Friday, August 30, 2013

Echoes and Reflections

As a former science teacher and current technology trainer I often find it easy to lose track of the humanities. Echoes and Reflections was brought to my attention and I was pleased enough with it that I wanted to share with you the overview

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

International Children's Digital Library

Web Address:

In an effort to enhance reading for children all over the world the International Children's Digital Library. This site has a a collection of children's books in multiple languages.  They have made specific efforts to acquire books not just written in these languages but by native speakers and addressing native cultures.  They based this effort on the idea that it is essential for people to have access to their native language and native culture.  This creates a wonderful resource for educators who are working with immigrant populations or English Language Learners.  Additionally Dual Immersion Language programs can really benefit from this resource as a place for students to find books and teachers to find materials to share.  Most of the materials are available in PDF and can be printed or shared via an interactive whiteboard or projector systems.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

To take a photo shoot a video

I have seen some of the amazing photos of lightning and always been impressed.  I have always wanted to take a photography course and buy a really nice camera with all the fancy settings to I could take some of those shots.  But last week during a thunderstorm I saw my niece out in the rain with her iPhone held up in the air.   A few minutes later she comes in and shows me this:

What amazing shots!  Apparently she had used an app: Video 2 Photo that allows the user to shoot video and then pull images from the video.  at $1.99 it's pretty affordable and while you are there take a look at related apps that do all kinds of more amazing things with photos and videos.

This one in particular looks very useful for capturing images that would be difficult or impossible to get otherwise.  I think of sporting events and science experiments especially where capturing the moment the ball drops or the second the candle snuffs out would be exceedingly difficult with even an exceptional camera, but capturing it with video and then extracting the frame needed could be great.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mike Row Testifies to Congress...Still relevant

Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs has been a wildly popular television series and many of us comfortably sit in our chairs or sofas and watch him work harder than we would care too.  But his comment about a PR campaign for Skilled Labor still resonates and has impact on every class we could teach. Check out DiscoverYourSkills to learn about what students can do to identify real work they can do.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tagets,Objectives, deliverables and Real work!

My wife has been preparing for her first full time full year contract as a teacher.  Her road to that place was a long one and probably unfairly influenced by me as her navigator, so it is only fair that her getting set up for back to school has felt a lot like me getting ready for back to school.  The school she works at has adopted a new terminology.  They are using Learning Targets or 'blancos' for her Dual Immersion class.  This replaces the term objectives or 'objetivos'.  Apparently this change caused no small stir among the faculty at her school and there were some arguments as to the best translation for Targets, but essentially this is semantics.  Whether we use objectives, targets, learning goals, or just define what students will be able to do or know at the end of our class, we as teacher are often the ones making those decisions.  We decide what matters most, or what will be on the test, assessment, rubric, or how the project will be graded.  This isn't bad.  We are trained and paid to do this.  But occasionally, I have to stop and think about it a little.  A colleague asked me to come in and go over some work he was doing on an online course focused on a variety of Online Library tools, like EBSCO and SIRS. The conversation ended up revolving around one big idea: What will they turn in? Fundamentally at the heart of a lot of what we do as teachers is that question: What will they turn in? Related to it are several corollaries: How will I assess them? How will I grade them?  (These are different by the way) 

What both of these experiences drove home to me is how much I decide what is important for people to learn and how much more I want them as students or participants to decide "what" is important for them to learn.  During my discussion about the online class I shared the following philosophy with my colleague: Whenever possible allow students/participants to decide what they will do to demonstrate their learning.  An example, rather than quizzing students on details of the products or obscure information that can be found in the online databases, have them create a list of resources they could use and strategies for using them.  One way, I as the instructor set the priorities and the other way the student/participant does. As a bonus, when the participant seeks information or build understanding they do this around their own needs and their needs are met.  When I have them seek information it is usually my needs that are met.

My other thoughts this week are wandering back to Mike Rowe and Dirty Jobs and the various things he has done to promote the value of Skilled Labor.  Along with this idea of someone else deciding what is important for me to learn we as a society have glorified the work that doesn't look like work.  The work everyone wants is the work that looks like being entertained.  This may sound hypocritical coming from a guy whose job is described by his children as "watching YouTube videos all day" but the idea I have about this isn't just for skilled labor.  We wait too long to get kids working.  Laws to protect young people from being exploited have barred them from entering the productive part of society.  We keep telling everyone how important Higher Education is and this makes them extend their adolescence into their late 20's when they finally finish all their schooling and start a job.  We offer loans, grants and parental support so that young people don't take responsibility for themselves until they are ready to be adults.  The problem is they are already adults long before this but without any of the skills or accountability needed to allow them to be adults.  

A better way...have students begin work based learning at a younger age. Probably 14 years or so.  Have them spend half their day working. Really working! They should have opportunities to explore a variety of work options, some manual and skilled, some cerebral and theoretical. In all these cases though students should be doing real work that really needs to be done.  Scaffolded along side these work opportunities should be courses, training, and support that helps them become better qualified for the work they are doing if they love it, or retraining if they decide they want to go in another direction.  This kind of education could be scaffolded through a lifetime of learning, and is equally valuable to the MD and the ASE.  It also allows for a direct path to deep skills for those who know what they want and a supported branching path for those prone to explore but in each case the person is contributing to society and being compensated for it which should also prevent them from becoming a menace to society by seeking a living in the criminal arts. 

These rambling thoughts might seem disconnected but they both flow out of a respect for and individuals right and desire to be in control of their own destiny. My job as a teacher should be to help someone else achieve their goals more than about deciding what they should learn.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Math Fact Cafe

Web Address:

With all the critical thinking, problem solving and project based learning around there is still a need for drill and practice.  Sometimes that means paper worksheets.  There are quite a few of these out there and here is one that I found recently that Worked very well to create a basic math facts worksheet.  You simply enter in your range and information and the print the sheet. You can also generate an answer key.  Quite a simple and fun website.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

2013 Back to School non-tech tools

Usually we focus on Electronic tech for back to school, but this week I was considering the things I most useful tools I had in my classroom and many of them were low tech.  Here's a list (in no particular order) of some of the regular tech you might want in your classroom
  1. Putty knife - Used this all the time for scraping mystery stuff off of places I don't like to think about
  2. Heavy Duty Glass Scraper.  These are a handle for a razor blade that allows you to scrape off the stuff the putty knife won't work on especially hard to remove stickers
  3. Goof Off  or Goo Gone brand cleaner or isopropyl alcohol. This finishes off the residue left by to two listed above
  4. Tweezers - You got to have them in the classroom
  5. Pliers or Multi-tool with pliers.
  6. Screw Driver Set. Spend a few dollars on a good set with a solid handle and more bits/drivers than you need.
  7. Cordless Drill - To go with #6. With these two in hand you are ready for all the jobs you don't want to wait for the custodian for like lowering or raising the legs on student desks
  8. 11" x 17" paper.  I loved this stuff.  I used it for posters, folders, children's books.  You can cut it in half lengthwise for bumper stickers or "tweets" Simply amazing to have around.
  9. USB Charger Systems - Belkin makes an amazing one with extra plugs and two USB charger ports.  They aren't very high powered so the trickle charge an iPad but are great for smaller devices.
Since a lot of these items could pose risks I suggest checking with your local district or school about having them and keep them locked away from little hands but hope this helps you be handy around your classroom

For a visual list check out

Friday, August 16, 2013

Evernote Tips

This week, I wanted to share just a couple of my favorite videos about getting started with a fantastic notetaking app.  Evernote:

You can see all there videos here or here

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Singularity is near

I have been reading The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil This has been a fascinating read and I have been really challenged in my perceptions about what the future may hold.  It is particularly interesting to read it almost 10 years after publication, because I am seeing many of his predictions shown wrong, but only in the timing.  He predicted Google Glass but was off by how soon it would be available and adopted.  He predicted ubiquitous broadband WiFi which is getting there but hasn't quite reached it.  His is only wrong in the very minor details of timing.

Today I was reading the chapter about trading in our bodies for Human 2.0.  I have joked about when the robopocalypse happens, I am switching sides.  I will ask them to download me into a machine and I will join the robots.  Kurzweil says I am not far wrong, but the biggest idea that hit me today was the concept of Virtual Reality and Real Reality as he refers to it all the time in the book.  Some might want to juxtapose Virtual Reality with Physical Reality.  As we spend more and more of our time in virtualized experiences of movies, games, and social networking sites, we are developing communities friends and experiences that are no less real for having taken place only in our mind.  Even physical reality is our minds interpretation of the molecular and energetic reactions around us.

But I like the terms Cognitive Reality versus Corporeal Reality.  If what Kurzweil argues comes to pass by 2040 or 2050 many humans will have transcended mere biological intelligence. I see this happening already.  I have a much deeper memory than my ancestors because I have thousands of photos recording specific moments with clarity that my ancestors could not have.  I have in essence expanded my intelligence/memory by offloading it to digital space.  Kurzweil predicts that this will happen with our bodies as well.  We will exist as individuals in the cloud, to use today's term, and when needed will use a variety of nanobots and holograms to generate a corporeal presence for any number of reasons.  This really highlights the contrast between Cognitive Reality and Corporeal Reality.  Something I experience only in my mind is no less real than something I experience with a body.  This could include our communities and other experiences.  It makes me really wonder how we will value all relationships and experiences when we can download them.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

This week it's all about the overhaul on the UEN website.  As a disclaimer I do work for UEN which is a non-profit state agency.  That having been said, I would promote this resource regardless if I worked for them or not.  UEN provides and curates some of the best resources for education in the world not to say anything of the state. UEN has worked hard to be a recognizable presence in Utah.  The site has long had a recognizable Purple and Green color scheme. One that has been maintained in the new site.  But with a fresher and newer feel.  Additionally there are new features like auto resizing as you shrink the window and enhanced mobile features at

But since the change has moved around a few favorite pages. Here is a list of some of the hottest UEN pages, maybe there are some here you haven't seen:
  1. The UEN Resources Page, a list of resources built by and for UEN: 
  2. The UEN Multimedia Resource page: 
  3. The UEN Curriculum Search page:
  4. The UEN Student Interactives, a curated list of great interactive websites, see a problem, see a site that should be there Contact Us and we will get right on it: 
  5. The UEN Homework Help page:
These are just a few of the great pages provided as part of the site.  Visit the site and plan on spending some time getting reacquainted after the remodel.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

9 Tools for Back to School

Here are my 9 suggestions for things you need for back to school:
  1. Your own website: Try as a good too for building a free website, or one of my other favorites, Google Sites, Weebly or EduTecher.
  2. Cloud Storage: again, where you can store up to 3GB of files depending on your status.  You can also store files in SkyDrive, Google Drive or DropBox
  3. Twitter: A Twitter account as a way to get connected to fellow teachers.  Follow #edchat, or any of these. Also follow @uenpd and @uennews and #uennews. Try if Twitter feels a bit overwhelming. You can create your own "Newspaper" based on hashtags you like.
  4. A tablet: If your district hasn't provided a tablet, then you can pick one. At this point you can pick your flavor. Make sure your district is ok with you bringing in your own device. But then a Kindle Fire, Android Tablets, Nook and iOS devices all allow you to interact with students, keep track of data and generally make you more efficient.
  5. Class Dojo: This is fast becoming one of my favorite suggestions.  Since so many people have a
    Class Dojo avatars
    smart device (see above) thiswebsite and accompanying App is a huge favorite. You can add in your students and then use the app to give both positive and negative points.  You can then share a code for parents and students to login.  Students can then track their behavior.  I saw one teacher who had a posted a rewards list from 10 points to 250 points. 10 points to change your Avatar to 250 points for a week without homework BONUS: The default avatars for your kids - Little Monsters!
  6. Evernote: The ultimate in notetaking apps. There
    are alternatives to his and there are some good reasons to use them.  Microsoft's OneNote is an exceptional Tool and allows you to keep in Sync with SkyDrive and a variety of Apps. But EverNote has quickly become my favorite because it has an app for the desktop on both Mac and PC also lots of other tools will let you do just about everything you want.  My favorite technique is to use the Page feature to take a photo of physical handouts.  Using Optical Character Recognition Evernote's servers will let you search the contents of the photo you just snapped.
  7.  This is a great tool for creating visual resources.  It can make a great disclosure, procedures or even a graphic organizer for taking notes, both teachers and students can create with it.
  8. Online Multimedia: Prezi, Glogster, Google Slides, and PowerPoint Web App all allow you to create multimedia presentations and share them online.  Check them out for some great resources.
  9. Finally, Check out for a newly updated look and feel and visit one of my favorite pages: for a list of all that UEN provides for teachers.

Welcome to Jorgie Learning

I really am learning and this blog is maintained both as a record of some of what I am doing as well as a place for me to train and teach others about creating an online presence. So please don't mind the dust. We aren't remodeling we are learning!

Visit some of my other blogs or the other blogs I find mildly entertaining for a more polished feel.