Have You Looked Inside the Vox lately?


A few years ago we took a family vacation to a widely spread out location. The kids suggested that we use Voxer, a Walkie Talkie app that we could download on our phones to communicate. Now of course, they were looking for an opportunity to venture off without adult supervision. Regardless, the app served the purpose, but afterwards, I was sick of late night chirping when the kids would Vox (term coined to represent a message sent) one another. I eventually wiped it off my phone, never to be used again.

Well, I went to an Emerge training in Region 10 and one of the presenters Charles Cooper @Thrasymachus, mentioned using Voxer as a PLN. Immediately, the chirping began to ring in my head, the late night giggling of my kids started haunting me. No way was I going to download it again. That only lasted a few minutes as I found myself convinced enough to try anything to meet students where they are. So, I looked inside the Vox… What I found was beyond my expectations. Well, considering I didn’t have any positive ones, that’s not saying much. However, I was completely inspired by a few of the chats that I received invites for. The groups were filled with savvy educators eager to share and learn from one another regarding various topics around Ed Tech. Each group had representation from all over the map with various levels of expertise that in the end created a harmonious balance. Some groups create conversation around a daily topic or question. Others utilize the space to brainstorm ideas about how to revamp education. While another group may use it support each other regarding a specific task. Whatever the motivation, Voxer provided a space for each that ventured beyond 140 characters. I have found myself more engaged and encouraged to go out and conquer my educational atmosphere with extreme urgency based on some of the conversation. However, sometimes the conversation can get so involved that it is difficult to keep up, especially with members residing in different time zones.

One morning while catching up to what was being said around the question of the day, I found myself being followed by my Assistant Superintendent. She heard some of the conversation and gave me a puzzled look. I simply explained that I was getting my PD on the go. This gave me a chance to explain Voxer and How it can be used for Professional Development and from that, I have been given a training session to demonstrate to others. Considering I’m still the new guy, this was a big deal and all because I looked inside the Vox.

If you decide to take a look, let me know what you see.



An Appropriate Perspective…According To Who?


The above link displays a video that simply conveys the notion that children may very well see life differently than us adults. 

The one aspect of childhood that I desperately attempt to maintain is the unfiltered audacity to dream and imagine the world from my own personal view. Through my children, I vicariously use their lenses to live in this realm of technology which helps to force an open-minded approach to other’s reality. I’m always asking my kids what they are imagining while performing various task. My oldest son has this strange addiction to video games. Not sure where that came from, but he is very consumed. When I sit and play with him, my goal is to observe his actions rather than do whatever it takes to crush him for bragging rights. I’ll ask him why he made certain moves or what was he thinking when…etc. His imagination is flowing while playing which gives birth to his ability to problem solve. Now I may not have made the same moves, but it worked for him. The way he visualized the moment allowed him to come with his own conclusion and I’ve learned as a father and educator to be okay with that. My job is to continue to expose him to new situations, new problems, new experiences in order to enhance “his” way of analyzing, evaluating, problem solving and his ability to create. This approach also helps me when I work with teachers wanting to implement technology in the classroom.

Now, this is the typical weekend for all of my kids, playing to see how they think in order to treat them as individuals. So when I walk into a teacher conference this past week and I hear an educator say that she was upset at a child because he doesn’t color “appropriately”, I was a little discouraged. I stopped the conversation to ask what does “appropriately” mean and according to who. Her response wasn’t to explain her thought, instead she chastises the student for not listening for the past two weeks that they have been covering “appropriate” coloring. Then she explains to me that a child’s ability to color has a direct correlation to his ability to read and comprehend. After taking a deep breath, I asked to see the picture, the child’s TPRI and DRA results. The student’s drawing was beautifully different; filled with imagination and personal perspective, according to my opinion. I looked at his results next. As a 1st grade student, he completed level 20 with no frustration and was reading at 86 WPM. I begin to chuckle, which may have been unprofessional at the moment, but I couldn’t help myself. I asked the teacher where was the validation in her previous statement connecting coloring to reading. She hesitated…

I proceeded…Could it be that this child took your two weeks of instruction, made an inference to mold his own understanding. Then identified with what he already brought to the table. Matched the two up and justified his understanding in order to draw a new conclusion. He then could have devised his plan, compared it to your example and through his analysis, came up with his own truth. Could it be? I then asked if she ever thought about asking the student what he was thinking while creating his masterpiece? It just so happen that the kid was waiting outside and the teacher brought him in and simply asked him what made his picture “appropriate”. He confusedly responds, “Not everyone looks the same. I kept looking in the mirror and I tried to draw myself, but then I looked at my friend and the other people at my table and thought I would put everybody together.” (I actually wrote what he said down.) The fuss was about the mouth on the drawing. The student had taken a brown, pink, peach, and a light purple crayon and combined the colors for the mouth. He created an image of his group.

This student takes home a paper reader, basic site word sheets and phonetic spelling words home on a weekly basis all because his perspective of a drawing did not match up with his teacher’s and she used this to determine his ability to learn. To me, that is failing to meet that child where he is. Failing to take the time to see how he thinks. Failing to get down to his eye level to see how he processes as an individual student. When will we as educators stop dictating what are students should think and allow them to draw their own conclusions without the need to validate our authority by proving who is right or wrong? Does the color of the mouth truly matter? A child’s ability to create a world of their own is a precious gift that is being stifled in many classrooms. Not everyone colors the world the same, but does that make their perspective inappropriate? The truth was later admitted that this teacher wanted the drawings to all look a certain way in order for her to put them outside on display. She wanted the drawings to make her look good as a teacher and was not concerned with how the student looked at life.

So what’s your perspective?

You’ll Never Know

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 12.49.11 AMMy first attempt to get back to blogging consistently. Inspired by my new friend Refranz Davis

Life is important only as it impacts the lives of others. Therefore the unveiling of my soul is my only reason for existence.

I wrote this quote my last year of undergrad while contemplating my future as a teacher. This is how I live and today I had the opportunity to put it into action while completing a job at a few of the High Schools in the district.

We were there just to complete a technology survey for a future equipment refresh. I finished my assignment early and was just hanging around the office. There were some students, serving as Office Assistants who were not doing much, so I began to ask them questions regarding their future plans. One of the young ladies told me that she wanted to go to college and study psychology. (Can someone say platform?) I began to tell her my story of how I started as a Psych major, but struggled in 101. Yes, I said 101. It was a pass or fail class and I failed the final exam. Somehow I just froze. I went to the Professor afterwards and began to rattle off answers to the exam that I could not seem to come up with during the test and I begged for a retake. I knew the information, heck, I was born to be a psychologist. I knew this stuff better than I knew myself. Well, he let me retake the test in his office…. I failed again. I had to retake the class. 2nd term…failed again.

Now, I was granted a scholarship for academics and a partial scholarship to run track. but at this moment I was about to lose it all. I’m not ashamed to say, but I cried like Colin Farrell did in Phone Booth when he is humiliated after admitting his faults to the entire world.  This was a mess, but somehow I was walking during the entire episode. All of a sudden I heard a voice and it so quietly said, “I didn’t create you to be a psychologist, but gave you the gift to connect and build relationships in order for you to teach and change lives” I opened my eyes and I was somehow standing in front of the Education Building. I went in, grabbed some information, talked to my advisor and changed my major. I taught for 15 years before I stopped to do what I am currently doing.

The young lady was looking at me with tears in her eyes and explains that she was just praying about what to do about declaring a major. She knew she loved to help others, but wasn’t sure if she wanted to go into psychology or education. She then says my story was a confirmation.

Now, I wasn’t there for this. I didn’t intend to connect on that level. I just wanted to unveil my soul by giving her some relevancy to what she may encounter. However, here is the kicker. I asked her where she wanted to go to college. She tells me her cousin attends the University of Missouri for journalism and wants her to go also.

Guess where I went to school?

Sometimes, we are in the place we are in for one reason, but if we are open enough to be used, we just may end up fulfilling  another purpose altogether.

You just never know sometimes.

Plan a Better iMovie Trailer with These PDFs – Learning in Hand

“When you begin a new iMovie project, you have a choice of creating a movie or a trailer. A trailer follows a template to create a Hollywood-style movie advertisement. iMovie for iOS has 14 trailer templates, and each has its own musical score and graphics. To make your own trailer, choose a template, insert your text, and fill each shot with a video or photo.”

Source: learninginhand.com

With any video project, it is advisable to have students to develop some sort of storyboard to help guide the thought process along with the evolution of the final product. Here is a great resource with PDFs to help in the planning process for iMovie trailers. Also, some great advice on approaches to learning. 

See on Scoop.itMeet Them Where They Are: Using The Student’s Technology To Teach

50 Resources For Teaching With iPads – Te@chThought

So we thought we’d start an ongoing collection–that is, one that is updated to reflect trends and changes–of the best resources for teaching with the iPad.

This will include resources from all of the best sources, from Apple’s own stuff to TeachThought to edutopia to MindShift to DMLCentral to Jackie Gerstein and more. We can update it, or make it a wiki to crowdsource the process, or you can add suggestions in the comments below. Based on the activity of the comments, and the sharing of the post, we’ll decide how to handle it moving forward.

Source: www.teachthought.com

Great resource for a 1:1 iPad classroom/school. However, this is a great model for any 1:1 setup. You truly need to consider the Teacher/Student/Parent paradigm when deciding on applications that enhance the learning environment. Where there is not workflow vision the people will perish. 

See on Scoop.itMeet Them Where They Are: Using The Student’s Technology To Teach