Sunday, August 10, 2014

Learning to Sketchnote

This summer, I was introduced to sketchnoting and challenged to incorporate  the concept of sketchnoting as a means of note taking.  Sketchnoting is the process of creating a personal visual story while listening, reading, or recording an experience as it happens or on a later date.

Sketchnoting brings in a variety of cognitive processes, increasing the connection between speaker and listener due to the engagement needed to listen intently while synthesizing the spoken word into drawings and short narratives.  I decided to to take the challenge seriously.

The first lesson was to watch a video titled "A Sketchnote Primer" by Brad Ovenell-Carter. (See at bottom of post.)  One of the first points emphasized in the video was the need to let go of the idea that only a person with artistic skills could be successful at sketchnoting.  In fact, with a view basic design principals. The skill of sketchnoting will grow with practice.

And so I began to learn about the basics of text, labels and simple drawing details that would bring figures and inanimate objects to life on blank paper.  And I practiced. 

An important side note:  I am not, nor have ever considered myself, an artist.

My first experience with sketchnoting as a serious attempt in capturing a speaker's details was met with failure and an immediate return to what I knew how to do best, traditional note taking in which I act as a shorthand secretary attempting to capture as much of the story I was hearing.  Would I go back over the notes later and review details?  Perhaps. 
Remember, I had been asked to put on my learner hat for the week and so, despite my first attempt ending in failure, I decided to try again as soon as the next opportunity arose.   I didn't wait long.

This time I met an increased level of success.  I still had issues with the drawings that weren't satisfying to me overall.  We were also asked to share our sketchnotes publicly on Twitter, thus making our learning process public. (You can find them by searching for #adesketchnote on Twitter.) The confidence I received from others when they favorited even my most basic of sketchnoters was staggering.

Sharing made me feel good and gave me an increased desire to improve my skill. So I asked questions.  A lot of them - to anyone who would listen.
And those who we're accepting the challenge, learning right along with me but perhaps a little further along, taught me additional skills that soon brought my competences to the next level.  That felt good!  I couldn't have been more pleased with my next sketchnote.
Upon review, I was able to vividly recount the story being told by the speaker, Lisa Jackson, head of Apple's Environmental division and former head of the EPA for the United States of America.

And then, something amazing happened.  During a lunch, someone who was beginning to delve into sketchnoting asked me to teach them what I had learned.  This provided me with an opportunity to share my level of mastery on the subject and teach others what I had learned.  I believe this is where true demonstration of learning happens and the feeling was magnificent.  Not only the individual forever grateful for the time I had invested in her development, but I felt good, as if I was making the world, or a piece of someone's world, just that much brighter.

I'm continuing my study of sketchnoting by continuing to practice drawing basics through recaps of story and significant events.  Since sharing the concept of sketchnoting with others, several teachers have asked me to come in and run a primer for both themselves and their students during the first week of school.  And though my skill level is still quite basic, I know the only way to grow and improve is to continue to practice and share my experiences with a broader, global community of sketchnoters, both experts and budding sketchnoters.

Additional Notes:
A good stylus goes a long way.  If you don't have a stylus available, hold your pointer finger as if it were a pencil.  You'll be surprised at the gained dexterity.

I used a variety of Apps but ended up purchasing all of Paper by 53’s In-App purchases.  The trouble is this isn't a viable solution for schools purchasing apps through the VPP.  Explain Everything may be a viable alternative in addition to the variety of drawing and note taking apps available.

Watch the video that introduced me to the concept of sketchnoting.

Friday, July 25, 2014

ADE Institute Take-Aways

Nearly a week has gone by and I'm sitting at my desk, reflecting on the amazing week I had in San Diego with a heavy heart.  I miss my ADE Global Community terribly.  The week at Institute was unlike anything I ever imagined.  That's because the minute I arrived at the airport in San Diego I felt valued and appreciated for my contributions to education.  That sense of appreciation remained all week.  So thank you, Max, Don, Ivey, AP, Jason, the ADE Board, and all the Apple Staff who so carefully crafted an incredible week to honor and celebrate the work of educators.  Because of you I was able to reconnect with old friends and meet new ADEs from all over the world.  I was able to further develop my understanding of transformational pedagogy.  You have all  become my family.  Relationship, I have grown to learn, is key in building and transforming learning environments.  That's because without sharing, learning has no where to go.

Below are a few of my take-aways from the ADE Institute in no particular order.  Enjoy.

A Theme Goes a Long Way
The theme for the ADE Institute was Change Over Time.  This theme was integrated into each and every experience Apple organized for us.  Before arrival, we preloaded our iPads with iTunes U courses, iBooks, apps and content that would allow us to easily navigate the week and interact with materials and each other.  Every speaker, from Apple staff to guest lectures to park rangers incorporated some form of Change Over Time into their presentations.  Our skills changed over time as we were introduced to new concepts such as sketchnoting, the process of creating a personal visual story while listening to a speaker, reading, or recording an experience changed over time.  I became more proficient at the skill.  The intentional weaving of the theme into learning experiences was no accident.  Note to self - always be conscious of this as I develop content.

Practice What I Preach
Every educator should put a learning hat on and immerse themselves in a PD experience using the pedagogies and technologies that transform education. 
At the institute, we used iBooks relevant to the theme, Change Over Time.  We downloaded an iBook to provide background information about La Jolla Cove prior to visiting the cove and taking a self-guided walk of the area.  This iBook provided information about plants, geology, birds, marine life and the cultural history (changing through time,) of the area prior to us experiencing the beauty of La Jolla.  Off site visits provided authenticity to the Change Over Time theme, validating the learning experience.  Expectations and access to information to further my study were provided in the iTunes U course.  Using a variety of applications to both document the experiences and research further, we then shared our learning experiences in a variety of social media platforms, taking the learning global.  Reflection and challenges were built into the process. 
I’ve been practicing and encouraging transformational teaching for several years but have never been a learner in this model.  Wow!  Each and every PD course I create will be sure to emulate my experience at ADE Institute.

Share, connect, develop relationships and grow.  When we take our learning to a global level and reach out and participate in a diverse, growing arena of learning we continue to grow and learn from each other.  Our ideas resonate, grow roots and develop into ideas that spawn amazing experiences for our students. 
At the ADE Institute we were given permission, and time, to build relationships, converse, laugh, play, and work together.  This creates a community of learners who are free to dream and innovate.

Do something with knowledge gained so it continues to grow.  When you create and share, even from
a reflective point, you place a stamp on the world that wasn’t there before and your feeling of importance grows.  Belonging and importance are essential needs of every human being.   I created and shared sketchnotes via twitter and shared images I took via Flickr - all of which connected me to others willing to take risks and share what they were learning and doing.  My upcoming goal will be to tell my ADE Institute story through video and then to create an iTunes U course related to 20% time in the classroom.  Don't worry, I'll share them :-).
Create good content too - keep it rigorous, don't dumb it down.  Ed Olson Wilson, the creator of the Life on Earth iBooks series states:  teach the subject of science from the top down not the bottom up.  Create curiosity by asking really good questions and build that into your instruction.  Drew Barry, the molecular biologist and individual responsible for creating the amazing animations in the Life on Earth series emphasizes the need to never dumb the science down but instead to edit the tasks to accommodate all learners. 

Communicate - Globally
Take advantage of every opportunity to meet someone new, interact with experts, listen, ask questions, and share.  The more you do this the better you become at this.  Even the introvert inside me has grown to appreciate and value the art of communication.  Today there are so many avenues for expression and communication - public speaking, blogging, photo journalism, video, etc…

Think Critically
Always!  Ask questions, reflect, evaluate, find relationships and do this with vigor.  Be curious and investigate.  Grow grit!

Take time to celebrate everything, successes and failures.  When teachers try something new, celebrate, regardless of outcome.  Recognize that success comes from failure and celebrate that too!  Celebrate a job well done, an accomplishment, an effort.  Find joy.

Friday, July 11, 2014

On My Way - Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute 2014

The excitement is building once again as I prepare to attend my second Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Institute.  This year is special as it marks the 20th anniversary of the Apple Distinguished Educator Program.  The week consists of powerful opportunities for collaboration and ongoing professional growth as ADEs from all over the world come together to work, learn and share from experts and each other.  This is a group of super heroes and I feel incredibly fortunate to be learning side by side with them.  It's an intense week!

Apple Distinguished Educators are Advocates for Apple technologies.  They are Advisors and spend a great deal of time working with other educators inspiring and integrating instructional technologies.  ADEs Author content as it relates to teaching, learning and leadership and publicly share this content with their peers and colleagues.  And, Apple Distinguished Educators are Ambassadors, redesigning teaching and learning practices by expanding classroom walls to embrace the global community.  We're innovators who are always trying something new and different to provide an engaging and authentic learning environment for all involved. 

I can't wait!

Share Everything - Open Educational Resources

I'm a fan of Learning Management Systems.  A good LMS provides teachers and learners with the ability to curate and house content in a convenient, online location.  Learners gain access to relevant content and information and may easily connect with members of the classroom community. 

Robert Fulgham reminds us to "share everything" in his book/poem, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." Yet, as we continue to progress and talk about the need for Open Educational Resources that are free, an increasing number of schools are moving to paid LMS systems that require school specific usernames and passwords. 

Teachers and students are creating amazing lessons.  Locking up this work behind walls hidden inside a password protected LMS makes no sense.  This practice forces many teachers to reinvent the wheel and continue to hide inside the walls of their classrooms.  21st Century Teaching and Learning emphasizes the need to tear down these walls and connect with one another.  I encourage schools and educators to use platforms that encourage the sharing of educational content so that everyone may benefit from lessons created together.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Personalized Learning

We are constantly looking to provide classroom environments that are active, constructive, collaborative in nature,  authentic and goal directed in which students own their learning and are pivotal members of the classroom community.  Shifting teaching practices away from teacher directed learning toward student facilitated learning is becoming an expectation of all teachers because it places the focus on learning where it should always be - on the student.  The information age is here, in the hands of students, 24/7.  As teachers, we need to understand and embrace the fact that content is no longer confined to those who have studied at university.  The learning opportunities are immense and available for everyone who knows where to find the information.  We will capture learners by providing engaging learning opportunities that are personalized to meet each learner's individual needs.

So, how do we begin to create these personalized learning environments in our classrooms?
  1. Have learners develop Personal Learning Profiles, a concept developed by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClasky.  An important first step is understanding how each and everyone learns.  Learning is broken down into the what, how and and why of learning.  We all employ different methods and techniques to access, engage and demonstrate our understanding of new information. 
  2. Unpack the standards with your students every year.  It is just as important for learners to know and understand what is expected of them.
  3. With the learner, customize a learning plan to suit interests, needs and prior knowledge. This is where the learner can form essential questions.
  4. Document the journey transparently.  Learners should document their progress in a collaborative manner to make  to monitor and share progress as well as to solicit feedback.  Blogs, google sheets, and online spaces are excellent tools.  Teachers, too, should have a public space for expectations, communications and suggested resources. Learners should be documenting action steps for acquiring new knowledge, the practice opportunities they employ and their methods of demonstrating new knowledge. 
  5. Share excellence.  Students need to have anchors for competencies.  Moonshots here!
  6. Remember to teach strategies for learning new information.
If you're not ready to completely transform your classroom to a personalized environment, try approaching personalized learning from one of the following:
  • Innovation Day- Take a day on your team, department or school and designate it "Innovation Day," and let students choose what they want to learn that day.
  • Genius Hour aka 20% Time (View Examples) - Employ a similar strategy to our Summer Institute course by designating 20% of the time, either daily or once a week, to allow students to work on their personalized learning goals.
Most importantly, try something new.  Transforming educational practices isn't about doing what we've always done.  It's about employing practices that shift the ownership of learning from the teacher to the student, by creating classroom environments that are alive with conversation and discussion around authentic and engaging topics and by empowering learners to pursue their passions, interests and their future.

The time for a moonshot is now!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer Institute

The fourth MSSD Summer Institute is in full swing in Manitou Springs.  The shift in thinking as we move from a teacher-centered to a student-centered classroom that places the learner firmly at the center of the learning process requires time and support. The Summer Institute is a professional development opportunity made available for teachers who are incorporating this philosophy in their curricula.  

This summer, we will be investigating iTunes U and iBooks Author as course content delivery tools to bring content to students.

This PD model follows the 80/20 model many innovative companies use int heir work week, only in reverse.  Basically, the teacher chooses the content creation delivery platform, (iTunes U, Wiki/Blog or iBooks Author) and spends ~80% of their time developing this platform to the specific needs of their classroom.  The additional 20% time is spent exploring a variety of topics and participated in dialogue centered around personal growth and emerging technologies.

In a nutshel, Summer Institute provides the following:

  • Opportunity for self-directed learning
  • In-depth, personalized study drawing on knowledge areas and interests
  • Create a culture of peer accountability through dialogue and discussion.
You can download the course and check it out yourself from iTunes U on an iOS device.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

iTunes U at MSSD

iTunes U is a section of the iTunes store featuring educational content and lectures from schools around the globe.  Originally, iTunes U consisted of content created to provide access to courses from leading universities.  K-12 organizations weren't far behind and now, iTunes U hosts the largest digital catalog of free educational content.  The iTunes U app gives a user access to complete courses from leading universities and other schools.
Manitou Springs School District on iTunes U was launched in April of 2014.  The iTunes U site provides the district with a supplemental way to widely distribute course content that convey the academic opportunities at MSSD.  
iTunes U presents a streamlined platform for all users.  
Use the iTunes U app to access the iTunes U catalog. Tap the iTunes U icon and your bookshelf appears. In the upper corner, tap the Catalog button and the bookshelf flips around to reveal the iTunes U catalog.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Project Based Learning via Media Center Mural Project

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to redesign a high school media center space to better meet the needs of modern learners.  Equipment and furniture were ordered to accommodate the need for the creation and movement of spaces to reflect individual and group needs.  Existing media was reorganized.  Apple TVs with both projectors and large screen televisions were added to some of the wall space, allowing several groups at a time to display their devices for a larger crowd.  Though the space looked new, it was still being defined by section titles mounted above the book shelves.

The section titles were crafted from wood block lettering and described the print sections of the space.  These signs were large and reflected a very solid, strict and static space.

Our goal was to incorporate the idea of movement into the space, an important characteristic of media in the 21st Century.  Knowledge and news are always changing from day to day, minute to minute.  We wanted the media center to reflect the changes occurring in a modern world yet be grounded with a solid foundation.  We wanted visitors to feel connected to the space by relating to images from the past, regardless of section.

I approached Deb Brewster, the high school art teacher at Manitou Springs High School, to see if she might have a student in mind to tackle an independent study mural project for the media center.  She smiled and a week later introduced me to Camille, a senior at MSHS.

Camille was set to graduate in December but delayed her graduation date to take on this project.  We met, I explained my needs and goals and Camille set to work.  What was to happen over the course of next few months was magical, the essence of project based learning because it gave Camille an authentic learning experience that produced meaningful work that would reach out to audiences long after the project was complete. 

Below are Camille's murals and excerpts from an interview with Camille summarizing her project work:

Describe your project
The project consisted of three murals encompassing the three sections of the Manitou Springs High School library.  The murals are visual collages to touch on every facet of the section and to bring alive the section titles.  The goal was to visually define the words reference, non-fiction, and fiction through painting.  The medium used was acrylic paint on board.
The color continuity on the murals was something I worked hard to balance.  I wanted all three pieces to be cohesive yet I wanted the color scheme in each piece to emphasize the purpose of the word.  You'll notice the sky starts out dark and gets lighter as it moves through each of the murals.  The tan was a fundamental color as well and was used on all three pieces.  I incorporated a black and white theme in all three murals to reflect the passage of time. The goal was to make all three pieces compliment one space.
What is something you did during this project that you think you will remember for the rest of your life?   
Learning how to not let my past knowledge hold me back, to allow myself to grow even when I didn't believe in myself.  I worked through this via a great deal of conversation with my advisors, Deb Brewster and Paul Bonner.  These conversations evolved around the fact that I was artist, artists understand art, and that all artists are free to try other arts. 
I needed to work on felling confident in my artistic talents when I picked up a paint brush.  I had to believe I could do this and if I messed up I could fix what I messed up.  I had to give myself permission to fail and believe there would always be a way to get back on my feet.
What was the most challenging part of this project for you?
I had never painted prior to this project.  I considered herself a photographer, not a painter.  I had one beginning art class at MSHS.
When you started this project, you thought it would be an solo project.  That ended up not being the case.  Would you please elaborate on how you collaborated with others?
I realized I would need teaching and help and had to put pride aside if I was to accomplish my goal.  I realized this was a project for the community and that the project would need a community involved in the painting.  I tapped into the resource of the painting teaching assistants in the class to help with the painting but it ended up being so much more.  The additional painters brought in alternative points of view.  I was able to learn from their viewpoints and experiences in painting just as much as I was able to learn from my advisors. 
What is something that was hard for you at the start of the project, but is easier now?
It's easier to get excited about projects.  I used to be terrified about this project so much that it was hard to come to school to work on it.   I worked through this and eventually made a turning point.  I began to look forward to what I was going to do new each day. 
I learned this was part of the creative process, the ability to build on the hard work that comes together in something beautiful.  This leads you on to creating new art within the project.  I learned ideas spur ideas.
In what area do you feel you made your biggest improvements?
Painting, and having my hands in a commissioned project.  Being a photographer I've always paid attention to color but I've never had to manipulate color other than by manipulating the light in which I photograph.  In photography you don't have to mix colors.  My whole color theory changed when I realized it wasn't that easy to mix colors.  I learned how colors work in the world and how to recreate them in paint. 
What has made the biggest impact on your learning during this project? Why?
Letting myself do it.  I built my confidence throughout the entire project, especially completing the project.
If you could turn back time and do this project again, what would you do differently?
I would not be so prideful and I would ask more questions.  I didn't want to ask because I thought asking made me seem stupid.  I had to have a bit of a breakdown to work through this.  When I realized I couldn't do this all by myself.  When Brewster told me my drawings weren't to scale and that I had to change them it devastated me because I would have to rely on my sense of composition to fit the boards.  That meant I had to learn how to design to make my ideas fit the boards I had.
What did you learn?
I learned so very much.   I learned about brush strokes when painting, I learned how to paint highlights and lowlights, I learned about gridding and scaling.
I got academic with Camille and asked her about Art Standards and which ones she had met.  She pondered, and wondered which ones she hadn't met.
Specifically we talked about the following Visual Arts Standards:

Overall, the project was a huge success.  Camille will present her project to the staff sometime in May.  Her presentation is available via Dropbox.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

App Smashing

Moving past using apps for worksheet substitutions and kill and drill practice and into transformative  content-creation involves a process recently coined as App Smashing.  Sometimes this process called App Synergy or iPad Workflow.  App Smashing is the process of using multiple apps in conjunction with one another to complete a final task or project.  The trick to app smashing is to learn how to use your camera roll as a means to communicate between apps.  App smashing gets the learner involved with more than just sharing what you've learned.

App smashing evolved from the term "Mash-Up" which basically meant creating web content from more than one source.  When the iPad arrived in the educational market, it didn't take long users to use multiple apps to create something.   In fact, now it seems almost impossible to create on the iPad without App Smashing.   Creating infographics is an example of one of my favorite App Smashing activities.

Greg Kulowiec from Ed Tech Teacher has written and presented the idea of "App Smashing."

Download a copy of  "The Definitive App Smasher's Guide" by Miguel Guhlin to learn more about App Smashing.

The following video does a great job of explaining the concept of App Smashing.

AppSmash Round 1 from Greg Kulowiec on Vimeo.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Colorado mLearning Collaborative

I'm happy to announce the launch of the Colorado mLearning Collaborative, a small group consisting of  Colorado educators working to support 1:1 learning initiatives in Colorado schools.
The Collaborative's purpose will be to share ideas and strategies as they relate to supporting technology integration and instruction.
We had our first meeting in February and hope to grow our numbers by the next get together scheduled for April 11th.  If interested, feel free to peruse our website and contact me for more information.