Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Flame Challenge. No jargon please.

The other day I listened in my care to NPR’s Science Friday where Ira Flatow interviewed Alan Alda (Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H) I did not realized that he is also a founder of Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and the Future of Life Institute. AND that he serves on the board of the World Science Festival!



Anyway, Alda and Flatow were discussing the annual Flame Challenge flamechallenge.org
where scientists test their communication skills in front of a group of eleven years old grade judges. Explanation should be fun, engaging, and easy to understand.  Alda announced this year’s theme which is Climate.

I love it! My kids constantly challenging my understanding of the words. Finding the way to explain things to the inquisitive little minds is not an easy task. I like the quote attributed to Albert Einstein:
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
An I could not agree more. I remember when my high school history teacher gave us similar task. We suppose to create a dictionary definitions. While I do not remember what we were suppose to define, I remember the great difficulty we had with the creation of the succinct definition. It was eye opening exercise and I loved that.

flame challenge page screen shot
Speaking of kids and difficult explanation, here is my favorite explanation of the word virgin :-) 


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Exploring learning opportunities via Microsoft Educator Community

In search of improving my course for EdTech Minors, I decided to explore the Microsoft Education resources. Specifically, I looked at the online training options. 
I completed Problem-Based Learning course and started a series of 21st Century Learning Design training.  I favorited a bunch of interesting looking resources and courses. The training is simpler and has less external resources that one I use in my classroom and provided by Intel. But I can see it as a perfect boost or crash course for pre-service and practicing teachers. 

The system is based on badges, points, and certificates. One can earn points by completing different courses, participating in various activities (like Skype-a-Thon), earning badges, and sharing activities via social media and within a Microsoft Educator community.

So far I earned  PBL certificate and a handful of badges. I actually enjoyed going through the course. I found that starting from the quiz questions gives me a better focus.  Surprisingly I was tickled to receive a badge. Something that in a past was turning me away from Girl-scouts-like the idea of the extrinsic motivators.  






Monday, November 6, 2017

Even on Your Worst Day, You Can Be a Student's Best Hope

Someone posted it on Twitter and it really resonated with me:
If ther's anyone who is in a position to bring positive change into the world every day, it's a teacher

I always tell my students (the pre-service teachers):
"If you are bed businessperson you will be poor, but if you are bad teacher you may mess up a whole generation"

And I truly believe it. For my children, their teachers are as important as us parents. In many situations, they are more of the authority to them than we are. A teacher can build them up or strip them of their confidence in one sentence. And it is often scary. As a parent, I trust my three children into hands of people I barely know. Yet, on most days they spend more times with my children than I do! Let that sink in. I spend less time with my children than their classroom teacher does. We send them to school at 8:20ish and we pick them up from after school program around 5 PM. On Monday I teach till 8 PM. On Monday and Thursday my oldest daughter has Lego League practice till 6 PM (I volunteer in her team on Thursdays to spend more time with her). Tuesday and Wednesday she has swim team practice 6:30 till 8:30. They need to get ready for bed at 8:30. On Weekdays the only time we spend truly together as a whole family is at dinner. I can even begin to fathom how single parents or parents who work two-three jobs doing it, but I digress.

I see Crockett's motivational quote as testimony to the power of a teacher. I see it as a love letter to them. It is easy to see kids affection in lower grades but later it becomes less obvious. Sometimes students themselves don't understand how powerful and positive influence some teachers had on them until they are older. Sometimes teaching job is a thankless job. Just like in parenting there are so many tasks they perform "behind the scene". For some children, the kind word and special attention from a teacher may be the all kind word and attention they will get in the entire day!

Did you ever watch movie Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank? Last month I had an opportunity to learn from Many Scott one of the original Freedom Writers. Manny  was a guest speaker at the local High School. His autobiographical stories were very eye-opening to me and the title of his newest book "Even on Your Worst Day, You Can Be a Student's Best Hope" sums it up.


collage of Manny Scott on stage and his book signed
So, to my fellow teachers, keep going, keep building the better society one kid at the time. They are worth it and you are their champions. Even on your worst day, you can be a student's best hope, and I would like to thank you for that.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The international Dot Day


September 15th-ish is declared an International Dot Day.  The celebration is inspired by Peter H. Reynolds' book, The Dot, that challenges us to “Make your mark and see where it takes you”. It also shows how one teacher can spark a whole avalanche of creativity. It shows how good gesture can be paid forward. It shows how little it takes to shift someone (yours) paradigm.  I love how this book can be interpreted in million different ways.

This weekend and today in my Understanding Visual Literacy course we celebrated the Dot Day on many levels.  We listen to the book read by the author. We read the book individually.  We look for the allegory. We discussed the power of creativity and encouragement.   Some students were making an artwork, some were reflecting on how they will support their own students by finding the smallest dots, the positive in every one of them. We all spent some time trying to “connect the dots” while reflecting on our big and little marks and where they took us so far.

All my students already made their mark by choosing to be teachers. In short few years, this mark will take them to their own classrooms, where they will be able to inspire and guide in learning the new generation.  How awesome is that?



I love that the  International Dot Day was started by a music teacher and UNI grad, Mr. Shay!  He made his mark in 1999 by declaring September 15 the international dot day.

I was very happy to see him responding to my tweet:

A few years ago I had pleasure listening to Mr. Reynolds Keynote speech at the Iowa Technology and Education Connection (ITEC) conference in Des Moines. He even signed for my daughter the copy of his book "Sky Color"



Friday, September 15, 2017

First logos of famous brands

This is too awesome not to shared!
Here is a link to 17 first logos of now famous brands
http://www.oldpicsarchive.com/first-logos-of-famous-brands-17-pics/ 

One of the images there  is the first logo of an Apple




Here is their  logo evolution



And here is a link to a quite interesting story related to the logo designed by Ronald Wayne, sometimes called the third Apple founder. There is a lot of speculation on what was the meaning of the rainbow stripes and the bite and here you can explanations to some of these theories

https://www.leoprinting.co.uk/blog/history-apple-logo/ 



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Neil deGrasse Tyson on life, science and curiosity

Last week I  watched the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson @NeilTyson talking with Chris Hardwick, and I cannot stop thinking about it.  Sadly, there are not many shows like that. The whole show was a fun feast for the intellect. From the answering audience questions about the smell of the Sun, through the accuracy of the Star Wars, to the beautifully illustrated importance of not killing the curiosity in our kids.
"I'm often asked by parents what advice can I give them to help get kids interested in science? And I have only one bit of advice. Get out of their way. Kids are born curious. Period."  Famously said Neil for BigThink 
Chris Hardwick and Neil deGrasse Tyson - picture from talking with Chris show

But coming back to the Talking with Chris, I especially liked the advice about the meaning of life:
For people who are in search o meaning […]. Meaning is not something you find […]. Meaning is something you create in your life for yourself and for others and when you do that then you realized you have much more control over your happiness and over your fulfillment.   
Here is the rest of the quote: #talkinghardwick pic.twitter.com/enLYAMPFnl
— Talking with Chris (@talking) August 21, 2017

It reminds me of the Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or,  7 Habits of Happy Kids that my daughters' schools adopted as a part of Leader in Me student empowering model based on the idea that every child can be a leader.

Habit one: Be Proactive talks about taking initiative and being in control of our own decisions.
Proactive people focus on things that they are able to do, influence, or change (own education, volunteer work, healthy lifestyle...)  Reactive people waste their energy on complaining about issues over which they have little or no control (bad weather, only 24 hours in a day, politicians...).
Habit two: Begin With the End in Mind, talks about the need to have a vision (just like the idea of Backward Design when designing curriculum). If people only search for a meaning of life instead of proactively working on creating one, they may never be happy.


The whole show can be watched here: http://www.amc.com/shows/talking-with-chris-hardwick/full-episodes/season-01/episode-13/neil-degrasse-tyson  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The odd costume design decisions and Game of Thrones

What all of these people have in common?

collage people from different ears wearing different forms of hats

They are wearing some form of head protection or adornment!

It was driving me crazy that no one in a Game of Thrones, from North to East, seems to wear any kind of logical weather elements head protection.  Not in a blistering cold behind The Wall, not on a rainy, windy rock of Iron Islands (House Greyjoy), not even on a blistery hot land of Dothraki.

collage of Game of Thrones characters  now wearing the hats

At first, I was joking that probably the costume designers are a bunch of California natives that never seen an actual snow. But the lead costume designer Michele Clapton is English.

Naturally, I turned to Google search and here it is: It is easier to show characters if they are not hidden under the hat. I found the interview with the New York Times, where Kit Harington (Jon Snow) explains:
"I wanted a hat when we were shooting in Iceland," he said. "We’ve had endless conversations about it. It’s been a big, big question in Thrones, about when they’re up North, whether they wear headgear or not. It seems ridiculous in cold climates not to have your head protected. But it’s a decision they made a long time ago, the decision that we need to see faces more than heads being warm. It’s very difficult when you’re filming people in that environment, to differentiate between people’s faces. I think they decided that was the most important thing. But trust me, no one wants a hat more than me." http://time.com/4903820/game-of-thrones-jon-snow-hat/ 
Ok, so it's a filming necessity. I guess it is similar to the removing head rest in the car scenes (my husband's pet peeve).  I think it is still a weird decision. They could design characteristic head covering that would stand up from the mass. They could remove the hat is certain scenes.There are plenty famous examples out there.

collage of famous movie characters wearing characteristic headwear

Yes, yes, I know that it is silly to argue with logic while watching dragons and shape-shifting Faceless Man but still!!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

End of a semester word to my #unietd students

Hi all,

collage of EdTech and Design students in Magda Galloway class
You are done with the Educational Technology and Design course. Congratulations! It was not an easy task, and I am full of respect for you. Soon you will all have your own classrooms and hopefully, you will see the value of the hard work you put into this course

Looking back
  • You had an opportunity to think about current technology trends; 21st-century teaching and learning; connectivity; visual, information, and media literacies
  • You analyzed the audience and designed for them a multidisciplinary unit of instructions based on the Iowa Core standards,  in 1-to-1 learning environment
  • You grew your PLN (feel free to use the "got PLN?" badge. Add it to your blogger sidebar. You earned it!)
  • You  left the positive digital footprint by engaging in social media as a professional 
  • You created a website to host there a collaborative, inquiry-oriented, multidisciplinary activity that provides students with the complex task and a guided internet search (WebQuest).
  • You put yourself in your students' shoes and walked trough an experience of creating a digital video from script, storyboard, peer revision, through the gathering or creating the digital resources, to editing the audio and video and publishing ready video to the worldwide audience.
  • You challenged yourself to learn the new apps and you geek out by AppSmashing them to create a student center interactive learning tool.
  • You are pretty much a pro in Google apps
  • You know how to video conference via Zoom or how to have dynamic asynchronous video conversations around documents in VoiceThread
  • You know ups and downs of a collaboration, teamwork,  AND
  • You gained new colleagues! 
Quite an accomplishment!

I would like you to remember five acronyms/phrases from the course that will add to your professional language and guide your future:
  1. TPACK - http://tpack.org/ Ahh the good ole TPACK model. Our balancing act between Technology, Pedagogy and Content knowledge.  Let it be your guide when selecting methods, content, and tools for your instructions. Always aim for the "sweet spot", which is an intersection of the three. 
  2. 4Cs, or Super Skills for 21st century - Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity - everything in your class should somehow support the development of at least one of them. Otherwise, it is just a bunch of busy work. 
  3. CARP - this one is related to how you design all the wonderful resources for your students, and also how you can teach them the principals of visual design to be educated creators. The acronym stands for Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, and Proximity and it was explained in detail in our Visual literacy lecture. If you feel like you need more visual literacy skills please join me in a Fall for my Understanding Visual Literacy course (INSTTECH 4138)
  4. Transformative Learning approach - This model was created by UNI professors and is quickly becoming a hit around the country. Look at the text in each petal of the transformative learning flower. Can you align it with what we did in this class? Can you envision your own class and teaching aligned with this model? I hope you do
  5. ISTE Standards for Students and Teachers - take them to your heart, adopt their language.  The first ones emphasize the skills and qualities we want for students, to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world. The second set defines the new skills and pedagogical insights educators need to teach, work and learn in the digital age. Keep checking if you are on a right track.
You professional digital footprint and your PLN should grow beyond this course. You are the new generation of educators and you will teach kids to be ready to face the global culture, where the critical thinking, flexibility, ability to collaborate, create and think outside of the box is a must. Do not let your students down.

Good luck to you and thank you for the class.

As an inspirational cherry on top I would like to leave you with this short but great talk by Rita Pierson, because it is true that Every Kid Needs a Champion:



Keep in touch via social media! Follow us on Facebook. Use #unietd hashtag to share your new skills and successes with us and our newer students.  You are a part of our PLN!

Magda Galloway

Friday, May 5, 2017