Get that Brain (& Body) Moving

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I am convinced that physical activity increases creativity.

An odd thing happens when I ride my bike. I like to go for long bike rides on the weekends and I have noticed something. Not only are my legs going round-and-round ~ so is my brain. It begins ticking away with all sorts of creative thoughts…usually work related, yet not always. This past weekend, I started thinking about the two companies that I wanted to showcase  – Spruzzamist and SunRype. I am an athletic ambassador for SunRype and wanted to also help out SpruzzaMist – a new company created by an innovative local young man. I tried to figure out how I could take one picture (so I wouldn’t be overwhelming my social media with cycling selfies) yet showcase both brands. A perfectly innovative and creative picture came to mind and I had to stop and have my husband help me re-create the picture. While it wasn’t the best picture, it dawned on me how easily I came up with the idea.

This happens to me on almost every ride. I come up with innovative solutions for problems. As a new principal of a school, I was in charge of a weekly assembly and I battled with how to start out the new year with a fun and engaging assembly. Not only did I come up with an idea, but I came up with an entire year’s plan while on a bike ride. Most problems I have spent hours sitting and pondering how to solve. My best thinking time comes when I exercise – whether on a bike or walking around a building. 

With so much talk lately about 21st Century skills, I decided to investigate exercise and creativity. Most studies show conflicting results. However, I did find several studies that linked exercise and creativity. Steinberg et al. (1997) found that aerobic exercise did produce effects on the creative process. “Physical exercise can therefore be said to have slightly enhanced creative thinking” (Steinberg et al., 1997). This article by Huffington Post  states that regular exercise is associated with divergent and convergent thinking. Although, much to my surprise, this article also shared the following, “Past research has identified other unlikely factors that seem to be associated with creativity. Messiness, for instance, has been tied to innovation and willingness to try new things in a Psychological Science study published earlier this year. Being bored at work could also spur creativity by providing more daydreaming time, researchers from University of Central Lancashire found.” Cohen (2014) states that getting the heart rate pumping is good for the brain. Ahhh! Is that why? Now that makes sense to me.

We know that creativity is an important 21st Century skill. We also know that physical exercise is important. “It is a known fact that physical activity improves overall health.  Not only does it improve circulation, increase blood flow to the brain, and raise endorphin levels, which all help to reduce stress, improve mood and attitude, and calm children, physically active students may also achieve more academically.  Physically fit students are less likely to miss school, partake in risky behaviors, get pregnant, or attempt suicide, which are all associated with better outcomes in school” (Taras, 2005). It is sad that 44% of schools have cut back on physical education.

Let’s think about adults and the workplace. Sixty to seventy percent of the population of the United States is not physically active (Welcoa, 2006). Yikes! I wonder how that affects our creativity? 

Teachers…what can you do about it?  Get your class up and moving. Even college students need a brain and activity break. Have them pick up everything and switch seats or try a group activity that requires movement. Encourage students to be involved with sports and activities.

Provide a choice to students. Allow students to be creative ~ and be creative in how you assess them! Here are some fun apps that allow for creativity:

Paper by FiftyThree

Ask students to take pictures Pic Collage

And my new favorite…Adobe Voice

Here are some more articles that may be of interest:

The Creative College Student

30 Things You Can Do to Promote Creativity in Your Classroom

Walking Can Boost Your Creativity

Give Your Ideas Some Legs

Exercising for Creativity

 

References:

Cohen, H. (n.d.). Regular exercise improves brain health and stimulates creativity – Health – MiamiHerald.com. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/24/3890857/regular-exercise-improves-brain.html

Regular Exercise Could Boost Creativity. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/exercise-creativity-physical-activity_n_4394310.html

Steinberg, H., Sykes, E. A., Moss, T., Lowery, S., LeBoutillier, N., and Dewey, A. (1997). Exercise Enhances Creativity Independent of Mood. British Journal of Sports Medicine 31(3): 240-245.

Taras, H. (2005) Physical Activity and Student Performance at School. Journal of School Health. (75)(6) 214-218.

Welcoa (2006). Getting Active: Physical Activity at Work. Retrieved from http://www.welcoa.org/freeresources/pdf/aa_5.7_july06.pdf

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2014 Must Read EdTech Blogs: YES!

I’m excited to announce that my WJUEdTech Blog has made the 2014 Dean’s List: 50 Must Read Higher Education IT Blogs EdTech! YES!

“We’ve scoured the Internet for blogs that resonate with the intersection of higher education and technology. These are blogs that set themselves apart for a variety of reasons — they are leading voices in their fields, have hundreds if not thousands of fans and consistently raise the bar for conversation. The majority of these blogs are new to EdTech: Focus on Higher Education‘s honor roll. Some were nominated by our readers, and some are veterans of last year’s list that have stayed on top of our charts.” ~ D. Frank Smith, EdTech Magazine   @DFrank

Yes, I would be one that is new to the roll. I’ve been writing this blog for about a year now. Many of the blogs on this list have inspired me – and I know they will you, too.

I invite you to go and check out all the bloggers ... amazing educators and technologists!

Must-read Higher Ed IT Blog
EdTech’s Must-Read Higher Ed IT Blogs

28 Apps to Try this Summer!

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Are you off for the summer? Almost? No? No matter how you answer this question – summer is always a great time for professional development. In the picture above you will find 28 great apps to try. NOTE: When I say “apps” – I am referring to applications. iPhone, iPad, Android, or web based…you will find something you can use. Simply click the app to read more about it and watch a video, click “Get This Tool” and you will see how the app is offered. Some are free – others have a minimal cost. Click the picture or 28 Great Apps to Try to bring you to EdShelf and explore something new!

Apps for Graduates

Are you graduating from college? Do you know anyone who is?  There are tons of great apps for graduates. Feel to pass along this post to your graduates and friends!

1.  Find a job.  I know a few students that are graduating and they have been job hunting! Let’s face it – it’s hard to look for a job right out of college (anytime, for that matter).

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 12.54.13 PMJoin LinkedIn. Build your profile and start to make meaningful connections. Search for jobs, companies, and groups. Read this article  or this article about finding a job using LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 1.00.24 PMDownload Forbes Career Advisor app.  Read some of the best advice from Forbes expert advisors and receive business news in real-time from over 2000 companies.

 

 

 

2. Celebrate!  Graduating is a huge accomplishment. Have a blast celebrating!

Pinterest is a great way to search for party ideas. You will find decorations, recipes, and even invitations! I used the search bar and  Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 1.03.47 PMtyped in “Graduation party“. Wow. Tons of great ideas!

 

 

 

Planning a party?  Need to send invitations? Give Paperless Post a try. You can create beautiful cards for print or online. There are FREE versions available, as well. They are limited – but great for those on a tight budget! Although Paperless Post does have an app available, I find the web site easier to use.

Preserve your memories with A Beautiful Mess. This fun-to-use app adds life to your photos with “custom filters, fun fonts, and Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 1.09.47 PMhand-drawn doodles by Elsie and Emma, bloggers of A Beautiful Mess. Share your pictures on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

Presentations Made Easy and Engaging!

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Click the picture to view a sample!

Adobe has released a fun, easy to use, FREE new app called Adobe Voice which enables users to easily created short digital stories with voice.  (Available for the iPad.) Simply hold down the red record button to speak and let go when you are done. Choose a picture, clip art or text to add to the page. Then, finalize with a template and music. The above video took just a few minutes to create and although it is not professional grade, it turned out nice for the effort I put into it!

Select “Create a New Story”

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Give it a title.

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Choose a theme here if you want. It will step you through the pages with questions to help you with content!

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Finally – choose your content and add your voice.

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To “publish” you need to sign in with your Adobe ID. You cannot download the videos you create. They must be viewed online with a link, on your iPad, or embedded with the embed code. (WJU staff – it does not embed into our Moodle. A link would need to be inserted into Moodle for students to view.)

#TeachingIs

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{In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 5-9), CTQ is launching #TeachingIs, a social media effort to challenge stereotypes and recognize teaching as the complex work it is. Set the record straight. Join us!}

I currently work at William Jessup University as the Educational Technologist. When people hear what I do, I get several reactions. First, since I work with technology, many people assume that I fix computers. But I don’t. Really – you don’t want me trying to take your computer apart to fix it! When I worked as a K-12 Technology Coordinator, I would tell people that “I drive the car – I don’t fix the car.” Secondly, many people assume that I use technology all the time with education and while teaching. That is not true, either. Although I enjoy all the benefits that technology brings to the classroom, I understand that it is a tool and must be used wisely and with a purpose.

I’ve taught (mostly elementary level) for over 25 years. I originally went into teaching because I enjoy working with students and love being creative.

…I enjoy student/teacher relationships

…I enjoy decorating my classroom, fresh new name tags, and beginning year bulletin boards. I love paper products, post-it-notes, and cute clips.

…I enjoy writing lessons

…I enjoy silly questions, putting stickers on papers, and watching kids play

…I enjoy researching new ways to better engage my students

…I enjoy grading papers and helping students understand complex problems.

…I enjoy learning how students learn

…I enjoy learning

I want kids to run, play, be active, draw, create, collaborate, move. I enjoy teamwork and groups. I like project-based learning and hands-on projects. I like having students act out skits, interact with each other, and create raps to memorize. I want students outside playing, not stuck inside with a computer or iPad.

Yet – I do enjoy technology. I believe it has helped me improve my own teaching practicewhich is why I enjoy being an Educational Technologist.  As a classroom teacher, I used technology to:

…create  my classroom decorations

…create an interactive class web site that provided content outside the class day to help those who struggled, and gave extra information to those that could move “beyond”

… inspire students with visuals, audio, and sound

…engage students by giving them voice

…inspire students with the “awe” factor

…research original sources to reinforce curriculum

You see, when it comes down to the heart of the matter, I want to help other teachers improve their practice. Technology is one of the many tools that can help teachers and students. This is why I am an Educational Technologist.  I enjoy helping college faculty improve their own productivity and inspiring them to learn something new. I also teach in the Education department – helping college students pursue their dream of becoming a teacher. What a privilege! I am an educator…and I love teaching!

Participating is easy! Tell the world what #TeachingIs to you. Share your definitions, stories, small (and big!) wins, and manifestos via tweet, blog post, Vine, Instagram, YouTube, shareable graphic, Six Word Memoir, you name it! Just be sure to use the hashtag #TeachingIs.

From small details to spectacular achievements, teachers are telling THEIR stories of what #TeachingIs. Add your voice!

Wanna go further? Join the Collaboratory, CTQ’s virtual community of 5,000+ educators working together to transform the teaching profession.

Speak Like a Pro – 10 Lesson Remix for Teachers

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Recently I read an article by Jesicka Labud called  “Speak like a Pro- 15 lessons learned from watching TED TALKS” found HERE. As a Toastmaster International member, she wrote the article to help others give great speeches and it got me thinking.

Teachers can use this information!

So, I am presenting a bit of a remix by looking at her lessons learned from TED talks from the lens of an educator.

1. Start with a BANG!

Teachers need to grab the attention of students. Labud states that you must wow the audience within the first 30 seconds. How about students? Introduce the topic in a way that will gain the interest of the students.

2. Organize your ideas.

Have a plan. K-12 teachers routinely create lesson plans. What about higher ed teachers? Yes – many do. But I am guessing that others may not. Make sure that you have a plan and that the content is organized so that the students can easily follow along.

3. Pauses are powerful.

I’ve heard this often with teaching – the power of the pause. This is especially true when asking questions. Allow students to have “think” time. You may want to also pause for short amounts of time if you are lecturing. Try not to rush through a presentation.

4. Stay on target.

Labud noted that the TED talks all stay on target. They are carefully planned and don’t stray off topic. I think I need to work on this one! I like to “tell stories” and need to remember to tie these stories back to the main message.

5. Use simple words.

As Labud states, keep your sentences succinct and to the point. Undoubtedly, educators will use content vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to students. In this case, be sure to clarify or define the terms.

6. Use body language effectively.

For the teacher, this means moving around the room – not planted at the front. Be sure to look side to side, move to the back and around to all students. Move with meaning. Ask questions. If you give a presentation that is fixed to the podium, get a “clicker” so that you may move more easily around the room. I like the Logitech Wireless Presenter. You can purchase one for about $35-$40.

7. Know your audience and inspire them deeply.

Know your students! Get to know not only their past knowledge and learning style, but commit to getting to know THEM! The more you understand your students’ interests and passions, the more you will be able to inspire them with meaningful content. Initiate conversations and find out interests. Sarcasm is a no-no. Show respect to students and listen to them.

8. Incorporate humor.

Humor does increase student engagement! Tell a story that causes them to smile. This will gain their attention.

9. Be comfortable with your visual aides.

Most people don’t enjoy looking at a boring PowerPoint. Please –  don’t create a 275 page PowerPoint, covered with words. Yikes. The slides should not contain too many words. Try to use lots of (meaningful) visuals with less words. How about trying a new tool?

Haiku Deck is a great tool for creating a visual presentation focused on visuals. Or, read my article here to learn about some other great presentation tools.

10. End with a call to action.

Labud states, “Come full circle with your message.”  Begin with the learning goals, given in a compelling manner…and end with the learning goals. What should your students think about as they leave class? (Not just a homework assignment.) Give a conclusion to your lesson that asks students to think about or act upon some aspect of the lesson.

To read Labud’s full article, please click here.

Photo source:   http://www.flickr.com/photos/10381539@N03/3397761317/