in their schools. It was a pleasure to hear them--I knew most of them since I am from around this area, but it's so nice to see students talking about the things they enjoy at school! One of my Advisory students even presented. How cool!

Finally, I attended Revolutionary Teaching with Josh Stumpenhorst. He was pretty honest about things. The math teachers in the room got a little upset with his statement that "I probably could have stopped after 4th grade math and been okay." But, the point was that from a content standpoint, a majority of what students learn in school, they will never use again.  A few phrases from him:
"School sucks for kids."
"You can't force a kid to do something they don't want to do."

He said that motivation is critical. And if we agree that most of what we teach students they won't use again, how do we teach it to them? There is a difference between motivating for compliance and motivating for learning. He said grades don't motivate students to learn (they motivate smart ones to comply) but positive feedback does (think social media likes). He talked about autonomy, homework, and other factors that help or hinder learning. His presentation was intended to ruffle some feathers (and it did ruffle some!) but it was a good reminder to review how you teach and why you do things the way you do them.

To end the day, I gave my own presentation on Multimedia tools. Check it out!

It was a fabulous conference and so energizing! If you didn't go this year, you have to go next year! :) Mark your calendar for June 19 & 20, 2018.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

CORE Academy @Southeast Day 1 Recap #semocore

I am a professional development junkie so of course I am spending a day of PD on the first day of summer! :)

My morning started off by dropping off my youngest at volleyball camp and then heading to get my Route 44 Diet Dr. Pepper before arriving at Southeast Missouri State University for the conference. After opening remarks and greetings, we had our keynote speaker who was FABULOUS-- Ron Clark!  Man, I would love to go to see his school and the enthusiasm that must exist there. He talked about how education should be "young, fun, sexy and hot" and not stale and boring. I loved when he talked about not being afraid to try things. "One day, they're gonna fix your hair and put you in a box" so use your time without fear. My three favorite takeaways, though--

1--If you are in a school or classroom where people aren't enthused, then you just have to be excited enough for everybody. Even when you're not really. :)

2--No one wants to hear you complain. He asked for people to raise their hand if they liked hearing complaining. No hands. We tolerate complaining. Don't be someone that people just tolerate.

3--We are all pushing a bus (your school). There are runners, joggers, walkers, and riders. The complainers are walkers. The runners work to improve things, regardless of recognition. Be a runner. They keep the bus moving.

As I am writing this reflection, my speaker for this session just answered her phone.. hubby calls during a presentation. Classic. Oh, technology!

Then, we had lunch. I went outside because it was freezing.

Afternoon sessions I selected included:

A-- Google, Starbucks and Optimus Prime. This was GREAT. Greg Lawrence is a fabulous presenter full of knowledge about Google and so much more. He spent a good deal of time highlighting Google Keep features (did you know you can record a note and it will transcribe it?? COOL) and mentioned various other Google tools. I like how Google Keep can be used on your phone to record audio and then you can open it and download the audio file on the PC. Check out his presentation. Five stars!

B--Future Driven Learning.  Rough start for this presenter... his keyboard wouldn't work and we had some issues getting started (not his fault!). But, it was a solid presentation. David Geurin is super active on Twitter, so it was neat to hear him speak in person. He talked about making sure we are preparing students for the future and that our schools are "time machines" and not "time capsules." He gave me a few cool ideas--he sends a Smore newsletter out to parents with a video. I think I'll do this for school this fall. He also talked about having a Grandparent Help Desk night where students were there to answer tech questions for senior citizens. That would be a great idea for my students to try. I might look into it.

C--Burning the Learning at Both Ends. Julie Gambill is a junior high teacher who really doesn't like basketball (ha!).  She teaches English and uses Macs, so she talked about iMovie (and I'm not an Apple person) but mostly she shared some video project examples her LA kiddos did. You can tell she really loves her students. She mentioned a Six Word Story (inspired by Don Goble) that I might use in my Multimedia class this fall.

I'm looking forward to more learning tomorrow! Hope your summer is going well and that you are LEARNING something!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Let's Play Cards in Class! Microsoft Office Spoons downloadable! #busedu @MicrosoftEDU

My Advanced Computer Applications students, who learn Microsoft Office, are getting close to being finished for the year. We've covered all the content, they've finished final projects, nearly all are certified in at least one Microsoft application, and they are doing GMetrix review and trying to certify in another application this week. So, Monday and Tuesday I'm just not sure what to do with them! We are in school until Friday, we'll review on Wed/Thursday, but there's just extra time to fill.

I asked for feedback yesterday and, naturally, they wanted to watch a movie. Um, not really any good movies out there about spreadsheets or databases. Another student jokingly said, "Let's just play Spoons. That's fun."

Yeah, fun. But not related to curriculum.  Or is it?

So, I decided perhaps if I made some Microsoft Office playing cards, we could play Spoons. But, still, there needed to be some sort of "reason" for it. Got it!

I found this blog post from Jennifer Findley. She did this in her class as a review activity!

Then, I found a template at the Bright Hub for playing cards in Microsoft Word. Finally, I Googled some logos and took screenshots from various Microsoft applications--Word, Access, PowerPoint, Excel, and Edge (the browser) and pasted them in to create 52 cards. I printed on card stock and just sent my student aide down to cut them apart for me. We will make two sets of cards (I only have 11 students left in the class after seniors leave, so that will do). And, I found some little flag stickers so I can put a sticker on the back of each card in the set to keep them separated.

What did I create?

  • 4 Word screenshots, 8 Excel screenshots, 4 Edge screenshots, 4 Access screenshots, and 8 PowerPoint screenshots. Students would just pass cards to find a matching number, like in "real Spoons" but will find the four Word screenshots or four of the Excel screenshots, etc. 
  • 4 playing cards of the logos for Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Edge, and Office. Those cards will just be straight logos, so that should be pretty simple (of course, this might be deceptively easy as two people might both be holding on to the "easy" Word logos. That would just be a straight match like the other version of Spoons.
  • They will play like normal, passing cards and trying to find the screenshot matches or logo matches.
  • Whoever is "out" must first say "Prove it" to the person who "won" and went out first. They will put their cards down and everyone will collectively decide if they do indeed have a correct match (and I printed an extra copy of the cards originals pages and stapled them and marked W, E, P, etc., so they can double check it for the screenshots). If matches are incorrect, they are now "out" instead.
  • Whoever is "out" and doesn't get a spoon will have to explain something from one of their cards in their hands. So, if you have the Print dialog box from PowerPoint, you would say something like, you can set this to print handouts 6 per page from this in PowerPoint. 
  • Then, they shuffle, re-deal, and play again. You could keep score of winners or negative scores on the "loser" each round. Up to you.
Think this might work for your kiddos? Feel free to download my PDF from Google and create your own set. 

UPDATE: We played, they enjoyed, and we tried different versions (have to have one of Word/Excel/Access/PPT was one derivative). They wanted to play where the loser goes out, so that's how we did it. However, I think I need to just write on the back of the cards... the stickers kept falling off!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Snapchat Geo-Filters--- SO EASY! #busedu

Today is my daughter's 11th birthday. As a "tech mom" I felt compelled to do something cool this year--get her a Snapchat filter at our house and on our "cul de sac" so that her friends at her party will be able to use "her filter" (and it went live this morning!).

I spent under $20 (for around 20,000 square feet area and it runs from 7 AM on Thursday until noon on Saturday) and it literally couldn't be any easier. You go here at the Snapchat website and perform three steps-- Design, Map, and Buy.

They have templates now, so designing can be done on their website. I mean, EASY. I didn't use the templates, but you could do that simply. Or, you can create your own in Photoshop, Illustrator, or other software (or even free using Pixlr, PicMonkey, or Canva--note that now you have to have Canva for business to export transparent PNG but you can take it to LunaPic or another site to make the background transparent). The main trick is that you have to follow their rules (can't use hashtags, photos, logos that aren't yours, phone numbers/URLs/personal info, etc.) and save as transparent PNG with 1080x1920 size.

Sounds like a fun class project, but their terms and conditions do require you to be 18 to order an on-demand filter, so just be aware of that. However, just creating one and not actually uploading it to Snapchat might be a fun end of year project! They could create for an event at school or for their own event! Maybe even have them design a few different options.

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**My students would not be able to get on the Snapchat site since it's blocked on school devices, but on the scoring guide, I pasted the text of the guidelines for if they were going to submit it. Certainly, they can take their PNG home and upload with parental permission if they really wanted to purchase a design.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Web Design Documentary for your class! @elefontpress #busedu

As I was looking for something to finish off my year in my advanced Web Design class, I ran across a documentary that details somewhat of the evolution of the web. I found it fascinating (and probably advanced students would as well... not a lot of bells and whistles as it is a documentary, but it features lots of important "web" people). What Comes Next Is the Future was created by Bearded founder Matt Griffin. It is the story of "Tim Berners-Lee’s creation – how it came to be, where it’s been, and where it’s going – as told by the people who build it."

What Comes Next Is the Future (2016) from Bearded Studio on Vimeo.

Of course, I feel like I LIVED this documentary. I decided to teach myself to code back in 1993 when I was in college. Back in the days of Mosaic and Webcrawler and Netscape. And, the video really talks about how the first WWW was more about delivering information. We didn't care so much about how it looked. Then, we did. Flash came, things got Flashy...

But, then devices and phones and big screens and small screens happened. Oh, and iPhones. Things changed. Designers were confused and fumbling.

As an incentive to get you to watch this video (watch it if you teach web design, especially if you are around my age in the 40-50s since you will really appreciate the history), I have created a viewing guide you can use with your class. I intend to divide the video into two days, probably. I want to have discussion before we begin and then some afterward about some of the topics.

Here's the viewing guide. It will prompt you to make a copy, so feel free to edit as you see fit. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spreadsheet humor? Kind of... #busedu #excel

As I had surgery yesterday, I began my "few weeks leave" for recovery today and (naturally) am sitting here on my laptop looking for business teacher fun... don't worry, I'll switch to Netflix later.

Anyway, I ran across (brace yourself) a stand-up comedy routine about SPREADSHEETS! Okay, it's probably not the most hilarious thing ever, but this time of year, sometimes we do have students out for testing or lots of students out for field trips and it's nice to have a few "somewhat related" activities for those days. Perhaps this could be one. Let's face it, there aren't many "movies" that you can watch in Microsoft Office class (oh to be a science or social studies teacher, right?).

Check out Matt Parker's video (he loves math)--

In his YouTube description, he has a neat little application where you can upload an image and it will convert your photo into a spreadsheet. Here's mine: (goes all the way over to column DW!)

Yes, he turns the word SELFIE into EXCEL-FIE. :) Enjoy!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Google Chrome font issue... #busedu #gafe

So, numerous students this year have had a strange issue where their font on Google search results, Google forums, and other pages are light and italic. It does not follow the user to other computers, and I have been plagued all semester with students randomly having this issue.

Today, I finally decided I was going to tackle the problem head on (I'm on break and surgery tomorrow so I'm about to have a few weeks off)! I have Googled my heart out before, but I was bound and determined to get to the bottom of it.

My workflow--

1--Google. And read Google forums. Several had this issue and some recommended Chrome extensions or uninstalling Helvetica fonts. I didn't love that idea. Next.

2--I had a thought (the web design teacher in me) that maybe I should try "inspect element" on that italics font and see if I could find WHAT FONT was the issue. In that process, I isolated Roboto to be the offender. On two machines I tested that I  knew students had issues (one was light and italic and one was actually bold) I found that they each had one version of Roboto font (for one, italic and light and for the other, the dark "black" version of the font). Hmm. On a whim, I looked at a computer that worked fine... it didn't have Roboto font installed at all.

3--On the "light font" computer, I installed Roboto font and tried to figure out which (it had tons of variations) specific font it needed to display properly. Apparently it just uses "the only" Roboto font (and why Google chose that, I do not know... it doesn't roll down the font stack and sub with Helvetica or Arial or generic sans-serif. Instead, it just uses any old Roboto) that is on the machine. So, I downloaded and installed Roboto-Medium (you can grab it here).

That worked! Yay! Celebration!

I actually left off that I tried Roboto-Regular and Roboto-Medium and then cleared the cache (Control+Shift+Delete in Chrome and only check "cached images and files" and apply). That worked, too, but I don't think you actually need both or need to clear the cache if you get the "right Roboto" in the mix.

NOTE: My students do have rights to install font since we do graphics in my class, so probably if you are locked down, you won't have this issue... but you never know!

Anyway, I feel accomplished today. And, maybe someone else has had this same issue, so hope it helps you!