Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NPR article on blogging from small town America schools

A reporter from NPR recently contacted me and interviewed me about my use of blogging as an educator.  This morning I received an email from someone who had read the article which prompted me to search for it myself.  The commonalities between all the teachers interviewed is evident.  Blogging, and technology in general, truly is the great connector; the great equalizer.  I am thankful daily for the opportunities it presents to my students and myself professionally.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Newly Published Student Authors at OHS!

Several OHS 7th Grade students have recently joined the ranks of published authors as they successfully authored, submitted, and were accepted for publishing on Apple's iBooks Store.

Their original books, authored in 7th grade English class, were the result of a nonfiction writing project entitled "My B-side".  Students chose a personal passion, hobby, or talent-- something that was the "flip-side" to their well-known personality-- and wrote about it. The objective was informative/technical writing, and by choosing a topic that students personally knew so well, they could focus on communicating this real life skill/talent/or interest through their first-person writing, rather than external research.

Students worked through the writing process to compose their drafts and utilized digital tools such as Google Docs, Pages, and iPad apps throughout the process. Each was also encouraged to create original media to accompany the writing. Many students created videos, animations, illustrations, photography, and widgets to bring their writing to life once assembled in iBooks Author.

Out of all the 7th grade authors over a dozen were selected to submit for publishing on Apple's iBooks Store.  Students could choose whether to submit via Mrs. Morrow's Books account under their own name as author or if they wanted to go through the process of creating their own Books account for the iTunes Store.

While we are still waiting on approval on several books, the following titles have already successfully been approved and are live on iTunes!

In addition, two science-related books have been published from work from Mr. Morrow's and Mrs. Knabe's classes:
Congratulations to each and every OHS 7th grade English student... you ARE AUTHORS!

Recent peer presentations

Earlier this winter, OHS Principal Corey Fisher and I presented at the ESU 8 Winter Workshop held at Norfolk Public Schools.

Top Ten Ways to Lead a Transformational 1:1 Implementation from Katie Morrow

I also shared a session for Language Arts teachers on integrating iPad.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Recent content from my classroom

NeSA testing this week has allowed for extra time for me to catch up on sharing some recent projects from my Jr. High ELA classes.

First, a few project ideas for writing poetry from English 7, compiled in a free iTunes U course:

Poetry Writing (English 7)

Second, a sampling of student projects from Reading 8's recent unit on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak:

Our Book Thief projects (Spring 2015)

Please let me know if these resources are of any use!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Challenge to Change: Italy 2015

The first week of March 2015 was more than the start of another spring season. Instead, Kevin and I traveled to Italy to take on an incredible experience of exposing and inspiring Italian educators. Challenge to Change was the brainchild of Alberto Pian, an ADE from Italy who we met last summer at the ADE Global Institute in San Diego. Our friendship deepened throughout the past school year as we communicated via email and the ADE Community, exploring common passions in education. Alberto dared to organize and orchestrate a four-city Italian tour where we collectively shared our day-long message about summoning courage to challenge the status quo in teaching and learning.  

The core team also included Julie Willcott, an ADE/science teacher from Maine, and Ugo Falace, who founded Centro Leonardo, a company that publishes Multi-Touch books and provides diagnosis and tutoring for students with learning disabilities. For months, we planned our message and content across the globe, working through language barriers with the help of Ugo's knowledge of both languages, and Google translate.  We spent several hours in Skype sessions and collaboratively designed an iTunes U course (with all 5 of us as course contributors) to be shared in conjunction with the Challenge to Change experience.  

Julie's explanation of our preparation process:
"The entire process of preparing for the event has been educational in itself.  We established an iTunes U course for participants with all presenters as contributors.  We each wrote our posts in our native language and provided a Google translated version of the post.  We then reviewed the translations of other presentations who did not speak our native language and "cleaned them up".  Through this process we were able to develop a bilingual course.  We were also able to prepare ourselves for the upcoming presentations as we had developed an understanding of material that was not to be presented in our native language."
Alberto was able to work with people in each of the four Italian cities (Rome, Naples, Torino, and Lucca) to secure funding and plan for the workshop logistics. Each of the partners were supportive of our efforts to promote iPads and other related technologies to Italian schools. In addition, Alberto summoned ADEs in and near each of the tour stops to support our efforts by promoting the events through social media. This communication was critical to the enthusiasm and following that fueled our week. 

Podcasting in between events in Napoli
The Italian people were so extremely welcoming in all the cities we visited. The Challenge to Change attendees were truly appreciative and excited to soak in as much as they could. Besides being so enthusiastic about what iPad in education can do, I really applaud Alberto's efforts to wrap the experience in pedagogy- through Challenge Based Learning. Kevin and I delivered sessions at the start and the end of the day that bookended all the great content (augmented reality, robotics, Sphero, Osmo, Ozobot, coding, iBeacons, Multi-Touch books, podcasting, game-based education, and more!) demonstrated by the rest of the team. Everything we did throughout the day tied back to the CBL framework, providing the "why" for what we do with technology to promote teaching and learning. 

Photo Credit - Giacomo Fedi, UIBI (Lucca)

Many participants utilized iPads throughout the day, experiencing the iTunes U course as well as highlighted apps in real-time. Translation services bridged any communication gaps between our team and among ourselves and the participants. However, no translators were needed to interpret the growing friendship that developed amongst our team. 

in Torino - photo credit Julie Willcott
in Rome

In between each of our events, our Italian hosts and friends showed us the best of what each city had to offer. They shared stories about their country, insight into educational initiatives they are involved in, and loads and loads of amazing food! 

Our final day together was spent sight-seeing in Florence. Alberto, who speaks limited English, had spent much of the preceding train ride developing a guide for us to use in iBooks - complete with popovers translating his amazing knowledge of the history and stories of the paintings into English.  He even recorded Italian poetry as an audio widget to create a truly memorable keepsake. His personal tour of the Uffizi Gallery, with Ugo bridging the communication gap between us, was beyond special. At the end of the day we waved goodbye through the windows of the train that would take us back to the airport in Rome, with tears streaming down our faces. However, we all knew this was not the end. The success of the initial tour is already fueling momentum for a second version to be held in even more Italian cities next fall. 


The collaboration of our team is the epitome of being an ADE for me. It is being able to share my passion with a global audience to promote change in education- to benefit all. And in being an advocate and an ambassador in this manner, I myself learn and grow so much. I can't say enough about how appreciative we are for this opportunity- for the lifelong partnership we have made with Alberto, with Italy, and all due to and empowered by the Apple Distinguished Educator program. If anyone thinks that something like this is not possible, they are crazy. I can already see evidence of how dedication to a small and simple thing can have a big impact and I know will continue to grow. 

See my entire photo album of our week in Italy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kmorrow/sets/72157651353040082/