Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Enrollment is Open for Spring Classes on The Eighth Floor

Yep.  It's true.  
You can enroll for spring classes.  All the information you need is on our website. .  

You will find a list of our classes with times and dates here  and a PDF of our soon to be printed schedule here

Here are some new things for spring: 
  • SOL Training!  Synchronous Online Learning . . . Training. (Don Cornelius would be proud!)  These are short classes on hot topics held online - lasting about 30 minutes or so. If nothing else, the entertainment value of watching us fumble through the first few of these sessions will be worth the time. Just sayin'. 
  • More classes after school/evenings and weekends
  • We have moved 3 of our regular F2F classes online: Social Networking Tools for Educators, Time Management Tools, and Differentiated Learning. 
  • New class - next level of Tech integration with the Common Core Standards - classroom application
  • This is not new, but so many people don't know that you can take as many classes as you like at no charge to you personally. 

FYI - We will be closed for the holiday Dec 21 - Jan 7th.  If you enroll in a class, you will get a confirmation after Jan 7th. 

If you know what you want to take, we recommend you enroll early to ensure a spot. Did you know that The Eighth Floor has approximately 70 consortium members? Teachers alone, we have over 13,000 members - not even including support staff, part-time instructors, and administrators.  Crazy stupid numbers.  

Is anyone else just a little concerned that Scott, Linda, and I are influencing that many people, that are influencing that many more people? Just gonna leave you with that thought.

Best wishes from The Eighth Floor and a peaceful holiday season. 
Lee Anne   

Monday, December 10, 2012

What Would You Tell High School Students About College?

I have been hanging out with Ms. Beeson and a class of 10th graders at Webster High School as a career coach. My purpose is to just be there and to “advise” about both career and college.  It’s part of the CareerAccess College Readiness program.  They are pretty cool, so far. Will it surprise anyone if I say that with this group I have no credibility when it comes to the topic of college?  I just want to say, are you kidding me?  But it is what it is. 

I was shaking my head over this ridiculousness as I was preparing the final for my Writing 1 students, and that’s when it occurred to me that the answer is right in front of me – literally.  They may not believe me, but they will believe a first year college student, right?  

So I told my class about the folks at Webster, and they were all too happy to give them their very best advice.  I have to say, they done me proud!  Here is some of what these TCC college students had to tell those Webster high school students. 

Did you assume you would go right to college after graduation or did you have another plan?
  • Yes, and I did. 
  • Yes, but I didn’t do it until almost ten years later and now I regret not getting started sooner.
  • No, but I knew if I wanted to have a future, I needed to get myself in college. 
  • I went to pursue my basics
  • Yes, I went straight into college
  • No, but now I have a plan, after wasting six years telling myself I couldn’t do it.
  • I went right to college for a year but realized I didn’t want to be a doctor and dropped out. So my plan has changed.
  • Yes, I knew I would go to college, and I was preparing for it all through high school .
  • I always knew I would go to college. Never had another option.
  • I was already packing my bags.
As a college student, what would you tell a HS student to help him or her make better decisions about college?
  • Go to college after you graduate while it is still fresh on the brain.  Do not put it off. You need the education to get a better job.
  • Look at tuition first.
  • Get started as soon as you get out and get on with it. It’s really not hard if you apply yourself.
  • Do not slack off !!  Your college teachers won’t be there to help you make the better grade. It’s all you. 
  • Always study
  • Study Study Study!!!  Don’t be lazy.  Do all your work. Go to all your classes.
  • Figure out a major before you start college. It’s easier than you think.
  • Make sure you do your research on the degree field you want. You may start and realize that you hate it and have to start over.
  • Prepare while you are high school and take college seriously. Push yourself. Don’t let anyone stop you. It will be harder if you wait. Get your degree now while you can. The world is waiting on you! (Is it wrong to love it when I hear my words come out of their mouths . . . or pens?)
  • Don’t waste such a good opportunity that you have for free. Actually make goals for yourself and achieve them with your heart and mind open.
  • College is fun, but you need to go to class all the time.

What is your best tip or trick for getting by that you have learned as a college student so far?
  • Take notes, ask questions. But most of all you have to be present. Not being there can mess you up so bad.
  • Study and apply yourself. Don’t wait until the last minute.  It’s not helping you at all.  To be good at something, you have to go above and beyond and push yourself even when you don’t want to. The outcome will be awesome.
  • Study and prepare in all your free seconds.
  • Consider your weekends over and devote them to study and homework.
  • Get your work done before the due date.
  • Look over stuff before class.
  • It took some time for me to figure out how to balance work and study time for college.

Anything else you want to share?
  • Follow your dreams and don’t let anything get in your way.
  • You will land better jobs and make more money with a college degree
  • I found that when I really understood what I had learned in class, the effort of studying paid off.
  • Try college as a chance to become something better.
  • At least try it.  TCC is cheap and easy to enroll in. Don’t get a degree just to have one. Get one that can actually help you get a job.
  • Remember that school is your money and your time and it’s a waste of money and time to not pay attention and turn in assignments.
  • Without an education you are seriously lost in this world.
  • Good Luck!

I call this sage advice. 

Just Sayin'
Lee Anne

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kitten Kapture Captures Kids!

By:  Renata Copsey, Computer Teacher

Guest Blogger for 
November, 2012
All Saints Catholic School
Broken Arrow, OK

Wanting to capture the minds of my young students on the first week of school, I decided to create a blog about the new kitten we brought home from Indiana.  

Dusty’s story was adorable and I took many photographs to document his start in life. I began my first back-to-school lesson with what I did over the summer.  Dusty’s first post about his broken tail was being projected in large view on my Promethean board.  My students were engaged as soon as they walked into the computer lab. It was a fun week using Dusty’s blog as a way to welcome the students to the lab.  

But what happened after that was the real surprise to me.  The next week, when students entered the lab, they begged to see more about Dusty.  They told me stories of how they asked their mom to find Dusty’s blog online and find his YouTube channel.  He was becoming quite famous and that wasn’t the end of the surprise.  In class when my students completed their computer assignments, I began to see Dusty’s cute little face pop up on screen after screen in the lab.  The students would be scrolling up and down reading and looking at the photos of Dusty.  

I began to post more about Dusty and compose my posts to appeal to early readers.  I began to see this as a valuable tool for the classroom.  The students couldn’t wait to read more about Dusty.  One first grader was so inspired, he asked his mom to start a blog about their kitten. Not only was Dusty our special kitten at home, but he was quickly becoming a special kitten at school, reinforcing literacy and technology skills.  All of this was possible because of a simple little blog.  

Thank you, Dusty and Blogger.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Taking your Blog to the Next Level – What is that exactly?

No. Seriously. I need to know.
No. Really. I got talked into, flattered into, agreed to, felt just crazy enough to do a next level blogging class this semester.  Each time I end the beginning class, What About Blogs?, many want to know when the next class is.  I have to be honest, I have hesitated.  The first class is challenging enough because each person comes to class with his and her very own expectation or idea of what that class will be about. It really is one of the more challenging classes I teach for this very reason. There is a blog for every shade in the rainbow out there.  Every class has bloggers from all over that rainbow. Somehow, we manage to stay a little focused.  And, well, the class is just fun.

For this “next level” class, I am going crazy trying to anticipate what the majority of participants will want to know.  Will they still be beginner bloggers? Are they still trying to figure out what they want to do with their blog?  Have they been blogging for years and are perhaps looking for tips to freshen up? Do they want to know about the brand, the writing, the technology, the expansion of readership, the tricks and tips of layout? What?  I could spend 3 hours on a list of 100 tips. I could ask everyone to throw their top two “want to knows” in a hat and figure out how to answer them.  I could PowerPoint my way through the class and dodge questions.  I got this!

I have been learning about and teaching blogging for years.  I know a lot about it, but - and here is the most wonderfully ironic part - I don’t always do those things that traditionally make a blog successful. I’m not sure I would even call our Eighth Floor Blog successful!! 

Like I said, I know what to do; I just haven’t done a lot of it. My primary goal has always been to have a blog that was solid enough to teach a beginning class on blogging.  That’s all.  But now look at what I have done.  Now I have to have a blog that has been “taken to the next level” . . . by next week.  I know.  In teacher time, that’s tons ‘o time. Oh, and Thanksgiving is at my house this year.

Just laughin’
Lee Anne

Friday, October 19, 2012

Infographics – communication going backwards or forwards?

When I was in high school I worked after school in our elementary library.  While shelving books, I took the opportunity to read many of them.  I was especially drawn to the fables, but I also developed an appreciation for story books.  Why?  It’s not that the stories were so great – like a fable.  There is rarely a moral to the story in a picture book or tragic characters like there are in fables. I am guessing it was the pictures . . . ya think? In many books the art work was fantastic.  I was also intrigued by how they could tell the story with both pictures and words – often the pictures said more.  Let’s keep in mind this was a few decades ago – no internet or digital clipart. So, we are talking old school picture books.

Fast forward to now.  I am sure there are still picture books, but story telling has gone digital, as has the presentation of most information. The big thing right now in digital communication is the infographic..  Have you seen them? (Infographics on Google) They are certainly visually stimulating.  Infographics are a graphic or visual representation of information – beyond the pie chart or PowerPoint or Prezi. They are an iteration of our visual language.  Cool, right?  Professionals who create these are called information architects – a phrase coined by Richard Saul Wuman, co-founder of TED.

I look at these and think how fun they would be to make.  I think my students would love to do this instead of an essay or a book report, any day of the week.  And then I think . . . what a clever little trick that would be.  Students would be working ten times harder to share the same information.  Have you tried putting one of these together?  Holy cannoli!  They may look cool, but that is a whole lot of work for something that is meant to be consumed quickly. There are web tools out there that walk you through the process, but none of them help you make infographics that look as awesome as the information architects make them look.

I haven’t tried all the tools that are out there, but the ones I have tried, I am not all that impressed with.  One tool that I see referred to a lot is . Not hard to use, but again, not super dynamic looking.  Now, there is the pay version – maybe that’s where they keep all the gold.

Bottom line – they are cool.  I like the ones that have a bit of humor to them.  I can’t help thinking they are basically one page picture books. Is that a bad thing?

Just thinkin’
Lee Anne

Friday, October 05, 2012

How is Technology Changing Teaching?

A concern that often comes up in classes is the future of the teaching profession – how is technology changing it?  I have my theories based on what I read and what I see.  Clearly the most empirical evidence ever!  

But seriously, I think we are all clear that automated instruction is not the teacher of the future. Self-paced, solitary learning is not the answer to specialized instruction.  Instead of taking over the classroom, technology is just another tool for engagement.  You can choose to make it dance for you, or you can just keep banging your head on the wall . . . you choose.

I often share a dream/prediction with my classes that in the near future we will no longer call it blended learning.  We will just call it learning. I hope that the people who choose to use technology in their classroom can do so without obstacles and those that choose not to use technology don’t feel like they are crappy teachers. They are not. 

So, what will teaching look like in the near future - IMHO?  In many ways, there will be no change.  In more ways, there will be big, juicy changes – but I think you are going to like them. I also think that some of the more recent approaches to the classroom are going to help with teacher burn out. I recently read this article from The Journal.  It says so much of what I want to say.

Teachers are going to need more training for small group facilitation and individual tutoring than they are for whole class lesson planning.  Yep. They speak directly to this in the article. Facilitation is a great word.  Teachers are becoming more facilitators or managers of learning, a concierge if you will – which is much more appropriate than perpetuating the idea the teachers “teach” and that’s how we learn.  This notion assumes we drop knowledge into brains and voila!  The magic happens.

Teachers are going to need to change their idea of what is cheating. This is a world, now, where in mere seconds students can get all the information they want and they don’t need no stinkin’ teacher to get it. Thing is, they may have access to all the information, but do they know if it is good information? See . . . they need us. They really, really need us!

There’s more to this whole idea of what is cheating.  Teachers are going to need to change their definition of chaos. (Chaos, your "in-class name" will now be Collaboration and Construction. You can still wear your monogramed sweaters.) Students need practice taking on the many roles of group collaboration.  We can help them understand what those roles are so that they don’t flounder when put in a circle – they will know their job. This takes us back to knowing more about small group facilitation. 

Even our jobs on The Eighth Floor are changing.  Teachers don’t need us to teach you the points and clicks of technology so much anymore, sometimes, but not as much.  You have a growing technology literacy – the more you use it, the more and better you speak it or vice versa.  Scott, Linda, and I are making an effort to have a strong big picture skill set when it comes to technology. That’s not easy.  Technology is a kooky little mutating monster.  We have definitely had to become more specialized in the areas we teach.  We just can’t be all things to all types of technology integration. We have learned to collaborate by pulling on others’ strengths – some might call it cheating.

All teachers are going to need to be able to teach both online and fact-to-face. OOPS!  There, I said it. Remember – we won’t be calling it blended learning anymore.  It’s just learning.  It will be like saying all teachers will need to be able to teach in both the morning and the afternoon.  Both the good news and, for some, the bad news is that teaching online and F2F are not the same thing.  This is one area where we can really take a bite out of teacher burnout.  Variety. Options.  I’m telling you.  Teachers need to be stimulated and engaged, too.  

I can go on, but I won’t – right now.  It is exciting to see teachers getting excited about teaching when they take classes at The Eighth Floor.  When is that not the best job ever?

Just pontificatin’
Lee Anne

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What Virtual Learning Really Looks Like

Our Eighth Floor Advisory Committee met yesterday for lunch and some good ol’ fashioned learning and sharing. 

You may not (or may!) be aware that online learning has made its way into the K-12 world here in the Tulsa area. Yes it has, and good news – there are some schools out there that are doing it up right.

Yesterday we had a panel of brave virtual school pioneers from Broken Arrow PS and Union PS meet with our Advisory Committee.

The panel was as follows: 
Todd Borland IT Director for Union PS
Teresa Hudson Coordinator, Union Virtual Learning Academy
Debbie Renz, Director of Instructional Services
Steve Schwab, Principal of BA Virtual School
Linda Ricks, Digital Learning Coordinator
Tammy Strickland, Assistant Principal BAHS.

We asked each school to bring their key players and tell us a little about the who, what, when, where, and why of how they got started, where they are now, where are they hoping to go, and what challenges they met along the way.  Can I just say, WOW!  Impressive.  Both schools have done an amazing job of getting their virtual schools off the ground.

Chatting after the meeting, here are what Linda, Scott, and I found so impressive:
  • They didn't jump in with both feet, neck deep, first time out. They started small and are remaining flexible enough to grow with their programs. Fantastic.
  • They did their research.  Listening to them talk, it was clear they understood best practices in course instruction and design.
  • They do not subscribe to the one-size-fits all, self-paced models for their virtual schools.  The online programs currently used for credit recovery are not suitable for credit advancement. This is smart, and well researched.
  • Teaching online is not the same as teaching face-to-face.  They chose their instructors purposefully. They looked for teachers who are willing and able to teach in an uncertain environment and not jeopardize the integrity of the program. They looked for experience.
  • They know that virtual learning and teaching take longer, but that it is way, way worth it.
  • They did not let the bureaucracy wear them out.  Let’s face it; sometimes working with educational (any, really) bureaucracy can be like trying to run through a swamp.  It takes stamina.
  • They were creative in their design.  They took care in building a program that while striving for best practices, also met the needs and culture of their students.
  • They sent and are sending their instructors to The Eighth Floor to take the Online Learning Series for teaching and learning online. (Shameless plug, but . . . true!)
  • They were willing to take time out of their very, very busy days to come here and share what they know.

I can’t tell you how excited I am by what they are doing.  I know there are other schools in the area that are building virtual schools.  We would love to hear your story.

For me, these are success stories of great magnitude. These virtual schools are in their beginning iterations, and the potential is yet to be fully realized.   For K-12 students this means more personalized learning, more control, more choice.  Those benefits extend to higher education, but there is a retention bonus for higher ed institutions, as well.  These students will already know how to learn and be successful in online classes.  YAY!

We would like to thank the panel members for taking time to come talk to us, as well as our advisory committee for the great questions and stimulating discussion.

Just impressed,
Lee Anne

BTW – if you are a member of The Eighth Floor consortium and interested in taking the Online Learning Series ( , please do.  It runs Oct 2 – Nov 16, 2012.  This is a blended course.  If you have questions, just let me know.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Why a list of 19? Cuz that’s how we roll

Every time I run across a blog post that touts the top 5 or top 50 or 100 of anything, I am generally intrigued.  As much as I like to have choices, I also like to have some of those choices already made for me – by someone in the know, of course. I like to think that one or two of the items on that list of top treasures is going to change my life.  Anybody else like me? Anybody?

Everyone seems to have a list of top somethings to quack about, surely we do, too.  Actually, Scott and Linda and I get asked quite often ask about where we learn and do research in order to stay ahead of the herd, so to speak. It’s hard to pin-down the who, what, and how of our own professional development, but I thought that by looking at the top blogs/publications we read might be a start.    

So here is our list of 19 top educational blogs and publications that we read and recommend to others:
  1. The Eighth Floor Blog:  Where did you think I would start?!?
  2. Learning is the Reward:  Linda shared this blog by local educator, Janice Airhart  I am a former medical technologist, research scientist, writer, and editor.  For the past six years I have taught Freshman Composition at the local community college and for the past five, I have taught pregnant and parenting teens.  Currently, in addition to continuing at the community college, I am teaching all science courses (four!), junior English, Desktop Publishing, and Creative Writing.  This means a lot of preparation time, but my schedule also gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in subjects that I enjoy.”
  3. Teaching Like it is 2999: “ Welcome to Ms. Magiera's Technology in Education Blog: Redefining The (digital) classroom” – another from Linda
  4. Classroom in the Cloud: Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t find an About Page on this blog – however, if Linda endorses it, so do I.
  5. Innovative Educator:  This is a blog all three of us read.  It has variety and relevance – two things I appreciate! Check this one out. It’s worth subscribing to.
  6. Teq Blog: Welcome to the Teq blog! Here you will find ideas, tips, and commentary on best practices related to interactive technologies and their integration into the curriculum. We hope you enjoy your time here and will become an active part of our learning community. The blog is written for educators, students, administrators, and anyone interested in learning how to infuse technology into their daily lives and practice.  We can thank Linda for this one, too.
  7. The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness:  More Linda!  Michael Zimmer is the author.  His goal is to share ed tech resources and discuss general education issues.
  8. Miss Lamb’s Website:  one of our part-time instructors, Kerry Wiley from Broken Arrow, recommends this site as a resource for upper level English teachers. This is a nice example of integrating both a website and a blog. This also uses a different kind of tool, called Weebly, instead of the typical Google Blogger or Wordpress site.
  9. Life Hacker:  tips, tricks, and technology for living better in the digital age. This one comes from Scott and has a definite Geek flavor to it. 
  10. Teaching Generation Text: Also from Scott.   These are stories from educators, parents, students, counselors and anyone using cell phones to enhance learning.
  11. Tech Teacher:  This one is from Shawn Beard from Sand Springs (formerly a full-time Eighth For instructor – still part-time) Thanks, Shawn, for being brave enough to share your own blog.  This site was designed by a teacher, for teachers. My goal is to provide meaningful discussion on topics related to technology and the classroom and reviews of iPad apps, classroom software, and Web 2.0 Tools. ~S. Beard  I would like to also add this to my list of recommendations.  Shawn always finds the best information.
  12. Problogger:  this is where my list starts.  This blog is a blog for the blogger.  You will find a variety of tips and tricks when it comes to writing and managing your own blog.  Lots of guest bloggers and a list of jobs for professional bloggers . . . fancy yourself one?
  13. Read. Write. Connect. Learn:  Will Richardson’s blog.  His focus is on teachers and classrooms in a Web 2.0 world.  I have been reading his blog since 2005.  I am intrigued by his perspective and that he takes the time to share his “big thinks.”  
  14. Free Technology for Teachers: by Richard Byrne.  The title kind of tells the story. This site is to share information about free resources that teachers can use in their classrooms. Although the primary focus is technology, that’s not all you get here.  After all, technology is not the only resource teachers need!
  15. Cool Cat Teacher:  by Vicki Davis.  This is a widely popular EdTech blog. I think I have been reading this blog about as long as I have Will Richardson’s – they started about the same time and were among the earlier adapters.
  16. Social Media Examiner:  Social Media Examiner, the world’s largest online social media magazine, is designed to help businesses discover how to best use social media tools like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with customers, generate more brand awareness and increase sales.”
  17. Edutopia:  The rest of these are not so much blogs as they are publications that help keep most educators up on the hot topics, etc.
  18. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT): The MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT) is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication addressing the scholarly use of multimedia resources in online higher education. JOLT is published quarterly in March, June, September, and December
  19. Education Week:  a deep and wide resource.  I participate regularly in their webinars.  Very topical.  “Editorial Projects in Education Is the independent, nonprofit publisher of Education Week and other high-quality print and online products on K-12 education. EPE's mission is to raise awareness and understanding of critical issues facing American schools. It is a 501(c)(3) organization”

It is harder than you think coming up with a list you would recommend to your peers.  The Eighth Floor Consortium is deep and wide – sixty-seven K-20 schools from all over eastern and middle Oklahoma. No worries, though.  There is something for everyone here.

 If you ask us in 3 months, some of these sites will have changed, for sure, but not as fast as technology changes.   

Why a list of 19?  Cuz that’s how we roll.

Just sharin’
Lee Anne