Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Is Information in Danger of Losing Its Value?

from Tiger Bookstore Blog
I tell ya, I love how the universe can be “just in time” just for me every once in a while. This morning am sitting in my office thinking about a conversation with my students last night, and along comes this post from TeachThoughtTeaching Google Natives to Value Information.  It found me. Really.  The author discusses so many of my frustrations - not sure that's the word I want to use. 

In class we were talking about memory.  How do you remember information for a test?  How do you know to memorize information that you need in order to learn more information. These are first semester freshmen – just to let know – they know everything already, so I often wonder why I am even there. The start of the conversation was on test taking, but then we wandered into the whole availability of information and how we can just “Google” what we need to know.

They argued that they that don’t need to memorize; they have access to all the information they need. I said, think how annoying it would be to have to look up the times table every time you wanted to do some sort of math. Many of them said they have to pull out their phone calculators to do simple math, anyway.  (Seriously!?)

So, you see where this is all going.  (To hell in a hand basket?)  We know “things” are changing.  It’s okay.  I am good with it – and part of it, for that matter.  But I wonder if we shouldn't start paying a little more attention. The article makes this point:

“. . . the easier something is to access, the less it is valued. It still may be useful, but the process of seeking information—one so full of learning potential in and of itself—is replaced by smarter keyword searches, and improvement by Google of their own search engine algorithm.”

If we know how to search better, we can find anything we want to know. I have huge, huge concerns about credibility and relevance.  Huge.  Helping students develop the nose for credibility and the skill for evaluation is not easy. We can give them all the check sheets and examples we want. 

I still feel there is value in just knowing some things, even things I can look up easily and be pretty sure the information is right. 

I do like author's list at the end: 10 Strategies to Encourage Digital Natives to Value Information.  Good list.

Just thinkin’
Lee Anne

BTW - I am teaching "Better Internet Searching" tomorrow from 4:30 - 6:30 pm.  Still room!  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Enter the Infographic

We see them everywhere, infographics.  They are a tool that uses visual design, text, and research (we hope) to organize ideas, sell something, teach something, basically communicate.  They blend words and pictures. Remember picture books?  Remember Powerpoint, Excel graphs? Infographics (and tools like them) are a digital, online iteration of this kind of communication. 

I like them.  I like the challenge of trying to "write" in a new environment, one that employs all my 21st Century skills, such as they are. I like the opportunity to communicate and stimulate with colors and shapes. 

It's fun. But as cool as they look, their deliberate simplicity is deceptive. Have you tried to create one?  I have.  I've tried hard.  I'd rather write an essay. 

When I first started playing with infographics, the tools were complicated and clunky - unless you were prepared to pay for the next level up. The next level up was, of course, where all the "front-page" templates were. Templates make things much easier. They make your work look on the screen how it looks in your mind. I was not prepared to give up.  I kind of let the whole infographic universe stew for a while. While it was stewing, new tools came along, techniques became more defined . . . I found ways for this to make sense in a classroom with students at any level. 

So NOW, I am ready to do a class on infographics in the fall.  I've dabbled a bit as part of my research and learning process.  You may have caught the SOL Training I did last spring on Infographics or the workshop session I did at Eighth Floor Open World this summer.  They were fun, and I have learned a little more about the technology and technique each time.  

More and more I come across someone who writes well about this medium.  For example, this post in Edutopia,  Inventing Infographics: Visual LIteracy Meets Written Content.  I come across insights and application like these and I get excited to teach my students something new, something more relevant. 

Come play with me this fall!  We'll play with colors and pictures and words and create things that are remarkably sophisticated!

Just sharin'
Lee Anne

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What does it take to be a Quadblogger?

Quadblogger?  What is this quadblogging you speak of?  I ran across this term in an
Edublogs email.  I had to know more. It's a great idea. 

Having a class blog is a great idea, but what fun is it if you don't have an authentic audience? This makes that happen. 

"Since its conception more and more teachers from across the globe have used Quadblogging to gain a genuine audience for their learners. Whether you are a Nursery teacher in Nigeria or an University Lecturer in Uruguay, Quadblogging will Quad you and your learners up with three other classes matching your preferences selected in the sign up process."

Is anyone doing this? 

Just Wonderin'
Lee Anne

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Like Walt Whitman Always Said, YOLO!

Yesterday we dipped our toe in the “conference” waters.  We held our first Eighth Floor Open World.  I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  We are already making plans for next summer. 

The pupose of Open World is to help educators reignite their passion for teaching and learning.  At most colleges, universities, and K-12 schools, summers are a little slower and quieter.  Many of the people who attended can use this time to attend professional development events such as this.  Others were just taking a much needed break from a still busy schedule.  Regardless, there was definitely passion.  Educators amaze me.  They never stop learning and doing more for their students. The passion is always there. 

For me, Scott, Linda, and Katy, that’s what yesterday was about for us – doing more for OUR students.  Summers for us are crazy busy.  Classes are full and days are long and we absolutely love it.  Spending our summers with educators like these is what reignites our passion.

My favorite moment from yesterday:  “Like Walt Whitman always said, YOLO!” 

Great video - treat yourself for a minute. 

I hope we see you at Open World next year!
Lee Anne

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Enrollment is open for summer.  We have some great stuff going on during June and July


Eighth Floor Open World - Reignite the Passion.  Wednesday June 18th. This is an all-day conference full of workshops, pop-up learning, SOL Trainings, vendors, and you.  For more details visit  http://eighthfloor.org/special.html#op or https://sites.google.com/site/8thflooropenworld/  

Open World is designed for all of our consortium members. Regardless of what or who you teach, there will be opportunities for you to reignite the passion for both you and your students. 

Would you like to present at the Eighth Floor Open World?  We were hoping you would! Deadline for proposals is June 3rd.  If you have questions, just let us know.  (Proposal Form)



Our summer workshop this year is a special treat.  We will be partnering with the Woody Guthrie Center to offer a two-week blended learning opportunity.  We will meet both online and face-to-face, July 21-30, 2014.  For details visit http://eighthfloor.org/special.html#now 


SOL Training! 
Synchronous Online Learning . . . Training. 
Our NOT boring version of the boring webinar!  Our sessions have "SOL"  Just sayin'.  We will have several scheduled throughout the summer, but also look for our SOL Training during Open World - for those that want to reignite the passion from home.  Check the details: http://eighthfloor.org/special.html#SOL

I certainly don't want to leave out our schedule of established online, blended, and F2F classes. 

Questions?  http://eighthfloor.org/contact.html

We are looking forward to working with you this summer. 
Thanks!  Lee Anne

Monday, March 24, 2014

What are the rules for using your smartphone in a social setting

What are the rules for using your smartphone in a social setting?  Actually, a better question might be, what do you WANT the rules to be because apparently there are not currently any.  I do find it a little annoying when I go out for a meal or a social gathering and sit and watch someone else check their phone and/or carry on a text conversation with someone else – or several someone elses. What’s the point of being in the same place if everyone’s attention is on someone not there?

Beth Turner shared this article on Facebook.  It really struck an annoyed little nerve I seem to haveWhat To Do With Your Smartphone While You’re Having Dinner

 “There is apparently a name for device usage while in places others might consider it rude: electronic displays of insensitivity, or EDI. And when author Joseph Grenny surveyed more than 2,000 of his newsletter recipients for a study, "Digital Divisiveness," they said these kinds of displays are getting worse. VentureBeat sums it up:”

So, EDI? Did you know there is a name for this behavior?  I’ve always felt there should be.

Just sayin’
Lee Anne

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

What are the Cool Kids Already Enrolling in for Spring?

Yep.  It's back to the grind.  No more dancing sugar plumbs.  No more, "one more snow day - geez it's so cold."  Put on your mittens and get on to work. 

Let's focus on the good news.  The days are getting longer. The temps are getting warmer. And, the best news of all . . . enrollment is open for spring classes on the Eighth Floor. Actually, enrollment was open before the holiday break, but it was hard to focus on with all those dancing sugar plumbs. 

So I was looking at what people are already enrolling in. I guess in more modern terms I should say, I was looking at what was trending on the enrollment site.  Here's what the cool kids are doing at the moment. 

  • Online Learning Series
  • Blended Learning - Is there a model for you?
  • Anything to do with Excel (Geez - when did that get sexy again?)
  • All of our SOL Trainings - those are so much fun for us. We hope you are liking them
  • Technology in the Common Core
  • Twitter
  • Google the Next Step

Of course, those are not our only classes. We have TONS more - go see -   http://eighthfloor.org/schedule.html 

We have a whole new crop of SOL Trainings.  For those of you who are not cool or groovy like us, (snicker) that means Synchronous Online Learning . . . Trainings. Check out the whole list.  http://eighthfloor.org/special.html#SOL.  

If you have questions about the classes or enrollment, just ask. We know a lot of stuff, and what we don't know, we will make up. 918-828-5341  Just sayin'. 

Hope to see you in a class or two this semester!
Lee Anne

If you are still hoping for sugar plumbs, here ya go -- SUGAR PLUMBS! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teaching Writing . . . Online: Are we teaching old rules for a new game?

I've been thinking about this a lot. Writing for an online environment is just different than writing for “paper.”  Don’t you think?  Let me say more!

I have been wondering if I am doing students a disservice by insisting on rules that may not apply anymore to many of our newer writing environments – namely, anything that is online.  Some examples might be, discussion forums, blogs, wikis, Twitter, any social media really. You get the idea. Can we continue to ignore the internet?

Here’s another thought for all teachers.  Writing is a highly universal activity.  As much as we know that modeling is important to learning, are we modeling the best writing behavior/skills?

I really want to know what you think.  Are we willing to let go of the scholarly rules for a more mixed media world?  I agree that right now it may be easy to define a proper time and place for each.  But how long will THAT last?

Here are some of the points I want your thoughts on:
  • Are bullet points okay in a graded discussion forum?
  • Are emoticons okay in a graded discussion forum?
  • How do you feel about hyperlinks?
  • How do you feel about hyperlinks instead of a formal Works Cited?
  • What about the more conversational style of online; is that okay for a grade?
  • Can you have an online voice and a paper voice?  It’s kind of like inside and outside voices.
  • What about the use of first and second person?
  • Do we need a five space indent?
  • The internet is meant to be interactive.  Are your online assignments addressing that?
  • Is it okay to include video or images as part of your argument, instead of text or to take the place of quotations, summaries, paraphrasing?
  • What if they really did write to their supposed audience and not their teacher? 
  • Aren't we making some rather misguided assumptions about other readers? Do they care about a classic, five paragraph essay? Is that communicating in the 21st Century?

There are a number of issues that fall under the whole idea that reading online is just different from reading print:
  • Screen size, lighting, being able to focus
  • Are you familiar with the “F” pattern?  No.  That is not a new online swear word.  It’s the eye pattern for how we read a screen, not a “Z” pattern for a book or magazine. 
  • Walls of words seem more like barriers than invitations to learning or conversation. Kind of like this blog post!
  • How do you feel about blocking rather than paragraphing?
  • Could you teach the inverted pyramid style verses the class five paragraph essay? The reader could quit reading at any time - click on a hyperlink or just get bored. 
  • Do we have time to change all our rubrics? I guess the more important question is does anyone have a rubric for using emoticons I can borrow?

I know.  I hear you.  What does all this chatter have to do with the pursuit of excellent communication and writing skills? Most online writing is about persuading (and entertaining) a particular audience to make money.  What if you took the last three words off that last sentence? What’chu got now?

I am doing a short class on writing in online environments next semester, so I've been thinking about all this lately.  I am curious where you land, or if it is even on your radar.  

Just thinkin'
Lee Anne

Thursday, September 05, 2013

What Does Woody Guthrie Have To Do With The Eighth Floor?

Yesterday afternoon Linda, Katy, Scott, and I were invited to visit the Woody Guthrie Center downtown.  WOW!  What a treat.  I am sorry I didn’t  to do this before.  I have attended many events at Guthrie Green – a good friend puts on a Sunday afternoon music series, Horton Records presents the Tulsa Sound.  Perhaps you have heard of it. Just sayin’.   Anyway, so it’s not like I am never downtown. Moreover, it’s not like I haven’t been right across the street many, many times. I honestly didn't even realize it was right there.  Did you?  Have you been?

Deana McCloud is the Executive Director of the center.  Some of you may remember that Deana use to teach at The Eighth Floor.  She gave us a tour of the facility and in the process shared her passion for the center and Woody Guthrie’s legacy.  This facility is something else, too.  Funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, this museum is the latest and greatest in presentation, preservation, technology, and resources.  Additionally, the museum was built with education in mind.  Deana and the Education Manager are both former teachers. They have created lesson plans aligned to the common core and are building a variety of workshop series.

One such workshop series is in partnership with Horton Records. Check out this Saturday’s workshop on Ownership, Licensing, and Publishing.  The next one is on Sept 29th with Paul Benjaman and Wink Burcham, Songwriting Tips and Tricks. You don’t want to miss this one – two amazingly talented sons of Oklahoma.

Additionally, you will find short performances mixed with discussions, a partnership with Tulsa County Library, “One Book One Tulsa,” another partnership with the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers at OSU Tulsa, and just so much more. 

The Eighth Floor will also be partnering with the museum as part of our workshop series, “Now What? . . .  Mastering Technology Skills for Teaching and Learning.   We are still in the creative stages, but plan to do a blended workshop where the F2F time takes place at the Woody Guthrie Center.  Projects will revolve around the center – imagine the possibilities – writing, music, history, art, pretty much anything, really!  Our workshop last summer, Project Classroom, was a great success and so much fun. This is going to be even better.

As a special treat to our Advisory committee, Deana has offered to host our January Advisory Committee meeting at the museum.  How cool is that!

So, yeah.  You need to check this out.  Read a little about Woody, and see why this is such a shining jewel right here in the middle of T-Town.

Just Sharin’
Lee Anne