AEIOU Responding

In early May, I had the good fortune to go to the iT Summit. I often feel like I have a good grasp on the tech end of things so my goal with conferences is to pick up as many instructional strategies as I can so I can share them out with my staff. I consider myself somewhere between a tech advocate and tech evangelist so the gleaning and sharing fits well with my M.O. One of the interesting questioning/responding models that I picked up this year comes via Dean Shareski.

After watching an activity like watching a video, reading a book, doing a lab, etc. have students respond using an AEIOU approach:

A: Adjective – a word or two that describes something they saw or learned (synthesis)
E: Emotion – describe how a particular part of the learning made you feel (stories should evoke an emotion, so it’s right to acknowledge them)
I: Interesting – write something you found interesting about the content/topic (engagement in activity – students who say there wasn’t anything interesting could answer “what was the least interesting part”)
O: Oh! – describe something that caused you to say “Oh!” (reflection of own learning)
U: Um? – write a question about something you learned or want to learn more about (extension)

This seems like a good model to engage students. I particularly like that it makes use of both cognitive and emotional ties to the subject and I particularly like the “U” as it encourages the students to think deeper (ie: growth mindset). You can use this as an exit slip or take it further.

To add my own thoughts, aka, “and sometimes why?”
AEIOU could be used as an intro to a deeper-thinking assignment to investigate a “how”” and a “why?”. You could use the question as a launch point for students to write a paper from a common short story/poem/video; in science you could do likewise where you have students use the Um? To develop/propose their own lab to test their question. Math could use this to develop questions and problems to solve for the W&A classes (and likely others, too).

What are some ways that you see AEIOU working in your classes?

The Internet In Real Time

This post started as a quick link to the first picture, but quickly unravelled into some thoughts about my own digital identity.

This has been making its rounds on the Twitter-Ed-o-Sphere in the past week or so and so I submit it for your viewing pleasure:

Click the animation to open the full version (via penny stocks).

When I was first making my mark on the world as a teacher, I was very aware of how much data I put online and constantly curated my posts and my friends’ posts on my Facebook wall. Some things were left up for a couple of days, some for longer periods. Most of my thoughts were around building my professional identity, specifically, how I represented myself as a brand. In the past few years, how I use Facebook has changed. I still keep in touch with my friends from University but since we don’t spend as much time together, there is less to post about. Now it’s mostly pictures of my kids so I can share them with friends and relatives and pictures of barbecued food… also so I can share them with my friends and family. The relationships that I’m focused on are different, so how I use the tool is different.

Last year, I started using LinkedIn to keep track of my personal work history. As I was getting into it, I kept contemplating what I was doing signing up for another social network. Where I wound up was that I was going to use this site to keep in touch with some of my friends and acquaintances. At the same time, I was thinking about what the purpose of my Twitter and Facebook accounts would be for. Each tool/site has its strengths and each handles communication and profiles in different ways. Thinking about this, I decided to take advantage of those strengths and to focus my online interactions/relationships with people based on our relationship and what tools they use. Facebook is where I focus my closer relationships, LinkedIn for my friends who could be considered contacts, and Twitter would be more of a public persona. This isn’t to say that this is a strict rule – I have some people in all three camps, some in two, and others only in one. I guess, even a while ago, I was contemplating my identity as a digital resident (see this post for context).

Earlier this week, I saw this tweet, which got me thinking about my digital identity again (and this re-hashing the above thoughts in my head):

I’m still getting used to Twitter as a part of my identity. In person, I’m quite vocal; online, I tend to be a lurker. I like to gather information and share it with people one-on-one. Tweeting links and quick thoughts isn’t necessarily my thing. I often go many days in a row without tweeting a thing or even a single re-tweet. Growing my online presence will mean more active participation in a larger network of teachers. I’m grateful for the things I’ve been learning while I have been participating in #DCMOOC; it makes me feel part of a larger community.

One way I’ve started to work on my sharing is to overhaul my bookmarks page. At first, it was just a few links I entered manually, but I’ve since switched over to pearltrees. I like that I can quickly bookmark to my site through a browser extension; it works well with my work flow. I think that qualifier is the key to moving forward; when I add a social site/service, it needs to work with what I’m doing or make my life easier.

So I’m curious, how do you manage your digital self? What are your tips and tricks to make life “in the real world” and “digital world” flow together?

My first MOOC

I am hoping to blog more.  It seems like every year or two every blogger makes that comment, but I’m hoping to make it stick.  I am aiming for at least once a week.  To help me on my way (ie: to light a fire under me), I’ve joined the #DCMOOC, a massive open online course focusing on digital citizenship.  Check it out, register for it, participate – it’s not too late.  I participated in my first session on Wednesday; while I was familiar with a lot of what’s going on, it was great to have a low-pressure intro session where we established some norms and got everyone on the same page.  I even picked up a few things along the way.  I’m looking forward to the next four weeks.

Visitors and Residents, Digital Natives and Immigrants

I came across this tweet a few hours ago:

I have predominantly been operating under the model of digital natives and digital immigrants, but it had been grating on me a bit as of late, so I clicked through on the first link.  This introduced me to David White’s concept of visitors and residents.  It certainly illustrates how people exist online based on their motivations.  Visitors are there to meet a goal – the Internet, particularly social media, is a toolbox and they select what they need for as much as they need it, then move on.  Residents see the Internet as an extension of the physical world around them; it is a space instead of a tool.  It’s definitely worth the 20 min it takes to watch the video.  As an advocate for technology in the classroom and a coach for my peers, the ideas in this video help me to see motivations for people to use the Internet and how they come to have spaces instead of tools.

After watching the video and processing for a while, I had to go back and track down the tweet.  I realized there was a second link there that I needed to follow through:  Mapping the Internet.  Here, Dean Shareski shares a mapping exercise to show social media services that he uses.  Along the x-axis Dean inserts the visitor-resident spectrum and along the y-axis a personal-institutional (professional/work) spectrum.  Using this plane, he maps out various social media sites to show which sites he uses for what purpose (personal vs professional).

This is an interesting idea.  When I find some time (cop-out alert), I want to do this for both where I’m currently at and my ideal.  It might help me as I think about my on online presence and where I’d like it to be someday.

While thinking about and exploring these ideas a bit tonight, I see strong ties to digital citizenship as the visitor-resident concept both assume some level of interaction online.  More specifically, both have people leaving a digital footprint.  A resident is likely to have a broader and deeper print than a visitor, but there will be one all the same.  David talks briefly about the idea of a personal brand, which is tied heavily into how you manage your footprint and represent yourself as a citizen.

I wonder about joining the native-immigrant and visitor-resident models to create a plane instead of a linear spectrum.  I have students who have grown up in this digital world, who are highly ept about their Internet use as a series of tools but don’t consider it an extension of their physical space.  I think about my students who have these enormous online spaces that they’ve eked out for themselves but have very little concept of ownership over their space and have very little concept of how to use the tools.  I also think about the people I know in the EdTech world who have been there longer than I have (ie: digital immigrants) but have created a space and tools.  There’s the other case of the digital immigrants who are visitors; I think many of them are cautious but will take on new tools as they need them.  The visitor-resident model does a good job of explaining why people use the Internet and the native-immigrant model does a better job of explaining who these people are.  I’m not sure if the “who” matters more than the “why”, but it seems that it should be important.  Possibly, given that that it has implications for a digital footprint due to how long the footprint lasts – a youth will likely spend many more years online than an adult.  I would also think that youth are more likely to seek out a digital space for themselves, highlighting the importance of the work around digital citizenship.

It’s late and I’ve shifted into train-of-thought writing, so I should call it a night.  Besides, I have more thinking to do about this.  Let’s hope I remember to write it down.

Replacing Reader

As Google Reader was winding down going into the summer, my late spring was spent trying to find a suitable replacement for Reader. I tried Feedly, CommaFeed, Feedspot, and a slew of others to try them out (as I type that, I realize that I should go back and remove some of those accounts to keep my digital footprint under control). Here’s what I was looking for in my ideal replacement for Reader:

  • Look/feel/function nearly identical to Google Reader (there was a reason I was using Reader in the first place, after all)
  • Reasonably fast (I knew not all options would have the same server power as Google)
  • Ability to import my feeds
  • Mobile app for Android
  • Ability to create a feed of favourited items
  • Mark items as read as a scroll pass them
  • Ability to “unread” an item
  • Firefox extension

Some of these new RSS readers have some cool features, but none felt quite right. I enjoyed Feedspot the most of the replacements, but it suffered from slow server speed and didn’t yet have an app.

Somewhere along the way, I stumbled across InoReader and I fell in nerd-love with it. It is reasonably quick, has a customize-able interface (lots of skins, can enable a Reader-like interface), and fills the rest of my wish-list. Today, as I started revitalizing my blog, I enabled my “favourites” feed to add content to the side bar. To share an item here, all I need to do is click the “broadcast” button inside InoReader.

Now that I’ve been using InoReader for a few months, I’m kind of glad that Google shut down Reader. If it wasn’t for them doing so, this awesome product probably wouldn’t have been developed and I certainly wouldn’t have started using it. As frustrating as it is for a web service to close its doors, it’s great to know that if there are people who see value in it then they will find a way to continue and improve on the former service. I highly recommend InoReader to anyone who even mentions RSS feeds around me. If you’re still looking for a replacement for Reader, or want to try another option, give InoReader a shot.

Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck is a great tool for helping students get down the the essence of a presentation.  Students are able to make use of a library of stunning images or import their own, then add slide titles and text over top.  There isn’t a lot of room to add a lot of text, without obscuring the images, making it so the slide creator(s) need to focus in on key points or spread information over multiple slides.  Presentations can be shared to social media sites, have the URL emailed, embedded on blogs, and even downloaded for offline sharing.

Check out the example below:

[contentblock id=haiku]
What is Media Literacy Today? – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Pros: Image library, highly share-able, ease of use, can be created in iOS app or in a web browser
Cons: No Android app


Flowboard is an iOS-based presentation tool that looks and functions similarly to a photo gallery. Users can create slides that combine images and text or embed content from Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook, and other online sources.  Flowboards can be shared by URL or embeded into a site.

Here’s an example:

View on FlowVella – Presentation Software for Mac iPad and iPhone

Pros: Good for picture-rich presentations and portfolios that link to other sources; portfolios can be viewed using a web browser
Cons: Presentations can be made solely on iOS devices.


I just installed a LaTeX plugin.  What’s LaTeX you ask?  It’s an algorithm used to convert specified code into traditional math-speak via an image.  For example, it will change something like this:

\int_{-4}^{20}(x^{45}+20)\mathrm{d} x

Into this:

\int_{-4}^{20}(x^{45}+20)\mathrm{d} x


Pretty neat, eh?  You can use this site to create some code.  I also have this feature enabled in the comments.  Not that anyone will use it – I just think it’s awesome.