Worth a Second Look

I subscribe to a lot (too many) blogs in Feedly. My approach is to flick through, reading titles until something grabs my attention. Titles and headlines are very important for helping me which posts to read. You can get a good synopsis from a well crafted title, and I depend on that in filtering my resources.

When a post captures my attention, I either read it, open it in a new tab to read later (hopefully that same day), or save it for later. Once I decide to read a post, I scan it to see if meets or surpasses my expectations. I only read the whole document if it passes that test.

Lately I’ve noticed that I’m more likely to read about a tool, application, concept, project on the second pass. This means that I use my network to determine the popularity of an item, and to help me decide if it’s worth a second look. I filter through the information overload with the help of my personal learning network.

If you’re looking for a(nother) reason to carefully build your personal learning network, here’s one: filter through the information overload more efficiently.

dealing with information overload

Doodling Learning

Reflecting ConversationMap

I’ve never been much of a doodler, at least not that I can remember. I’ve also never taken a formal art or drawing class. We did occasionally draw while I was at school in St. Lucia. I remember drawing a girl with ribbons when I was in grade 1. My grandmother had the drawing. It was better than a stick figure, right down to ribbons in her hair. But it’s been a lot of time between Grade 1 and now. I’ve played around with Sketchnoting, but I’m not very good at it (yet). I do believe, however, that it is worth working on and developing.

Last week, the other tech coaches and I presented our weekly tech tastes on data visualizations and graphical presentation. We shared some online data visualizations, many of which let users access the data sets for further analysis. We also looked at tools for making a timeline, infographic, drawing or Sketchnote. The tools used were a computer, iPad or paper, depending on the participants and their interests. We chose this topic because we think that visual literacy is important, and the use of tools for visual representation honors the capacities and strengths of ourselves and our students.

Here are some links to explore and use.

Data Visualization

These links display big data sets. Some of them also allow you to download the data sets.

Tool Description
Gapminder Income per year graphed versus life expectancy in years for all countries.
Google Ngram Viewer Search to find out how a word or phrase has occurred in a corpus of books over several years. You can download the data set of the n-grams.
OneZoom Explore the tree of life to see how all life on earth is related. All of the information is on a single page and you zoom in to see details.
Visualizing Season 1 of Buffy For fun, you could visualize how long each character of Buffy spent on screen.
World Mapper A collection of world maps on various subjects, including over 200 countries.
Google Trends Explore what people are searching for at different times. You can download the data.
Google Correlate “Google Correlate uses web search activity data to find queries with a similar pattern to a target data series. The results can be viewed on the Google Correlate website or downloaded as a CSV file for further analysis.” Here’s a comic to explain it.

Tools for presenting data

Tool Description
Wordle Visualize meaning with a word cloud. Try this sample text (Arnie Bieber’s article, “Nature of Nurture”).
Timeline JS Easily create interactive timelines (including video) beginning with a Google spreadsheet template.
Hstry Another option for creating timelines. Friendly to elementary use. See some examples from the website or a grade 4 test.
Canva Tool for creating infographics (and other graphics) on the web or iPad. Click “create a design” and scroll down for infographic layouts.
Pic Collage for Kids (iPad only) The easiest introduction to visual presentations. Use a combination of text, images and stickers to create a presentation. Work with a grid or freestyle.
Easel.ly Another great graphics creation tool – uses a groups feature, which is useful especially for elementary. Some examples of use.
Adobe Illustrator Draw iPad app for drawing – you can import images and use layers.
Sketchnoting (on paper!) The link is to a slideshow about sketchnoting with many links, by Sylvia Duckworth

Reference Books

Cross posted at http://blogs.isp.cz/esit/2016/05/16/try-your-hand-at-doodling/

Use Operators in Google Search

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 09.55.36

I cringe a bit when I watch this video that I made in 2010 due to the voice, and my emphasis, but even more importantly, some of the information is no longer valid. Here’s a highlight of what’s different in using Search operators in Google now.

  • +word used to be a verbatim search where word had to exist on the page, but this was deprecated in 2011, and now it is a search for word on Google+ pages. You can still use “word” to do a verbatim search for either a word or a phrase.
  • ~ used to be  a synonym search and is now used for nothing

The video is still valid from 1:04 to 3:53. The only curiosity is that a search of define:iron gives many more results than define iron, and I haven’t figured out why that is. Answers welcomed.

Operators covered in the video

  • OR
  • verbatim/phrase search
  • * wildcard search
  • define

If you’re doing a Google search, and need help with the operators, take a look at Advanced Search.

Learning2 Puts Learning First

Chocolatier making chocolate

Learning2 is not a technology conference; it is a learning conference infused with technology. Technology is the servant of learning, not the other way around. The conference started in 2007 in Asia, and was held in Europe this year for the first time.

This was my second time attending Learning2; my first attendance was in Shanghai, in 2010. I remember that I focused on Home-School communication last time. The framework in Milan was different from what I remembered it being, in both format and content.

I observed the following elements at the Learning2 conference in Milan:

  • short talks on diverse topics by students and educators each day (TED style)
  • teacher led sessions
  • student led sessions
  • extended sessions
  • unconference workshops
  • cohort meetings (Administrators, Design Technology, EAL/ESL, Elementary Generalist – Lower ES, Elementary Generalist – Upper ES, ELA, Humanities, Information Literacy/Library, Mathematics, Science, Technology Leader – ES, Technology Leader – MS/HS, Technology Leader – WS, World Languages)
  • social gatherings (breakfast, lunch, aperitivo)

I led a teacher workshop on iPad Playdate: Apps for Language Learning, and attended a session on Making E-portfolios Work by Kimberly House from Bavarian International School (more on that in the future). I watched a professional chocolatier demonstrate how to make chocolate, and attended an unconference session on Genius Hour/20% time and skipped the second unconference session to work quietly in the library, processing all of the learning that I was doing. I also skipped the student led session; I tried to attend the one on Minecraft but it was full, so I went to the library and played with Minecraft Pocket Edition on my iPad for a while. I could have benefited from a student teacher.

The bulk of the time in Learning2 is spent in extended sessions. It’s less than 50% of the conference time, but the greatest amount of time spent on a single focus. I participated in two extended sessions, which are three hour long workshops. The first was called Connect Your Community, Connect Your Students, Connect Yourself by Marcello Mongardi, and the second was Students as Creators and Curators of Textbooks by Jeff Utecht. There were four other sessions: Designing Spaces that Build Community by Paula Guinto, Programmable Robots and Coding in the Primary Classroom by Warren Apel, Building a Culture of Collaboration by Tricia Friedman, and Living in Beta by Sheldon Bradshaw. Each session is a combination of presentation and hands-on experiences, with an opportunity to consider the relevance of what you’re learning to your classroom, and how you can apply the content to your own context. I found myself moving at my own pace, shaping my learning based on my interest and needs, and using fellow participants and the presenter to jump past some of the initial challenges when encountering a new idea or program. In the Curation workshop, there was a representative from Flipboard who was able to answer questions and helped me compare and contrast Flipboard to my existing tool, Feedly. As a result, I have a good idea of the difference between them and the value of each. I will keep using Feedly personally because I like the unread/read feature, but will use Flipboard for collaboration; I will share more about using Flipboard with students.

Learning2 is a great model for professional development. I suggest having a goal list for the conference, going with a team, making time to debrief and share learning after, and coming up with actions to improve teaching and learning. I encourage you to look into Learning2 when planning your professional development for the next academic year. It will be held in Warsaw, April 6-9, 2017.

Before you leave, take a few minutes to watch this talk by Scintilla.

Related Posts:


Cross-posted at ISP Elementary School IT.

Top 5 Learning2 Quotes

By Navicore - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonid_Meteor.jpg

There was a series of thought provoking and inspiring talks at Learning2 Europe 2016. In an effort to be present, I mostly recorded main ideas, next steps, things to think about further. However, there were five instances in which I was inspired to record a direct quote. I share these with you below:

  1. “[Students are] shut down by an education system forcing us to hide.” – Scintilla Benevolo on What’s Really Important 
  2. “[Our] education [system] raises the individual and not the generation.” – Scintilla Benevolo
  3. “Why is the thing that is so important to us the thing that we put last?” – Paula Guinto on Heart you ok
  4. “What does proficient or distinguished mean in teacher appraisal.” – Jeff Utecht on What Will You Change
  5. “The closer we can get together, we become the scaffolding and it brings that moon just a little bit closer.” – Sheldon Bradshaw on Against the Moonshot

Since I have two quotes from Scintilla’s talk, I thought it appropriate to embed her talk below: