|BHS Help Desk Students with the MA Secretary of Edu|
|@jcasap @sarcasmserved @br0nak at the GAFE NE Summit|
|Help Desk at MassCUE|
|BHS Help Desk Students with the MA Secretary of Edu|
|@jcasap @sarcasmserved @br0nak at the GAFE NE Summit|
|Help Desk at MassCUE|
So yesterday I tried something new. I wanted my digital literacy students to see the reach of social media. I was introducing them to blogs and what they are and how they have evolved. I was also mentioning how blogs can be a way to highlight talents, promote conversation and to reflect.
I started with a simple blog post.
I want my students to see the power, purpose and relevancy of blogging. Please share one sentence describing “why do you blog?” Thank you.
Please fill out the form below.
I then logged into my Google Apps account. Selected Create > Form and made four simple questions:
1. Name (optional)
2. Twitter name (optional)
3. City, Country
4. Why do you blog?
I selected embed from the forms editing panel in the upper right-hand corner, copied the code, and pasted it in the HTML box of my blog. Before I hit publish, I went back into my Google Drive, found the spreadsheet where my answers were going to be collected. I selected “Insert” > “Gadgets” (pop up window came up) > and then selected “Maps” > Found “Map by Google” > and selected add to spreadsheet.
The video below will help you see how to get a project started using Google Forms and Maps. NOTE: You must have a column that includes some form of address. You can keep it simple and use City and Country or you can solicit full addresses. Depending on the project, you can choose accordingly. Any questions about using this type of project in your classes, as always, see the help desk.
|Paul tending to his garden|
Late summer afternoons on the patio rocker with mother; tending the garden at dusk; mowing the expansive lawn at a slow pace; turning a fallen tree into warmth; a firm handshake and an honest word; a simple life with enormous impact.
These short sentences paint a picture of a man who impacted so many with his simple way of life. Paul Albert McDermott, Sr. was not a scholar nor was he the wealthiest man on the block. In fact, with only a 10th grade education, Paul provided for his family and was quite the innovator. He could take coffee cans and make elaborate organizers that even The Container Store would admire. He saved countless gallon milk jugs that he would cut in half to protect his small tomato plants from an early frost. Before “going green” became trendy, Paul acquired fourteen 50-gallon, plastic barrels (that would have most likely been discarded) from his nephew that he positioned around his old chicken coop to catch the rain. The rainwater was then used to help his garden thrive from year to year. I’m certain Paul was happy he didn’t have to pay Lowe’s $150 for just one barrel.
Material things did not matter to Paul. Paul’s riches came in the form of people and the natural elements that surrounded him. His greatest treasure and the purpose of his life was his wife, Peggy. For 65 years Peggy and Paul were an institution of love, and for many, defined the word.
Peggy and Paul raised three children: Paul Jr., Jean, and Dave. Together, Peggy and Paul taught their children to live life humbly, respect those around you, and never waste a crumb. These life lessons were not epic, however; the impact and evidence can be seen in their lives and the lives of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
|Paul’s efficient solution to watering his garden|
|Paul’s garden respite|
Beyond his tractors and his trap shoot launcher, Paul’s favorite toy was his wood splitter. As legend has it, it was slightly better than Paul Junior’s. Paul enjoyed watching the power of his wood splitter and how efficient it made cutting wood. Many hours were spent splitting wood with Dave and Paul Junior. Around the campfire with Jean and Dave, Paul would often ask Dave to put more wood on the already burning “toothpicks”. Paul’s wood stacks were neat and meticulously calculated. Along with Peggy and his family those cuts of wood generated many good laughs and stories around hearths and countless campfires. While most would see a simple slice of wood, Paul saw an element that brought his family together for many years.
In death, Paul returns to the earth he so loved working with. He also returns to the person he treasured most in this world, Peggy. When you think of Peggy and Paul you think of one of life’s greatest love stories. You think of two, humble, generous people who lived life simply and honestly. In a fast-paced world, inundated with greed, self-promotion and competitive gains, Peggy and Paul walked gently together; always giving, compassionate and never wanting.
This evening, and many summer evenings to come, just as the sun slides past the horizon and the cool summer air invades the landscape along with the majestic hues of the sky know that Peggy and Paul are sitting together with you on the patio gently rocking back in forth in their chairs.
Last Tuesday, twenty Burlington high school students had the opportunity to visit Google offices in Cambridge, MA. The purpose of the trip was to show students interested in computer science what they could potentially do with a computer science degree and present them with an opportunity to learn from some of the best computer scientists in the world.
Students were greeted by three developers, Jessica, Adam, and Dan, from Google and they presented us with a brief background of the company and an overview of Google’s history. We toured several areas of the office and students made note of the lack of cubicles and the transparent working environment. Employees were not isolated from each other, nor did walls partition them. Workspaces were open and visible enabling a collaborative environment. Employees moved around freely and took occasional snack breaks.
Students also took note that Google employees are never too far from food and that the food choices were color coded for their nutritional value. When it came time for lunch later in the day, students were impressed by the abundance of healthy choices available for lunch. However it was sushi day, so most students opted for the mac and cheese.
Not long into the tour one student asked, “Why are schools so disconnected from how people work on a daily basis?” “Why can’t schools look more like this office?” I didn’t have an immediate answer because I have been pondering the same question for years. I reminded this student that a Google office is a small sample of how things occur on a daily basis at most companies, but reinforced how committed Google is to providing the best environment for productivity and efficiency for all of its employees. Apparently Google is onto something.
After the tour, students sat down in a conference room with three Google developers and a Chrome OS developer to brainstorm their ideal computer science course. Before we started, I shared with students that we were in the drafting phase of putting together a hybrid course tentatively titled, “Google Academy” that will be co-taught by the three Google developers in the room and a Burlington high school teacher. The course is tentatively scheduled for next fall and would be available in two sections, as a half-year elective.
Here is the draft of the course description…
The Google Academy will be a unique experience that examines a variety of topics in computer science and explores several languages such as Python, C++, Visual Basic, etc. Beyond the programming aspect of the course, students will participate in an authentic, collaborative environment that promotes transparent, purposeful learning. Students will learn first hand what it takes to work in a major company while learning how to manage time and projects independently.
This course will commence both online and face-to-face. The Google Academy will be co-taught by multiple Google programmers and one Burlington High School teacher. The course will also require bi-weekly participation at the Google offices in Cambridge. The Google Academy will expect the student to work independently, responsibly and manage their time and assignments throughout the duration of this course.
Once we described the potential course, we asked the students how they wanted to structure the course and what they wanted to learn. Students began listing areas of interest in the context of computer science ranging from open source coding to coding games and iOS applications. It was great to hear students discuss what they wanted to learn as opposed to hearing what they have to learn.
Students generated ideas that filled two white boards. The room was filled with conversation and questions. It was rewarding to sit back and watch students casually interact with these engineers and ask them questions about what it takes to get to where they are in their careers. It was one of those moments as an educator where you see the great potential for our schools and our students.
Students left excited and eager to hear more about the course that they just helped design. They were also excited about the free Pepsi “Next” they obtained from the vendor on the street pitching the new soft drink to pedestrians.
I’m excited that my district and administration are open to the opportunity for connecting with the business sector to give our students a purposeful learning experience. I’m grateful for the connection I made with three generous Google employees willing to volunteer their time to guide our students through this course. I hope this is a trend that catches on in the education community; a trend that enables more schools to embrace, not limit technology opportunities that connect students with the community and provide purposeful learning experiences.
As the facebook-less week draws to a close, I find myself only somewhat interested in getting back on the preeminent social network. The experience for me was moderately eye opening, but fun at the same time. I enjoyed cutting out newspaper clippings and posting them to colleagues’ walls. I enjoyed asking people to be my friend. I enjoyed colleagues physically posting messages on my door asking to be friends with me. I enjoyed rejecting some of them and then dealing with the conversations that followed.
I didn’t really miss it. When I logged on Saturday morning I didn’t really miss much. My cousin got engaged and I hadn’t heard otherwise. I’m sure I eventually would have, but it was nice to see a photo of the rock on her finger. Other than that, I didn’t miss a beat. I still felt that I was connected with my friends and family when I returned.
So to sum it up, five days without facebook is cake. I returned to my original assertion that facebook employs the perfect design for procrastination and wasting time. It also allows us to vent whatever we want and obtain daily affirmation much like Stuart Smalley did with his mirror on SNL.
I admire John Spencer for sustaining for forty days and want to thank him for starting this project and taking time out of his schedule to speak with my students about this project. That experience really highlighted to my students what you can do and learn from a network. It showed that a teacher from Phoenix and a teacher from Boston can come together to orchestrate a lesson that engages students and models good digital citizenship and why it is important to take care of your digital identity.
I think my students will remember this experience and look differently at facebook, and social media in general. I think they understand that facebook is not a departure from reality and that it is just another medium by which we can engage, interact and voice our opinions and thoughts. It is not a place where we should mask our identity.
Day four of the living facebook project and I’m feeling fine, however my students are starting to get anxious. The link I posted on my colleague’s wall has gone viral. Whitten’s wall has become the talk of Burlington. His students are really excited to post comments on his board and keep the conversation alive. It’s grown rapidly.
The students are starting to see that facebook is not really a place at all and that it is really no different than a wall. It serves the same purpose, however they are beginning to understand the reach and audience that social media commands. This is an important distinction that is not always easily translated to students.
Today as we talked about the facebook project I asked them to define the most important 21st Century skill. Many students described skills involved directly with technology. One student said interaction, while others mentioned searching and researching skills. After entertaining all of their responses, I quoted Alan November and said that the most important 21st century skill is empathy. I related how important this skill is in a global economy and an increasingly connected world. We then transitioned the conversation to a Google doc and came up with some great responses to several questions associated with civility, citizenship, empathy and maintaining and molding your digital spaces.
While this conversation was unfolding on the Google Doc, we were greeted by a group of administrators and teachers who were visiting Burlington. The students explained to our visitors what they were discussing on the doc and the crowd was impressed with their responses. My students immediately relayed the importance of maintaining their digital identity and how someday they will be expected adapt to and use these spaces effectively. Also, they started to see social media as an opportunity for their future as opposed to something that is deemed bad by many. It was one of those moments as a teacher that makes you very proud.
Today’s living facebook project was not really about facebook at all. It was about students understanding their responsibility in a variety of digital spaces. Also, it reinforced how important empathy is in a global economy and an increasingly connected world.
|Andy Marcinek is now friends with Todd Whitten|
When I left my last post, I came to the conclusion that facebook is a giant time waster. What’s more, is that facebook is not something I would classify as ‘missing’. What I do miss is the opportunity to share with people that only use facebook. With that element lacking, I decided to take sharing back to the basics and see what others thought about the analog process. So my question is…what happens when you want to share without any audience? And share with an audience of one? More, what would a connected room of students think about this form of analog sharing. I’m also wondering if people share more for the affirmation or more to genuinely help everyone in their network?
|Andy Marcinek shared a link on your wall|
I am starting to notice two things during my week without Facebook:
1. I don’t really feel left out of the conversation
2. Facebook is designed perfectly for wasting time and procrastinating.
Yes, I occasionally wonder what’s happening in my news feed and if I am missing any great photos or videos of cats falling off of counter tops, but I’m using other venues for information and sharing. And that’s what I find myself missing most. Not so much the cats, but having the venue to share information with my friends and family that don’t use Twitter or any other social network. The same goes with photos. Yesterday I was at the dog park and wanted to share a picture with Facebook. Instead, I sent a photo text of my dog to my mom and a few friends and demanded that they comment and like it. They did.
Beyond the time consumption element, I’m discovering that Facebook is a great party. Everyone is there that you want to be there and it’s usually a good time. It can be a private party or a giant mixer. Most of the conversation is geared towards positive interactions and gaining affirmation. It’s a place where we feel good and can glean some positive reinforcement during a bad day. Facebook is about us. It’s like Cheers: It’s a place where everybody knows your name.