Tuesday, July 23, 2013

ADE Class of 2013 - We were on fire!

As I finally find time to reflect on the ADE Institute a few weeks ago, I find myself filled with pride and a sense of belonging.

I do have to admit that at the beginning I felt like I was at summer camp.  That feeling of being alone and lost. I didn't have many friends there.  I didn't know who I would be "stuck" with.  I didn't know what I might do that might embarrass myself. I felt in awe and a little intimidated by the amazing talent of the other ADEs.  I didn't know my place.

Let me tell you, Apple has the best camp counselors around! From the first person I met in the registration line through the end of the week I have rarely felt more supported and encouraged.

My fellow ADEs are incredible.  I felt overwhelmed to be in their company.  Their contributions to education give me an incredibly bright outlook.  They are truly amazing people.

So, when I returned to work I was asked several times about what it was like and there is a lot I can't speak about.  It's hard to describe anyway because it was all an experience and it is hard to describe experiences.  Besides, describing individual activities or events doesn't do the Institute justice.

The Experience
Lets just say the week was a well-designed learning experience that provided all the necessary ingredients for learning.  There was a driving question, there was scaffolding, there was team-building, there expert resources if needed, it was comfortable, it was safe, it expected results and it authentically gave us the motivation to deliver results.  

Wrapping It Up
I can't describe the whole week in a single blog post but I do want to sum up what this experience means and how it translates to today's learners. In our district we use the HEAT Framework for lesson design so I wanted to rate it on the HEAT Scale and see how "hot" it was.

Higher Order Thinking
We were a level 6 - Student learning/questioning at evaluating/creating levels. 
We, as learners, were expected to create. Creativity at the highest levels of Bloom's was encouraged, expected and cultivated. We were encouraged to not just create, but curate great resources for our audience.  
Engaged Learning
We were a level 6 - Students collaborate to define the task, the process, and/or the solution; collaboration extends beyond the classroom. 
The whole week was centered around collaboration and working in our PLNs to accomplish our individual tasks that will ultimately complete our project. 
Authentic Connections
We were a level 6 - The learning experience is directly relevant to students and involves creating a product that has a purpose beyond the classroom that directly impacts the students. 
Our project was very authentic to us, especially for our PLN.
Technology Use
We were a level 6 - Students use self-selected digital and/or environmental resources to accomplish learning outcomes beyond the use of conventional strategies. 
We had access to so many tools and learning resources designed to deliver new content for our audience. Tools like Keynote, GarageBand, Final Cut Pro, Motion Graphics, iBooks Author, iTunes U, etc. provide new ways to create and deliver content.

Final Thoughts
Despite the unusually cool weather for mid-July in Austin, Texas, the learning was HOT. Obviously Apple and all the attendees were on FIRE last week.

I am sure I will be analyzing this week for months to come and trying to incorporate what I learned into my own position.  I thank Apple, Maxx Judd, Don Henderson, Rebecca Stockley, Maria Henderson and all the other Apple employees that made this one of the greatest educational experiences of my life.

I also want to thank my new friends in my PLN. It is an honor and a privilege to get to know you and I look forward to learning from each of you!

Friday, July 12, 2013

About being an Apple Distinguished Educator

I have been very blessed this year with a few great opportunities that have been very reinvigorating for me.

About a year ago I did some serious reflecting over my 23 years in educational technology and how I got to where I am. It was an unintentional career(see the bottom of the post for background).  

I decided that if I was going to try to accomplish more and have a fulfilling second half of my career that I was going to have to go against my natural inclination of being too shy and having a lack of confidence. So, I decided to step out there and here we are.

On February 19th I received an e-mail from a friend telling me congratulations on becoming an Apple Distinguished Educator. I hadn't received anything official.  How did they know??  I checked my spam mail and there it was, the official notice from Maxx Judd, ADE Worldwide Program Manager. I was so excited, nervous, proud, honored and a dozen other similar feelings all at once.

About a week later I got the icing on the cake.  I was named a New Media Consortium K12 Ambassador, one of 22 from around the world.  Another great honor!

Now, I was raised in a little bitty town with a very typical protestant upbringing.  I jokingly say my mother used to tell my brothers, sisters and I that we "weren't so special and we didn't have to act like we were". Now that I'm older I know what she was trying to say. It was her teaching me to be a humble person and I think that contributes to my insecurities about trying to step out of my comfort zone. Because of this, self promotion is hard for me. I try to be a humble man.

After I got the notice, I didn't want to tell anyone. I never told my staff. They know now somehow. I tested the waters on Twitter. Built some confidence and posted on Facebook but didn't make a big deal.

Applying to be an ADE, for me, was more about opportunity. It was also about validation. It helped validate in my mind that what I believe about education is shared by others.  

That being said, next week I am attending the North America 2013 Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in Austin. There will be over 100 educators from K12 and Higher Education from Canada, Mexico and the United States.  

I hear that it will be one of the best weeks of my career and I have no doubt that it will probably exceed my expectations. I look forward to meeting new friends, new co-learners, new mentors, and new leaders.

What new opportunities are in for me next?  I don't know today, but I bet I have some ideas a week from now!
I was in my senior year at the University of North Texas in Denton completing my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Drawing - 1990.  It was a big year.  Met my beautiful soon-to-be wife and got engaged. Immersed myself in the art world.  Worked as a welder for a sculptor for a few months.  Got a part time job at the Texas Center for Educational Technology in the UNT College of Education.

I didn't even know the term "educational technology" before I got that job.  I was a clerk, which I think was the male title for a secretary.  I answered phones, ran errands, made copies, stapled, collated, and used my first Mac.  Here I am today.

It wasn't that I had not used computers much.  I bought my first computer when I was a freshman in high school - a Commodore 64.  I got the money by selling my first place countywide broiler chickens at the Bee County Livestock Show in Beeville, Texas.  That is how I got started with computers.  After that I was president of the first high school computer club in the very first computer class at Pettus High School in Pettus, Texas.

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