Saturday, September 13, 2014

We've Gone Google!

This week, teachers in our district received their Teacher Login for Google Apps for Education.  When I teach classes on Google Drive and Google Apps, I often get skeptics who aren't sure why they would take the plunge.  Many just don't want to let go of the things they have traditionally relied on.  With that, here are a few reasons I give for the switch:

  • You can go paperless - Google Drive and Google Classroom let open up the possibility of pushing assignments out to students in the form of a link to a Google Doc, which students can copy and then fill in.  Then they can resubmit the lesson for grading.  Plus, inside Google Drive, you can comment on student work and share it back with them in real time, meaning they can receive feedback immediately - with no need to wait on papers to be passed back.

  • No more flash drives! - I used to carry around a small case that held all of my flash drives so I would always have my documents with me.  But with Google Drive, you can have all of your files with you as long as you have access to the internet.  That means on a computer, your phone, your tablet - anywhere!  But often people say, "what happens if the internet goes down?"  If you download Google Drive to your computer, your files are synced from the web to your computer - so you have a backup!

  • Publish your files to the web! - If you have presentations that you use in class or in meetings, you can publish your Google Slide presentation to the web or embed it on your Google Site.  Then any changes you make in the future will be available on your site and with others you have shared in real time.

  • Collaboration - By sharing a doc, you can work from anywhere at any time with others in real time.  

  • Put Google Drive to work for you - There are tons of Add Ons and Scripts that allow you to put Google to work for you. For instance, in our Virtual Academy program,  I have a form that I use for enrollment.  Our counselors fill the form to let me know what courses our online students need.  Once the counselor submits the form entry, a script called Autocrat automatically merges their selections with a document that is emailed to me!  

In an effort to help our teachers understand the world of possibilities this opens up to them, I am also publishing a few links I have found to be helpful with Google Apps and Google Drive.

For more tips and ideas from the web, follow me on our Google Educators of Oklahoma page on Facebook - Google Educators of Oklahoma

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Google Apps for Teachers

Recently, our district decided to make the switch to become a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school.  We are in the middle of the transition and are slowly adding teachers to our district account, one site at a time.  This transition has made things simpler for me, and the discussion that I have had with several teachers has gotten them in the mode of thinking about how Google could be leveraged to making their lives easier too.

The difficulty I have had is helping them understand just why they should use Google Apps.  The biggest and best answer I can give is that Google allows the following:

  • Free Cloud Storage - 15GB for a Free user, 30GB for a GAFE Teacher
  • Access to Google Drive
  • Real Time collaboration - share docs and collaborate from anywhere at anytime with an Internet Connection
  • Google Docs - word processing in the cloud
  • Google Forms - for quizzes and tests
  • Google Sheets - for collecting and sharing data
  • Google Slides - convert your PowerPoints into slides and access them from anywhere.
To help our teachers learn how to use these apps, I have created a few tutorial videos that I wanted to share with everyone.  

Google:  An Introduction

Google Docs

Google Forms

Google Slides

Beyond these videos, there are several links that will help new users keep up with Google News:

Google Gooru -
Google Educators - Sand Springs -
The Official Google Blog -

Hopefully the videos and the links will help you as you Go Google!

Dropbox and the Paperless Classroom

For teachers that want to go to a paperless classroom, the one drawback is finding a free solution that allows you to distribute work and still collect work without complication.  Many teachers have a dropbox account and have created public folders so that students can submit work.  The problem with this is that students can see everyone else's work, which leads to problems with academic integrity, cheating, and plagiarism.

Today, I ran across a great solution that will help teachers using Dropbox.  This tool is called Jotform.  If you go to, you can create a form that allows students to submit assignments to your dropbox account.  Its pretty simple as long as you already have an existing dropbox account and you use the link above.


To get started, you'll first need to go to to create an account.  Then, follow the instructions below to create your dropbox form.

  1. Go to  
  2. Click the "Create a Dropbox Form" button.
  3. You'll be asked to login to your Dropbox account and link it to Jotform.
  4. After linking the two accounts, you'll get a link and an Embed code you can use to post your form online. 
  5. A form template has already been created, so all you need to do is click Next when prompted.  
  6. After the process is complete, close the popup window and go to My Forms.  You can see and edit your form at any time.

After you create your form, you can always go back to Jotform and find your Embed Code and URL for sharing.  You can also edit this form to include collect other information such as Class Period, Grade, etc....  If you click the Integration button, you can also integrate other services besides dropbox.  

Once your Dropbox account and your Jotform account are linked, you will see a new folder in your Dropbox account called "JotForm to Dropbox".  You'll want to test our your new form for the first time after creating it.  

This is a great alternative if you are not a Google Apps for Education school and you are a religious dropbox user.  My suggestion would be to create a separate dropbox account apart from your personal one that is used only for your classroom.  Then start collecting student work!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Resources Every Teacher Needs to Know About...

One of the biggest complaints I hear from teachers is that they just don't have enough time in the day to grade papers, commit to extra duties, attend workshops, or search the web for professional learning opportunities.  And I have to say that I agree - it is very hard to fit all of that into a busy schedule.  But one big things that has helped me  this year, is that our school district has joined SimpleK12.  

In terms of professional growth, it takes a great deal of time and many don't have that time, but the question that keeps nagging is whether or not you want to...

* Learn about the latest technologies helping other teachers excel?
* Join discussions with other educators about implementing new standards? 
* Stay in tune with what matters most in today's schools?
* Feel up-to-speed on the "latest and greatest" strategies and tools? 

All these questions are important to our roles as teachers.  Finding all of these things is a huge task, and SImpleK12 makes it a little easier by putting it all in one community.

If you answered YES to any of the above, join me inside the hottest education resource: SimpleK12’s Teacher Learning Community.

==> Create a FREE Basic Membership Today.

SimpleK12, the leading provider of 21st century teacher professional development, brings the fun, energy, and excitement back into learning.

200,000+ educators from around the world have access to SimpleK12's PD resources, information, and training ... and you can too!

Take learning into your own hands and explore the fastest-growing social network and Professional Development community for educators...

==> Create a FREE Basic Membership.

I look forward to seeing you inside the Community!

Friday, July 18, 2014

QR Codes and Back to School

It's a little soon to be talking about the first day of school, I guess, but a class I taught today got my mind going about back to school.  In a class on QR Codes, we were discussing the different ways that QR codes can be used in the classroom.  When you take into consideration that mobile devices can open up so many options for learning, QR codes seem an obvious pathway to providing tips, hints, or answers to frequently asked questions.  But as we talked it became evident that one clear cut solution for back to school is to provide a QR code for new students and parents.  That QR code could be a link to:
  • your syllabus
  • a supply list
  • an introductory video
  • a guided tour of the school/classroom
In order to create your own code and provide access to these and other pieces of information, you need to keep a few things in mind.  

First, where will you store your information?
  • Google Drive - Store documents and slideshows in your cloud based account.  Just make sure that in your sharing options you have set your document so that it can be viewed by anyone with the link.  Click Share and change "who has access" to "anyone with the link".
  • YouTube - Any video that you create for tours or introductions to your parents and students can be stored on your YouTube channel.  Just copy the link to share.  
Second, how can you create your QR Code?  Make sure you copy your link from the item you want to link back to from your code, then go create a code on one of these sites.  
Third, before you post your QR code on your website or print it off and post on your classroom door, make sure you use a QR Code scanner to test your code:

Finally, make sure when you print off  your code or post it, you do the following:
  • Let users know what information is being shared (i.e., Syllabus, supply list, Meet the Teacher Video)
  • Provide users with a link to a QR Scanner if they don't have one.
  • Print or post it large enough that it is easily seen and easy to scan.
Here's an example of a QR Code linked to a Back to School Doc:

QR Code
When you create your code, post it on your door so that parents and students can scan it during schedule pick up or meet the teacher day prior to the start of school.  If you do this, you have the satisfaction of knowing that your students will have easy access to a supply list prior to the first day of school.  Plus, your parents will love you for getting this out of the way early!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Trouble finding resources? Look no further than Social Media!

While looking through twitter today I ran across this resource: Technology Resources For Teachers - This link provides a list of resource guides for several great current topics in educational technology. But while looking through it, the thought ran across my mind how social media has made gathering resources so much easier than just a few years ago.

Prior to Twitter and Facebook, the search on the Internet for resources was tough if you didn't know where to look- even tougher before the advent of the Internet. But in the few short years since social media has taken hold (Facebook was born in 2004, Twitter was born in 2006) there have been several apps created to help in gathering resources.

Here is a short list of places to make your research easier:

Twitter - create an account and follow your favorite educational organizations. Search for others to follow by looking under educational hashtags - Hashtags from Cybraryman

Facebook- create an account on FB and do the same as above.

Hootsuite - download this app for your mobile device and access all your social media news feeds from one place.

Flipboard- follow your favorite topics from RSS feeds to social media. Create a magazine to archive your favorite articles and share it with others.

ScoopIt- similar to Flipboard, follow your favorite topics and sources. Create your own archive and share it.

Evernote - another app/service to gather your thoughts all in one place.

The great thing about all of these links is that their services are accessible from your mobile device. If you haven't jumped into social media yet, then what better reason than to make your search for ideas and resources a little easier. Start today!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Best iPad Apps for Teachers

Link to Updated Version of this Article

Looking for a few good apps to use in your classroom?  Here is a short list of apps for iOS devices and some for Android.  Thanks to the ladies at SimpleK12 at #ISTE2014 for sharing these:

Spelling city -  - vocabulary, spelling lists, free activities

Science 360- - this app offers streaming video on a wide array of science topics.
History pin-!/geo:51.6,0.05/zoom:7/  - Teachers can use this site/app to pin pictures and information related to historical topics.

Wunderlist -  - manage your to-do list.

Project Noah-  or - tool to document and explore wildlife.

Virtual tour - Library of Congress - - Take a virtual tour of the Library of Congress.

iTunesU - Download the app or visit the link for more information on virtual courses from a wide range of K-12, Colleges, or Universities.

Quizlet - or - create and deploy quizzes on the app or online.

Kindle - - You don’t need a kindle to take advantage of the Amazon service.  Download the app for your iPad.  

Evernote - This note taking app allows you to curate topics from anywhere. - or

Zite - This curation tool lets you gather articles from your favorite web news sources -

Sockpuppets - This app lets you create your own sock puppet videos with backgrounds, scenery, and yes, sock puppets- - Look up any word, root word, synonym, name it. or

Space images - images and videos of stars, planets, and space.  From NASA -

Sphere 360 -  Explore or create 360∘ moments with this app using panoramic photos.

Bloomberg app - Math and Finance app by Bloomberg -

Khan academy - video tutorials on educational topics - or

History maps - Interactive Maps of the world for iPad.

Stack the states - Learn the 50 states and their place on the map -

Simple K12 app - Stay in Touch with SimpleK12 PD on your iPad -

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Gamification and Learning

In the past several weeks, I have been working with a team of teachers to discuss the concept of gamification. Basically, the idea is that rather than stick to the traditional design of a classroom, you 'gamify' your classroom by creating challenges, choice, and rewards. This may sound like a monumental undertaking, but it really isn't. Some people hear the term and assume that they would need to create an app or computer software and turn their entire course into a game. Don't think that teachers/software companies/designers have not already done this. Its a concept that has been around for a while. But there are subtle ways that your syllabus and classroom can be tweaked to instill motivation in your student by turning your lessons into quests or challenges.

As I have already said, gamification can be simple...if you start small. Douglas Kiang, a teacher from the Punahou School in Honolulu Hawaii ( points out that you first need to know your learners. He suggests using the Bartle Test App to determine what kind of gamers your students are. Once you know this, it will help tremendously in understanding where their strengths lie as workers/learners/gamers. (See my notes from his session at #iste2014). From here you can better understand how to group your students for class projects. But I am getting ahead of myself, as you wouldn't really want to call them projects.

The next thing you would want to do is to create a climate shift in your classroom. No longer will you think of your class as one of assignments, quizzes, tests, and projects. Change the mentality to one in which there is a path of quests students need to achieve in order to reach the outcome or goal of your class. The ultimate outcome is learning, but we will call it their reward. Some assignments (quests) will be required paths to the desired outcome (winning the game), but others will be challenges that can be rewarded through extra credit or badges. Grades can still be awarded, but once this shift in mentality occurs, and you realign their thinking about the class, motivation changes - achievement becomes a competition.

Beyond this though, there are several other aspects to gamification that were mentioned throughout the conference that are worth bringing up. One is that while you can create required quests, and additional extra credit challenges, your kids should be able to choose their own path to learning. This was a concept mentioned by Kiang, as well as another attendee I met named Alice Keeler, a Professor of Teacher Education at Fresno State. Both mention the 'choose your own path' concept, but in different ways. For instance, Kiang mentions setting up different career major paths that students could follow through the learning process. Each student may have a different focus due to their career pathway, but each would learn the same basic concepts required to achieve the goal of the game (class). Keeler states that her syllabus for her course is structured in the sense that students must achieve a specific set of outcomes, but open ended in the sense that each student may take a different path to reach that desired outcome.

Think of the above paragraph this way - in games like Skyrim and World of Warcraft, gamers take on different roles with different strengths. Each role requires that the gamer approach the game in a different way.

While all this may seem like a lot to swallow, it is definitely an approach to learning that is worth looking at. While listening to each of these educators talk, I could tell that each is passionate about what they do, and their students are motivated to succeed. How do I digest all this? I see it this way. The next move for any educator in gamifying the classroom is to do as Keeler says, which is to start small. Pick one aspect of gamification and implement it in your classroom. Here are a few tips to start:

1. Choice - give your students more choice in how they achieve outcomes. Give them the ability to create through different modalities - videos, game simulations, posters, plays, speeches, comic strips - but dont limit them. Just grade them on a rubric, lying out specific objectives with badges or rewards for achieving those objectives.

2. Terminology - alter the climate of your class by changing the terminology associated with learning. Assignments become quests, extra credit becomes a challenge, and grades are now badges or rewards.

3. Flipped Back Chat - this is for all you flipped classroom people and it is a suggestion given by Kiang in his presentation. Games will often use a program or channel on the internet to chat with one another while gaming. If you are flipping your classroom, tell your students that they must watch the videos you post as homework, but challenge them to login at the same time and create a chat room of sorts using a website such as Today's Meet to create a backchannel where students can ask questions as they watch. It makes the learning process more interactive and extends learning beyond the walls of the school in a new way.

Like I said, I am just in the beginning stages of discussing this with our Gamification team, so I am as new to this as anyone. But if you're like me, you welcome any discussion or group of resources to help you find the answers. That being said, thanks for reading this, good luck, and don't forget to check out my notes from the ISTE session I attended with Kiang and the link to Keeler's website.

Google Docs - Notes from Kiang Session

Alice Keeler

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Are you a runner or a rider?

One of the most outstanding presentations I have been to so far at the ISTE 2014 conference was a vendor sponsored session featuring Ron Clark (The Essential 55, Ron Clark Academy). Not only is he a great motivational speaker, but he walks the walk. When he talks about being passionate as an educator, he puts into practice the very things he asks educators to do. This is evident when he talks, but it is also evident when you watch his students, which were there for the session as well. His students preached and practiced his rules.

But this post is not about his specific tips for educators so much as the start of his message, which pointed out that there are 4 kinds of teachers in a school.

Runners - those who show up early, stay late, and never stop going. Full of ideas and always ready to jump in.

Joggers - think they are runners, have a few great ideas that they do every year, and are always passionate about those things.

Walkers - feel as if they are dragged along and usually do so while complaining.

Riders - those who sit by and complain, usually about how the system affects them.

Now, I wouldn't want to guess which one of these I am, and wouldn't begin to label others as being one or the other, but what I took away from this session is that no matter where you fall, you can be a Runner. Yes, we all see these people in our buildings and we get a little tired of seeing them, hearing them, and if we really want to admit it, may be a little jealous of them, but we all can be a Runner. Part of the reason Runners bother some teachers is that on some level they are worried that Runners (and their administrators) will expect them to do the same things they are doing. Ron pointed out that it doesn't have to be that way. He doesn't expect teachers at his school to rap or stand on the desks and dance (although he did all of this in his presentation). He just wants them to be passionate and happy about what they do.

So what is the point of this article, and what is his point in his presentation. Ron points out that when students in his school are asked, they say they want teachers who are happy about what they do, genuine in really wanting to know about the students, and are pleasant to be around. Teachers who are willing to try new things, but be OK with making mistakes.

After hearing Ron talk today, there are three things that I would like all of our faculty members to take away:

1. I have always been one of those people that likes to try new things, but usually when there is limited room for risk. But as I have grown as an educator, I have found that the only way to get out of my comfort zone is to realize that there will be mistakes and there will be risk. So don't worry about failure - just get out and try. Even the most successful people are fearful of change, but they try.

2. Be happy about what you do - and if you're not, fake it until you make it! Kids can pick up on negativity and it creates a negative response. You will get more out of your kids if you show respect first and a firm hand in your expectations. If you put forth a pleasant atmosphere and respectful attitude, your kids will respond. Trust me!

3. Embrace change. This one may be the hardest for some people. But think of it this way. You know the old question, "You're on a desert island. If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?" If you've ever answered this question, or posed it to someone else, you know that the catch is that no matter how much you love that food, it will quickly get old and you will get tired of it and welcome a little change. That is the important thing to remember. Students get tired of the same old thing. This analogy doesn't mean that you constantly have to change how you present your content. But what I am getting to is that we as a society have been teaching kids the same way for nearly 100 years. But all the while, society and technology have changed around us, while we have changed very little. It is time for us to embrace the tools that are around us. Students crave the ability to use in the classroom, the tools they use every day.

All that being said, I don't want anyone to read this and take it as a criticism, but more as a self assessment. Where do you fall on the scale? Are you a runner or rider? Do you embrace change, or fear change? Do you dread coming to work, or look forward to it? Think on that for a moment as you enjoy your summer and plan for next year. How will the next school year be different for you?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, June 30, 2014

BYOT! Why Wait?

One thing I have picked up from ISTE is that we, along with many other districts around us, are still very far behind in the implementation phase of many technology trends. With the type and number of technology tools available to us and our students, we have the capability to employ a vast array of apps, web tools, and social media tools for the purpose of learning. What's holding us back?

WiFi? Nope. As we speak our district is working hard to beef up our infrastructure so that wireless access is not an issue. For the past year or so, we have had wifi in most rooms of our secondary buildings and in select locations in our primary buildings. At the start of the school year, the entire district should see a vast improvement in connectivity.

Access to technology? Nope. Many of our buildings have access to at least one iPad cart or at the minimum a computer lab that can be used to infuse technology into our daily lessons. Many teachers are a bit leary of checking them out (iPads) due to student use or misuse, while still others are looking for that one way that iPads can be easily integrated. Others are a bit nervous about a technology they are not sure of. But in addition to district owned technology, our kids bring many tools to the table. They have iPods, iPhones, and Android phones. These could be employed for BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology).

Access to apps/tools? This one is also a no! There are so many free tools available on the web today, that there is simply no reason not to try them. Whether your are looking for a curation tool that helps you keep track of all the lesson plan ideas you find, or a tool to help you in your science lab, there are tons. Check out these tools from the ISTE conference. If the QR Codes are hard to scan, just google the titles of the apps. These just represent a small number of apps available for math.

What is holding us back? Ourselves. We are the guilty party. The tools and infrastructure are there. We just need to implement instead of talk about it. Many of us, myself included, will use the excuse that we just don't have time. Or the excuse that we just don't have a lesson that can be centered around technology. With this, there are two things to remember:

One - time is relative. You have to think of all the free time/wasted time that we have throughout the day. If you already have one of these devices (iPad, iPhone, Android Phone, Chrome book), you already have the means, you just need to use some of your wasted time to explore.

Two - technology should not be the focus of your lessons. It should be the tool to get you where you need to be. Whenever you have a lesson in which you find yourself saying, "I wish there were an easier way", that is the jumping off point for you to start exploring. Look for apps or ask someone if there is a tool that exists to get you there. BYOT allows us to use devices as calculators, graphing tools, writing tools (blogs, discussions), research tools, curation tools, data gathering tools, translators, cameras, recorders, art tools, document cameras, student response devices...the list goes on! For every time you wish you had a Smartboard, student response set of clickers, or document camera, guess what! An iPad can do all of those things.

So as you start the new school year, start thinking of how you can employ BYOT in your class, or think about how that iPad cart might benefit you. Start asking questions of your peers and don't be embarrassed. We all have to start somewhere.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, June 26, 2014

ISTE 2014

So today I head out of town to Atlanta for the ISTE 2014 conference.  I can't wait to get there.  This conference is always so full of information, I never have time to gather it all together, but I always know I will come back with some valuable information.  As always, I will be posting articles about each session I attend.  Hopefully the few of you that follow me will find this information handy.  My goal this year is to increase my postings on this site in an effort to get my thoughts down and create a knowledge base for questions that teachers have throughout the course of the year.


If you aren't familiar with the ISTE conference or the organization, I highly recommend you check it out. ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education.  Formerly known as NECC (National Education Computing Conference), ISTE has generated a large knowledge base of information regarding technology for the classroom.  Additionally, they are at the forefront of developing standards for computer science in the classroom and technology in teaching.  My primary interest is as a Professional Development teacher and Instructional Coach.

If you've never checked out their site, do so -  .  While there, check out their standards page -  They have written standards for:

All of the information on these pages is very valuable in guiding technology instruction.  Check it out.

Also, don't forget to check back here this week for my posts on ISTE 2014 Conference Sessions.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Flipboard and

In utilizing Moodle  as our district LMS and Professional Development tool, I was looking for a way to share articles, videos, and resources I found on the web.  The difficulty I ran into was that unless teachers logged in and made their way into the news forum, they rarely saw or read the articles I was sharing.  I was looking for a way to quickly share resources in a way that was highly visible and easy to create, group and easy for the reader to digest.

I had used Flipboard before, but mainly as entertainment or leisure reading.  I had never used the magazine feature until recently.  When I started my magazine, I decided to focus on educational technology topics.  I quickly noticed the share feature which lets you email, tweet, or post you magazine on Facebook.  I decided to copy the URL and post it as a link on the front page of our district Moodle site.  But then I decided to use to convert the web address of my Flipboard magazine into html code that could be posted on our page.  in that way, our teachers were able to see a thumbnail of the most current article archived in the magazine.  Love this tool!  Try it yourself.

Turn any address into an embed code -

Flipboard app -

View my Flipboard magazine here - Smart Tips for Smart Teachers:

Smart Tips for Smart Teachers

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Coaching for education transformation - #ISTE2013

This presentation was a panel discussion focusing on teachers as technology coaches. Technology coaches have been found to be the most effective form of professional development. The benefit of a coach is that they provide a safety net to teachers who need assistance in technology integration.

Elements of Effective Coaching:

- Building relationships with teachers. Knowing the tech is part of it, but building rapport is important.
- Making the discussion/tech relevant
- Reflection. Have teachers reflect on what was effective, successful. Coach reflect on training - what is successful
- Build trust. Teachers need to feel that they can rely on coaches.
- Observation. What are their behaviors? What could they be doing differently in the classroom.
- Teachers are looking for a peer, not a trainer or supervisor. Coaching is a two way street.
- Start with those who are comfortable working with a coach.

Elements of Ineffective Coaching:

- Do not enable a teacher. Some teachers want you to come in and teacher the kids how to use a piece of software. Coaching is not teaching the kids. Coaching is teaching the teacher and modeling so they can be empowered to teach.
- It's not about the tool. It is about the end result. What do you want to do?
- Leaving out the high flyers. If you leave out the ones you assume are tech-learned, you will create a wall in which they feel left out. Work with all levels.

How do the roles of coaches impact highly effective digital age teaching and learning?

Digital learning allows independence among student learners. Coaching teachers in digital learning means that teachers can differentiate in challenging situations. Teachers are looking for solutions. Technology for the sake of technology is not what we are saying, but embracing new skills to provide solutions will make teachers more effective.

As an example, when implementing iPads in a district, it was found that having peer coaches allowed teachers to use iPads more effectively than if they had minimal training or if just given iPads with no training.

Evaluating Coaching:

Developing a portfolio for teachers is a good way to show growth. Focus groups also allow teachers to discuss needs, ask questions, and work with coaches to evaluate new tech. Developing an evaluation tool so teachers can evaluate their own experiences can be helpful - during pre and post training.

The most effective coaches are those who still work in the classroom, or self nominate and go through training.

How does effective coaching transform education?

Coaches don't always play the role of expert. This puts you in a position where teachers will sit back and have you do all the work. This creates learned helplessness. The solution is to create inquiry. What would you do? How would we solve this? This way allows the teacher to own the solution. The goal is to help them learn the capacity to solve their own problems. Coaches model collaboration which allows teachers to pick up those skills shown or discussed. Coaches help to develop networks of learning (PLNs).

Also, coaches need to work closely with principals. How does coaching fit with school improvement plan? How does coaching fit with school goals? Have a meeting with each principal so that the coach receives the proper support and the principal is able to receive information about the good things that are coming from coaching.

The best way to use technology is through inquiry. Ask questions. By modeling what they should do with their kids, you help the teacher teach the kids about self directed learning and inquiry.

What are the challenges to creating and sustaining a coaching model?

Time- It's great if someone has the primary job of coach, but this is not always possible. Some coaches work on release time. Work with administrators to remove some of those time barriers. Sub time works, as well as an extra plan hour dedicated to coaching.

Training - There should be training up front and professional development to build coaching skills in order for them to be effective.

Staff culture - Developing a rapport or trust with teachers is important. It takes time and support from the administration to develop a culture which establishes an effective coaching relationship. Communication of the impact of coaching - portfolios, successes, etc - is important to developing culture as well.

-For ipads and reading, check out -
-ISTE has a special interest group for teachers - #SIGETC
-Backchannel for discussion -

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Beyond the Apps: A Pedagogical Approach to the iPad #ISTE2013

This session was presented by Aaron Svoboda, secondary learning coach, Kearney Public Schools

The presenter starts by saying that he is tired of attending workshops where the speaker just talked about neat apps or "hey there's an app for that!" discussions. He feels there needs to be more meaningful discussion on designing lessons with the iPad. He is big on Madeline Hunter and promotes the principle of pedagogical design and purpose driven learning.

Check out his site here:

Why ipads?
-In terms of a modes of delivery, he uses Wikispaces or google sites.
-Kids want to use the iPad, so it automatically engages them.
-The iPad provides a contained learning environment - everything is right in front of you.

Tools he uses:
-Safari montage

Anticipatory Set
When working with kids, he starts with an anticipatory set. Question them and give them an activity or discussion topic to start with. It can be a quiz or a sharing of ideas using one of the tools above.

Objectives and Purpose
Then he moves on to the objective and purpose. Not necessarily what you're doing as much as why. He uses Google Forms to get feedback from students on their level of understanding on an objective. Allows them to interact with the objective.

Instructional input
Ways material can be delivered:
-Slide Decks
-Field trips
-Slide Share
-Google presentations
-Google docs video

Tips for instruction:
Chunk instruction. Break up topics with activities; provide opportunities for understanding.

Demonstrate understanding to your kids. In terms of the iPad, the teacher should be using the iPad in the same way as the kids so they know where they are or should be. Do as you want them to do.

Check for understanding
This is something that should happen throughout the lesson. It allows kids time to process and digest information. Teachers should provide multiple checks and do it between instruction to chunk - see above.

Guided Practice
Students are given time to work with the information. Support is present either in the form of the teacher or peers. Aaron is a big fan of Quizlet.

Independent practice
Time when the teacher is not available. With making info available on a website, the info is on 24/7. The student can work and review at any time.

This he feels is often the most underused step in learning. This is the time when students summarize and share what they have learned for clarification. To show understanding he has his students use a google form to write/respond with what they have learned.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Windows Surface R/T Tablet - Firmware -ISTE 2013

Many teachers at ISTE took advantage of the Windows in the Classroom Experience as I did. One piece of information that is good to know is that the Surface tablets have a Firmware update that is available as of June 2013. You will need to update your tablet to make sure it is in good working order.

To do this:

1. Swipe from right to left on right side of screen
2. Choose change PC Settings
3. Choose windows update
4. If firmware update is available, choose install and restart
Note: Your Windows Surface Tablet battery must be at 50% or more to perform the update.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Boost Performance with ISTE’s NETS for Technology Coaches -ISTE 2013

This session was presented by Dr. Jo Williamson & Dr. Traci Redish Kennesaw State University

The purpose of this session is to help tech coaches locate and understand the handouts, rubrics, and information for technology standards. The new NETS-C standards cover standards for Tech Coaches. The rationale behind the standards:

*Focuses on helping teachers, Providing PD
*Reflects recent literature in PD

Who are Tech Coaches?
*Those who provide direct support to teachers as they implement technology effectively to support teaching and learning.
*Technology Specialists, Technology Integration Specialists, Technology
Trainers, ICT coordinators, etc.
*Full-time coaches, part-time coaches, full-time teachers

NETS-C Standards (6)

1.  Visionary Leadership (4 elements)
2.  Teaching, Learning, & Assessment (8)*
3.  Digital-age Learning Environments (7)*
4.  Professional Development & Program
Evaluation (3)
5.  Digital Citizenship (3)
6.  Content Knowledge & Professional Growth (3)

These standards did not exist in the past, but with the movement toward more technology in the classroom, and the need for instructional technology coaches, they were developed.

Strategies for maximizing impact of tech coaches:

*Identify where coaches are needed.
*Identify specific coaching areas needing improvement
*Identify where coaches are performing well
*Identify where professional learning for coaches is needed.

The standards are performance standards and area guideline to explain the level at which effective tech coaches should be performing - Tech Coaches meet or exceed the standards.

There are also NETS-T standards that the speaker feels should be part of any teacher training program. Beyond this, there is a movement to establish or identify the need for tech coaches in schools. Many schools across the country do not have tech coaches. There is a big need as common core and tech integration grow. Communities need to find advocates to establish these positions in districts to assist veteran and beginning teachers with technology integration.

If you want more information on Tech Coaching:

Download the white paper from ISTE -
Instructional Coaching by Jim Knight -
Peer Coaching - Peer Ed

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The Best Moodle Tools You've Never Used ISTE 2013

Presented by Michelle Moore - slides from presentation.

Michelle's presentation is based on experience working with schools who are Moodle users. As she worked with each school she began to notice that there were tools that the schools were not taking full advantage of.

Using Moodle 2, there are several tools of which many schools are not aware. A short list she mentions includes:

Conditional activities

These are not plugins and are native to Moodle 2.0


When created, a book activity includes navigation buttons and a glossary.
This can be incorporated into 1.9 as a plugin. This tool allows you to provide content in chunks, it is easy to access, and easy to edit. Pages or whole books can be printed from inside Moodle. One benefit is that it provides multiple pages of content combined into one package rather than several individual page links. This reduces the number of links on a course page. It is more compatible with mobile devices as well. Students can automatically link to pages too. One step editing allows you to edit faster. No need to create a word doc, upload and then g back trough several steps to update later. Auto-linking is available for this tool, which means that as a title of an activity is created, Moodle automatically creates a link to it. Auto linking can be turned on in the admininstrator settings.

Ideas for the book module would be to include student generated content on the site. Student presentations can be created in this format. This is a great way to share public information on the front page of your Moodle site. In any case, books allow use of text, photos, video, and audio files.


Similar to book with additional advantages. It does show content in page format, but you can step customize the nav buttons. Content can include questions or a check for understanding along the way which can be tracked. This helps students understand what you think is important. This tool also allows self-directed learning, meaning students can choose the path they take trough the document. The biggest advantage is that this tool increases learner engagement.

Ideas for this tool include presenting student generated content, projects, or a project guide. A project guide allows new users in a course to utilize a walk-through for the course - Seamless orientation.


This tool is used to share terminology. This is especially useful for new users/students in a course. Also a good tool to share best practices, collections of web links, etc.... Items can be searched and rated by student users. Students can print and contribute to the glossary as well. Glossary terms are auto-linked. Glossary can be setup as a bio list of users. Use random glossary entry block to show new glossary items each day.

Ideas for this tool include we link collection, FAQs, forms database, biographies, etc....


Difficult to learn, but great tool. This is a peer review or peer assessment tool. Students can complete work, or answer questions, and submit to Moodle. Then the instructor can determine which students evaluate each other. The evaluation tool can be setup by the instructor. Students are forced to evaluate the number of students you determine and then the end result is that you receive a feedback grade based on peer review. Note: This tool was used in my graduate classes and works very well!
This could be used as an online evaluation for a face to face presentation.

Conditional Activities:

This item may be disabled by default, so you'll need to turn it on (admin leader). Conditions on an activity can be set by date or on completion of an another activity. Conditions can be set based on grade or performance. For instance, if a student scores 60% or below, a condition could be set to have them redo a previous activity. Wonderful for differentiated instruction or remediation. Could also be used for game play.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Flipping the Classroom - ISTE 2013 #ISTE2013

Yesterday at ISTE 2013, I attended a breakout session facilitated by John Bergmann and Aaron Sams. They did an outstanding job and I thoroughly enjoyed their presentation. I had been using an app that allows me to edit and then post directly to my blog, but it lost the entire post when I hit send. As a result, this is my attempt to repost my thoughts.

First of all, Bergmann and Sams have come a long way since they started flipping their classrooms. Many people think they started out full flip, but as they said in their presentation, it took them 6 years to get where they are today. As they spoke, they reinforced the idea that flipping is not the same for every student and for every teacher. Some teachers start out small and flip their lectures, while others flip utilizing many resources such as interactive objects in which students explore content as inquiry based learning, in addition to videos, books, etc....

Students do not always get the same experience out of the flipped classroom, so it is up to the teacher as facilitator to manage those students and help them along the way. As Bergmann and Sams stated, they have students all along the spectrum, who either get it and are able to master concepts and move on, or need a little more coaching from their teacher or peers. That bit of coaching and facilitating to all students helps to establish a relationship that is important to learning. Although they mention that we need to teach students that learning is their responsibility, Bergmann and Sams say that establishing a coaching rapport helps.

While they say that teachers occupy many different spots along the flipped continuum, they say that teachers usually do best when they rely 15% of the time on pre-created materials and 85% of the time on material they have created themselves (This is a total paraphrasing of what they said, but I hope it serves well). The reason there is an emphasis on more self-created videos is because it goes a long way into reinforcing the teaching relationship with students.

Teaching for Tomorrow: Flipped Learning with Aaron Sams

Common core Tech Workshop- ISTE 2013

This workshop by CDW-G focuses on common core and technology integration in school districts across the country.

Joanna Antoniou

Passaic, NJ.- technology coordinator. Leads a 30 teacher PD Pilot group that focuses on teacher PD and instructional shift with CC.

Doug Renfro- instructional Designer- Metro Nashville Schools. Focusing on instructional shift as well. Using librarians to implement shift in each building. Writing technology plan using a team of teachers, students, and community.

Jeff Fletcher- SETDA- State Educational Technology Directors Assoc. Working closely with Smarter Balance and PARRC to help with implementation of CC. Change instruction prior to online testing to give students online experience. SETDA recommends 100 Mbps per 1000 students by 14/15 and 1Gbps per 1000 by 16/17. Recommends shift away from print textbooks.

3/4 of IT professionals expect common core to have positive impact on their district. See report at

56% of all computers registered in tech readiness tool are windows xp. New specs will require districts to upgrade. This forced upgrade due in part by xp being phased out of update cycle allows students to use more up to date tech.

IT directors report that preparing to meet CC requirements is one of top three priorities. PD is important as well. Teaching teachers how to use tech is important in order to ensure tech implementation goes smoothly.

Common concerns:

-Budget to support change - 76%
-IT support staff - 69%
-Technology for student assessment - 62%
-Classroom technologies - 60 %
-Strong IT infrastructure - 55%
-Reliable Wifi - 55%

Districts have found that by setting up a plan of implementation with targeted goals, and by involving the community, they are kept accountable and are pressured to make the technological shift occur in a timely manner.

Options for setting up common core testing:

-Computer labs - 75%
-One to many carts -37%
-One to one -29%
-BYOD -17%
-Virtual Desktop -9%

Students should test in an environment similar to the one they learned in, meaning that students need to utilize more technology in instruction and in producing work. Creates a need for a big push toward technology in the classroom.

An additional benefit of integrated technology, in addition to that stated above, is that technology in the hands of a student is better than paper/pencil for special needs students.


-Move forward confidently - strong infrastructure and updated/upgraded tech is important moving forward.

-Share your vision with others - communicate your vision of change with all stakeholders.

-Focus on good instruction/teaching - it's not about the tech. It's about he students.

-Prepare for more change- assess your program after a year to see whether goals have been met or if new benchmarks need to be established.

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Pictures from ISTE 2013 Convention

Tower as viewed from San Antonio Convention Center

Light rain today

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, June 23, 2013

ISTE 2013 and the Windows Surface Tablet

Well, its the first day of ISTE 2013 in San Antonio and like many other attendees here at the conference, I have taken advantage of the Windows in the Classroom Experience by picking up my free Windows Surface Tablet.  I am a total iPad user and have Windows 7 on my home computer, so Windows 8 is taking some getting used to.    However, despite the difference in the OS, its not that bad. Getting it setup was pretty easy.  My biggest obstacle was getting used to the touch/type keyboard.  its a bit strange.  If you can imagine, its like turning and apple touch screen keyboard into a piece if plastic or felt.  you can't feel the keys, so you have to 'remember' where they are and sometimes type by sight. 

Although I'll be carrying around my iPad as a backup, I plan on trying to post everything here on the Surface Tablet.  Each pic I take and workshop I attend will be viewed through this device.  Wish me luck. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Common Core and the Uninformed

With the big push by many states to adopt Common Core standards, one problem that we face is the backlash from parent groups, blogs, and social media.  For every site that promotes the sharing and use of common core resources to make the transition easier, there are 5 parent sites that spew forth disgust for common core.  Now I'm not going to point fingers or list links here because I don't want to promote a vicious circle.  However if you do a basic Google Search for common core, you are bound to stumble across one.   So if you want, go ahead and search.  My point here is to list some of the grievances parent groups have and to also focus on some positives I think we will see with Common Core. 

First with the grievances.  Many sites one the web point out that Common Core was handed down by textbook companies and the government and that the curriculum is being written by textbook publishers.  In actuality, the standards were developed by the US State Department of Education along with the guidance of David Coleman.  Many parent websites will point out that Coleman works for McGraw Hill.  It is true that he worked for them, but he left in 2007 - two years before the standards initiative began.  What they fail to point out is that he is the 9th President of the College Board, who is responsible for developing SAT and AP standards.  And although a large market has been created for textbook publishers to align their textbooks to common core, schools do not necessarily have to adopt their books.  As long as the curriculum they are using aligns to common core, they can use what they want.  In addition, what many on the outside do not realize is that in the past when states developed their own standards, you would have a situation in which students who moved from state to state were held to different standards.  Books were aligned differently from state to state depending on publisher of the curriculum and the standards set forth by each state.  This often caused confusion and loss of credits when high school students had their high school careers scrambled by relocation.

Another problem many parent groups have is that they feel the common core standards are dumbing down curriculum by teaching math differently and by changing what students read.  Although there is a push to infuse more non-fiction, the goal of the standards is to widen the breadth of material that students read, so they can read more critically.  Common Core also focuses on getting students used to explaining how they arrive at a solution in addition to being able to tell the solution.

With Common Core, I believe our students will be held to a stricter standard and will be taught to think critically while infusing 21st technology and literacy skills that they will encounter in the workplace.  In the past, students faced a culture shock when they left high school to go to college and yet another when they left college to enter the workplace.  I believe the goal of common core is to introduce students to a different way of thinking and a whole new set of skills.  Many will say that Common Core is tied to the end of year assessments.  While this may be true, I am not a huge advocate of teaching to a test.  I believe we rely too heavily on assessments.  However, the standards themselves and the skills they seek to instill in students will help to shape a future workforce that will allow us to be more competitive in the global marketplace (is that enough cliched terminology for you?  But seriously).

One positive side of Common Core is that in the past, teachers who wanted to supplement curriculum with outside activities either had to make their own or find teacher created activities on the internet that aligned with state standards.  The difficulty was that finding such a thing was often difficult, as there were few resources shared on the web that aligned to state standards.  Now, with common core, teachers have a larger network with which they can share common core aligned lessons and activities.

My goal here is not to change the minds of parents, teachers, or community members.  It is to push you, the reader, to to your research.  When you come across a blog or letter to the editor that screams about how we need to stop common core at all costs, I urge you to compare what your state's education standards looked like before and what they will look like with common core.  If you don't know where to look, start here: 

If you expect your kids to do their homework, do yours as well.  Steer clear of the knee jerk commentaries on websites and social media and look into the answers on your own.  Start a dialog with your school district administrator - see what they think, what they are doing, and how it impacts your student. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Flipped Instruction Resources

If you're just thinking of flipping your classroom or have already done so and would like to take it to the next level, here are a few resources to think about.

Popcorn Maker- this web tool from Mozilla allows teachers to transform flipped instruction videos into interactive learning tools. By having the ability to insert links, text, pictures and live feeds from the web, your instructional videos will take on a new life by giving your students the ability to interact with content as it is covered in the video.

TED -Ed - - if you're just starting out, creating a video for each piece of instruction in your curriculum can be daunting. YouTube has a wealth of informative and instructional videos available for use as a great starting point. Working from this base, TED-Ed allows you to flip videos by providing a direct link and adding questions, extension activities, and web quests to YouTube videos - all accessible by one URL and complete with tracking to give teachers a feel for overall student understanding.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

10 Apps for the Classroom iPad Cart

Recently, our school purchased iPad Carts for use in our schools.  The idea was to provide iPads for use in the classroom, but purchasing them on a large scale was too much.  So, by providing a cart for each building, the cart could be checked out by teachers to use as a mobile computing classroom.  iPads provide the ability to access apps for practice, web 2.0 resources, and sites for classroom research.

Being an iPad user, as I investigated different apps I already had an idea of what I would want on the iPads.  But as these were going to be used by different teachers on a larger scale, the thought process was  a little different.

Here are a few apps that I found to be crucial the the classroom iPad Cart:

  • Educreations - Like having an interactive whiteboard (IWB) on your iPad, this app, when used with a HDMI cable or Apple TV, allows you to use tools familiar to IWB users.  Features include a pen tool, ability to erase, add pictures, text, and most of all, the ability to record.  By being able to record what you present, you can save it for later, and even share your presentation with others. 

  • Puffin Free  - iPads aren't Flash friendly, so if you're going to show certain web content that is built on Flash, it can be difficult when using the Safari browser.  This app (available for free with ads, and for a price to remove ads) gives users the ability to view and interact with Flash content.

  • Free Graphing Calculator - Math teachers will appreciate the ability to use the iPad as a graphing calculator.  There are several free calculators available, this is just one of them. 

  • iTunesU - The iPad will prompt new users to download this app and it is well worth it.  With the ability to download free course content from K-12 institutions, as well as colleges and Universities, this app gives teachers the ability to connect students with content covering thousands of subject areas.  Professional Development courses are available through iTunesU too!

  • iBooks - This app may not seem like a teaching tool to some, but many teachers have found that the ability to bookmark, highlight, and add notes to the margins makes the use of this app very handy.  For English classes, teachers can download epub files for classic novels from sites such as  eTextbooks can be purchased from many educational textbook publishers, through the iBooks store. 

  • Socrative - Download Socrative Teacher and Socrative Student and use the iPad as a Student Response System.  Create your own assessment questions and deploy them over classroom WiFi. 

  • PenUltimate - This note taking tool allows students to take notes in their own "fingerwriting".  Keep notebooks by subject area - all for free.

  • Dropbox - download this cloud storage app and create a classroom account that will allow students to upload/store assignments in the cloud. 

  • iWork - This bundle of apps from Apple may cost a little ($9.99 for each app; less on the Volume Purchase Program if you buy more than 10), but its worth it.  Keynote is a presentation tool similar to PowerPoint that allows you to create and view slideshows.  Pages is a word processing app that allows you to create documents.  Numbers is a spreadsheet app. 
Obviously this is not an all encompassing list of everything you would need, but it is a great place to start.  The capabilities of tablets in the classroom are so great that you will discover more as you use them.  The camera and built-in microphone make iPads great for creating audio and video projects as well.  As you become more advanced in using them, investigate and explore the web for more options.  And enjoy!