Make Technology Learning a Hobby, not a Requirement

“But students might have to look outside of school for this. Already, 12 percent of high school students have taken an online class on their own, outside of the classroom, to learn about a topic that interested them.”

So then how is classrooms lacking technology failing our youth? Seems to me students taking the initiative for their own learning is a GREAT thing. I constantly have to research how to utilize technology on my own. I read tons of articles on “over-homeworking” the students. If they learn about technology on their own they will not be limited by the teacher. They probably will be more enthusiastic about learning it without an assignment or being told to. If we are worried about kid’s attention spans than allow them to develop their own learning habits on subject matter they really care about and then hold discussions with them on what works for them. Then maybe takes some cues and implement some of the successful strategies they have found. Better yet, let them teach each other these “right skills” on their own or when they have finished their classwork.

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July 24, 2013 · 1:09 am

Quick look at a few billion years of history (Intro to Big History Project)

(Full Disclosure: This video is over at 17:40 mark. Not even the full 18 minutes.)

I just watched the Ted Talk: David Christian: The history of our world in 18 minutes (seen below) and highly recommend it. Especially, if you are into science, history, collective learning, or well-managed presentations.


I was first drawn to this video because of the unusual title. I wanted to see if it was someone speaking like Micheal Stipe in R.E.M’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” or what details they had decided to skip over.

I was then drawn in by the discussion of the Law of Entropy. I always have found this law to be some what suspect. That in biology labs the examples fit it nicely, but that our modern society and specie as a whole differentiate from the path that it should take us down.

The Goldilock Conditions was a great term to describe the necessary conditions. I also think it is a term that could be used for lots of subject matters, in a wide variety of classrooms and be understood. I was kind of disappointed I did not think of it already. 

Besides throwing out my new favorite teaching term, Mr. Christian does a fabulous job of presenting his material. He uses just enough scientific jargon to sound intelligent without putting off his audience. His visuals were very useful to his presentation. They were high end but not over the top. I was engaged the entire 18 minutes. 

He wraps up his presentation by discussing how all other animals have brains that have information that die with them but because of our complex language abilities, humans can provide a history.

This history we leave is then part of our “Collective Learning.” As communities we have been doing this since migrating tribes. Now we live as “one global brain learning at warp-speed.” He references the idea of how we might not be learning from our history with his comments on the same weapons that were the focal point of the Cuban Missile Crisis are still out there and armed.

His hope is to strengthen the human race’s understanding of our history with his Big History Project. I wish he had gone into this project in more depth, but I certainly will be looking into further. Stay tuned for a follow-up post. 

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I listened to the Learning Spaces ReDesignED: Episode #2 podcast from about the Arlington Heights Media Library’s new area called “The Hub” (the Google+ Videocast is embedded above). The key elements of this space was that it is large enough to facilitate group work and studying areas. Making the location more social. Tom Spicer, the teen librarian, was asked about students bringing their own devices and he said that wasn’t really the case. I was shocked to hear this because I have just assumed that every kid has a laptop or iPad at this point. Spicer said the library’s computers got 400 uses in one month. I really enjoyed the discussion of the recessed screen connected to Apple TV for demonstration and the empowerment of giving them the code.

…address this question – “Are podcasts something you would consider for professional learning in the future?”

I would 100% consider podcasting for professional development and know I am going to. I am an avid podcaster, because my favorite talk radio show was taken off about 5 years ago and started a podcast. I think it is an extremely under utilized format of media. I think it is because people do not understand the accessibility and flexibility that podcast provide the listener.  I think employers/administrators need to realize the benefits as well. I am sure some of the fear is that some teachers will not actually listen to them. I think those folks probably would not be listening at a conference presentation either. The difference is that the teacher who are willing to evolve will be able to take in the information when it is best for them.

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The Flipped Classroom Checklist

In Andrew Miller’s post on, entitled Five Best Practices for Flipped Classroom, he discusses “Need to Know”, “Engaging Models”, “Technology”, “Reflection”, and “Time and Place”. Miller also is very clear that flipped classroom does not fix weak teaching skills.

My intent is not to say that the flipped classroom is bad. Rather, it is only a start. The focus should be on teacher practice, then tools and structures. The flipped classroom is one way to help move teachers toward better teaching but does not ensure it.

I also liked how he was certain to push for teacher to not start at flipped classroom and then develop their plans. It is a tool to utilize while implementing your learning plan. I think so often technology is used for the sake of using technology or used without thinking through how it fits into the bigger picture.

Miller does hit on the what I see as the biggest strength of the flipped classroom, which is the teacher spending more face time assisting their students than talking at them. This, in my opinion, is where the successful results found from flipping the classroom stems from.

It fosters the “guide on the side” mentality and role, rather than that of the “sage of the stage.”

Another benefit, I have not seen discussed anywhere is that this setting should cultivate a better relationship between the student and teacher. This would lead to a strengthen willingness to ask questions in the classroom. Its hard to be against something that provides a side effect like that.

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Talking photos

I made an animation from: . You can view it here:

Could be a cool thing to use to introduce history lessons.


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July 2, 2013 · 1:57 am

For the Student that Loves to Flipping Read! (Helpful Teaching Resource Discovered on Twitter)

Starting an educational twitter account has been a great success. At least two or three times a day I find myself scrolling my timeline and adding a few tweets to my favorites, to check on later. The pool of resources is endless and the discussions between fellow cohort members has been great too.

One simple resource that I found, that I never would have searched out on my own, is the web site: It is a web site that allows you to produce flip books for iPhones, iPads, etc. The benefit of this is endless. It can simply be used to provide a sense of pride in the second grade student who gets to see her storybook on her Dad’s iPad or a more professional look to the classroom’s monthly newsletter. I think any level teacher could use this to engage students and parents, a like.

Now, I should give credit where credit is due and share the helpful hint. I got this @Joe_Mazza and his tweet below:

The YouTube is here:

If you are comfortable with a scanner, skip ahead to the portion at 1:19 via this link:  http://

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The Nuts & Bolts of 21st Century Teaching

The blog referenced in this post, which is worth reading, can be found here:

The nuts and bolts of 21st century teaching can probably still need a wrench. In other words, someone to make everything turn and tighten. This is the teacher. This independent style of learning for his students is a great idea. A simple flaw is seen here though:

“Then we got stuck. Researching was the easy part, knowing what to do with it is much more difficult. The goal of week three is to construct a mock-up of their exhibit. My students struggled immensely with how to take their research and create an exhibit. What information do they use? What do they want to be their focal point? What story do they want to tell?
It’s not that they don’t have good ideas. They have some great ones. As I walked around, I heard some incredible proposals, such as designing the concentration camp exhibit around the concept that many prisoners consumed only 300 calories a day. What does 300 calories a day look like? Yet even with great ideas on the table, they seemed reticent to move forward.”

I doubt if they were asked to present their findings in power point format they would run into such mental roadblocks. The technology of information presenting is wonderful, but concrete representation should still be creative and encouraged. This teacher was definitely doing this, but were all their previous teachers? Is that why this exhibit is so tough to figure out?

“Once they found a number of resources, I introduced them to Google Docs. It never fails that my students are completely amazed by this web tool. Often there are audible gasps.”

I laughed at this portion because it described my reaction the first time a college project partner explained google docs to me.

I think this was a great project idea. I was drawn on the choice of topic. As educators, should we be teaching the Holocaust directly? As this way we maybe be better able to help our students who are emotionally effected by the material. Perhaps, it is better that students are allowed to research such a topic on their own and at their own pace. In high school, my class had a field trip to the Holocaust museum, in Washington, D.C., but we were tasked with going ourselves. So we could go in groups or by ourselves, if we felt that was the best way for us to take in the information there. I have always thought that was a great way of going about this tough subject matter.

I applaud this teachers innovative manner, but hope this is not how he teaches a majority of his lessons.


June 18, 2013 · 9:05 pm

Follow Me @MrHeronMU

I have decided to use twitter for the ED554 Social Media requirement. I have used twitter in different capacities and have always found it to be effective. I think twitter is perfect to develop a professional network of fellow educators. I look forward to discussing different topics and new classroom technologies with friends, classmates and peers through this venue. If you use twitter, please give me a follow @MrHeronMU.

Here is a screenshot (Shift+Cmd+4 is a great feature for any Mac folks, who aren’t using it already) of my profile:

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 10.16.52 PM

I think twitter is an up and coming asset to teachers, but you don’t have to take my word for it:


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Chicago Digital Youth Underground

The video I am referencing in this blog post can be found here:

I loved this video. It was so exciting to think about the fact that we are going to be a part of the generation of teachers who will change the status quo of classrooms and change the way kids learn. While I enjoyed the entire video, I am going to focus my reflection on Chicago’s Digital Youth Network.

This was a wonderful after school program that evolved into a digital media arts program in the schools. This hit home with me because when I graduated from High School I moved to Orlando to attend a school called, Full Sail ( Real World Education. Here I received an Associate of Science in Recording Arts. I have always thought this would be a wonderful skill to teach younger children. Not only does this provide our youth definite outlets to express themselves or give reports.

The single most significant thing I learned at Full Sail was how to learn. I was never a great student – primarily because I rarely took notes or studied. As soon as classes were about editing audio and mic’ing up guitars, I couldn’t stop taking notes and going back to my notes to rewrite them or study. I then realized the best way for me to learn. When I went back to a conventional college lecture, I had no problem taking notes or studying.

I hope more school district takes the “risk” these programs must seem like, because it will certainly progress the learning process for a large portion, if not all, of students.

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Counting on Technology’s Assistance


I will focus my lesson plan for this semester on the counting portions of the Mathematics standards for Second Grade. Primarily, 2.4 and the patterns portions from 5.17.


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