Don’t Stop Believing…Leading Change Through ACTION

Today I had the privilege of spending the entire day with Eric Sheninger. He encouraged us to consider who will tell our story if we don’t. What will they say?

That was an important and scary question for me to consider right now. I am gun shy as my major professor stated. My story is an amazing story and I have been blessed to meet and work with some amazing educators. This is my perspective from past experiences. I have seen kids make a very large impact in the world . I have been so blessed to identify my passions early on and to have had a creator put special opportunities in my path along with some amazing kids, teachers, and leaders.

Assisting the community of Dublin, Texas with  Dr. Shaun Barnett and his wife Keri Barnett with a 1:1 K12 technology initiative in 2010, I became a leader. I am grateful to both of them for their leadership.  I believe this was the 2nd 1:1 K12 initiative in the state of Texas. Serving as the district instructional technologist and grant coordinator and later under a different leader a technology coordinator, I became a connected educator. I found myself working and leading the state in, dare I say the word, Project Share (the state’s first attempt for a connected Learning Management system) with Ms. Barnett. At that time, I had no one really in the area or Texas to connect with or to assist me. We brought in Alan November and Apple to assist in training.  What did I do? I joined a PhD program to connect with the top scholars of the world and began using social media to include Project Share, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. I  located people to assist me in understanding how to connect others to content. I became a passionate curator, creator, researcher, publisher, and scholar and feel as if I was blessed to oversee some amazing transformations. No one really understood what I was doing, but now I believe we planted a seed for not just a rural community, but for an entire global movement.

Project Share: It didn’t work out, but the concept was right on. The ability for all students in Texas to have a digital portfolio via an LMS in which stakeholders could communicate and introduce blended learning was futuristic. I submitted a proposal and was surprised when we were selected to serve on a panel at the first SXSWedu conference. Yes, the LMS platform was flawed, Epsilen, but the IDEA of sharing was truly noble and ahead of it’s time. However, I found change slower than expected and a lack of understanding on the concept of connected learning. In fact, at the end of the experience after hours of free assistance from me to the Epsilen team, my participation in focus groups, and a public push for improved LMS features and training ,  I  found that I had lost my ability to even post or share with a wider network within Project Share. What did I do? I turned to other tools like Canvas and continued my passion to assist in helping others see the power of open source and communication.

Student Voice: I remember introducing the concept of video creation with Samuel Parsi from Apple in a Challenge Based Learning PD. From that students began creating video and we were invited to lead change via a Ignite session in Austin in 2012 in the Digital Square. I remember taking students to TCEA 2012 in Austin in which my friends Randy Rogers, Dwight Goodwin, Mark Hooker, and Scott Floyd invited my students to participate in an Ignite session on their cause to TAKE 5: 5 Ways to Change Your Community and their efforts to QR code their 5 small museums. We used Google Maps to track our cause, which became eventually a Save Dublin campaign, #saveddp. Their efforts to save their rural town through digital curation left a huge impact. Mark invited our students to the first TED student event and we saw our first 3D printer. That led to a NASA STEAM camp program, which at that time and to my knowledge was the first STEAM camp program in Texas. 

Makered and STEAM: No one in 2012 understood the maker movement. I am grateful to Whitney and Tom Kilgore who invited me to be to host some of the first #txeduchat events, all focused on STEAM and makered ideas. Those ideas assisted us last year in leading the entire world with the first student NASA launch parties . We also hosted a Google Hangout to reflect on STEAM programs.

From this experience, I was able to take ideas to the Kennedy Space Center. This month I found myself leading makercamp at the Dallas Perot Museum and again saw kids amazed to create 3D objects for 3D printing for the first time in the Perot Learning Lab. During their makerspace, kids were amazed and so excited to see everyone enjoying their reflections.

I was invited to Washington DC last October to lead a social media event at a NASA clean room facility. What did I do? I didn’t shut out the students and take it in just for myself. I brought the kids in, thankfully with Mr. Chris Underwood and Bea Price. They agreed to Skype with me all day and I believe that was the first time at a NASA press conference that Skype was used  during public questioning. We had 5th graders asking tough questions to some of the top heliophysics experts of the world.

Even though I have had been afforded all of these opportunities, I found myself during this entire time wondering if I could continue the charge. It is hard to be a bright light within an institution and at times hard to overcome obstacles, barriers, fear, efforts to control innovative change. It is hard to remain positive. Change is difficult . Managing my time and focus had become difficult along with maintaining a belief that I could be positive and actually continue in the public education sector.

This spring I had many opportunities to move to the private sector. I have had some leaders tell me “Your to bright to be in public education.” “Jennifer, you need to be at a university.” “There is no future in public education, everything is moving to charter and online options because the system is broken.”

I say to these naysayers, I BELIEVE in everyone’s right to an equal opportunity and the spirit of public education. I BELIEVE in YOU. I BELIEVE in our CHILDREN. I AM GRATEFUL  and WE WILL SUCCEED.

Focus on Positive

Camp Google is a month long online science camp for kids, launching on July 13

Originally posted on 9to5Google:

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The Internet has changed the way we access, view, ingest, and share knowledge, and Google has played a big part in that, with its mission from day one being to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible. Now through a new project called Google Camp, the company will train kids to utilize their services as early as possible — starting from the ages of 7-10 years old, specifically. The program seems to focus on online project-based science lessons…

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Scholarships with July 2015 deadlines

Originally posted on JLV College Counseling:

JLV College Counseling Blog | 66 Scholarships with July 2015 deadlines

Attending college can be quite expensive for students and their families. Luckily, there are many college scholarships and contests available to help pay for a college education. Students should seek out and apply for scholarships in which they meet the eligibility requirements. Below are 66 college scholarships and contests with July 2015 deadlines. Only brief information about each scholarship is listed. Therefore, students are encouraged to visit the scholarship websites to get further details about eligibility and requirements.

Advanced Institute for Oral Health Scholarship
Sponsor: Advanced Institute for Oral health
Amount: $1,000
Deadline: Jul. 1, 2015
Description: Scholarship is open to graduating high school seniors with a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher who are planning to attend an accredited university for the 2015-2016 academic year. Applicant must submit a 500 word essay describing where they see themselves four years from now.

AIChE Minority Scholarship Award

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My mother’s puzzlement

Originally posted on Granted, and...:

My mother is an extraordinary person. Yesterday, while I made lunch for my son, father, and her, she was playing her weekly game of tennis – at age 90 – for an hour and a half. Two days previously she had hosted 6 for dinner. She is a force of nature.

As with all such vital people, she has strong opinions. Indeed, one of the time-honored family traditions is to discuss and argue the issues of the day over meals. Naturally, when I am around, discussion often turns to education.

My mother was shocked and irritated to learn that teachers do not have to take voice lessons to become teachers. “How in the world can you engage young kids and make the teaching clear without having a trained voice?”

This query does not come from ignorance. My mother took acting lessons back in the day from the great Stella Adler and Stage…

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Interview | Time for Schoology

Originally posted on edtechdigest.com:

The initial idea for Schoology came about during college when three friends, Jeremy Friedman, Ryan Hwang and Tim Trinidad tried to develop an effective platform for sharing lecture notes with everyone in the class. After two weeks of development, the project gained traction, but not in higher education; rather, K-12 students began actively using the service and teachers began reaching out. “It got us thinking,” says Jeremy. “The learning management system that our university relied upon handled the basics just fine, but missed so many opportunities to be a more collaborative and more effective tool for both professors and students,” he says. In K-12, the problem was even larger, since most schools didn’t even have learning management platforms. “Why not create a platform for K-12 that looks and feels like the tools people use outside the classroom, but contains the functionality of a learning platform?” Jeremy asked. “Better yet, why not provide a platform that could be implemented in a single classroom with teachers and students, or implemented on a school-wide…

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How to Build a Course

Originally posted on Kite Method:

Blueprint to Build a Course
Use these three steps to ensure a good foundation.

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Launching DREAMS.. Reflections on NASA MMS Launch Events

Originally posted on JenniferHornerMiller:

It was the fall of 2011, and I was learning how to become a connected educator. Growing up in rural Texas I have always been labeled a free spirit, dreamer, global thinker who preferred to wear rose colored glasses. I am the 17 year old who proudly stated that I was going to become an educator in my local county newspaper because I truly believed that I could assist others to change the world. I developed a strong interest in debate early in high school, which introduced me to a variety of perspectives and forced me to consider other opinions. My parents instilled a strong Christian belief system towards helping others and I have always truly attempted to give all of myself towards special causes. I found myself in 2011 connecting with other passionate educators around the world eager to use technology as a communication vehicle to promote true change.
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I…

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Launching DREAMS.. Reflections on NASA MMS Launch Events

Launching DREAMS.. Reflections on NASA MMS Launch Events.

Launching DREAMS.. Reflections on NASA MMS Launch Events

It was the fall of 2011, and I was learning how to become a connected educator. Growing up in rural Texas I have always been labeled a free spirit, dreamer, global thinker who preferred to wear rose colored glasses. I am the 17 year old who proudly stated that I was going to become an educator in my local county newspaper because I truly believed that I could assist others to change the world. I developed a strong interest in debate early in high school, which introduced me to a variety of perspectives and forced me to consider other opinions. My parents instilled a strong Christian belief system towards helping others and I have always truly attempted to give all of myself towards special causes. I found myself in 2011 connecting with other passionate educators around the world eager to use technology as a communication vehicle to promote true change.
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I had seen such a transformation occurring in my small community of Dublin, Texas and skill sets acquired during a 1:1 iOS initiative taught me how to connect with others. It was during these late night Twitter chats where I started assisting students to attempt to place their small community on the map via a Save Dr. Pepper Twitter Campaign and TAKE 5 Community Challenge. I was introduced to a curriculum challenge via my PLN that would later profoundly alter my life and many others. The social exchanges that led to a powerful IDEA, a NASA MMS Student Led Challenge, has now been adopted and utilized by students across the globe due to my response to a social media challenge issued by a joint collaboration effort through ISTE (International Society of Technology Education) and NASA. A couple months later I was in route to Austin, Texas to deliver multiple professional development sessions, assist students in leading an Ignite Speech to Save Dublin Dr. Pepper, and meet up with edtech leaders. On my way I remember connecting to my first ZOOM meeting with NASA in a McDonald’s located in Lampasas, Texas. Remembering that all McDonald’s had free wifi, I connected with a select international group and was presented with a challenge. Finding out that two of the members in the group of 25 were actually attending TCEA in Austin, Texas, I decided to organize a face to face meeting. That week I connected with Sandra Wozniak and Tom Chambers in person. I was placed on a team with these two individuals and challenged to deliver a curriculum package within a few weeks that any school in any nation could apply to produce real interest in the problems surrounding the mission, STEM career skill sets, and renewable energies.

Later that spring,we were able to work with Mr. Chamber’s students and fund his students to visit our town to lead a 1 on 1 student mentored workshop. I took this opportunity to coordinate an international student led NASA summit using Project Share and Adobe Connect, which El Paso ISD technology director’s Tim Holt so generously helped to facilitate. I was able to connect schools around Texas, Troy Cline in Washington DC, a US ambassador in Tajakastan, schools in New Jersey, and others around the nation and began considering topics surrounding magnetism, solar storms, and the use of solar energy as a renewable source. Kids in rural Texas also met Mr. Laurence Gartel, the Father of Digital Art, Dr. Patericai Reiff, Physics expert and professor at RICE University, and other experts during this experience in April. The event helped set the stage for a robotics workshop and NASA MMS workshop in which 18 teachers participated. These teacher later helped to host the first ever NASA MMS STEAM camp in Dublin, Texas. I am grateful to community leaders in this small town, Dr. Rodney Schneider, Vicky Stone, and the principal Terry Johnson who made that event possible.

2012 iste

Sandra and I began to lay out what would later become 3 years of summer STEAM camp activities that employed many science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematic instructional lessons. Each lesson infused learning technology and introduced teachers to new pedagogical approaches and scientific concepts foreign to many teachers and students. Amazingly, we acquired grant funding and with the approval of local leadership and community I began to test these ideas during my PhD course work.  Sandra and I placed our first set of ideas in a livebinder, which was awarded the Top 2012 livebinder of the year award at ISTE 2012. We began to present and host after school programs across the nation for the next three years.

3D printing

Online MOOCs, academic research, and grant funded after school programs popped up across the nation due to our ability to connect to others and give away our time, lessons, and passion to students, teachers, and community. We believed in the power of an idea and the end results have left me speechless.

MMS NASA ISTE Cyber Cafe Poster Session

MMS NASA ISTE Cyber Cafe Poster Session

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During the summer of 2014, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to move to Carroll ISD, a larger school district. After I was hired, one of the middle school principals informed me in late September that the district was building an observatory. I could barely contain my enthusiasm and began working with school leadership’s extracurricular programs to assist in incorporating instructional technologies  to incorporate student led launch parties. My contacts in DC supported the idea and I began working on a MOOC via Canvas Open Network to introduce teachers around the planet to materials we had used during the last 3 years and to assist in spreading launch parties around the nation.

I was shocked to have the invitation to travel to Washington DC in October of 2014 to the actual clean room to view the actual spacecraft. All of the passion, struggles, and failures that I encountered during my 3 year academic adventure was leading me to new global doors and I began to realize this during the DC trip. Seeing the actual clean room, meeting engineers and physicists working on the project, and understanding that this really is a “real event” brought me to tears. How did I end up here? It is obvious that a higher purpose is at work here. I was able to bring Carroll ISD students with me to the tour via Skype and probably hosted over 10 classrooms during the NASA social event. I later found out that connecting students to a NASA social via Skype was a new concept and once again I found myself breaking new ground. I am so grateful to the teachers who connected their students that day. You made a huge impact.

Returning from Washington DC I was able to coordinate a face to face student launch party in a  very short amount of time. Once again, I found myself heading to Austin’s TCEA event and I was so fortunate to have the ability to hand out materials and share our MOOC at TCEA 2015, thanks to Randy Rogers and TCEA’s leadership team. Your conference produces GREAT IDEAS due to the networking abilities fostered during the conference.

The next week, I found myself greeting the Father of Digital Art face to face, who was in route from the Grammy Awards. How did I land Mr. Laurence Gartel in Southlake, Texas from the Grammy Awards? Later Susan Pope, NASA MMS engineer, and Troy Cline NASA MMS Educational Outreach lead met with students and we hosted an awesome student led NASA Launch Party. Students led the entire event. They created the program, met guests at the door, kicked off the welcome speech, provided entertainment, and served the makerspace role of the NASA MMS STEAM challenge. I am so grateful to the students, parents, teachers, leadership, and community because you had a large impact.

gartel and us

A few weeks later, I found myself setting up a planetarium with Dr. Reiff from Rice University, Mr. Gartel, and 18 students from West Virginia and Texas to replicate the idea in the Saturn V facility. We were issued NASA employee badges and were fortunate to have a front row VIP seat to watch the NASA MMS spacecraft launch via an Atlas 5 rocket. We met thousands of people during our three day adventure. It felt as if we were all living a dream and serving a larger purpose. Would the launch fail? How can this be real? What if we get the science and engineering wrong to VIPs during student presentations?

Again, the students (2 of which are my own sons) presented flawlessly and highly impressed the NASA experts. As we went out to sit with Mr. Gartel to watch the launch, I had tears again in my eyes. The countdown began and we all sat with much excitement. Here I found myself among strong dreamers, leaders, and great thinkers. Some of which have been working on this mission for over 20 years, facing funding cuts, setbacks, but though it all they persevered. And together we cried as we saw and heard our dream lift loudly that night, brighter than the sun. My sons and I hugged and cried. We were part of something truly amazing, out of this world.

launch party 4

As I went home that night, I was reminded by a very good friend that that launch was not the end, but the beginning of something great. He is correct. Failure is not an option. Thank you NASA MMS team for reminding us how the power of teamwork, spirit of connectedness, and perseverance conquers all.


launch

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I believe learning technologies…………

  • Improves the ability to foster collaboration, research, creation, reflection, publishing, and evaluation of learning.
  • Provides a medium to access and communicate information, enriching and deepening social exchanges, which produces new to the world ideas and knowledge.
  • Levels educational opportunities to all citizens through the access of information and research opportunities.
  • Allows for individualized approaches to ongoing reflection and feedback opportunities during the learning process.
  • Individualizes instruction improves the knowledge process employing technology by improving remediation and approaches that target a specific customer need.
  • Produces new forms of data to allow for improved decisions regarding educational approaches.
  • Increases creativity opportunities through the employment of technology applications.
  • Introduces students to a variety of perspectives, cultures, and beliefs.
  • Allows for the exchange ideas to a larger learning community, producing a personalized learning social network in which participants share learning objects to a larger community. This process produces new to the world approaches and ideas at a rate never seen before.
  • Extends learning beyond the physical environment and time, further deepening approaches to knowledge.
  • Fosters the construction of career skill sets via real world approaches through simulation, technology enhanced learning environments, and applications used in industry.

Above all, I believe Creative Thought and Economic Innovation requires social involvement, a human teacher facilitating social discussion, and that knowledge should not and cannot be substituted or devalued as a downloadable material. It is my cause and belief to stress as an Advocate for improvement in learning and curriculum design via technologies that can be distributed to all students equally.

We need teachers to facilitate creative thoughts, challenge beliefs, and to encourage social learning. Teaching is not a standardized process. We must inspire and question learning technology corporate approaches to do what is best for our students, thus our future. The purpose of my work and dissertation will be to consider these principles following my beliefs.

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