Innovation’s not just a buzz word

No one likes to jump on a band wagon but the funny thing about cliches is that they become what they are because there’s some truth in there. ‘Innovation’ is like that. It’s overly used because we need it. Desperately.

 

We need innovative teachers and schools so that we prepare students for today, let alone for tomorrow. What we did yesterday just won’t cut it anymore, for these reasons;

  • the amount of fake news that needs filtering
  • the disruption to our familiar because of technology
  • the disconnect between family and community

If we keep following the techniques and practices that have worked in the past, just because it ‘used to work’ then we’ll miss what will work for now and tomorrow. It takes bravery and it’s not about short cuts.

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W.I.J.L #1: Gratitude releases dopamine!

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 7.00.05 AMThis is a new series I’m going to try out – ‘What I’ve just learned.’ We’re always learning crazy stuff! Sometimes it’s things that;

  • change our lives
  • are just amusing
  • when shared with others make us sound super intelligent
  • are actually myths but we don’t realise
  • can help shape the way we see other things
  • change our perspective from one way of thinking to another

Here’s my first WIJL.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 7.05.36 AMDid you know that a sense of gratitude encourages the brain to release dopamine, that chemical of ‘feel good’ that makes us want to do something again? Something to feel grateful for – like what I did there?

Have a look at this article, and maybe look for the things in our lives that are going great!

Why would I get certified?

Did you know you can now be certified in whatever platform of digital tools you use in your classroom or school? Whether it’s Microsoft, Apple or Google, there are online modules, videos, lessons and exams you can do to get qualified and earn some recognition of a certain level of competence.

Yesterday I completed another Google Certified Level 1 Bootcamp where we take teachers and Principals through a 2 day course that helps them prepare for and sit the 3 hour exam. It’s a really rewarding exercise for those who come along.

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Here are 4 reasons why you’d want to go for some of these qualifications, whether independently online or at a face to face course with a company like ours.

  1. You get a badge!
  2. You learn SO much in the process.
  3. You become an asset to your school.
  4. You add another ‘string to your bow’ when applying for further positions.

If you’re interested in finding out more, click these links to find out more about these certifications.

 

‘Why’ – helps to have a vision.

Since seeing Simon Sinek’s Ted talk about the importance of ‘the why’ in everything we do (see the talk here, one of the most popular talks ever from the site) I’ve had this concept in my head with just about everything I do. From ‘why’ am I writing on this blog, to ‘why are we learning this in maths?’ I usually start with thinking or talking about the ‘why.’

I’ve really enjoyed working with schools lately who are discovering this for themselves. We’ve been looking at this through a digital learning lens; why do we want to use digital tools and the kinds of teaching and learning practices they allow. And it’s super exciting to be able to ‘see what we’re trying to achieve.’ If we walked around the school, once this is happening, what would we see?

So ‘the why’ leads to our vision. It’s SO important to be able to articulate where we are going since this helps us drive our decision making. Too many people, and schools, and businesses and families are busy ‘doing things’ and making action plans without actually having specific goals and a vision laid out.

Here are some interesting questions for you and your school, your colleagues, family, business partner, husband or wife.

“What is our vision? What would that look like when we get there?”

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Only you can teach like you!

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Do you compare yourself to others? Nothing sucks the life out of me like comparing myself to other people. I’ve been doing that a lot lately – looking at what other Digital Coaches are posting online, creating, the ideas their coming up with. It can be really demoralising.

Except – when we realise that there will always be trainers, or teachers, or Principals, or parents who actually WILL be better than us. But that’s not the point and we’ll only get discouraged when we focus on being like other people.

What I find freeing, when I start to judge myself to others, is to remember that no one can facilitate and instruct like I can. No one teaches like you do. Nobody can make a connection with some students like you can or has your unique set of abilities and talents. It’s what makes our schools and businesses thrive – diversity and difference and builds real community. I can’t be a better someone else – just a better me. And I like that.

How do you do, To-Do? – App Of the Week.

I had a funny ‘tweet off’ with a friend this week who couldn’t believe I was using a Microsoft app on my iPhone. MS has had a bad rep with a lot of Apple and Google diehards the last few years and it’s fun to show them how much they’ve improved their game – especially with IOS apps. This morning I counted 146 iPad and iPhone apps from the Microsoft Corporation!

IMG_1188Here’s my app of the week, from MS – To-Do. I know what you’re thinking – “Not ANOTHER list app!” But, if you’re juggling as many balls as I do then they are a must to help you from dropping them all.

Things I love about To-Do.

  • Clean simple interface
  • Easy to link, create and organise your tasks
  • Nice link from my ‘To do list” through to what they call “My Day.” This is a nice way to prioritise my daily tasks from my on-going projects.

Have a look and see for your self and tell me what you use to stay organised. I’d love to see what tools you use to control your chaos.

– leave a comment below or reply to any tweets linked to this post. 

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Google Calendar Goal Update

Google Calendar has been my default calendar for over 10 years now! That’s a long time in anyone’s books and it keeps getting better. Last year (2016 – getting my head around that still) I got really used to using the IOS Google Calendar app – especially for the integration with reminders and the Keep app.

Today Google released an update for the ‘goals’ feature that lets you set some goals around fitness, building a skill, friends and family time etc. The app takes you through some questions that set when, how long and what you’re hoping to do and then synchs that info with your calendar and sends you reminders. You can also tell the app when you’ve completed the goal and it keeps track of your progress for the week.

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Open the app, bottom right corner click the ‘plus.’

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Calendar selects the best time for your goal. You can change this, though.

I’ve set a goal for this month to run every day, for at least 30 minutes each morning. We’ll see how that goes!

There’s also a feature that stores your info from your fitness tracker which I’m still working out…haven’t managed it yet for my Apple Watch but will record how when I do.

 

STEM is not a supplement, it’s critical! 

I’m facilitating another STEM workshop today with some teachers where we explore the pedagogy and principles of the STEM learning approach. We also get to play with a great range of tech, from low tech ping pong balls and rubber bands through to high tech robotics and drones.

But my main objective for these action packed days is to instil in the attendees the purpose and ‘why’ of STEM education. As an off shoot of this, what I’ve come to realise as one of my driving passions; to demonstrate that learning can be an active, social and exciting process! It doesn’t need to be dry and systematic as it often can become.

But my other drive, and the main purpose of STEM learning theory, is the real need to see our children “equipped and enabled for a highly technological world.” This is taken from “STEM Lessons Essentials, Grade 3 to 8” by Jo Anne Vasquez, Cary Sneider and Michael Comer. It’s the ‘why’ that gives STEM its fuel and nothing says more about this than an article I saw this morning.


Amazon in the US has announced that they are about to introduce some new technology to the supermarket industry that will enable shoppers to select their food items and walk out of the shop without the need to cue or see an assistant. The tech in the trolley will scan your items and you can pay through an app on your phone.


The reality of many shop assistants and support staff, 75% by some estimates, loosing their jobs is very real. This is an example of meneal task employment being overtaken by technology. The only comforting thing about this is that the tech will need designers, coders, technicians and so on.

Are our children being prepared for this world? The tech will always develop and the only constant will be change. Do we still need convincing that STEM is the way forward? I’d advocate that it’s not a supplementary approach any more. It’s a critical part of their development!

Find my iPhone! Arghhh

Have you ever had to use this feature? I hope you never do… It’s been one of the most stressful hours of my year! Here’s a brief summary of my trauma.

Yesterday morning I drove into Auckland with my dad to see the All Blacks play Ireland, at a sports bar. We were going to meet my brother who lives in town and on the way I realised I’d left my iPhone at home (or so I’d thought), which is unusual for me as I carry it EVERYWHERE! I then spent the entire game experiencing what life can be like without a phone to fill in all those little spare moments; browsing Twitter, reading the news etc.

When we got home I turned the lounge upside down looking for the phone in the place I ‘thought’ it was. It wasn’t! Enter, increased heart rate and an impending insurance claim and panic! This is when you realise you can ‘ping’ your phone on your Apple Watch. Lots of listening later and we still can’t find it.

So the next step is to launch into iCloud.com where you can search for your phone on the ‘Find my iPhone’ app. This needs to be activated in your phone settings and uses location setting to show you where your phone is. I’ve used this years ago when we discovered my phone was done the back of the couch in my old classroom.

When we saw where my iPhone was pinging, we realised why we couldn’t hear the pinging; it was showing up exactly where we had parked earlier that morning! Worse than that, it looked like someone had it in an apartment block across the road.

Now this is where all the worse case scenarios go racing through your mind. Some ratbag has my phone, they’ve hacked into it (I have the finger scanner enabled but the worse number passcode ever imagined to let the kids get into it if they need to) and are looking through my photos, accessing my information and who knows what else!

The ‘Find my iPhone’ app online lets you put the phone into ‘lost mode’ which puts a message on the screen with a contact phone number. That obviously assumes that you’re dealing with a first class citizen who doesn’t consider finding a $1300 phone a stroke of luck and decides to do the right thing. I always hope there are people like that out there, but when it’s your phone on the line then the likely hood of that happening is 1000 to 1.


So what to do next? Frantically on your brother to race down there and ask anyone who would listen if they’ve seen or found a phone. While he was doing this the phone location seemed to move across the road, to a car rental lot. Someone was walking around with it! Or so I thought. Actually, it turned out that the signal was just updating and relocating the exact position.

How did this end up? It turns out that my brother was the hero on the day and found it sitting in the gutter, on its side so making it very hard for anyone to see. And it had no scratches! What are the chances.

So here’s the moral of the story:

  1. Enable the ‘Find my iPhone’ feature in your iPhone settings. The process can be seen here.
  2. Make sure you have a secure password!
  3. Look the phone up on iCloud.com as soon as you suspect it’s missing and enable the ‘lost mode’ asap. This locks it down and displays a message that you choose to display.
  4. Notify the police as soon as you can. If you think that the phone is not going to be returned or found you should select the ‘erase my phone’ option.
  5. Don’t loose your phone in the first place. It’s too important… and not worth the stress!

How to make a GIF on a Mac

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-6-59-48-amGIFs are huge right now – a GIF is a ‘graphical interface format’ and a great way to get a quick message across. It’s something I want to start using more in instructional blog posts.
Here’s a cool GIF making app that you can download (in beta mode) that works pretty well on your Mac. It’s called Gifrocket and the UI (user interface – it’s an acronym morning!) is brilliant. Just drag, drop and enjoy. Love it.

Here’s a GIF I’ve made that will be on an upcoming post. Oooo, the suspense.

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