Friday, June 23, 2017

A Blended Approach: Literacy and Technology to Engage Learning

I had the opportunity this week to work with rising 1st - 3rd grade students this week at Camp Explore, a Tennessee Read to be Ready camp. Camp Explore is organized and led by the Lipscomb University College of Education faculty. Both Dr. Jeanne Fain and Dr. Sarah Duncan do an amazing job with the students, teachers, interns and volunteers involved. They make sure the kids have a fun, safe, and engaging summer learning experience.

I was asked to lead one of the choice classes. In addition to the literacy emphasis, they incorporate classes on lots of different topics that kids can choose from. Each week kids choose which classes they want to attend. I led the "Technology Rising" class this week. We worked all week exploring storytelling on the iPads. We used apps such as Care for our World, Draw and Tell HD, Animals 360, Google Slides and Bloxels.

Bloxels was probably one of the biggest hits of the week.

Bloxels is a hands-on platform for kids to build, collaborate and tell stories through video game creation. With Bloxels, kids are the artists, game designers, storytellers and programmers. This is a great tool that blends the arts with science and technology. With Bloxels, the blocks kids add to their game design have different functions. The white block is a story block. This is where kids can add text to their game and the character can read the text. So the kids in camp added at least three story blocks to tell a story within their online game, a beginning, middle and end. These kids worked intently for a full hour two days in a row and I believe they could have worked even longer on it. They were so engaged with this process.

Kids can also build their characters and game boards using the Bloxels set which includes a grid board and blocks. They then take a picture of it with the app and the app digitizes their creation to put in their game. Way cool!

One of the kids asked me, "So I can download this app on my iPad at home and make stories any time?" My response, "Yes, if your parents say it is OK. It is a free app." Oh and this was the same kid who came into the technology class on Monday saying she didn't like technology. I think she might have changed her mind.

Learn more about Camp Explore.

Bloxels is a FREE app, available for Apple iOS, Android and Kindle phones & tablets. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

SCARF: The Ultimate Accessory

If you are not really into fashion, keep reading anyway! 😁

Working for the Ayers Institute, I have the privilege of working with a lot of different groups of educators. Sometimes I take on the role of facilitator of learning and at other times I work with teachers and leaders as a coach, a thinking partner. No matter what the role, David Rock's SCARF model serves as a foundation for those interactions. Yes, it is another acronym because, well, we just don't have enough acronyms in education. This acronym, however, is one I use every single day in my work.

Status - This is relative importance to others: what I think you think about me.
Certainty - This is the need the brain has for predictability and clarity in any situation.
Autonomy - This is the need for control. Choice and voice are part of autonomy.
Relatedness - This is the ability to relate to one another, a sense of safety and belonging.
Fairness - This is the perception of fair exchanges between people. Transparency plays a role with what is perceived as fair.

Using this as a framework, I can consider how an email might come across to someone. I can also use this to consider the source of a conflict or even how to be proactive in minimizing opportunities for conflict. In short, SCARF helps me to maximize my influence with others.

How do you see this information impacting your work?

Friday, June 09, 2017

Blogging Buddies

As I prepare to attend this year's ISTE conference, I ran across the opportunity to be part of a PLN called Blogging Buddies. The concept is pretty simple, really. You are part of a group where everyone in the group has their own blog.  "Blogging Buddies groups will be made up of about 5 ed tech coaches bloggers who come together to commit to posting on their blog at least once a month, read one another’s blogs, comment on one another’s blogs, and share the posts with their own networks." (

In the group I am part of there are educators from South Carolina, Iowa, Illinois, New Jersey, and Tennessee (me). I invite you to join in on the fun by reading the blog posts and commenting. We will all be posting on our blogs at least once a month.