Multiple Perspectives from Winnie the Pooh to Groceries

My preservice teachers had a great discussion a few weeks ago about the importance of brining in multiple perspectives into the classroom.  Doing so affirms that the world is complex and takes more than one view to gain a picture of a concept.  It can widen our worldview.  Multiple perspectives activities should also be accompanied with conversations around information literacy, bias, culture, and language.

This Russian Winnie the Pooh video (Vinni Puh) by animator Fyodor Khitruk caught my attention.  One of my favorite blogs, The Kids Should See This, has a nice post about it.

In continuing the conversation of multiple perspectives, take a look at this interesting post, What a Week of Groceries Looks Like Around the World, on Nutrition News. I think it would be interesting to pair it with a unit that maps where food comes from with this site. Type in a recipe and explore the originations of the food.  

On a similar thread of thought, don't miss James Mollison's photographs, Where Children Sleep.  If you haven't seen it, The Danger of a Single Story TED Talk by Chimamanda Adichie is a must see!

How can you bring multiple perspectives into your learning environment?  If you are interested in more sites, check out my Multicultural and Bilingual Resources that I will add to in time.  Happy exploring!


Global Education Conference 2013

With Dave Eggers book, The Circle, on my nightstand, I'm still on the search for professional development and student learning opportunities that focus on global learning.  (The Circle doesn't approach George Orwell's 1984, but it's a good read.)

Here's a find.  Interested in conversations surrounding global education?  Join the 2013 Global Education Conference this year from November 18th-22nd.  Access keynote speakers and sessions for free from your home computer or office.  Check out the sessions in this brochure.

It's interesting how many social media tools are in use in this year's conference.  You can follow the hashtag on Twitter #globaled13.  I was drawn to the Google + Community to continue exploration of the growing opportunities for global classroom collaborations.  The number of ways and opportunities are growing.  I'll be keeping my eye on quality and authentic learning opportunities.

If you miss it, sessions will be archived here.

Happy conferencing!


A Different Kind of Normal

I love the view out of my window today.  Each gust of wind whisks a cascading twirl of leaves that settle in my yard, beckoning for my kiddo and dog to rake and splash them about before packaging them for compost.   Beyond the beauty of the fall, I love my view outside and inside my window because it is my view. Mine. I have chosen it and make it my own on a daily basis.  I invite people I care about to fill the space about me and to create and share my view.

As much as I love returning to my view, I find value in traveling. It’s a process to see beyond the first glimpse that a new view offers—to peer deeper into the everyday lives of the people who inhabit the space, the space they invite me into.  The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes; they all contribute to the reality of my growing worldview.

I recall the first time I saw a favela in Brazil. It was almost too much (no it was too much) for my aspiring middle-class, twenty-something, American mind to process.  Also imprinted upon my memory is a moment in Bolivia while crossing a bridge-- my experience up until that point in time told me I traversed over a garbage dump; but a glimpse of an orphaned street child huddled into a drain pipe cemented the realization it was a home to someone. It left me numb and silent.  I searched the procedures-- the laws that didn't allow me to adopt that child, or another little one half-wrapped in bright colored, dingy llama wool peering up from under a bridge.

Years later, after seeing countless similar views, my mind still doesn’t process these sights.  It doesn’t because it’s simply not fair, and I should find it unsettling!  Yet, I now realize the people inhabiting these spaces have unique voices that reach beyond my silence.  Beyond. Silence. Mine.  Kids in poverty. Their voices reach beyond anything we pretend makes sense. 

Simultaneously, I never cease to be amazed by the juxtaposition of joy and rich culture that is experienced within these spaces.  Through reading; discussion of space, design and architecture; traveling; and technology, I continue to expand the view beyond my window. 

Ingenious Homes in Unexpected Places is a TED Talk by Iwan Baan that recently expanded my view. It is something you must watch! Through photography, he shows how people build homes in unlikely places.  I continue to reflect on Baan’s phrase, “a different kind of normal.”

Bann’s talk reminds me of The Landfill Harmonic Orchestra in Paraguay, where three of my favorite people in the world live.

It also brings up connections to James Mollison’s photography in his books, Hungry and Where Children Sleep.   (Hint: Use the “next” button to view Mollison’s photos. They are worth it!)

The related issue of poverty is NOT a problem that only exists outside of my home country.  All I have to do is look beyond my window’s view within my state, within my neighborhood. Some of the struggle of families in my own back yard are highlighted in the documentary,  American Winterthat follows eight families in Portland, Oregon. 

This has direct implications for us as educators.  Here’s some information from the program I work in about cultural and linguistic diversity in Oregon’s schools.  These kids and families ARE our community. We ALL have a responsibility.

It’s not enough, but through technology, I am slowly finding a way to both hear and give voice to those in poverty, to those who don’t have access to the basics such as clean water and food, yet whose voices capture the complexity of the human spirit in music, art, compassion-- found in spaces they make their own.  Their voices shape my view and push me to look at a different kind of normal.


Giving Students a Voice with iPads and iMovies

This summer, I worked with high school migrant students in a summer camp using iPads to give them a voice through videos and writing.  This posts builds on the one prior to it, Giving Students iPads vs Pens, but focuses on the instructional aspects.  Here's a fun video that two students created on the first day in about 20 min.  Watch others from this Shout Out page.

Prep and a platform are important!  A lot of prep work goes into setting something like this up.  I had 15 iPads, 4 staff, and around 25 students at one time.  I chose Blogger as the platform in part because it has a super easy to use app.  We used iMovies as the movie making app and You Tube Capture to quickly upload the movies to You Tube.  In weeks 2-3, when staff became more comfortable, we added Animoto (using an Educator’s account) and Explain Everything. The resources and handouts and general plans were posted prior to beginning each week.  It is handy to have videos, links, general purpose explanation, etc. set up ahead of time on a site to aid in the flow of instruction during a project.

Student choice: In week one, I began with a structured format that was “school like” the staff politely told me later. Staff were learning the apps, there were a lot of unknowns, and it seemed the safe bet. Students created Where I am From poems and turned them into videos.  I had my handouts, model examples videos and how-to videos ready to go on the site.  It was exciting the first day when one of the participants quickly created an incredible rap during a pre-write session.  But for what could be a variety of reasons—not wanting to share publically, or perhaps feeling the need to follow my “school like” directions, his rap didn’t make it to video.  Students in week 1 did a great job!   They followed my directions, but I was a bit disappointed in my directions and how it pigeon holed everyone into creating a similar looking video. 

In weeks 2-3, staff were more comfortable, and they opened topics up to students.  Wow, do kids have ideas and voices worth listening to!  They chose topics of importance to them such as bullying, language choice, goal setting, etc.  

Process and experience: If this is presented with a focus on the process and learning, not only the final product, it helps meet the needs of a wider range of learners, differentiating and even individualizing.

Learn together as you go:  Tablets truly give teachers the opportunity to take the seat of a facilitator and learner with the students.  Students asked each other, problem solved, worked together, naturally became the experts and taught me! I did do a lot of the leg work in managing the site and creating You Tube playlists, looking at privacy issues, etc, but some of this can be delegated to students as well.

Celebrate!  This type of learning differentiates and allows learners of varying levels to contribute.  We popped popcorn and watched their videos and related videos along the way.

Overview: This experience shows how mobile devices can be used quickly to create videos and give students a voice.  This is the tip of the iceberg when we have access to such devices and begin to rethink assignments and how technologies can support content and language learning. This experience also cements the importance of a platform (such as a blog) for workflow and instructional purposes, to share student work, and to communicate.

Happy movie watching!


Student Voice with Tablets vs. Pens?

So many discussions about technology in education begin with a conversation about either the woes of how technology is driving the curriculum or of some fear it will replace the teacher. 

Tech is another tool.  I hold nothing in my hand.  Now I pick up a pen.  What can I do now that I hold a pen that I couldn’t before I had the pen in my hand?  What a powerful tool the pen is!  How it has shaped our world.

Will the pen do all the work for me?  Does the pen have the words and ability to make them jump on the paper?  Silly.  Yet we often start discussions of today’s technology this way.  To use the tablet or not?  What if we had just let the pen sit there and never explored it’s potential in education?  What if we only gave wealthy students access to the pen? Etc.

Three weeks this summer, I worked in a summer camp for high school migrant youth.  Some of them had held an iPad before and knew more about its uses than me.  For others, this was their first time.  Within a few hours with minimal guidance of a college staff leader, they shared their voices.  They created about themselves on topics of relevance to them.  Check out their videos here!

I sense this is only the beginning.  With many of these emerging technologies, it’s like picking up the pen for the first time and realizing, “This has potential in my hands—wait, it has more potential in my students’ hands!”  We’re wrapping our heads around this.  Play, create, share, and reflect.  Think in terms of collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and culture.  The framework of my tech course is becoming more important to me as I think about the emerging technologies.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post about some of the how-tos and my instructional tech take-aways of this summer migrant leadership camp experience.


Gratitude: #DoIGetpaid4this?

This is a post a few years in the making.  Gratitude is so important!  I know I don’t say enough of it directly to the people who have impacted me: my husband and best friend, parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, colleagues etc.  You are amazing for the shear simplicity of putting up with my idiosyncrasies and believing in me, listening.  I thank you, but this post will focus on gratitude of teachers from my past.

Here is a humble, specific thank you to these people:  Morris Krigbaum (my high school English teacher), Stella Greig (my university mentor), Bruce Closser (my university writing instructor and supervisor).  And of course Mr. Long, and my first teacher, Mrs. Long.

I was but one of many who passed through your classroom doors.  With my eyes shyly cast downward, but full of sparkle and inquisitiveness, slinking into class late and sitting in the back of the classroom when large enough class size allowed.  The words were within me, but afraid to come out.  You patiently waited, believed, and drew them out.  It was not “a moment,” but a progression of moments that offered me a world of possibilities that didn’t exist prior to our interactions and your belief in me.  Thank you! 

Gratitude. Amo La Vida by Nic Askew is a video that has touched me in many ways.  I’ve watched it countless times this year.  Each time with a different take-away.  Enjoy more of Nic Askew’s videos here at soul biographies!  They are so worth it.

For all you teachers prepping to go back for another year, wondering #DoIgetpaid4this?  The gratitude exists.  You just might not see it today.  This also cements the concept that it IS about the relationships. As much as I have a passion for technology, there is no replacement for the teacher.

And that’s the funny thing about gratitude.  The ones intended to be there… they just keep finding their ways back into our lives.  :) Smile. 
Oddly enough, I didn’t think to add students to this list until after I wrote the post.  I know I have many former students I am grateful entered my life.  That could be a post by itself.

Here's another fun video on gratitude: Soul Pancake The Science of Happiness: An Experiment in Gratitude


Why Become an Educator? #DoIgetpaid4this?

Here come a few perhaps uncharacteristic posts for this blog, but they are connected to both Tech and Ed.  They are about two topics that have influenced the last few years of my life.  Two topics I have been exploring: 1. Passion driven education and 2. gratitude. 

Angela Maiers writes about passion driven education.  Some of my thinking and teaching have been influenced by Daniel Pink’s ideas on motivation as seen in this post a few years back where my students talk about their life sentences—basically what drives them.

 This TED Talk by Sean Aiken entitled, What Makes You Come Alive, reminds me of some of the questions I have for pre-service teachers.  Why are you here?  Teaching is NOT an easy field.  At the end of the day of prepping more hours than one wants to admit, sacrificing time with family, friends, and even self, there are typically no accolades.  In fact, the antithesis too frequently awaits; there can be critiques—from students, parents, administrators, colleagues, and self, even from the best or maybe especially from the best.  As teachers we may have the best intentions and feel ready to change the system, but the path to do this is challenging and quite frankly isn’t the right path for all. So, if you are entering this field, know why!  If you do-- if you know, I’ll go out on a limb and say you won’t regret it because the bonuses and benefits are many.

All of this is spurred on by the fact that I just wrapped up working with a few college students who have the potential to be AMAZING educators!  (See the video below.) If they choose teaching as a profession, they will rock.  How do we offer our youth experiences beyond the classroom walls to experience their passions that may turn into hobbies, jobs, careers, lives lived?  So they KNOW,  “That’s my sentence. That’s where I belong!”

You Go Pedro!  If you ever forget why, because we all do; I will be one of many who will remind you.

To take this a step further into the realm of public education and tech today, I stumbled upon this site. I’m not sure where the project is at this time, but the ideas that are within the site should make those who know why they are in the profession stop and think.  Redefining Education.

#DoIGetpaid4this?  Hmm… define “pay.”


The Teachers Should See This: iMovie

What's a worn out teacher to do when teaching jobs line up back-to-back with minimal time to prep for the upcoming one?  Look to the kids for inspiration and solutions of course!

Here's how the young author of the series, The Teacher Should See This, came to my aid.  The task at hand was to find an iPad app or two to support learning in a summer camp with 150-200 high school students, to give them a voice, and document some of their experiences.  Within a few hours, she selected the iMovie app, found a few how-to videos, and set off to make her own video on a Where I Am From Poem theme.

It's showtime!  Enjoy.

Now, the real question is if the teacher can pull this off.  It's the beginning of the first week, so there will be an upcoming post.  Here's the beginnings of a three week summer camp journey where I meet with the students for less than four hours for the video/blogging part, but learn so much from them!  Kids are amazing people.

Happy video making!


Bullying, Self Image, and Crap in the Classroom: Part 2 Bullying

Bullying and Pork Chops.  This is a continuation of a series of discussions ignited in one of my pre-service teacher courses.  We have some extremely capable young educators ready to step up to the plate and tackle some large issues!  Bullying is one of these issues. (See part 1: Crap for another issue.)

Shane Koyczan is simply amazing. Be aware.  He will shape the way you think!  Bullies called him Pork Chop.Shane Koyczan: To This Day

Search Common Sense Media for other resources on bullying: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/

Crap, Bullying and Self Image.  How are they related?  How can we approach these topics in ways that will instigate positive change?

Happy thinking!


Blogging From IPad App

I am considering using Blogger as part of a summer camp. I have used both Blogger and Weebly for Education in the past.   Students will have access to iPads. This is a test from my Blogger iPad app. So far, it looks like it may be a viable option.  It doesn't have all of the functions, but it accesses the camera and has keyboard capabilities.  It's super simple.


Crap, Bullying, and Self Image in the Classroom: Part 1 Crap

What do crap, bullying, and self-image have to do with each other?  Probably a lot more than this post will explore!  As one of my pre-service teacher courses began to explore topics of social justice and ways of integrating them into their K-12 curriculum, three major themes emerged: crap, bullying, and self image.  This is part 1 of this series.

I admittedly brought the topic of crap into the mix as an example.  When I travel to some of my favorite places in the world, I get particularly frustrated with inequities in access to something as seemingly simple as a toilet and clean water.  (Yes, I am sure I could do a blog on this topic alone. You have been forewarned if you get me started.)   

Let’s Talk Crap by Rose George

This funny short You Tube video fit too perfectly into the toilet theme and my love of technology to pass up.

If  you have any great lessons geared toward sanitation and access to clean water, pass them forward.  This is an important topic that is all too often flushed down the toilet so to speak.


Exploring Social Justice with Storybird

This is the second in a series of two posts where in a brief assignment, my students explored Social Justice integrated with technology and I share their results with a wider audience.  (Take a look at the first post on Thinglink accessible here.)  This post highlights Storybird, an online visual storytelling site. It had been a few years since I played with Storybird, and I was happy to see the teacher account now includes ways of managing classes and assigning projects.  Check it out!

Here are a few of my students’ creations and thoughts about Storybird:

“I really enjoyed using Storybird, even if it did take me a bit longer to finish than I would have liked. The artwork available for use is simply amazing, and if you use the right search words you can find exactly what you need. I loved being able to customize my own story, and this could be a great tool for a specific problem or occurrence in your classroom. My story was pretty simplistic, hoping to be for a younger audience; however, it is about celebrating our differences. It's pretty superficial but with more time and using more resources it could be great! Enjoy :)”  (EN)

“I really wanted to create a story about how humans affect animals’ environment for young elementary students. I wanted to show students that people do affect others by their actions by showing how we affect pandas, foxes, rabbits, and polar bears. There is a little bit of a science part to the story because people do affect the environment with global warming.”  (KL)

“I liked using Storybird http://storybird.com/teachers/ to create my book because you can choose an image style and they give you a wide selection of images in that same style to use as your book illustrations. Sometimes, however, the images did not really fit what your image of the right image for the page should have been, so you have to be flexible. I was surprised how easy it was, but coming up with the content to put in the book was a little more difficult. I found my book turned out pretty superficial and with a lot more time, I would have liked to come up with a more intricate story that delved a little deeper into social justice issues, tackling some of the Bomer & Bomer article points. However, I think this would be a great way for ELLs to simplify what they have learned into a short story, concreting their knowledge and using language to describe what they learned. If they did a screen-cast or presented it in class, that would also give them speaking practice too.” KG 

Thanks to my students for their work and willingness to share!


Exploring Social Justice with Thinglink

This term, I assigned a short mini assignment for my students to play with some technologies that can be easily used in Digital Storytelling, working with English Language Learners, and in exploring topics of Social Justice.  We have also been talking about the power of visuals and video.  They had several choices, but most of them chose Thinglink, Storybird, or Tagxedo.  This is the first in two posts that will highlight these sites, showcase student creations, and look at potential uses.  (Access post two about Storybird here.)

Here is a past post I wrote about Thinglink that discusses what it is.  Be sure to move your mouse over the picture and click on the dots to discover the links.  Explore some of my students' creations and read their reflections.

“Once we saw the example in class, I had a ton of ideas in my head of what I wanted to do. I chose to do child poverty because it is an issue that cannot be brought up enough. I focused a lot on the United States because most people don't realize how bad this issue really is.  Children deserve better than what we are doing, and it needs to be brought to the attention of others. I chose to do five different links on the picture of a child who is clearly struggling. One link that I chose to use was the NCCP website, which has state information, data tools, and news about child poverty. The second I used was a link to a Youtube video that gives some basic information and then had a very sad piece of children talking about what it is like to be hungry. The third link is the No Kid Hungry site. It discusses the problem, solution, and how to take action. The forth is a made of 35 countries and shows the poverty rate in each country. The fifth is a link to the Voices site which has articles and facts about child poverty. This was a really fun assignment and I thought it was a great way to learn about some new technologies! Some of these sites could be used to talk to older grades about this issue and what we can do to help make a change. This site could be very fun for students to make their own with many different topics. I plan on using this again in the future!” KW

Positive Body Image
“I decided to create a story about positive body image because I really enjoy talking about body image and find it very interesting to learn about. I think that it is important for students to know what positive body image is and that every individual is beautiful no matter who they are. Talking about this topic can be applied to any grade level and can open up the door to talking about how the media's representation of beauty is distorted because of the use of Photoshop. Teachers can also talk about how society creates this notion of beauty that is unrealistic as well as talking about stereotypes that are associated with body image. The goal is to give students the resources to have a positive body image of themselves and teach them not to base judgment on how another person looks.“ LW 
“Using this tool would be easy for any subject. I think that students would find this useful for research projects. I think that I may use this as a resource in student teaching, as well as my remaining college courses!!” MF

Lyndon Johnson
“I used Thinglink because it is a very interesting concept and has so much potential for all grades. I love history, especially the Kennedys, and so I decided to use a picture taken after JFK was assassinated and LBJ was being sworn in. I can see how this would be interesting for students because they can easily find out additional information just by following the links on the picture.”   KC

Thanks to my students for their creativeness and willingness to share!


Scavenger Hunt: Social Justice

Freedom by robynejay, on FlickrWhen Tech  I recently sent my pre-service teachers in my Approaches for P-12 ELLs on a scavenger hunt.  They then shared their results in small group blogs.  I told them I would aggregate some of their responses and share.  (This is another way I see my role as an instructor shifting as I use Social Media.) Here are their social justice lesson plans, sites, and video results.  I am not endorsing these sites (although some of them are my favorites), but posting them in one place for my students to further analyze.   Access the list here.

Met Ed  I encourage my students to take a critical look at the sites in a way that goes beyond the directions of this small assignment.  What are some questions a teacher at your grade level should ask when looking for educational sites related to social justice?  How could the sites be used in a way that fosters learning?  For the teacher as a springboard? For the students?  What questions should be asked as one evaluates sites related to social justice for educational uses? If you taught one of the lessons from one of these sites, how could you integrate it into a content area?  What language would need to be addressed to help your language learners be successful?

Happy evaluating!
A special thanks to my students for their willingness to share.

(Photo by  robynejay) 


Play, Create, Share, Reflect Online Presentation

Play, Create, Share, Reflect is the title of a presentation at the Oregon State University Faculty Forum 2013 I recently gave.  It is the motto that provides a framework for both my students and myself as we explore technologies for educational purposes.  It contains student and instructor made examples in action.

Here are a few versions of it.  The embedded one is 20 minutes I created on my computer with Camtasia as I gave it a practice run.  Here is the actual presentation (40 min) recorded by Ecampus.  Here is the Prezi if you would like to access any of the links in the video.

Enjoy other Ecampus presentations here.  I didn't have the opportunity to attend many presentations, so enjoyed watching a few, such as Stevon Roberts' presentation called Practical Video Tips for the Novice.  You are likely to get some good ideas if you watch this presentation, Step in Front of the Camera.  Here's one from two of my colleagues in the College of Ed, Maggie Niess and Henry Gillow-Wiles, entitled Building Educational Bonds Among Learners in Blackboard.

And, there's always more for those with an interest.  Here's a link to my presentation last year, Connect Using Screencasting and Web 2.0 Tools.

Happy watching!


Teaching Without Words

I am in love with words. From the sound of them in conversations, their coming to life in the click, click of a keyboard, the subtle difference the breath a comma makes vs. a semi colon; to the typography of the written word; to the way they look and sound in my head; to the rhythm and intonation of the world's languages... On and on I could go. Yes, I love words in all their glorious forms!

As an ESOL and language teacher, I am also aware of the linguistic demands embedded within academic content areas that present some learners, such as English language learners, challenges.  It's a bit of a leap to tie this into this short post, but all this connects to my interest in online teaching and gaming in education.  Due to this background in language, ESOL, and technology, this TEDX by Matthew Peterson called Teaching Without Words caught my attention.  It's worth a watch.

What do you think?


Poetry Is Just In Time

Yesterday my kiddo slipped in mud that coated her sparkly white shoes a wet mud brown.  We giggled out loud as she wiped some of it away on the spring grass.  This was a perfect prelude to reading one of my favorite poems,  E.E. Cumming's in Just-.  It puts a smile on my face this time of year.  What's not to love about words like "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful"?

April is National Poetry Month.  Really every month should be, but it's a nice time for those of us who live busy lives and don't take the time to enjoy the rhythmic beauty of a initially seemingly simple poem that with a deeper look is loaded with sound and meaning.

Like so many, I don't consider myself a poet.  Yet, I appreciate.  Book Spine Poetry is a simple way many of us can appreciate in a participatory, visible way.  Here are two former posts I wrote about this fun form of poetry:  Part 1 and Part 2.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes!  Explore your resources for developing meaningful opportunities, and have fun!

I know this much is true…
The world is open,
The sun also rises.
Where the sidewalk ends,
Let the great world spin.