Monthly Archives: November 2012

Creating Young Authors

How do you get kids interested in writing?  You might consider having your students create an ebook or ibook and sharing best examples with the school, parents, or community to encourage reading.  Today anyone with a computer or device that connects with the Internet can create an ebook, which is great news for students.  Students can build their own reference works and become young authors to publish and share stories with the world. 


  1. It is very simple to create an ePub book in Pages on your Mac.   ePub documents can be shared with your iPod, iPad, or iPhone.  Teachers doing this many times will share files on their blog or school web page with parents to encourage reading.
  2. iBooks Author is a free app that allow students or you to create Multi-Touch books for your iPad.   I know many of you that worked STEAM camp last year have a teacher iPad and students have access to iPads at the intermediate.  I encourage you to play with this app because it is really fun and students can really get creative.  
  3. Storybird is a great way to have a collaborative, groups of 2, work together to create a story.  Students choose from a collection of art to be inspired to write stories.    After students select art, students are able to build their story by dragging and dropping pictures and creating a story to match the artwork chosen.  Some teachers even partner with another teacher’s classroom from another country. 
  4. 4.       Presentation software can be used to create ebooks.  You can create an ebook in Keynote on a Mac or PowerPoint on a PC.
  5. Simple Booklet lets student authors combine text, images, videos, and audio files.  There is a commercial and education version.  The education option offers the benefits of commercial features without cost to teachers.  Students can share their eBook by embedding it into a webpage or providing the unique link generated for your booklet.
  6.  Scribble Press:
  7. Scribblitt:

Global Education Conference Reflection

It was wonderful to have students in my community giving international input on how the invention of the  STEAM engine continues to engages all of us to think critically, create, and contribute ideas.  The global education conference was a fantastic free experience that connected a small rural community of learners in Dublin to the international community of passionate educators interested in connecting classrooms to improve the learning experience of others.

Did you miss out?  No worries, all programs were recorded and can be accessed at the Global Education Conference Website.   I encourage you to listen, connect and learn from people interested in  challenging schools to improve.

Dublin 4th Grade GT students researched the invention of the STEAM and considered how this invention has shaped life in our rural community and globally.  Each student created a slide a short presentation to share with the international community.  Dublin Elementary students visited their local museums to find a local artifact or inventor that was a direct spin off from the invention of the STEAM engine.  Students used animoto to create a video celebrating STEAM that will be placed in our community museum.

The Special

Ben Hogan: STEAM Inventor

Dublin High School students reflected on STEAM in photoshop and created digital art to celebrate the anniversary of STEAM.  Examples can be seen below.


Improving the Value Added Model of Public Education

How do we measure the value of learning experiences? Student enrollment, classroom grade performance, standardized test scores, job placement, and completion rate are all variables researchers examine to try to better address school improvement.  How do educational technology products improve the overall learning experience for students?  With so many approaches to addressing the need for improvement, we continue to rely on task oriented activities and solutions, which students fail to understand.  Often these approaches and solutions lack meaning.  Is value purely economic or social?  Why is education important?  What should students learn?  Why shouldn’t we raise expectations?  Many agree that change is needed.  The current system is leaving so many students without economic opportunity and students fail to see the purpose or lack interest in becoming “enlightened.”

Dialogue, discourse, and collaboration are key to understanding how information can be used to solve a problem and classroom environments, both online and face to face, should be encouraged.

Crabbe (2007) suggests the following instructional guidelines to assist in adding learning value to tasks, which gives students the ability to manage learning and view learning as an opportunity.  “Provide direct instruction in the big picture of how to add private learning value to tasks by presenting the full range of language learning opportunities.  Do not assume that one public performance on a task is ever sufficient. A task is a starting point—a learner should understand how to add value to the task themselves. Frequently model in class time on how to add value to tasks by identifying and demonstrating specific private learning activities deriving from the public part of the task. Provide independent study time to try these activities in class and explain their anticipated effects.  Give time for learners to discuss difficulties experienced in their performance on a task and how they might address those difficulties through rehearsal.  Discuss affective factors that might affect opportunity take-up, particularly lack of self-confidence, uncertainty of goal, feeling foolish. Suggest strategies to overcome these inhibiting factors.  Write private learning opportunities into materials so that they become an explicit part of the script and thus prompts for teachers to explore the opportunities with learners.  Give status to private learning by assessing the learners on how well or how often they have taken up opportunities, possibly through learning logs” (Crabbe, 2007, p. 120-122).

Crabbe, D. (2007). Learning opportunities: adding learning value to tasks. ELT Journal, 61(2), 117–125. doi:10.1093/elt/ccm004

Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms

STEAM…..Teaching to Foster Creativity……

Digital technology is driving users to rethink how to create by introducing students to new styles, modes, and audiences. Students can now engage as creators, producers, contributors, users and evaluators in the social and professional environment. Tillander (2011) encourages art educators to not ignore the opportunities available, which is fostering a cultural revolution. Giving students the opportunity to contribute thoughts or reflections from research in a social context gives meaning to content. Teachers can now expose students to a variety of perspectives, which fosters critical thinking using Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy (p. 44-45). Allison (2012) encourages teachers to consider the following questions when evaluating the creative potential of existing curriculum and materials. “Is it possible for students to develop than one idea in this context? Is it possible for students to develop more than one type of idea in this context? Do students have the content knowledge necessary to successfully generate creative ideas? Do students have sufficient time and information to think through their creative ideas and communicate them” (p. 55). How do we teach creativity? As we attempt to understand issues and redesign instructional approaches, encouraging the arts across PK-16 would be an excellent start towards answering that question.

Celebrating STEAM Resources

Tillander, M. (2011). Creativity, technology, art, and pedagogical practices. Art Education, 64(1), 40-46. Retrieved from Allison, A. M. (2012).

Teaching for creativity. The Science Teacher, 79(5), 54-56. Retrieved from

Artificial Morality Questions

Who decides on what is ideal?  What is rational?  Aristotle’s ideas of rationality for mankind may be “threatened when humans begin to behave irrationally when their interests are threatened and they begin to have to deal with beings/entities they perceive as different from themselves” (Anderson, 2007). 

Artificial morality is impossible because humans will never be completely ethical.  Anderson (2007) clarifies why Isaac Asimov’s “three laws of robotics” published in his 1976 novel “Bicentennial Man” is an unsatisfactory approach to new ethical challenges facing humans and machines.  Asimov’s offered the following rules for artificial intelligence: “A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.  A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law.  A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law” (p. 478).   Anderson (2007) explains how artificial morality will be problematic for humans to program and adhere to Asimov’s rules.  In addition, it would be a hard sale for humans to allow machines to ethically advise them (Anderson, 2007, p. 477-478).

Who decides on how the supreme prophet bot interprets past experiences?  To address these issues we must first decide on a universal ethical theory and apply these theories consistently.  As the rapid progression of new technologies continues, huge concerns and challenges are facing societies in regards to artificial morality. Will future man happily abide robotic intelligence or will the threat of intelligence higher then our own force mankind to destroy this intelligence?  Will robots be created in our own image:  imperfect, dangerous, and unpredictable? 

Anderson, S. L. (2007). Asimov’s “three laws of robotics” and machine metaethics. Ai & Society, 22(4), 477–493. doi:10.1007/s00146-007-0094-5

Coeckelbergh, M. (2011). Can we trust robots? Ethics and Information Technology, 14(1), 53–60. doi:10.1007/s10676-011-9279-1

Dodig Crnkovic, G., & Çürüklü, B. (2011). Robots: ethical by design. Ethics and Information Technology, 14(1), 61–71. doi:10.1007/s10676-011-9278-2

Social Robots NOVA  

Considering the Science of Phenomenology and Linguistic Analysis in Learning Technologies

How do students learn?  How can we continue to foster creative thinking?  Children who are very young are full of questions and often eager to explore and learn.  How does the physical classroom environment and school experience influence learning?

How does the examination of life experiences contribute to learning?  How can learning technology improve data capture and themes in a K12 environment?



Østergaard, Dahlin, & Hugo (2008)  discuss how phenomenological can be used during lab observation exercises.  “Teachers need to establish forums in which the diversity of interpretations can be discussed and contrasted with the canonical views, which the teacher may have to contribute him- or herself.  Phenomenology has a considerable potential as a method for investigating learning as a whole.  (Østergaard, Dahlin, & Hugo, 2008).


Three Minute Motivators

Excellent ideas


Three Minute Motivators.

Kindergartens in the Middle of Nowhere


Wow, their physical learning place is so bright and colorful.  Creativity surrounding their environment.

Kindergartens in the Middle of Nowhere.

Giving students a voice….

One way to engage students is by giving students a voice. Technology can really help facilitate learning because it provides multiple communication channels that the teacher can use to give students a voice (who may not otherwise engage), which empowers them to take ownership in their learning. A larger audience can allow for the student to extend learning outside of the classroom. Technology is not the answer to academic issues. We must use it in a meaningful way that motivates students to think. Our task is to create a new generation of problem solvers and critical thinkers. Technology must facilitate higher order thinking activities. You can find a lot of “junk” technology activities that are not engaging or fun, especially linear activities.

Some other thoughts: We have to be careful not to crush student ideas, voices, etc. We don’t always “know” better. Stand and deliver style of teaching does fit is some cases, but we need to spend less time presenting and more time allowing kids to If you truly value student voice, they must know that their ideas can direct the path to learning. Think about how you can give your students a global voice. How do we build a career focus, or career voice, to produce college ready graduates? Students must know that you believe in them. We must show that we like what we are teaching and what we teach. Choose learning technologies that give students a voice and allow them to contribute not just work linearly to contribute only to themselves, you, or a grade. Are we spending all of our time on compliance and standardization? Don’t be boring, push beyond the easy and comfortable. Students are often willing to choose boring over taking a risk. Expect students to do exciting things. Recognize boring and redirect, remove the safe option. Foster joy, we should all be laughing more because kids learn in a happy environment. An expert recently told me that we should incorporate the 5 model, Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluation. Their suggestion was to move the first 3 online, and that will save you time for elaboration and evaluation. The flip concept is only a system, the strategy of 5 e is still needed from you. You and your relationship with students is still the most important motivating factor. If you want to use a flip system, you must question, elaborate, and evaluate in class. Videos alone will not address learning issues. You must expect students to do their part and follow through. It does work and is working in many areas in the nation and state. However, teaching is still the most important component.

Some ideas:

1. Creating a how to video and blog (written) evaluation reflections: Great alternative formal assessment tool. I am very proud of Debra Miller’s leadership in creating a video to publish on the junior high web page. A parent called this morning very excited to see the video. Keep up the excellent work.

2. Twitter: Students from one district last night led a state wide twitter chat on giving students a voice. Twitter widgets on your website really interest students. Teaching students how to act professionally online can be modeled in this way. Check out #txed hash tag to view how students led a very professional collaborative discussion on this topic. We have Dublin High School students using twitter and I enjoy seeing students contributing to increase school spirit. How can we get kids to begin contributing about core subject on instructional content?

3. Skype: Skype in the classroom is a great way to find partners to allow for students to collaborate, present, use higher level questioning, and elaboration on evaluation of ideas. This is an excellent way to bring “experts” into your classroom.

4. Offsite curriculum center: We have access to produce content to showcase to the community. How can you take advantage of this? Need ideas, let me know. I was very impressed with Donna Lewis’s 2nd grade and 3rd grade students. The entire class was highly engaged with her yesterday, check out one production example:
5. Empower students to be creative and help them to understand that they matter.
6. Consider your physical learning space. How can you redesign learning spaces so that they are “fun”?   I got to visit with students earlier this week at the high school and they expressed how that action created a more relaxing and fun atmosphere.

7. Problem solving and failure with a voice: Robotics is a way to get kids motivated and you would be surprised at how these kits can fit your exiting curriculum. Lego released a writing curriculum this week that encourages creative writing and academic vocabulary development. The production that is created by the team gives students a voice by allowing them to showcase a robot to a wider audience. It is great to see so many students enjoying problem solving activities using robotics.  Dublin High School, and photos from Dublin Intermediate and Junior High students who are so excited to be part of the after school robotics club. We have 47 students participating weekly in an optional after school program. These students are having fun expanding in writing journals, collaborating, thinking and problem solving. . We learn from failure. Research on this topic:

8. Portfolios are a great way to showcase student work and online portfolios gives students a large voice that they can then take to a wider audience. This is a great way to give students a career voice. With project share, students have an Epsilen portfolio account that can allow all teachers to “showcase” a student production that they can then add to their existing portfolio.

It was fun taking students with their teacher, Mrs. Donna Lewis, to the Dublin Historical Museum recently.  Students really enjoyed learning about museum artifacts, conducting research, using their iPods to record photographs, and creating a movie to publish for a wider audience.  Learning really can be fun!


Reflections on Jacques Derrida and the Deconstructionist Movement

The history and context of vocabulary must be analyzed when evaluating texts.  Universally valued human rights should include an equal opportunity to quality information and education.  With technologies the planet now could have access to discourse,  common ideas, historical textual contexts, and exposures to new identities.  How often do classrooms analyze all hidden assumptions and perspectives on a subject?  How can we improve K12 analysis of information using technology to provide meaning to vocabulary?  Words are only useful to students who have established meaning or an understanding of how these words in the past, present, and future are used.   How can we use art to help establish meaning?