Beth Holland

Food for thought…

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Beyond the Binder: 3 Strategies for Empowering Digital Tool Use in the Classroom

Sabba Quidwai and I have been discussing ways to leverage the power of digital tools to support deeper inquiry for quite some time. Since she started her job as the Director of Innovation at the USC Keck Medical School in the Physician Assistant program, we have bounced ideas for ways that she can support her graduate students with this task. Once I also became a student last year, then we gained even more opportunities to explore this concept of digital note taking for a greater purpose.

Last fall, the two of us recorded a Google Hangout as we introduced the idea of tagging and organizing as a means to ask better questions (you can watch below). Our work also inspired us to co-author a new blog post series. The first product of this collaboration launched on EdSurge as Beyond the Binder: 3 Strategies for Empowering Digital Tool Use in the Classroom.

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Use Design Thinking to Develop the 7 Mindsets of the Mentally Wealthy – From Sabba Quidwai

Many thanks to Sabba Quidwai (@AskMsQ) for this guest post. In addition to serving as the Director of Innovative Learning for the University of Southern California – Keck School of Medicine, Sabba works with me as an instructor at EdTechTeacher.

When knowledge exists as a commodity, using design thinking to develop these seven mindsets can help students become wealthy.

This post originally appeared on EdTech Researcher

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Toward Promise or Peril? Using Snapchat to Develop Empathy in a Technology-Driven World

Will the rise of technology lead us toward promise or peril? In this guest post, Sabba Quidwai shares ideas for how Snapchat can help students develop empathy and embrace the people of the world as global citizens.

This post originally appeared on EdTech Researcher

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A Video Conversation: Digital Tools and Strategies to Streamline Research

Last week Sabba Quidwai, director of innovative learning at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, and I had a Google Hangout regarding digital research tools. In her role at USC, she supports both faculty and students as they shift their practice to embrace more digital tools in the service of learning. We have been discussing note-taking strategies, annotation tools, and curation techniques over the past few months. However, since I started school and embraced a few different tools, we decided to record the conversation in order to highlight digital research strategies, organization schemes, and citation management.

In the video, we highlight a few specific tools and mention others.

Citation Management:

  • Papers – Demonstrated in the video by Beth. Works on Mac, Windows, & iOS. Student pricing available.
  • Mendeley – Works on any device and free.
  • EndNote – For Mac, Windows, & iOS. Student pricing available.

Note Taking Tools:

  • Evernote – Discussed in the video by Sabba. Works on all devices. Free basic features but upgrade for more storage. School/business accounts available.
  • OneNote – Mentioned in the video by Beth. Works on all devices. Free with an Office 365 license.
  • Notability – Discussed in the video by Sabba. Works on Mac and iOS devices. Paid-for app on both platforms.

Sabba makes an excellent point in the video. The power of digital-research tools lies in how they allow students to make connections to content, curate their knowledge, and engage in deeper inquiry.

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Four Ways to Create a Culture of Innovation

Never before has there been a time in education where students possessed computing devices so powerful that they allowed them to be graphic designers, movie makers, editors, directors, authors, developers, music makers and more. Yet in many conversations with educators around the country, the number one question is often how can we allow students to enhance and develop these skills when we have to adhere to the standards. The culture in our educational system, one that does not always permit our teachers or students to take risks, is ironic given the innovative nature of our society.

Our Heritage of Innovation

From our earliest days, we have been an innovative society. If we examine the lives of industrious Americans such as Andrew Carnegie and JP Morgan to Henry Ford and Cornelius Vanderbilt what quickly became evident is how early, real-world experiences as adolescents shaped these men’s successes. Their experiences provided them with an opportunity to explore their passions and develop key skills, allowing them to face challenges head-on and become creative problem solvers. Malcolm Gladwell describes these individuals “outliers” – people commonly thought to possess talent and intelligence far above that of the average person. In his book, he examines the backgrounds of notable people and illustrates that outliers all had opportunities to gain an enormous amount of experience early in their lives.

Resources today allow schools and students to delve deep into discovering and nurturing their passion and gaining that critical experience. Digital tools break the barriers to global communication and create opportunities for educators to design learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Based off of Guy Kawasaki’s talk, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, here are four ways to start building a culture of innovation in your classroom.

Fail Fast. Fail Forward

Salman Khan, creator of Khan Academy recently shared, “Why I’ll Never Tell My Son He’s Smart.” In his post, he cites the research of Dr. Carol Dweck at Stanford University who has been studying people’s mindsets towards learning. Dr. Dweck has found that most people adhere to one of two mindsets: fixed or growth.

“Fixed mindsets mistakenly believe that people are either smart or not, that intelligence is fixed by genes. People with growth mindsets correctly believe that capability and intelligence can be grown through effort, struggle and failure.” 
In our classrooms, we need to leave more time for students to sit with problems, to work out their own solutions, and to uncover their own capabilities. We can do this by encouraging inquiry, engaging in socratic discussions, and allowing our students to use a variety of tools to demonstrate their understanding.

Life Long Learning

Self-reliance is one of the most important skills to develop early on. Given the constant nature of change due to the rapid influx of technologies as well as the 24/7 access to a global library via the device in a student’s pocket, it seems frivolous to spend valuable classroom time simply disseminating content rather than constructing understanding of the information.

As Shawn McCusker writes in Teachers’ Most Powerful Role? Adding Context, the teacher’s role has shifted from one of distributor of information to conductor of the classroom orchestra. Rather than provide students with content, teachers should challenge their students to seek out their own meaning and create context. It is through this process that students are learning to learn and becoming self-sufficient.

The “Art” of Articulation

What you have to say is just as important as how you say it. When presenting an idea, a proposal, or an effective argument, you only have a few minutes. Turning on PowerPoint with slides full of text that you intend to read probably isn’t the best way to present an idea. Yet how many times do we see students presenting in exactly this manner?

Guy Kawasaki shares his secret to great presentations – the 10-20-30 approach – in his book Art of the Start. He says that when presenting an idea you need 10 slides, 20 minutes and 30 point font. This concept of clear, focused messaging extends beyond the classroom or the board room. It happens every minute of every day both in person as well as on social media. Knowing how to communicate across digital and physical spaces is a skill students that students need to master.

In the world of social media where everyone is exposed to information, how can you make your ideas stand out? Posts that contain images are known to gain much more traction with an audience than those with only text. Amy Burvall (@AmyBurvall) stresses the importance of visual literacy and creative design as students develop their critical thinking skills. Not only do they need to be able to articulate their points, but to also represent them through a variety of media.

Digital tools such as Canva allows students to create and design everything from social media posts to presentations. Engaging students in this process of creative design allows them to learn how to share their ideas in a variety of formats.

Make Meaning

Ultimately, the skills that our students develop – creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking – are best used in the service of community and in the service of making the world a better place. In Kristen Wideen’s elementary class, students launched #KidsCanCreateChange. Jodie Deinhammer’s science students are Teaching the World about healthy living. Billy Corcoran’s 4th graders are collaborating with their local Conservation Commission to educate their community about biodiversity and conservation.

How do you create a culture of innovation in your classroom? Join Beth Holland and Sabba Quidwai for #1to1techat on Wednesday May 27th, 2015 at 6PST/9EST to talk about creating a culture of innovation.

Here are this week’s questions:

  1. How do you define innovation? or How do you define innovation vs. technology
  2. How do you create an innovative culture while balancing high stakes assessments?
  3. How do you create a culture of risk taking?
  4. The missing “C” is often community, how can you encourage your students to make meaning and use their skills to be problem solvers
  5. Thinking ahead, what will you do to create a culture of innovation in your classroom/school?
  6. Share a resource (link, video or article) that inspires creating a culture of innovation


SketchToys and Creating a Culture of Innovation

I’ve been writing again. However, I can’t seem to keep up with this blog with all of the others. So, my apologies, consider this post to be a “two-for.”

SketchToy on Free Tech for Teachers

I stumbled on SketchToy while looking for Chromebook ideas. However, the beauty of this web-tool is that it actually works on any device! What makes Sketch Toy different from other tools is the ability to not only draw, but also automatically convert your drawings into step-by-step animations that can be shared with a link. Additionally, anyone who accesses your drawing can then add on to it and generate a new link to share, allowing students to quickly iterate on each others’ drawings WITHOUT needing an account! I was so excited about it that I had to send a post off to Richard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers. To get an idea, check out my cool fire truck.

 4 Ways to Build a Culture of Innovation

While I wrote the first post rather quickly on my own, this second one came about in record time thanks to the amazing Sabba Quidwai (@AskMsQ). We are co-hosting #1to1techat tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 27th at 9:00 pm EST) and decided to write about it first. Sabba gets the lion’s share of the credit for kicking off the idea and doing the bulk of the research. An interesting fact about this post is that we wrote it in 72 hours via Google Doc and text message. Thanks to Justin Reich, it is now published on EdTech Researcher.