The Learning Pond

I’ve been following a blog called The Learning Pond. It’s not about technology. It’s about innovation. I think we sometimes confuse the two. In his blog Grant Lichtman writes about what he finds that is truly innovative in education as he travels the country visiting more that 60 K-12 schools. A central focus is how schools are addressing 21st Century Skills. Lichtman’s documentation of these visits gives the rest of us an opportunity to see what the possibilities are. Whether it’s a program in global engagement at The Collegiate School, or the inquiry-based technology-rich curriculum at The School at Columbia University, or the truly inter-disciplinary Meridian Academy in Boston (my personal favorite), there is so much to consider. You may find a school with which you would like to connect and further explore their program or you may get an idea for something you would like to try here at Summit. So if you have some time on Friday, dive into the The Learning Pond.

K12 Online Conference

The annual K12 Online Conference started Monday and runs through Friday, November 2. Here’s how the organization describes themselves: “This is a FREE, online conference open to ANYONE organized by educators for educators around the world interested in integrating emerging technologies into classroom practice. A goal of the conference (among several) is to help educators make sense of and meet the needs of a continually changing learning landscape.”

I always get good material from this though rarely catch a live presentation. The group conscientiously posts them online soon after they have aired. I just watched one on Going One-to-One. There is a healthy dose of technology, but that’s not all there is. Here are a few topics:
Launching Learning (Project-Based Learning)
Teaching Art in a Technology Rich and Connected Classroom
A Digital Journey with Primary Students and No Budget
Digital Tools for Differentiating Vocabulary Instruction
Using Writing to empower students to participate in a global community

Click here to view the full schedule and links to recorded presentations. The presentations are also available through iTunes U. Each runs about 15-20 minutes. There is also a fairly substantial archive of presentations from previous years.

Edutopia

This week I want to spotlight one of my favorite resources, Edutopia. Edutopia was established by the George Lucas (think Star Wars) Educational Foundation and is dedicated to “growing a movement of change agents who share best practices and professional development to bring innovation to education and improve student achievement.” Edutopia is not just about using technology but instead seeking out inspiring programs that show how K-12 education can be better. As we move toward forming our PLC’s, I think this a resource to consider.

On their site you can
1) search by grade level for resources and other educators with whom to connect,
2) search a video and resource library of “Schools that Work” and explore the strategies they employ,
3) follow various blogs that address topics ranging from Brain-Based Learning to a Five-Minute Film Festival to New Teacher Support,
4) connect with other educators on a variety of topics (Special Ed, Art/Music/Drama, STEM are a few) through Community Discussions,
5) download free classroom guides. You have to join Edutopia to do this, but it’s free. I just read through their Six Tips for Brain-Based Learning and recommend it. It goes right along with our study of Brain Rules and Mindsets (the article even cites Medina and Dweck).

Apps to Consider

A few weeks ago I referenced a blog post on great tech tools from edtechteacher. This time I’m referencing the same blog but a different post. On the edtechteacher blog they have categorized, described, and rated a variety of apps. Again, what I like about their organization of apps is the emphasis on learning objectives, not the apps themselves. Full disclosure, there are many apps listed here that I have not tried and not all of these apps are free. If you have tried any of these apps and would like to share a review, please feel free to post here.

Google Drive

Back in April, Google introduced Google Drive. I imagine most of you have made the transition from Google Docs to Google Drive, though I have come across a few holdouts. If you haven’t converted to Drive, I encourage you to do so.

There are basically three layers to the new Google Drive:
1) the web version that replaces Google Docs,
2) the mac or pc app that acts like a folder on your desktop (think Dropbox if you are familiar with that),
3) the mobile app that lets you access and edit files from your phone or tablet.

So here’s what you gain with Google Drive:

  • When you use Google Drive you are storing your documents in the cloud. What does that mean? It means you can access your documents from any computer device that lets you log in to your Google account. Your documents aren’t just on your computer. It also means that you have a back-up of those files in case something happens to your computer, phone, or tablet.
  • Upload and access your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs, even word documents. You can install Google Drive on your computer (this is a step beyond just using the Google Drive tweb version hat is attached to your Gmail) and then easily add files from your computer to your Google Drive account. If you’ve used Dropbox or Sugarsync they work basically the same way.
  • Access these files from any computer or mobile device. Download the Google Drive app to your iphone, ipad, or android. Log in once with your username and password and view your files. Easily upload photos or videos from your phone to your Google Drive account.
  • Within the last couple of weeks, Google has updated the Drive app so you can edit your Google Docs on these mobile devices. Though formatting is limited, this is a long-awaited feature. Google says you will soon be able to attach files from Drive directly to emails in Gmail.

You can still share files for collaboration, but with these recent changes Drive makes it easier to collaborate on more files using more devices.