Go Naked for Education

I take on a lot. Depending on who you ask, probably too much. But when I’m passionate about something, it doesn’t feel like one more thing because it feeds my soul in some way. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the Anastasis alumni girls…really young women now. And I worried about them. I thought about what it was like to be that age and the true awkwardness that I felt. I thought about how often I felt ugly and like I just wasn’t enough. I wrote a post for them in my mind (which I WILL write), but this is not that post. It is just a reminder to me about why I am passionate about this one more thing that I added to my plate.

Rodan +Fields reminds me of what beauty is, and it has the added benefit of giving me great skin that makes me feel confident. That is why I took on one more thing. But then, this one more thing got even better, because my passions are colliding!

Rodan + Fields is hosting a #RFGoNaked Day next Friday, July 25, 2014. This is particularly exciting because just by participating (which is totally FREE) Rodan + Fields will make a $1 donation to empower and educate students in need. Passions colliding! The goal is to raise $30,000 to build a school. Of course, I am beyond excited to support that cause!

It gets better, next Thursday July 24, 2014 I am hosting a kick off Virtual Party. YOU ARE INVITED! ūüôā

This is going to be fun, like girl talk (men, you can come too) and a spa day rolled into one. Rodan and Fields has transformed¬†my skin. I mean seriously,¬†my Bobbi Brown concealer and foundation have dust on them. DUST. I don’t use them at all since I started using Rodan and Fields skin care. I love that I can go makeup free (Note: I am wearing eye makeup in the photo below) and feel confident that my skin is going to look and feel great (this is the idea behind the #RFGoNaked Day). Everyone should love their skin, it goes with you everywhere! Next Thursday, July 24, I’m hosing a virtual party where you can learn more about how to keep your skin looking and feeling amazing. In addition to learning more about how you can love your skin,¬†I’ll have a give away of my very favorite R+F product and we will get ready to “Go Naked” for education!RF Virtual PartyWhen:¬†Thursday, July 24, 2014

Time: 10:00 am MST

Where: From the comfort of your home!

RSVP: You MUST RSVP to be included in this virtual party. It is really easy, just click here and tell me where to send your invitation link.   You do NOT want to miss this!

Then on Friday, July 25, 2014 you can join us in celebrating #RFGoNaked Day and show off your skin for a great cause. Every time a no-makeup selfie is posted on 7.25.2014 using the hashtag #RFGoNaked, Rodan + Fields will make a $1 donation to empower and educate students in need. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!

Details for how to participate are in the flier below:

#RFGoNaked for education

The Making of the Learning Genome Project

So many of you have offered tremendous support, donations and a megaphone to spread the word about the Learning Genome Project. ¬†I am so grateful! ¬†Today I thought I would lift the curtain just a bit and share a behind the scenes look at the Learning Genome Project. ¬†My plan was to do this in video form using Screenium or Screeny. Those plans were foiled when NEITHER worked even with updates. ¬†#sigh ¬†Instead, I’ll write out my story and take you on a picture journey of how it all took place. ¬†If you haven’t had a chance to lend a helping hand, it is not too late. ¬†Honestly, even $1 makes such a BIG difference! ¬†If everyone of my readers gave just $1, this would be taken care of tonight and we would be able to start the next phase of development. Click here to help out now!

I come from a family of entrepreneurs. ¬†If it doesn’t exist or it can be done better, that is what you do. ¬†This mind-set can be a bit of a curse…once I get an idea in my head, it is like a broken record that plays over and over until I do something about it. ¬†My dad is prime example of this, he started Koostik with a styrofoam cup and an iPhone. Once the idea was there, it stayed until he saw it realized…in this case that means a growing company and product in Restoration Hardware and Red Envelope. ¬†He is awesome.

For me this process started as I dug through curriculum and worked to supplement it with technology tools. ¬†The idea was to “fill” the gaps with technology tools that would make the curriculum work better for students. ¬†As I went through publisher after publisher, I started realizing that the problem wasn’t a lack of technology (if you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know that is a BIG realization for me). The real problem was that we were trying to address the needs of an incredibly diverse population of kids with a one-size-fits-all curriculum. ¬†The troubling thing for me was that I sat on the committees that made the curriculum decisions. ¬†I was sold (just like everyone else) on the premise that these curricula had “differentiated” instruction. ¬†I have come to hate that term. ¬†You know what it means? ¬†It means that curriculum companies can sell more curriculum because they add in a highlighted section that says “differentiation!” and gives a one-size bigger or one-size smaller approach to the exact same problem. ¬†As I went through all of this curriculum, I couldn’t shake the feeling that adding in a bit of technology wasn’t going to solve the problem.

As a computer teacher, I taught 435 students every week. ¬†I taught the same 435 kids for 6 years. ¬†I saw them grow up, learned what made them tick, watched the frustration grow when they didn’t understand a learning objective. ¬†These kids were amazing. They were brilliant. They all had strengths and weaknesses that made them special. They all have a different understanding and approach to the world. ¬†We were stripping all of that uniqueness away and making them learn everything the same. We were expecting that they would learn the same things, the same way, and at the same time. ¬†Ludicrous! Nothing in life or growth and development happens this way, and yet that is what our education system is built on? ¬†This was really troubling for me. ¬†I couldn’t shake that it shouldn’t be that way.

In 2010 I took a year away from teaching for health reasons. ¬†During that year, I acted as an educational consultant for many area schools. ¬†This period of time re-emphasized those stirrings that I was having about education. This curriculum wasn’t working because it assumed too much sameness. I saw brilliant, gifted kids losing their passions because it wouldn’t get them into the swanky private high school (that looked just like every other school). How sad that we ask kids to give up their areas of gifting to get to the next level of learning. ¬†Something is wrong! ¬†One day I was working my way through curriculum, supplementing the holes with technology tools. ¬†I was listening to Pandora Internet radio. ¬†A song came on that I had never heard before, by an artist that was also new to me. ¬†I frantically searched for something to write on so that I could remember this new find. ¬†I remember thinking, “how amazing that we have come to a place in history where we can use technology to predict something as personal as music.” ¬†I was truly amazed that I could put in one piece of information and through a series of algorithms, Pandora could predict other music I would like. ¬†If it can work with music, surely it could work with curriculum.

This was the birth of that niggling thought that wouldn’t go away. ¬†This was the beginning of the Learning Genome Project. ¬†I had recently been introduced to a programmer (@ianchia) through @Doremigirl on Twitter. ¬†Ian and I had shared many conversations about what education apps could look like. ¬†This time it was my turn to ask a question. ¬†I wanted to know if it was possible to program what was in my head. ¬†“Well of course.” ¬†Ian introduced me to some wireframing tools and I was off and running. ¬†Over the next months, I dreamed up how the Learning Genome would work. ¬†I thought about the students that I wanted something better for. I thought about the frustrations I had as a teacher. I dreamed about a tool that would make the whole process easier.

Teachers share something in common: we all want the very best for our students. ¬†There are a few problems with this. ¬†First, we don’t always get to choose what we will teach. Many times our school or district hands us the curriculum and says, “go.” ¬†This is not conducive to doing the best we know how for every child. ¬†Second, we don’t always know that their is a tool/lesson/resource out there that could make all the difference for each student. ¬†Third, we have a limited time to search for that perfect tool/lesson/resource. ¬†A lot of system problems to overcome. ¬†If Pandora can do this for music, I can do it for education.

I started researching how Pandora works, what happens in the background that makes my experience possible? ¬†Pandora is called the Music Genome Project because it used the Human Genome Project as its inspiration. ¬†In the Human Genome Project, genes are mapped out. ¬†In the Music Genome Project, the “genes” of music are mapped out. ¬†I called my version the Learning Genome Project. ¬†Together, we will map the genes of education, those attributes that help us find commonalities that match the right content to each student at the right time.

First, we need to collect information about the learner. If we don’t know the learner, we can’t know what content best fits their needs. ¬†This is, in short, the best student information system ever.

Next, we have to know enough about the school and the classroom to make recommendations. It does us no good to recommend an iDevice app if the school has no access to that device.

We also have to know something about the lead learner (the teacher).

After we have the profile information, it is critical to know where students are in their learning. What needs to be learned? ¬†This is the individualized learning plan…each student has one.

 

From within the ILP, teachers, students and parents can create and have input on the learning goals.  These learning goals inform what happens in the hub of the genome.

When the learning goal has been identified, the genome “hub” comes into play. This is where resources (lessons, videos, apps, experiments, activities, etc.) are matched and recommended for the student. ¬†Much like Pandora, a learning channel is created.

Teachers (and students) can expand the results to view more information about the recommendation.  From here it can be added to teacher and student planners, and materials for the curriculum can be selected.

Teachers can see all student assignments within their planner. Here they can create groups for overlaps of student learning.  They can also create whole-class events.

After a student completes an activity, they record it within their ePortfolio. ¬†This is all completely integrated. ¬†Within the portfolio they can keep notes, documents, pictures, video and badges. ¬†Badges help students have a bread trail of where they have been in their learning. ¬†Portfolio’s are forever associated with a student, from year to year it travels and grows with them. ¬†Students can also have the option of downloading their portfolio for offline viewing.

In addition to portfolios and planners, the Learning Genome Project includes wiki, blog and photo tools.

Community tools keep students, teachers and parents in collaboration.

My brother and I had many of the same teachers growing up. ¬†We are very different people with 5 years separating us. ¬†My favorite teachers were not his. ¬†We had very similar experiences, the same outstanding teachers. But some teachers connected better with me than him. ¬†How do we help every child have influence of a “favorite” teacher? ¬†I created Twitacad. ¬†Even if that teacher isn’t in the child’s school, there is a blended learning component that makes that connection possible.

Twitacad offers teachers and students a platform for sharing, communicating, and learning.  It is all tied in to the Learning Genome. Everything works together.  Virtual teachers are listed as teachers for parents, students and other teachers to interact with.

The Learning Genome Project has assessment tools built in.  Assessment is based on mastery of a skill or concept.  This is directly related to what is happening in the student portfolio so that students, teachers and parents can view evidences of the learning.

How does content, resources, tools, lessons, apps, videos, etc. get into the genome?  It gets tagged with its learning attributes by incredible teachers around the world like you.  We all contribute to this project and we all benefit from it.

The hub (resource aggregation) portion of the Genome is free to everyone.  Every child deserves an education tailored to them.  Additional portions of the Learning Genome Project (planners, ePortfolios, blogs, wikis, Twitacad) will be a subscription based service.

The Learning Genome Project is not curriculum. ¬†It is a sorting tool that pulls the best options for every child. ¬†Teachers will be able to sort results based on price, Bloom’s Taxonomy level, standard, subject, and type of resource. ¬†This will tell you what curricular resources will best meet every child’s needs. ¬†Every time a resource is used, it gets rated by both student and teacher. Resources that are highest rated will be recommended first.

This is truly a quick overview of the Learning Genome project. ¬†There are so many intricacies and features that will make it revolutionary to education. ¬†The one hang up? I need help funding it! ¬†Sure, I could go and get some venture capitalists to fund it. The problem: I want the force that drives what happens to the Learning Genome Project to be what is best for kids…not what best impacts the bottom line. ¬†I believe that if we all put a little into this project, that we can create something revolutionary. ¬†We can all have a part in transforming education for the world.

I hope you will join me. ¬†I hope that you will realize that $1 and a few minutes is a small price to pay for a resource that has the potential to reach every child in the world. ¬†This is a small price to pay for our future. ¬†We can do this. ¬†Please click here and donate now…then spread the word to everyone you know and encourage them to do the same.

Students Rebuild: Paper Cranes for Japan

What it is: As news of Japan’s tsunami and earthquake(s) continues to roll in, students may be feeling overwhelmed by the devastation of it all.  Following natural disaster current events can give students (and adults) a real sense of helplessness.  As adults, we often ease this by donating money or time.  What do students do to make an impact? Today I learned of a truly wonderful site called Students Rebuild from a tweet from my friend @MZimmer557.  Students Rebuild is a site that helps students around the world connect, learn, and take action on critical global issues.  There are a few projects that students can get involved in currently:

1. Haiti- building stronger, permanent schools in Haiti.  This is a call to action for middle and high school students to rebuild strong, permanent schools in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.  Students and educators create a team to raise money.  Any money raised is matched dollar-for-dollar up to $2,500 per team.

2. Japan-folding cranes to support rebuilding in Sendai.  This is a way for young students to take action.  “Through a simple, powerful gesture of making and mailing in a paper crane, students worldwide are promoting hope, healing, and triggering dollars for reconstruction ($2 for each crane received).”

Students Rebuild gives students the opportunity to connect to a global community, learn about the challenges of a natural disaster, and do something real to make a difference.

In addition to the Rebuild challenges, educators can use Student Rebuild to connect students with others around the world.  The site helps build that global learning community  Interactive video conferencing encourages two-way dialogue and emotional connections.  Webcasts between Haiti and multiple schools around the world engage, and inspire.  (Learn more on the “Educators” page)

How to integrate Students Rebuild into the classroom: Register your class to take part in one of the Students Rebuild activities.  The newest way to take part is through the Paper Cranes for Japan project.  Students Rebuild partnered with DoSomething.org to give students worldwide a way to support their Japanese peers.  Start by watching the video of how to make paper cranes on the Students Rebuild website.  Take a photo and upload it with a message to the Paper Cranes for Japan Facebook Page.  Mail the finished paper cranes to Students Rebuild to turn those cranes into dollars for reconstruction and an art installation.  This would be a great project to take on as a class.  Don’t stop there, encourage your students to make more paper cranes.  They can have a paper crane party, or encourage their families to join in on the paper crane creation.  Download the one-page flier to send home with students.

Using Students Rebuild projects in your classroom is a great way to teach students about our global community, empathy, current events, and give students a way to make a difference.

Tips: Be sure to check out the comprehensive toolkit on the Students Rebuild site.  In the toolkit you will find photos, videos, posters, fact sheets, logos, media coverage, and fundraising tips.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Students Rebuild in your classroom!

Responsibly: Gift Wine to Fund Education

What it is: Responsibly is a new way to gift your friends, released just in time for the holiday season.¬† Purchase Responsibly wine for your friends and 100% of the purchase price gets donated to a Donor’s Choose project.¬† Talk about killing two birds with one stone!¬† It works with 3 easy steps:

1. Go to Facebook and choose which friends you want to gift.

2. Friends are encouraged to pay it forward by gifting their friends.

3. Funds are matched and donated to fund a Donor’s Choose project.

Cool huh?  I love gifts that are further reaching than just the physical gift given.  Not only will you be spreading cheer to your friends, you will be spreading cheer and learning to classrooms and students everywhere.  That is a big deal.

From the about page (because I couldn’t have said it better myself!):

Responsibly is creating a platform for social philanthropy. We have created a mechanism that allows individuals to simultaneously share with friends and give back to society. We at Responsibly believe that doing good and feeling good do not have to be mutually exclusive. By connecting products in which 50% of the price tag funds corporate matched projects validated by Donors Choose, we can proudly say that 100% of whatever you spend at Responsibly.com will go towards helping our children get a step closer to the gaining access to the education they deserve. Coupling this with the social network that Facebook has created, hopefully, you can help inspire others to contribute to this cause.

One of the things that continues to astound me is the way that social networking is being used to change the world.¬† I see this on a regular basis through Twitter, organizations like Donor’s Choose, TED and the movements that it spurs, and now Responsibly.¬† Genius I tell you!

What are you waiting for?  Head on over to Responsibly now and start gifting, spreading the word, and making the world a better place.

Side note: I am talking with Responsibly about how they might be involved in helping to make #TwitAcad (scroll down for all posts that mention this)  a reality.  Now we are talking!

iLearn Technology Change the World: Vote for your favorite Donor’s Choose Project

**** UPDATE The poll has closed due to the OVERWHELMING number of votes, however, your vote can still be counted!  Please leave a comment with your name and the project you would like to cast your vote for. Voting ends on December 20, 2010.  Thank you!

In September, I joined @adambellow’s Change the World project here on iLearn Technology donating 1 penny for every unique visitor that I had on iLearn Technology in a little over a month.¬† Right before Thanksgiving I announced the amount I would be donating ($400) and have since received some generous donations to add to mine.¬† I asked you all for your Donor’s Choose projects that needed funding. The results are below and it is time to start voting!¬† Send this post to all of your family and friends until December 20 and ask them to vote. Depending on the winner, I may be able to fund some runner’s up as well.¬† It isn’t too late to add a donation, you can help us fund even more!¬† Please contact me or leave a comment if you would like to help fund one of these awesome projects!

The time has come to start voting for the Donor’s Choose project(s) to fund!

My iPad Journey

The story above is meant to be an illustration of the school/learning experience.¬† The first explorer’s journey represents the traditional school model.¬† Here, students are given set tools and led in one direction down a river of scripted curriculum and standardized tests.¬† Some wonderful things are learned along the way, but there is little freedom to stop and explore more.¬† This is further limited by the tools provided that allow for little or no discovery.¬† On this journey there is a single goal in mind: graduation.

The second explorer represents a rich learning experience made available when the proper tools and experiences are made available.  In this model, there is still a destination and objective, but the journey is one of discovery, adventure, and opportunity.  On this journey, students are given the resources that will allow them to explore and learn at their own pace, deepening the learning experience and passion for  a life of learning.  While there are many resources that could enrich the learning experience and help students on this journey of discovery, the tool I am recommending is the iPad.

I choose the iPad over other devices (such as netbooks) because it is an intuitive device (particularly for the elementary level) that puts the focus on the journey unfolding.  Other devices may be cheaper, or offer Flash, or allow multi-tasking but these devices get in the way of the journey because they must be learned before the journey can even begin.  These type of devices can end up being THE journey because there is a learning curve for using the device.  The iPad is brilliant in its simplicity.  Students can pick it up and immediately understand how to navigate and use the device with little guidance.  The iPad offers portability not available in other devices.  It is the go-anywhere, all day learning device that allows students to explore, communicate, and collaborate at their own pace and in their own way.

In the current school system, students aren’t afforded the luxury of having the teacher to themselves all day.¬† The iPad can fill some of this void by guiding learning, offering instant feedback, giving the ability to pause-rewind-replay learning, and allowing students to learn collaboratively.¬† This frees the teacher to spend more time guiding students individually on their individual learning journey.

As I have written previously, one device may not make sense in every school, in every classroom.¬† In another demographic, the cellphone may be the best portable learning device.¬† I am proposing an iPad study pilot program because for my students at my school, the iPad is the right tool for the journey.¬† I have had an average of 400 students each year.¬† I know every one of them by name.¬† I know many of their families.¬† I know their hobbies, interests, fears, and passions.¬† Being a computer has afforded me the opportunity to teach these kids every week of their elementary school lives.¬† I know these kids. The iPad is the device that would make the second explorer’s journey possible for them.

Before the school year was over, an idea formed to start a 1-to-1 iPad pilot program in first and fifth grade (180 students).  I decided to make this program a formal research study to find out what affect the device really had on student learning and achievement.  I wanted the results of this program to be farther reaching than my school and my students.  It is my hope that by turning this into a research study, not only would my students be given the best, but others could benefit from the results.  Perhaps we could provide the road map of how to implement a 1-to-1 iPad program.  I wrote out my proposal and immediately sent out a tweet asking if there were any research professors or graduate students who might be interested in something like this. Many from my PLN responded positively with help, Jason Schmidt was the one I chose.  Then, I got the wild idea to take the study to another level and sent my proposal to Robert Marzano and Debra Pickering.  They agreed to partner with us on research!  The problem?  We are still working out a way to fund this project.

Below is a pared down version of my proposal:

Objective/Purpose of Study
The purpose of this pilot program is to examine the effectiveness of the Apple iPad multi-touch, mobile device on student achievement and learning in a 1-to-1 environment.  The iPad mobile device will be used to augment instruction, differentiation, inquiry learning, and innovative classroom practice with a focus on reading/English language arts and Math.  Reading/English language arts and math are the primary focus of the study since these are the two subjects that all states have been required to develop assessments under the No Child Left Behind Act.1   The study will also seek to determine if instructional practices are influenced by the use of iPad mobile devices in the classroom.

Goals
The goal of this pilot program is to provide a 1 to 1 mobile device learning environment which will:

  • Provide consistent access to technology for a fully integrated learning experience by providing each student with an iPad mobile learning device for use inside and outside the classroom.
  • Make provisions for on demand learning opportunities which will expand the reach of the classroom with the iPad learn-anywhere platform (applications, podcasts, video, e-books all selected for individual learning needs).
  • Allow for customized, individualized content to meet each student‚Äôs unique learning needs.4
  • Increase student motivation and engagement in learning.5
  • Increase collaboration among students and teachers resulting in improved achievement.6
  • Provide students with student-focused instruction that is multi-level (for different student abilities), multi-sensory (for different learning styles), and individualized.7
  • Provides students with immediate feedback on learning.8
  • Provides teachers with the ability for immediate and individualized learning assessments.

Questions to Address

  • How can the iPad mobile learning device influence student achievement?
  • How can use of the iPad improve student motivation, attitude, and interest in learning?
  • How can the iPad mobile learning device be introduced into curriculum and instruction effectively?
  • What learning strategies are most effective in instructional applications of the iPad?
  • How can the iPad be used to extend learning beyond the classroom and school day?
  • In what ways can implementation of the iPad be a catalyst for a restructuring of school?
  • What are effective ways of evaluating the impact of mobile learning devices on teaching and learning?
  • Will there be an increase in student ability to use classroom or computer lab computers?
  • Will there be a change in the way teachers think about the use of mobile technologies?
  • Will there be a change in the process of learning from being largely teacher centered, to student centered as a result of the introducing the iPad?
  • Will there be a greater sense of student ownership, responsibility, and empowerment in their own learning (how does this differ in 1st grade to 5th grade)?
  • Will students use technology more purposefully to complete a task or discover new information?
  • Will there be a change of teacher‚Äôs philosophy, pedagogy, or approach to the learning process?

Conclusion
The iPad pilot program offers something innovative in the classroom.  It provides the potential to empower and uplift students in their learning.  To maximize effectiveness, education in the 21st century has to be active, engaged, and customized for students.  Students must have universal access to mobile technologies that will enable critical thinking, differentiation, and problem solving.  It is our belief that the technology in Apple’s iPad meets these needs and more.

I tell you all of this because we are still searching for funding.¬† We have applied for grants, talked with individuals, entered contests, emailed Steve Jobs, etc., etc., etc.¬† I am stubborn.¬† I refuse to believe that money is going to be the thing to stop us in our tracks.¬† I refuse to believe that in all of my PLN, Twitter, and Facebook connections that there isn’t an answer.¬† Surely Twitter shrinks the six degrees of separation between me and someone who can help get this moving.¬† Surely someone knows someone, who knows someone who can make this happen.

So here is my plea:

I am convinced that with your help I can get this program started and that our ripples will be felt throughout the education community.