This blog will focus on using technology to empower and transform learning. Key topics will include Web 2.0, Blooms Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS), digital communication and collaboration tools such as Google Apps and affordable (even free) technology related resources for teaching and learning. Please contact Chris Long if you would like to contribute to this effort.

The 1st 5 Days

posted Jul 20, 2012, 11:22 PM by Chris Long   [ updated Jul 23, 2012, 11:53 AM ]

What is the best way to utilize the first five days of school? This was a question that Alan November posed to us during his ISTE 2012 Session Empathy: The 21st Century Skill

Many teachers go over rules and expectations. We take a trip to the textbook room for students to get their books. We may even start getting into curricular content and assign homework, but are we building the best foundation to maximize student's learning capacity? How can we maximize the first 5 days of school and make them the most productive and amazing days possible?

At the Building Learning Communities Conference educators from all over the world started to collaborate on this project and some  shared their perspective via video to get the conversation started. Alan also invited educators to participate in the BLC Values Exchange website and to tweet their best ideas using the #1st5days hashtag. And if that wasn't enough, there's one more thing. At one of the sessions at BLC, Tom Barrett shared a crowd sourced Google Doc called The BLC12 Crowd'd Book if you are looking for ideas or have some to share this is an excellent way to get started.

So my challenge to you.... take a look at the videos, explore the links, think deeply, and share openly.  Together we can build a great foundation for learning this year and every year after!

First 5 Days: Day 1 from Alas Media on Vimeo.

First 5 Days: Day 2 from Alas Media on Vimeo.

First Five Days: Day 3 from Alas Media on Vimeo.

Show Us What You Learned

posted Jun 19, 2012, 5:24 PM by Chris Long   [ updated Jul 10, 2012, 8:54 PM ]

As part of a end-of-year senior project one of Fountain Valley High School's English teacher, David Theriault, asked his students to demonstrate what they learned while they were attending FVHS. Wow, deep question right? Imagine trying to sum all that up into a 3-5 minute presentation.

Students worked together in small groups on these projects and everyone was responsible for turning in a one-page paper which explained what their specific contribution to the project was. The students were free to choose just about any tool that they wanted to use to help them make and present their project as long as it was not a prepared speech.

Here is one example of the student's projects. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is 1000 pictures and 2000 Post-its worth?

Kathy and Quinton's Senior Project: FVHS 2012 from Quinton on Vimeo.

Spoon-feed Students

posted Jun 7, 2012, 12:04 AM by Chris Long   [ updated Jun 7, 2012, 12:05 AM ]

Question: How do you discourage and work against the "spoon-feeding" mentality of students in a flipped class? (via @guster4lovers)

This was the question that was the topic of a live discussion on Twitter under the hastag #flipclass. Although I was not able to participate in this discussion, I was eager to see what the educators on Twitter had to say about this. The whole conversation is archived and is a great read, but here are some of the highlights. Add your on comments below.

@a_mcsquared - spoon feeding is my biggest weakness stil, so looking for ideas here, sorry #flipclass

@crystalkirch - I have tried 2respond 2 Ss q's w/more questions for them to answer...that has helped a bit in not being the "sole dispenser" #flipclass

@runfardvs - I used to have a broken wooden spoon hanging in front of my class. Reminding Ss that I wouldn't soon feed them answers. #flipclass

@Mr_Driscoll - One key is to clearly articulate to students that a #flipclass  is spent performing authentic tasks, not just listening to teacher

@jdferries - getting students to identify claims & evidence, problem & solution, tasks that demonstrate objective. a lot less talking in gen. #flipclass

@MrsHowardMath - Finding ways to assess understanding rather than a correct answer. #flipclass

@buddyxo - My biggest thing: building *trust* w ss. Makes them less fearful of discovery. Let the indep learning happen "by accident" #flipclass

@MrBrianBobbitt - If you can Google the answer, did the question need to be asked? #flipclass

@MrsHowardMath - @runfardvs @a_mcsquared also must teach them how to collaborate. We sometimes assume they know how to work in groups together. #flipclass

@MsRossEnglish - I struggled w/ this. Students wanted me to spoonfeed "What is the right answer your want us to say?" Tough to stay strong #flipclass

@historyfriend - Read "Why Don't You Just Tell Us the Answer" by Bruce Lesh - helpful for history, ss, especially.  #flipclass

@buddyxo - Closing note: we need to be careful not to go too extreme anti spoon-feeding. Support is key & it's imp ss know ur there for them #flipclass

MIT Pays it Backwards

posted May 18, 2012, 11:22 AM by Chris Long   [ updated May 18, 2012, 11:26 AM ]

One of the coolest things I've seen all year is this the MIT + K12 Initiative. The tagline reads "Making Videos to Make a Difference", but really this is all about using technology to help K12 teachers and students understand difficult concepts by connecting them to one of the greatest STEM resources (the students at MIT).

How it Works:
This project allows K12 teachers to post an 'assignment' (really a request) to the MIT students, and then the students can accept your assignment and make a video using the resources available to them at MIT. It's a win-win situation. You get a resource that is available to your students 24/7 and the MIT students are offered financial aide, equipment and training.

How to get Started
: Browse the MIT + K12 site to see what videos have been made and preview them. If you find one that would be helpful for your students, post a link to them on a SB2000 Classroom assignment or subpage; if you use Canvas you can easily embed the video there; or you could use a Google Site, or Doc to share it with your students. If you would like to see video made on a topic that there are no videos for, register on the site as a K12 educator and submit an assignment.

What's the Real Revolution in Ed Tech?

posted May 11, 2012, 10:38 AM by Chris Long   [ updated May 11, 2012, 10:43 AM ]

Just read a great article over on TechCrunch.  Is Stanford on to something that Harvard & MIT don't get?

To me the real revolution in EdTech occurs when you can use technology in ways that makes your instructional time more effective and learner-centric. Add your comments below.

A Genius Bar is Born

posted Nov 7, 2011, 12:46 PM by Chris Long   [ updated Nov 7, 2011, 1:46 PM ]

Last week I had the privilege of being part of a student "Google Genius" meeting that Mr. Ginex-Orinion @ FVHS is pioneering. The idea is to build a team of student Google Geniuses and open a Google Genius Bar every Wednesday at lunch. The student geniuses would be available to show students and staff  how to use Google Apps to organize their schedules, communicate, collaborate, teach and learn.

The initial response was fantastic. Over 36 students showed up to find out more about the requirements of the program and they were all enthusiastic about sharing their time and expertise with others. Mr. G-O developed an application and interview process to select only the most qualified and responsible students and we now have our first cadre of Google Geniuses.

The grand opening of the Genius Bar is set for lunchtime November 9th  in room 508 at FVHS.

As part of the application process, students were required to submit evidence of how they use Google Apps. The students did an impressive job with this, take a look at this presentation to learn more about how our students are using Google Apps in their everyday lives. day lives.

Word vs. Google Docs

posted Nov 4, 2011, 12:47 AM by Chris Long

I was recently asked what's the benefit of using Google Docs over a program like Microsoft Word? This is a great question and the answer is each one of these tools does a great job at what they were designed to do.

Word was originally designed for print and publishing. Through the course of many upgrades and product revisions it has evolved into a much more dynamic and complex program. It can do a ton of stuff including making address labels, web pages, tables, charts, document comments and revision histories and the list goes on. All of these are neat features but Word may not be the best at them. It is certainly not the best web page authoring program but it's not designed for that. Another important item to consider with Word, is that it costs us about $60 per machine that we install it on. This amount adds up and upgrades cost us additional amounts as well. If you cant open or edit (.docx) files you know what I am talking about. Lastly, every new version of Word released requires more computing power, hard-drive space and RAM.

Microsoft has a fairly new cloud computing platform called Office 365, it allows for a Word Doc to be moved to the cloud and offers some similar features as Google Docs, however Office 365 is not free for everyone in our district like Google and it also is designed for those who have the desktop version of Office installed.

Google Docs was built for the cloud and collaboration. Print and printed publications are not what it was designed for. Google excels at making simple text and media documents that can be easily shared, published and edited online with out printing. It is also offered to every single student and staff member in our distinct for free. Businesses pay Google $50 a year per user for this service. It also includes 25 GB of email space that our district does not have to maintain on our servers, web site creation tools, chat and video chat, calendaring and internal video channels.

Take a look at this article from the Hybrid Classroom Blog PICK YOUR POISON: Working with Words on the Computer. It has a good list of pros and cons about both programs. Neither program does everything but both do a good job at what they were originally designed to do.

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