20 Percent Time

20% TimeI’ve been feeling lately like there’s something new I would like to sink my teeth into. But how would I find the time and how would I pick just one thing? For a few years now, I’ve been talking about Google’s 20% time. I decided that I would do a little research as to how educators are implementing this time in their classrooms, so that I might possibly approach my administrator to implement this in my work week.

Just recently. I learned about Morgan’s Apps for Autism from her teacher Vicky Davis. Morgan Tweets links to apps that could potentially help autistic people. As part of the requirements for her project, Morgan outlined it here. In addition to Twitter, she uses Tumblr and Pinterest to share the resources that might influence the lives of people with autism.

Over the summer I learned about the organization that Rory Fundora’s daughter founded. Though not designed with the 20 percent time in mind, Rory’s daughter, Mallory, decided on her own that she wanted to to raise $600 to sponsor 2 children, one from Amazima and one from Project Have Hope. Mallory surpassed her goal and now manages countless resources to raise money in the name of Project Yesu to fund food, medicine and education to the children of Uganda.

So, where did the concept of 20 percent time come from? Back in 2006, one of Google’s Technical Solutions Engineers wrote about how the company was “enabling engineers to spend one day a week working on projects that aren’t necessarily in our job descriptions. You can use the time to develop something new, or if you see something that’s broken, you can use the time to fix it.”

Many educators, since beginning to use Google Apps and other Google products, have adopted this concept into their classrooms.

Kevin Brookhouser, a High School English teacher in California, implemented this 20 percent time concept for his students. On his website, I teach. I think., Kevin outlines his rules and expectations and provides some project ideas for his students. You can read more about what Kevin has designed on his site.

Thomas Galvez, a psychology teacher at the American Community School in Abu Dubai, is implementing 20 percent time with some of his classes this year. Thomas has designed project guidelines (along with a rubric) to direct his students on how to appropriately use their time. At the end of the semester, students will submit a video demonstrating that they have met the objectives of the project. You can read more about Thomas’s project on his blog.

Pam Rickard, a science educator in California, provides time every Friday in her Make2Learn Lab for students to work on their 20 Percent Time projects. Pam outlines on her site the project rules and expectations and stresses that “Failure IS an option”. Pam shares student examples via video and recommends her students take a look at the following sites for inspiration.

A.J. Juliani, a high school English teacher in Pennsylvania, implemented the 20 percent concept with his 11th graders. Like the other educators I’ve mentioned, A.J. described his project objectives, but this time, there was no intent to grade them. Instead, he was looking for students to report their “accomplishments”. A.J. looked at accountability, standards and curriculum and required independent reading assignments related to the projects. You can read more about A.J.’s experience on his blog.

If you want to learn a little more about Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google, watch their Ted Talk as the concept was inspired by their Montessori School experience. Would you believe that 50% of all Google’s products developed by 2009 originated from 20 percent time?

I need to give some serious thought as to how I would want to spend 20 percent of my time. I’m open to suggestions.

Looking to Hear Success Stories from Educators in NJ

On Saturday, March 17, 2012 I will be speaking at the first ever West Essex Tech Symposium. This special free event has been designed to educate K-12 teachers, administrators, media specialists, school boards and interested community members on the innovative uses of technology in education.

I am one of three keynotes that will be presented that day. Eric Scheninger and Patrick Higgins will also be presenting, so I encourage you to attend and also check out the many sessions from fantastic teachers and admins across NJ.

I would love to share your story during my keynote, “Possibly the 648th Time You’ll Hear About 21st Century Learning”. Please consider filling out the form below, contacting me directly or passing the link to this page on to someone you feel has a story to share. It’s these stories that encourage other educators in NJ and elsewhere to shift their teaching strategies to help prepare our students for what is to come.

2011 Edublog Awards

I just finished going through the list of winners from the 2011 Edublog Awards. I was particularly interested in the categories for the Best Class Blog, Best Student Blog and Best Teacher Blog as educators that I am working with are always looking for good examples. Please take a look at these:

Best Class Blog (top 5 winners)

  1. Mrs. Yollis’ 3rd Grade Class Blog http://yollisclassblog.blogspot.com
  2. St. Wolstan’s Transition Year Blog http://stwolstansty.blogspot.com/
  3. Mr. Buxton’s 5th Grade Class SAS http://mrbuxton.blogspot.com/
  4. Mr. Salsich’s Class http://jmsalsich.edublogs.org/
  5. 2KM And 2KJ @ Leopold Primary School http://2kmand2kj.global2.vic.edu.au/

Best Student Blog (top 5 winners)

  1. Jaden’s Blog http://jadensawesomeblog.blogspot.com/
  2. Miriam’s Blog http://victoria-miriamsmoments.blogspot.com/
  3. Jake’s Blog http://mjgds.org/students/jakeg/
  4. Jarrod’s Blog http://jarrodsblog.global2.vic.edu.au/
  5. Gemma’s Blog http://gemmaccs11.edublogs.org

Best Teacher Blog (top 5 winners)

  1. Brunswick Acres Art Blog http://baart.weebly.com/
  2. allatc http://allatc.wordpress.com/
  3. Teacher Tom http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/
  4. Ms Mac’s Website http://kmcfadzen.wordpress.com/
  5. In search of Scientific Creativity http://problemfinding.labanca.net/

Fantastic! All of them! And congratulations to all the nominees.

Change is Good

Yesterday I resigned from position at the CMSCE at Rutgers University.

Today I listened to Dr. Punya Mishra keynote at  TechForum NY. Dr. Mishra’s presentation reminded me how important it is to publish and share. He spoke of how it’s not the technology, or the device, it’s the teaching methodologies that help students meet their objectives. Though I already knew this, it was refreshing today to hear it and see the nodding heads in the room.

What do I want to do?

My plan is to continue working with educators, administrators and students on 21st Century skills. What do I mean by that? Dr. Mishra said it well, when he said we need to prepare students for the technology of five years from now. We should not be spending precious instructional time on tools as technology should not be taught in isolation. We should combine pedagogy, content and technology in authentic ways.

This is the challenge I face as I join Mike Searson and Janis Jensen at the  School for Global Education and Innovation at Kean University on November 7, 2011. I’m looking forward to this very much. I will miss my colleagues at Rutgers as change is hard. On November 7, I will start my day with the phrase “BRING IT ON!” as change is good.

Resources from My Presentation at Edscape 2011

Today, I had the pleasure of presenting at Edscape 2011. The title of my session was Spontaneous Professional Development. You most likely have heard this term before as it is used pretty frequently these days.

Here’s the description of the session:
There are a plethora of FREE Web2.0 resources for bringing professional development to the educators in your district. Archived webinars can be viewed at home in your pajamas or with your PLC (professional learning community) as part of a district meeting. Using archived and live Blackboard Elluminate (desktop video conferencing) sessions from presentations all over the world, harness the power of your network to virtually keep learning.

Here are the opportunities I spoke about:

2011 Library Worldwide Virtual Conference
http://library2011.net

FETC 2011 Fall Virtual Conference
http://fetc.org/Events/Virtual-Conference/Home.aspx

The Future of Education
http://www.futureofeducation.com/

iEarn online courses
http://us.iearn.org/

The DEN Fall Virtual Conference 2011
http://www.discoveryeducation.com/VirtualConference2011/

Classroom 2.0
http://www.classroom20.com/

Classroom 2.0 Live
http://live.classroom20.com/

iTunes U
http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/

Edutopia on iTunes
http://www.edutopia.org/itunes

Learn Central
http://www.learncentral.org/

Youtube: Apps Edu Certified Trainer Channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/AppsEduCT

Ed Tech Talk
http://edtechtalk.com/

Teacher 2.0
http://teacher20.com/

There are countless others, but I only had 50 minutes. Please share links to opportunities for professional development as a comment if you would like to add to the list.

Flat Stanley: The 21st Century Version

I thought I had helped bring Flat Stanley into the 21st Century when I helped my daughter’s class take digital pictures of their Stanleys and plot them on a Google Map.

But this company, The Flat Stanley Project,  has taken this portable cardboard figure geography project to a whole new level.

From the company: Flat Stanley is a beloved children’s/education franchise that is about to have a new life online. Walden Media (Chronicles of Narnia) just announced a movie deal for it, in fact. Flat Stanley is having a renaissance. It’s already in official use at 4,500+ schools across 88 countries, and is part of the formal curriculum for geography in most districts.

So, as with so many other projects and subjects we work with , there’s an app for it. You can find it live in the App store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flat-stanley/id382161936?mt=8).

How the App works (from the company):

Children can quickly sign up and bring Stanley with them wherever they go. In minutes, they can customize their own Stanley (skin and hair color, facial expressions and clothing), take photographs and insert Stanley into them with either front or rear-facing camera, write their character’s biography and “like,” comment on and share photos with their friends across the Flatter World network of friends and family.

The app also plots Stanleys near a particular user on a world map and sends updates on where their friends and families’ Stanleys travel. It’s a quick and easy way for kids to see the world and make new friends outside of their hometown with a familiar and friendly character leading the way. To encourage exploring Stanleys outside of one’s network, the app unlocks special pictures from exciting locations.

In many ways, Flat Stanley was the original social network – it just existed offline, in homes and schools, transported by stamp and envelope, instead of electronically. Our goal is to preserve the same values, and the same goals that we’ve always had, while extending our reach, and enriching the experience overall.
The new app gives parents and their children the opportunity to insert a Stanley from their collection into any photo, chronicling the experience, sharing it with others, and continuing a conversation ongoing around that location, or activity – all the while telling stories and beginning new adventures.

QR Codes in Everyday Life

House for Sale

I saw my friend and colleague, Kristine Scharaldi, yesterday and she shared an article with me that she had clipped out of the local newspaper. I got a real chuckle out of it. But on the way home, I started thinking about the topic some more and when I passed this house up for sale on the way to pick up my kids, I had to take a picture.

The topic of the article from Kristine was how some gravestone engravers are offering to add a QR-code for an additional fee.   What a great way to read, view and learn more about the person you are visiting if you have a smart phone.

Image source: http://a.abcnews.com

I’ve been using QR-Codes when I present as a way to quickly share the URL to the attendees. So far, most people would just assume have the URL, but there seems to be about 20% of the people that are happy to use their phones to scan the code. (My generator of choice is http://goo.gl/ because of all the statistics it provides.)

To learn about using QR Codes in school, you can also take a look at Tom Barrett‘s Interesting Ways presentation on the topic. Or view this video from McGuffey School District in Claysville, PA.