Mr. Flick's Tech Badges: Take 2

#edtech #edchat As many of you know, last year I tried to flip my tech classroom for 4th and 5th graders and have them earn badges for the tech skills they needed to acquire while still in elementary school. I am pleased to report that it was a screaming success. With that said, there are still a number of things that need to be improved, and that is what I am now trying to do.

Student will use technology to help to improve literacy in Nicaragua.

My tech badge program is a mixture of the flipping model, PBL model, and Challenge Based Learning.

This summer I have been watching a lot of TED videos and they have really got me thinking. Thinking about how I can turn my students into little social innovators, students that care about the world around them and then try to do something about it.

So here is some of the info from the PBL planner that I am using to give you an idea...

Name of Project: Bethke Kids Helping Kids Program

Duration: all year long
Subject: Technology
Teacher: Mr. Flickinger
Grade Levels: 3rd, 4th, and 5th
Project Idea:  Students learn how to leverage technology to help change their world following the theme: "Using technology to make our world better."  In order to do this they have to gain certain tech skills (which will be tracked by earning badges) that will allow them to progress to different levels as they create projects that will be part of the Kids Helping Kids Technology Showcase and Dinner with the proceeds going to help a library program in Nicaragua. This will be a red-carpet event with awards to the top projects.
Driving Question: How can I use technology to make the world a better place, starting with me?
Stay tuned for more updates...


Using Technology to Make Our World a Better Place

#edtech #edchat Can students really use technology to improve our world?

Back in 2007 I came across a middle school film contest where the students competed to come up with the best ideas to improve their world. Please watch this link before continuing on. it might give a QuickTime error, but just click the middle and it should start.
Those videos have stuck with me all these years, and just yesterday I returned from a week in Nicaragua helping at an orphanage inspired by these videos. 
But do you hear what I am saying? 
Students back in 2007 made videos that changed me, a grown man, they made me want to do something more, they inspired me to help orphaned children. Students used technology to bring about real change in my life. So the reality is that students really can inspire adults to change, and I am living proof.


My family has been working with two orphanages and a library in Nicaragua for the past three years, largely in part of those videos created by middle school students all those years ago. But what would have happened if their teacher had just done a typical report, seen only by the teacher? Or even if they had made the videos, but were never allowed to put them online for the world to see?
Using technology our students really can make the world, our world, a better place. We just need to guide them, help them and most importantly -- let them. And what we get back is so much better than before.

Educational Technology Bill of Rights for Students

#edtech #edchat #elemchat

The following are what I believe are the rights of all student to have with regards to using technology as an educational tool, written as a student to their teacher:

  1. I have the right to use my own technology at school. I should not be forced to leave my new technology at home to use (in most cases) out-of-date school technology. If I can afford it, let me use it -- you don’t need to buy me one. If I cannot afford it, please help me get one -- I don’t mind working for it.
  2. I have the right to access the school’s WiFi. Stop blaming bandwidth, security or whatever else -- if I can get on WiFi at McDonalds, I think that I should be able to get online at school.
  3. I have the right to submit digital artifacts that prove my understanding of a subject, regardless of whether or not my teacher knows what they are. Just because you have never heard of Prezi, Voki, or Glogster, doesn’t mean that I should not be able to use these tools to prove to you that I understand what you are teaching me.
  4. I have the right to cite Wikipedia as one of the sources that I use to research a subject. Just because you believe the hype that Wikipedia is full of incorrect information,  doesn’t mean that it is true -- besides we all use it anyways (including you). I am smart enough to verify what I find online to be the truth.
  5. I have the right to access social media at school. It is where we all live, it is how we communicate -- we do not use email, or call each other. We use Facebook, Twitter and texting to talk to each other. Teachers and schools should take advantage of this and post announcements and assignments using social media -- you will get better results.
  6. I have the right to be taught by teachers who know how to manage the use technology in their classrooms. These teachers know when to use technology and when to put it away. They understand that I need to be taught how to balance my life between the online and offline worlds. They do not throw the techno-baby out with the bath water.
  7. I have the right to be taught by teachers who teach me and demand that I use 21st Century Skills. Someday I am going to need a job -- please help me be employable.
  8. I have the right to be assessed with technology. I love the instant feedback of testing done technology. I live in a world of instant feedback, so to find out a couple of weeks later that I didn’t understand your lesson, drive me crazy. If you were a video game, no one would play you -- your feedback is too slow.
  9. I have the right to be protected from technology. I don’t want to be cyberbullied, hurt, scared or find crud online that I would rather not find. Please help me use technology responsibly and safely. Please stay up-to-date with this kind of information, and teach me to make good choices. I am not you and we don’t see eye to eye about what to put online, but help me to meet you in the middle.
  10. I have the right to be taught by teachers that know their trade. They are passionate about what they do and embrace the use of technology to help me learn. They attend trainings and practice what they learn. They are not afraid to ask for my help; they might know more than me about the Civil War, but I know Glogster like nobody’s business.

This is a work in progress, please comment below on what to add or change.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary

Finding Superman in Technology

#edtech #edchat #elearning  The big buzz right now in education is the new movie Waiting for Superman which puts a spotlight on many of the problems with education today. Since I am a geek, and I look at everything though my geeky glasses, I see a lot of the solutions to the problems with education using technology. Today I would like to talk about two problems that are presented in the movie and my technological solutions. Problem Number 1: A Bad Teacher. A high school student I know had a bad Spanish teacher last year. By bad, I mean a Spanish teacher that refused to speak Spanish. She would have the students learn Spanish using textbooks and worksheets, and not by speaking it even though she was fluent in the language.

Tech Solution: Buy Some Apps. By spending less than $10, this student was able to make up for the inabilities of her teacher and buy some Spanish apps for her Smartphone. Apps that not only spoke to her, but also listened to her speak Spanish and compared her spoken words to native Spanish speakers. She also bought a flashcard app that helped her pass off all of her “textbook” work that her teacher assigned.

This is one example of one subject in school, but trusts me, if there is a bad teacher, chances are, there is an app to replace him/her.

Problem Number 2: A Bad School Let’s say a student has more than just one bad teacher, instead she has an entire school that is bad.

Tech Solution: Take It Online. Today there are incredible online alternatives to brick and mortar. Companies like K12 offer a solid curriculum that in most cases is free and sometimes the school district will even provide a laptop.

So perhaps instead of waiting for Superman, maybe we need to download him, or install him, or log-in to him.

Of course I am not saying that all of the educational problems of our country are going to be solved by technology, but a few of them could.

#edtech - Website Review: Monster Exchange

First off, you can't help but love the name of this website -- Monster Exchange, the name will make sense in a few moments. Monster Exchange was started way back at the birth of the Internet  in 1995, the work of a parent and a teacher that got together to promote literacy among younger students. I love it because of using 21st Century Skills like creativity and collaboration.

Here is how it works: teachers register their classrooms and connect with another classroom in the program, students then email each other descriptions of monsters, which they must then draw, and back and forth things go until a story is written about this monster. There is even a chat room for students to meet and discuss the project. This is a perfect example of schools using technology to promote stronger literacy and edtech skills with their students.

I can't wait to try this with my students this upcoming year.