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An End N-1: Making Way for New Beginnings

In 2010 @thenerdyteacher asked if I would be interested in starting a collaborative online magazine with him.  Of course I said yes!  Project PLN was born.  The passion behind Project PLN was to reach out to the education network and give everyone a voice.  Nick and I can be rather prolific and enjoy keeping a blog and keeping up a constant chatter on Twitter, but that isn’t for everyone.  We knew that there was this whole section of our PLN that had incredible ideas, amazing insight into education, but it wasn’t being shared widely.  Project PLN was our attempt to provide a place for all of those voices to be heard.  We wanted to help bring our PLN together, to introduce new voices and to solidify relationships. N-1 is a concept that I read about on Seth’s Blog.  Seth says: N-1. There are tons of things on your to do list, in your portfolio, on your desk.  They clamor for attention and so perhaps you compromise things to get them all done.  What would happen if you did one fewer thing?  What if leaving that off the agenda allowed you to do a world-class job on the rest?  What if you repeated N-1 thinking until you found a breakthrough? I am a perfectionist with a pinch of OCD thrown in for good measure.  When I do something I go at it full speed ahead 110%.  The problem is lately, I can’t give 110% to everything that I would like to because I am always adding one more thing (N+1).  These things are good things, they are worthy things, important things.  I feel that way about each one of them or I wouldn’t have taken them on in the first place.  But lately I am finding that I am giving each less than what they deserve and not feeling a sense of accomplishment in any of them as a result.  I think this is a common feeling among teachers.  We always tend to be functioning in the N+1 model.  We give everything the best we’ve got and often feel stretched too thin. After two years Nick and I are in new places.  We have LOVED Project PLN, even when we were at our busiest.  Over the last two years schools have been started, families expanded, new job titles added, speaking engagements, the list goes on and on.  It is time for us to employ N-1.  This is a difficult concept for us.  We are project adders…not project eliminators.  And yet, Project PLN’s time is coming to an end.  It has accomplished the purpose that we set out for it.  It connected our PLN when it needed to be connected.  With the increased use of social media and blogs, we aren’t seeing the need for it that we once did.  It is time for us to let go of one so that we have room for others.  Both Nick and I are sad to see Project PLN end.  It has kept us working together month after month.  It has given us a reason to plan after school Skype sessions.  It has been FUN.  It is our hope that in letting Project PLN go, we will have room for the next BIG thing that we can work on together.  (Stay tuned, we are always dreaming up crazy great ideas together!) I suspect that this isn’t really an end, that it will be a beginning.  Now we have ourselves freed up for the next dream. Thank you to all of you who supported us in Project PLN.  Thank you for contributing, for sharing yourself with us. We hope that this will be multiplied in new ways.  Hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, our blogs.  Keep sharing your good ideas because YOU are an inspiration and YOU matter!  

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1-to-1 iPad ePortfolio solution

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Blogs, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 11-10-2011

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Today @j_allen asked how we handled eportfolio’s at Anastasis Academy.  The 140 characters of Twitter felt a little too limiting to explain the hows and whys of what we do…bring on the blog post!

Anastasis has a one-to-one iPad program.  Our students own their iPads in a modified BYOD (bring your own device) setup.  I say modified because we requested what device they brought.  The iPad was the ONLY supply on our supply list. Anastasis supplies all other materials (pencils, papers, crayons, markers, paint, glue, etc.).  This has been a fantastic setup for us.  Families are in charge of keeping the iPads in working order, synced with the student iTunes account and charged for class.  We made the decision not to own the iPads as a school to keep costs low for technical support, replacement of broken or out-dated devices and so that our students could take ownership over their own devices.  Students can add any apps to the iPad at home using their own iTunes account.  As a school, we purchase curricular and productivity apps for students.  Students download these apps using redeem codes so that they can stay signed into their own iTunes account.

Anastasis has 60 students in 1st through 8th grade.  At the beginning of the school year, we sent home a list of recommended restrictions for parents to set up on student iPads.  We taught families how to enable parent restrictions on the Internet, movie/app/song ratings, and how to block in app purchases.  We asked all parents to restrict student access to Safari.  At school, we downloaded the MobiCip app to every iPad so that we could filter the Internet.  MobiCip allows us to set up broad category filters based on age. A premium MobiCip account lets us filter exactly what we want to and allow those sites we want to.  (For those who are wondering our students do have access to YouTube.) :)

I digress…the question was about ePortfolios.

We use a combination of Evernote, Edu 2.0 and Edublogs to keep and share our work.  Evernote has been a fantastic app for our students.  Students can record text, images, and audio directly in Evernote.  Each note can be emailed to teachers and parents.  A link can also be generated for each note making them easy to share on blogs.  Better yet? There are SO many apps that have the ability to share with Evernote.  Very handy.  Students do quite a bit of writing directly in Evernote.  This is a good place for all of student writing (even those pieces they don’t want to, or aren’t ready to, share).  Evernote makes it easy to organize all of their notes into notebooks (the learning curve here is teaching students to use some organization).  The ability to record audio and take pictures of their work in Evernote is great.  This means that students can capture learning that isn’t natively digital-digitally.  All of those awesome inquiry projects that they construct and build can be captured and reflected on in Evernote.  Another HUGE benefit to the Evernote/iPad combo: it goes with them everywhere.  Recording learning on a field trip? Check. Recording learning at home? Check. Recording learning on the fly? Check. Teachers often send students a PDF instructions for an assignment or a picture to the student’s Evernote account. Parents can login to their child’s Evernote account from any computer or iDevice to see what they are working on.

Edu 2.0 is our education portal.  In Edu 2.0 we can share things as a school community.  Edu 2.0 has a built in e-portfolio (we don’t often use this), a blog, a post feed, calendar, and message system.  Edu 2.0 makes it easy for us to stay connected as a school community.  Because we teach young students, this “walled” community is a safe place for students to share any, and all, of their work and thoughts.  Students often write blog posts in Edu 2.0 about their learning.  Other students, parents and teachers can comment on the Edu 2.0 blog posts.  Teachers use Edu 2.0 to send students assignments, make class announcements and communicate quickly with parents in their classroom.  Students can link any content from their Evernote account to their blog in Edu 2.0 to share it with other students, parents or teachers.  The school calendar is updated with all birthdays, learning excursions and school events so that students, parents and teachers are always up-to-date.  The live post feed makes it easy for teachers and administration to make school-wide announcements.  This feed shows up on the home page of every student, parent and teacher.

Each of our teachers has a class Edublog.  This is where the teachers write blog posts about the happenings in their classrooms.  Students can also contribute to the class blogs to get input and comments from a global audience.  The Edublog is the place for interaction and collaboration with the world.

We have a school YouTube account where students can upload videos and stop motion animations.  The school account has become a nice central place for students to share their work with the world.  I act as administrator on the YouTube channel so that I can moderate comments and videos.  Students can easily link to, or embed, videos they have created in Evernote, on their Edu 2.0 blog or on Edublogs.

This combination of tools has worked well as an ePortfolio for student work. I love that at the end of the school year students have ALL of their work with them.  Because they own their iPads, the Evernote content goes with them.  Even without the iPad, students can access their Evernote account from anywhere and continue using it.

Do you have a one to one program?  I would love to hear your solutions for an ePortfolio!

Comments (12)

I’ve nominated your blog for an award! Visit the link below to copy/paste the Blog on Fire button. Share seven things about yourself and pass the award along to some “hot” blogs you follow. Congrats and Happy October!

http://primaryteachingresources.blogspot.com/2011/10/blog-on-fire.html

I love your choice of tools. I think those are right on. But, I go back to a discussion we had early on – if someone walks into Anastasis and says “Can I see an ePorfolio?” do you bring up each site? I’d love to have one site where all of the collected info is organized. Easy to access and decipher by someone who does not interact with the kids on a daily basis. Ideally, a Google Site. But editable on the iPad and still filtered. I was told today by our staff to just build it.
I really appreciate the time you put in for this blog post. I love getting little peeks into Anastasis. Thank you!

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How do students publish videos to the school’s YouTube account? Do you share the password with the students?

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Barry, when students want to publish a video, they must bring the video to the teacher who inputs the password for the school account.

Josh, you are so right. There is no one tool that will do it all…hence my creation of the Learning Genome that will do ALL that we need it to do in one :) Until then, this solution is working well. We could show the kids Evernote account and get nearly everything in!

Thank you! I’m honored ;)

Hello, I would love to use Evernote with my students, but they are only third graders – obviously they don’t meet the age requirement of 13! Do you know of other e-portfolios tools like Evernote that younger students can use? Thanks so much!

We sign our kids up for Evernote and connect it with parent account and parent sign-off. This works well for us! I don’t know of one tool that does everything that Evernote does in one. I have use think.com with young students for this purpose.

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