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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Measure, Treasure, and Pleasure: Achieving Eternal Impact in Your Learning Journey

Our superintendent Dr. Neihof often reminds us to make educational leadership choices while keeping "eternal impact" in mind.  In other words, make a difference for students not just for today or this school year, but for decades into their future.  Know that you are an agent of change, and the choices you make in educational leadership are what define the legacy you leave (or create).

Not too long ago, at a district administrative meeting, we were discussing the tools of measuring what we consider important in a school environment.  Like a lightning bolt, three rhyming words popped into my brain: measure, treasure, and pleasure. **  As I reflected, the words began weaving into an axiom:

"Measure what you treasure, and don't forget your pleasure."


While it may be an oversimplification to base an entire district vision or plan on such a phrase, I think these three key words help illuminate a way a person can make an eternal impact in education.  Let's look through the lenses of administrator, teacher and student as we examine the components.

Treasure

What is most important to me or us?  When thinking educationally, it might be difficult to narrow to just one "thing" and we must settle for a distilled list of bullets.  But be careful: if the list is too long, then priorities become muddled, the progress will be difficult to track, and the result will be frustration and disappointment.

Administrators may ask:   What skills, dispositions and/or knowledge do we want a graduate from our school/district to have?

Teachers may ask:  What must a student have when they leave my classroom?  After learning my content, what is the one thing I hope they will know or will be?

Students may ask:  What do I want to be when I grow up?  What am I passionate about?  What skill or knowledge gaps do I need to most "fill" by the time I graduate?

Measure

In what ways will you ensure that you are on track for achieving your treasure?  It is human nature to do what you are held accountable for, but if what you do seems to have little or no impact (lack of monitoring, no consistent feedback, expectations are unclear, etc.), you'll drop it in favor of more "important" stuff.  For example, you may see the need to examine "social and emotional learning," but by which systemic metrics must you ensure SEL is tracked and addressed?   You may value digital citizenship, but in what ways can you guarantee that stakeholders engage in maturity-appropriate high critical thinking lessons over a consistent period of time?

Administrators may ask:  In what ways am I creating a culture of compliance rather than a culture of change, and how can I reverse this?  How are my walk-through tools beneficial and timely to teachers?   Do I spend more energy on celebrating risk taking and growth opportunities, or are you more concerned about staff sticking to the rules?  Are teachers analyzing data gathered from integrated blended learning, or are they merely "using" digital tools? How are you personalizing staff learning in the same ways you hope they are doing for students?

Teachers may ask:  How do I make sure each student feels they are a valuable part of our classroom and community?   How do I know which students have "it"?  How will I help those that don't, and those that already do?  How can my assessments be for student learning as much or more than a summative declaration of their learning?  How am I allowing multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their mastery?

Students may ask:  How do I know where I am at?   In what ways will I achieve what I want?  How can I reflect on and use "artifacts" as evidence of my mastery of competencies and standards?


Pleasure

Last but not least, our journey must have a sense of play and joy.  Without positive encouragement of taking risks, without fostering curiosity and inquiry, and without a sense that what we do is for the betterment of self and of others, the rest becomes moot.  It is the difference between a journey of "academics" (with all the dry, stuffy connotations that word dredges up) and a journey of authentic learning.

Administrators may ask:   How do I help our staff feel fulfilled and energized?   What mechanisms makes sure teacher voices and desires are given a fair shake? How do I foster collaboration and teamwork and avoid staff feeling "silo'd"? Knowing that overwhelmed teachers may be faced with "cherish or perish," how do I celebrate them and help them avoid burnout?

Teachers may ask:  What inspired me to become a teacher (and if necessary, how do I reconnect to reignite my passion for teaching)?  How can I feed my aspirations and need for growth?  How do I find a balance of personal and professional demands?  In what ways today can I laugh and smile with my students and colleagues?   How can I allow myself to play and take risks without the pressure of perfection?  How can I bring some of this play and joy to my students?

Students may ask:   Do I have a voice and choice in personalizing my path in learning?  How is my learning relevant and authentic?  How can I make sure what I do impacts the world?  Where is the sweet spot in my learning that is between "too challenging" and "too easy"?  What are ways I can collaborate and make learning a social activity? How do I continue to grow in what I'm good at while also filling my learning gaps?


If done well, what we do in school has ramifications for years to come in ways far outside the classroom walls.  In that way, the grandest legacy of our "eternal impact" will be transforming administrators, teachers and students into lifelong learners.


**Editor's note:  while Google searches didn't turn up this idea of "measure, treasure, pleasure" in academic settings, it did reveal phraseology in a similar vein a few times in, of all things, religious reflection (such as this blog entry).   Perhaps this should not be surprising, as the secular "eternal impact" I discuss above would be analogous to the spiritual "eternal impact" of religious belief-centered choices.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Edtech Share Fair 2018 tickets now available!

Happy New Year 2018!  Although I (barely!) blogged more in 2017 than 2016, the number of entries was still lower than I had hoped it would be.  Chalk it up to busy work days and priorities.  One of my New Year resolutions is to at least average two entries a month for 2018 and get closer to the amount of blogging published when I first began Edtech Elixirs.

That aside, today's short blog entry is for promoting the fourth annual Edtech Share Fair on February 21, 2018! There are several firsts this year: the most sessions total (16), principals leading sessions for the first time, and more.   However, the most significant is adding a second strand of sessions concentrating on competency based education (CBE).  As a district, we are transitioning into just such a system, and we'd love to share what we've learned and accomplished so far.

You can read more about our presenters, their sessions, and more Share Fair information here or in the embedded Smore flyer below.     Tickets are FREE and we enthusiastically welcome educators from outside our district to attend.  The link for tickets is in the Smore, or you can go directly to our Eventbrite page here.

Hope to see you in February!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

To Tech or Not to Tech: Reflecting on Blended Learning for Young Students

The world of education is quickly becoming a digitized place, and for some, this can be unsettling. Parents, community members, teachers and even students sometimes lament the shift away from past instructional tools; recently, a high school freshman wrote an opinion piece titled "Public education should be less dependent on technology." At the end, she quips, "Technology may fail, but pencils and pens always work."

The debate is important to have for all grades, but in K-3 classrooms, this argument becomes nearly an emotional one. For our youngest students, the choice can seem agonizing. Do you fully engage them by recognizing their “real” life outside of school is constantly filtered through a digital lens, and an online workforce is their present and future?  Or do you make your classroom an analog haven where traditional materials -- actual books with paper pages, physical math manipulatives, Elmer’s Glue -- give the students a digital reprieve from hours of at-home screen time?


While I won't pretend that I can definitively solve this conundrum, I offer three steps to determine a way forward.


The first asks for hard reflection. You must consider how much bang for the buck you are currently getting for your traditional “this is the way I’ve always done it” approach.  Pencils and pens may never fail, but clearly across the United States, students do. Are your math and reading scores rising every year, or have they become stagnant or even declined?  On any given day, are students fully engaged and actively learning, or more distracted than ever and only passively receiving content?  If your current state tends toward the latter in both of those questions, recognize your present instruction is not having your expected impact, and change is necessary; you need to at least consider a different approach to teaching with additional or different (possibly digital) tools.

This is a good segue into the second step: analyze not how much you are using technology, but how you are using it. Just like any effective pedagogical tool, technology should enable students to be collaborative, creative, and critical thinkers. Two recent tweets (both of which reference TeachThought) shared to me by my colleague Lora Shields sum this point up nicely. The first uses side by side columns to show the difference between mere usage and intentional integration:



The second tweet looks at Bloom's Taxonomy verbs from a digital perspective. What are students doing with the tech? Clearly, the higher up the scale, the higher order the thinking:
The third step is to reject the either/or false dilemma nature of the question of "to tech or not to tech."  A modern classroom will likely have both digital and analog tools side by side, where technology usage is not seen as a “reward” or for a special hour on Friday.  It requires balance and moderation -- in short, a blended learning approach.  This can take time, a growth mindset, and patience.  It also requires moving the blended learning classroom from a "substitution" model -- where the pinnacle of achievement is merely digital flashcards and online dictionaries -- to a “redefinition” model where teaching is truly transformed and recentered . . . a place where students are exploring creativity, impacting their environment, and active reflectors of their own learning.

If you need to see a blended learning model, look no further than Jodie Collins and her kindergarten classroom at Wright Elementary. Ms. Collins (like all Shelby K students) has a 1:1 class set of iPads. After a recent visit, I knew she would be a great person to interview about the challenges and successes of integrating technology with our youngest students.
Ms. Collins, welcome to Edtech Elixirs!  Share your story. 
I began teaching in 2000. I taught Head Start. I finished my BA in Early Childhood Education in 2003 and continued with Head Start at Wright. In 2005 I began teaching Kindergarten here. I went to Georgetown and obtained my Masters in the Teacher Leader Program in Instructional Technology. Technology has always been a love of mine. I have always loved being innovative in my teaching. I started just by using technology in my classroom. I used to hear, “Oh, kindergarten students can’t use technology to learn.” Yes they can and they do! I do a lot of blog reading of other teachers and technology. Technology in primary is powerful and necessary considering the world our kiddos are growing up in!


How have you used your class set of iPads to create a blended learning environment in your classroom? My students use iPads for different avenues of their learning. The basic one is apps. We use apps for educational games. They also use iPads as a listening center. They scan QR codes and listen and watch stories being read to them. We have math stations during the week and students will use an iPad to access the video I make to show them how to work in their math station. They access this through a QR code I create to connect them to the video. The video helps them see and hear the rules for the station but also different ways to play the games and the learning targets they will be working on while in that station! [Editor's note: if you don't have a mobile device, you can scan QR codes with the webcam of a laptop or Chromebook using The QR Code Generator website.] I also use iPads for personalized learning in Kindergarten.

Personalized learning in kindergarten?  How do you do that?  
Yes, you heard me right! My students are on an app called Boom Learning (Boom Cards is the name in the app store). I created my free account and added my students. I am able to assign task cards to my students based on their individual needs in the areas of Math, ELA, Science and Social Studies. I can create task cards, but the website has a ton of free task cards in their store or I can purchase decks through Boom Learning and on Teachers Pay Teachers. My students are able to work on skills they need and on their level. Not only does this help the students but Boom Learning keeps reports for me to access how my students are performing on each skill. I see their accuracy, the number of times the deck was attempted, and I can even see the rate at which the student is answering or performing the skill. This helps me see if they lingering on a certain problem for a long time, and I can check in with them and pinpoint where they may be struggling and intervene to help!

Some stakeholders are concerned if we are using too much technology, especially with primary students.  What is your opinion on integrating digital tools for K-3 students?  How do you balance and manage digital tools with more traditional, analog approaches to learning? 
I think we are doing our students a disservice if we do not use technology in our classrooms. That is the nature of the beast and the world around us is filled with technology. We want our students able to use technology appropriately and efficiently. Yes, I use a lot of technology in my classroom, but I also use pencil and paper and crayons and markers. My students are well balanced in learning from both technology and traditional tools in Kindergarten. We write daily, we color daily, and we are learning to type too!

What are some of your favorite iOS apps or iPad-friendly web tools?  
Definitely Boom Learning! I love how I can differentiate with it. I have students working on addition through 20 already even though we are not to addition in our Core Content instruction yet! I found Boom Learning to be more beneficial having the iPads and also because of the reports I get from it. I also like Splash Math, ABCya, Sand Draw, Rainbow Draw, Glo Draw.  With an app called Sticky, students practice typing words. We have just started working with a few apps on coding!

What’s a new tool or digital approach you are wanting to try out for the first time?
I want to incorporate Google Classroom but we are not there yet!  Google Classroom may work better for iPads a little later in the year. I am definitely interested in coding and teaching them how to code. I am looking into some LEGO kits that do just that for the classroom!

Any advice you would like to share with other K-3 teachers wanting to integrate edtech? 
TRY IT! Yes, it can be scary and yes you are going to STRUGGLE but as [our principal] Mr. Green reminds us, it is all about the struggle! We learn when we struggle! Do not give up and be creative.  Make it work for you and your kiddos!

Thank you Ms. Collins for taking the time to interview!


In closing, here are some additional resources for blended learning and tools for elementary students:










Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Legends of Learning

Greetings, all!  Sorry for the hiatus, as this fall as been busy.  As I prepare to go to my first regional ECET2 conference in Hebron, Kentucky this weekend, I thought I would take the time to blog.

The focus of this entry,  Legends of Learning, is something I've been excited about since I first heard of it several months ago.  I have talked about it in interviews, and shared it in professional development sessions.  In short, Legends of Learning (hereby shortened to LoL) takes two of my passions in learning -- personalization and games -- and combines them in a unique and compelling way.

While the content is currently limited to middle school science, LoL has stated they will expand their offerings to other contents as well as to elementary and high school levels.

How does it work?  As a teacher,you first need to register with an email and a password, along with your school information.  (Students simply need their teacher's code to join his/her "class," give their first and last name, and create a username.  Conversely, teachers can also create student accounts and rosters/groups when at the "playlist" dashboard.)

Once in as a teacher, you can explore and play any of the games offered.  First, you can browse by three science topics: earth, life, and physical.  You'll then see learning objectives listed (by standards).   Finally, you can look at individual games.  Once you find ones you like, you can begin creating "playlists" by dragging and dropping them onto the playlist bar in the order you like.  (Bonus: an indicator gives you a feel for how long it might take to complete all of the playlist games.)  When you are ready, you can launch the playlist.  With some built-in assessment questions (unfortunately, you cannot customize or add to them), you can get a feel on how well students are comprehending the material as well as how far and fast they are proceeding in the games, all in a real time teacher dashboard in a very easy to follow user interface.

It should be noted that teachers begin with so many free "coins."  Each time one student plays one game, it costs one coin.  While there are ways to get more coins without spending money (see "Downsides?" below), at some point you will likely have to consider a one year license purchase (available for quote request but not listed on the LoL site).

There are several useful, even innovative, features built into Legends of Learning:

Managing Students, Freeplay, and Pause/Stop


The dots representing the students march across the playlist as they complete their games and assessments.  You can click on any of them to see which student they are, and how accurately they are answering multiple choice questions in real time.

If any student dot turns red, that means they have opened up a new tab and are no longer interacting with a game.  This is by far one of my most favorite aspects of Legends of Learning!  What an easy way to manage students to stay on task!

If a student completes all of their assigned games and there is still time remaining, a student can do "freeplay" -- that is, play any of the games available in the assigned science objective.   An instant answer to the student who asks, "What do I do when I'm done?"

Last but not least, you can pause a playlist at any time to do a "catch and release," or stop it entirely.


Quick Comprehension Overviews



As assessment questions are answered by at least one student, the question "opens up" in a growing column on the right side of the dashboard.  With the green and red indicators, you can quickly determine if certain questions are not going well (like the "male peacocks" and"bird mating calls" questions in the above image).  Might be time to pause the playlist and do a catch and release!

Post-play Data Reporting


Once the playlist is over, you can click on the orange "Question Data" button in the bottom right to see how students performed.  You can view this inside the LoL dashboard, but you can also export this data as a CSV file.


One final positive about LoL is the depth of its onsite resources and research information around game based education.  If one is looking for why and how gaming improves learning, or looking for other educational games to use, LoL's site is a solid place to start.



How could you use it?  Since you are not limited in how many playlists you create, you could make them for differentiating to a group of students or even down to personalizing for one student.  It could be a different way of "flipped learning" by delivering content or building schema as games for homework, then use classtime to apply student knowledge.  And what better way to slip in direct instruction of content during project based learning science units at the student's choice of time, place and pace?


Downsides?   You always hope for free tools, so the inevitable cost of students playing the games is a bit of a bummer.   However, you can share a referral code to colleagues which, if it results in a sign up, will get more coins for you!  You can also earn coins by giving critical feedback on the games themselves. However, your opportunity to try it at no charge should give you enough evaluation time to see if it makes a difference for instruction and learning before paying anything.  As already mentioned at the beginning, the current limitation of only middle school science content hinders larger amounts of classrooms being able to use the material, but I believe patience will pay off in expanded offerings in the future.


Have you tried Legends of Learning?  If not, what are some other educational game websites you feel make an impact on student learning?   Respond in the Comments below.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The $100,000 Glove: Reflections on Object Based Learning

It was March of this year, and as I was walking down the hall of East Middle School, I passed the  library.  A guest speaker caught my eye.  I slid in as unobtrusively as possible, but I could have marched in with clanging cymbals and it wouldn't have mattered; Daryl Woods was keeping middle school students silent and rapt with attention.

Mr. Woods, a manager at NASA who works on programs for the International Space Station, was discussing the final frontier.  I saw an object, a bit frayed and worn, being passed among the students.  As it reached the back of the room, the last student took pity on my curiosity and gave it to me.  It was an astronaut suit glove.  Just as some middle schoolers had done, I automatically slid my hand inside.  A nearby teacher came over to whisper, "That glove has been in space.  It costs $100,000!"

I marveled and made a one-tenth of a million dollar thumbs up.



In all the theoretical, abstract talk about air pressure and solar radiation and the fragility of human life in the merciless vacuum of space that I have read or seen in documentaries, I was never moved as much as I was when wearing that glove.  Someone before me had worn this and touched the cosmos.  And a pair of these cost more than my house.  Space travel was suddenly not as mundane or as easy or as dismissible as our present near-apathy would have you believe.  It was concrete; it was now.  Interacting directly with the object had sparked something in me -- wonder, and whimsy.

And that is what object based learning (OBL) is all about.  It is, as defined by David Smith, a "student-centered learning approach that uses objects to facilitate learning" where students are "interrogating physical artefacts" that become "multi-sensory 'thinking tools'" (per his excellent article "What is Object Based Learning?").    Another powerful OBL definition in under 140 characters:

As the source of the tweet suggests, the idea of "object based learning" could easily go back to the best museum experiences, where the intimacy of literally touching history, or peering at something as close as the end of your nose, invites questions and inquiry.  However, usually a museum suggests the need for a field trip that entails leaving your school.  Or does it?

The public school district in Grand Rapids, Michigan was in steady decline for two decades.   Families fled as the academic performance of the schools sank.  When Teresa Weatherall Neal took over as superintendent, she needed to shake the system up quickly.  In the fall of 2015, one of her boldest moves was placing a secondary school inside of the Grand Rapids Public Museum.   As Beth Hawkins details in her article "When Your School is a Museum," the innovative Grand Rapids Public Museum School earned the district a multi-million dollar grant.  With students interacting directly with the museum's vast collection, it's a perfect example of hands-on OBL.  In a way, it's a "flipped field trip," as the day to day learning occurs inside a museum and home is where they ponder how to next interact with the curated materials or synthesize their schema.  (More on their curriculum and different approach to schooling is available here.) The Grand Rapids Public Museum School continues to add to its roster and it is on track to be a grade 6-12 school by 2022.

Housing a new school inside a museum might be a difficult proposition, especially if you are in a suburban or rural environment with limited large scale facilities.  And yet, many small towns at least have a historical society or a small local museum.  What if a teacher or a school partnered with them?  When inside such a place, what could students learn from their collected objects?  What unique learning would they experience?  And what projects could the students accomplish that will enlarge and enliven the goals of such a museum or historical society for the twenty-first century?

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The collections inside a museum create OBL opportunities, but when seen as a whole, the museum invites the idea of place based learning, where the museum itself is the centerpoint of learning on multiple topics.  (Other examples could be learning about the life cycle of trees from being inside an actual forest, or discussing Gettysburg while walking the battlefield.) But OBL could be seen as the heart of several pedagogical overlapping circles. OBL is often a close kin to experiential learning, as the exposure to an object creates a desire to do and apply in order to gain knowledge.  OBL and project based learning also have a relationship, in that both depend on authenticity and impact in the real world.  Certainly one or more of these learning strategies could include OBL.  So how could OBL alone function as an overarching principle in a class?

Here is where the popular idea of "100 Objects" gets traction.  Imagine grounding a class conceptually by teaching history, art, sports, literature (perhaps find metaphorical objects that tie into the text's theme!), math and science through approximately three objects a week.  Try searching "100 objects" in your favorite online bookstore and you can see the depth and variety of subjects that apply this idea.  It has even affected pop culture, as the below Whovian volume I recently found at a used book store indicates:





In a perfect world, you could pass objects of historical significance around, but there are other options:
  • Have students interact with digital representations of actual artifacts, manipulating them in three dimensions.   Smithsonian X 3D has a growing digital repository based on their own enormous collections.  Many of these have built in "tours" that give context and prompt questions about the object.
  • Use a 3D printer to create and print out objects.  In fact, the Smithsonian X 3D site above offers STL and OBJ files you can download and print your own "copies" of artifacts.
  • Use high resolution imagery.   For example,  much art has been captured and can be scrutinized in ways that would be impossible to do in person; macrophotography can be great lead-ins to talking about everyday materials from a different perspective.
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We come full circle back to middle school.

A few weeks ago, as I was drafting this entry, my eighth grade daughter had a mock schedule where I traveled through her classes.  Her social studies teacher demonstrated how he shares, about once a week, an historical "artifact."  It may just be a slide on the screen, but the mysterious objects shown without context or explanation spark questions and creative analysis.  What is it?  How is it used?  How would the use and invention of the object be influenced by the time it was made in? His goal is to get students to think like historians.  OBL, practically in my backyard!

If object based learning, with its "multi-sensory" authenticity, creates nothing else but a shift in the pedagogical purpose of a class -- from, say, learning history to being historians -- it has important value.  For that alone, it deserves a thumbs up.



Saturday, September 2, 2017

EdCampKY 2017

When I attended the first ever EdCampKY in October 2014 at Thomas Nelson High School, I was instantly inspired -- some might say smitten, as I definitely fell in love with the "unconference" idea of professional development.  Besides deepening my friendships with several educators, I began new ones that continue to this day.  A few months later, I was asked to join the EdCampKY planning committee, which was extremely flattering.  One of the highlights in the years since was being able to host EdCampKY in Shelby County . . . complete with stormtroopers.

Last Saturday was the fifth EdCampKY, held at Bardstown Middle School, relatively close to the location of the first.  (Thanks to Mike Paul for setting up the location at his home school!) It was another great day of educators sharing and networking:  



As my Instagram pic shows, the next EdCampKY will be held for the first time in Jefferson County on July 7, 2018!  Put it on your calendar!

Two tools from the EdCamp made an impression on me and are worth a mention: Recap and ClassroomQ.   (Full disclosure: both of these were also sponsors this year.)

I have blogged about Recap in a previous entry, but in the time since, they have made major changes in how the platform works.  What was once basically just a free student video response tool has expanded into a structured space for deeper discourse, which Recap calls "Queues."  Students can still make video responses if the teacher allows it, but text responses are also possible; with the ability to respond to other responses, or have a question lead to a sub-level thread of conversations, the conversation can get very detailed and dense!  Last but not least, you can create a "Journey," complete with a short self-cam intro, step by step instructions, and external links.  A Journey would be useful to kick off the Queue (perhaps by building schema before the conversation begins), or as a way to set up students for their own inquiry-based learning.  You can set up a Queue where you can join with just a PIN, which means anyone can start responding in seconds without creating student accounts or rosters.



I discussed Recap in one of my sessions as a useful personalized learning and PBL tool (for example, you could set up a Queue with your PBL unit's driving questions and need-to-know's), but I also used it as a place to capture the reflections of my session's attendees; here's a viewable example.  (You have the option of "opening" your Queue as view only for the public to see without being able to post responses.)

And speaking of "queues" . . . another tool that is extremely simple yet could be extremely helpful was ClassroomQ.  You can create an account for free (more on premium options in a moment).   Next, start a session.  This gives you a class code you can share with others.  Students log in only with their name and the session's class code.  This, quite literally, gives them a giant red button to press if they have a question; they can also add comments.   From the teacher's dashboard, you can see student's requests for help in the order they requested it.  It digitizes the process of "hand raising" to make the teacher's attempt to rotate around the room and assist students much more fair and effective.

The video below gives a demo of the product:



The free version does have limitations; for example, the number of students that can be queued up is only 5.  However, the annual fee is modest, and the Pro version gives you perks like being able to export a log of your session.  (See the chart below for more details.)



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And while on the topic of EdCamps and unconferences, one final topic to end this entry.

Shelby County Public Schools will have its own first annual ThinkBIGGER EdCamp on Saturday, October 7!  The awesome and wonderful Heather Warrell will be providing opening remarks.  Tickets are, of course, FREE and we welcome visitors from outside our district to attend.  Come and become our learning partners as we deepen our understanding of what it takes to help our students reach our brand new "Profile of a Graduate."

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Thank you for 100,000 views!

Earlier this month, Edtech Elixirs turned three years old.  (There is still some birthday cake if you want to come by.)  When I published my first entry, I had no idea how many entries I would write, and frankly whether people would actually read them.  In October 2016, I wrote about publishing my hundredth blog entry.   I was shocked when I reviewed the then-current readership of Edtech Elixirs and my social media reach at the time. 37,000 blog views. Over 1400 followers on Twitter. 55,000 views on my YouTube Channel.

I am always flattered when my tweeting or blogging garners attention. Since that October blog entry, I was asked by Classcraft to do a guest blog on gaming in the classroom, and I was the first subject to be interviewed for a series on edtech leaders.  Earlier this year I launched my Edtech Elixirs Facebook Page, to cross-promote this blog as well as "micro-blog" or Facebook Live on educational and technology topics I find interesting; the Likes and Follow I receive there are always pleasant surprises.

And now to the present. I noticed earlier this week that Edtech Elixirs cleared 100,000 views.  That means in just the last ten months the blog's total views have nearly tripled.  And yes, my social media numbers has bumped up as well in Twitter (currently just shy of 1700 followers) and YouTube (now over 77,000 views and 86 subscribers).

The numbers and the milestone viewership crossing is incredibly empowering.  You hope, especially when education is in your blood, that you make a difference.  While viewership numbers and followers aren't definitive in and of itself, it affirms for me that SOMEONE is out there reading my words.  I certainly hope I've given an insight or two. Or at least a chuckle.

To everyone that has ever read a blog entry or tweet, or watched one of my videos, THANK YOU.  If you ever retweeted, or shared a blog entry or video, I thank you double.  You have no idea how full of gratitude my heart feels for every eyeball and eardrum out there.

Ironically, my "100th Entry" blog entry got its own popular share of views, and I think one of the reasons is the "top ten views" list I compiled.  So I'll end with my top ten most popular Edtech Elixir blog entries as of today.  (It is interesting comparing this list to the top ten in my October 2016 entry. Ten months ago, only two of my entries had cleared 1000 views.  Now, almost three dozen blog entries are honored by that distinction.)

  1. Lenovo Yoga: Fixing your Audio for HDMI Connection (2/5/15, with 7738 views).  In October 2016 this was by far the most popular entry, and it still easily holds the number one spot.  As I said last time: "Apparently, between this and my entry on adjusting the microphone, many people are Googling for help on their Lenovo Yoga."
  2. Recap (9/13/16 with 2054 views).   A formative tool that has rapidly evolved since when I did my original entry; while students making video responses are still part of its functionality, "Recap 2.0" is now re-engineered to be more focused on fostering question making and engaging student discussion. Recap's frequent tweets about my blog entry definitely helped increase its views. 
  3. Makerspaces (12/1/15 with 1959 views).  Rocketing up from #9 on last year's list, I suspect the combination of sage makerspace advice, a link to a Google Doc with helpful resources, and a enlightening interview with Heidi Nelt (the 2016 KASL School Librarian of the Year) has contributed to its popularity.
  4. Wizer (2/4/16 with 1850 views).  This "blended worksheet" tool can be a very useful way to formatively assess.  A link on their website to Edtech Elixirs has probably added to the entry's hits.
  5. Middle School Chromebooks and the Surprise of Schoology (1/20/16 with 1784 views).   This was published in the middle of Shelby's 1:1 rollout, where I took stock of the positive impact of Chromebooks and Schoology (the impact being a "surprise" so early into our implementation). I appreciate third grade teacher Nick Cottrell's video on how Schoology was improving his classroom, even before Shelby's elementary schools were fully 1:1.  I imagine "Chromebooks," "Schoology" and "1:1" hit several different search engine inquiries that may have led them to my entry.
  6. Quizalize (6/21/16 with 1780 views).  Another formative tool with some game-based aspects, but I like the way you can assign "subtopics" to questions in order to determine student strengths and weaknesses.  I've mentioned this tool several times when doing presentations on game-based learning, which likely drove some eyes to the entry.
  7. Why Chromebooks? (8/22/15, with 1778 views).  Previously #4, but still an often clicked entry.  As I said before: "Probably popular if found when people Google 'Why Should I Buy a Chromebook?'  I lay out some reasons why a Chromebook is a solid device, and how it fits with our district's philosophy and overall academic plan."
  8. How I Spent My Summer Vacation 2015 (8/7/15 with 1751 views).  Previously #5.  Why is it still popular?  From October 2016: "Perhaps because I talked about EdcampKYMooresville (NC) and our own district personalized PD in one entry?" 
  9. Hour of Code 2015 (12/10/15 with 1670 views).  Although I've done a more recent entry on our district's Hour of Code, this one has perhaps lived longer and therefore gotten more clicks.
  10. Edtech Share Fair 2016 (3/29/16 with 1629 views).  2017 was particularly exciting for our Edtech Share Fair; not only did we have students present for the first time, but KSBA did two articles for its Kentucky School Advocate magazine (here and here).  Nevertheless, like the entry above, the entry on Edtech Share Fair 2016 has likely just been around longer and gathered more views.
Once again, THANK YOU!  I appreciate everyone that stops by Edtech Elixirs, and hope to continue offering valuable information and insights.