Twitter Interview

  • A Fresno State student is interviewing me through Twitter! Below are the questions and my responses. The Interview was recorded over the course of a few days
  • Question 1 by: Jessica Zendejas ‏ @jessica84011
    @teachusingtech Hi Mr. Diaz, I am going to begin our interview.How have you used twitter in your professional development?Thankyou #ci100
  • Question 1 response: I use Twitter on a nightly basis to improve my skills as a teacher, stay current with ongoing education news and also to help where I can professionally. Twitter is an awesome tool that allows me to reach out to teaching professionals on a daily basis and ask questions and/or provide help to those in need. I primarily follow like minded people on Twitter. What I mean by that, is that I follow people in the area of education. This allows me to ready micro-blogs that are written specifically for my area of interest.
  • Follow-up Question 1a: Jessica Zendejas ‏ @jessica84011
    @teachusingtech and why twitter, when there are so many other social media sites out there? Thanks again for your help
  • Question 1a response: You are right, there are a lot of choices when it comes to social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and so on. However, it has been my experience that Twitter allows for the most convenient and densely populated center for the type of information I am looking for. You get to populate your Twitter feed with interests that fit your needs. My needs are in the area of education and more specifically education technology and I follow like minded educators. My Twitter feed is populated with links to articles and videos, as well as 142 characters of thought provoking statements and conversations.
  • Question 2 by:Jessica Zendejas ‏ @jessica84011
    @teachusingtech Thankyou. Second question:what suggestions do you have for educators who want to use twitter as an educational resource?
  • Question 2 response: My number one suggestion would be to try it out and see if it fits your needs. I am a fan of Twitter but you may not be and that is okay. On the other hand, the education conversation needs to continue outside of the classroom and being a good educator, one who works on making a difference, takes time outside of the classroom. Therefore, some type of social media allows you to access the minds and thoughts of thousands of educators all around the world who have a similar mission. Okay back to Twitter as a resource. Another suggestion I have is to find a hash tag, which is a grouping of comments tied to a specific idea, and begin browsing through content and comment when you can to add to the discussion. You can only be better for it and you begin to form relationships with people you can count on. If you want to follow education technology conversations, a suggestion would be #edtech or if you are a new teacher #ntchat is great! One last suggestion would be to have parents, students and/or teachers create a hashtag, so that you can create a conversation about a particular topic. For example, I have started a hash tag on the greatness of #dchilders. Please go there and comment when you can. We will see how popular this topic is?
  • Cue 2012 Review – Day One

    Hundreds of educational tech enthusiasts flocked to the annual CUE (computer using educators) conference this past weekend (March 15-17, 2012) in Palm Springs, California. A lot was learned over the 3 days at the conference and here are some of the highlights:

  • Day 1
    Chris Fitzgerald Walsh spoke about creativity in the classroom. Some myth’s of creativity were explored:
    -Must happen in isolation
    -Happens during random aha moments
    -It’s what artist do
    -It’s innate
    It makes sense that creativity can happen to and by anyone. You don’t have to be alone with your thoughts for something magical to happen, in fact, creating in a group setting is healthy and the people that you are working with can provide a stimulus to your thought process. Sure artists can be creative but anyone has the ability to create and and is not just reserved for those artistically inclined.

    Some conditions for creativity:
    -Playfulness (having FUN!)
    -You need time
    Having fun and just being playful can become a catalyst for students trying to create. We as educators need to give students the time to explore and allow them to FAIL! We also should not place judgements on intermediary work during the exploration process. The students should feel secure in their ability to explore without the hinderance of evaluation, which can provide students with walls to overcome or roadblocks to think about instead of moving forward and allowing creativity and maturation to take place.

    In order to be creative you must have a passion, an attitude towards what really matters and thus will provide the spark! It is important for anyone who wants to create to internalize a sense of permission to create. More often than not, we stop our selves from following through on an idea or thought instead of permitting ourselves to succeed and move forward.

    Discipline and commitment are necessary to be creative and it is this type of attitude that cultivates the wonderful ideas that are created on a daily a model model promotes creativity and asks students to stay in the moment and commit to an idea. Design thinking is a mesh of many disciplines, such as math and science and allows students to broaden the mind.

    Technology needs to be at the forefront of an education so that problems can be solved now and in the future. The ability to allow students to apply what they are learning at an early age, exposes them to a glimpse into their future.

  • Tom Van Ark – The Pivot to Personal Digital Learning
    In this session we discussed the value of blended learning, which is a combination of face-to-face instruction, along with computer mediated activities. According to Web Learning @ Penn State website, we should blend learning to allow advanced learning, interactively in the classroom and outside of it, there is access to quality multi-media content anytime of the day. Conversations are still happening about this topic and they need to continue. There are many school in America and abroad that have adopted this and similar models and have reported positive to amazing results. However, there are skeptics out there, that say any and all data can be skewed to present any school in a positive light.

    No matter what you think of these systems, we can always learn and take the best of what people are trying to do to make education a better place for students and gives them and advantage when they leave school.

    Here is an example of a school that is using the blended model approach:
    About Carpe Diem Schools

  • Frank Guttler – Lights, Camera, Learn
    10 lessons for better video in the classroom
    A call sheet is the order of business for any production day.
    For any movie there is pre-production, production and post-production.
    Celtx is a free pre-production software download that allows a film maker to create story boards, scripts and much more.
    What is the difference between a shot and a scene? A shot is part of a film between two shots, where a scene is a series of shots to tell a story.
    The evolution of a movie goes something like this: Shot, Scene, Sequence, Movie
    When shooting a movie, think point of view of a shot. For example shooting from high or above, from down low or find different angles.
    Here is an example of a quick exercise you can do with your class: Show a segment of a movie and count shots by clapping every time there is a new shot. Claps will increase in frequency as the action increases.
    Lighting Basics: 3 Point Lighting (Key Light, Fill Light and Back light – Lighting Basics at Media College
    Below I have a video example of how you can introduce your students to the process of film making by learning through experience, story boarding and reflection.
    Check the video out and begin your film making experience.

    Other ideas to teach students film making:
    Have students study the elements of genre (classical, western, etc).
    Complete a scene study (check out the Ikea Lamp commercial)
    Use pictures to tell a story. Here is a link to Frank Guttler’s Thousand Words project.

    A great resource is the Library of Congress website. Check out the American Memory Photo Archive for images that can be used to build a photo video/movie.

  • Copyright: Do not Speed!

    I recently visited our local mountains with my 6th grade class for outdoor science school and decided that I wanted to communicate some of the activities to our parents and families. So, I decided to produce a nightly, video enhanced podcast/movie that parents could view from my school website. Myself and another teacher shared the task of capturing still images and video throughout the day and I would create the podcast so it would be available to the parents. I really enjoyed producing the files and we had great interaction and feedback from the parents. About midweek I received and e-mail from my school district that asked if I knew what “copyright” was and that I needed to change or remove the music that I had used in conjunction with my images and video. Of course I knew what copyright was and is! I would like to think I am above the curve in techie-ness. I would agree in a heartbeat that I cannot recite verbatim the music copyright and fair use laws. My main focus was to create an experience that the parents could enjoy and obtain a glimpse into their kid’s lives at science school. I did not think I was supposed to be following a rubric and that my product was somehow, some grand assault on the music industry and that I was going to cause a major lawsuit against our district!

    But in the end folks, I was speeding and I was wrong. Have you ever been driving along and did not notice that you were speeding? You were breaking the law, but you slowly apply the breaks and continue about your day. You knew that you were not supposed to be driving faster than the posted speed limit, you know the law, so you self-corrected and all was well. I too, knew that there was a copyright law but I was distracted and did not focus on this aspect. I just wanted to get a video out and to our parents, so they might enjoy part of the experience. Again, this is not an excuse, I was speeding and I was wrong. I learned a valuable lesson and I will utilize this as a teachable moment. So, when the students walk into my classroom on Monday morning, I will explain to them how I had made a mistake and utilized popular music that was copyrighted in my project. Note, not a single student of mine has ever utilized copyrighted music in their projects but somehow that law did not pertain to me at outdoor science school. It is obvious that I need to teach by example and I believe I am. Here are is an example of a website that offers Royalty Free Music (Creative Commons Music).I was going to bore you with copyright music law, but instead I want to share this amusing video:

    Sir Ken Robinson: Creativity

    Evaluate these thoughts:

    • Legislation destroys creativity
    • Standardized testing has become an obsession
    • The thought has been to learn things in school that lead to jobs
    • Industrialization has shaped modern education
    • For math and science, the question is asked, “how can we make it better.” For art, there needs to be a space created for dialogue and discussion to even take place. Why?
    • Our current system is obsolete
    • Promote innovation and creativity
    • Education+Culture+Commerce
    • Organizations are having trouble with complexity
    • Promoting creativity is a bottom line imperative
    • For most of human history we have led local lives and communicated primarily with those around us. Today we act differently
    • Technology is in its infancy
    • Within the next ten years, computers may go from algorithms to rewriting their own operating systems
    • We direct people to jobs we believe will be available
    • Misconceptions: Only special people are creative
    • We can’t wait to change education, children cannot postpone their lives
    • There are three types of people (trying to change education):
    1. Immovable: you are never going to change their thoughts, do not bother
    2. Movable: might be able to be persuaded
    3. Movers: those who create change
    • Create the right conditions
    • Encourage students at what they are good at
    • Special knowledge is a complex set of disciplines
    • Do attempt to teach “academic disciplines” through the arts, because what you are saying is that art is not academic and then not worthy to stand side by side next to such things as math and science.

    Not seen or heard Sir Ken Robinson in action? I highly recommend the following talks:


    Two books I am reading:


    Changing how we teach and how students think in Math!

    I recently watched a TED Talk video, titled “Math class needs a makeover,” by Dan Meyer. It inspired me to re-think the way I teach my students in 6th grade. You see, we have had one formula for teaching kids, for as long as I can remember, the math T.E. (teacher’s edition). I use it everyday, whether it be to plan my lessons or to go over the homework problems. Somewhere deep inside me, I know that I am better than this. I am the planner and the person in charge to decide how my class is going to learn content for the day and synthesize it for it for a lifetime. Now, no one expects students to remember every last breath that a teacher makes in an effort to explain content, however, the process and the journey should very much be a appreciated and highlighted to the fullest extent. I could go on and on, but you have to buy in and work that much harder to get the results that you wish for. Simply wishing is actually not enough, so put your hard hat on and work to improve your craft so that students become the thinkers that we long for them to be. I am along with you for this journey, for I am a teacher who is constantly looking for avenues to improve my skill set and more importantly, the skill set of my students! Watch the video and let me know if you think that you need to make a change in your instruction?

    Yahoo!!!! Former Students Achieve

    Today I was blessed and touched by something really remarkable. I was invited to attend an Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony. What was really special about this ceremony was that two of my former students were receiving the highest honor a Boy Scout can attain, Eagle Scout!
    Statistics vary, but only 2%-4% of the boys that venture into Boy Scouts, end up achieving Eagle Scout. You might ask what this has to do with technology, and for the most part, absolutely nothing. However, it has everything to do with being a teacher and providing students with every ounce of effort that we have. You see, I do not think these two students reached this honor because I single-handedly made the difference in their lives to push forward and attain such a great honor, but what I do know is that I gave them everything that I had in the classroom. I was a role model. I preached and portrayed consistency and effort. I made sure to work hard so they could make up their minds for themselves, who I was, and whether or not they wanted to take a little piece of me and place it in their life portfolio. I am so proud of these two young men and as they continue to shape their lives, I have a small piece of their courageousness in my life portfolio. It keeps me going and your personal triumphs in education, no matter how big or how small, should keep you going to provide small pieces of yourselves to the students that you serve. Technology is the tool that I use to engage, promote, excite and ultimately deliver content, but it is the embodiment that you put on display each day that makes a difference. Congratulations Sean and James! It was my honor to have shared part of my life with you. Mr Diaz.

    Do you have a story that you would like to share?


    It’s All About The Kids – The Simple Ideas

    It’s all about the kids! Have you ever heard this sentiment before? How many people really mean what they say? It makes for a great moniker, tag-line, or feel good type of statement. However, the reality is that it’s easy to stand behind a declaration that more often than not, is completely supported. Kinda one of those head shake moments, where you get the proverbial “yeah, yeah, I hear ya.” I call shenanigans! In education, in this current climate, it seems that its less and less about the kids and more about fancy filled promises and doughnut hole size delivery. Let see, It’s all about the kids right! Then why on Earth would you overcrowd a classroom where the teacher has less and less time per student. Make sense? In school, what would you say is the single biggest asset that a student can have? Perhaps a teacher? You can have the world’s greatest programs, but without a vessel to transfer and bridge information, what’s the use? Yet, shall I state, “it’s all about the kids,” right? Vibrant teachers who come into the work force to teach the eager beavers of the world are dismissed and perhaps never to return to the teaching workforce. These young teachers come prepared with the latest technology know-how and are ready to unleash their talents and meld their fresh youth, enthusiasm and love for digital connections amongst their students. This would only benefit our youth but instead classrooms are stagnant around the U.S., with very little digital creativity for our digital stalwarts. If we want it to be all about the kids, then we as teachers, at every level, need to exhaustively work to create meaningful lessons that incorporate today’s technology. If we want it to be all about the kids, there needs to be a common denominator and that is the teacher. Teaching is a special service within our society that touches young lives in exponential ways, that most will never get a chance to experience. There are thousands of quality teachers in this great nation of ours, but we need millions! Make it happen, cause it’s all about the kids.

    Cue Conference Keynote: Robert Marzano

    The 2009 CUE Conference’s keynote speaker was Robert Marzano. After forty-five minutes, Marzano had jam packed his keynote speech with data and support from his ongoing research for the use of technology and interactive whiteboards in the classroom. He partnered with Promethean Technologies in this study and here are some of the highlights of his findings:

  • The longer that you use an interactive whiteboard, the higher the gains and improvements
  • More specifically, the use of any technology increases when used about 75% of time (80%-90% of use decreases its effectiveness)
  • If the teacher has confidence in using the interactive whiteboard there are further increases in gains
  • He used the term “sweet spot”, referring to a teacher who has at least two years of experience in teaching and using the board 75% of the time which resulted in a 30% gain per student
  • Use formative assessment for the whole group
  • Must keep track of records over time
  • Students should track their own learning
  • Use a rigorous rubric based approach to learning overtime
  • The power of technology is inevitably the bridge that is leading students to acquire content. However, the underlying engine that drives and facilitates technology are teachers. Teachers need to be trained in the technology that they have been given and this includes interactive whiteboards. Every classroom is different, every teacher is different and every student is different, but the commonality is the technology which is the medium that allows all concerned to be successful!

    Grown Up Digital: Insight to teaching technologically

    This a great book that lays out the inadequacies that we have as teachers if we are delivering instruction the old fashion way. I do not think that it is any secret that the students of today learn differently than students of the past. I agree with the book that we cannot continue to deliver an outdated model of instruction when students sit bored in our classrooms. Society is changing daily in many different ways and technology is at the forefront. I have always embraced technology but even I have taken a second look at how I deliver my instruction. Simply asking students to produce PowerPoints and/or Excel charts is just not good enough. If you are still lecturing: STOP! Read the book above and give our students a chance. I am inspired by students everyday and they can actually teach us a thing or two about technology, and this is the point. I was at a conference last year for gifted students and a speaker stated that she has known teachers to actually ask their students to be experts in in a certain content area and teach other students. The presenter was totally against this and stated that this was not the job of the student, it was the job of the teacher. Students need to be able to explore and confirm their knowledge base. It does not have to be through a multiple choice exam, it can actually be observed through interaction among peers in real-life applicable situations: This is how our world actually functions, making decisions and helping others understand. This book has opened my even more of the importance of the use of technolgy and allowing the students to be owners of the content, rather than just a constituent to information that will not have value a week later. The learning should have lasting value. This book is definitely a winner and I encourage anyone in education to read it. Aside form education it allows you to learn more about the net gener, the institutions such as education and the workplace and how society is dealing with kids that grow up with so much to offer. Are we ready?