EdTech Women EduWins Group

Nurturing Authentic Voices

EdTechWomen Austin Planning Session & Pizza

When our EdTechWomen Austin chapter organizers sat down (and by sat down I mean opened our Google Hangout Chat window) to discuss plans for an event at TCEA we all aligned on one point. We wanted to provide opportunities to raise up authentic voices of females and their supporters. We hoped to provide a safe, laid-back environment for women to come together and share the ways they were trying to innovate, ideas they had, their EduWins, and the lessons they were learning along the way.

EdTech Women EduWins Group

Part by design and part by necessity we kept it really simple and each speaker shared a little glimpse into what was going on in their world:

  1. Emily Weerts used the time to practice her pitch deck for Nucleus Learning Network, an organization she co-founded which is focused on connecting, educators, learners and mentors by facilitating sustainable partnerships that will result in high-quality educational experiences. She shared about the ways in which the Nucleus Network is coordinating Affinity Groups where people working on similar issues can connect to enhance cooperation in order to develop and achieve shared goals. The Nucleus Network is also coordinating the Maker Education Village this year at the Austin Mini Maker Faire.Students Working Ann Richards School
  2. Kat Sauter & Ana Jo shared about their journey to develop a MakerSpace at the Ann Richards School and the lessons they learned along the way. They shared how the space is already impacting student learning and providing opportunities for innovative experiences. We especially loved this picture of girls working with power tools to create. For others interested in creating a MakerSpace, their advice was to start by identifying the current resources such as: space, funding, and experts. You can learn more about their innovative space and projects on these two sites: www.arsdesignlab.com & www.projectventura.wordpress.comChallenging Perceptions in STEAM
  3. Jennifer Flood shared about her brainchild event Challenging Perceptions which was initiated last spring to do just that, challenge the perceptions young girls had about the STEAM fields and opportunities through hands on activities, conversations with mentors, and facilitated reflection. The event took place in Bastrop in hopes of providing opportunities for girls on the East Side of Austin to participate, an area Flood feels is often underserved. EdTechWomen Austin plans to support the event again this year and is looking for volunteers and mentors to help make the day a success. Sign up to help here! SXSWEdu even did a piece about last year’s event.
  4. Marcia Hensley: discussed some of the creative possibilities when webtools and extensions are combined in the classroom in her presentation Combined Creativity. Marcia asked the group to talk about how their students create unique learning artifacts with various tools and shared about the power of infographics to encourage student thinking and demonstrate information in a new way.Young Women Who Code
  5. Janet Couvillion: Janet’s energy and passion for her new organization Young Women Who Code was contagious. The organization is committed to providing opportunities for young women, aged 5-12, to learn the fundamentals of computer science. Young Women will experience various plugged and unplugged coding exercises, in addition to having access to a mobile maker space. Janet shared about her journey into the world of technology and her heart for encouraging young women to explore the possibilities of creation with code.
  6. Cori Coburn: I am pretty sure Cori inspired everyone with her talk “On the Move”. She shared about her reignited passion to learn and grow and how this mindset has transformed her life and career. She even received her most recent job opportunity via Twitter! Her advice to the rest of us? Remember your roots and why you do what you do. Establish relationships. Be connected. Jump at opportunities to improve yourself. She is a true embodiment of someone who takes her own advice and I could listen to her stories all day.Heather Russell STEAM night
  7. Heather Russell: motivated others to take the plunge and host a STEAM Night. Heather gave us some ideas and tips from her experience of planning and hosting a STEAM night in her district. She shared stories of parents and students playing and learning together as they explored different materials, activities, and concepts. Her stories and advice definitely had brains marinating on the possibilities back in our own districts and communities.
  8. Karla Koop: shared how she is retiring from her many years in public education in order to pursue her vision to take Maker Spaces to the masses. Her new company, MaKr U will provide MakerCamp opportunities for all ages including DIY spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn. They will provide equipment such as 3D printers, software, electronics, craft and hardware supplies in the experience.
  9. Christy Fennewald: shared about the incredible group of students she works with in her Girls Who Code club. These girls constantly blow Christy’s mind with their desire to innovate, create, organize themselves, and make a difference. You can see more at the Westwood Girls Who Code club site. The girls are currently seeking more female instructors and speakers in the industry. Contact Christy if you’re interested.ACC Space
  10. Stacey Guney: shared how the Austin Community College gave new life to the Highland Mall with the largest installation of edtech in the country. She gave us a behind the scenes glimpse of the project and transformation. One new program made possible by the space is called the ACCelerator, which is already having a positive impact providing flexibility and differentiated opportunities for students working to further their education amidst the demands of work and family.

Thank you to all these incredible women and everyone who took part in the event. We look forward to future opportunities to nurture authentic voices, come together, and push one another towards greater innovations and impact.

Picture of a Path with Text "The 20 Mile March"

The 20 Mile March Part I

Picture of a Path with Text "The 20 Mile March"

Great By Choice

Great by Choice, by Jim Collins, delves into the question: What does it take for a company to thrive in times of uncertainty and chaos? The book got me thinking about a lot of things (he is good at that). One key concept Collins introduced continues to gnaw at me, even months later. I see it at play seemingly everywhere–the idea of the 20 mile march.

More Than A Philosophy

The 20 mile march is about “fanatic discipline” as Collins refers to it. It is about getting up every day and taking the little, non-exciting, but very necessary, steps towards attainable goals. It is about doing so with fierce consistency and unwavering determination. Collins explains, “the 20 Mile March is more than a philosophy. It is about having concrete, clear, intelligent, and rigorously pursued performance mechanisms that keep you on track.”

Picture of explorers trekking across the snowy mountains.

Amundsen & Scott

One of the stories Collins uses to model the elements of the 20 mile march is that of Roald Amundsen & Robert Falcon Scott and their contrasting journeys in 1910 to be the first to reach the South Pole. Amundsen and his team trekked between 15-20 miles each day no matter the conditions. When Amundsen’s team encouraged him to go further on days when weather was ideal, Amundsen would say no, knowing the importance of rest and recuperation for the team and the overall journey. In contrast, Scott pushed his team to the brink of exhaustion (and eventually over the edge) going farther on days when conditions were good and wallowing in his tent on stormy days, complaining in his journal about their misfortunes. The story details and comparison are quite incredible. If you want to read more, here are a couple places suggested to me by others:

Canva Graphic The secret is. There is no secret. Do it.

20 Miles Not Just For Business

As I read about Amundsen & Scott, I kept thinking about all the ways the story applied, not only to the business world, but to my pursuit of goals in edtech, education, writing, learning, exercising, eating well, relationships, and a whole bunch of other stuff. In each case I was still searching for an easy button, a shortcut, the secret–to make it all work. Well, here is the secret–there is no secret. All those things we seek to improve, from our classroom culture and technology integration practices to our exercise consistency and depth of relationships, they are all going to take a commitment to 20 mile marching. Things that are worthwhile take a while.

The Next Questions

Once I came to terms with the myth of the shortcut, the next logical question became: How could I plan and execute a 20 mile march to make it to my equivalent of the South Pole(s)? And secondly: How could I help educators make it to their South Pole(s)? Lucky for me, Collins specifically outlines 7 elements to the 20 mile march that I found strikingly applicable to educational goals. I think this post is long enough for now… so, I’ll going to stop here and pick up next time with the 7 elements.

Make & Do

When I was a child I had one of those sets of children’s encyclopedias. My colorful set had 15 different books, from World & Space and Places to Know, to Stories & Poems and About Me–there was much to explore. However, the pages of one were significantly more worn and tattered than the rest. There was always one missing on the shelf, tucked away in my backpack, covered in paper-mache as I attempted to read the instructions on creating my own piñata or tossed in the grass, open to the page with design plans on constructing a backyard fortress.

Make and Do.

There was something motivating about this book. Simple ideas for a craft or project with pictures and step by step instructions. Then you just make and/or do it! It was broken down, manageable, inspiring. When you looked at the beautiful finished piñata, the colorful materials and seemingly easy steps you thought to yourself–I can do that! And then you did.

The cooking industry has adopted the same philosophy.  Ree Drumound aka the Pioneer Woman went from homeschooling mom to blog & now Food Network sensation by taking true step by step pictures of a recipe that were artistic, authentic & enticing. The pictures provide a helpful guide so I can see what blanching green beans actually looks like and I can know right at my point of failure if my Three Cheese Macaroni doesn’t emulate hers.

Now, of course you can learn to do just about anything online from how to get soft, wavy curls like Lauren Conrad to how to have creative ideas.

What does all this have to do with iPads, tablets and the edtech tools, apps and resources that can make them so potent? Well, when I visit schools and work with educators I constantly see, hear & feel the need for TIME to explore these edtech tools; time to make connections between the content/curriculum and the possibilities for implementation. Yet, in many PD sessions and even innovative conferences I see presenters and trainers trying to disseminate so much information, so many different apps to try, web 2.0 tools to share… that we miss the chance to Make & Do something with that time.

I know it’s hard and I am absolutely guilty of this myself as a deliverer of professional development. I know there are logistical challenges & what ifs that abound: what if the internet doesn’t work right, what if the tool doesn’t work right even though I tried it a thousand times, what if some people don’t get it and I spend so much time trying to help them I can’t get to all my cool tools, what if I don’t tell them enough???

I get it…I do… But I think we need to really consider the need for changing the PD model and providing meaningful time for participants to explore and actually create something with the edtech tools we espouse. We often discuss the need for the teacher to become more of a facilitator in the classroom: Let’s model it in our PD sessions and presentations.

So, here are some areas I am going to try and focus on as I create new PD opportunities for the districts I work with.

10 Strategies for EdTech Make & Do PD

1. Give Time

Give educators time (lots of it) to create meaningful products and/or fully test and explore edtech tools.

2. Full experience

Allow educators to fully experience the tool just as students would. Create a sample lesson, use the tool throughout session if applicable, have willing participants demonstrate and be their sample student. See a perfect example of the power of getting into character in this video of Tammy Worcester and Kevin Honeycutt imitating student and teacher at ISTE 2012– captured by the incredible app curator (and much more) Lisa Johnson of TechChef4u.

3. Provide Resources

Provide step by step instructions, with pictures and notes if possible. Create an iBook with resources and instructions  Well designed resources to refer back to will increase the ease of implementing in their own classrooms. (Snapguides, Symbaloo, EdCanvas, Listly, iBooks)

4. Integration Ideas

Make connections for possible integration ideas for these tools. A short list could be included in resources as a springboard for their own ideas. Add educator feedback and ideas from sessions to future sessions, citing teacher who provided the feedback.

5. Authentic Examples

When possible, find real examples of ways the edtech tool is being used in the classroom and share. (Twitter, blogs, your PLN)

6.  Make it their own

Provide opportunities and spaces for participants to make their own connections and customize the session for their own needs. Provide resources to take their own notes, make their own graphic organizer, construct a list of resources they want to try, create a list of goals to complete following session, etc. (Popplet, Wallwisher, EdCanvas, Listly)

7. Connect with Peers

Allow open communication and encourage participation not only between you and participants but between participants. I often learn just as much, if not more, from the fellow participants at Edtech conferences who are willing to connect with me. Use a backchannel like TodaysMeet to post twitter names or hashtags to follow or blog links to store for later and read each other’s work. Add to your PLN throughout the session. (Twitter, TodaysMeet, Collaborative tools)

8. Share & Publish

Share products created in sessions, even if they aren’t complete. Create opportunities to publish then or later amongst the group and highlight educators making it happen! (Blogs, Wikis, Pinterest, almost anywhere)

9. Model best practices

Training on the flipped classroom? Try it out. Training on Brain Research Based teaching or Effective Questioning Strategies….use appropriate wait time and other strategies you are teaching.

10. Play (A.K.A. Disguised Learning)

Teaching is hard. Let them play and enjoy the time. Explore edtech tools in low pressure, fun environments.  Play bingo or other games with relevant themes or integrated learning opportunities. Imagine if our teachers looked forward to our PD opportunities! (Classtools.net– random name picker for prizes, Bingo Baker for iPad/electronic bingo,  Blabberize, Sock Puppets, etc).

Hoping to provide helpful resources for educators as I grow and learn from those around me!


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