Google Project Update

These are graded. Given the issues everyone had, I graded these pretty much just on submission. If all the pieces were there you got full points. For the most part, everyone did a good objective and your tours turned out fine.



You should have received an email with a link to complete course evaluations. If not, you can complete the course evaluations online at the following link: Wed, Dec 4th is the last day to do evaluations. They are not released to faculty until after final grades are posted.

Editing the Wiki

Don’t forget that your final is due this Thursday by 5:00pm. You turn it in by adding your lesson plan to the wiki. You need to request access to create a page so be sure to do that soon. Also, if you are having issues editing the wiki then you might want to check out some tutorials. Here is a link to some on the Wikispaces site.

To make your page you first need to add a page. Just click the plus sign next to “pages and files” on the left sidebar.

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 10.29.52 PM

In order to see the sidebar and the editing tools you first need to turn them on. To do that, click the little icon on the left of the user bar (the one with your login name). It looks like 3 rectangles and in highlighted in red in the image below. Click it and the edit tools will turn on.

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 11.32.18 AM

Once the edit tools are turned on you should see the “edit” button like in the image below.

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 11.35.33 AM

Final Schedule

We will not have another face-to-face meeting this semester. Thanks for being a fun class. Don’t forget to complete course evaluations. They are online.

There is no class on 12/5 (nor Thanksgiving obviously). Turn in your final assignment by editing and adding it to the wiki. If you have questions feel free to email me. You need to register and ask to join the wiki in order to edit. If you fail to gain access you will not be able to submit your final. The final is 30% of your grade and you are unlikely to pass if it’s not turned in. If you cannot add your page to the wiki for whatever reason, email it to me. I’ll accept it but there will be a 10% reduction for not following the directions but much better than a zero.

If anyone has missing work and I have discussed or emailed you with a plan for submitting it you need to do that before 12/5. Missing work will become a zero and have a huge impact on your grade. It only takes a few zeros to end up failing (although a few missing discussion posts alone won’t sink you).

As always, email me if you have questions.

Tomorrow’s Teachers Meeting

Aims asked that I share this with you. See the attached flyer.

In addition to your academic transcript, Aims also issues C0-CURRICULAR TRANSCRIPS that outline your involvement with:

  • Student Clubs and Organizations
  • Community Service Projects
  • Awards and Honors
  • Leadership and Professional Development
  • Recognized Scholarships

Your involvement in clubs and organizations like PTK can really enhance your employment opportunities.

Dec. 2013 TTT flyer

What do You Want Students to do With Technology?

I found this article on starting a Life Hacker club which is interesting in it’s own right, but I think it also has implications for 21st century teaching. The “what do you want your kids to do with technology?” chart does a good job of summing up some of what I hope you learned during this class. Maybe it can help guide you as you think about your final project.

what to do with tech

Final Project (due 12/5)

NOTE: There is no class on 12/5 (nor Thanksgiving). Turn in your assignment by editing and adding it to the wiki. If you have questions feel free to email me.

The assignment write up is somewhat long so it’s available via a shared Google Doc.

All work will be submitted to a wiki.

General steps:

  1. Access the wiki and create an account
  2. Select a standard and write an objective.
  3. Write up a short summary or abstract of a lesson idea around your objective.
  4. Explore a variety of technology tools that might “add value” to this lesson idea
  5. Select a tool and spend some time to learn its ins and outs.
  6. Create a wiki page with information on the lesson, the tech, etc. (see the assignment for the details).

Accessing the Wiki:

We are using a site called Wikispaces for this project. Part of the reason is to give you some experience with wikis and partly so we can share ideas. To access the wiki go to the site below and create an account. Once you have an account you can “request access” to the wiki. I will approve you and after that you will be able to add and edit content. I have included one example from a previous class. The sooner you get access the better.

Here is an example lesson from a different but similar project

Extra Credit Reading Assignment

This optional but reading and participating is extra credit. However, I’d encourage you to read it as I think you will find it interesting. You might even enjoy the whole book.

Below is a PDF of 2 chapters from a book entitle The Difference Engine: Computing, Knowledge, and the Transformation of Learning by Eugene Provenzo. The whole book is interesting, if a bit weird, but these two chapters in particular offer something of a counterpoint to our discussion thus far. So far, the majority of this course has focused on the potential for technology to transform the learning experience when used properly. We have focused our attention on understanding and defining the nature of proper uses and how to recognize and develop them. However, I am of the opinion that while technology does offer powerful opportunities its use is not neutral. In other words, there are potential hidden costs that we should be aware of. Ideally, these costs will be minimal with transforming uses, but that is not a guarantee and it’s unlikely all uses are or will be transforming.

I suspect that modern society is at a crossroads. We entered this crossroad around the turn of the millennium and it will take us about 20-25 years to figure out where we are heading. As we are near the midpoint of this journey, it is possible to look at what has transpired over the past decade or so and being to make predictions about the future. If you have been paying attention, it’s not hard to see that technology is greatly reshaping our world. People are becoming more connected but not always in personal ways. We are inundated with information that we largely have to ignore. We are increasingly distracted and there is evidence to suggest that how we access and filter all this information is actually rewiring our brains (see Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains for an interesting take on this). None of this is necessarily bad. Our cultural evolution may simply be heading in an unfamiliar direction which will ultimately become both normal and familiar (E. M. Forester’s short story “The Machine Stops” describes such a society though not in a very positive light).

As we wind down the course, this last reading assignment offers an alternative view of technology. It is merely food for thought. It is NOT intended to call into question whether or not we should be using technology at all, but to remind us that technology is not neutral and that we should be cognizant of hidden messages and how a technological interface can color, or even impede, learning experiences.

As a whole, the book seeks to define how the Internet and hypermedia tools combine to create the difference engine and its role in how we access and process information in the digital age. Anyone interested in understanding the potential broader implications of technology and in particular its impact on society and education should read the entire book. For now, we will look at chapters 5 and 6. Sorry for the quality. Not sure where that line came from.

Post your reflection by 12/1 for credit.

Difference Engine chaps 5&6

WordPress Project

As discussed in class, this is the last project we will be doing before the final. Sorry it took a bit longer to post. If you want to take a few extra days and submit by Wed, Nov 27 that is fine. However, don’t forget that your final (the lesson plan on Wikispaces) will be due the week after Thanksgiving.


This is a bit different from the other projects you’ve done so far. My hope is that you not only become familiar with a web 2.0 tool (blogging in this case), but also begin to build a digital presence in order to better connect with your future students. While some aspects of this project are a bit contrived as you are not currently in a teaching position, what you develop here should be usable down the road.

Although it may be the most obvious, Facebook should not be your go to profile. Also, given the overly social and often inappropriate nature of Facebook think carefully about what you post on any personal Facebook page you have. That said, teachers have successfully used Facebook to share class information and inform students and parents. However, I think this is a slippery slope. Students will likely want to friend teachers and they will use their personal accounts for this giving teachers access to students’ personal lives. Because of the potential to mix personal and professional relationships, any use of Facebook should be carefully considered. I recall reading about one teacher who lost her job because of Facebook posts. I suspect we will see school districts developing policies related to the use of social media by teachers.

The catch is that if you do not have a personal account on Facebook, you should probably set up a teacher (or personal) page that identifies you and tells people where they should look to follow you. At the very least, this helps prevent impersonation. In the event someone does try to post a fake page (this happened at my school) you have recourse with Facebook when you can show them the real you. If you have a personal account already then this is probably not necessary but make it clear to students that they should not try to friend you. Do you really want to give students access to everything you do and say when you are not a work and your guard is down?

A better place to set up a professional profile is Google+ (perhaps using your work email address to create a separate account from any personal Google account you may have) and start to follow some of the mover and shakers in your field. Students can also follow your Google+ without requesting permission or giving you access to their private posts. Followers see only what you post as public unless you bring them into one of your “circles”. Just like with Facebook, it would be unwise to add students to your inner circles. Best to keep it professional and public so anyone can follow. Another professional network worth joining is

Step 1 – set up a blog

Why? Mainly because your students live online. They have Facebook pages, are on Google+, tweet, hang out in forums, develop communities, game, and communicate via text, instant messaging and a host of other digital tools. In order to be a 21st century teacher you have to BE where your students are. For some background on this read Banning Student Containers by Alan November (part of your final reading discussion). We can no longer assume that we have the attention of our students just because they are in our classroom. They are growing up in a digital, connected and global world and they do not leave it just because they are confined in schools. In fact, students will only disengage more if we try to unplug them. We are immigrants to their digital Rome and as they say, when in Rome…

I prefer WordPress and it what we will use for this project. WordPress is probably the biggest and most developed blogging site. Google’s Blogger is probably right up there as well. When you are out in the working world you can, of course, use any tool you wish. For future reference, here is some more information on blogging and sites –

It’s probably worth mentioning that many school districts now have Content Management Systems that host their web presence as well as provide other tools like digital lockers, teacher pages, etc. In my experience, these catch-all tools don’t do anything well. They are cumbersome to manage and use. That said, you may be stuck using their tools. Maybe they will improve over time, but if you find them limiting you can always link out to something you like better (unless your school specifically prohibits that in which case you should probably ask why). SharpSchool was a tool I had to use last year and despite their marketing their site was horrible to use. Teacher pages were difficult to create and edit and publishing was cumbersome and often didn’t work.

Short version: set up a WordPress account. Here is a site I used with a 7th grade programming class you can use to give you some ideas. It’s by no means perfect but it was part of an actual class.

Step 2 – build your blog (you can do more than the minimum)

  1. Start by creating an about page where you provide some information about who you are, what and where you teach (fake it), your background, interests and anything else you feel like sharing. Also include at least a couple paragraphs outlining your educational philosophy. If you haven’t done this already in another class you likely will so now is your chance to get a head start. If you have written one before, consider how you might change it based on what you have learned in this class.
  2. Set up at least three other pages with resources or links to sites and tools you expect your students to use, assignments, class policies and expectations, future events, how to volunteer, a syllabus, anything you think will be useful.
  3. Add at least three posts on your home page. One could be a welcome post and the others information on an assignment, upcoming event, etc. Obviously this is not connected to a real class so you are faking it a bit. The idea is to get a sense of how you would use your site. Once you are teaching you should plan to add new posts at least once a week and even occasionally during breaks in order to keep your site relevant and interesting to students and parents.
  4. In one of your above posts, include an embedded video (you can put this on a page instead if you prefer – just embed video somewhere).
  5. Create one gallery of images (at least 3 images) on one of your above posts or pages.
  6. Get at least one classmate to follow” your blog and also follow someone else. WordPress allows for email subscriptions as well as following from your WordPress account. You can see these options on the site I linked above. WordPress calls all these sidebar tools “widgets”. This is mainly to get you used to do this if you are not already. Again, once teaching you will want your students and parents to follow your blog.
  7. Add at least 5 widgets you think will be useful to your student and parent followers and choose a theme you like (something clean and uncluttered is best). Pick a free one unless you really want to pay.

Doing the above will give you a good sense of what can be done with WordPress. It’s probably a bit outdated now, but I created a short tutorial on WordPress that you might find helpful – There are tons of other tutorials out there as well including lots of video ones if you prefer.

Step 3 – post the link to your blog here by 11/24 (or 11/27 if you want extra time)


  1. About page including useful information about you and/or your class and your educational philosophy – 20 points
  2. At least 3 additional pages – 20 points
  3. Home page has at least 3 posts – 20 points
  4. An embedded video is included somewhere – 10 points
  5. A gallery of images is included somewhere – 10 points
  6. You have a nice theme and at least 5 widgets to help your users – 10 points
  7. You are following someone and have one follower – 10 points (I really have no way of knowing this unless you add the follow button so honor system here)