Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: Some Notes on Sketchnotes

When the Sir Ken Robinson RSA Animate video of �Changing Education Paradigms� started making the rounds, I�ll never forget the feeling of having my mind completely blown to shreds by not only the ideas presented in the talk, but also the images I was watching grow right before me on the screen. I�d seen the TED Talks. I�ve heard the ideas before. But never, NEVER, had it been presented to me in such a way that captured me as a listener and a viewer at the same time. More than a speech, more than a presentation, but not a video presentation necessarily, it was hard for me to explain. And once I wrapped my head around it, it was in this moment that I learned something about myself that I had never realized was part of who I am: I learn through drawing. Through images. Through listening. I've always participated in this activity and was often chastised for "not paying attention" in class, when in reality I was doing more than merely listening to what was happening. I was processing the information and drawing it in a way that made sense to me. Yes occasionally there were pirates or unicorns frolicking across the page as well, but my brain was still working. I was still listening, processing, and working.

Sketchnotes tell a story. The story that someone is hearing. The story of their understanding. The story of their learning. The story of a student and how they process information. Even a topic as fact-driven and seemingly straight-forward as the history of education and it�s current/future state tells a story, as evidenced by the video from RSA Animate.

Sketchnotes are strangely private and public. On the one hand, creating a set of notes for yourself from a blank page means truly developing your own process, style, and reflection habits. You are creating a visual representation of your synthesis of multiple pieces of information. The goal is not to write every word on the page, even if they are in all different fonts. We wouldn�t do this in a regular note taking session so why do it now? The goal is to really capture what is most important, highlight the information that connects ideas, and do it in a way that visually indicates a shift in your thinking or represents the ideas that most resonate with you in regard to the topic at hand. This is a personal process for personal use. Your sketchnotes and my sketchnotes may look completely different, and that�s okay as long as our ability to gather the relevant information and walk away with the same understanding is the same.

On the other hand, sketchnotes are merely the beginning of a process. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to present at InnEdCo in 2015 with the incredibly brilliant Kevin Croghan in a session we called �100 Ways to Capture (& Hopefully Share) Your Thinking�. We agreed early on that it wasn�t enough to simply create a sketchnote during a class (or a session) and call it a day. While sketchnotes are meant to be used for personal use, it�s also only the beginning of creating meaning of what you heard or learned and then synthesized/reflected upon. Often, these things happen in rapid succession and may not actually happen in isolation. Here�s the process we shared.

Kevin Croghan is the MAN. Follow him on Twitter: @MrCroghan or check out some other ways to contact him HERE.  
The final piece to the process is SHARING, contributing to the thinking of the whole with the purpose of refining our own thinking. So, how do we share? Sometimes it is as easy as clicking the share button. But in most cases it requires a more thoughtful approach. Often times I�ll see a sketchnote posted on Twitter or Pinterest, which is totally awesome and something I�ve done from time to time, as a end to the process. Unfortunately, for it to be a true capture and release of thinking this cannot be the end of the cycle. It�s purposefully cyclical so that once the original thinking is shared ideally you�ll receive some sort of feedback (discussion, clarification, etc.), reevaluate and reassess with the feedback and conversation in mind, and then share your newly created thinking. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Here are some examples of Sketchnotes, takeaways, and processing I've shared in the past. I've seen sketchnotes from the same keynotes, speakers, presentations, and sessions and while they look different from what I came up with, our takeaways and thoughts were fairly similar. It was a great way to meet someone new and spark a discussion.

Sharing can also be modeling what you�ve learned for others rather than sharing your thinking directly. Once you�ve reflected on something you�ve learned, this could change the way you think or behave or process. Owning that change in your actions and showing others is another way to share. You will still get feedback and have the opportunity to refine and revise and share again. Granted, it depends on the topic and the type of learning that is happening (content or skill related), but ultimately there is needs to be time dedicated to not only the cultivating of new ideas, but also the creation and sharing of learning.

So where does that leave us as educators in teaching and supporting this process with students? My suggestion, start small. Model it for them. Let students practice their listening and processing skills. Let them figure out what their visual vocabulary is. Eventually, let them submit their thinking to the room or to the world. Have them come back to their thinking after doing some research or having some conversations with their peers about what they heard and learned. Give them the opportunity to revise and clear up any misunderstandings. Help them shred their brains apart and then stitch them back together with a clearer picture of the ideas, concepts, and skills you know are important to growing them as students in your class and humans who need to learn how to learn. What better way to have them truly make meaning that you can see and assess than by sketchnoting their way through their learning?

Want to know more about Sketchnotes in the classroom? Check out my previous blog post!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: CCSD's Super Tool Smackdown

This summer, our team was fortunate enough to attend the ISTE 2016 conference here in Denver. It was a fast and furious week full of key notes, playgrounds, poster talks, and some mind-blowing presentations full of content but also new strategies for presenting professional development.

One of our favorites from this week was 60 in 60: The EdTech Game Show! presented by Brandon Lutz and Scott Snyder. This presentation was fast paced and shared over 60 Web Tools, Apps, and more in 60 minutes. Part of this presentation was a sweet 16 style bracket where eight sets of tools were paired up against one another and the audience was given time to vote for their favorite based on one minute descriptions given by the facilitators (and eventually audience members) until a winner was chosen. Aside from the super fun game show feel there was also some great information given by the presenters on how to use this structure in a professional development setting.

The Set-Up

From what we could see, here�s how they set things up:
  • Pre-event: audience exploration of tools
  • Presentation: Initial presentation with introduction of game show format; 1 minute overview of each tool (each facilitator took one in the pair)
  • Voting: After each pair presentation, the audience had the opportunity to vote on NearPod and a winner was chosen 
  • Repeat for each pair (1st round - 16 tools)
  • Audience participation: Before the show, the presenters asked volunteers from the audience to represent apps later in the presentation with practical advice or usage examples. The deeper dive into the tools was to continue to persuade the audience to vote for one tool over the other. (2nd round - 8 tools)
  • Transition Time: Between a vote and then next round of tool overviews the facilitators had to update the presentation and voting spaces with the new pairs. While this was happening the other facilitator took the time to share other tools (not in the initial 16). 
  • Repeat for final tools (3rd round - 4 tools)
  • Audience Smackdown: 5 minute free for all about final 2 tools. Voting commences. A winner is chosen. Cheering! Hooray!

Here�s Why it Rocked

The setup was simple, mostly because it had to be. Sharing that many tools in such a short amount of time would otherwise be impossible. The descriptions of each tool were short and to the point; that was really refreshing. Also, there were plenty of tools to choose from. As participants we didn�t feel like we needed or wanted to get to know each and every tool they presented, but at least having the option to eliminate a few of the choices almost right away felt empowering in a sense. If we knew this wasn�t a tool we didn�t find useful, or we had already used the tool they were presenting (or anywhere in between those places) the next tool was literally only moments away. In the end, we were sure everyone in the room (including us) were able to learn about a tool they could use right away in their classrooms. That�s powerful.

Our team attends presentations with two lenses. One is our �learner� lens. The other is our �facilitator of learning� lens. We saw several new tools that can be used and shared with our teachers using our �learner� lens. We thought about the structure of the learning environments we support using our �facilitator of learning� lens. The structure of this presentation is something we definitely could use. That is how this blog post came to life. So here we are, sharing it with you. Right now. In this space.

Let the Smackdown Begin!

A 16-tool blog post is something you would rather not read and we would rather not write, so we simplified things a bit and are going to present eight tools for your consideration. There will be 4 head-to-head battles, and then a semi-final with the four remaining tools, and a final round after that between the two tools left standing. Quick reminder: just because a tool �loses� does not imply that it�s useless. All of these tools can add value to your class when used in effective ways.

Here's the bracket. You can check out each of these tools on your own and then vote using this FORM. Check out the details below by hovering over the blue or red circles next to the tool listed. Each one is hyperlinked to their website...check them out! 

Please feel free to share this post with your colleagues so they can 1)learn some new tools and 2)vote for their favorites! You have 2 weeks to vote as our next round will begin September 27th! Happy voting!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Make Virtual Reality a Reality for YOUR Students!

Looking for ways to use virtual reality in the classroom?  If so, we�ve got you covered!  Cherry Creek Schools has several kits that are available for checkout through District Library. If you reserved a kit, make sure you block out time to pick up and drop off the kits in person back at SARC. A big thank you goes to Denise Wendl and Carla Kinsella for all of their help and support! There is a folder inside each kit that contains essential information.  You are responsible for all materials. Make sure you read and understand all content in the folder before using with students.  

So, what kits are available?
  • Kit #1: 12 Cardboard viewers and 12 iPhones
  • Kit #2: 12 Cardboard viewers and 12 Androids
  • Kit #3: 12 Cardboard viewers and 6 iPhones
  • Kit #4: 12 Cardboard viewers and 6 Androids
  • Kit #5: 12 Cardboard viewers (no phones)
  • Kit #6: 12 Cardboard viewers (no phones)
How does this work?

  1. Explore VR and Cardboard compatible apps.  Checkout recommendations in our Schoology Resource Group.
  2. Download and open your app. *If you are using CCSD devices (in kits) you will not be able to add additional apps.
  3. Insert your device into Google Cardboard.
  4. View your virtual reality experience. It�s awesome!

  1. Participants must be 7 years old or older.
  2. Make sure students stay in their seats or stay seated on the floor while viewing.
  3. Students should hold the cardboard set with two hands (to avoid phone dropping from sides).
  4. If students experience eye strain or motion sickness they should put the viewer down for a little bit and join in the activity when they feel better.
  5. Blurry?  Try cleaning the lenses or moving the device to the left or right to make it centered.
Awesome VR Apps
  1. Check out our blog post on Google Cardboard and VR Apps that Rock
  2. Google Expeditions is great place to start!  Check out the list of available Expeditions. This app has connected to all grade levels and all content areas!
Instructional Considerations

  1. Share expectations with students:
    1. Handle cardboard with care.  
    2. Do not change settings in device.
    3. Collect all devices and cardboard viewers before class is dismissed.

  2. Learning stations, small groups and pairs works great!
Schoology Group

VR Guy.png
Check out updates and use resources from the CCSD VR Resources Schoology Group. The code to join the is:
You will find content about Google Cardboard, how to create your own VR and 360 experience, and purchasing ideas.
Office of Blended Learning and Instructional Technology

Looking for support? District Technology and Learning Coaches are available to help you get started! They can help you explore possible apps, co-plan, or teach with you. All you need to do if fill out the request form by going to:

My.CherryCreek > My Tech > TLC Request Form

Packaging to Send back to District Library

  1. Make sure you completely charge phones.
  2. Shut down each phone.
  3. Put the kit together the way it was received:
    1. Cardboard in pairs - 12 in a kit (hugging in pairs)
    2. Folder on top
    3. Phones in bags (if available)
    4. Chargers in bags (if available)
    5. Double check inventory and deliver in person back to SARC.
  4. Something broken or not right?  Contact Amber Paynter at apaynter@cherrycreekschools.org  

We hope you have a blast bringing your students to places the schoolbus can't go by making virtual reality an actual reality!

CCSD Bright Spot: 5th Graders Create YouTube Style How-To Videos Using WeVideo

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