Thursday, February 26, 2015

#ThrowbackThursday - 12 Reasons to Ditch the Pen - Why It's No Longer Mightiest Against the Sword

Today's #ThrowbackThursday brings us to a post I wrote about why it's time to ditch the pen and embrace the keyboard. This post came to mind when drafting this week's look at iPads vs Chromebooks vs Surface. In it I made the point that a stylus for the purposes we think of in education (writing in a notebook or math equations) is a thing of the past.  On a personal note, with the exception of having to fill out forms because of various outdated practices at places like doctor's offices, I haven't used or carried a pen in several years.

Written: September 3, 2010 

Topic: Why it's time to ditch the pen and embrace the keyboard.

Who might be interested: Anyone who is keeping students stuck as prisoners of their teacher's past by using pens instead of keyboards.

Favorite excerpt:  Get over it and join the 21st century so you can be relevant to yourself, your colleagues, and most importantly your students.

Reader question: Are you still keeping your student's tethered to the quill? What are your fears in moving forward?


I want to tackle the death of the pen which is quickly being replaced with digital writing tools like laptops, cell phones, iTouches, iPads, Smartpens etc. etc. etc. The same rumblings happen when it comes to the passing of the pen.
  • But I love the feel of the pen on the page.
  • Taking notes (an outdated skill) with a pen helps me understand what I’m hearing.
  • I need an ink pen to be able to capture my thoughts, the keyboard just isn’t the same.

Read the rest at: 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

5 Components Necessary for A Successful School Environment

The Managing Complex Change model puts language to that which makes some schools successful while others struggle. The model looks at five components necessary to create a desired environment. These include vision, skills, incentives, resources, action plan. If any one piece is missing the model indicates results schools will experience including change, confusion, anxiety, gradual change, frustration, and a false start. 

When thinking of successful schools such as Science Leadership Academy, The MET, The Island School, The iSchool, you will find they have all those components in place. On the other hand, when I hear teachers lamenting about their school failures, the model brings clarity to the fact that one or more of these components are missing. 

Below is the chart that lays this out. Following the chart, I'll take a look at what each missing component might look like in a school environment. As you read, consider which, if any are components, are missing at your school.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

iPad, Chromebook, or Surface for the Classroom? The Verdict? Read This!

I love checking out new tech. I've used tablets before there were iPads, iTouches, Nanos, and Macs, PCs, Chromebooks, and more. One thing I've discovered despite those who try to make a case otherwise, tablets are better for consuming than producing. Laptops with real, not touchscreen, keyboards are better for producing, but while you can certainly read on them, it's not as pleasant an experience. Now I'm checking out a Windows 8 Surface Pro 3. The best of both worlds. The consumption benefits of a tablet, with the full power of a laptop.  I like it a lot. I may even like better than the other devices.
paperless-leadIt has a sleek and beautiful design (Though it isn't that sturdy on it's feet. The kick stand collapses unexpectedly if you move around while typing which apparently I do as it's collapsed three times during the writing of this post). It’s fast. It's light. It has a long battery life (around 7 hours) and comes with a stylus. 

For about $7 bucks a month you can get Office 365 too. But no need to pay that when you can use Google docs for free. 

While rumor had it that Google Apps for Ed didn't run on earlier Surfaces, that isn't the case with the Pro 3. Google Apps work fine. What's more, unlike with the Chromebook, you can run multiple profiles and browsers simultaneously. This is also a big plus for someone like me who uses more than one browser and profile.

The ability to use and install my remote usb wireless, is a big deal for someone like me who travels between locations and is not possible with devices like Chromebooks.

It's a great professional device but at a list price of about $900, is it worth the cost when you can get similar functionality for so much less? 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Hottest Posts Everybody's Reading

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog. Below you’ll see the top posts along with the number of page views. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired use one of those icons below the post to share it with others and/or leave a comment.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Social Media Game Elementary School Students Should Be Playing

I'm a student voice advocate. Fortunately, my employer supports this and as such, we have been incorporating the voice of students in the guidelines around social media (You can see the teen guidelines at Most recently I had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of elementary students about social media and which platforms they are using. Admittedly, I'm not much of a user of social media platforms for the under 13 set, so I knew I had a lot to learn. Interestingly, across the board, one platform rose to the top and I had never heard of it before.*

The platform is called MovieStar Planet and it promises players "Fame, Fortune, and Friends." Interestingly, though not surprisingly, the first reaction from many of the adults about this game was negative. Online gaming? Social media? Fame, fortune, friends = narcissism. Blech. 

When I suggested this would be a great game to be reviewed on an education site, I was told, the site only reviews games that were educational. For some it seems if kids like it and it plays to their need for attention, it has to be bad.  

Not so.

Here is how MovieStar Planet describes their site:

"MovieStarPlanet is a social website where children and teenagers work together with their friends to create cartoons. MovieStarPlanet is a blend of Facebook and YouTube with a learning dimension added." 

Here's how it works:
In MovieStarPlanet you get a personal virtual MovieStar which is used in movies, chat rooms and games.

In the Movies and chat rooms a microphone can be used to record speechlines and voice chat - please see the "How to record sound" instruction movie for details about how to record sound.

Your MovieStar earns fame points and StarCoins (the virtual money in MovieStarPlanet) when you participate in the MovieStarPlanet virtual world.

StarCoins are earned when other users watch your published movies, when you watch and rate other movies, and when you play games in the chat rooms.

Fame points are earned when other users watch your published movies.

Your MovieStar starts at level 0, and when you earn fame points you rise in levels. New levels give access to new animations and access to chat rooms reserved for MovieStars at higher levels. 

So you might be reading this and be a bit freaked out that young people are being social online. What if someone says something mean? What if someone is not who they say they are?  

Real concerns indeed which is why it is important for adults to be in the online worlds of young people.  That said, when I talked to the students, they could have given a class on the topic. They definitely knew how to handle it.
-Tell the person nicely that you don't like what they are saying.
-If they continue block and report them.

That usually did the trick. If not, they say they'd get a parent or teacher that wouldn't "freak out and ban it" involved. And, that's a real concern for kids. Too often one negative thing happens and the response from adults is to ban and block (like this school did) rather than empower and prepare our youth who are growing up in a world where being savvy on social media in crucial.  

Think about it this way.  What better way for children to develop literacy skills then to chat with each and create movies for a real audience. And, bonus. The children have the opportunity to connect with others from around the world.  

Now check out who is behind the creation of MovieStar Planet:
The Danish Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation in cooperation with The Danish University of Education, and a number of elementary school teachers.In 2009-11 the development of MovieStarPlanet is part of the research and development project about the use of games in education called Serious Games on a Global Market Place

Here are the education objectives: 
The cartoons in MovieStarPlanet are small and very simple, focusing on using English in new and motivating ways. The cartoon medium is used to practice the written English skills of the children allowing them to:
·         read and write screenplays
·         watch their own and other children’s Movies so that they practice listening to and understanding/interpreting the English language

For the children, MovieStarPlanet is ideal for:
·         participating in ”language games” and role-plays
·         using digital media to create simple or more advanced texts
·         communicating with children in other grades and schools
·         understanding and performing simple or more advance language actions
·         using digital media for creative expression

Ready to get started? 

·         Teachers: Head on over to the teacher's center.   

·         Students: is freely available on the internet and can be freely used in education or privately by anyone.

·         Parents: Read

·         Everyone: Safety first. Read this:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

5 Ways To Use Social Media as Time Saver at Work

I am a power user of social media. My main spaces for work are Google Communities, Facebook, Twitter, and my blog.  I have maintained a blog since 2008 and moderate more than a dozen online communities.  The question I’m consistently asked is “How do you have time for it all?”  While for some social media has the unfortunate reputation of being a time waster, it can be used as a tool to increase efficiency and support learning for self and others. 

So, when I’m asked the question, the answer is easy.

I have time for it all because for me, social media saves me time.

Here’s how.
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