The 28 Features of A Leading Learner

July 22, 2014
Here is an interesting visual I recently stumbled upon on Teachthought. This visual features the 4 characteristics of a learning leader as surmised by Heutagogy of Community Practice. While these characteristics are meant to decry a professional learner, they are also the same ethos that underly the concept of life-long learning in general. Things like  project management skills, ability to research and learn, ability to self-regulate,optimism, and empathy are all elemental components of the psychological and intellectual makeup of a lifelong learner.

Here is the full list of leading learner characteristics.

1. Ability to deal with ambiguity
  • Low need for control
  • Openness to Experience (one of the Big 5 personality traits)
  • Moderate perfectionism
  • High Stability (low anxiety)
  • Project management skills
  • Ability to use social media
  • Optimism
2. The capacity to foster engagement
  • An understanding of how to motivate others
  • Ability to foster a shared purpose and vision
  • An understanding of human needs
  • Interpersonal effectiveness
  • Ability to self-regulate
  • Empathy
3. The capacity to learn
  • Ability to research and learn
  • Being thoroughly on top of one’s subject area
  • Wide and accessible networks
  • Able to share with others
  • Knowledge management skills
  • The ability to foster collaborative learning
4. The ability to use open systems thinking
  • The capacity to scan the external environment
  • Able to foster participative democracy/collaboration decision-making and process
  • Able to actively diffuse power
  • Capacity to work in a team
  • Ongoing internal and external analysis of effectiveness (continuous improvement)

5 Free Courses for Teachers Professional Development

July 22, 2014
Today as I was browsing through Coursera looking for some new upcoming courses I came across a bunch of important courses for teachers. These courses are free and you can take them right from the comfort of your coach. You can also check out this link for the complete list of newly released courses. The courses are provided by different institutions and universities and span different periods of times. Some of these courses offer verified certificate.

Here are some interesting courses that stood out to me from this list:

1-Supporting Children with Difficulties in Reading and Writing
This course is for teachers to learn why some children have so much difficulty with reading and writing and to learn more about best practice in teaching literacy to all, in light of recent scientific discoveries.

2- Copyright for Educators and Librarians
This course is a professional development opportunity designed to provide a basic introduction to US copyright law and to empower teachers and librarians at all grade levels. Course participants will discover that the law is designed to help educators and librarians.
3- Performance Assessment in Virtual Classrooms
Performance and Assessment in the Virtual Classroom explores the myths and challenges of assessing performance virtually. Topics include effective measures of assessing students, compliance issues, feedback models for students, online gradebook functions, and data analysis.
4- What Future for Education
Everyone has experienced education as a learner: these experiences shape how we view and value education, and how we think it should develop in the future. In this course we critically examine a range of ideas around education: including learning, teaching and schooling. Our aim is to consider what our preferred future for education might look like.
5- Learning How to Learn
Whether you are an outstanding or a struggling student, "Learning How to Learn" will give you powerful mental tools that will help you learn more effectively in tough-to-master subjects. You will discover practical, immediately useful insights that will help you to more deeply master your studies.
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New You Can Now Recover Deleted Google Drive Files

July 22, 2014
Google has recently rolled out a series of updates to its Drive and Apps. Some of these updates have already been featured here. However the latest one I haven't yet shared is that which has to do with Google Apps. According to this new update, Google Apps administrators are now able to recover files that have been deleted by users provided there is a specified date range during which this deletion took place. Here is what Google said about it :

Admins can now restore a given user’s deleted Google Drive files for a specified date range. This helps ensure that, if a user accidentally deletes important files, those files are not permanently lost. The feature pertains to files that have been emptied from the Trash only. Files still in the Trash can be easily recovered by the user.

With this new update, you no longer have to worry about files students delete accidentally for there is always the option to recover them.

A Handy Chart Featuring The Top 8 Tools for Sending Large Files

July 22, 2014
A few weeks ago Digital Inspiration posted a very informative article outlining the different web tools that can be used to send large files online. He also created this handy chart where he compared between the different services that you can use to send large files.

As you can see from this chart, Dropbox is the top of them in terms of file limit size. It offers unlimited file size followed by Google Drive  which offers up to 1 Terabyte (1024GB). JustBeamIt and Skype also provide unlimited file size but  from my own experience using these different tools file storage tools I find Dropbox to be the best.

There is also another great tool that allows you to send files up to 2GB  right from your browser. This service is called WeTransfer and is a fermium app which does not require any software installation or registration. You just need to provide the email of the receiver and whatever you sent will be hosted on their server for 7 days after which it is deleted.

File Stroge tools

5 Free Writing Apps for Pre-schoolers

June 21, 2014
The iPad app selection for this week features 5 interesting apps for pre-schoolers. These apps will particularly help your kids have a head start on key literacy skills such as writing, doodling, sketching, drawing, and using different shapes to communicate ideas. I have only included the new apps that have never been featured in this blog before. Also, all of these apps are free and very simple to use.

1- Little Writer

Little Writer is a tracing app that's done just right. Little Writer is super fun and so easy to use that your kids will think letter tracing is a game vs. a boring chore. Features include:
  • You can customize everything - record your own language or add your own words
  • Adding pictures and names of family and friends to write is a hit with every child
  • The app also includes a collection of basic shapes to draw since handwriting require the same core skills 
  • The app comes preloaded with dozens of three and four letter words to write
2- Lazoo: Let's Colour

Simply color a page, press the GO button, and watch your drawings come to life. A few dots become falling snow. Scribbles turn to smoke plumes puffed from chimneys. A jagged line pulsates into fire (or water or mustard or whatever a child imagines) spewing from a dinosaur’s mouth.

 This gives children a simple, fun way to doodle and let their imaginations run free. Features include:
  • Sketch, draw and save your art to the camera roll
  • Import photos from your iPhone, iPod or iPad
  • Doodle on photos using a pencil, marker, or paint brush
  • Lots of colors to choose from, including black
  • Share doodles from your photo library

Doodle Dandy provides a handful of simple tools which ensure success in every doodle:
  • Rotationally-symmetric input ensures balance and elegance
  • Color palette designed for range and consistency
  • Multiple discrete brush sizes
  • Transparency tool works in real-time, anytime
  • Unlimited "undo"
  • Facebook: display your doodles directly on your wall and news feed
  • Save creations for later viewing, to use as custom wallpaper, or for sharing with friends
A child’s simple hand-drawn squiggle can become a bird’s nest, rocket smoke, cotton candy, sheep’s wool, a curly beard, and more! Simply squiggle away to complete Lazoo’s internationally award-winning art. Then hit the GO button and watch drawings soar, pulsate, move, twirl, and multiply.

Handy Visual: Differentiation Is Vs Differentiation Is Not

July 21, 2014
Here is an interesting visual on the concept of differentiation in education which I came across on a tweet by Karen Friedman. This visual is created by ASCD and outlines some key differences between what differentiation is and what it is not. Have a look and share with us what you think of it.

Differentiation is :

  • An idea as old as effective teaching
  • Lessons designed around patterns of student need
  • Use of whole-group, small-group and individual tasks based on content and student needs
  • Necessary for success with standards for a board range of learners
  • Valuing and planning for diversity in heterogenous settings
  • Purposeful of flexible grouping
  • A student-focused way of thinking about teaching and learning
  • Teaching up
  • At the core of quality teaching
  • Designed to address learning and affective needs that all students have
Differentiation is not:
  • Tracking grouping students into class by ability
  • Incompatible with standards
  • Bluebirds, buzzards and wombats ( ability grouping within a classroom)\Dumbing down teaching for some students
  • Something extra on top of good teaching
  • A set of instructional strategies
  • Mostly for students identified as gifted
  • Mostly for students with identified learning challenges
  • IEPs for all
  • Individualized instruction
  • A synonym for group work

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New Now You Can Edit Office Files in Google Drive

June 21, 2014
Sometimes people send you files and you need to be able to open them, make some edits, and send them back. If they don’t use Docs, Sheets and Slides it can be a challenge. With the latest update from Google Drive, this is no longer an issue because both the web and mobile apps for Docs, Sheets, and Slides let you edit Office files—without conversion—so you can now edit and send back files in their original format.

The updated mobile apps for Docs, Sheets and Slides come with Office editing built right in, and the new Chrome extension allows you to edit and share files directly from Google Drive, Gmail or from your Chromebook, where the extension is pre-installed.