Monday, December 31, 2012

The Top 10 Reasons I Will Not Be Making a Top 10 List for 2012

These are the top 10 reasons I will not be making a top 10 list of 2012

1. Sorry, but I do not feel like my 2012 can be condensed into 10 short blurbs. Nothing about me or my friends could ever be condensed into a blurb. Have you met +Timothy Gwynn? What about him is possible to be shared in a short blurb? Have you seen his mustache? That is worth a chapter in most epic novels.

2. All of the things I do are awesome for different reasons. I do not want to spend time comparing one event to another. I has awesome times at MACUL (State Tech Conference) and ISTE. EduCon was a blast and so were the edcamps I organized and attended. Instead of suggesting one is more awesome than the others, I woud like to say that they were all awesome for different reasons.

3. My friends are my friends for many different reasons and I do not want to place them in a list about how important they were to me or my education/growth as a teacher. I learn so much from so many different people. Is it even possible to compare @EduSum to @Web20Classroom? One of them is Australian and the other is a Nascar fan. They both bring very different things to the table, including ridiculously awesome accents. So instead of creating a list where I rank the value of Southerners, Canadians and Australians, I will just say they are all awesome in different ways and I'm happy to know them.

4. I have had the privilege to work with some awesome people over the past year and have some exciting new ventures on the horizon. As easy as it would be for me to talk about the epicness of +Evernote and +Edutopia, I will just say that it is an honor to be associated with both of them and look forward to more silliness and epicness in the future.

5. I use many different tools to reach my students and transform education in my classroom. I would hate to hurt the feelings of any app that did not make my list of apps that are going to rock the world of education in 2013. There are some, but they might not work for everyone. Just because +Evernote and +Nearpod are awesome, doesn't mean that they should be on the top of my list, even if they would be if I was creating a list, which I am not. There are lots of great tools out there, take a look around and glance at Twitter. I assure you that you will find one.

6. If it were possible to tell you the ten coolest blogs to read this year, someone else has probably done it and did a better job than I would. There are tons of great blogs out there. I have over a hundred filling my Google Reader every day. The last thing I want to do is tell +George Couros that he was blog number 11 out of 10 and did not make the cut. I do not need him to rain down the Northern Fury of Canada because of the slight. For the good of the US, I could not do it.

7. I would love to rank my 10 favorite students, but I've been told that might be considered unprofessional. Since I can't do that, I will have to just shower them with candy upon their return from break.

8. I will not be ranking the 10 ten hugs from +Kyle Pace. This is simply due to the fact that all hugs from +Kyle Pace are perfect 10s and suggesting that +Kyle Pace would give anything else besides a perfect 10 hug is an insult to Kyle and his Mom's Cookies.

9. Truly, nothing is even close to the awesomeness of being mentioned by Sir Ken Robinson during the ISTE Keynote. The #EduBros were a force to be reckoned with in 2012 and have even bigger plans for 2013. With that, I'm not even going to do a 10th reason.



Happy New Year from The Nerdy Teacher!

The Complete Guide to Evernote in Education #Evernote

I've been talking about Evernote for some time and I have been doing many presentations about how awesome Evernote is for education. I finally decided to write the book on Evernote in Education.

Currently, the book is available on AmazoniBookstore and Evernote's Trunk.

I'm really excited about this book. It covers all of the important areas educators consider when looking at new technology.

I write about Evernote as a lesson planning tool, as a cloud storage tool, as a great tool for sharing with students, teachers and parents. I also share how Evernote fits in with BYOD and 1:1 learning environments. Evernote is great at being something to everyone and it is really worth checking out.

If you have questions about Evernote after reading the book, feel free to tweet me or email me and I will be happy to answer them for you.

As an official Evernote Education Ambassador, I really wanted to do something to help more people see how Evernote can make a positive impact in their classroom.

If you are interested in using Evernote on your iPad, you should check out my book on the iBookstore. The Beginner's Guide to Using Evernote on the iPad.

Have a great day everyone!

NP

Thursday, December 20, 2012

We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together #EdChat

As the semester winds down, I have a chance to see students feverishly studying and working on worksheets, study guides and word finds to help prepare them for the coming final exams. I watch as student pair up and work together to fill out the sheets in the most efficient way possible. They frantically check their phone for answers that are buried too deep in their book to be discovered. I watch all of this and shake my head. 

You see, I used to be married to the handout/worksheet/word search. This all I ever knew in the world and I thought we were perfect for one another. Sometimes I would try and break things off, but it was so easy to just end up back together. It took me 7 years to realize that we were not good for one another. It was a terrible relationship that was negatively impacting the people around me. It was when I realized how badly our relationship was affecting the kids is when I decided it was time for a change. 

A few years ago, I decided a trial separation was necessary. I figured I would make a clean break for 10 weeks. I chronicled these 10 weeks without my partner in a series of blog posts. (Some of the links are broken or gone due to time.) I am not going to lie, it was a difficult 10 weeks. There were plenty of times I felt like taking the easy way out and running back to the warm embrace of my partner in educational crime, but stayed true to my word and went 10 weeks free. I see it now as one of the best decisions of my life.

My new BFF (Project Based Learning (PBL)) has been a perfect partner. We get along great, we push each other to be creative and the kids absolutely love them. My new relationship has given me a spark in my work and a thrill when I see the kids really work with PBL to grow and mature as learners. This new connection has allowed me to focus on the things that are most important in what I do and the kids now feel they have the freedom to express themselves in ways that were not possible in the previous marriage. While I'm not quite ready to commit fully to this new relationship, I am excited about the possibilities our future holds together. 

There are plenty of things I learned about myself during those ten weeks that made me a better teacher. Since I ended that disastrous relationship, I can see that my kids have improved. Their spirits are better and the engagement level is through the roof. Everyone is a little bit happier now that the marriage is finally over. For some, this marriage works well and they feel happy about it. Others are blissfully unaware of the negative impact their relationship has on others around them. For me, I can proudly say, "We are never ever ever getting back together!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Complete Guide to Evernote in Education #EdChat #EvernoteLife

I've been talking about Evernote for some time and I have been doing many presentations about how awesome Evernote is for education. I finally decided to write the book on Evernote in Education.

Currently, the book is available on Amazon but will soon be available on the iBookstore.

I'm really excited about this book. It covers all of the important areas educators consider when looking at new technology.

I write about Evernote as a lesson planning tool, as a cloud storage tool, as a great tool for sharing with students, teachers and parents. I also share how Evernote fits in with BYOD and 1:1 learning environments. Evernote is great at being something to everyone and it is really worth checking out.

If you have questions about Evernote after reading the book, feel free to tweet me or email me and I will be happy to answer them for you.

As an official Evernote Education Ambassador, I really wanted to do something to help more people see how Evernote can make a positive impact in their classroom.

If you are interested in using Evernote on your iPad, you should check out my book on the iBookstore. The Beginner's Guide to Using Evernote on the iPad.

Have a great day everyone!

NP

Monday, December 17, 2012

What did you do today? #edchat

Today I told all of my classes the following,

"I love all of you like family. You are all very important to me and many other people and when push comes to shove I will always have your back."

That is all.

Nick

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The #EduBroAwards Winners! #ChatChat

The #EduBros are presenting the winners of the first #EduBroAwards! If your name is on the list as a winner, save the image and place it on your blog. If you felt you should have won an award, save the image on your blog and lie to people. Nobody checks those things for validity anyway.



Best Twitter Avatar: @DerekBraman (He won by a Yoda)

Most Excited About ISTE Evah: @EduSum

Fastest Reply to a tweet: Michelle Baldwin

Not a Burlesque Dancer So Stop Asking Award: Michelle Baldwin

Best Awesomeness in the morning tweets: Steven Anderson

Best Hug: Pernille Ripp

Stunning Upset - Most Fashionable While Super Fat and Morning Sick Because of Twin Pregnancy - Kyle Pace

Best Banter Session: George, Alec and Dean

Best Multi-Tasker - Cybraryman

Best Scone Holiday Creation - @iansands apexhsart.blogspot.com

Most Tweets that misues Their/There/They're - @Funglefun

Most swiped ideas from Pintrest with the least credit - @greeneyegal

Most dedicated to #FollowFriday - @dougpete

Best Pop duo or group perfromance in #artsed - @funglefun and @tiedemania

Best hashtag creation making fun of hashtags - #chatchat - @wmchamberlain

Best Title to a blog post - "Dropbox it like it's hot" - @gwynethjones

Best EdTech Gameshow Host - Steve Dembo

The Best Smile that Kills - Kelly Tenkely

Annoying Person who actually makes you question your teaching in a positive way Award: @JohnTSpencer

Most Likely to write something snarky about Apple and blog posts proclaiming the savior of American Education" - Richard Byrne

Longest Award Name Created: Richard Byrne

Best Left Shoe in Educaiton: Amanda C Dykes

Best Right Shoe in Education: Angela Maiers

Best Unfollower - Tony Baldasaro @baldy7

Best Cookies - Kyle Pace's Mom

Best Hipster Glasses - Jeremy McDonald @mrmacnology

Deven Black Award to Be Named Later Award - Deven Black

Best Tweeting Female Rabbi with a Black Belt in Taekwondo - Shira Leibowitz

Best Social Conscience - @IraSocol and @MissShuganah

Most Slides in one presentation Award - Adam Bellow

Most Tweets Per Minute - @AndreaZellner

Best Tree Hugger - J Morgetron

Best EduCrib Organizer - Beth Still

Most Likely to have a "Hot" Item on them - Steve Johnson

Best Bald Head - @J_Allen

Best Spammer of the #EduBroAwards - Alex Adam

Fastest One Handed Typer in the MId-West - Brian Bennett

Nicest Person to meet - @PatrickmLarkin

Best DMer - Chris Wejr

Most famous restaraunt on Twitter (winning with the Canadian vote) - @Applebees

Best Thing to do at an EduConference - Karaoke

Best 6 foot or taller red headed NASCAR Fan - Shannon M Miller on a stool

Best Mustache under 35 - Tim Gwynn

Best Female mustache - @msestep (upset over Sarah Silverman)

Best mustache under 98 but over 35 - Tom Whitby

Daniel LaRusso Best Around Award - Nick and Tim




Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Nerdy Teacher's #EduTour

The other day, I was hanging out around the house and I thought about driving to San Francisco this summer. I have tons of great friends in the Bay Area and two of my favorite groups (Evernote and Edutopia) are out there, so it would be nice to pay them a visit.

Road-signs

I have always been a traveler. I like getting out there and seeing what the world has to offer. When I finally became a full-time teacher, I booked a trip to London and packed it solo through Europe for a couple of weeks. Some of the coolest people I met where staying in hostels. Awesome people and amazing conversations. There is something about sitting across from someone and sharing ideas over a beverage that cannot be duplicated with all of the technology we have today. These ideas came together when I started thinking about a road trip out West.

"What if I stop in cities along the way and have Nerdy Meet-Ups?" I would have a chance to meet so many different people and talk about all things education. What do these people do in their classrooms, schools and/or districts? I could have so many meaningful conversations with so many different people. It could be a crazy adventure over the summer infused with professional development the world has never seen.

Some people have suggested that I could do Google Hangouts and meet people that way and have conversations. While I could meet many awesome people that way, I want to shake a hand, give a hug or slap a high-five to these people. Virtual meetings can be great, but I like to get out there and see people face to face. Those connections mean more to me in a way. As digital as I am, I still love a good analog meeting.

Chronicling this #EduTour would be exciting and I know I would be able to meet many of my PLN along the way. Using my digital devices to record what I have learned in the hopes of improving myself as an educator. What an awesome way to dispel the "Summers Off" myth that so many people have around the country. Like many of us in the PLN world, making our own PD seems to be far more effective than attending what the school has to offer.

This is my question to all of you, "Am I off base in thinking that I could learn many great things on this trip that is not possible doing digitally?"

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section and make a case to be a stop on the way from Detroit to San Francisco in August if I make this idea  reality.

Photo Credit: Espen Klem Flickr Creative Commons

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

#NerdyCast Episode 8 - #The EduBroAwards #ChatChat


I am excited to bring you #NerdyCast Episode 8 with special guest Tim Gwynn (@TGwynn).




The Awards will be announced on Tuesday December 11 during a Google Hangout. We cannot wait to see all of you there. 



Sunday, December 2, 2012

The #EduBroAwards Update - Nominations Close Friday!

The EduBros would like to thank everyone for all of their support. At the moment of this post being written, there are 69 comments. We are tempted to close the comment portion of the nominations, but have decided to chuckle like little children and leave it open until Friday.

We have had so many great nominations we can't wait until the very secretive voting process to determine to the winners of the first ever #EduBroAwards.

Please get your comments in to the original post here and make your nominations for the world to see.

After Friday, we will sift through all of the nominations, pass out or ballots to a select group of educators and Nick and Tim will host a Google hangout to announce the winners.

At the minimum, we hope you will take a moment and nominate yourself for an award because we know you deserve something.

Good luck!




Saturday, December 1, 2012

All Teachers Should Play Dungeons and Dragons Before Entering A Classroom #edchat

Hello, my name is Nick and I played Dungeons and Dragons growing up. 

If only teaching game with a manual
I look back on those few years fondly. It was a silly time where my imagination ran wild and characters I created could do amazing things. Sadly, I do not quest anymore and rely on Skyrim and other video games to fill the void, but it’s not the same. The more I think about it, all teachers should play D&D before they are allowed in the classroom.

There is a level of creativity in D&D that is unparalleled anywhere else in education. Playing a game that essentially involves paper and 12 sided die requires a tremendous amount of imagination. The Dungeon Master would weave amazing stories that required the gamers to “see” the mythical world around them. When it came time for one of to be the DM, it was an opportunity to show the level of creativity we had gained by playing the game. Creating a world by writing an adventure that people had to participate in is not an easy task. Especially when your friends are counting on you to give them the best experience for the short time you had them. The adventure needs to be tailored to the strengths and weaknesses of everyone involved to ensure a great time for everyone. This is no easy feat, but it needs to be done. There is also nothing better than watching the group overcome all of the obstacles you put in place and come out a little bit better. Creating a successful quest is a bit of rush that I have only duplicated in one other place. Lesson planning.

How is this any different the preparing lessons for the classroom? I’m tasked with creating a learning environment where all of my students attempt to master the content I have given them in a way that engages them and excites them. There needs to be creativity in every lesson that is created and given to the students. The boring lessons stand out and cause problems in the class as the students get restless. Imagination is something that needs to be in the classroom and needs to be imparted to the students. While some teachers might actually feel like Dungeon Masters, it is their job to create a wonderful world of learning for their students.

I always loved surprises when I played D&D. The DM would throw something at us that was unexpected, but could be handled if we thought it though. Critical thinking was a must when gaming. The easiest answer wasn’t always the right one and that forced us to think about situations differently. Evaluating problems, looking at resources and coming to a group consensus were part the game. The feeling of overcoming an obstacle as a group was an amazing feeling. We all knew that the DM didn’t give us something we were not ready for and that is what made certain DMs better than others.

As a teacher, I try to give my kids challenges. I want them to be stumped at first, struggle to find the answer and be stoked when the overcome the obstacle. I feel like that is my job. Kids need to be prepared to face tough challenges and work to solve them. Playing a game that is not challenging is really not fun in the long run. School is no different. Kids might say they don’t like to be challenged, but deep down they want teachers to push them. Providing problems that can be solved with a little effort will have a lasting impact on students and they will be thankful for it in the end.

The group dynamic of Dungeons and Dragons is always interesting. Each member of the group needs to create a character they will use for their adventures. However, an entire group of wizards only will never get very far. Same goes with groups of warriors only or healers only. As a group, a decision needs to be made about the distinct roles everyone needs to play so the team can be successful. Once that hurdle is jumped, group decision need to be made on the different paths the team will make as it attempts to meet the goal of the quest they have undertaken. This is an ongoing part of the game and it does get heated at times. Despite the stress, the team that works together best will always be successful.

The teachers that are the strongest are the ones that work well with others. When teachers get together, they all need to take specific roles and work to their strengths. Collaboration is a skill that does not come naturally to most people. There will be times things get testy, but the goal needs to remain the focus. That goal is helping our students. We have to trust that the people around us are on the same team and want the same things. As a school we are going to be faced with many different obstacles. We have to work together to solve these problems with as little damage as possible. Teamwork is how we can be successful in helping all of our students.

I have learned so much from Dungeons and Dragons. There are some people that avoided this post like it was a Tarrasque. It’s sad that a game that encourages all of these important skills is relegated to the realm of “nerdery”. I owe some of my teaching style and strengths to what I developed during those few years questing. Maybe all teachers should spend a couple of years gaming before they get into the classroom.

Thanks for the time you spent reading this post. I’m off to find my Monster Manual.

NODE in Education - A Review #SciChat


I am happy to introduce to you a very cool gadget I have had an opportunity to play with. Here is a video that provides some detail on what NODE is and then I will tell you all about my experience using it. 


I feel like you never know what you are going to get from a Kickstarter campaign. People are talking about all of the awesome things they will do if they get the money, but then they still have to do them. I've contributed to Kickstarter campaigns before and they have all been cool ideas, but I'm still waiting for the products to be complete. I'm really happy to see the turn around on NODE to be so quick. 

I wasn't sure what to expect when I received the NODE. To be honest, its design seemed too simple to do all of the things it claimed, but it did not disappoint. 

The NODE was easy to set up and link to my iPad. (Note: It is only able to connect to the iPhone 4s and above and the 3rd Gen iPad and above.)

Downloading the free app from the app store was a breeze and the instructions found on NODE's website were east to follow. 

I was able to use the Luma, Clima and Therma add-ons to NODE and each one was very cool. They worked well from my iPad without any delay. Readings were very accurate and the gyroscope was spot on. It was cool to watch me move around the NODE and watch the cube on the app swirl around. The app worked great and I did not see any issues with the app or glitches in general. It worked just how it was supposed to work. 

I was able to control the lights on my Luma add-on from across the room and the reading from Clima and Therma seemed spot on. It is a fun tool to have around the house to keep track of information, provide light when needed and look for possible areas of the house that might be losing heat. 



Here is a nice picture of all of their products.

Here is a good description of NODE's parts

For school, I see this fitting in very nicely in Science classrooms. All of the different features that NODE offers is perfect for all of the different types of Science classes you would see in school. Physics could use the basic KORE for motion and speed, Earth Science and Biology could use THERMA and OXA for measurements and Chemistry could use OXA as well. I could see NODE fitting in very well with the data collection that is standard in Science classrooms. 

Students that have devices that are able to connect to NODE's bluetooth could use one to take their measurements and email the results to themselves. A class devices could also me used so that students working in groups could use NODE to take their measurements and send via email for evaluation. 

The basic KORE is $149.00 and the prices for the additional pieces range from the $25.00 LUMA to the $149.00 OXA. Add to that the price of a Bluetooth device that can connect to NODE, it becomes a pricey gadget for measurements. At the current pricing levels, I do not see NODE as a device a teacher would by a class set of for all students to use, but I could see NODE with all of the add-ons used within a department to be shared at various times. Educational pricing might be able to help get more NODEs in the classroom. 

Overall, this was a very cool gadget that can make taking measurements more interesting for students in the classroom and for the teachers as well. The price might be prohibitive to some, but as a department, I think the purchase would make sense for student and teacher use.