Drive, Switch, and Broken Reality

Some themes from this year’s reading:

Autonomy, Motivation, Purpose

Dan Pink’s Drive

The Elephant and the Rider

Heath Brothers, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Tough

Goal, Rules, Feedback, Voluntary Participation = Hard Fun

– Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken: What Games Make us Better

Powerful ideas here.  Figuring out how to use them to improve school.  How about you?

How Do You Learn a New Skill on Your Own?

Today is Tech 5 we discussed how to learn new skills on your own. We looked at a completed Excel Spreadsheet that showed the average words per minute on 11/19/2010 and 1/10/2011 for the section.


Students came up with the following suggestions to learn something on their own:

  • Search for ‘create a table in excel’ on YouTube
  • Figure it out – Play with the software
  • Click on the help button in Excel

We discussed how it’s often hard to figure out how to do something because you need the vocabulary of the software/program to find what you need to learn to do.

Here is the vocabulary to complete this assignment:

  • Insert a Chart
  • AutoSum: to sup up a row or column
  • Create an equation for the average increase in typing


Many times, having someone show you these skills is the easiest way to learn them, but knowing where to go to figure them out is important as well.

The assignment for next week is to watch the following videos on excel.  We’ll be completing the spreadsheet at the beginning of class.



How do you learn a new skill?  I like to find experts, but also appreciate finding tutorials online.  I believe that learning is shifting to be a more independent process in this connected world.  An important skill for us to teach our students.

Tech 5 Digital Footprint Lesson

digital-footprintThe goal of this lesson is to give students awareness of what it means to have a digital footprint.

Ask the students, “What  is a digital footprint?” 

Definitions include:

  1. What can be found when you Google yourself.
  2. Data collected by different web sites you visit.
  3. Data recorded by email, social networking, cell phone and video game companies.
  4. Anywhere where you use a username and password.

Digital Footprint on Wikipedia

Pew Internet & American Life Research on Digital Footprints

I then show this video: 


I then ask them to think for a minute about their digital footprint and then lead a short discussion around the following questions:

  • Why would people Google you? 
  • What is your digital reputation?

At this point, I ask them students to take out their footprints (see link above) and list the accounts the have online: websites, social networks,  phones they text with, video games they play online, etc.

Once they have done this for 5 minutes, I have them enter this data into our homework submission site.  This is good data to start conversations about Internet safety in the future. 

How do you teach about Digital Footprints?

iPad Roll Out Scenario

We’re writing a iPad roll out simulation right now and as we go, we’re coming upon lots of interesting questions.

Here’s the scenario:

* Rolling out 50 iPads in the Fall of 2011 with the goal:  To use the iPad for as many textbooks and for note taking while exploring educational apps

I’m posted our questions and the answers that I just ran through in the document below.  Please add/edit as you wish.  Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

iPad Roll Out Scenario



Basics — Managing Email…

imageEach year the amount of email receive and send seems to increase. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to efficiently work through email so I’m using my time most efficiently.  Here’s the system that I’m using now.  It’s mostly borrowed from the inbox zero system that David Allen recommends in Getting Things Done.

Folder Setup:

First, you need these few folders:



When you receive a message, first ask, “What is this?” and then, “What is the next action on this?” 

You will find quickly that your best friend is the delete key. If there is an action on the email and you can do it in under 2 minutes, get it done.  If not, put it in Next Actions. 

Here’s how you use the rest of these folders:

Archives –> I received an email from a teacher that I might want to search for and use as a resource someday, but I don’t need it right now – or – I have an action that is complete, but I want to keep holding on to it. 

Next Actions –> Your inbox should not be the folder you are working from as you can quickly become distracted by new messages.  If you get a message that will take more than 2 minutes to complete, just put it in Next Actions until you finish processing your inbox.  Then work form Next Actions.

Waiting For –> This is an advanced folder.  If you’re working on a project or delegate a task to someone, put the email in your waiting for folder so you know you are waiting for a response.

That’s it for now.  I’ve found these techniques helpful.  I still struggle to manage all of my email, but having a system keeps me honest about the amount of time it takes to process email and if I have too much on my plate at any one time.

Oh, last thing… For adults, if you get 100 emails a day, you probably want to block out 1 – 1.5 hours each day to get through them.  No small percentage of your day should be used managing email.