Digital Age of Connectedness

Staying Digitally Connected

Digital Poetry Slam-In Lure of Poetry Month

I’ve decided to add a twist to my blog by allowing viewers to become actively engaged in it. To do so, I have come up with an idea of a Digital Poetry Slam. I will provide  a poem of my own once week, and you the participants can engage by providing your own via the comments section. This will be on a Friday’s only(but the topic and form of the poem  should change each Friday). Prior to the upcoming Friday, a new style of poem will be added by me. Remember, your contributions can be made in the comments section  via this blog post. Be witty, Be creative, Be imaginative with your contributions. Remember it’s Poetry Month, so rhyming though not compulsory is nonetheless encouraged where applicable. There are many Poetry Forms to explore. Feel free to utilize any of the following:

ABC:- A poem that has five lines and creates a mood, picture, or feeling. Lines 1 through 4 are made up of words, phrases or clauses while the first word of each line is in alphabetical order. Line 5 is one sentence long and begins with any letter.

Example:
A lthough things are not perfect
B ecause of trial or pain
C ontinue in thanksgiving
D o not begin to blame
E ven when the times are hard
F ierce winds are bound to blow

Example of ABC poem

Acrostic:- Poetry that certain letters, usually the first in each line form a word or message when read in a sequence

Bio:- A poem written about one self’s life, personality traits, and ambitions.

Carpe diem:- Latin expression that means ‘seize the day.’ Carpe diem poems have a theme of living for today.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
  Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
  Tomorrow will be dying.

Cinquain:- Poetry with five lines. Line 1 has one word (the title). Line 2 has two words that describe the title. Line 3 has three words that tell the action. Line 4 has four words that express the feeling, and line 5 has one word which recalls the title.

Couplet:- This type of poem is two lines which may be rhymed or unrhymed.

 

Epic:- An extensive, serious poem that tells the story about a heroic figure.

 

Free verse:- (vers libre)Poetry written in either rhyme or unrhymed lines that have no set fixed metrical pattern.

Found:- Poetry created by taking words, phrases, and passages from other sources and re-framing them by adding spaces, lines, or by altering the text with additions or subtractions.

Haiku:-A Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five morae, usually containing a season word.

Limerick:- A short sometimes vulgar, humorous poem consisting of five anapestic lines. Lines 1, 2, and 5 have seven to ten syllables, rhyme and have the same verbal rhythm. The 3rd and 4th lines have five to seven syllables, rhyme and have the same rhythm.

Name:- Poetry that tells about the word. It uses the letters of the word for the first letter of each line.

Shape:- Poetry written in the shape or form of an object. This is a type of concrete poetry.

Verse:- A single metrical line of poetry.

Have Fun!!!

Here Goes my mine (Free Verse-submitted April 3rd 2015)

I see Myself…!!!

In the not so distant future

A few seconds from now

Tomorrow maybe

Going to bed early, awakening late 

Staring at the floor, Hyper, Thinking

Chirping, Tapping (no tweets or poke where I’m at), ahh!!

Ideas

Overwhelming

How to make a change in me, in what I do, and how I do it

State of constant evolution

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Ocular Art

We’ve recently participated in “Hour of Code, Digital Learning Day” and got all vamped and excited at the many ways coding an be implemented in school and used by all ages. So much so we’ve gravitated from the whole STEM  approach to STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art/Design and Mathematics). Art certainly has it’s place in the world of Science and Technology and can undoubtedly be infused in the Coding Curriculum or vice versa.  With such a notion and in my quest to create an Art infused Coding curriculum. We may be Future Ready after all. I stumbled upon this most inspiring revelation.

They say “Beauty is in the Eyes of the beholder.”  No statement could be any truer. Forget Hand-Eye coordination. The artist Graham Fink, draws completely hands-free. You heard me. In a recent post from BOREDPANDA.COM and WIRED.COM, Fink has been described as having drawn portraits with only the well choreographed movement of his eyes. With the aid of an Eye-Tracking software-infrared light, cameras, a screen, filters, and coding algorithms, his eye oscillation and movement is slowed, to allow for a smoother, less shaky line. This  allows him to draw by looking at a computer screen. It ‘s the revolutionized “Etch-a-Sketch.” Concentration and a subconsciously clear mind is key to achieving his artwork. Exercising control of the “minds eye” is purely an understatement. Such technology has great potential. If Art is truly expressive, then this way of creating great Artwork will allow amputees, as well as individuals with all limbs to exercise their creativity beyond the use of limbs. Using the Eyes as the windows to the soul, and mind, of expressive and unique works of Art beyond paintbrushes, paint and canvas. Yes, Beauty is truly in the Eyes of the Beholder!! What can your Mind and Eye Create?

Check out Graham Fink’s exhibition and the YouTube video-“Drawing With My Eyes” and share your ideas, views or comments on where you see this technology heading and how much further it can go in Education and Beyond.

One eye sees, the other feels. - Paul Klee

 

 

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Ease of Planning and Organization-Then, Now, Future

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

Alan Lakein

Teachers have quite a bit on their plate as it is already. Getting to execute a well thought out lesson and curriculum is by no means an easy task and is certainly  one more to that already overfilled plate. We really need  all the help we can possibly get to ensure that the learners needs are thoroughly met and that state standards are attained (Yes all at once). With the help of technology that allows for collaborative planning, digital planning and preparation, much of that seems to be attainable. I’ve recently stumbled upon some great software and apps that would help the teacher in planning and organizing lessons and curriculum, not only for the now, but for the future. As we all know, anything can happen.

 

Allows for alignment of class and school schedule. Supports day rotation, from A/B days to alternating weeks or anything up to an 8 day rotation. Allows for integration and tracking of standards. Planning can be automated via templates created by you the teacher.

Consists of apps for teachers. An aide to their hectic lifestyle. There’s the Lesson Planning App: that allows teachers to create, edit and duplicate lesson plans that meet National standards (CCSS, TEKS, Australian) and either export to Google Drive or email. There’s also Evidence of Learning app: that allows you to use your mobile device’s camera or any other camera, to capture evidence of learning  as it happens in your classroom. Then you can tag it to any curriculum framework, then generate profile grids and progress grids at the press of a button. Then Finally share in real time to colleagues, administration, or parents as evidence of learners journey in knowledge acquisition and assessment for future planning.    Then there is the Progress Tracker app: This app allows you the teacher to record and report grades wherever you may be. Files can be exported as PDF or CSV or viewed on screen. Teachers can specify classes and students as well as marking templates. Data can be pass code protected and archived for safe keeping.

The Common Curriculum is free for teachers. It allows the teacher to generate lessons via existing templates or templates which the teacher can create on own, while instantly attaching standards from all of the 50 states. The plans can be done by one teacher or a group of teachers in real-time collaboration. Lessons an be adjusted with the click of the button, to students needs or depending on the days.

My Planner from iCPALMS makes planning lessons, units, and courses fun and easy. The app automatically recommends standards based on the courses you teach. And if you teach math, science, or English language arts, it can even recommend CPALMS-approved teaching resources. The interactive CMAP planner allows you to build curriculum maps with just a few simple clicks, and C-Schedule ensures everything is aligned to your school calendar. With intelligent recommendations and a simple interface, the planner app is designed to help you do the work.

 

The above are all tools that I have tried out personally and shared with colleagues. They have gained high reviews and continue to be used by many educators. I hope you find them useful and effective in planning your day, week, month or school period. And no, it’s not just one more thing to add to your plate. Rather, that one that can best serve your purpose and lighten your work load or that of your colleagues.

 

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What the heck is Social Media?

Depending on whose perspective this response may be coming from, the definition of “Social Media” has gained an infinite propulsion as a result of one’s motive. To the lover, it seeks to exemplify the avenue for romance, or “hook up” “rekindle” a flame as is known. To the scorned lover, a “dis”  or change of status. A way to let loose the hurt or pain of a relationship gone raunchy. To the schoolmate, a way to reconnect with classmates and buddies from school that may have gone off the grid (either unintentionally or for good reason:-school experiences for some as we all know, differ with experience and encounters), or to poll for responses in attempt to grasp a better forbearing of concepts or topics that lend themselves to discourse (with or without the intent of sparking division, discontent, disagreement-a conversation piece). To the Student, an underutilized source with the propensity to allow for a wealth of knowledge regarding what’s happening in the world today. Misunderstood by some educators and parents, but with far greater potential than can be fathomed. To the spiritual, a way to share and acquire peace, and some understanding of the world we live in. That acquisition of peace may come as a proposal or  imposition. To the professional, it seems to present an avenue for amassing a wealth of knowledge and collaboration-a place to build the professional’s PLN(Personal/Professional Learning Network). The professional who seeks to make a difference not just in his or her PLN but in that of the lives of those they educate. And there are the others (way to numerous to mention, and besides you do know yourselves), it serves as an outlet to “investigate” or check out what goes on this world. What’s transpiring in the lives of others (as ours seems to pale or be incomplete in comparison). To explore other options, to get a good laugh, to reminisce, to anticipate a move, to hope, to dream, to wonder, to aspire to.

Whatever the rationale or plan, Social Media has spawned the distance between the lines, to be within reach. The access and ease of access to ones goals (long or short) seems far more attainable since the onset of Social Media. Yes, that avenue for digital connectedness that allows each and every one of us to know what’s happening in each others lives, with the click of a button. Social Media has continued to gain much progression and evolution with each passing day. As our desire to “Belong” irrespective of what we may think, is what makes our specie unique. We long to belong. We are a specie of social construct. The digital Media facilitates an avenue for us as individuals or as a group, to find our place in society via such means. Distance is no longer defined by physical space. In Social Media terms, it has evolved to the “the length of time that goes by without a tweet, a poke, a pin, a chat, a hangout, a vine, a post, a share, a like, a capture, a follow, a comment.”
The Pebble of Social Media has generated a ripple effect in society. A ripple that intensives with the “agenda” of the application, the user exerts on it.

 

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Putting Parents in the Know with Mobile Apps

Parents desire nothing more than to be empowered and in the loop when it comes to what goes on in schools and in the lives of their child/children.

With so much technology in the hands of many, busy and on the go parents want to know that there is just one place to go, should they need to know about their child’s school life, and in the event of emergencies, the quickest way they can be reached and notified.

Many schools have allowed for such connectivity via school mobile apps.  School district administrators can either look into online web services that allow for customization, or find one already done that best fits their schools needs in a seem-less and effective manner. Regardless of the manner of adoption, research on the apps and needs of your school and district, should be done first and foremost. Whatever apps developed or adopted, should allow parents to access students grades, school events, school activities, teacher contact information, school menus, etc.  Many integrate social media and plug and play interface for ease of use, but the bells and whistles, should not take away the purpose for which the school or district have intended-Communicate with the parents!!!

Such availability and ease, truly changes the way communication is enhanced between the home and school life.

The following are some that piqued my interest and may be explored or decided upon for consideration and possible adoption:

  1. School Info App
  2. Crescerance
  3. BlackBoard
  4. Skoolbag
  5. School Reach
  6. School Stream
  7. Homeworknow
  8. Schoolwires
  9. Phonegap
  10. Clonnecto

Whatever you decide on, remember the main goal-STAY CONNECTED, and KEEP THE LINE OF COMMUNICATION OPEN, particularly in this, the age of  “Digital Connectedness.”

“Stay committed to your decisions; but stay flexible in your approach.” –Tony Robbins

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One Size Does Not Fit All

We are all wired differently. How we think, How we engage (or choose not to) in society, How we grow, and certainly how we learn. Many psychologist have delved on  the nature vs nurture theory. In an age of Advancing Technology, How then can we use such advancement to achieve desired results irrespective of this theory? The classroom or learning environment should facilitate all styles of learning. A curriculum tailored to fit each individual should be the goal. Personalized Learning should be what each and every Education System seek to achieve. What better way to personalize the learning for each learner, than with the use of Technology. There are many softwares out there that can aid in this regard. We as educators should provide an opportunity for each and every learner to attain success. The world as we live in is filled with much pitfalls. EdTech is no exception. Nonetheless, there are many avenues worth exploring for personalizing the curriculum irrespective of location, ethnic background, socio-economic status, or finance. Education in the age of Tech advancement, should cater to the learners styles and needs. That’s what our top priority as educators should be. Making the Learning Fun, Engaging, Attainable and of the Highest Quality. Like a well tailored suit/dress.

To achieve this goal I’ve compiled a list of PLS(Personalized Learning Software) for use in any learning environment. Some Free, some subscription based.

Feel free to share any more that you may come across. Use the technology, the tool to Personalize learning for the next generation of learners.

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Your Career, Your Professional Growth!

There’s only 24 hrs in a day. So much to be done, and so little time to do it. How do you find more time in a 24 hr day to fit in Professional Development? As educators responsible for the molding of minds, young, old and our own, time is a valuable commodity. One that needs to be utilized wisely and productively. Many of us Educational Professionals find that there is almost no or little time to Develop our learners much less ourselves. But according to  Mahatma Gandhi- “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” There are fortunately many avenues to explore expansion of knowledge and professional growth. Even while at work. I’ve been fortunate to engage in quite a number of them.  Now you’re probably wondering, will I attain Certificates that are recognized by my employer or organization, as part of Professional Development or Continuing Education? The resounding response, is the affirmative. 

I’ve compiled a list of some of the BEST CE (Continuing Education) or PD (Professional Development) sites and avenues, that would not only enable you to grow as a professional, but also fits into your busy schedule. Best of all, some are Completely Free!!! That’s right!! FREE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT for Educators. All of the avenues below are offered digitally. Time, Space and Distance should not be an issue.

Here’s the List:

  1. edWeb.net:  is a professional social and learning network that makes is easy for anyone in the education community to connect with peers, share information and best practices, spread innovative ideas, and provide professional development. Can engage in live webinars or view recordings and receive your CE. Join Communities, engage in discussions, share ideas, collaborate, and grow professionally.
  2. Scientific Learning: applies proven research on how the brain learns to accelerate learning.  We produce patented solutions essential for academic, career, and lifelong success.
  3. ASCD: Connect with a community of educators from around the U.S. through social media and a series of free expert-led webinars to explore problems of practice as they relate to the Common Core State Standards.
  4. EDWeek.org: raise awareness and understanding of critical issues facing American schools in the K-12 classroom or education system.
  5. The Center for Learning:  is pleased to present its new series of complimentary Online Workshops, conducted by today’s leading authors and researchers. During these thought-provoking, 60-minute live webcasts, you’ll hear first-hand from the most influential thought leaders as they share insights into their acclaimed classroom methodologies and instructional strategies.
  6. edtechteacher: webinars throughout the school year aimed at helping educators integrate technology effectively in the classroom. This is a great opportunity learn something new, as well as to connect with other teachers from across the country and around the world.
  7. School Improvement Network: a professional learning provider for educators. Driven by a single-minded cause: to help 100% of teachers become more effective, so that 100% of students are college and career ready.
  8. Teq.com: champion the continued evolution of the modern classroom by offering world-renowned professional development, and providing unparalleled service and equipment that enable outstanding student achievement.
  9. Teacher First: a series of live, online “snack sessions” (available both live and in archived format) for self-directed teacher professional development and exploration.
  10. Free Spirit Publishing: stay informed about new trends and current topics in education with our recorded professional development webinars. Access them during prep time or anytime at your convenience—at no charge!
  11. Arizona Department of Education: All you need is a computer or a device with Internet access to participate in the Training. Please be sure to save your seat in the Webinar by using the registration links provided below.
  12. Early Childhood Investigations Webinars: a free ongoing professional development series that is delivered online and produced by Engagement Strategies, LLC.

 

Invest the time in your Professional Growth. Make the time. Your Professional Growth as an Educator; As an advocate for Change. Change for the Future. Your Future and the Future of the minds molded.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. - Aristotle

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My Blogging Break Starts Now!! Till 2015

Yes, this is my shortest blog post to date. With the Christmas holiday approaching, I would like to take this medium to wish all a Safe, Blessed and Family filled Christmas, Ramadan, Hannauka, Kwanza, and whatever other Religious or fun-filled holiday you may be celebrating. I also wish each and everyone of my loyal readers of my blog, a Peaceful, Prosperous, Joyous, Healthy and Happy 2015.

Enjoy the holidays all!!! I know I will.

 

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Making MakerSpaces work for you

What is MakerSpace? 

A makerspace is a physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build. (Educause.edu)

How does it work? 

Makerspaces are often open for informal, unscheduled activity; in some cases, an organization will host scheduled classes in a makerspace. (Educause.edu)

So you have an open library, lots of classroom space or some other unoccupied space that you’d like to start a MakerSpace but not quite sure how? Well here’s my experience at my previous school. We initially started it in the form of “Labs” and was geared towards Mathematics at the inception. The purpose was to to get grade three students engaging on projects geared towards Mathematics. With 64 students involved, the best fit was to utilize the Cafeteria. And so it begun, Once a week, at scheduled periods, the grade three students would meet in the cafeteria to engage in structured labs and centers put together by parent volunteers and their Math teacher and class assistants. The centers are rotated, supervised and each allowing for set activities to be done with objectives in mind. Once complete, the students then return to their respective classrooms, and collaborate on what they engaged in. These lab sessions became so successful, that we have not only incorporated Math, but now, a Parent led Robotics session for Grades 1-5 emerged. Each grade, once a week per grade, assembles in the cafeteria with the goal of designing and engaging in Robotics activities. The activities are undergone throughout the school year and are integrated with Language Arts. How Language Arts you ask? Well the students use their MakerSpaces experience to engage in Writing activities that allow them to describe and share what they learn, learnt or are learning, during their Robotics activities. These writing pieces are used to target set objectives by their Language Arts teachers, (Common Core State Standards) that address grammar, vocabulary, comprehension, and word usage. Students and parent volunteers are engaged in the Robotics/Math aspect as well as  students and teachers, who work on the collaborative writing pieces. All while the students are professionally attired in “Lab Coats.” I think that truly sets the tone.

Yes all done as part of Maker spaces. How is it funded or paid for? The Robotics component is funded in part by the parents and their work organizations, or community organizations, that have been approached by the parents, on behalf of the school. A proposal can be written up with the MakerSpace’s objectives and purpose clearly stated or identified. The objectives are tied to the school curriculum for optimum engagement and successful completion. So rather than simply engaging in “MakerSpaces” as a part-time activity, if you’ve got space and want to incorporate it with your learning curriculum to the fullest potential? I say “MakerSpace” with the school curriculum in mind.  Allow MakerSpaces to be a part of the everyday school routine activity. Thereby incorporating the objectives of the projects to real world situations within the education system.  Utilize Science Labs, or open Library spaces that can accommodate a grade level at a time (at least 32-64 students; and at least 10-15 parent volunteers) in the same space simultaneously. Get parents involved. Allow them the opportunity to be actively engaged in the students learning and cognitive development, on activities that aren’t just school centered, but “life” centered. The MakerSpaces can be focused on Environmental projects in an open space. For example, a creative in-school Recycling Plant, Website Development; where groups work on improving class and school page or website, Automotive Alternatives; vehicles of the future, etc. Skype with an organization or another school as you undertake your MakerSpace. Allow for global collaboration as this is done, engage in real time feedback from organizations on possible solutions, suggestions and or outcomes, as they arise.  

I think MakerSpaces should entirely replace Science Labs. Rather than present a project or experiment that students engage in for a “grade.” Present a “real life” problem or situation throughout the academic year, for a “real-life problem solver”. Develop a scenario with set objectives in mind. Have students, parent volunteers or organizations (depending on the projects) engage in working on the tasks to explore possible solutions, and examine the outcomes via the projects. Integrate Language Arts or other content areas. Make MakerSpaces work for you. Make MakerSpaces, a Curriculum Activity as opposed to it being an Extra-Curricular Activity. MakerSpaces, should be what the classrooms of the future look like. Engaging, Interactive, Integrated, Real-Life based. Remember, the collaboration and engagement in MakerSpaces, don’t just end there. The process needs to applicable. There should be room for continued growth on the projects-in terms of applicability to not just the students local community, but also possibly, regional, and international.

Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together.

Paul Ryan

Check out this article on MakerSpaces

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Going Digital in your School-While on a Budget

Tired of being envious of all the “cool” technology other schools have amassed? Wondering when and how will you ever get your class and school to acquire great gadgets on a budget? Hmmm!!! First turn that frown upside down.  I’ve learned of yet another wonderful resource/organization that helps you as an educator and school meet your tech goals, or at least get there.

Digital Wish

Most low income schools (and there are many) have that one wish, that one day, some day, in the not so distant future, their school will be Tech Integrated and Efficient. With the help of a great organization like Digital Wish, you can get closer to realizing that wish and dream. The Mission of Digital Wish, is to ensure that every child receives a Technology-rich education. And in an age filled with technology, such a wish can be expensive or affordable, depending on where you look. “Digital Wish develops new online tools and promotions that empower teachers and their supporters to get new technology for their classrooms and enhance learning for our children. With your help, we can provide the resources our schools need to thrive.”

How can you as a teacher/educator/administrator/parent, get technology for your classroom? Make a wish list, Fund Raise, Get Grants, Check out their website  and see the many ways you can “Put Technology in the hands” of each and every child at your school.  Over 31,000 wishes granted. Why not look into making your wish come true today? There are FREE resources up for grabs as well. Stop being envious of what’s happening in your neighboring schools. Be the Envy!! Make your wish for getting your classroom, your school, digitally connected and tech-integrated today. Digital Wish was a great find for me and I hope it will be for you too.

Sharing is good, and with digital technology, sharing is easy.”

Richard Stallman

I hope by me sharing this resource with you, puts you and your school, closer to your goals, your wish, your desire, of becoming Digitally Connected in the 21st century and beyond.

digital wish site

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