Lego and Structuring Design

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Saw this article on and was pleasantly surprised by it. Did a good job framing some thoughts about implementing such an approach in the classroom, with potential for our school-within-a-school. I particularly liked the before, during, and after diagram.


Focused Video Questions Using GoogleForms

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Was emailed this article about using embedded videos in GoogleForms to ask directed questions with efficient access to the videos (for rewind / review). Seems like a good approach, one I might have to try.

Innovation Summit 2016 – We Are Makers: Educating the Next Generation of Innovators

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  • Project Zero Classroom –> go for a week (in Cambridge) and experiment with various routines
  • Agency by Design (of Project Zero) focuses on making
    • sketching an object from different perspectives
    • taking the object apart and sketching its parts
    • [could this be a jumping off point project for the SWS?
    • students bring an object of their choice and, it is hoped, the project / approach leads to a problem, a solution, an idea, a question, etc.?]
  • three phases to making: explore, create, share
  • each of us breaks into groups of 2-4 and are given a plastic bag with a plastic pencil sharpener, small tools, paper, and pencils
  • we first sketch the object from various perspectives, in the process considering the following:
    • what are its parts?
    • what are its purposes / the purposes of each part?
    • what are its complexities?
  • then the object is dismantled and each part is sketched and labeled
    • what are the parts of the system?
    • who are the people connected to the system?
    • how do the people in the system interact with each other and with the parts of the system?
    • how does a change in one element of the system affect the various parts and people connected to the system?
  • now innovate –> list improvements, sketch design ideas
    • how could it be made more effective?
    • how could it be made more efficient?
    • how could it be made more ethical?
    • how could it be made more beautiful?

Innovation Summit 2016: Friday Keynote – A Culture Shift in Education

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Jaime Casap, Education Evangelist, Google

  • there is no end point in education; it is continuous
  • grades are an end point; a B sends a message
  • why are we teaching our kids that collaboration is cheating?
  • flip it around: what if he went to his CEO and handed in a project, saying that he did it all by himself
  • we live in a team-based world; we live in a world where collaboration is the norm
  • how do we teach our kids to change their minds?
  • leadership = building consensus, influencing, leading

Innovation Summit 2016: Amplifying PBL Through an EdTech Redesign

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Shaelynn Farnsworth

• starting at TodaysMeet (.com) with a question: How can PBL benefit students?

• why PBL: student-centered, authentic, present-ready

• how can EdTech enhance those areas: accessibility, communication, demonstration of understanding

• Google’s MyMaps for accessibility / ‘travel’

• communication: join the global conversation while maintaining their own identity

• bring in experts in the field: Google Communities; local people; Twitter; colleagues

• RecapApp lets you set up a video response, whereby kids can answer questions through videos to you alone unless you share it

• a reemergence of podcasting: Soundtrap –> collaborative music / voice creation

• ScreenCastify

• how do we foster the 5th C –> Curiosity

• inquiry is the engine of PBL

• telling stories through data

Innovation Summit 2016: Igniting Inquiry Through PBL

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  • Panel with Ben Sondgeroth (@Mr_Sondgeroth), Shaelynn Farnsworth (@shfarnsworth), Jodie Deinhammer (@jdeinhammer), Christine Boyer (@5Boyer)


  • Q1: Using inquiry in the classroom.
  • SF: Kids come to school inquisitive and leave less inquisitive. PBL can stem this tide.
  • CB: How to take curriculum, what we have to do, and figure out how to ask questions.


  • Q2: Your definition of PBL.
  • JD: Challenge the kids to find an issue in society or community and develop a solution to it. Students having some say in what they’re learning.
  • CB: Working with colleagues on a project that spreads across curriculum areas, a collaboration among teachers to create a project for which the students have some to a lot of input (elementary). Keep things fluid from year to year.
  • SF: A framework to develop problem-seekers rather than problem-solvers. Student-centered: choice and voice. Student-centered creates engagement. PBL is authentic: no school for school work. PBL makes them present-ready (rather than future-ready); getting skills not for college or a job but rather skills that can be used now.


  • [Can we allow students to create their own curriculum? To what extent can students entirely self-direct and to what extent must we direct them, even subtly, towards content and/or specific disciplines? Can this be one of our progressions if it is a multi-class program? Can they become more self-directed as they grow through the program? S1 senior year is self-directed; S2 senior year is off-site at an internship of sorts that dovetails with the S1 work?]


  • My Classical Lit question about engagement:
  • JD: Student reflections can assess content knowledge.


  • (Student) Voice and Choice
  • JD: to students: “What do you all want to do?” They wanted to tackle childhood obesity and so created an iTunesU course to which kids from around the world subscribed and with whom they interacted.
  • CB: authentic audience; her (elementary) blogs were initially restricted from going public; students wrote letters to school tech people asking that they be made public.


  • How to structure PBL so that it’s sustainable?
  • SF: support from admin and/or colleagues is essential; without it, format will revert to previous approach.


  • Assessment
  • SF: quality in content and in product –> whatever they are producing should look good / be produced well, as well as including content


  • A trend with two  main topics in audience questions: time / managing project time & buy-in (by all constituencies)
  • JD: find one teacher to try something new and it becomes easier for others to see the benefits

Apple Teacher Program Update

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I wrote about learning about the Apple Teacher program here and it was on my list to get back to. So I had some time at my son’s swim meet this afternoon, and I was burned out on grading, and I needed something mindless to do, so I figured I’d try out some of the Apple Teacher Program Badge-Quizzes (if you remember, badges are what you earn on your way to becoming an Apple Teacher).

There are eight quizzes for Mac and eight for iPad and you can become ‘certified’ in both. The quizzes are each 5 questions long and you need to answer 4 of the 5 questions correctly to pass.

The badge-categories are Mac / iPad, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie, Garage Band, Productivity, and Creativity. Pass all eight in either category and you are a Certified Apple Teacher (note that this is very different from being an Apple Distinguished Educator, which is a much more elaborate and difficult process).

Going into this, I was assuming that the process would be akin to becoming a Google Certified Educator, which I completed I think two years ago (but I also think has since lapsed, as it does expire). I was thus surprised by how few questions were on each quiz and, to some extent, how easy they were (much easier overall than the Google assessments). That’s not to say that you didn’t have to know your (Apple) stuff, but you didn’t have to know it inside and out. The combination of the low number of questions and the way the questions were written (many questions included contextual clues that helped with the answers and some of the questions were either the same for both Mac and iPad or covered the same material in different ways) made it a pretty easy process. I was a ‘certified’ Apple (Mac) Teacher within maybe a half hour.

My wife of course was hoping this would mean some massive pay raise or bonus but, alas, no such luck. You get a downloadable signature (along with a 15 page document on when, where, and how you can and can’t use that signature, e.g. I don’t think I’m allowed to use it here in this post, but I will anyway) and that’s about it.

But if you’re looking for some affirmation at the extent of your Apple knowledge and have some (but not a ton) of time on your hands, check out the Apple Teacher Program and enjoy (in limited ways) your new signature:


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