End of year push for Edtech Badges

20130509-205414.jpg #edtech #atomiclearning

My students are in their final few weeks of school and they are on fire to earn as many of our new edtech badges as possible before we break for summer.

The edtech badges program in our elementary school leverages our Atomic Learning account and the ideals of a flipped classroom and gamification to get our students earning everything from simple word processing badges to more complicated audio engineering and video game design badges.

There has been a lot of talk about student engagement, trust me, not an issue in my school. The problem here is kids wanting, no begging, to work on their badges over the summer.

Should I allow it or not?

Edtech Badges - A dream come true.

#edtech #edchat

With my edtech badges program passing the six month mark, I am amazed at how successful it is.

"Mr. Flick, is it okay if I come in a recess today to finish my Online Research Badge?" I am pestered by badge questions like this all the time, my students are hooked on earning badge for tech skills. Crud! I wish I would have thought of this years ago. Each week I write in my teaching journal on how things are going with this program, here are a few entries from the past six months...

September 12, 2012
"I need to make sure that the recognition for earning badges is based on the badges and not the individual. For example the public badge chart should show all the students that have earned the podcasting badge, and not a chart of students with stars for each badge they have earned. The later could publicly show a student as lacking skills, however with the former, it would be impossible to find the student that is lacking skills (this type of tracking will be in my grade book)."

September 22, 2012
"Badges are great, the students are finally getting used to them and some have started to earn them. I told fourth grade that they cannot have the Email Skills badge until the Word Processing badge is done. That was the kick in the pants they needed. Making the badges is a pain, I need to get kids to make them. Now I have time to just work the room. They still are reluctant to use the videos. They seem to still be addicted to being hand-fed education. Breaking old habits seems to be harder than I first thought."

October 5, 2012
"Badges are working! Kids are finally figuring them out. I have begun to make and hand out badges. I think this might work. I have a list on the website of the kids that have earned badges (grouped by badges)."

October 13, 2012
"Making badges and checking kids work has been taking a lot of time, plus I am having kids turn in crap work, and want me to help them make one change at a time - the pain of gamification. I need to figure out a better way. Plus, what do I do about special needs kids like XXXX, how do they "earn" badges. I think I need to start each class with 15 minutes of keyboarding for those who have not earned their keyboarding badge. Get kids that are ahead in badges to make more badges."

October 22, 2012
"I modified each badge for special needs children, it turns out I have more time now to work with these students more one-on-one now that the other students are busy on their own pacing. Students have now been taught that they can only turn in work when it is down, no more bit-by-bit help. I tell then to go back and watch video such and such. Students are finally figuring it out, the independent learner thing. I now have kids make badges, they love to do it. Things were much better this week."

November 3, 2012
"What to do about kids that are waiting for feedback from teacher - grading, email, etc? They need to be able to work on other badges and not in order or you get "bottle-neckers" and "waiters." I've got to figure this out."

November 10, 2012
This past week I broke the badges into levels, now they can work on any badge they want from the same level, no more waiting on me. If they are waiting for me to grade something, they simply move on to a different badge for that level."

January 9, 2013
"The badges are working great! I had a sub this past week and she did great. She said she had never seen kids so busy. All she had to do was work the room and answer a few questions. Should I be worried that the badge might replace me???"

January 30, 2013
"The badge program is cruising on auto pilot. I love being able to have time to truly help students that need it. My "high-flyers" are cruising through the badges and are happy (non-disruptive) because they don't have wait for anyone. A few students have finished all of the beginner level badges and are now working on their advanced badges like photography and video game design."

On the Road to Podstock 2012

#edtech #podstock

The drive today from my house in Northern Colorado to Wichita, KS for Podstock is 9 hours. Which has given me a lot of time to think. I am finally in Old Town, Wichita at the tasty restaurant Cafe Moderne taking advantage of both their incredible menu and their free WiFi.

You see, this Thursday I give the opening keynote for Podstock, which has caused me to rehearse it over and over again in my head during the drive out here. I am sure that the people on the interstate with me thought I was nuts talking to myself as I cruised across the pains of Colorado and Kansas.

In this keynote I am giving is totally new information that I have not shared before. Some of the ideas I am presenting are things that I have been working on for years. I am going to finally share some of the secrets that I have been using to get my students to do amazing edtech projects like movies and podcasts.

I have been reluctant to share these ideas in the past because many of them were unproven - and maybe just a flash-in-the-pan - and not a sustainable program. I have also struggled with how to articulate these ideas into something that is easy for other teachers to replicate without being just another "program."

I am happy to report that everything has come together for me in the past 90 days. I finally have such a large body of evidence that supports my ideas and beliefs, that I now have all the missing pieces in place.

I even got a few new insights as the corn fields passed by - who knew that corn fields could be so inspirational?


What to do about ISTE 2012?

#iste12 #edtech


As I sit here in the San Diego airport waiting for my flight to leave for home I can't help but reflect upon my five days here at ISTE 2012. Each year, as it turns out, ISTE is a little bit different than the previous years. In part, I believe, because I change and also because the world of edtech is such a moving target. Although every year has a theme, and this year's was "Expanding Horizons," there seems to be a few sub-themes that aren't published, it is something that just happens. Here are some of the sub-themes that I saw...

This was the year about mobile computing or BYOD. Although we talked a lot about mobile computing and BYOD(in theory) last year, this year we seemed to now know what to do about it. There we're tons of sessions dedicated to this topic, with many success stories to be shared and duplicated.

There was also a lot of informal discussions about edupreneurs (educators who are entrepreneurs). I never knew this crowd even existed until this year. And when I say informal discussions, I mean what people are talking about at lunch and in the hallways between sessions.

This was one of the most positive years as far as the vibe among edtech educators. I don't thing we feel as beat up as in years past - I think we are finally coming into our own. And we are a force to be reckoned with. Most of us are turning into our own advocates for change - I think we feel not so alone after attending this ISTE.

I just checked my idea list from this year and there are 42 items on it, and over the coming weeks I will narrow it down to about 4 or 5 things I will try in my school with my students, but it is these ideas that are going to change things, these are the big things.

Thank you ISTE for another great year - well done and I can't wait until next year. Watch out Texas, here we come!

- Brad Flickinger, tech teacher, Bethke Elementary


Pondering a Recent Webinar


Last week I attended the Atomic Learning webinar called "Panel Discussion: Aligning Curriculum and Technology" that my wife participated in as one of the panelists. She works in my district as the person in charge of tech integration and training, so she is very passionate about this subject to say the least. As you can imagine, this is a really current topic with a lot of school districts across the country as we try to catch up with our students and their own tech skills.

The discussion focused on how to use and integrate technology in our everyday lessons to  engage our students more. There were examples given on the success that many schools have seen. I was impressed with the examples that showed academic growth through the use of technology -- we could all use some of that. They did talk about the challenge of getting a district's curriculum people to work with the technology people on common goals. The webinar viewers submitted questions that the panelist took the time to answer -- and relate too as well.

Although my wife and I talk about  these different ideas at our dinner table most nights, it was interesting to hear how these ideas bounced around the panel of participants. By the end of the webinar you could feel the sense of urgency about the desperate need that we have to get technology into most aspects of education. Technology is no longer a separate subject being taught in it's own room. Instead, it should be everywhere, that's what students want. The problem is that until we stop looking at it as a separate subject, it is hard for us to more forward.

We need to all be technology teachers!

-Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School


Solving the Mysteries of Creative Commons

#edtech #edchat With more and more of my student's work being put online -- I thought is was about time to get to the bottom of Creative Commons. My superficial understanding was that is was a mutually agreed upon license that helped to bring some legitimacy to using others works (pictures, videos, writings, music, etc.) that can be found online.

Naturally, my first stop was my Atomic Learning account and I was pleased to find an entire workshop on the subject. The nice thing about Atomic Learning workshops is that you do not need to sit through a lot of stuff you don't need just to find the few things you do. For example, with the Creative Commons Workshop there are over 53 minutes of lessons. I found what I needed to know by watching less than 10 minutes. I just looked for the titles of lessons that I needed.

A few minutes later I was on my Flickr account changing the Creative Commons licence setting to more reflect what I actually wanted -- now that I am an expert on the subject.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School

Young Students Can't (you fill in the blank)

#edtech #edchat 

I get at least one of these excuses when I am working with schools while trying to get more tech projects incorporated into the academic planning...

Young students can’t blog.

Young students can’t podcast.

Young students can’t make movies.

etc. etc. etc.

The truth is they can.

But does this mean that we throw the idea of doing age-appropriate lessons out the window? No, of course not. We do not ask a second grader to blog the same way that we would ask a high school senior, but they both can blog.

When I first started to do movie making with my elementary students, many of my colleagues thought I was crazy. And perhaps I was, but I at least wanted to give it a try. So I started with the idea of how could I make movie making age-appropriate for my young students? And how could I do it with just a few pieces of inexpensive equipment?

I only had a Flip video camera for my first elementary student-made movie.  So I knew right then that I would be restricted with the type of filming they could do. The Flip had no zoom lens or external microphone jack, so they would have to just move the camera a lot to get the shots that we wanted, especially knowing that the built-in mic was only good for a few feet. We also had a simple light kit that was made with reflectors that we got from our local home improvement store. That was it for equipment.

The next thing I did was to sit down with the students to get the outline for the movie. The students had been studying dramatic writing so they knew all about how to tell a good story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Since we knew the limitation of our equipment we decided on a few rules:

1) It had to be shot in the school. We had no money to go somewhere else to shoot.

2) Any dialogue would have to be done using a close-up shot so that our audio would be good.

3) All the shots would have to be simple, static shots. We would avoid panning or tilting the camera.

Soon we had our movie outline and script, so we were now able to start shooting. We broke the script down into a shot list and from there we started to shoot. One of the funny things that we didn’t see coming was that the actors had to remember to where the same clothes every Wednesday so that the shots would match.

We shot Wednesdays after school for about 5 weeks. In the end we had over an hour of footage for our seven minute movie. Editing took a little work; as it turns out, young students want to keep everything -- they don’t want to edit anything out. The solution was to allow them to make a blooper reel. This allowed them to put the very best parts in the movie and then all the mess-ups and mistakes were for the blooper reel. The students were only allowed to use simple transitions and a few effects, so after another two weeks of editing we were done.

Both the students and myself were amazed at how well the movie turned out.

Dude! Where’s my pencil? http://www.youtube.com/user/bethkeelementary#p/u/0/9TEBqs7kX2k


Teaching Creativity Through Projects

Today I would like to focus my blog post on what I believe is the best what to teach 21st Century Skills and school technology to our students -- projects. The school I taught at before coming to my current school was a PBL or Project-Based Learning school. This meant that most of the concepts and skills that were being taught to students were part of a larger projects -- students love to learn this way. Although most schools really do work this way, this school had made it part of it's formal identity. Just to be clear, my current school teaches a lot through projects as well.

Here is a rough idea at how project-based learning works...

Step One: Define -- give your students a real-world problem or process and ask them to make things better, easier, faster, cheaper, more effective or more enjoyable. This is usually done through a question. For example, in fifth grade this coming year my question might be: "If you lived during the Renaissance, what would you have done to get your work noticed? So that people would be talking about your work hundreds of years later."

Step Two: Plan -- students need to take time to understand information about the subject, through study and research students can use school technology to be better equipped to answer the above question.

Step Three: Do -- using different techniques students then do the project, in the case of the Renaissance question, I will ask my students to produce a podcast.

Step Four: Review -- student finish the project by reviewing each others work and by posting their projects online for the world to see.

If has been my experience that project-based learning can be one of the best ways to teach 21st Century Skills and technology to our students. Rather than just teaching them a random skill like how to edit audio -- just make learning the skill part of a much larger project.

Website Review: NASA Education Enterprise

In case you didn't know it, NASA has a lot of different websites, each one covering something different. Which can be a pain when you are looking for something for your classroom to with NASA. The good news is that NASA Education Enterprise is a sort of umbrella that covers all of the individual websites, which is why it is such a good website for teachers and students. A great place to start is the search box, this will search across all the NASA websites for your subject of interest.

On the left side navigation is the link for educators which is then broken down into grade levels -- fantastic when you are looking for lesson ideas.

Also on the left is the link for students which is also broken down by grade levels. I have used this during free time and the students love it.

One of the important part of teaching students to use school technology is of course research, this website from NASA is great for it. I remember the day when I started the students on this website and sent them after as much information on the two robots on Mars; Spirit and Opportunity. I was amazed at what they found.

Technology Integration Workshop - Step 9: Embed Digital Artifacts in Lessons

Note: Do not do this lesson until you have watched the Watch First video. Lesson Video: Action Guide Video: Once you have watched both videos please complete this step in the Workshop Checklist.

Return to the Table of Contents for the Technology Integration Workshop.

Resources: Technology Integration Worksheet AtomicLearning.com

Updates to these videos:

Transcription of Videos


Welcome back everyone to the Tech Integration Workshop here at SchoolTechnology.Org.  My name is Brad Flickinger, and this is Step 9 - Embed Digital Artifacts into Lessons.

Now, since the beginning we have been working on my K-T-E-C System that I use all the time with my teachers in the buildings that I work with; and that is you Know 21st Century Schools; then T is for Train them; E is for Embed them, and then C is for Check on them.

So finally we are at the “Embed” phase where we are going to embed 21st Century skills into the lessons all around us.

Now, to be able to really kind of explain that I want to show you the lessons that come out of my Elementary School.  At first you might be thinking, “Yes, but I teach at a High School or a Middle School.”  Well kind of use it as a platform for where you might be able to go.  So if I can do it at Elementary school, surely you can do deeper, stronger, more at Middle and High School levels.  It is just to give you an idea of what is happening here.

So here is the system or the schedule that I follow, all the way from kindergarten to Fifth Grade - and I will explain each one of them to you.

Essentially these are not fixed.  They can change from year to year, depending on what the technological needs of our students are.  So let’s start at kindergarten.  So in Kindergarten they start by really learning how to use a computer properly, which means really using, knowing how to use their mouse to click, to drag, to select - those types of things.  So we do a LOT of digital drawing with them.

And in this case they are doing an alphabet and they are writing out… they are on the letter C.  So this is really early in the stage of being able to do this book.

So you can see he has got a car, a cookie and a cake.  And here is another shot of a different student here.  And they are REALLY getting good at how to use the mouse.  Their mousing skills are clicking, and changing colors, and all those things - fantastic! These kids, by the time they are done kindergarten, have got the skills.

Which moves us into First Grade, where we start using documents; Microsoft Word - they can type text, select text, change it, move it around - all those types of things.  By the time they are done First Grade they can do INCREDIBLE things with documents.  So much so that look at this guy here - he’s relaxing a little bit there with his document all done!

But we felt, as a school, that being able to manipulate news documents is one of these skills for academics, and as far as the rest of their life too.  So we start off REALLY young for them to be able to be familiar with using a word processor.

From there, in Second Grade they get really good at being able to make presentations or slide shows.  So in this case they are working on an insect slide show.  And being able to stand in front of their peers or classmates, and present that information.

And you will notice this one doesn’t have bullet points on it; this one is really using imagery really well.  We are not teaching kids to stand up in front of their classmates and read all the bullet points that are on the slide show. No, they have got to be able to PRESENT great information - and they get really good at that in Second Grade - because they do it for the rest of their life, basically.

In Third Grade the students work on a book; an actual tangible book that we get printed out.  So they work on… of course this is REALLY tied in to their classroom; all of these things are - you know, the insects, the letters, the alphabet - all those things are tied back to their classroom.  In this case they talk about everything they learn all throughout the year.  They make different chapters in their book and then finally, in the spring, we print that all up.  So that is what they work on here.

So you can see that it has been great that they had the experience with both the slide show and the word processor to come back on for their book project here.

Fourth Grade they do their own podcast; so they do all the research, the writing, the sound effects - all those things; the recording of it and editing, so that everyone comes out of there with a podcast.  And there is a LOT of work goes into this.  You talk about the 21st Century Skill of researching information fluency - they do a LOT of that in Fourth Grade.  So they can get that all done.  And of course they are making documents and doing all those things.

So here they are recording their podcasts out in the Media Center.

And then finally, in Fifth Grade, each student makes their own documentary about a subject.  So, again, it is a lot of research, a lot of writing, a lot of the planning; you know, it is months of the planning work before they ever really get to the stage where they are shooting the video here in the classroom, and those types of things.  And they will narrate their documentary and do all those great types of things.

So that gives you a kind of a glimpse of what is happening in my building.  And it comes down to these three Steps that I use.  So first off (oh, I like that sound effect there - that little effect of it coming across there) we pick a lesson.  And that is what we kind of did in Step 8; you look at all the different lessons there and you pick a lesson.

And then we complete a work sheet.  And then the Action Guide part to this Lesson, this Lesson 9, you will see that worksheet and you will see how I work through it with the teachers.

And then three, it is kind of teach and repeat.  So we just pick the lesson, do the worksheet, teach and repeat.  And we just go through that three-step recipe that is GREAT for embedding 21st Century Skills into your lessons.

So I will see you in the Action Guide part and we will talk about how YOU are going to do it.

Action Guide

Alright, welcome to the Action Guide for Step 9 for “Embedding Digital Artifacts into Lessons.

Now, here I am; I am in the actual worksheet that I use when I brainstorm with teachers.  I will have a link to this in the Resource Section on this page here.  But let’s just zoom in and take a look at what we have got here.

So here I am; I have X’d out the teacher’s name here - but this is for Fifth Grade; Social Studies is the subject matter we are on for last year.  And they have already gone through the Introduction of 21st Century Skills where I sit down with them and I show them things, and they have also watched certain videos on Atomic Learning.  So they understand what 21st Century Skills are.

So the digital artifacts: From those previous Steps that we have done earlier on in this workshop; you know, that YOU picked the digital artifacts.  YOU are the expert on 21st Century Skills, so YOU picked the artifacts. So in this case my Fifth Grade students made documentary films.  And so we have got that.

So this teacher here, she had a lesson that she called “Understanding the Causes of the American Revolution.”  That is what she wanted me to kind of take on in my Computer Class.

So we have an Objective here; and then the Summary. What we are going to do is replace the final test and report that she used to do (kind of a science fair-type thing); we are going to do it with the documentary.  So this is going to be a longer-type project.

Let me just scroll down a little bit here.  So here is my 21st Century Skills Brainstorming.  So we sat down and we just said, “Okay, Creativity and Innovation - what are we doing to do there?”  Well, we have got to write script; they have got to do it in the perspective of the story.  So there will be sets and costumes and things; very creative, very innovate - great!

Communication, collaboration: they are going to work in teams; they are in change roles, they have got Google Docs so they can be at home and they can still collaborate on items.

Digital Citizenship, Research and Information Fluency - you can see all these things.  And we started to type in; we just used this as a “Fill in the blank worksheet.”  You know, she was giving me ideas, I had ideas - and we just kind of put it in there.

And then we decided, “Well who is going to do what here? Roles and Responsibility.”  Well, the Principal is going to present the Award at the Premier, so we have got her to do that.  And the Media Tech; I am going to take care of the research skills, all the computer lab time for script writing, editing and that kind of thing.  We have a District Tech person that is going to come in and make sure that we have all of the up-to-date… that our flip video cameras all sync in and everything.  So we are going to check on that.

And the teacher is going to teach the lessons, like they have always done.  But I am in the background; I have got the support happening in my computer lab for a lot of the work time.  So teaching kind of happens with the teacher, but in the work, the assignment stuff happens with me.

And then our Librarian is going to have books on display for check-out, all about the American Revolution.

So we looked into some needs that we might have for this.  We have got some training for the teacher, training for the students; hardware, we’ve got all that… software - got it.  Prerequisite skills for our students - we’ve got all that.  And, yes, I think everything… we have got the Rubric; we sat down and worked on a rubric together and got all that taken care of.

And we are scheduled and we are ready to do it!  And we have got a basic schedule to how it all works out.  So that is what my worksheet looks like.  And by the time you’re done, you have got a 21st Century embedded lesson. It’s ready to go!  It’s got the skills all embedded in it!

Now, I know you might be thinking, “But my teacher doesn’t know how to do a documentary /doesn’t know how to do podcast / doesn’t know how to use PowerPoint - those type of things.”  Well, I hate to kind of be … keep going back to the same thing; but you know, I use Atomic Learning for all that thing.

So here I am logged into Atomic Learning.  And let’s say you are in First Grade in my Building, which is where we use word processing.  So, okay, I am just going to go here in the Application area and I am just going to find Microsoft Word.  Go down here… it might be under “Word” or it might be under “Microsoft.”  There we go. Word.  Go into there.  And then what versions of Word?  Well, we’ve got 2003 in my Building.  And we are only PC in my Building.  So we go there.  So I think that is all I am going to do.  So I am going to find all the tutorials for Word 2003.

And there we go!  There they are!  And we open that up.  So we’ve got Intermediate, Intro, Advanced and Newsletter, Workshop, Members.  There they all are.  So we go “Introduction.”  Look at ALL these Intro videos!  Now there’s fifty videos in here on the Introduction to Microsoft Word 2003.

It’s all ready to go!  They just need to figure what they want to do and how they are going to do it.  The students log into here, the students follow this.  It saves you time.

And I keep going back to this:  You want to save time - this is the thing you need to have here, is Atomic Learning.  It is one of the BEST things I have found for my work as a Tech Integration Specialist.

So that is how you get all the skills to both your students and your teachers, as well as yourself.  So when you are ready to take that on… and when I said “Documentary,” there is a whole movie-making guide in here on how to make movies; there is all the stuff for podcasting as well as how to use Audacity or Garage Band - whichever one you are going to use for your podcasting.  That is all in here, step-by-step on how to do it.

And let’s take a quick look at what these are; let’s go in the “Using the Task Pane.” It is only forty seconds there.

“Another feature in Word is the Task Pane.  To turn the Task Pane on you can click…”

There you go!  That’s my Word right there, ready to go!

Alright, so that concludes the Action Guide thing.  So meet with your teachers and fill up these worksheets so that you are ready.  Get it all scheduled into their teaching schedules so that you have got this ready to go!