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That Moment When You Are Speaking at The White House

That Moment When You Are Speaking at The White House

There is a brief moment when you are asked to speak at the White House when you just might think, “What on earth have I gotten myself into?”

For me, that was never the case…not for a second!

For the past week, aside from work, I’ve done nothing but write, revise, recite and repeat my Ignite speech on Supporting #FutureReady Teaching and Learning that I will share at THE WHITE HOUSE tomorrow! I’ve never been more excited and ready for anything in my entire life and not just because I actually have a completed presentation well before the event but because I am deeply ready for this.

I grew up in a small town, a place where the greatest thing that has ever happened was winning a few State Championships in football unless you count the Super Conducting Super Collider that almost was…something of this magnitude was completely unheard of until now.

I’m not even nervous…yet. I was actually more nervous practicing in front of my mother, who is a tough one to speak in front of. She is a pro, after all!

I actually get to be in the same room as Our President and for my family, it doesn’t get any better than this. It just doesn’t…unless Michelle Obama is there…that would be amazing!

So, without fear or reservation…I get to channel my inner “Jose, Sabrina, Melinda, Chris, Diana, Xian, Audrey and Jaime” and every other speaker that I have ever looked up to. I’ll lean on the support of my friends and local community who have been loud and proud in their excitement.

More importantly, I get to represent my parents and my entire family. Without their sacrifices, there’s no way that I would be here.

It’s not about me at all but I’m grateful for the opportunity and platform to share.

Thank you to the Office of Edtech for taking a chance on a girl from a small town in Texas.

Because I am connected, this “unheard of thing” is real! Let’s put this same power into the hands of all of our learners. #futureready

Storytelling with TechSmith’s App Show and Minecraft

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 7.55.22 PMOne of these days, Techsmith’s App Show won’t be in free beta and I’ll be sad. For the record, I’m pretty sure that this nifty storytelling tool wasn’t made for education but that didn’t stop plenty of educators from finding it. I actually love App Show because it helps users create stories from an embedded “best practices” framework. You plug in your device and film scenes. After filming scenes, you add voice over and music. If you have Camtasia, you can export for further editing and what’s cooler is that each clip translates over to its own timeline for much more fluid editing.

Yesterday, Braeden started working on his version of a Google office in Minecraft. Of course he wanted collaborators so of course that meant that I would be deeply embedded in Minecraft greatness yesterday. He wanted to record a quick clip and App Show was the right tool for it, especially after my Quicktime recorder kept failing and my Airserver refused to work!

I should also note again that I have Camtasia and recording from a plugged in device is a function of Camtasia. Maybe it was a bit of “tech for the sake of tech” or maybe it was that we chose the right tool that we needed. At any rate, it was fun and it worked like a charm!

Using it is as simple as opening the app, choosing a pathway and then deciding on number of scenes and length which can be changed at any time. You don’t even have to plug in an ios device. You can totally do the same thing with an android or with any form of video because there is an “upload media” function which means that you can make a story about whatever floats your boat!

Braeden’s take: He loves it and is now writing a script for a minecraft cartoon because this tool will be perfect for making that!

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Below is the video that we created!


Goal Setting Like a Baby

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 6.24.39 AMI have an 11 month old nephew who is just starting to take much longer walks around the house. Since he was about 9.5 months old, he’s been attempting this passage of life with very limited prodding from adults. I’ve sat for long periods of time watching him literally watch the people around him and it has been quite cool to see him “soak it all in” and then try things himself.

He would stand on his own and immediately fall but then immediately stand again. Eventually, his long moments of standing turned in to a new sequence of events….Stand, step, fall, repeat.

Seriously…the baby has set a goal for himself and has tried again and again and again until he met that goal. Then he starts a new goal…fearlessly.

If you think about it, babies go through life as little goal setters. In my mind, I think that my nephew’s brain works something like this…

  • I wonder what I can do to make people pick me up.
  • I wonder if I can hold my own bottle.
  • I wonder if I can sit up.
  • I wonder if I can slide off the couch.
  • I wonder if I can stand like everyone else.
  • I wonder if I can drink from that straw.
  • I wonder if I can walk on two feet like my cousins.
  • I wonder what will happen if I touch that shiny thing.
  • I wonder what that thing does when I press the buttons. (yes, in my mind he knows what computer keys are)

As for me, I wonder when adults step in and discourage this natural curiosity about the world. What if we didn’t? What if we allowed kids to continue to set goals, learn, try, fall and repeat?

The least that we could do is fearlessly do this ourselves. After-all, babies do it.


Access, Opportunity and #Internet4Schools

Access, Opportunity and #Internet4Schools

The day that my dad brought home a set of encyclopedias was an important family event. He called all of us into the front room as he unpacked each book one by one. To my parents, providing this access to knowledge was critical and I distinctly remember my dad telling us that within those books was the key to our future. He certainly believed it anyway.

My parents did the best that they could to make sure that we had access to as many opportunities as possible so paying what had to be a small fortune at the time in order to support our academic and cultural development was something that they were quite proud of…even if the books were published before I was born which meant that in essence, they were obsolete and missing quite a bit of culture.

As lacking as our encyclopedias were, I remember my parents saying, “Go look it up!” whenever we inquired about pretty much anything. Our learning ritual was that I would search for the information, read aloud a pretty insignificant blurb and then learn what I needed through discussion with my parents as they filled in the blanks with memories that our encyclopedias did not and could not contain.

While I did enjoy this critically important bonding time, I think that we can all agree on the importance of having the type of access where a simple act of curiosity can lead to places where discussions from a single family’s dining room table can extend to others around the world…where discussions about history that happen in private can be recorded, uploaded, shared and referenced for years to come…where a desire to learn doesn’t end at the conclusion of a book but is transformed through that learner’s realization that they too can create the information that they seek…but in their own way.

…Where a kid who is curious as to why she doesn’t see any lawyers, doctors, architects, engineers, astronauts, computer programmers, mathematicians or teachers that look like her can reach beyond her city limits and not only connect but be inspired to pursue her own dreams.

This is the type of access that my father desired before he knew that it existed. This is the type of access that I want for MY KIDS…YOUR KIDS…ALL KIDS!

There is a movement (#internet4schools) to create and share a 15-second video about why the FCC should expand high speed internet access to schools and vote “yes” to E-rate which they should certainly do. However, I want to challenge us all to go a little bit deeper.

  • When you do have access, how will your students not just seek information, but create it?
  • How will you address student device equity and accessibility? (BYOD isn’t the answer for all situations or all students)
  • How will you make sure that the devices in school buildings are not only working but maintained to their highest capacity and replaced when needed?
  • How will you guarantee that student connectivity isn’t limited to test prep technology but used collaboratively and creatively?
  • How will you empower learners to use the power of access to create the schools, communities and worlds that they want to grow in?
  • How will you make sure that the problems that kids solve in school are not just “real and relevant” but relatable?
  • How will you support teachers through job-embedded development and empower them through the same learner driven growth that we want to see in our students?
  • How will you make sure that important community, cultural and global discussions aren’t ignored but are represented through discussions, research and if desired, student-led activism?

and finally…

How will you make sure that all students are given every opportunity possible to learn, develop and grow through entrepreneurial minded instructional design and development through real global connections and experiences?

At the end of the day, the FCC can grant all of the access possible but if we aren’t collectively ready to implement certain changes with fidelity, we all still lose.

More importantly, our kids lose.

Dear EdTech Conference Vendor (An Open Letter Rant)

Dear EdTech Conference Vendor (An Open Letter Rant)

Lately, I have been reminded of why I typically avoid the vendor area at conferences. I have been thinking about this for quite some time and lucky for you, I’m on a long drive home and can finally hash this out.

For starters, I don’t understand your company’s training practices and typically after a few sentences, it is generally quite clear that you have no idea how or if your product really impacts learning, yet you insist on repeating your provided blurb. Perhaps a deeper understanding of current educational practices as well as YOUR OWN PRODUCT sometimes, might be beneficial.

I’m proud of you for at least memorizing the “EdTech Buzzword Bingo” board but until you fully understand the meaning behind the practice (from an actual classroom), you are no longer allowed to throw around such phrases as Flipped learning, future ready(Really???), transformative, personalized learning, blended learning and wait for it…content delivery system.

FYI…You probably did not invent collaboration or any other derivative of the buzzwords that you used about 10 times. Yes, I did in fact count them because I was THAT over it!

When you show your super expensive product and someone like myself (highly informed and tech savvy) points out that there are quite a few others on the market that do the exact same thing but at a more reasonable price point…please do not insult my intelligence by trying to repeatedly convince me otherwise. The correct response is to say something like. “That’s interesting. Let me look into that. Thank you.”

These conversations almost always result in a debate comparing product A to B and sometimes C. It would be different if you really understood classroom instruction and your product but too often, you do not and it shows.

Is it too much to ask that you do your homework? Is it too much to ask that you actually listen to the very people that you’re trying to sell to…especially those who have already purchased your product and are offering you feedback from their classroom experience…real instructional application.

Although “feedback isn’t in your lane”, you might just hear a small blurb that may help you as you talk to the next person because that “small yet important classroom example” is much more conducive to your “purpose” than the ppt slides that are loaded on your device.

Long sigh…

Here’s an idea. Before you stand before a group educators, please do some homework. We may not always agree with homework but a little bit on your part will go a long way.

You should know that in education, there are those of us who are aware of change and innovative practice as well as those that do not. At the same token, there are Edtech companies who get it right and those who need to reflect on their strategies.

I do believe in a free market society as well as the creation of innovative tools.

However, our priorities are different. Mine is student learning and growth. What’s yours?

One more thing…Those that garner our trust, include us in the process and value our input. Doing that would be a start.

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The Math of Things

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Experiencing the World Through the Google Cultural Institute

Experiencing the World Through the Google Cultural Institute

A few months ago, I found the Google Cultural Institute while looking around for a few of Google’s initiatives and I have to say that this is my all time favorite thing that google has ever done. As a person who believes wholeheartedly in the power of experience through media, I love that users can take…