Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thursday, February 16, 2017

From the #edtech newsletter: Critical Thinking Update Part I and II

Students are aware of donut Thursdays
and attempt to participate
Many long-time readers or people who have watched a Jen and JD presentation know that each Thursday we provide donuts or bagels for teachers and staff in our teacher resource room. This is sheer bribery as we try to entice educator's to see some of the tools we are introducing and have #edtech conversations. It also gives us a chance to drop a few tidbits into an email that might otherwise be ignored (no one ignores the call for donuts!)

At the request of some visitors from IAIS last week and a few associates on Twitter, I am going to return to the blogosphere and highlight some of the edtech activities we are doing in the school. Our current focus is on critical thinking. (Note: Some editing of the original emails should be expected).

IT Update: Failover Results, Some Data on Critical Thinking, a few tools and more!

Happy Thursday!

Today’s carb is Bagels AND we restocked the coffee.

A special thanks to everyone who has been working to try new tools! The feedback on the voice-comments software has been impressive (yes, I just talked about feedback on feedback – I like to get Meta on bagel days). One teacher commented, “I have so many things that I want to SAY, but there is just no way to type all of that. Hopefully this will help.” Or, put another way, “Sometimes you want to say something about a paper, but you know that you would have to type so much because of TONE. This would let me express tone in the comments.”

The failover test on Monday went better than could be expected. We took down one of our major servers and we were back online and running through the backup server in Kentucky in under 5 minutes. We also tested our backup fiber line and got a clean test switching back to that. Thank you for letting us run our disaster tests – they make us all more stable in the long run.

A Few Data Points on Critical Thinking
One of the buzzwords in education revolves around giving students 21st century skills (note: we are 17 years into that century – probably we should have this down). While there are a number of traits that inevitably get listed, the ability to solve never-before-encountered problems in a systemic and rational way usually gets listed in a few different ways. – The summary term for this is CRITICAL THINKING.

The Brightbytes survey indicates that our students are encountering “Critical Thinking” activities in class pretty regularly (for example, 82% of students are regularly asked to collect and analyze data).
We are also strong when teachers are asked about having students conduct research (over half of our teachers have students research monthly or better; that is 10% higher than the national average.

Conversely, though, individual faculty members do not feel they engage in other critical thinking activities on a regular basis. The number one requested professional development from the survey was exposure to more tools for critical thinking:

Researchers have found that “students who have experience applying scientific inquiry and reasoning to real-world problems in the classroom will have an edge when faced with these types of questions as adults.” (Brightbytes, insights).

Practically Applied:
In talking to teachers around the building, some of the suggestions include:
  • ·        Increase critical thinking opportunities in the classroom by focusing on ways to “off load” essential activities that do not require classroom time. (Flipped Videos that give short lectures AHEAD of class time so that class time can be used to engage in a problem solving activity that could not be done as homework). – A number of tools exist for this including Camtasia and Youtube.
  • ·        Using a tool to give you feedback before class or in the first few minutes so that you can focus on “trouble spots” and not spend the entire class period going over things students already have down – Many of our teachers are using Google Forms and its new grading feature to accomplish this. Other options include Nearpod for a quick before-class quiz.
  • ·        Instead of having students find summaries of data from news websites or blogs, have them add the term “DATA” and ask for specific filetypes such as excel (.xlsx) or comma delimited spreadsheet (.csv) to get raw data that can be analyzed and/or visualized by the student directly.

Want to learn more about techniques to increase critical thinking in the classroom? Pick a lesson or objective that you would like to “Criticize” (Ha! Punny.) and contact JD to setup a time to meet and brainstorm. Interested in seeing a demo of any of the tools listed above? Stop down in the TRC.

  • Camtasia – Create videos using webcam and computer screen
  • Nearpod – Interactive lectures and live feedback quizzes
  • Google Forms – Data collection and online quizzes
  • Advanced Google Searching – Finding information beyond typing in keywords

Have more tools you have used or ideas to increase critical thinking in your department or content area? Please drop us a line or post your ideas/thoughts/lessons in the TRC! We all learn from sharing with eachother.

That does if for this Thursday. Have a great week and come have a bagel (while they last).

The Whiteboard in the TRC is a constant think-space for lessons,
teacher ideas, edtech tools and magnetic fling-darts.

IT UPdate: Critical Thinking Part II and Donuts

Today’s donuts are brought to you buy Dunkin’ and the letter C for Critical thinking!

Thank you to everyone who sent us suggestions or wrote on the whiteboard with your critical thinking ideas! We will keep the whiteboard up for a few more days and then compile the email and written suggestions next week.

Follow up to Authentic Problems and Data:
Last week we focused on our results for solving authentic problems and using data. There are a number of websites today that can give you activities to help highlight or introduce authentic issues in your classroom or provide data for discussion, research and reflections.
History Pin is a collaborative website that is map-based and allows students to explore the world and contribute by adding material from their own local area. Spent is like an old-school text based choose your own adventure that focuses on raising social justice awareness and issues. Players play characters living on the poverty line and must make decisions based on events. With some scaffolding on the teacher side, this could work well with students in teams or with a follow up reflection and discussion activity. 
Some notes about note taking!
One of the top uses of technology in classrooms throughout the building is for notetaking. But the style of note-taking can vary and has a demonstrated effect on how students retain information and access it later (which is really close to the definition of critical thinking.

If students type exactly what the teacher says, they have excellent notes for review, but have done very little mental exercise – essentially serving as a conduit from the teacher to their screen. Pam Mueller of Princeton University was a professor who looked into this:
“When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can," Mueller tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can't write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them." (

Many news agencies took the angle that we needed to get rid of technology completely (Bad Tech, go lay down!). Alternatively, this could be a good classroom exercise to help students discover what they SHOULD be writing down and why it is important to paraphrase key ideas. This concept is introduced in the digital citizenship class and the English department reinforces this with annotation checks regularly.

Other teachers have suggested giving students a handout (paper or digital) that students can fill out through the course of a presentation or reading. The outline format and/or guiding questions disrupt the ability for students to turn off their brain and type whatever is being said – even the act of figuring out what box to type in on a digital handout can be enough cognitive exercise to improve retention and access.

How do you help students take notes in class? What tools have you seen students use effectively? What do you recommend? Share with JD or write in the TRC and we will share out your responses!

That is it from the #edtech corner. This week JD will be recording some videos for teachers interested in using Nearpod or VoiceComments. Have other tools you would like to have added to our video library? Let JD know.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

FETC 2017 Presentation

At FETC? Come see me today at the following presentations

C522: How Small Schools Realize the BIG Promise of BYOT

Thursday 26 January 3:20 PM - 4:00 PM
Orange County Convention Center - North 320E
Future of EdTech Information Technology

C602: Google Cardboard: Bring the World to Your Classroom

Thursday 26 January 4:20 PM - 5:00 PM
Orange County Convention Center - South 330AB
Future of EdTech Educator

Can't make it? The slides below will be showing while I talk (but I don't really read from slides)

C522: How Small Schools Realize the BIG Promise of BYOT

Monday, March 2, 2015

A shameless and lazy post while playing with Live updates...more later

In the Digital Citizenship class, students were challenged to come up with ways to report data interactively. Since blogger supports iFrames, this is my test bed for right now. More later...

Want to join the experiment? Click the link below or scan the QR code:

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Jen&JD Show: #SummersOff Edition

We return to the TRC with new mascots, more snark, and even some discussion about education:

ISTE2014 Recap, Makerspaces, Renovations, Preparing for the start of the school year, Mission based sequencing, and more....

PLUS: Name-The-Mascot Contest.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

JD Talks All the Things...Today at 4pm

Ok, so this blog is a little dusty. It has been an incredible year and lots of cool stuff has been going on, like:
  • Brebeuf Jesuit will be continuing its classroom renovation with 15 classrooms, new art center, renovated multi-purpose room and more (these classrooms are the result of collaboration with teachers on what is necessary for a BYOT room)
  • Brebeuf was also nominated for a MIRA award. This award celebrated the tech-accomplishments of businesses and organizations in Indiana. Brebeuf Jesuit was THE ONLY SCHOOL nominated in the education category.
  • The second year of BYOT saw more integration, new ways of collaborating, increased numbers of chromebooks and the movement of the tablet to secondary device.
  • Jen and JD split up the road show this year with JD speaking at FETC for the first time and Jen Keynoting the Jesuit Librarian Conference.  They came back together for the #21Learn conference in Ohio and the National Catholic Education Association.
Click to read the article and watch video
w/ the #edtech Droid and Dragon
I was also fortunate enough to be named the May Innovator of the month by THE Journal. This is definitely something very cool in part because of the list of people who have come before me, many of whom I consider good friends (even though we mostly only talk on the Twitterz).

As part of this series, I will be doing a webinar about...well...a little bit of everything...Seriously, the descriptions looks like my twitter feed without the snark:
In this wide-ranging webinar, JD Ferries-Rowe will discuss how he, as CIO of a prep school, brings together BYOT, hands-on PD, and flipped learning to help teachers create a mobile and dynamic classroom experience. He will also discuss teaching students digital citizenship (and the perils of digital distraction) and will reflect on how widespread technology integration has changed the physical design of the classroom.
So, if you are not doing anything today at 4pm and feel like listening to JD and asking some questions, I would love to chat! You can register through here.

For those of you who can't make it or want a little preview, here is the slide-deck that i will be moving through :)

As always, thanks for all the comments, feedback, well-wishes, snarky retorts, and links that help us stay half-a-step ahead of the students who are navigating these #edtech waters along side us.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quickhit Thoughts from FETC Day 1

FETC Essentials
Following my usual pattern, I am sitting in the eye-opener session (sponsored by Google) putting
together some thought from yesterday's kick-off of the Flordia Education Technology Conference (FETC)

A Keynote on What Matters
Discovery Channel sent Architectual guru Danny Forster to give a phenomenally entertaining presentation on his life travelling around the globe discussing the great building (and in one case really deep mines) of the world.

His takeaway was that it is important to move beyond the utilitarian purpose and to consider both the context of the environment (the place, the surroundings, the history, the mission) in creating buildings that will be truly meaningful.

BRIEF INTERLUDE: Pre-show music is Daft Punk. I really don't want to think about all of these educators and vendors being "up all night to get lucky" END INTERLUDE

He did a great job of not drawing the conclusion but allowing the audience to discover for themselves. It was certainly easy to come to an anti #edreform conclusion that in our pursuit of value-added matrices and common core aligned test scores, we may have lost sight of the purpose and context of education.

Another thought that occurred to me was the importance of considering the environment when using social media (or teaching the use of social media). Facebook, Twitter, G+, Instagram all have unique use cases and we should understand their use and purpose not only in the function of the network but in also in how our kids are suing these systems as a part of their lives.

Best question and response:
 On to the Vendor Fair

Ok, I said these would be quick hits, and the show is about to begin:

Glass is Growing
I am beginning to hear a Google Glass backlash among some educators regarding limited use-case and what it cannot do or how it cannot be used. Interesting sidenote: it is very similar to the cell phone discussions that we heard a decade ago.

This is the first conference I have been to where I am seeing a decent amount of Glass Explorers (at Blackboard World this summer, I was one of two). I am still showing Glass to a lot of people seeing it for the first time, but it is growing.

BYO is Coming into its Own 
I was cherry picking the opening night of the vendor fair, but there were a lot of web-based applications and if there were native apps, they were chrome, android, and iOS -- oh what a difference a year makes.

This is not to say that there are not a lot of iPAD only vendors or that there aren't a lot of "LOCKDOWN IS GOOD" opportunities. My favorite pitch along this line was a vendor who said: "it doesn't matter if they use a Mac. They will still be using Word...WINDOWS WORD!" -- This was the same vendor who was selling a lockdown experience that took every computer, tablet, and form factor and gave you the same Icons, Desktop, and user experience. "can you imagine how easy it is when everybody is doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time" -- Wow. It is 2014

INTERLUDE from @jcasap "It wasnt that long ago that we had to call the internet...from our home phones...and the internet was would hang up on you" END INTERLUDE

What I am thinking about - Vendor Style:
Hapara -- an LMS overlay for Google Apps for Education w/ a remote chrome viewer. Teachers can quickly share documents, view and edit documents without permission issues, and administrators have more control over viewing drive contents (a need I have rarely, but when it is there, it is usually important).

Ladybug from Lumens -- Ok, i dont often get excited about document cameras, but how about this for a feature set:

  • USB port to hold pictures
  • Attach a mouse and you can annotate WITHOUT a computer
  • HDMI Passthrough (plug your laptop into the camera and you can use the same source to the projector -- ooh
  • A gorgeous picture
  • Under $550
Program in SCRATCH (or other languages) and have it actually control a robot...even a robot made from cardboard. The $200 kit comes with sensors, motors -- you provide the imagination (and the cardboard as required).
You Knew I was going to love the Dragon
WeVideo is one of my favorite products. It was awesome to hear that they had added call outs and more text-overlay capability. It was more exciting to hear that they are predicting video screen capture and better web-cam integration for Q2 -- Clearly this chromebook friendly web-based video editor is aiming squarely at TechSmith -- it might be time for them to release a Camtasia for Chrome. 

Ok, I think that is what I have for today. 

I will be pretending to be an Extrovert while presenting "CLAIM, ANALYSIS, AND CONTROVERSY" -- our #digcit unit where we begin the process of tackling infowhelm and echo-chambers with our Freshman.  2:00pm is S320B

Questions? Comments? Drop me a line. - JD (Getting back to blogging)

JD's Day One Swag - The rubber Yo-Yo is a blast