Day of Silence

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 11.39.53 PMTomorrow (twenty-nine minutes from now) is the Day of Silence. It is the 19th in which GLSEN, the LGBTQ allied organization working for equitable and safe environments of learning for all youth, has had a big part in. With 8 of 10 LGBTQ students being harassed due to their orientation each year I always saw the value in this expression but was unable to take part for various reasons.

This year, for the first time ever, I am planning to take on the full experience. In (now 25 minutes) I will stop posting to my social media and allow automated posts share some images and links related to LGBTQ accomplishments over the last year. I will put my phone on airplane mode. During class I will listen attentively but will not be expressing myself. This will be tough as I love discourse and socialization. It feeds me. During the day I plan to silent vlog and compose a video reflection at the end. In a strange merger of my personal and professional life I am sharing the YouTube video I posted explaining this just fifteen minutes ago.

With twenty-minutes to go, see you on the other side of Friday!

 

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Student WordPress Documentation of FlowLab.io Designs

The other day I was talking with an educator interested in using FlowLab.io with their fourth grade game design introduction. Fully supporting this, and knowing their students used WordPress in order to document their studies, I put together a quick tutorial walking students through embedding their games on their blogs. If you have suggestions for improving this tutorial be sure to comment!

I always appreciate when a company makes embedding easy and FlowLab does a great jobs of this.

 

You can see the embed code at the bottom.

You can see the embed code at the bottom.

As you can see, the game above was built at a square. I copied the code directly from FlowLab’s embed code. as pictured. After copying the code, head on over to your WordPress site.

Create a new post!

Create a new post!

First off, after logging into your WordPress blog, create a new post.

Your new post should appear as below. Make sure to title the post first so that you can find it easily if you have to interrupt the posts due to the bell ringing or some other interruption!

New Post Edit Screen

Tabs for visual editing versus text editing.Once you have your new post look for the tabs in the upper right corner. On says visual and the other says text. Click on the text tab. You cannot paste embed code in the visual editor. If you are learning how to use HTML you can really refine the look and feel of your posts using the text tab.

Note that this tab does not have the same what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) tools as the visual editing tab. If you are uncomfortable editing in HTML you can go back to the visual editor after pasting the embed code. The game will not appear normally in the visual editor, be sure to preview your post several times!
Picture of the text editing tools
Image of the embed code in the text editor.Paste the embed code from FlowLab as shown to the right. You can further edit the embed code to center the game on your post, change the width and height, and increase the frame. Play around with these settings in text editing and visual editing. Experiment!

If you enjoyed embedding your FlowLab.io game into your blog, try experimenting with other embeddable objects – like YouTube Videos!

Explore Social Media – Non-Educationally

Thinking in text today.Recently I have begun encouraging my students and consultancy to explore social media tools for fun. To use them for the same purposes they imagine their students using social media. One of the major benefits of this exercise is that folks tend to delve more deeply into the features of a tool. Already I am hearing back from individuals about affordances that they did not realize were available. Youtube is a prime example. Now that I have a few students using it socially they are seeing how they might leverage a simple YouTube channel and Google Plus page as their entire portfolio. Sure there are more sophisticated and professional ways to package this material but at this point they are still developing the content. That is another thing, content developed in one form of media can often be easily converted and shared in another format.

I think this all goes back to one of my main tenants regarding using technology. Technology education must be approached with a playful mindset. If the goal is all business you miss the frivolous yet revolutionary possibilities.

Meta-Emotional Response to Writing

Writing Black BooksWriting offers two contradictory experiences for me personally. On the one hand I find the act meditative and interesting. At the end I have a product of some value, even if only personally. On the other flip of the coin writing requires time and space. Not space in terms of mono-tasking; I can listen to music or workout on a stationary bicycle while writing. It takes up time and space in terms of setting aside the hour of my day that I need in order to accomplish the writing experience.

Students have a variety of experience with regards to writing as well. They vary to great extent and may have equal parts negative and positive associations. As a teacher I need to find ways to help draw out the positive associations while helping students find personalized ways to mineralize the detractions caused by their negative associations.

Perhaps I can start the process with students by sharing my own polarized views of writing and how I cope with them.

Google Apps Qualified Trainer!

GoogleApps

One of my favorite tools for collaboration resides in the massive online giant called Google. Tonight I finally finished taking (and passing) the six exams required to call oneself a “Google Apps for Education Qualified Trainer.”

Even if you have no plans to use a certification of this sort – if your school uses Google Apps for Education taking these exams really forces you to think about and explore the power of these tools. As I took the exams this time I thought of new ways to engage students with immediate feedback using forms, quick ways to simplify my QR codes using a function in spreadsheets, and interesting collaborative research projects using docs and presentations. Definitely worth the time though the $90 might be a bit steep when you can just force yourself to review the modules on your own. (I tend to do better at reviewing the modules after I have paid for the exams for some reason).

The next step is to achieve certified trainer status. To this end I am working hard to provide training and support to educators out in the field and coming up with the other required items for this status.

Geek vs Non-Geek: A Chart

Chart humorously showing how geeks will invest time at one point and then exceed a normal person in free time after creating a script.

At first I cheered…and then I became critical.

At first I cheered this graphic. It is entertaining and mostly true. Then I began to have doubts about the chart and what it was representing and found my doubts echoed in recent comments.

  • While it is true that a geek will invest a significant amount of time into developing a way to reduce the size of a task – typically we end up sharing this tool with a non-geek and it ends up becoming a win-win.
  • Also – time should be on the x-axis. I just finished warning my students off writing time on the y-axis so this bugs me a bit.
  • The above solves my other issue where it seems like once the geek runs the script time stops. I am not sure I have met a geek yet that could resist tweaking something that worked well. Tinkering is part of the geek manifesto – right?

Sadness and Math

The Reason for the Post

Today I ran across the picture on the right and had a moment of sadness and irritation at the caption that headed it, “I Fear for Our School System.” Then I shared the math problem with a couple of people at the coffee shop and ended up in a frustrating conversation where they debated the validity of PEMDAS or BEMDAS when there are no brackets.

Screaming and ranting occurred during this section of this post – please be advised that nothing was broken and no coffee patrons were seriously injured.

For those of you who would like to go through the math:

PEMDAS aka BEMDAS

Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction

So in a case of 10 + 10 x 0 = ?

What do you do first according to PEMDAS?

There are no Parentheses, no Exponents, but ah! multiplication! Something that seemed to happen in the discussion threads about this problem was that they thought “No parentheses means no PEMDAS.” Heads up world! It is used regardless.

[notice]So the first step looks at 10 x 0.[/notice]

10 x 0 = 0 right?

Just to be clear:

[notice]10 + 10 x 0 = ?                       10 + 0 = ?[/notice]

Alright. Last step according to PEMDAS? No division but there is a bit of addition. No subtraction either so we finish off with the addition for our answer.

[important]10 + 0 = 10[/important]

Now why so fired up about this? The discussion threads that followed this question were completely insane! People were adamant that the answer was 0 or 10 or 20. They became angry with each other as well. There was name calling! Sheesh! Alright – one thing social media has done for us is create consensus building – lets use it rather than allow it to divide us – especially with a math process that anyone could google.