With the holidays upon us…

First, let me extend greetings and warm wishes for you and your family during both this holiday season and for the year.

Second, let me ask you to consider the message you send through the holiday season in your classroom, your office or your building.

You have constraints, certainly, imposed by your governing body (district, building admin, etc.), but within the constraints of your seasonal celebrations, what messages are you conveying to students? To parents? To the community at large? While you are thinking about that, let me run down another trail for a moment.

My family celebrates Christmas. The operational possession there is “my family”. It is not my Christmas. I didn’t make it. I don’t own it. The traditions I had with my parents are certainly a part of my celebration today, but there are definitely differences.

No one owns the holidays. There’s a lot of hostility that exists because people have stopped wishing each other an exclusive holiday, and have gone for the more global “Happy Holidays”. Personally, I want to be inclusive. I’m not looking to rob anyone of their celebration of Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanzaa or the Prophet’s Birthday or Cyber Monday or Wright Brothers Day. I hope you, and everyone else, to has a great and relaxing holiday, and I’m not interested in wishing you the incorrect holiday for what you choose to celebrate. And if you decide to wish me a happy holiday, feel free to wish me good tidings for the holiday you celebrate, because if you wish me a Happy Chanukah, I know you are sending kind regards.

So as you get ready to celebrate, and even as you begin to remove some decorations late next week, think about how wide you are casting your net to spread tidings of comfort and joy. Hopefully, all of your students feel their celebrations are worthy of sharing with others, particularly if they include peace on earth and good will to all.

The Technology Conversation

There will be no “last word” on how technology affects our society, and as a result our kids, education system, etc. Every new app, new device, new way to create a prosthesis or synthesize a formula has potential impact on the world, so as long as we make new things, there will be no finality to the conversation.

I would love to say I am a casual observer of the effect, but I am clearly not. I am a parent of technology-users, I am a product (in terms of learning), a consumer – my life is directly affected by the ability to use technology. Many things would be much more inconvenient for me, whether writing this article or conducting my banking without going to the bank.

Before I go any further, I am going to cite three folks who are absolute GOLD when it comes to this conversation. Consider following them on Twitter, because while their viewpoints are not all the same, they are resonant, credible and poignant.

Jordan Shapiro’s (@jordosh) column today makes me think about the technology conversation. It can be found here. In short, Shapiro expresses concern about Sherry Turkle’s (@STurkle) position on modern technology, which is that modern technology is not a surrogate for true conversation and connection.

What strikes a chord for me is that Turkle said the same thing Shapiro is saying about technology when she was a young advocate for the adoption of technology. Is it really just a conversation that moves from, “Hey, the kids are alright” to “Hey, the kids are not alright?” over the course of 30 years? Danah Boyd (@zephoria), the author of “It’s Complicated” may also promote the tenet that digital connection is the connection in this day and age, and in many ways reinforces stronger bonds for young people. Danah also reports the experiences of young people who have experienced the extremely damaging power of those connections when peers turn on you.

(And Danah, if you do read this, I love your Twitter banner right now! For everyone else: It’s all R2, R4 and R5 astromech droids with an R7 tucked in the bottom right hand corner. What’s an astromech? R2-D2 from Star Wars is an astromech. But I digress…)

That probably depends on who you speak with. Now in my mid-40s, I have observed first-hand the problems students incur when using technology unfettered and undirected. I have also observed the ease with which people can complete the process-oriented pieces of life that previously consumed the life of a high school student and parent. So, more than trying to take an adversarial position in any direction, what I need to tell educators working with any student is this: Every position in this conversation is important. Sherry Turkle has experienced and grown with changes in our culture and society. Danah Boyd has lived experience and has researched first-person how technology is affecting the culture of young people (who by the way, will generally become older people). Jordan Shapiro is enmeshed in how tech, simulation and gaming are changing the dynamics of interaction.

All three of these folks have a unique perspective and focus in the tech realm, and all three (as well as many others) have important things to share. Continuing to have thoughtful and meaningful discussion about how tech is affecting our society, our young people and in turn our ability to educate those young people academically and socially is probably the most important part. So please, read away.

I also like to share articles through LinkedIn and Twitter on current technology events that are shaping our world. Feel free to join the conversation at:

LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/ericjchancy

Twitter – @ericjchancy

Eye Catching News = Augmented News Report

Eye Catching News = Augmented News Report

I am so excited to announce the release of Eye Catching News. This project takes current events and brings it to life. With a help of a talented friend at AugThat we developed 2 unique triggers, one for World News and one for National News. When you scan these triggers using the AugThat’s STAR app (Supreme Tutoring Augmented Reality) you will receive an animated news report. What is the unique part is the stories will change about every two weeks or so. The triggers will stay the same but the news stories will automatically change.

Not only did we design these triggers but we also have developed lessons and or activities to go along with the news stories. Best of all the stories can be used at all grade levels. You can download a lesson and or activity that best fits your needs. There are some lessons/activities designed for younger students, older students, and along with question starters. Being a technology teacher and knowing how important it is to have tech integration I’ve also included Tech Integration ideas and tools. I broke down the tech integration into apps and web based tools since not everyone has iPad/tablets and or computers/netbooks/Chromebooks.

Ideas:

  • Start an interactive notebook and attach the two triggers to the cover or inside the spiral notebook, 3 tab folder, or a 3 ring binder.
  • Use the writing prompts to start a journal and or blog.
  • Have students write/create digitally and submit their work via an LMS such as Edmodo.
  • Post Question starters in an LMS such as Edmodo to create an online decision.
  • Mix and match the pre-made lessons. (Don’t use the same one for each story.)
  • Can be used as a center – self guided.

Using the Triggers:

  1. Download the STAR app from AugThat (Supreme Tutoring Augmented Reality)
  2. Launch the App
  3. Tap Start Lesson
  4. Tap Current Events
  5. Scan the Triggers

The Activities:

Other Activities & Triggers:

I already of requests for a Science, Math, and a Person in History augmented lessons similar to the Current Events.  So keep your eyes peeled I am sure I can work something out.