Monthly Archives: July 2012

LoneStar TIA: Building Learning Communities

This week I had the privilege of  learning, collaborating, and leading discussions in Denton, Texas at the 3rd annual LoneStar Technology Integration Academy.  Dublin ISD brought 9 teachers to share on how Dublin is attempting to integrate technology to increase performance.  From the experience, many were inspired to hear our teachers sharing best practices, lessons learned, and integration approaches being utilized in a K12 CSCOPE environment.  I was very proud of our teachers, who took a step forward to become a leader.  Many were inspired.  In fact, one district left ready to purchase iPods to replicate Dublin Elementary approaches.  Biggest take aways were as follows.

  • Flip The Student:  Australian educational leader and expert, Phil Stubbs, discussion on how to best flip the classroom was excellent!  Flip is a structure, not a pedagogy, and requires the teacher to be engaging, active, and should be used as a motivator to get students to take ownership in their own learning community.
  • Lewisville ISD:  Associate Superintendent for Learning and Teaching, Dr. Penny Reddell and CTO, Barbara Brown,   challenged leaders to change their culture.  To be bold, brilliant, and to treat children as equal partners.  Do we encourage others to ask children, what do they want to learn?  An analogy to learning and playing the sport of golf really caught my attention and inspired me to think about how the sport of life-long learning compares to the sport of professional golf.  In Lewisville, leaders must be active learners in communities, as a pro gopher.  Every pro improves their game as they encounter new challenges.  The question always centers back to, “Are we on par”?
  • Keller ISD teachers shared how they are improving parental involvement with Ustream.  Parents are invited to watch the classroom 24/7.  Meetings, productions, and student presentations are recorded and uploaded to youtube for publications.  They have seen an increase in parental involvement, communication, and interest.
  • Denton ISD challenges 4-8 grade students using robotics.  Students are given the opportunity to participate in First Lego League competitive events.  Parents show a very high interest, and kids from all backgrounds learn to problem solve, build academic connections, and teamwork skills.

Dublin ISD teachers shared on the following topics:

  • Science + CSCOPE + iPod Touch = GREAT INTEGRATION led by JeriLi Thompson and Courtney Walker
  • Oodles of ideas for Algebra and Geometry Integration by Dublin High School teachers Lara Wilhelm and Ima Thomas
  • Partners for Learning: New York Times & Epsilen in Project Share by Dublin High School Teacher Desiree Jefferson
  • There‟s an App for That – The Bilingual and ESL Classroom, that is! Dublin Elementary Mr and Mrs. Rivera
  • iMovie Workshop: DISD Asst. Elementary Principal Norma Briseno
  • Building 21st Century Learning Communities: Desiree Jefferson, Mendy Fort, and Jennifer Miller
  • Experiences with Challenge Based Learning: Desiree Jefferson and Jennifer Miller
  • 25 Tools and Ideas to Engage, Connect, & Extend Learning to Communities: Debra Miller, Jennifer Miller, Cipriano Rivera, Serena Rivera
  • Steam TRAINing

Second Life As a EdTech Tool

Does the space have an identifiable instructional design?

Second life does have an identifiable instructional design with a variety of tools to allow for students to contribute to course discussions or virtual learning explorations.  I found the chat, speak, and camera controls useful and can see how these tools could aid learning and engage post secondary and secondary students.

What helps or hinders communication of what they want the users to understand, learn, or do?

Some of the features in SL are not as user friendly and can be confusing to first time users.  The experience is fun, but it does take some time for users to find locations, partners, and learn navigation features.  Having detailed instructions and the orientation lesson is a great idea to help users better understand communication protocols and procedures.

What tools do learners and designers use in the system that are effective? Ineffective?

Tools and instructional design ideas that SL  offers includes chat features, photo scavenger hunt, instructional videos, extended field trips, and the speak tool for student led presentations.

Does the 3-D contribute to learning according to what you know from psychology or pedagogical practice?

Communication and learning communities are always stronger when a variety of communication platforms exist.  So, I do think that the 3D experience that utilizes speak, video, and/or chat features does meet the needs of a variety of student learning styles.  Learning how to deal with a variety of cultural and diverse backgrounds can be a challenge for some students and instructors.  SL is a great way to have students learn to think globally.

Could you link this to some form of e-learning instructional design?

SL is full of learning scenarios where students can role play and/or experience life in a variety of environments.  SL offers the opportunity for the learning environment to be extended.

I did a little research on SL a few years ago to see how it could be incorporated at the high school level.  I found that students did enjoy SL.

Does the immersive experience contribute to the learning for you or the members of the group?

Yes, the SL experience does force users to work together and can contribute to the learning experience of the entire group. The experience does take time, but I think students love this environment.

Are you the intended audience?  Yes

Would it work for another audience?  I think this environment is suitable for upper secondary audiences and post secondary environments.  Safety issues do exist in this system that would lead many  to question the use with audiences under the age of 13.  The SL environment is somewhat confusing.  SL is a free system that educators can tap into, but the cost of maintaining the system may soon cause many higher ed institutions to rethink their investment.

Self Motivation: How do we encourage and implement via learning design?

What does it mean to manage/regulate yourself (self-regulate) and others?

Self initiated learning and problem solving are a skill sets needed by all leaders, especially instructional leaders.  Self regulation can be used to empower, teach, and lead students, teachers, parents, and others to in essence keep each other in check.  Leaders must show enthusiasm, mentor others, and provide hands on management approaches.  The challenge for instructional designers is to provide an engaging learning experience so that students truly desire to know more.  Is self motivation taught?   How can we encourage student engagement?  I think modeling and employing passionate educators, displaying a history of life long learning, is a start in the right direction.

How does it bring you towards goals?

Self motivation pushes individuals to persevere during tough and challenging times.  Growth and knowledge acquisition occurs when individuals tackle real life problems or issues.  Failures teach individuals how to regroup, rethink, and evaluate decisions.  Robotics opens itself to employing many of the skill sets needed to become a self reliant or self motivated individual.  Frustration levels are often high, but the overall end result of the product provides a very rewarding experience.

How important is communication in this process and what helps/impedes it?

Communication is essential.  Breakdowns in communication systems can hinder individuals to continue to seek out answers or solutions.  It is important to have a backup, emergency plan, and procedures in place that address communication issues.  It helps to communicate regularly and to be proactive.

Good Advice From a 2012 Video Technology DISD Student on Self Motivation

The Power of Texas’s Project Share

I am amazed at how many K12 Texas institutions are still not utilizing Project Share as a course management system.  While there is still room for improvement, especially the need for a quality LMS app tool, Project Share is still a great idea and resource to use in a blended learning environment.  Project Share is continuing to improve its product, with new features being introduced this fall.

Questions you may have regarding Project Share.

How will Project Share help my students?  

  1. Resources From Top Reliable Sources:  Students can access primary sources from The New York Time’s Content Knowledge Repository dating back to the mid 1850s.  This is a powerful learning tool that can radically enhance courses and bring LMS to an entire new level.
  2. Collaborative Work Environments:  Project share allows for groups to collaboratively problem solve, share, and model 21st century collaborative work environments.
  3. ePortfolios:  Project Share gives students and teachers a ready made system to publish and showcase work, build resumes, and blog about learning content.

Can parents access content?

Parents, students, teachers, and interested community partners can access content and locate resources on the new Project Share website.

It is time to move past the debate as to why do we need Project Share.  It is time to Think Global and Act Local and unite behind the program!  Take your complaints to the source and let’s fix a great idea.  I have found that Project Share, Epsilen, and developers are very open to ideas of improvement.  Texas, let’s show the world how true 21st century mobile learning can truly benefit a learning community.  


Loci Reflections

Visuals of important features in my family room assist in aiding me identify communal values. For example, a coffee cup centers on conversation with my family.  As a game designer it is important to think about theme, message, tone, and visuals play a huge role in how information is received.  Instructors lack the resources and time to re-invent the wheel, and exercises like this assit in having learners think about image, delivery, and audience needs.  Relaxation and meditation exercises aided me in focusing on activities so that they did not seem so overwhelming. This can have very practical applications in the classroom and is much needed given the stress placed on students to academically perform in a standardized environment.  As rigor increases, activities such as this help students focus, identify important focal points, and deliver ideas that are targeted to a specific goal, target,  or mission challenge.  

Reflections From STEAM Training Response and STEAM Camp Job Aides

STEAM camp is professional development for all stakeholders and participants.  Excitement, building of strong professional learning communities across campuses, along with modeling of 21st century learning and critical thinking are expressed outcomes and skill sets obtained and from STEAM training.  Teachers experience learning to let go of being the “expert” in the classroom to the instructional coach/facilitator in the classroom.  Often educators are fearful of the unknown aspects to problem solving.  Robotics allow for our K12 teachers to truly participate as a  21st century learner and teacher.  Critical thinking, planing, logistics, journal reflections, problem solving, questioning, and creating are all strongly emphasized throughout the experience.  Teachers participate in collaborative work settings, create using a variety of digital presentation platforms to be showcased to the world, research and apply unfamiliar scientific topics to all core disciplines to address a variety of levels, and publish reflections for the world to view.

To see an ongoing transcript of teacher collaboration and to join visit our back channel built June 4, 2012 for teacher training.  Teachers elected on their own June 12, 2012 to allow for students to contribute to the back channel.

To view teacher reflections and thoughts, please visit and join our collaborative group.  

Teachers are also reflecting on our Connection Grant Group.

The group also participated in the MMS Challenge learning activity developed by Sandra Wozniak, Tom Chambers, and Jennifer Miller.  Student productions in STEAM as a result of the challenge were showcased at ISTE12 last week.  To learn more about MMS Challenge, visit our Livebinder located in either collaborative group mentioned above.

STEAM Camp Instructional Job Aides Used June 2012 © Jennifer Miller


STEAM Showcase

STEAM Showcase

Art does not have to be digital. Creation and critical thinking is the focus, not technology.

Instructional Design for STEAM Camp

STEAM Academic Camp:  TAP (Topics, Audience, and Purpose)


Careers in Science, Art, and Technology:  Exploring Career Opportunities in STEAM


Learn To Talk Like An Astronaut:  Building Scientific Academic Vocabulary


Fun With Magnets:  Understanding Magnetic Force


What Is The Big Deal With Space Weather?   


You Be The Teacher:  Checking for Understanding


Creating eBook Reflections:  Reflecting on Solar Storms, MMS Mission, Magnetic Force, Career Opportunities, and extended learning field trips


Building a Zip Line


Designing and programing a Robot


Building a Community Showcase




Students will be placed in small groups and will learn about the process and purpose of the MMS mission so that students understand the background of magnetic force, space weather, auroras, solar storms, careers, and the MMS Mission.  Afterwards, students can complete the MMS Challenge and create a community showcase.  Students and teachers will learn how STEAM affects all content areas during this exercise.  Teachers will also be placed in small groups and will pick the area that they feel would benefit them the most in the classroom next fall and/or area of interest. 


Audience 4-6 grades students:  STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)




Instructor Needs:  Introduction to objectives and purpose of STEAM camp, science vocabulary on NASA’s MMS mission, options for integration tools for teachers to facilitate, concerns, training on integration apps and how to build an eBook, Questions and connections to content area needed., strategies to evaluate student work and progress.   


Student Needs:  Engaging activities that are “camp” like that will expose students to new academic vocabulary that address diverse learning styles, hands on activities, planning, communication with parents,  inclusion of multicultural activities and perspectives, options on choices for students, feedback from students, student evaluation strategies. 


Environmental Resources:  iPads, iPods, and MacBook Airs, Lego WeDo and Lego NXT systems, Smart Boards, Projectors, and Speakers, paper, markers, art supplies, tape, and Legos.


Instructors are being trained daily on different skill sets, and these 18 teachers received training on Tuesday June 12 and Wednesday June 13 from 4:00-5:00 PM. 


Learning Expectations:


Course Goals and Objectives:


Learning goal 1.0:  Students will explore scientific academic vocabulary and on solar storms, auroras, the sun, scientific method, and the Earth’s magnetosphere. 


Objective 1.1:  Students will create an informative video on the meaning of their favorite scientific vocabulary term relating to solar storms, auroras, scientific method, the sun, or the Earth’s magnetosphere.


Learning goal 2.0:  Students will conduct collaborative research and apply the scientific method to evaluate results. 


Objective 2.1:  Students will research from a variety of preselected resources in collaborative groups questions important to the background of NASA’s MMS Mission on solar storms, the sun, the Earth’s magnetosphere, MMS Mission,  and the scientific method.


Objective 2.2:  Students in collaborative groups will create an instructional presentation from research.  Research presentations will be published and shared to a mobile audience. 


Learning goal 3.0:  Students will explore and experiment with magnetic fields following the scientific method. 


Objective 3.1:  Students will create their own magnet following the scientific method approach.   


Objective 3.2:  Students will create their own compass to further understand magnetic force following the scientific method approach. 


Objective 3.3:  Students will create an ebook in collaborative groups to reflect learning experiences. 


Learning goal 4.0:  Students will understand robotic design concepts, practice teamwork, apply problem solving, and understand simple machine language.


Objective 4.1:  Students will plan, design, build, and work as teams to have a lego bicycle ride a zip line.


Objective 4.2:  Students will be able to identify and understand how math and science applies to simple machines. 


Objective 4.3:  Students will design, build, and work as teams to build a robot.


Objective 4.4:  Students will be able to modify and problem solve to enhance their robotic production.


Objective 4.5:  Students will be able to program their robot to utilize sensors. 


Learning goal 5.0:  Students will explore career pathways and opportunities in the field of STEAM. 


Objective 5.1 Students will develop questions to ask an expert in the field of STEAM: scientist, artist, journalist, technologist, engineer, or architect.  Questions will be shared electronically. 


Learning Activities: 


  1. Students will think about questions to ask a career professional in the area of STEAM. 
  2. Students will record pre-interview questions for a professional in their career interest.
  3. Students will interview via video conference/in person a professional in the field of STEAM. 
  4. Students will pick their favorite scientific word from an academic word wall.
  5. Students will research the word to find the scientific meaning and create a vocab video on the meaning of the word using 3-5 images.
  6. Students will explore magnets and magnetic force.  Students will build an electro-magnet following the scientific method.  Students will record reflections.
  7. Students will explore and research topics related to the sun and solar weather.   Students will understand how to predict solar weather and review past solar weather activity to compare and contrast solar weather reporting and solar weather impact on human life. 
  8. Students will create an informative eBook from experiences in Careers, solar weather, academic vocabulary, and magnetic force learning experiences.
  9. Students will conduct a pre-evaluation on what they know and/or need to know about robotic systems.

10. Students will become familiar with robotic kits, classroom management of robotics, and

11. Students placed in teams will problem solve to build a zip line.

12. Students will plan, design, and build a robotic system.

13. Students will program their robotic system to utilize a sensor.

14. Students in teams will plan, coordinate, and produce a  community showcase or museum exhibit based on complete learning experiences . 




Scientific Community Showcase




Peer Review, Student Self Evaluations, Reflections


Timeline/Calendar: All training with teachers is small group based. 


June 4:  Teacher PD On purpose of STEAM camp, MMS mission purpose, and practiced 21st century skills:  Worked You Be The Teacher and was given a STEAM camp overview.


June 11:  STEAM camp kick off with Digital artist, ice breaker activities, and participate in You Be the Teacher, Learn To Talk Like An Astronaut, and Fun With Magnets. 


Teacher training after camp on what is the Big Deal with Space Weather, Careers in Science, Art, and Technology.


Juen 12:  STEAM Camp:  Build paper rockets, What is the Big Deal with Space Weather, Careers in Science, Art, and Technology, You Be the Teacher, Learn to Talk Like an Astronaut , and Fun With Magnets.


Teacher Training:  Using Gimp for Academic vocabulary, Using Animoto for Vocabulary and Video Production, Blogging tools and Introduction to iPad Apps


June 13:  MMS Challenge with students at STEAM camp


Teacher Training:  Building an eBook, Design a Zip Line


June 14-17:  NASA trip, teachers and students will build an eBook


June 19:  eBook Reflections with students, Design a Zip Line


Teacher Training:  Strategies to help student design and  Build a Community Showcase


June 22:  Build a Community Showcase Event


Student Evaluations Daily


Teacher Training and Learning Evaluations:  June 11 and June 22

Elementary School Pre-Medical Ideas and Resources

Elementary School Pre-Medical Ideas and Resources.

Why You Don’t Remember Names


There is a world of knowledge out there for those that listen well. When we commit to really listen we discover details that make succeeding much faster and often, much easier. Listening is a skill, and like any skill we can improve it through practice.

via Why You Don’t Remember Names.