Final Day of ICE 2015

When I tell you that this year’s conference has been tremendous…WHEW!  I’ve gotten so many nuggets of wisdom that I can’t wait to try in my classroom and beyond.

My battery drained before I could post about the workshop I attended yesterday afternoon.  While the presenter taught high school, there were a lot of things in her presentation that could be adapted to younger grades.  The best find from that session was a site called Video  This site allows you to watch videos and take notes at the same time.  I’m not sure of its value to high school students, but graduate and doctoral students will find it to be a lifesaver!  I used it last night to do MY homework!

My first session today is: Five Fantastic Features of Formative Assessment and Supporting Tech Tools.  This session started with a pre-assessment that then took my responses and created a note-taking sheet using Google documents.  That document was automatically e-mailed to me using autoCrat, a Google add-on.  Goobric is another add-on that can be used with Doctopus to create rubrics and provide feedback. Doctopus is a virtual copy machine that copies and sends a document that you can send out, have students complete, and then you can store the document to your Google Drive.

Got An Itch? Try my SCRATCH Program!

On my first day at the conference, I built a program that quizzes students on division concepts.“>Check it out!

Here’s the presenter’s notes, as well as the shared resources from other attendees.

Teaching as Art: Sparking Curiosity and Facilitating the Hero’s Journey

This is the 3rd session I’ve sat in today at the 2015 Illinois Computing Educators Conference.  Ramsey Musallam is the presenter.

Educator vs. Entertainer…which one are we, or is there a choice?  As educators, we often put information before application. We need to flip those two, and draw a two-way arrow between them.  It’s a constant exchange of application and information. In movies with great teachers (Good Will Hunting, The Karate Kid), the teacher does not appear until 25 minutes into the movie or greater.  We do not need to come first for learning to take place.  Think of ways to get students to develop questions before lecture/teaching takes place.  Issuing challenges is one method of doing this.  And…you do not have to provide the answer!  It’s ok to leave things open-ended.  That adds curiosity.

Cognitive load theory of multimedia learning focuses on motivation and cognitive focus.  It helps teachers to find ways to organize task to maximize learning.  It explores ways to balance curiosity and information.  Withholding just the right amount of information can peak curiosity and increase learning.

Use Google Docs to allow students to anonymously evaluate your class.

Global Collaboration: 2nd Workshop of Day 2

Before I begin, I want to share that ICE has created Google Docs that are being updated all day with notes from the presenters as well as attendees from the many sessions each day.  Be sure to check them out!

Global Collaboration deals with our favorite C-word: collaboration.  We’re always trying to find ways to work together, be it teacher-to-teacher, student-to-student, or a combination of ways.  The purposes for collaboration are varied, as our its outcomes.  Begin the process by reflecting on what your desired outcome is.  Discuss what it means to collaborate, and foster opportunities for students to collaborate within the classroom before going global.  This includes establishing student-created classroom norms.  Use of circling, an aspect of restorative justice, can be useful in collaborative reflecting as it relates to student behavior after a collaborative moment.

We don’t necessarily need more technology in our classrooms.  Let’s explore ways to use what me do have more efficiently and effectively.  Don’t always feel like you as the teacher have to be the expert.  It is perfectly o.k. to let the students use technology they are most comfortable with and knowledgeable of.

Tackk allows students to collaborate in the creation of a single-page website.

Animoto for educators is another collaborative animation tool.

Kidblog is great for student collaboration on a classroom blog.

Looking for ways to get started?  Check out Projects by Jen, The Global Read Aloud, The Traveling Rhinos, The Digital Human Library, Skype in the Classroom, a hashtag collaboration on Twitter.

What can collaboration be used for?

  • An open-ended question
  • Discussion around a common topic
  • A challenge
  • A presentation
  • A contest
  • A community
  • Create your own way

Build your own network of administrators and teachers.  There’s tons of existing groups on social media.  Share ideas/opportunities for collaboration.  Be vulnerable yourself.  Try the activities you want your students to try, and share your successes and failures.

Copy & Paste is Dead: My Notes from Day 2 of the 2015 ICE Conference

Today, I am in a workshop about student creation for assessment.  These assessments are flexible and can be used as formative or summative assessments.

Common Craft Videos: 2-3 minute videos that explain a topic or tell a story.  The images are designed and created by students.  Here’s some parameters for setting these up in your classroom.

Other options for video project creation are described in the presentation.

Tired of PowerPoint and having presentations “read” to you instead of presented?  Try Ignite!

Some things to consider in advance:

  • Setting up your classroom for effective video recording/presentation.
  • Having access to supplies – magazines, paper, crayons, markers, etc.
  • This does not have to be expensive.  Use what you have on hand to create these videos.
  • Use technology for the feedback, too.  Google Docs can be a powerful and useful tool for this.

Flexibility is key, but with parameters.  Be sure to plan for and allow student choice.

Jack of All Trades: Pairing your “Jack” with an “Ace” to Create a Winning Hand

The saying, “jack of all trades, master of none,” is frequently used to describe a person who has quite a few talents, but is not particularly outstanding (perhaps even gifted) in any of them.

I am (was) Jack.  Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of things, with varying levels of success.  I danced for over ten years, and was quite good at it, but alas, some twenty-plus years later, my plies and leaps are nowhere as low or as high as they were when I was a teen. I played piano for years as well.  I was good enough to play for various aspects of worship.  However, I became a choir director, and that took my focus off the keys.  Changing ministries also changed my skill use, and I haven’t tinkled the ivory in about 13 years.  I’ve bowled, played tennis, swam, sang, did sign language, sold make-up, sold candles, and participated in a variety of interests and side hustles over the years.  I was a poster child for the “jack of all trades…”

Though I can see when and where my interest in each of these activities shifted, I will not say that I failed in any of them.  I just didn’t have an “Ace,” something to pair with my “trades” to creating a winning situation.  I paired my “Jack” with “fear,” “self-doubt,” “lack of planning,” and a variety of other things which created a bad hand.

It was a statement by Dr. Shante Bishop that essentially provided me with my winning combination.  She encouraged her readers; those looking to start their own businesses, expand existing businesses, or those trying to discover their passion, to know their worth, and to work whatcha got!

Out of that nugget of wisdom, I begin to reflect on what I was good at; really good at, and I came up with a list of a few things.   I then began to explore what those things were worth.  Finally, I began to work the list; exploring ways I could turn them into lasting success.  Side note: success isn’t synonymous with financial well-being, either.

The first item on my list led to the birth of Desserts by Drea aka The Rum Cake Lady.  As the name suggests, I specialize in making rum cakes.  Am I capable of making other dishes and desserts?  Certainly, but my winning hand calls me to focus on this specialty right now.  I’ll add other “cards” to the hand as I MASTER my trade.

Desserts by Drea is not the only thing on my list, however it is a starting point.  What’s on your list that can be started today, or in the very near future?  Explore, plan, and execute!  Don’t let your talents go to waste!  Find your “Ace” and create YOUR winning hand.

And stay tuned…Richardson Retrospect has MORE to come. #winning

Teachers Are People, Too.


When this story came across my news feed, I read it, and skimmed through the thousands of comments. In the end, I arrived at a question: when did the profession of teaching fall from grace?

Teaching, once a revered and respected profession,  has seemingly become one of increased scrutiny, speculation,  and disrespect.  Every move teachers make seems to place them under the proverbial microscope.  Why?

Today’s post does not attempt to answer that question. I instead invite commentary to be used for later analysis and discussion.  Instead, I write today to simply offer this late breaking news: teachers are humans, too.

Teachers may seem like super heros. Afterall, they balance books, manage to squeeze 30-plus desks, students,  and supplies into a closet-like space, all while memorizing hundreds of names and faces. They have 360-degree vision, supersonic hearing, and heightened senses even Spiderman is jealous of. They have photographic memory,  are geniuses,  and though their profession lists “teacher,” they are also doctors, counselors, producers, actors, coaches, therapists, hair stylists, seamstresses,  chefs, chauffeurs,  and a miriad of other positions.

Yes…teachers seem perfect,  and we often don’t realize they’re not until their mortality shows, then all hell breaks loose. It’s similar to Superman, Batman, or Spiderman who all experienced a momentary fall from grace where the ones who once hailed them, failed them. The one moment the teacher’s memory fails, or her strength lessens and she drops the ball, or his patience wanes and he loses his temper. It’s then that the stakes and daggers come out.

I realize that just like there are super heros,  there are also villians in the profession of teaching.  This post is not about them. I challenge you to support your heros. Though they don a cape, and take on the roles of many, they’re really just people in disguise.  Cut them, and they’ll bleed. Hit them physically or verbally,  and they’ll hurt. They may seem like geniuses,  but they really don’t know it all. Their professional trainings were in the methods of teaching,  not medicine or magic, so chances are they will not be able to diagnose and fix all that ails or hinders your child.  Just like you have good and bad days, so will they. Think of what helps and supports you through those moments and share them. Afterall,  teachers are people, too.

Getting Better at Engaging Tasks Through Revision.

Multiple Pathways

A great way to get better at Engaging Tasks is to use the criteria for great Engaging Tasks to critique and revise other Tasks. (I’m not sure that I would say that all Tasks are Engaging Tasks! – or, at least, they don’t all start out that way.)

For example, look at this Task:

Imagine that you are living during the Great Depression and that your classmates have decided to put together a time capsule for students of the future to use to learn and understand what life was like during the Great Depression.

Lets start by looking at this critically with an eye to the criteria for Engaging Tasks.

  • Standards-based: Yes.
  • All 3 pieces – Scenario, Role, & Task: Task, yes: put together a time capsule. Role: sort of: you are someone living during the Great Depression. Compelling scenario, not really: the Task doesn’t really provide…

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Motivating Students with Engaging Tasks

Day 4 – 2014 ICE Conference

Inventive Reasoning

Engaging Tasks are an easy-to-implement real world learning strategy. An Engaging Task tells a little story (only a paragraph or so!) that gives the students a reason for doing the work.


The Handouts:

Additional Resources:

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