Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

My Year Without Paper in Review

December 31, 2018

Well,  it’s the last day of the year and I couldn’t let this end without posting a brief review of my year without paper.  I was successful in not printing anything at work this year and I rarely use paper anymore.  When I do, it’s second chance (immediately recycled paper).  I’ve found many creative solutions to using paper in my every day work.  Even at home I’m using less paper as I’m relying more on my Rocketbook and Elfinbook (a less expensive alternative) for note taking, list making and even songwriting.

The PaperSavers tribe at work has grown and we found an ally at the Office of Sustainability.  Also, the head of our Division funded us for 50 papersaver gift baskets.  We’ve begun distributing them via contests and targeting of teams who use the most paper in the District.  I’ll be sharing our tech alternatives at a national conference next year on online learning.

Here are some photo highlights:

money bags

The money bags on top of my desk continue to be a good conversation starter.  They represent the 3 million dollars spent on printing at our District copiers.

tips near printer

Members of the PaperSavers tribe have placed informative signs(written on second chance paper) near the printers on our floor.

gift baskets

These are some of the assembled papersaver gift baskets.

Rosie Christian

This teacher was one of the happy recipients of a gift basket.  She won this through a district-wide contest where we asked employees to share their papersaving tips.

So, what’s next? Our work and my avoidance of paper will continue into 2019.  The next goals are to distribute the remaining gift baskets-along with training sessions-, get budget numbers for our teams to compare, and find ways to call in rather than call out people using large amounts of paper.

Here’s to a wonderful and productive new year in 2019!

Alternatives to Paper when Brainstorming

July 5, 2018

light bulb signifying ideasA very popular use of easel pad paper and post-it notes are for brainstorming sessions with groups. My team and many others at my workplace use these materials for generating ideas and then sorting them. What they may not know is that that easel pad of paper costs approximately $40 and the post-it notes are $24 for a box. That’s some expensive brainstorming that happens simultaneously across the district and the cost is multiplied.  So…what are some non-paper alternatives to use for these exercises? Here are possible apps to use: Padlet, Google Doc templates, Google Slides, and Lucid Chart-a Google add on.

Padlet is a free cloud-based software that provides an online space that looks a bulletin board, a wall, or many custom backgrounds. After you open a Padlet page you give the link to others and they can add what really looks like post-it notes and then you can move them around to organize them. Some things I like about this software is that there is a mobile app and everything is user-friendly. Padlet is often used in K-12 classrooms so I know that adults can handle it easily.

Google apps provide multiple options to consider. Google docs has many templates such as for SWOT input. Take a look at a nice graphic one here.   You can also just insert a simple 4×4 table like this.  Alternatively I’ve used Google slides with users creating their own text boxes on a slide. Of course these text boxes can  be moved around, resized and reformatted. I’ve also used the comment feature to facilitate discussion around the ideas on a slide.

Finally, Google docs has an add-on called Lucidchart. I started with a P&ID basic design, took away the connectors and made the boxes look like post it notes. NOTE: for users to interact, fill in and move the idea boxes you have to share the design in Lucidchart. After it’s moved over to Google docs it can’t be edited. Editing has to take place in Lucidchart.

Here’s what my self-created chart looks like:

lucidchart screenshot

Hope these suggestions give you some ideas to move away from using paper.
Do you have alternatives for paper brainstorming that I haven’t included here? Let me know via comments!

Top 5 Takeaways from the iLearn Conference

March 5, 2018

iLearn icon

As is my habit, anytime I attend a conference I share out my top takeaways/learnings. The iLearn Collaborative Conference was held in Denver last month. Here are my top five takeaways, based on my experience and interests.

1. Authentic Video
I often recommend that teachers/facilitators create and post personal “selfie” videos to introduce modules in their online courses.  Jessica Glynn from Denver Online High School took this concept and modeled three crucial elements in her video.  First, she was authentic.  Her video was direct and unedited.  The minor flaws gave it an authentic feel-not rehearsed or perfect.  Secondly the video gave the students the impression that she was “present” in the moment and in the course.  Videos like these are essential in maintaining instructor presence throughout an online course.  Thirdly, in something that surprised me, she not only modeled self-reflection but also lifelong learning as she shared a discovery she had learned in a PD session she attended.  With Jessica’s permission, you too can see the video example here.

2. Close Reading Tools
Jessica Glynn also shared her online approach to close readings-a protocol that is very popular with my literacy friends. Students are given three choices on how to participate: Join teacher-led small group in person, join teacher-led small group via Zoom,or read independently and use the tool Nowcomment. This was the first time I had seen NowComment.  It looks like a fantastic tool to facilitate discussion around a text.  I know this is something you could do in Google Docs, but NowComment has additional features such as giving you a quick count of the comments.

3.  The Science of Online Learning
When I saw, in advance, the presentation deck from Erika Twani and Bryan Goodwin I quickly changed my schedule and headed to their room.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The core of their message is this four step process:
1.     Interest -What do I know, What do I want to know?
2.    Research -Searching for and processing information
3.    Develop Skills -Exercises, Problem solving, Creativity
4.    Relating -How can I apply this to my life
I had some time to work with Joy Schnabel, an English teacher and I came up with this possible sequence for her students:
Have students choose a place to go on vacation.
Research the location.
Vet sources on the internet-what is valid info?
Create a brochure (or a video, audio, essay, letter) to convince their parents to take them there.
Using this sequence, students get a chance to create an alternative assessment and flex their online/multimedia skills.  It’s a win-win!

4.  Innovator Keynote
Catlin Tucker delivered the keynote on day two of the conference. Catlin has kids ditch traditional notebooks and instead document their learning with photos, videos, and writing online. She believes in creating an authentic audience for her students, connecting them with community member panels for large scale projects.  They ask the tough questions of the students.  When students know there is an actual audience, it is a powerful incentive. Her kids also go to TEDEdClubs and produce TED talks. This is a teacher who is not afraid to take risks, challenge and trust her students. She is definitely someone to follow. You can find her on Twitter @Catlin_Tucker

5.  Edcamp 2.0
Jeri Crispe, Chastity Stringer, and Dodi Schrader are from the Thompson School District. They were excited by attending an Edcamp (as I have been) and decided to roll out a localized version to their teachers. First they generated topics by surveying the teachers.
They produced a video to explain the Edcamp process. They listened and planned with educators with Edcamp experience.  Via email, flyers, and face-to-face interactions, they recruited presenters/facilitators. Finally, they designed an online session board and provided space and food. They call it 2.0 because it is their second iteration. They made sure there was a facilitator for each session, someone with a little bit of expertise.
And, in something that makes me very happy, they leverage Schoology for sharing the session materials.  I believe everyone who has Schoology should do this for conferences and professional development, even when it’s face-to-face.
Their new design for PD includes:
Outcomes determined by the learner
Teachers share expertise
Learn something new
Action-orientated
Apply the new learning
Evidence-based reflection to inform practice and next steps

Well, that’s my roundup of the iLearn Conference in Denver. I’ve made myself a promise to submit a proposal to present next year at this and several other conferences. I’ll let you know how that goes. I hop you get to attend some conferences and share your learning as well.