Cryptography for the Classroom

Cryptography for the Classroom

This was a simple, hands-on encryption session for #ipdx19. We start the session with Morse code—SOS is recognizable to a handful of adults in each session. And then we transition to a Caesar Cipher, a pigpen cipher, and time to develop our own codes and keys with a partner.

My favorite segment of this workshop is the encryption primer (video below). Mia Gil Epner does a fantastic job of explaining encryption, especially asymmetric encryption and the challenges ahead as computer processing power increases.

How to Write Stuff People Will Read

How to Write Stuff People Will Read

Integrated2019 #iPDX19

How to Write

Stuff People will read

This is an active writing workshop for the IntegratED 2019 conference in Portland, Oregon.

Thursday, February 21 at 2:30 p.m., in the St Helens Lobby.

 

 

Themes

Purpose
Design
Words
Method
Timing

Activities

What Do I Write?
Four Design Principles
Fixer Upper
Extra! Read All About It!
Fashionably Late

Introduction

It was a dark and stormy night…. Wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah     ….

I bet we have all received an email—or two—that looks something like this. They may be easy to write—see Mark Twain—but, they are not easy to read. We’ll work together to fix that today.

I’ve broken this session into five themes, with five corresponding activities. We’ll move through them quickly for this 90-minute session.

You can revisit this web post and the session slide deck as often you like once our face-to-face time ends. Happy writing!

Purpose

What do you write? Let’s take ten minutes to meet our neighbors and inventory writing tasks we complete in an average week.

Design

Robin Williams—not that Robin Williams, although he was magical, too—saved my writing life a couple decades ago. For the next 15 minutes, we’ll review her four elements of design that help people read our writing.

Words

The Elements of Style is still stylish, today. We’re going to revise a handful of fixer-upper emails in this segment.

Method

We’re moving from theory to tactical now. Let’s map tools to needs and develop a “smart person’s guide” to communicating with our community.

Timing

For our last activity, we’ll talk about the cycles of communication. And why it’s okay sometimes to be fashionably late. 

Session Sources

  • The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White
  • The Non-Designer’s Design Book, by Robin Williams
  • Everybody Writes, by Ann Handley
  • Nicely Said, by Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee

 

Inspiration

Bud Hunt, Luke Neff, Nicole Carter, Miss Aishe—my ninth-grade English teacher—and thoughtful writers around the globe.

Stop Here

 

Think about the medium for your message at the times you have more than three important things.

Can you change the medium?

Or is it better to change the message?

opportunity cost

This is a writing session, but we’re going to spend a moment on economics first, especially the concept of opportunity cost.

Opportunity cost is about choices. When you decide something, there is usually a cost involved, whether that’s the actual cost of the thing or the value of the other thing (the one you didn’t choose). The opportunity cost of email is approaching zero. For the sender. My thesis is the cost is borne by the reader. I keep that thesis present as I create newsletters, presentations, school closing announcements, and email.

Emails Sent Daily

Cups of Coffee Sold Daily

have a question or idea?

Send me a note!

Thanks for attending today’s session.

8 + 11 =

Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day Three

Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day Three

Mark ZuckerbegPhoto credit: Mark Zuckerberg, by TechCrunch, a Creative Commons image on Flickr.

We started a new innovation series in this new year. It’s 18 Days to Storytelling for Innovation, a program on the Avanoo platform. (Thanks to Anna Higgins, our Director of Innovation, for leading us.) We watch a short video each day and reflect on it individually and as a group. I’m going to chronicle my individual reflections here.

Day Three—The Social Network

In today’s video, we were challenged to draft an innovation narrative that answers two key questions:

  1. Who is the customer for the innovation?
  2. What problem does it solve?

The narrator used an early scene in the move The Social Network as the example. In the scene Mark Zuckerberg is getting annoyed by his friend Dustin. Dustin is interested in a girl and is peppering Mark with questions. It is the moment Mark realizes who his customer is for Facebook and runs back to his dorm room to add the critical “Relationship Status” to the Facebook profile. In an innovation narrative, the protagonist is the customer.

My innovation narrative has a teacher for its protagonist. The problem the teacher has articulated is a lack of a way to discover and organize curriculum resources. Evernote and several other products have attempted to solve the problem, but are missing the mark because they have packed the tools with too many options. The solution becomes part of the problem and the innovation gets put aside. I think about this often as I brainstorm a solution that is simpler and more useful.

Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day Two

Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day Two

Woody from Toy Story on a bookshelf

Photo credit: Woody on is new space on the DVD shelf by semihundido, a Creative Commons image on Flickr.

We started a new innovation series in this new year. It’s 18 Days to Storytelling for Innovation, a program on the Avanoo platform. (Thanks to Anna Higgins, our Director of Innovation, for leading us.) We watch a short video each day and reflect on it individually and as a group. I’m going to chronicle my individual reflections here.

Day Two—Toy Story

Our first challenge as we journey through the storytelling vignettes is to understand narrative structure, so we can apply it to our own innovation narratives.

Our reflection exercise for today asked us three questions about Toy Story 3:

  1. Who is the hero or protagonist? Woody
  2. What is the hero’s motivation? I’m torn on this. Woody is going through the bittersweet transition parents do as their children grow and move on. There’s the balance of pride and happiness with the sadness and initial loneliness of the transition. But I think his motivation is less about his changing relationship with Andy (a hope to hold on to things as they were in the past) and more about his love, care, and responsibility for the other toys in Andy’s toy chest after they are mistakenly put in the trash.
  3. What is the central conflict? In a classic sense, the central conflict is man against man—toy against toy, in this case. Andy’s optimism about the role of toys in a child’s life is challenged by Lotso, a toy bear who believes all toys are destined to be mistreated and discarded. This conflict is set in the larger narrative of the toys making their way back to Andy’s house.

Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day One

Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day One

Forest Road in Oregon by Michael MattiPhoto credit: Forest Road in Oregon by Michael Matti, a Creative Commons licensed image on Flickr.

We started a new innovation series in this new year. It’s 18 Days to Storytelling for Innovation, a program on the Avanoo platform. (Thanks to Anna Higgins, our Director of Innovation, for leading us.) We watch a short video each day and reflect on it individually and as a group. I’m going to chronicle my individual reflections here.

Day One—The Graduation Speech

Today’s video reflection asked us to write down a story we’ll never forget and some aspects of it that make it memorable.

I heard the story I’ll never forget my sophomore year of high school. The setting was our high school gymnasium. We were gathered together for an all-school assembly. After the athletic letters and academic awards had been celebrated, we settled in to listen to a guest speaker. Normally these were yawners—some muckety-muck visiting to lecture us on responsibility, our future, or politics. That day’s guest was different and had our full attention within minutes.

The speaker was an older man. (“Older man” then meant he was probably in his early to mid-thirties. Oh, to be young again.) He was silent and still for the first minute. And then he started:

Three high school boys climbed in their car after a day at the lake last summer. It had been a perfect, sunny day and they had been swimming, tubing, and diving for hours. It was time to start the 45-minute drive home. They had been on the road just long enough for the vinyl seats to stop burning the backs of their thighs when a station wagon came speeding up behind them. The driver, a man, stayed on their bumper for a few moments and then swerved into the oncoming lane to pass. Shortly after he passed the boys’ car, he slowed down.

 

The boys cursed, honked, flipped him off, and pulled around him. They joked about never turning into “grandpa drivers.”

 

A few minutes later, the driver passed the boys again. And a few moments after that, he slowed again. This time he was swerving within the lane as he slowed. The boys, even more annoyed, passed him again, flipped him off again, and joked even more. They sped up to leave him behind.

 

Five minutes had passed when they saw him approaching them again. The boys swerved into the center of the road to block him from passing again. The older driver honked and swerved side to side to find a way around their car. He finally succeeded. He didn’t slow down this time, but the boys were enraged. They sped up even more, passed the single driver, and once they had pulled away again, threw on the brakes and stopped with their car sideways, blocking both lanes of the quiet road.

 

The driver laid on the horn as he approached, came to a quick stop, and jumped out of his car. Before the boys could say a word, he yelled, “My 5-year old son is laying in the back of my car. He was stung by bees and cannot breathe. Let me pass!” One of the boys ran over to the station wagon and saw the young boy passed out in the back and shouted back to his friends. They moved the car quickly, their anger gone, and fell in behind the station wagon to chase him to the hospital.

 

The other driver’s son died en route to the hospital.

I am the other driver. That was my son.

 

I am not here today to tell you those young boys did something wrong or how you should drive. They thought I was a crazy, annoying driver. I was. What seemed like a crazy driver was a father trying to drive quickly and check on his son at the same time. Each time I passed, I turned to check on my son and inevitably slowed down and/or swerved. They could not see the young boy in the back.

 

I am here today to tell you my story. You will make your own meaning from it.

At that, the speaker walked out of the gym. We all sat in stunned silence. No one clapped. No one snickered.

The story is still with me, over 25 years later. I think about that station wagon and panicked father when I encounter erratic drivers. I think about all the things I don’t know about that driver’s story that day. The story has informed both my personality and view on life. I believe I have stronger patience and a slower rush to judgement because of it.

The story is memorable (and was intense at the time of its telling) because of three key aspects:

  1. Its ending was a surprise. I made an assumption in the first few moments of the story that something bad would happen to the teenage boys. I wasn’t alone in thinking the story was headed a different direction.
  2. The storyteller told a story and then walked away. As teenagers, we were used to older speakers lecturing us or telling us the meaning of things.
  3. The storyteller shared the loss of his young son openly, with no finger pointing, blame, or preaching.

Low-Tech Social Network

Low-Tech Social Network

We are gearing up for another busy summer of professional development events in Oregon. I brainstorm our activities ahead of time and want to continue our focus on ones that increase our movement, collaboration, and human connection elements.

We’ve been doing quite a bit of group juggling the past couple years. Thanks to my dear colleague Tricia George for introducing us to this gem of a game-metaphor-fun. We’ll use it forever.

group juggling

We’re also adding a new activity to the rotation: a low-tech social network. I saw this in action at the Google Think Tank NYC this spring and fell in love with it. It’s low-cost, high-impact and has people sharing and connecting in a low-stress way in the opening minutes of an event. Stock each table with large index cards, colorful markers, washi tape, stickers, stamps, or whatever paper supplies you have on hand. Set aside a 15-minute block of time after the welcome and introductions for participants to create their social media avatar and profile. Good elements include: face sketch, name, job, location, school or organization, education, hobbies, interests, and the like.

At the 15-minute mark, ask the participants to spend a few minutes showing off their profile to their table mates. After they finish, they’ll grab a piece of tape and add their profiles to the wall. (I usually buy a roll of kraft paper for the backdrop.)

low-tech social network

Throughout the event—especially coming and going from breaks and meals—encourage participants to get to know their peers and create connections (via  marker or tape or yarn) with each other on hometowns, hobbies, jobs…. By the end of the event the wall looks like a social map.

participants looking at the wall of profiles

I’m adding a reflection activity to the end of the event to highlight the value of our face-to-face networks and online social networks both. Our professional development events bring people together from across the state. It’s a treasured slice of time when we get to break bread together, learn together, and form friendships. The low-tech social network helped us discover things in common that may not have surfaced during our conversations. It adds new fibers to the fabric we weave together. Online social networks allow us to expand our peer network beyond those lucky times when we’re in the same space at the same time together. This is especially important in rural Oregon, where educators often have hundreds and miles and a few mountains between them and the next closest person who teaches their subject or grade or style. Social networks are social networks.