Minah Minah… #EdLeadership Lessons from a Muppet

minah minah

Someone shared this video with me this morning, and I haven’t been able to get the song out of my head ever since.  I’m pretty sure I just did the same thing to you – sorry!  It’s such a catchy little tune and it’s been around since I was a little kid, which means it’s been around for a long, LONG time.  It’s old school Sesame Street, it’s the Muppets…it’s Minah Minah.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that this is the PERFECT metaphor for how I approach educational leadership.  Minah Minah……..

See those two fuzzy pink critters?  They do a great job.  They work in harmony.  They have found a schnazzy little number that really just works for them.  People like it. It has caught on.  It makes others feel perky and peppy and good.  BUT – it’s so repetitive.  It is so monotonous.  It’s goes on and on and on…it’s the same old song.

See the shaggy orange-haired rogue rebel?  He’s part of the trio.  He has a voice, and he’s expected to come in and do his scripted part at just the right moments. He goes along with the plan and sings their tune, too…at first.  After a few rounds of the same old chorus, he decides to put his own spin on things.  They stop and look at him funny, so he goes back to doing what is expected and just sings the same old song with them again.

until he just can’t contain himself and the very NEED to be creative and try something new just explodes out of him!  It’s who he is.  It’s in his nature to take risks, to add a little unexpected magic to the music.

He doesn’t abandon their song altogether, he tries to enhance it.  He just wants to be allowed to get a little creative and perhaps make that same old song a little newer and a  little better.  After getting funny looks (are those reprimands?) several times, we see him walk off into the distance – seemingly giving up.  I think we would all understand if he left to go find a new group because staying would mean continually fighting that resistance to change.

But our shaggy, orange-haired friend comes back!  He has grit, and he’s not afraid to use it!  He’ll keep plugging away to have his inspired, wacky, off-the-cuff little vision be a part of that song.  Yup, that’s grit – and steadfast belief in a vision to make things better.  Not only does he keep plugging away at that monotonous pink duet, but then he goes out and spreads his song!  Okay, it’s just to Kermit in this video, but let’s face it – Kermit knows all the right people.  If he can get Kermit to make a few phone calls in support, pretty soon there will be a whole SNAGGLE of Muppets jamming to a new beat.

If you watch to see what happened at the very, VERY end of the video, you’ll see that even the staunchest, most set-in-their-ways spectators are interested and suddenly asking the question, “What’s a Minah Minah?’

whats a minah minah

This is the work of transformative and visionary leaders in education.  Be shaggy.

 

 

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#iiCHAT for Technology Integration Specialist Leaders

I recently gave a technology leadership presentation on “Coaching the Coaches” (see image below).

Most of those in attendance were already Technology Integration Specialists (or tech coaches…we go by SO many different names) who aspire to achieve the next level by becoming recognized as their district’s leader, coordinator, department head, supervisor….or whatever the local title for that type of recognition might be. I use the word “recognition”, because we collectively decided that in many places it’s not yet a formalized position. It’s just a leadership space that seems to materialize almost everywhere.

I was excited to share my own journey. In sharing tips, tales, technologies, to-do’s, and tribulations – I also welcomed a participatory dialogue from the attendees. In keeping the session less “lecture-style”, I really got learn a lot, too! Indeed, I learned just as much through discussion, feedback, and subsequent digital communication with an ever-growing group of people who want to establish themselves as their school or district’s digital leaders.

One of the greatest suggestions I received that day was that I should consider hosting a Twitter Chat. I’ve already “branded” myself with my Integration Innovation logo (Twitter Header, blog, FB page), and I post fun general EdTech things in all of those places. This Twitter chat would supplement that and provide a new venue for a new & very specific type of crowd. I do have a LOT of tips for tech coaches, but I also have some innovative leadership ideas, and so I jumped in and combined those into a Twitter chat called #iiCHAT.

#iiCHAT made its debut during EdChange Global on July 28, 2017 – and so the inaugural #iiCHAT did indeed attract an enthusiastic bunch of Tech Integration leaders from around the world! It was inspiring to meet, share, & learn from such an ambitious group of people.

I’m going to keep #iiCHAT going for almost entirely selfish reasons – I loved learning with truly kindred spirits! It’s fun to share ideas & hear stories from those who are (or who are trying to become) the “head coach”, as one clever friend puts it!

For now, I’m starting slow – shooting for #iiCHAT to happen as a half-hour chat twice a month. If we grow, we’ll see about increasing that. Let’s go with the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month from 9:30-10:00pm EST – beginning August 10!

PS – We will also have our own #iiCHAT Voxer group starting in September! 🤗

Here is a link to a Remind group if you’d like to receive a “day-of” text message so you don’t forget: https://www.remind.com/join/iich

😊 Oh, and I just have to share this very VERY kind blog post about that first #iiCHAT by @MsClassNSession : EdChange Global Shoutouts

Powerful Literacy Web Tool That Brings Close Reading Even Closer – it’s Edji.it

edjilogo

I haven’t ever come across a web-based tool that’s anything quite like Edji.it.  This is new territory in the world of EdTech, and I like it.  As you can tell from the title, Edji.it is a brilliant tool for close literary analysis, and the content you analyze can really be anything.  You can create your own readings, copy/paste from other sources, and even include images and PDFs.  In addition to being able create an in-depth close read and easily share it with your class, thoughtful and purposeful annotations can be made in the form of highlights, text comments, and even emoji reactions.

ej comment

As the admin, you import or create the text.  That’s done very simply by clicking the “New Reading” button and inserting text (which you can format.)  You can also insert images and even PDF’s – all of which can be annotated.

ej dashboard

When you’re satisfied with the text, you save it as a draft and finally hit “share”.  It creates a join code (also called lightning code) for your students.  They, in turn, access your text by going to the edji.it main dashboard and typing in the simple code where it says “Join”.

ej top toolbar

A simple join code for the group is all your students need!

ej joined

This is where it gets really clever.  As each of your readers are doing their own text analysis, their comments are private only to them.  You, as the admin, have a handy toolbar on the left that lets you see how many users are accessing the piece, and you can open your “feed view” sidebar that shows you all comments/annotations from all users.  The neatest feature in that toolbar is something called “Heat Vision” – when you click on this, it allows all users to see all annotations.  It’s the ultimate instantaneous, simultaneous sharing button.  Imagine the in-depth class discussions that can ensue based on this diverse collective annotation!

ej admin bar  ej who can see

I taught Literacy for years, and I adored it!  I loved being able to teach all of the nuances and sub-skills that went into the understanding and synthesizing of various texts.  As any Literacy teacher knows, the obstacles and points of confusion are different for every single student on every different piece of text.  Students may struggle with vocabulary, colloquialisms, understanding irony, theme, tone, or even just decoding.  With a tool like edji.it, a teacher has a remarkable looking glass into the insights, reflections, and understandings of every single student.

Would you like to try it from the “student view”?  Feel free to use my join code (jbvn) and play around with the text and emoji commenting.  You’ll see how easy this is for your students!

ej jbvn

 

Any teacher of Literacy and especially content area literacy will want to explore this clever tool with small groups (I really love this for Special Ed and ELLs) and even as a whole class.  It can be assigned for homework, and tracking/data is automatically saved as long as students enter their real names (or student ID numbers).  Edji.it is a winner for sure!

Addition: After I posted this, I found this handy slideshow called Getting Started With Edji

You can also follow them on Twitter at @edjinotes.

As always, I love to hear feedback and learn from you as you use the tools I share.  Please leave comments here on my blog, on my Facebook page Innovation Integration, or find me as @kerszi on Twitter!

Five Fun Fairly Free Things For Teachers To Do In the Summer

My fellow teachers, you have a few months “off”.  Yes, I know that you still work.  We do…we just do…because we’re teachers and we’re addicted to our craft.  But this is also an important time for you.  It can’t be all work – or even thinking about work.  You’ve got to find time for you so that you can be your best for the students when school starts again.  Take time to rejuvenate, refresh, and have fun!

I’ve asked other teachers for ideas that are relatively cheap and enjoyable to almost anyone, anytime.  They shared their all-time favorite ideas, and here are five of the best:

1) Nap.  For the love of all that is good and healthy, take some dang naps!  Lots of them.  Every day, if you can!   I know that the title of this post mentioned the word “fun”, and believe me, naps are fun.  YOU will be more fun if you take naps.

2) Read:  Read fun stuff, read sleazy stuff, read fiction and science fiction and gossip magazines and classic novels if you want.  “Binge read” an author that you love or go through every “beach read” that’s recommended this year.  Don’t bulk up your summer with gobs of professional reading.  There is a time, there is a place – it’s NOT the summer.

3) Scavenger Hunts:  Don’t wonder why that’s included.  Trust me.  They are fun to make and fun to play.  Get your girlfriends or the neighborhood couples together and do a few of these this summer.  Put ridiculous items on there, or have a photo scavenger hunt.  Pinterest is your friend, by the way, because there are gazillions of cool ideas to make fun scavenger hunts.

ej photo scav hunt

4) Make:  This is purposely generic.  The idea is to tap into your creative spirit and make something that you’ve never made before.  Do NOT make classroom things.  Make things for your home, Christmas gifts, art, food items, or lovely knick-knacks for your yard.  Get out some power tools, paints, hot glue guns, scrapbook supplies, knitting needles, a soldering iron, a pottery wheel – and don’t hide behind the excuse that you’re not creative.  Everyone can make SOMETHING!  Be determined that before summer ends, you will have created at least one neat, new thing that brings joy to you or somebody else.

If you need ideas, walk around a craft store or check out this cool little website:  Instructables.

5) Photo Fun:  Whatever you are doing, capture it in photos.  Even if you don’t have a big vacation planned, you can purposely go on photo walks to relax and find joy in things around you.  Take a nature walk and only take pictures of things that are NOT green.  Try to photograph the alphabet in everyday objects!  Have alliterative photo days: capture sunrises, smiles, snowcones, swimming pools, spaghetti, slugs, sycamore trees and anything else that starts with the same letter!  Get zoomy- take really, really close up pictures of everyday items (or in nature) and marvel at the details!

When you have good photo collections and are feeling inspired, play with a few apps like Aviary, Prisma, or PicCollage that allow you to edit photos or turn them into works of art.  Print them out or just share them on social media!  You’ll feel a good sense of pride, and probably a sense of zen with your new artistic photographic talents.  Plus, when school starts back in the fall, you’ll have a whole collection that proves just how much fun you had in the summer!

 

Thanks for stopping by!  I’m @kerszi on Twitter, and I also have a Facebook page called Integration Innovation.

Audio Experiment with Clash

I’m not sure if or why you might have a use for something like this, but I had a little fun playing with it tonight, and it’s just pretty entertaining.

It’s a website called Clash. You type in a short paragraph or phrase and it takes each word and links it to an audio clip of the famous song or speech. Then it strings all the words together into sort of a spoken/singsong-y audio file like THIS.

The Clash website describes itself like this:

That’s pretty much all there is to it, except that Clash does give you more options for each word than the one it originally suggests. I liked finding audio files that made each word last a little longer so that the message was as clear as possible. It also shows you the source for every single word’s audio (I ended up with Pharrell, Katy Perry, Donald Trump, Eminem, Kenny Chesney, Kanye West, and more – all in one Clash!)

Clash might be a fun way to engage students. You might use it as an attention-getter at the beginning of a lesson. Maybe you’ll let students practice summary sentences using Clash.  It might be a fun way for students to try using content-area vocabulary words in sentences.  How else might you use this site?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Want to hear my final thoughts on Clash? Click HERE.

As always, I love to heard feedback and learn from you!  Please share your thoughts & ideas with me here in the comments section of my blog, on my Facebook page Integration Innovation, or on Twitter at @kerszi 

Bring on the Bitmoji!

Even if you haven’t started using them, I know you’ve seen them.  And if you HAVE started using them, you’re a little addicted, right?  Or is it just me?

Bitmojis are taking over the world…or at least it seems that way…and I’m glad because they make me really happy!  So what’s a Bitmoji?  It’s an avatar you design to (sort of) look like you.  And then you use it.  For everything!

I got started with Bitmoji on my iPhone, so I’ll start you the same way, although you can absolutely create and use Bitmoji from your computer in the Chrome browser.  There’s an extension for that, of course!   (I have it, I use it, and I totally recommend it!)

On your phone, just get the free Bitmoji app and sign up with an email. The prompts will walk you through how to create your Bitmoji, but it starts like this:


It’s personal preference, but I really like the Bitstrips style.  The next several prompts will take you through designing the physical appearance of your avatar.  It will ask you to choose your hair style, color, face shape, eyebrow style, eyebrow color, eyes, eyelashes, pupils, nose, mouth, cheeks, facial lines (yes, sadly yes), makeup, glasses, headwear, and finally body shape (mine is uhhh…slimmed down).  Ladies, it’s even going to let you choose your chest size!img_6103.png

Then, it’s fun fashion time!  Dress up your mini-you!


You get to dress up your avatar, but there are tons and tons of choices, and just know that you can change your avatar’s outfit as often as you’d like.

Hit the ✅ to finalize things, and you’re ready to use your Bitmoji and fun and creative ways!

I use mine all the time when texting my husband and son.  It’s become a bit of a fun game for us – we try to have entire conversations back-and-forth using only Bitmoji!

Wanna try?  OK, it might be a little hard to find your Bitmoji the first time you’re trying to text one, so let me show you how to access them.  First, click on the little globe icon at the lower left of your texting keyboard:


On the next screen, click on the little ABC icon at the lower left of your texting keyboard:

That brings up your “Search Bitmoji” screen, where you can type in keywords to look for the perfect action, expression, or emotion!img_6104.png

Posting your fun & crazy avatars works exactly the same way on Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Notice my avatar has that same pink top on in most of the choices.  It will stay that way until I change her outfit!

Many educators are now using these in Booksnaps (click on the word for more info), an awesome idea created by Tara Martin for using Bitmoji in purposeful educational ways!

One last word of caution for elementary educators…there are a few Bitmoji that are not quite appropriate.  There aren’t many, but you know your kiddies will find them!

Since you stayed with me, learning and reading all the way until the end, I’ll leave you with this one very sincere final Bitmoji:

 

 

Please share your thoughts, feedback and ideas with me here at my Integration Innovation blog, on Twitter @kerszi, or on my Facebook page called Integration Innovation.  

Google’s Reverse Image Search

I learned about this in the strangest way.  Last summer, I was traveling through New England with my family.  It was nighttime, and we were driving over a bridge that was lit up and interesting – and I thought was pretty.  I snapped an iPhone photo from the passenger seat, and quickly posted it to Facebook with the caption, “Who knows where I am?”

My buddy Kevin came back almost instantly with the name and location of the bridge, and I was shocked!   I assumed he was familiar with the area.  He admitted that he just used Google Reverse Image Search.

TBH, I had no idea what he was talking about, so I made it a point to – well – Google it!  It’s another super-cool, super-easy way to WOW your friends and perhaps look like a genius from time to time.  I’ll bet you can come up with great ways to use it with students.  Tonight, I used it to satisfy my curiosity.  A few weeks ago, I had gone for a walk and noticed these beautiful little purple flowers.  I had taken a picture, and tonight I used Google Reverse Image Search to figure out what they were!

I started at the URL shown below, which is the site for Google Images.  Notice the little black camera in the search bar, and when I hovered over it, it says “Search By Image”.

Google Reverse 1

Next, I chose “Upload an image”.  (I had saved the photo to my laptop, so it was easy to upload.)Google Reverse 2

After I uploaded the file and clicked the little “search” magnifying glass, this is what I got:

google reverse 4 flower

“Oh, joy”, I thought – Google just let me know that this thing was – a flower?  Hmmmmphh….I almost thought I had wasted my time, until I scrolled down JUST a few inches and found this:

google-reverse-5-similar.png

Aaaah….thanks Google!  Now we’re talking.  Google found “visually similar images” for me, and that 4th one on the top is pretty much an exact match, so I clicked on it.

google reverse 6 periwinkle

How cool is that?  I narrowed it down until I surmised that my little flower was – a periwinkle!

There are lots of times my students and I wonder, “What IS that?” (and…umm…sometimes it might be better if we don’t know…you know how THAT is, right?)  Google Reverse Image Search gives us a fun and cool way to do a little investigating, a little research, a little debating, and a little deducing to find answers to some of our most burning questions!

In doing a little research for this post, I found these other helpful & related resources that you might enjoy:

  • CTRLQ.org – same as Google Reverse Image Search, seems to be a more direct link & possibly even easier.  You can use this right from your cell phone, too!
  • Reverse image search using your phone or tablet
    1. Use the Chrome app to do a search.
    2. Touch the image you want to search with to open a larger version of the image.
    3. Press and hold the image. In the box that appears, touch Search Google for this image.

     

     

I’m sure you can find even more ways to use this and great things to explore with it.  Please share.  I really love to learn from folks who stop by to read my posts, so let me know what you’re thinking!  I’d especially love to hear ways that you’ve used this in school.  Feel free to reply here on my blog, on Twitter @kerszi, or on my Facebook page – Integration Innovation!