Having a Little Trouble, Eh?

The subtitle of my little blog says, “Celebrating Happy Little Tech Finds and Ideas for Primary School Teachers”.  This little bit o’humor fits into the happy category, and it’s not just for teachers.  I thought you’d enjoy a chuckle or two about this fella’s troubles with his blackberry…

I hope you enjoyed it!

For all of you teachers starting back to school, I hope you have a fantastic year free of trouble with your blackberries, apples, and windows!

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This May Be One Of The Greatest Websites Of All Time!!!

This may be one of the greatest websites of all time.  I’m very serious.

If you have kids, you are going to love this site. If your kids ever said “I’m bored” this summer, you are REALLY going to love this site.  If you have a creative side at all, you are going to love this site because it’s not just for kids.  If you’re into that whole ‘maker’ thing, oh dear – you’re going to need to sit down before you read this post.  If you’re a teacher, well….take a deep breath, dive in, and just KNOW that you’re going to introduce this to your students during the first week of school and parents will hug your face on back to school night!  If you are an over-the-top adventurous, innovative, awesomesauce teacher, you’ll have a class account set up before school even starts!

((((((( drum roll  ))))))

The site is called diy.org.  Yup, it’s that simple.  That unpretentious.  How did I not know about this before?

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Here’s the gist of the site:

1) You look up stuff to do.

2) You do the stuff.

3) You post something about the stuff you did.

4) You earn a patch.

I have just completely oversimplified this amazing site, but I wanted you to feel like this is easy, and fun, and something you can start doing right now!  I know you’re itching to get started, but please, please bear with me as I explain DIY.org in a little more detail.

1) You look up stuff to do:  From hundreds and hundreds of ALL KINDS of activities.  I’m not kidding when I say there is something for everyone here.  Screenshot time – just look at the patches you can earn:

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***I had absolutely NO intention of posting pix of EVERY single patch, but I couldn’t stop myself!  I told you this site has something for everyone!  (And they keep adding…these people at DIY.org are incredible!)

2)  You do the stuff:  Pick a patch that interests you and go for it!  I like to bake, so I went for the baker patch. You’ll see in the photo below that the patch is in the 3rd spot.  I need to do 3 challenges in this category to earn the DIY.org patch.  But if you look a little lower in the photo, you’ll see that there are FIFTEEN options for challenges, and they really range in difficulty!  Even better, for each option there are little videos submitted by other DIYers to instruct or motivate you!

diybakerpatch

3.  You post something about the stuff you did:  Many sites call this ‘submitting evidence’.  When you’re done baking your bread, making a duct-tape wallet, starting a rock collection, scrapbooking, producing a radio interview, or hiking – just upload a photo or video to show that you actually did it!  (Mom & Dad, you get an instant email whenever your child submits something. You can always edit it or delete it.)

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4.  You earn a patch!  At first, your submission (evidence)  is pending review by real humans, but then it gets approved, you get an email, and you’re on your way to earning a patch!  Remember, you must do three challenges in any category before you’re patch-worthy.

Okay, so you’re sold.  I knew you would be.  You probably have your eye on about a half dozen of those beautiful patches, right?  You’re already mentally pairing people you know with patches…I do that, too!

BUT before you go…..I have a few really valuable tips that you might want to read first:

  • Is it safe?  Well, they’ve thought of everything.  Here’s what their site has to say:  “DIY is a safe setting for your kids to try social media, get feedback, and be inspired by a community of peers. Every member’s privacy is carefully monitored by a staff of moderators. No real names or faces are shown without parental permission. Comments are allowed, but jerks and bullies are not.”   Note from me: When I signed up for a kid account, it required an email be sent to a parent, and then even credit card info provided (NOT charged) as proof of actual adult-ness!
  • Create a family/class account: Rather than having individual accounts, skip the competition between your kids and encourage the collaboration.   Everybody can work together to be a part of the success!  Create a shared account with a shared password.  You’ll feel safer, it’s easier to manage, and it’s a great bonding thing!
  • Skip the camps:  You’ll see prompts that offer specialized camps for $10.  I believe these are probably excellent based on the quality of this site, but there is SO MUCH FREE STUFF that I encourage you to live in & explore the DIY.org world before you start paying.  Maybe next summer if little Johnny BEGS for that robotics camp…?
  • Get the app:  All the info is on the app, and it’s great to have it with you wherever you go!  It also makes taking a photo or video for submission so much easier.  When Suzie catches her first fish for the angler badge, shoot a quick vid, upload it right from your phone, and you’re on your way!

Okay, so I leave you with this…my favorite patch, and the one I’m best at by far.

diychiller

I’m Kerszi, and I’ll see you on DIY.org!

As always, I love feedback & sharing!  You can send your thoughts & ideas here on WordPress, to @kerszi on Twitter, or follow My Primary Techspiration on Facebook.

Why Digital Badges?

I am excited out of my MIND!!!  I’m so proud to say that my school district is getting very progressive about the way it offers professional development.  We’re moving away from the “Sit & Get” workshop format and starting to explore options that involve choice!  Our first HUGE foray into this world involves something powerful and amazing called Digital Badges.

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If you happen to Google the term Digital Badges, or even follow the hashtag on Twitter, you’ll see that there are all kinds of platforms for creating, issuing, and using Digital Badges.  You’ll also see that it is becoming an increasingly popular way to motivate people for all kinds of things.  Businesses, colleges, leagues, clubs, MOOCs, and more are using these.  Heck, even my Fitbit uses Digital Badges to do its best to keep me motivated!

In our district, we’re using a badging site called Credly.  It’s free!  It allowed for our district to set up an account and create a set of digital badges.  Each badge represents some skill to be learned involved the learning AND APPLICATION of an ed tech tool. For instance, there is a badge for the site Wordle, which teaches badge applicants how to create cool word clouds with their students at the website wordle.net.  There’s another badge for a cool web tool called Thinglink, which teaches badge applicants to create an interactive image with hyperlinks to all sorts of unit activities.  There’s even a Digital Badge that teaches folks how to use that PRNT SCRN button on the keyboard!

There are about 20 starter badges there now, but the site is designed to grow – get this – by CROWDSOURCING THE GENIUS OF THE USERS!  This is undoubtedly the best part!  The second to the last badge on the page is a Screencasting Digital Badge.  It teaches users how to create their own screencast to explain a new web tool to others.  To claim this badge (or any badge), users must submit specified evidence.  In the case of the Screencasting Digital Badge, an applicant must submit the link the actual video that they have created.

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These are just a few of a growing list of badges that may be earned in our district!

Wait…this is where this whole thing EXPLODES WITH AWESOMENESS!  After the screencast is submitted, approved, and the Screencast Digital Badge is issued, the district uses it to create a new badge which is then added to the site!  The person who was generous enough to submit it gets credit on the Digital Badge site, and they also earn a bonus:  The Digital Leader Badge!  (The highest honor in all the land!  See the credit given in the photo below!)

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As you can see from the image above, each badge on our district’s website has a cute little picture of the badge itself, a link to the website, a brief description of what the site is or does, and a link to claim the badge at Credly.  That Credly link gives more information about what specific evidence is required for each individual badge.  For the most part, evidence involves actual proof of the tool having been used by a class in some way.  Photos, videos, links to student-created work, screenshots of class dashboards with online scores/results, Word documents or actual student samples – these are all indicators of true application.  These are the real credentials – the ‘metadata’ – that back up a Digital Badge and make it so much more than just a cute graphic.  Digital Badges MEAN something!

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As part of the roll-out of this new system, I created a “Why Digital Badges?” slideshow using a cool presentation tool called Haiku Deck (more on that in an upcoming post).  Before you close out this post so you can dash away and start exploring Digital Badges, do yourself a favor and click through this slideshow.  I’ll bet it makes a Digital Badge lover out of you, too!

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Please click on the hyperlink below to view this slideshow.

https://www.haikudeck.com/p/dixvM2WBsM

Note: WTPS just rolled out this system two days ago to a beta-testing group of 30 teachers.  Within two days, over a dozen badge applications were submitted…..and it’s summer break!

Note 2: Beta-testing is a very good idea.  The initial group found some kinks in the system that needed to be corrected.  Additionally, our district is ONLY implementing this for the elementary staff at this point for very much the same reason.  Test small scale first.

As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts, questions, and suggestions.  You can still always reach me by commenting here at WordPress, on Twitter at @kerszi , or by following My Primary Techspiration on Facebook.