Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Teach Creativity with Adobe and Khan Academy

I am very excited to share with you the FREE online course that Adobe has created in partnership with Khan Academy. As the school year winds down, this self-paced course is something I would recommend to all educators looking to improve their practice. Below are a few highlights from my experience completing this accredited course. 

Self-Pace Yourself

One of my favorite aspects of this course is the fact that it is self-paced. Online classes that meet on a regular basis can be tough on our busy schedules. Unlike the set meeting times I had to work around while getting my Masters degree for Educational Technology, this course allowed me to work through the material at my own pace. 20 hours of work can be done over the course of a week or a month. Find the time that works for you and get the work done when you can. 

The Four C’s

I love that this course focuses on Collaboration, Creativity, Communication, and Critical Thinking as these Four C’s are pillars of my design class. Instead of simply stating how important these skills are to foster in students, the course features over 100 lesson plans and adaptable materials for teachers to use.  Here is a practical assignment that a social studies teacher could use in their class.

As you know, I am a huge fan of Project Based Learning so anything that has students create something to demonstrate understanding always gets my attention. 

Digital Literacy and Content Specific Examples

Another part of the course that is awesome is its focus on digital literacy. A staple of Khan Academy is its videos and this course does not disappoint. There are great videos with every lesson making the course that much more engaging. Here is an example of a lesson in the Digital Literacy unit of the course that teachers can use in their classrooms and modify however they need.

If you're like me and enjoy walking away from a professional development course with something tangible you can implement into your class as soon as possible, you'll find this course especially valuable. 

The course also provides a breakdown to help educators apply these digital tools to whichever subject area they teach. 

Too often, examples leave out a wide variety of content areas and teachers are left wondering how they can apply their learnings to their classrooms..This course features unique examples for each specialty areas, like math, history, and literature, to be relevant to various educators. Best of all, understanding how teachers in other subject areas can utilize the same digital tools may even open the door to cross-curricular opportunities. 

Pixar in a Box

The last thing that I want to point out is how the course connects to the amazing Pixar in a Box lesson released earlier this year. These 9 lessons give students the chance to really flex their creative muscles. 

I will be introducing this lesson to my students in my new digital design focused class next year as it looks like an amazing way to engage my students in a fun and creative way. 

Overall, this course is the perfect resource for teachers looking for ways to expand their knowledge base, but at their own pace. While this post was created in partnership with Adobe Education, Teach Creativity with Adobe and Khan Academy is something I encourage every educator to explore when they have the time. Not only will you not be disappointed, neither will your students.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Shout out to @AdobeSpark

This is the Week of Making 2021 and I wanted to give a shout out to Adobe Spark for making it super easy for me and my students to share our making with the community. 

I have been using it for a couple of years now with my students and I love how easy it is for them to create and share with the class. I use it for examples for the students as well. Here are a couple of examples,

For my middle schoolers, it is important to not overwhelm them with lots of bells and whistles when it comes to new tools. Spark is great because it is very intuitive and the students can play around until they get their project to look like they want. Whether it is a poster like these, websites, or video, Spark gives my students options for their work so they can share with the community. 

I am an ACE Rewards Program member with Adobe, but that doesn't make Spark any less awesome in my classroom. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Using Adobe Aero and Adobe Spark for Project Showcase

I’ve been playing with a variety of Adobe apps the more I have been working in the makerspace. As more and more students use the space, the more variety in projects we are starting to see. One of the projects I have started using in my Innovation and Design class is a Design Thinking exercise.

Students need to create a shoe for a partner using limited supplies; 4 sheets of newspaper, 1 foot of duct tape, and 1 foot of yarn. Once students completed their design and build, they needed to create an ad to sell it. It has been lots of fun to see all of the different shoes and ads the students created.

Students share their ads on SeeSaw and parents and the teacher can see it, but what about everyone else? Then I explored Adobe Aero on my phone and iPad and realized I could import images I had saved from SeeSaw. With that, I created an AR gallery of some of the student ads. You can watch the video below.

If you want to check it out yourself, you can download the app on your mobile device and click on this link. 

Another cool feature is that it can connect to the Creative Cloud so any creations you have made and stored there can be pulled into Aero. I was thinking about how cool it would be to use different Adobe apps to create the different planets of the solar system and then import them to Aero to create a moving solar system. Maybe recreating an animal cell and seeing closeups of the mitochondria? There are so many possibilities for teachers and students. New apps like this make project based learning even more appealing to students. 

Disclosure - - I am an ACE Rewards Program member with Adobe, but that doesn't make this idea any less awesome. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

#NotAlone - National Mental Health Awareness Month


It has been a crazy week for me and I wanted to make sure I share it out in the hopes that it could help at least one person who feels the same. 

Almost 7 years ago, I shared my first post about my ongoing battle with depression and anxiety. It was not an easy post to write, but it is one of the most important ones I have ever written. We need to end the stigma around talking about Mental Health because too many people suffer in silence. Not everyone is ready to share their story, but the more of us that are ready and share, we make it a little easier for others. 

This past week has been rough for me. For a reason I cannot figure out, I have been having anxiety attacks. I have an amazing family. My job is the best in the world. Everything around me is pretty amazing right now. And yet, I have this sense of impending doom that comes out of nowhere and I find myself fighting off a spiral into depression. I still take my medication like I always do, but something about this week has set off the funky parts of my brain. The crazy part of these feelings is the guilt that comes with it it. Why do I feel this way when everything is so good here?

I'm lucky to have an amazing support network in place because I was open about my mental health years ago. I can reach out to my friends and they can talk me through the nonsense in my brain. I'm not sure where I would be during the pandemic without my meds, my therapist, friends, and family. I'm lucky to have these things in my life. 

I encourage you to speak out and share with others your battles with mental health if you are comfortable. Sharing makes a difference and can save lives. Teaching is tough. Teaching during a pandemic is tougher. Teaching during a pandemic while dealing with mental health issues is next to impossible. Whether you think you should or should not have these feelings, know that you are not alone. You are loved. 

Please share this far and wide so we can help end the stigma of talking about mental health. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Home Stretch #Wellness #TeacherAppreciation

Here we are. We made it to May. I've been in-person and hybrid teaching all year and I'm tired. Non pandemic Mays are tiring for teachers, but add in-person/hybrid teaching to the mix and I am downright exhausted. This is the time of the year where I have to remind myself to make sure I make time for Self Care. Here are some simple tips that can help you make it through the final weeks of the school year while maintaining what is left of your energy and sanity. 

1. Close your email

One of the toughest things to do is to take a step away from your work email. This is the time of the year where I regularly take time away from my work email on the weekends. It allows me to focus on me and my family and not the stress of what I have to deal with on Monday. For some, this might not be an option, so I suggest cutting off email after a set time of the day. It could be 5 or 6 pm or something sooner. Find time away from the tether of your school so you can focus on you. 

2. Do that thing you like

That is a pretty vague statement, but I want people to do just that. It might be knitting, gardening, gaming, painting, readings, yoga, etc. Whatever it is, make time in your schedule to do the thing. Work with your partner and see if they can help hold down the fort while you make time for an hour here and there to do that thing. Doing that thing will make you happy which is great for your brain when things get stressful at the end of the year. 

3. Talk to someone

One of the best things I have ever done was decide to speak to a therapist. While talking to my wife is helpful, I don't want to unload all of my stress and anxiety on one person. A therapist allowed me to unpack lots of feelings and find some peace when things would get hectic. If you are not ready to speak to a therapist, it is important that you have someone to connect with to share your thoughts and feelings. Bottling everything up will only lead to more stress and anxiety over time. 

4. Be OK with OK

One of the toughest parts of teaching is accepting that everything does not have to be perfect. Covid teaching adds another level to this. The best thing for me in the current teaching environment is to be OK with OK. Not everything is going to be perfect, but I'm going to try and create a fun and engaging learning environment every day. Some days I will succeed and others I will be fail. I have to be ok with being ok so I can get back up and try the next day. 

5. Keep hope

Lastly, keeping hope that things will get better is important. There will be days where it feels impossible and there will be days that are filled with hope. It is important to ride that rollercoaster and keep hope in your heart. If you are reading things, know that you are part of an amazing educational community that will support you if you reach out. Keep up hope. Things will get better. 

These are just some of my suggestions as we wind down the school year. Some are easier than others, but they are all important. We can all do this together. It is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but you wouldn't be here if you weren't tough. Even the toughest of us have our weak moments, but know that you are not alone in having them. 

It is Teacher Appreciation Week.

From one teacher to another, 

You are appreciated.

Hugs and High Fives, 

N Provenzano