TCSS 2015

This weekend I had the opportunity to co-present in a couple of sessions at the Texas Council for the Social Studies (TCSS) annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas. I was in two different sessions, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Details and resources from each session are below.

Growing in your craft: Accessing social studies support & resources for K-12 teachers

This session was organized by Dan Krutka at Texas Woman’s University, and also included Michelle Bauml from TCU and Katie Payne from UT Austin. We discussed resources and organizations in which¬†social studies teachers can use to get ideas for their teaching. We shared some resources, then we opened up the discussion for others in attendance to share the resources they use for their teaching. The latter part of the session was excellent, and I could barely keep up as I scrambled to take notes. You can view our slides and group document below. The document is open for anyone to contribute, so please feel free to add resources you find helpful (if in fact you teach social studies).

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K12 Online Conference 2015

I recently contributed to a panel for the K12 Online Conference 2015 about the changing role of technology in teacher preparation. The project was led by Wes Fryer, and other panelists included Cyndi Danner-Kuhn and Dean Mantz. The K12 Online Conference is completely free, completely online, and completely full of excellent presentations about innovative practices in classrooms across the country. This is my second time to be involved in a presentation, and it is a great experience.

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All In: The New LMS

Today I attended a presentation sponsored by Apple about the changing role of mobile technologies in higher education, particularly colleges of education. This is of particular importance to my college right now because we are beginning to talk a lot about how and why to use different types of technology in our courses. Many faculty have been using technology for many years in their courses, but we are starting to see a shift in the role of technology in terms of how students access and use information. The presentation today, given by John Landis, Ph.D., was very much in line with the conversations I have been having with some of my colleagues over the past few months.

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iPad Mini-Projects in a Lecture Course

When my college got a cart with 20 iPads, I began brimming with ideas. I had been teaching in a computer lab for about 7 years, and there were many ideas I had always wanted to try on tablets and mobile devices.

Computer labs can be a challenging place to teach, and I must admit I am still not completely comfortable having to remind students repeatedly to stop looking at Facebook or Zappos. There are many activities you can do in a technology-enriched classroom, but it takes some time and careful planning to teach the students how to carefully move media from a camera to a computer to the cloud to a different computer and back to the cloud. Some of my students never become quite comfortable with storing and retrieving their data from multiple devices, even though the technology is advanced enough nowadays to make the process seamless.

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“I used to think I was good at explaining stuff … “

I’ve taken a hiatus from this blog since August 28. I actually have started three other posts that I abandoned for various reasons. Well, now I’m back. For now.

This year as I began my new position, I was given access to a whole new variety of digital tools. At UNT, it was digital fabrication and energy monitoring. I had enough devices to give one per group of students, which meant I could do some really cool things. It’s a lot of fun teaching project-based learning to future teachers when you have the tools to do it. Of course, there were other things we didn’t have at UNT, like interactive whiteboards and mobile devices (specifically, iPads). So, there were some other important skills that were hard to teach.

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Guest Blogging in the U.S.A.

The following post is something I wrote as a guest blogger on Wes Fryer’s popular blog, Moving at the Speed of Creativity. My contribution will be posted on June 21.

The satisfaction to be derived from success in a great constructive enterprise is one of the most massive that life has to offer.

-Bertrand Russell

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Digital Fabrication, take two

Yesterday I was asked to cover a class for one of my colleagues, so I planned another round of digital fabrication activities for his students. I had done the same thing last week with another colleague’s class, using the materials I developed last year. The first attempt last week did not go nearly as well as I remembered the activities going last year, so I was motivated to rethink how I was presenting the content, as well as the activity I was having them do.

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Digital Portfolio tools

These days I am thinking a lot about digital portfolios. I have been looking at a lot of them, talking a lot about them and coincidentally, evaluating a lot of them. So that I don’t forget all of this by next Fall, I want to put my thoughts down and try to galvanize some of the lessons I have learned this semester.

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And the portfolios started rolling in …

At the beginning of this semester, I wrote about my revised portfolio project that I give my preservice teachers. I was in a portfolio funk, and I needed to try something new before I started resenting this project altogether. Isn’t it funny that after you have taught for awhile, you can start talking about your projects as if they are people? Maybe it’s just me. I have this metaphor in my mind where each of the assignments are these unfamiliar visitors that enter my classroom at about the same time each semester. I introduce them to my class and talk about them a lot for a week or two, then I give my students a chance to get to know this stranger a little more on their own until he isn’t a stranger anymore. Then he leaves and doesn’t come around much until the final portfolio is due.

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A (mis)Conceptual Framework

I am in the process of wrapping up yet another semester of teaching preservice teachers how to use technology in their classrooms. It is at this point in the semester, when all of the projects except the final portfolio have been graded, that I start thinking about what went well and what didn’t go so well. As someone who is very self-critical, I look at each project and think about ways to improve it for the next semester.

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