MIEExpert15, student driven, technology

How About a Mystery Vox?

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The power of Skype never ceases to amaze me and I have loved doing Mystery Skypes for many years now.  So as I started to plan for back to school I knew I wanted to participate once more in as many Mystery Skypes as possible, but I also wanted to try a different approach; the mystery Vox.

What is Voxer?  It is a free walkie-talkie app that allows you to leave messages asynchronously or even a 15 second video if you would like to other users around the world.  For more information or to download it, go here.

What is a Mystery Vox?  Using the power of Voxer, students would take turn leaving clues throughout the day, checking in when they could in order to try to guess the geographical location of the other classroom.  The questions still have to be in a yes or no format and students may still not google each other.

Why do this rather than Skype?  For me it allows multiple classes to collaborate throughout the day trying to piece together where a class is. It also works around the timezone issues that can limit where we do a Mystery Skype with.  Students will not have designated roles like they do in a Mystery Skype; anyone can guess, anyone can ask a question.  I also love that students can digest the clues before they ask the next question.  However, I still plan on doing lots of Mystery Skypes too!

How will this work?  Sign up below on the form and then go to the form responses to find a match.  Reach out and set up the day or week you would like to do this in.

To see the form responses and find someone, go here.

To see more about Mystery Skype, go here

What will this look like in my classroom?  I will have a running list of clues and answers on the board, as well as questions asked.  I will probably have students do this for me.  I may even put it in a Google doc.  I will alert kids to it throughout the day and ask them to come up with a question and an answer.  I will use my own voxer account as I do not feel like setting up another one, right now anyway, and my students will be the ones leaving the messages.  We will try to have it guessed within a day.  I think that is really it.

Any further ideas?

assessment, attention, authentic learning, being a teacher, Literacy, MIEExpert15, student choice, student voice, technology

What About the “P” In Your B.Y.O.D.?

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The final quarter of last year, our classroom was a limited B.Y.O.D. zone, meaning yes, bring your own device but check it at the door unless we had a purpose for it.  I instituted this because I felt we were getting distracted, myself included, we were having a hard time resisting the instant temptations that our smartphones seem to provide for us.  So we left them out of the room and the students were just fine with it.  I was too.  In fact, there  were times where I knew that our conversations, our reflections, our thinking traveled to deeper levels because we did not have a device nearby to distract.

Yet, I felt like I had taking the easy way out.  That declaring our room a device free zone was limiting the students.  So I have been thinking a lot about meaningful purpose lately, because much like I would not take a pencil away from my students unless I had to, I don’t think we should be taking devices either.  What we need instead is purpose, and purpose starts with us.  Especially in our literacy classroom where we have such an opportunity to use the devices to further a love of reading.

The beauty of students with devices is not just the instant access to information, but the ability to give them a voice even if we are not discussing.  To give them a further purpose than just the immediate one in the classroom.  To create a digital platform for them to share their voices with the world.  Therefore, this coming year, we will not be device-free but rather device-purposeful.  Together we will be deciding how to use, when to use, and what to do with our devices.  There will be clear student-set expectations and they will be a natural part of our classroom, not something to always leave at the door.

A few ideas so far for the purpose part are:  (For students with  no devices we will have access to Chromebooks to do some of these things. )
An ongoing TodaysMeet backchannel.  This idea, shared by Ira Socol at ISTE, means that I am creating a TodaysMeet room for each class and having that as a place for students to discuss, ask questions, and also to take the pulse of my classroom.  Because, of course, students will probably veer off the prompted conversation, but will they do it all of the time?  This will allow my shyer students a way to speak up, allow students to help each other, and also a way to leave me questions that perhaps they don’t feel they need the answer to right away.  This backchannel will also allow me a way to assess to see engagement, interest, and confusion.  All useful tools as I prepare and plan.

A Goodreads community.  I plan on using Goodreads with my students this year as a way to log their books, share recommendations, and explore new books.  It is the same tool I use for myself and so adding it will be a natural extension of what adult readers use.  For those who teach younger students, you could use Biblionasium to do this as well.

A Padlet Wonder wall.  I really want us to start being more curious and wondering more, so having a Padlet with things we wonder about will be another tool for the students to access.  I plan on sharing a daily wonder as well, and may use Wonderopolis if we have time.

A Padlet book share wall.  This idea shared by the inspiring Kristin Ziemke at ILA is having a place for students to post “Book shelfies” plus a recommendation of the book.  I loved Kristin’s idea especially of opening this up to the world and having students around the world sharing their books as well.

Those are just a few ideas, but I am sure more will come soon.  I cannot wait to discuss these ideas with my students and see what else they have to offer.  What ideas would you add?

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

aha moment, attention, being a teacher, being me, technology

Why I Will Be Going Device Free in My BYOD School

I work in a fantastic district that believes wholeheartedly in the power of BYOD or Bring Your Own Device.  All year, we have harnessed the power of especially cell phones as we have taken pictures, recorded video, searched for facts, and used them in ways that made what we were already more meaningful, easier, and more efficient.  I believe in the power of great BYOD.  I believe in the power of teaching students how to use the devices they have in a meaningful way.  I believe that all schools should allow students to use the devices they already have so they can work with what they have access to, not what we decide they need.

And yet, my students are distracted.  They are often on their phones checking the time, checking their notifications, moving it, taking one from a friend, or wondering where they put it.  And so am I.  My own phone is an integral part of our classroom.  I send out pictures of students working throughout the day, I take pictures for parents to see, I tweet from my phone to showcase their learning, and I search quick facts we may need as we discuss.  But I also look for my phone, get distracted by its blinking, and check that quick notification and then wonder what that email, Vox, or text may say while I am supposed to be teaching.  Not all the time, but it happens, and it happens more and more.

As a teacher, I am worried about the constant distractions.  About the small bursts of attention we can give to things before we get that check itch.  The itch that tells us to check our phone quick, check the time, check whatever.  That rush we get whenever we see something new come across our screens.  As a parent, I worry even more as I see how much my students rely on their phones to communicate, about the intense scrutiny their social media presence gets, and how wrapped up their self-esteem is in their device and the messages they get through them.  What I am not worried about so much is how students seem to be less connected with those in front of them, I am that way, but with books, which just happens to be a more socially acceptable way of disconnecting.  But the constant urge in the back of our collective minds to just check really quick; that is getting in the way of learning for all of us.

So with 11 days left of school, I am declaring our room a device free zone.  At least on some days.  At least on the days where the constant distraction of merely having the device will stop us from going deeper with our learning.  At least on the days where everything we need to can be accomplished without the help of any devices.  It is not a declaration of war against devices.  It is not a breach of rights.  I will simply be asking my students to leave their cell phones in pockets, lockers, or a designated bin along with my own.  So that we can focus on what we have in front of us, not what someone might have said or the rest of the world.  But us, the community we have right here, and the actions we want to take a part in.

Yes, cell phones and devices have a rightful place in our classrooms, but just like any tool, they are not needed every single day, every single moment.  And sure, there will always be distractions, we all need brain drifts where we can activate our brains in a different manner, but the focus on just this one thing has to be spread out.  Has to be ,discussed, processed, and changed.  So it starts tomorrow, no better time to start than right away.   .

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join ourPassionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being a teacher, collaboration, global, Passion, student choice, student voice, technology

On February 5th Do the #StudentLife Challenge – Show the World What A Day in the Life of A Student Looks LIke

Have you signed up to be a part of the #studentlife challenge on February 5th?  If not, why not?  This simple global collaboration is all about having students take pictures throughout the day and then share them using the hashtag #studentlife.  So far more than 30 different schools in 6 different countries are taking part.

Details

On February 5th, I invite students across the world to share pictures from their regular day using the hashtag #studentlife.  Students (or teachers if students are too young) can use Twitter, Instagram, or whatever social network site they choose to share these slices of their life.  What I hope for is a wide variety of images with or without commentary that will allow us educators to see what happens in our students’ days, not just what we think happens.  If you feel like it, you can also have students do this before February 5th and compile their answers into something that can be shared.  This is what I will do using our blogs.

How can you participate?

Share this challenge with your students and invite them to join, remind them to use the hashtag #studentlife.

Add your information in the form below  or in a comment so that I can share your students’ slices with the rest of the world.

Tune in on February 5th through Twitter or Instagram to hopefully see what our students’ days look like.

Help me spread the word on this please, I think it could be really powerful for all of us to see what students really go through in a day in our schools.

If you have signed up, please fill out the form with your email address so I can send you the details!

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being me, blogging, MIEExpert15, technology

A Few Nontraditional Tips For Starting Your Own Blogging Journey

image from icanread

4 1/2 years.  That’s how long I have been spreading my random thoughts on the internet.  What started out as a way for me to simply get things out of my mind, has grown to be an integral part of me.  I never knew I would be a blogger.  With that title comes many things; access to a vast network of people who know so much more than me, heartfelt discussions, emotional reflection, and even the occasional kick in the stomach when someone goes to the dark side on one of my posts.  Yet I didn’t set out to blog, I merely started out wanting to write.  So if you have been looking to start a blog, a few maybe not so traditional tips from me to you.

  • Start your blogging journey for yourself.  Don’t think of the end game or where you would like your blog to go, think of what you would like it to do for you right now.  I wanted a place to reflect out loud, I didn’t think anyone would read it, and that has made the biggest difference.
  • Don’t write for an audience, yet.  I notice that when I start thinking of who may read a post my writing gets jilted and jagged.  I start to change my voice to appease the imaginary eyes.  So write for yourself, keep readability in mind, and don’t get hung up on whether people or not will read it.
  • Don’t share just the good.  The internet is filled with amazing, and yet our classrooms are filled with attempts.  So share the attempts, share the magnificent, share the catastrophes.  Be as real online as you are in person, so if anyone who reads your blog comes to your class they wont wonder what happened.
  • Get to the point.  I can get long winded too, but I try to edit myself.  Blogs are meant to be quick doses of reflection, not papers of thought.  Get to the point, stick to the point, and then find an image that underlines the point.  Be brief and powerful.
  • Don’t map it out.  I never knew what I was going to blog about in the future, I still don’t.  And while some bloggers are incredibly good at sticking to an area, don’t make it too narrow.  Your blog should allow you to grow as a person and if you box its focus in too much, you will hinder your own growth.
  • Change the world with kindness.  I wish I had thought of this when I first started, I was much more determined in my message and much more one-sided.  Now I try to push change with kindness.  No one wants to hear how wrong they are or how awful what they are doing is, so be nice.
  • Keep your purpose in check.  I think when we start to blog to get something, whether it be followers, comments, or even more work, it shows.  And it shows it an icky, not so good kind of way. I have been guilty of this myself and I have later cringed at my posts.  Don’t put yourself in cringe worthy positions, write from the heart, write it out, don’t write for terrible purposes.
  • Be thankful.  I don’t expect anyone to read this blog, still.  So for every person who reaches out to me, I try to give my thanks, sometimes more successfully than others.  Blogging is something I do for me but the fact that others find it helpful as well never ceases to amaze me.  Stay humble, stay thankful, don’t ever take others times for granted.
  • Create your own path.  Whether you only blog when you are inspired (yup) or blog on a set schedule, know that there is not a right way to blog.  Make it your own, make it work for you, and just figure it out.

However you start or continue your blogging journey make it meaningful to you. Make it something you are thankful for.  Don’t wait for the world to acknowledge your genius, even if no one reads your blog, be proud.  And if you think I should discover your blog, please leave me a link to it in the comments.  I would love to add more inspiration to my life.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

advice, Be the change, being me, MIEExpert15, Passion, reflection, technology

Am I the Barrier to My Students’ Full Tech Integration?

I have been integrating meaningful technology into my classrooms since 2010, trying my hardest to find tools that would help my students find an audience, spark their passion, and find their voice.  I wouldn’t call us tech infused, I don’t use a lot of tools, but the ones we do, I love.  And yet…I cannot help but feel that sometimes I stand in the way of my students and the technology they use.  That sometimes the parameters I set up hinder rather than grow.

It is not from a place of fear, I am all for technology and using it well.  It is rather from my own ignorance.  Often I don’t t know what I don’t know.  Often I don’t know whether a tool will work for the thing we are doing.  Often I get a little scared, wondering whether they will be able to be successful if they veer off the beaten path.  Often I assume that I have to be the expert and this should know everything and have all of the answers, giving all of the permissions.  But the big thing is; I have forced myself to recognize this and boy, did it make me feel uncomfortable.

How often do we as teachers let our own fears stand in the way of what we “allow” students to do?  How often does our own lack of knowledge of a tech tool (or anything for that matter) prompt us into saying no, rather than yes?  How often do we dismiss rather than invite?

So the next time we propose a project, how about we ask students what tools they want to use?  What tools do they already know?  Rather than rush into creation take a day to explore tech tools that may benefit all.  Have students teach each other.  Share your own knowledge.  Open up your classroom and show your own place as a learner.  Acknowledge that perhaps tech scares you, or perhaps trying a new thing leaves you worried about time line.  Perhaps you are not sure a tool will work or that the students will get it.  So what?!  Embrace this fear and allow it to push you forward, rather than hold you back.  Let students see that their ideas, voices, and prior knowledge matters.  And not just to make them feel heard but to change the way learning happens within our classrooms.

Technology tools surround us, with more being added every day.  We cannot keep up.  We cannot be the only experts.  If we truly have a community of learners in our classrooms then students’ knowledge has to be embraced.  So don’t say no when a child asks if they can use a new tool.  Say yes.  Embrace the fact that you may not know it and learn along with them. Admit your own fear, admitting your own lack of knowledge will only show students the power of doing just that.  Be a learner with your students every day.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.