What is Innovation?

 A lot of people are talking about innovation and what it means in education. Simply having students use a computer is not innovative. I summed up my thoughts on innovation with two pictures and a short video clip. How do you define innovation?

This is a revised version of my orignal video posted earlier this week. Comments welcome as always.

Traditional Learning Model

Innovative Teaching and Learning

Don't Touch the Mouse

My week was busy even by my standards… In my Social Science classes students were creating Photo Story projects for Ancient Greece. They were tasked with creating a story of the role culture played in Greek life. We used creative commons sites to gather pictures and a graphic organizer to get out facts together from our text. Today we got all our pictures in order and will narrate and finalize the movies on Monday.

In my Language Arts classes I told the students they had five days to create a product to show their understanding of sensory imagery in a piece of literature. I wrote about this project in my Cure for the Book Report post earlier in the week.

With both of these projects, a very valuable lesson was reinforced with me: Don’t Touch the Mouse. What I mean by this is that as a teacher it is very tempting to help a student by doing something for them. When you see them struggling to right mouse click and save an image, you want to grab the mouse and do it for them. It would be easier for me to just crop Johny’s pictures for him and align them on his timeline, but then he never learns how to do it. I am thinking of some fishing quote right now and feeding men… Anyways, whatever you do, don’t touch the mouse. Teach through your words and modelling and let students perform the tasks on their own. By not touching the mouse you empower students rather than enabling them.

Proud to Work Here

Last year I along with other team leaders in my building attended a series of training workshops aimed at defining and evolving our school's professional learning community. We defined and discussed the key components of a PLC and were tasked with presenting how we changed as a result of the training. Most groups chose to put a trifold board or PowerPoint together. Being the innovative folks that we are, we put together this video. The people in the video are a mix of team leaders as well as "regular" teachers. The impact of the training was not something that was exclusive to the leadership team, but building wide. We specifically addressed the components of a successful PLC so that is the text you see.

In reflecting on this project as well as my school vision project I feel blessed to work where I do. Surrounded by dedicated and innovative professionals, I wish everyone could experience what I do on a daily basis.

Cure for the Book Report

If you are a Language Arts/English teacher you know the book report drill. Student reads a book and then regurgitates the back cover in an elaborated form to turn in to you at the end of the month. As painful as these are to grade, they are even more painful for kids to write. When I think about the low level of engagement and thinking involved in such an endeavor, I have flashbacks to this scene with one of my favorite movie characters. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxPVyieptwA&NR=1 In addition, what learning is actually happening with such an activity? I still make the kids read a book of their choice and teach a reading strategy for them to use. I instruct them that they will need to demonstrate their use of that reading strategy in some final end product. I give them no indication of what that final product has to be. This week my students were working on the final touches on their products. The reading strategy was using sensory images and this is what they are doing in place of a traditional book report:
• A play-doh claymation video using digital camera and MovieMaker

• A PowerPoint and a Prezi http://www.prezi.com/

• A movie trailer using digital camera and MovieMaker

• A play using sock-puppets and various “small” props

• A trifold board/scrap book combo with orginal pictures and content created using http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

• A diorama of a mansion with each room depicting one of the senses

I urge you to try to get out of the box and let your students use their creativity. Remember that the evidence of learning is what is crucial, not what the evidence looks like. Here is a sample/test book trailer that students did earlier this school year.

Teacher Resources

My recent posts have been a bit to philosophical and a bit too deep for me. I felt the need to get back to the basics and post something that can directly benefit teachers. Here are just a handful of resources that I have picked up and used as well as passed on to my colleagues and want to share to my PLN as well. Please read, comment, add your own, and share!

If you want ten alternatives to PowerPoint: http://www.edutechintegration.com/2010/12/10-alternatives-to-powerpoint.html Thanks @MZimmer557!

If you want to find pictures, videos, music, etc. that are free to use: http://www.diigo.com/annotated/e346f4363e303190f251d1cd7fd13faa

If you are looking to have your students make comic/animations: http://goanimate4schools.com/public_index

If you are looking help your students make word clouds: http://www.wordle.net/  and http://www.tagxedo.com/

If you are new to Twitter and need help to get going: http://stumpteacher.blogspot.com/2010/12/twitter-tutorial.html

If you are looking for a great visual of Blooms connected with web2.0 tools: http://ilearntechnology.com/?p=2973  Thanks @ktenkely!

If you want to read a blog that guarantees to provoke your thinking: http://georgecouros.ca/blog/  Thanks @gcouros!

If you are looking to use your cell phone to broadcast to an audience via a phone blog: http://www.ipadio.com/

Again, please share and add resources that you want to share. Thanks!

Be an Agent of Change

Today’s #edchat topic was what about the barriers and policies in education that educators deal with. In thinking back, my final comment to the group was “Be an agent of change for your student's learning and not just a complainer!” I have had some time to reflect on this and I wanted to give this a little more of my time to expand on what I meant. Sheryl Nussbaum recent wrote about a similar topic here: http://lhilt.posterous.com/do-something-powerful-to-promote-change  I will be the first to say that I am a complainer when it comes to what I don’t have in terms of resources, time, technology, etc. However, I like to think that I am also an agent of change in my building. I will complain about things, but I will also do something about it. With that in mind, I want to put some ideas here that I have done myself that hopefully will help you to become an agent of change in your building.

• Write grants – Don’t complain about not having something if you are not willing to seek out money and help.

• Model new “stuff” – Do things yourself and be your own PR agent. Get other people to see you doing great work with kids that is new and innovative. If there is real value, people will join you.

• Get a PLN – Create a network of teachers that you can go to for support, guidance, and perspective. You don’t have all the answer, but somewhere someone does.

• Attend conferences – Go and find out what other people are doing and how they deal with similar issues.

• Present at conferences – Again, be your own PR agent and bring good press to your class and your school. Share the great work you and your students are doing.

• Talk to your administrators often – Getting your administration on board is key and a must. Has to be a partnership and must approach as a team effort. Key is to always put it in perspective of the students. If you want to change a policy, tell how a change helps students.

• Get allies – Get people in your own building to partner with you on projects and new initiatives. Strength in numbers always helps!

• Remember your customer – With everything you do, remember that the student’s needs trump anything and everything else. Students want change too…and they deserve it. http://gjmueller.tumblr.com/post/2134295478/where-is-my-mind-be-the-change

I leave you with one final thought…more of a question. What are you going to do this week to change the learning opportunities of your students? Don’t complain about what you don’t have, but rather use what you do have. In the slightly mutated words of JFK “Ask not what your administrator can do for you, but ask what you both together can do for your students…”

PS: Even with change needed, I still love what I do, a large majority of the people I work with and especially my twitter PLN…however, we can always do things better and I think we owe it to our students to try.

Tech Junkie

My name is Josh Stumpenhorst and I am addicted to technology. There, admitting it is the first step to recovery… But in the words of Amy Winehouse, I am not going to rehab http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LTPRJqt2z4

Now, most junkies don’t realize they have an addiction problem until their drug is taken away from them. This is exactly what happened to me last night. My normal Sunday routine is to put my kids to bed and head to my basement sanctuary and turn on Sunday Night Football. While the game is noise in the background I hop online for a few hours of reading blogs, writing blogs, catching up on twitter, and a whole host of other online activities.

As I booted up my computer I opened up Tweetdeck to catch up on the post from #edcampcitrus and #ecampnyc and none of my columns were loading…began to worry. Checked internet explorer with the same result…no connection and yet my wireless signal was strong and connected. I then got my ladder out and headed to the access panel to my attic and avoided a Clark Griswold moment. I got up there and reset my wireless hub in hopes that would fix it… no dice. I then called Comcast where I heard the pre-recorded message that the high speed internet in my area was down and they were working on it…great!

So, that brought me to my backup plan which was my new android phone where I could at least read updates on Twitter and hop online to do some blog reading. Again, I was disappointed to find my phone’s data connection not working. After two hours on the phone with tech support I had my entire phone “reset” which means all my stuff was gone. I spent the next hour getting all my accounts set back up on the phone. By that time I was down for the count and headed to bed incredibly frustrated and upset.

On the ensuing car ride to work I reflected on my experience and utter frustration of not having my beloved technology at my fingertips. I felt I had missed out on something and was “behind” the game before Monday morning even got rolling. I was a bit like Golum losing his precious, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk4Ntcq5uNg. As I thought about this, I wondered if it was a good thing that I was so distraught about my lack of connection for just one evening. I need technology and I am not afraid to admit it. It is my drug. I need it to connect to people. I need it to research what I can do in my class to make learning better for my students. I need it to share my ideas and have my voice heard. I need it to see what else is out there. I need it to learn a new Chuck Norris joke. I need it break down barriers for me and my students. I need it to enrich my life and my student’s. I need it to go places I otherwise would never go.

My name is Josh Stumpenhorst and I am addicted to technology and I am proud of it!