Thursday, March 28, 2013

TPCK Tournament: March Madness in EDU 451

March Madness is my favorite time of the year, so I've decided to bring it into my Technology in the Classroom lesson today. This afternoon, my students and I are hosting a TPCK tournament. I designed a bracket with 32 technology tools. These 32 tools are going to compete against one another until we're left with one champion. To advance through the rounds, we're going to use two dice I designed in the free app Make Dice Lite. One die contains 6 different content topics (i.e. fractions, current events, photosynthesis). The other die contains 6 different pedagogical techniques (i.e. peer teaching, problem-based learning, role play). For each round of the tournament, a student will shake the iPad, I mean roll the dice. As a class, we'll determine the most appropriate technology tool to teach the specific content with the instructional technique (both determined by the dice). The tool that is the best fit for the content and pedagogy will advance to the next round, at which time we'll roll the dice again to see who advances further in the tournament. For the championship match-up, students will work in small groups to design a teaching scenario using the tool they think is the best match for the content and pedagogy on the dice. Groups will share the scenarios they design, and the class will vote on their favorite scenario. The winning tool will be the TPCK Tournament champion and will get a shout-out on Twitter from EDU 451.

You can download my TPCK Tournament bracket here.

Content and Pedagogy dice created in Make Dice Lite

Note: I only had about an hour to put this idea together, so the bracket isn't as pretty as it could be. I'll work on making it prettier for next year. (That's for you, Cindy Geddes.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

3 Things I'll Do Because of TEDx Hickory

On Saturday, I attended the second annual TEDx Hickory event. The emcee for the day, Mike Hall, encouraged all TEDx Hickory attendees to do three things with the information we learned on Saturday: one that's easy to do, one that's a little more difficult or we've been putting off, and one that requires a lot of guts. I've been thinking about what those three things might be for me, and here's what I've come up with. I'm grateful to Mike for giving us this challenge, because I'm a believer in learning followed by action. At the end of each #edchat, Steven Anderson reminds participants that it's not enough just to participate in the chat. We need to go out and do something different based on what we've learned. I couldn't agree more, which is why I'm committing to these three tasks and sharing my commitment with the world.

You might not have attended TEDx Hickory, but chances are you've participated in a learning opportunity recently that's got you thinking. Don't just sit on those thoughts. Do something with them. Mike's three-task framework might work for you.

One Thing That's Easy to Do

Make people feel like they matter every day.

Tell people I'm proud of them. Thank others for the work they do that often goes unnoticed. Thanks, Mike Hall, for reminding us that heroes are folks who make other people feel like they matter.

One Thing I've Been Putting Off

Apply for a grant to get some new technology on campus.

The most difficult part of my transition from public K-12 schools to a private university setting was the change in access to technology. I've been steadily making changes by providing professional development to help faculty utilize the technology we have access to and by requesting technology purchases. (I found out over the weekend that the iPad cart and Apple TV I requested have been ordered!!) However, I know there's more I could be doing to get technology into the hands of faculty and students. Between now and summer break, I'm going to seek out grant opportunities to help me do just that.

One Thing That Requires Guts

Make something with my hands and keep it for myself.

Emily Miller's talk on Saturday reminded me how much pleasure I get from creating something original. Learning to do things with our hands can be extremely valuable and give us a sense of self-worth. Emily's talk struck a chord with me as she mentioned how gifting things we've created gives away the pleasure we could have on a daily basis by being around the thing we created. I am not a naturally crafty person, but I do a bit of scrapbooking and always give my scrapbooks away as gifts. I've also made stationery and scarves (two) to give away. Emily described how much pleasure she gets by living in a space that contains so many things she designed and created. My house contains almost nothing that I created, because I hardly make things and when I do I gift them. So one thing I want to do that requires guts (and a little selfishness) is take time to make something with my hands and keep it. This spring, my husband and I are going to start a garden. And while I'm sure we'll give away some of the fruits of our labor, we'll also keep a lot of it to feed our family. It's a very rewarding experience to eat food you've grown, so I'm looking forward to a summer full of that feeling. I'm still thinking through what other things I might create. My 5-year-old daughter is into sewing right now and knows more about it than I do, so I'd like to learn more about that myself.

I'm counting on my PLN to hold me accountable for these commitments (that's YOU). I'd love for you to leave a comment if you choose to put some things into action. If you missed TEDx Hickory, you can read the Twitter archive here and you can find tons of pictures of the event here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What I Learned from the 20 to Watch

I was honored beyond words to be included in this year's "20 to Watch" by the National School Boards Association. I was invited to attend the CoSN conference in San Diego last week and participate in several events designed for the "20 to Watch". It was an amazing and humbling experience to talk with these exceptional educators. Over the course of several conversations with these leaders in educational technology from across the country, some trends emerged. Here's what I learned from chatting with these awesome folks.

Push the Envelope

Almost all of the "20" described themselves as people who push the envelope, challenge others, push buttons, move people outside of their comfort zones, and sometimes annoy people with their persistence in challenging boundaries. These folks are naturally curious about educational technology and are passionate about sharing that curiosity with others. They also tend to constantly be on the lookout for innovative tools and practices, thinking about ways to implement them in their settings and get other people on board.


None of these educators accomplished the great things for which they were recognized alone. They realize the power of tapping into the expertise of others and focus on building capacity in those around them. Efforts that change schools and districts do not succeed or fail on one person. They require teams of educators working toward common goals. These "20 to Watch" educators have the ability to bring people together and empower them to do the important work that needs to be done.

Know Technology and Pedagogy

To be an educational technology leader, it isn't enough to just know technology. Each of the "20 to Watch" could talk at great length about the latest technologies and their implications. More importantly, though, these folks understand the complex ways in which technology can be used to develop curriculum, enhance and support pedagogy, engage and motivate students, and increase learning. It's apparent that these educators are leading their schools and districts in instructional technology efforts due to their understanding of the intersection between technology, teaching, and learning.

Connecting with these "20 to Watch" was life-changing for me. I'm grateful to have these folks as part of my PLN and be able to call on them when I need them. If you'd like to connect with them, most of them are on Twitter. You can connect with them here.