Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Get Smart by Texting w/ @Text_Engine

When Teaching Generation Text was published in 2011 there were numerous ways to use text-only enabled phones for learning.  This was great for students and families who didn't have access to smartphones.  Back then there were terrific tools like Google SMS, Cha Cha, Wiffiti, and 4info. One by one as smartphones took the front seat, texting tools like those faded away, until now. 

Text Engine was developed to offer cell phone users a means to search the web using their text messaging service. This is great news for educators and students in low-income and rural communities.  

And that's a good thing, because while smartphones are popular, there is still a great need for text-only services in low-income and rural districts. There is also a need in districts like NYC that empower students to bring their own devices to school, but don't have the means to enable students to connect to the internet.  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Screen time: It's not about how much. It's about how.

Editor's Note: A version of this post was originally posted on career advice expert, Penelope Trunk's education blog. If you'd rather read it (and the comments) there, go here.  

There’s nothing the press likes better than a story that generates real panic for teachers and parents…especially when it has the stamp of science to give a the panic an extra edge.
That’s exactly what happened when the media (Scientific American, Wall Street Journal,CNN, New York Times) ran a story about the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP)recommendations on children and screen time. One to two hours a day for children older than 2, they said, and no screen time at all for those younger than 2. Longer than that is dangerous to their health and their development.
An educator or parent today reading this probably had one of these reactions:
1.  You are a failure because your students are in front of screens much more than 1 or 2 hours a day.
2.  You don’t let students use computers so you’re good.
3.  Seriously? What year is this? Who is doing this research?
If you fit into the third reaction, you are likely someone who has seen amazing learning from screen time for your young people: building, creating, coding, reading, writing, and more.
Why would adults want to limit that?
We wouldn’t.
So why would the AAP make such out-of-touch recommendations?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Hottest Posts Everybody's Reading

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog. Below you’ll see the top posts along with the number of page views. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired use one of those icons below the post to share it with others and/or leave a comment.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

#ThrowbackThursday - 12 Reasons to Ditch the Pen - Why It's No Longer Mightiest Against the Sword

Today's #ThrowbackThursday brings us to a post I wrote about why it's time to ditch the pen and embrace the keyboard. This post came to mind when drafting this week's look at iPads vs Chromebooks vs Surface. In it I made the point that a stylus for the purposes we think of in education (writing in a notebook or math equations) is a thing of the past.  On a personal note, with the exception of having to fill out forms because of various outdated practices at places like doctor's offices, I haven't used or carried a pen in several years.

Written: September 3, 2010 

Topic: Why it's time to ditch the pen and embrace the keyboard.

Who might be interested: Anyone who is keeping students stuck as prisoners of their teacher's past by using pens instead of keyboards.

Favorite excerpt:  Get over it and join the 21st century so you can be relevant to yourself, your colleagues, and most importantly your students.

Reader question: Are you still keeping your student's tethered to the quill? What are your fears in moving forward?


I want to tackle the death of the pen which is quickly being replaced with digital writing tools like laptops, cell phones, iTouches, iPads, Smartpens etc. etc. etc. The same rumblings happen when it comes to the passing of the pen.
  • But I love the feel of the pen on the page.
  • Taking notes (an outdated skill) with a pen helps me understand what I’m hearing.
  • I need an ink pen to be able to capture my thoughts, the keyboard just isn’t the same.

Read the rest at: 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

5 Components Necessary for A Successful School Environment

The Managing Complex Change model puts language to that which makes some schools successful while others struggle. The model looks at five components necessary to create a desired environment. These include vision, skills, incentives, resources, action plan. If any one piece is missing the model indicates results schools will experience including change, confusion, anxiety, gradual change, frustration, and a false start. 

When thinking of successful schools such as Science Leadership Academy, The MET, The Island School, The iSchool, you will find they have all those components in place. On the other hand, when I hear teachers lamenting about their school failures, the model brings clarity to the fact that one or more of these components are missing. 

Below is the chart that lays this out. Following the chart, I'll take a look at what each missing component might look like in a school environment. As you read, consider which, if any are components, are missing at your school.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

iPad, Chromebook, or Surface for the Classroom? The Verdict? Read This!

I love checking out new tech. I've used tablets before there were iPads, iTouches, Nanos, and Macs, PCs, Chromebooks, and more. One thing I've discovered despite those who try to make a case otherwise, tablets are better for consuming than producing. Laptops with real, not touchscreen, keyboards are better for producing, but while you can certainly read on them, it's not as pleasant an experience. Now I'm checking out a Windows 8 Surface Pro 3. The best of both worlds. The consumption benefits of a tablet, with the full power of a laptop.  I like it a lot. I may even like better than the other devices.
paperless-leadIt has a sleek and beautiful design (Though it isn't that sturdy on it's feet. The kick stand collapses unexpectedly if you move around while typing which apparently I do as it's collapsed three times during the writing of this post). It’s fast. It's light. It has a long battery life (around 7 hours) and comes with a stylus. 

For about $7 bucks a month you can get Office 365 too. But no need to pay that when you can use Google docs for free. 

While rumor had it that Google Apps for Ed didn't run on earlier Surfaces, that isn't the case with the Pro 3. Google Apps work fine. What's more, unlike with the Chromebook, you can run multiple profiles and browsers simultaneously. This is also a big plus for someone like me who uses more than one browser and profile.

The ability to use and install my remote usb wireless, is a big deal for someone like me who travels between locations and is not possible with devices like Chromebooks.

It's a great professional device but at a list price of about $900, is it worth the cost when you can get similar functionality for so much less? 
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