Thursday, December 5, 2013

Iowa's move to 1-to-1 computing

The image below represents districts in Iowa and where they at with 1-to1 computing implementation. 1-to1 is a model that  creates environment in which each student has an access to the personalized mobile computer. The full  interactive map can be found  here:

And here is a link to the Spreadsheet table with more info about schools 1-to-1 implementation date, platform used, technology coordinator, and more

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Two 1-to-1 schools in northern Iowa

Recently I had an opportunity to visit two 1-to-1 schools. The first one BCLUW High school in Conrad, IA,  second  Waverly-Shell Rock middle school in Waverly, IA. Both schools have 1-to-1   program (one mobile, personalized computer per child) at school. Conrad equips all their students with MacBooks Pro, students in Waverly get iPads. In both cases students are trusted with their computers 24/7, with an exemptions of the Holiday and summer break.

Here are some of my notes from the visits:
  • We met with Cari Teske, High School Principal and she told us about their history with 1-to-1. BTW, She and Mary Ascher, teacher librarian and technology integrationist seem to be a great tandem. But  at first they and the rest of the faculty had no clear vision how to take a full advantage of this new educational model.  They started without thinking much about the pedagogy. After couple years with  the help from Castle, they realized that teaching in 1-to-1 environment requires some modifications.  They started to treat the computers as one of many tools during the class time, rather than center of an attention. My thoughts went to TPACK framework, I am starting to see more and more wisdom in that framework.
  • I like that the new teachers go through the "culture bootcamp" rather than "technology bootcamp"   
  • Conrad. Visible amount of printed materials,
    mixed with more traditional artwork
  • I loved that they are able to give students individual attention. One student wanted to learn Chinese and they arrange ICN sessions with someone in different city. Talking about personalized learning
  • I was impressed with students work on Blender program and their use of 3D printer. Conrad students designed and printed plugs for the used IV bags so practicing nurses can reuse them as they work on dummies.They are working on patenting the product.

Classroom in Waverly. Modular desks on wheels
for easy reconfiguration. White surface tables
  • We met with Bridgette Wagoner, the Director of Educational Services. She use to be an Interim Director at Price Laboratory School, a change agent that helped Price lab move in to 1-to-1 and Iowa's Statewide Research and Development School, before the evil political sources decided to close the school. 
  • Teachers have freedom of design and choice of content. They work in the interdisciplinary teams, and support each other with the selection of content, and to show students relevance and continuity between subject areas.
  • I liked their descriptive grades. It is hard to wrap the head around at first, as whole my life I was receiving number or letter grades (in Poland the grading scale is 1-6) 
  • I liked the variety of resources and freedom of approaches during the class time. We walked in to the math class where some students worked on their iPads, some used piece of paper, some were writing on the desks (white surface for dry erase markers). Some were sitting on the floor, others on a different kind of chairs and wobbly stools designed for fidgety students. 
  • I loved to see QR codes used in library. As students walking in to the library they scan the QR code on a wall with their iPads and sign in via google form, QR are also placed on the back covers of some books so students can learn more about the book.
Student desk. Notice the variety of resources.
Both Conrad and Waverly are small towns with almost no diversity. As Bridgette Wagoner stated, kids in her school will be well with or without school. Almost all students come from good middle class homes that value education.

I would like to have an opportunity to observe the 1-to-1 environment in larger school with large socio-economic and cultural diversity. I would also like to see the school that chose the OS other than Mac.  Looks like Cedar Falls community district will move to 1-to1 starting next semester . According to the plan, by January, each high school student will receive their own Chromebook they can take between school and home.  I am anxious to see what kind of adaptations, changes, and challenges the will go through.  I also hope that Cedar Falls will prepare nice pathway for Waterloo schools and that they will be able to move to 1-to-1 before my twin girls graduate from preschool.

Kids working on their assigned problems.
Visible freedom of  choice with what medium and how will they prepare 

Corridor at Waverly. Students leave their iPads and other materials
 before walking in to locker room or bathroom under the surveillance camera
Waverly QR code to check in to media center

Monday, September 9, 2013

Yeahoo have a new logo!

In my previous post I wrote about the changes for yahoo. Couple days ago they finally announced the new logo. Here it is: 

Here you can see the variations displayed everyday for a month prior the final announcement, as well as the video about the new design. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Yahoo! redesigns their logo

Last few times I logged in to my yahoo the logo looked different. So I decided to do some digging. As it turned out yahoo redesigns its logo for the first time since 1990. They are presenting  the new logo design everyday for 30 days untill the big final reveal on September 5th

Here is an old design:

I think I favor the day 6 design:

So far all the logos have the exclamation point.

I wonder if it is part of the big changes that came with Yahoos new CEO, Marissa Mayer. She acquired Tumblr. She stir the waters by canceling telecommuting to work option for their workers. But my personal favorite - she changed  maternity leave policy by giving the new moms twice longer paid maternity leave, 8 weeks off for dads, and cash bonus to parents.  Go Marissa!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

LGBT virtual parade in Moscow

The LGBT communities, and anyone who give a damn about the civil rights, celebrate this week U.S. Supreme Court's decision to restore same-sex marriages to California and granting gay couples the federal benefits of marriage.

The biggest parade is about to start in NYC. But what makes it extra awesome and exciting is the simultaneously held virtual parade in Moscow! After russian government banned LGBT parades, smart people decided to stick it to the bigots and policymakers and held it in a cyberspace!  Every step taken in a parade on the streets of NewYork will be marked on the Moscow's map.

I love technology!

 Website  , twitter,  hashtag #virtualpride

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pirate girls birthday party

Ahoy, me Hearties!  My now six year old girl requested the pirate princess birthday party! I was excited because it was first birthday when she really had strong opinion about it.  I had to do some research because most pirate stuff is designed for boys.  For example I tried to find accessories with Izzy, the female character from the Jake and the Neverland Pirates  and to my disappointment most  stuff were either with Jake or Hook.  After doing some research (thank you Pinterest) I came up with few ideas and I think the party was a success. I decided to pay it forward and share my experience. Perhaps some mom or dad will find it useful.

First there was an invitation:  I designed it in Photoshop Elements and printed in the printshop. I could order the picture prints but I wanted them to look more like old fashioned invitation on the cards. BTW, If you don't have a patience to make something on your own, there are many cute invitations on Etsy

Cupcakes: I wanted to find  cupcake rings with  the pirate faces that are more suitable for cute little girls. I found them on Amazon and they are made by Bakery Crafts. I also bought at Hobby Lobby pack of mustaches on a stick for fun pictures.  We love cupcakes from Target with whipped frosting, and they are very cooperative when it comes to the design.

Activities:  We decorated pirate hats  and felt eye-patches with Jumbo Adhesive Jewels and glitter glue, we also made and decorate spy-glasses (paper towel tubes and black duck tape)

We walked the planks: At first we were planning to put the plank above kiddie pool but we decided against it. Instead I bought cheap blue tablecloth and staked it with the shark fins  (cardboard + wooden kabob skewers)

We also fish with the magnetic fishing rods:

Then we went on a great treasure hunt:  I sent kids to three different locations before they found the chest with the treasure. The first clue lead them to the Sphinx in front of our neighbors' house. There they found golden doubloons to share and the next clue. The clue made them hop like bunnies to the other neighbor back yard for the next clue :-)  The other box had Chinese fortune cookies and the message was informing them that they sailed too far off and now they are in China.  If I do it again I would structure it better so the younger kids had more chances to find the clues.

running to the next clue

Treasure/ party favors :  My girl is in to sparkly things (she requested "a real diamond" for her birthday gift). I wanted to make something girly and sparkly, yet appropriate for the pirates. I ordered via Amazon golden doubloons, Organza Drawstring Gift Bags,  via eBay Acrylic Diamond Confetti, and in Party City  tube of mixed sizes Diamond Scatters . I also purchased pirate girl kids tattoos. For guys we had the same content but in black baggies with the pirate skull and crossbones (Hobby Lobby). All the kids LOVED their booty!

pirates booty / party favors 

Of course we had lots of unstructured, imagination driven fun! Yo Ho Ho! 

birthday girl behind the captain's' wheel

no need for pixie dust here

fishnet and pirate flag to add zing to the playground

Oh and as a bonus, I gave Lucy little pouch full of Pixie dust (golden glitter). Instant hit! All the girls wanted to wear it.  If I had to do it again I would consider making it for all the little pirates.

sprinkling Pixie dust
Finally, thank you notes: Since I managed to take a group picture of all the pirates (it wasn't easy!)  I plan to use it in a thank you cards - I will probably just use one of the templates offered by Walgreens 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Summer, rainy day arts and crafts for kiddos

It is raining again and Lucy is bored out of her mind. Her two BFFs are busy, and twins are moody. All her coloring books and art activities seem to be not exciting anymore at the moment and a dress-up party works the best with friends:-(  She already watched couple shows on TV and iPad needs to be charged. What to do?

Last time we saved the day with the heart shaped paper punch and block of scrapbooking paper. It gave us two weeks of great mess and entertainment. Well worth it! I am still not sure what's more fun - punching the hearts or making the artwork.

We also played with recycled toiled paper roles. Octopus was the favorite among our young visiting artists.

Lucy was complaining that there is nothing to do so I asked her what she would like to do... That gave ma an idea of the Summer Bucket List!  It worked! She was occupied and I learned few new things about her. Soon her friend came and they are both had fun exchanging the ideas. Please no more rainy days! Well, just one with the grand finale - Lucy wants to see a rainbow :-)

Here it is a printable format if you would like to use with your kiddos (click image to download enlarged version):

Monday, April 29, 2013

Being a Change Agent aka The Status Quo Sucks

photo by Blackwood
Today was the last lecture for our Educational Technology and Design class. Our carefully chosen lecture topic was "Being a Change Agent in Your School". All too often we hear from our students that we are the only ones who are not only preaching but also modeling the use of technology in teaching and learning. All too often our students who graduate with heads and hearts full of great innovative ideas meet the wall of problems created by stubborn teachers AND technology coordinators in their new workplaces. Ronald Regan once said “Status quo, you know, that is Latin for ''the mess we're in."

How many of our students will stand up against the status quo? How many will be changed by the old cadre? The changes are upon us. Cedar Falls is adopting the one-to-one model. Waterloo... Well, that area needs some time and some creative teachers that will find a way to bring 21st century tools on a budget. Will they thrive and become valuable assets to their schools? Only time will show.

We pulled them today during our regular backchannel discussion via the coveritlive! The results are promising:

Morning lecture:

The afternoon lecture was more cautious:

George Bernard Shaw once said:
Some men see things as they are and ask “Why?”
I dream things that never were and ask “Why Not?

Good luck guys! You are a smart bunch. Just don't lose the enthusiasm, dream big, and never stop learning! As my friend, Martajek, says: "Those who don't keep marching perish"

Good advice:  give up on trying to always be the best! Let your students teach you the newest!
Let them be the technology leaders, let them come up with the new ideas. That would empower them and give you the opportunity to learn from them. You will deliver the content, your students will implement it via technology. Win- win! :-)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Suli Breaks - "Why I hate School but love the Education"

"Because the purpose of why I hate school but love the education was not to initiate the world wide debate, but to let them know that whether 72 or 88, 44 or 68 we will  not let exam results decide our fate"  Suli Breaks 
Are the exams imperative to ones future success? The debate is actually going on. This morning it came across Suli's video on my Facebook account. It makes you think. How society changed over the last two decades. Who determines the curriculum, the educational canon? Or, most importantly, who is responsible for revising it and making sure it is still relevant to our lives and needs?

So is the education important?  I enjoyed every minute of mine... as long as it was not related to math,  physics or chemistry ;-)

Here is Suli's opinion:

“If education is the key, then school is the lock. Because it rarely ever develops your mind to the point where it can perceive red as green and continue to go when someone else says ‘stop.’ Because as long as you follow the rules and pass the exams, you’re cool. But are you aware that examiners have a checklist? And if your answer is something outside of the box, the automatic response is a cross. And then they claim that school expands your horizons and your visions.” 

Yes, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Oprah are uneducated and rich . But they are geniuses to begin with! It is a sad true that most of the  high schools and even universities would not be able to serve their needs and help them support their visions, and outside of the box thinking :-(

While I agree that the grade in high school may not be imperative to ones success, they may help in a today's competitive world.  No, I don't think "A" grade is an indication of ones great mind. Often it is a proof that one is able to  follow the instructions, stay on task, does the homework. It is training for future life. If  no one pressured you to stay on task until it is done, to be resilient,  to take pride of own success then how you can expect to do that in adult life when you also need to worry about family, bills and all the drama of everyday living?

Yes, if you are an entrepreneur, visionary, genius mind, risk taker, and on top of that have family and financial support - go for it!  But as most things in a world, there is a bell curve in human potential.  The World is full of great, good, interesting...but average minds.  To be able to name the best or the worst you need to have mass of average to compare against...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Who is a professor that made a difference

Cool, both Robin and I made it to the board at the UNI  Rod Library as a professors who made a difference :-)  Sharon Smaldino is also there - she along with Joe Marchesani made the biggest difference in my career as a student in the US. Ana Donaldson was the one who trusted me to teach her classes in my teaching career.  Thank you!

Image posted on Rod Library Facebook page on April 12

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I stand for equality and... a common sense

Today, the Supreme Court of the United Stats is listening to the arguments on marriage equality and whether or not same-sex couples should be allowed to get married under the constitution. The final decision should be made by late June.

In a meantime there is a movement on social media to change profile pictures over to the Equality sign.

What do I think about marriage? How is is different than gay marriage?

Personally I don't understand  the big talk about sanctity of the marriage. Everyone who was married for few years knows that there are more sanity than sanctity issues :-) Marriage is a mix of love, trust, partnership, bunch of compromise, ups and downs, everyday drama mixed with everyday routine (especially when raising the kids). Why would I like to deny the right to that to anyone?!  I also don't believe is an absurd statement that marriage is to procreate.  If that was true then marriages between older or infertile couples would be against the rules.  I wonder how many of people who scream about sanctity of marriage got a divorce or were unfaithful to their spouses. I bet quite a few.

Proposition 8 made enough damage to the civil  rights. I hope that people will stand up for an equality. Why we should think less of a human being based on a sexual orientation?  It sounds similar to denying human rights to blacks, jews, or females. Thankfully we managed to change that dark parts of history.  I hope to see my kids to grow up in the world where ban on same sex marriage will sound equally ridiculous as ban on interracial marriage.
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.  ~ Martin Niemöller 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

≤140, always know your limits:-)

Tweeting, Texting FB update, Foursquareing, we are quite addicted to it. And we are not using it, as many critics say, to brag or to feed our own vanity. At least not for a most part :).  I think it is more like when you are watching the awesome TV show alone and you make the loud comment only to realize that no one is around to react to it. With social media we can be more... social.

And why shouldn't we be? We are so busy, so consumed with myriads of duties every single day. It is so nice to take a few minutes  break to read that a friend ate in great restaurant,  or listened to long forgotten tunes, or  is going through similar to ours troubles/successes/funny moments/problems with their pet/toddler/house/neighbor/house/duties... I love to see awesome pictures and good ideas pinned on Pinterest. I love to tweet and FB while watching the red carpet events, and hear what other people have to say about it. The whole second screen idea is brilliant!  It is also strangely rewarding to get points or badge on Forsquare for revisiting the Wellness Center! No one else will reward you for it. You are an adult!

Recently I finished reading the novel "Wife 22". Quite a lot of story plays via Facebook conversations. One of them is conversation between main characters about instant media:
"It’s immediate in a way email is not. Soon email may be extinct, gone the way of the letter."
- "I sincerely hope not. Email seems civilized compared to texts and posts and Twitter. What’s next? Communicating in three words or less? "
- "Great idea. We can call it Twi. Three-word sentences can be very powerful. "
- "No they can’t. "
- "Let’s find out."
Gideon, Melanie (2012-05-29). Wife 22: A Novel (pp. 118-119). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 
BTW (Twi) , I love how easy is to copy the excerpt from Kindle app for Mac! It paste with citation where the text is coming from!  Very handy thingy (Twi)

The point is I don't think that Social Media have to replace anything.  Different strokes for different folks. But there is a think called common sense that should be used while dealing with any activity. Duh!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentines day!

Sure, sure Valentine’s Day is the ultimate Hallmark Holiday but still, I  wish you all  happy and sweet V-day!  

But love is all around not only on Valetnines day! According to Gallup poll, on a typical day, about 70 percent of people worldwide reported a love-filled day (81% in the U.S.) Check out more about Valentine’s Day and the Economics of Love 

Too busy or too broke to celebrate?
Enter the code SWEET online or at a Redbox kiosk for a free one-night DVD rental, on February 14 only. 

But if you are not in the mood, single or simply against the innocent celebration of the Amore (like the crazy conservatives in Pakistan)

Here is Anti-Valentine's Day Playlist prepared by MTV

And 6 Book Stories To Soothe Your Soul prepared by NPR

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Artwork

At the end of last semester our building got reacher in two great paintings on a large canvases. As I learned they came from the walls of  Malcolm Price Lab School (R.I.P.) and were done by Price lab students. Well done (painting, not closing the lab school).