Thursday, October 10, 2013

Our 1st @MOUSESquad Meeting

Last week I held my first official MOUSE Squad meeting with my new squad. Eight excited 4th graders at Bel Nor Elementary in the Normandy School District. I had asked the administration and a the 4th grade teachers to identify eight students that they thought would be interested in being a part of the Bel Nor MOUSE Squad. They selected 4 boys and 4 girls. All these students knew was that they would get to work with computers and that excited them to no end.

Our meeting began with introductions. Who I was and who they were. Then I asked the question, "What do you think the MOUSE Squad is all about?"

"The mouse on this computer."
"Taking apart a computer."
"Blogging on a computer."
"Playing computer games."
"Fixing computers for our teachers."
"Using computers to do our homework."
"Fixing the Promethean Board."

Well, they were all right! We discussed how they will be part of a new training program that will help them to become the digital experts of their campus. We also talked about how their MOUSE Squad will support their campus and ensure that their technology is always working properly. Then I played the video below to show them some of the activities that they will be part of.

After we watched the video and discussed the hands-on projects that we would work on as a team we got out the markers and paper and everyone created a poster that answered the question, "What does it mean to be on a team?" I'd say the first meeting was a success! We even have a website -

Monday, September 30, 2013

Bringing the @MOUSESquad to the Normandy School District

One of the big projects that I am working on this year is to begin implementing the's youth leadership program, the MOUSESquad, into our school district. I am working on making this happen across five elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. 

One of my responsibilities is to help identify at least one teacher on each campus as a MOUSE Squad facilitator and then support them as they implement the program on their campus. This can be during class, lunch, after school or whenever. Well, this was too good for me to pass up. So I decided to make myself one of the elementary MOUSE Squad facilitators!      

First, a little info about

"MOUSE empowers underserved youth to learn, lead and create with technology, preparing them with skills essential for their academic and career success."

Better yet. Just watch the video!

Pretty awesome huh? MOUSE helps us to empower our students by providing curriculum and activities, aligned with national standards, that are hands-on and centered around current and future technology careers. Student learn new skills by getting their hands dirty and diving in head first into exciting projects and opportunities.

I'm very excited to get started. Check back soon to see how we are doing!

Friday, September 27, 2013

My Morning in the Hero Hut Kitchen

This year my goal is to get into the classrooms at least 3 times a week and work with our students in some capacity. It's been 4 years since I've been a classroom teacher and I tend to forget what the classroom setting can be like on a day to day basis. How can I support educators if I don't know what is going on in the classroom. I have to be a realist and not just pretend that educators have all the time in the world to implement a new idea or strategy that I might suggest.

I have three big projects this year. Begin the roll out of over 3,000 devices (iPads and Laptops) to teachers and students, getting our MOUSE Squad program up and running in our district (more on that in another post) and supporting our high school Culinary Arts Chef with technology in and out of the kitchen. Chef O'Bannon has quite a bit of technology "toys" that we are excited to use. SMARTBoards, document cameras, digital camera, video editing software and laptops.

I finally had a chance to come down to the "Hero Hut" kitchen to see what her students are doing. WOW! This is what you call hands on. The students were everywhere! I seemed to be in the way most of the time but I was able to capture some of the great work that was going on.

These aspiring chefs were measuring vanilla, mixing ingredients, sifting flour, reading recipes, giving each other tasks to complete. I was AMAZED! Chef O'Bannon simply facilitated. Students were asking each other questions and problem solving their way through their project on their own. I want to make every classroom like this one!

And by the way, they were making "Wacky Cake". A non-dairy cake recipe. There's a story behind the non-dairy recipe. Maybe our kids could write a blog post or comment below to give us a little background!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Creating Professional Edu-Lurkers - Using Twitter Search to Introduce Twitter

Over the past two weeks I've been a part of several conversations with educators about using social media to expand learning networks. These were wonderful conversations that all lead to helping one another learn more about inspiring students. Sure enough nearly each of those conversations lead to the following question, "Why aren't more teachers using Twitter?" It was usually solicited with a look of bewilderment. As if everyone in the world was Tweeting and these "nonTweeters" were some type of unlearned individuals. "We tweet. Therefore, we are."
In my experience with introducing Twitter to the "nonTweeters" is that it can be a very scary place. What with all those @ symbols and funny looking links. And oh don't forget those number signs. Those hashags! What are they? What do they mean! There's just so many of them. #confused So, trying to convince an apprehensive "nonTweeter" to just create a Twitter account was wrong on my part. Then someone showed me Twitter Search
Oh Twitter Search, you magical thing! The best way to describe Twitter Search is to say, it's like a Google Search for Twitter. Go ahead. Try it. Search for some edu-wondernous like "digital citizenship" or "common  core".  I'll continue after the break. Click the image to get started. 

Pretty awesome isn't it. This is NOW how I introduce Twitter to the "nonTweeters". Sorry, I mean fellow educators. No account necessary. No registration. No username. No password. No commitment. Yet! Remember, baby steps. I pretty much encourage #lurking. But for an educational good cause.

How I Teach Edu-Lurking 101
Step 1
I ask them to search for edu topics using Twitter Search. Type it in the search box and hit enter! Don't let them get too broad in their search though. If I know what content area my participants teach, I will try to prepare a list of some topics to search for ahead of time. You will always have that one math teacher who searches, "5th grade adding improper fractions with and without common denominators games based on common core standards". This is usually where the 140 character limit conversation comes in.
Step 2
I tell them to find a tweet with a #, an @ and a link because we're going to "unpack" the tweet. Get it! "unpack" the tweet. Ha! That's a joke for all my "unpacking the standards" folks. Uh-hem. Ok. Moving on. 
Next, I ask them, "What do you want to know about your chosen tweet?" Common questions:
  • Does this person know I'm looking at their tweet?
  • Why are the messages so short?
  • What's the "#" symbol?
  • Can I click the "#" symbol?
  • Why is there an "@" symbol?
  • Why are there three "@" symbols?
  • What's an RT?
  • Why are there so many pictures of eggs as profile pictures?
  • Can there be public and private conversations?
I like to let them explore. They are more likely to click links and hashtags if they know they don't have an account linked. This is where "ah-ha" moments happen. Participants begin to find resources and ideas that they can use in their classroom immediately! 
Step 3
I tell them to search for people and organizations. This is the perfect opportunity to have discussion on digital citizenship and professionalism and what it can mean to have a Twitter account. We talk about the positives and the challenges of having an account. Again, I try to give them a list of edu-Tweeters and organizations to search for. 
Step 4 
I was able to meet @cybraryman this
year at METC13. 
Usually, there are one or two that are excited and are ready to set up accounts immediately. They want to know who else they should follow and how can they find more people. So for those that are ready, I provide them the Twitter Holy Grail. Jerry Blumengarten's (@cybraryman) Twitter pages.

Educational Twitter Hashtags - by Jerry Blumengarten
Educational Twitter Chats - by Jerry Blumengarten 

If you're having some of the same conversations that I had about introducing educators to Twitter, I highly recommend starting them with Twitter Search.  It's easy. It only takes 3 seconds to get them looking at Twitter, finding useful tweets and you're not forcing them to remember another username and password that they may never use. Good luck!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

See What I See

A reflective post? This never happens. 

I just wrapped up a 30 minute presentation on an upcoming Bond Measure that the community will be voting for on April 2. The purpose of my presentation was to give principals information on how we plan to use the potential funds to enhance technology in our district. 
My takeaway was at the beginning. Before my "official" presentation even started.
Prior the presentation I played the video below. 
We've all seen it. It's a great video. Inspirational. Motivational. Funny. Cute. But as I watched it, I looked at it in a new way (It wasn't an epiphany or anything, just a cool thought). My thought was, I want our students to create something inspirational like this. I want our students to express themselves with media. I'm sure many of you had the same thought. Or not. You've done enough student videos to make your head spin. My head isn't even turning. 
So after the video, I made a couple of enthusiastic comments.
"How awesome would it be if our students made a similar video!" 
"Don't you think our students would love to have their voice heard?"
"This guy must be so proud to see his work shine!" 
Blank stares. My enthusiasm was met with blank stares. Ok, maybe one or two nods of agreement. Those were by the principals who love when I come to help their teachers. And I am very appreciative of this. But I wanted new leaders to share my excitement. 
Student videos. I know this is not a new idea. But I do know that this is something that we do not do in our district. 
Why do school leaders not see what I see? Maybe it was too early in the morning. Maybe the coffee was bad. Maybe it's February and the pressure of state testing is on. Maybe I'm not selling my ideas the right way. Maybe I'm not selling my ideas the right way. Maybe I need to work on my salesmanship. 

To be continued...