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

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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! 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Common core, digital natives, and fear

In this age of common core, we are realizing the importance of bridging the gap between digital natives and true digital literacy. As we look at our kids, we see a group raised on technology, video games, and basic cable. They know just enough to be dangerous, but how much do they really know? If we need help, they know enough to fix our iPhone. They also know how to record two shows at once on the DVR while watching a third. And they can find the coolest videos on YouTube, Vimeo or Hulu.

These might be things that are difficult to some adults, but not all of us. What we bring to the table is a set of skills that helps to decide between good information and bad. As teachers, we know how to reach the unreachable in terms of learning. But in this age of digital literacy, what I see more and more of are teachers who have difficulty integrating digital tools into their practice. What is interesting is that some teachers lack the one attribute our digital natives have- no fear.

As kids, many of us had a concept of video games that gave you one chance to succeed. If you died or lost your turn, you had to start over. There was little chance to learn and build on successes or failures. Kids raised in the late 90's have been fed by video games that give them unlimited do-overs. As a result, they have grown to have no fear. Because of this, kids are willing to try anything. This is why they are so good at fixing and finding the things adults have trouble with. On the flip side, many teachers are unwilling to introduce new tools because they are afraid to try new things. We need to be less fearful of looking foolish or worried about breaking things.

The thing we need to remember is that students need our guidance. In some cases, they use the tools, but don't understand how to use them properly. They may have seen and used PowerPoint, but don't know how to use it effectively. They may know how to use the internet, but don't know how to discriminate between good and bad information.

What does this have to do with teaching? As teachers on the cusp of common core, we are faced with integrating more technology into learning. We are expected to foster greater digital literacy into our classrooms. But many teachers are afraid to try new things. As a result they are less likely to introduce new tools into the classroom. In doing so, kids pass through the halls of high school never being exposed to tools they will be expected to use in college or work.

But how do you flip the switch from the traditional style of teaching to the digital way? Branch out and explore new ways by developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Include teachers you admire, authors you read, and maybe a few new names. Create a Twitter account and follow people involved in #edchat or #edtech. Use Facebook to follow big names in Ed tech. This will help you pick up new ideas and new habits. Don't be afraid to solicit the help of kids in the know when it comes to using new tools. And the next time an email runs across your inbox for a professional development class related to technology, explore it. You never know how easy or hard incorporating new tech into your classroom can be until you try.

The main thing is, don't be afraid of something until you try it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, December 28, 2012

Updated Wiki for Educators

I recently took the time to update my Wiki for Education and Professional Development.  Several new topics have been added and old topics have been updated to repair links.  Check out the sections on iPads, Flipping the Classroom, and Common Core, and more.

Smart Tips for Smart Teachers

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Does Twitter Improve Educators or Education?

I found this article ( recently in a Tech & Learning newsletter. It asks the question: Does the use of Twitter improve education? I have my own twitter account, but I rarely read it and if you looked at my posts, you wouldn't get much out of it. What I use it for is to follow others in education so I can keep up with trends. I have done this by turning my twitter feed into a daily newspaper on This allows me to keep up on all the education and technology news, without having to constantly bury my nose in my phone or tablet.

Read the article and see the train of thought of the author. Do you use twitter? How are your using it?

Friday, August 31, 2012

3 Misconceptions About Flipping the Classroom

This Summer I taught a class on the basic principles of flipping the classroom. We discussed many of the advantages, as well as tips for producing videos. 24 teachers signed up for the workshop prior to the end of the school year. Realistically I expected less than half to show up because it was scheduled for July and many would be unwilling to give up their vacation time. I was pleased when 18 showed up and was even more excited to see the enthusiasm they had for the topic.

As we worked through the class, there were teachers from all areas: language arts, science, math and even art and music. They were so full of questions that I wondered how many would follow through with the concept.

As the year started, I found that my son's art teacher, who had attended the class, had sent home a letter with a pass code for edmodo. In her letter she told us that her class would be a little different this year, as she would be flipping her classroom.

Another teacher who had attended the workshop had been flipping since last spring in his college course and had made plans to flip his high school math classes. He an I talk quite frequently and he had passed on a few stories of fellow faculty members who commented that flipping would never work.

From watching these two teachers I have found that there are definite rewards that come from flipping, as well as a few misconceptions.

Misconception #1: the kids won't watch!

One comment I have heard many times is that the kids aren't any more likely to watch the videos than they are to listen in class. On the contrary, kids seem very interested and intrigued by the idea of being able to watch and pause the videos so they can take notes on concepts they would normally miss in a fast paced lecture. Additionally, both our art teacher and math teacher state that parents are watching. Parents that came to back to school night said they were watching with their kids because they said it helps them help their kids.

Misconception #2: students won't work any harder in class.

In a conversation from today, our math teacher commented that in the past (pre-flip days) he would have many kids who never turned in homework (even if it was for a completion grade). Now after flipping, he says he has tons of grading to do over the labor day weekend. More kids are comprehending and since they have hands on time with peers and their teacher, they are producing more work.

Misconception #3: Grades won't improve.

When comparing the first week of quiz averages from last year to this year, our math teacher pointed out a marked improvement. Last year's quiz average for the first week was in the 60 range. This year his average is in the 90 range. Granted, this is a different batch
of students from last year, but this is a pre-calculus class covering some very abstract concepts. The sharp increase is something difficult to ignore.

With these three misconceptions, one has to understand that simply making videos and posting them didn't create the change. There is a great deal of dedication, teaching and practice involved in making the flipped classroom work. But the fruits of those labors are worth it in this Common Core world.

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Friday, August 03, 2012

The Teacher and the One iPad Classroom

Recently I ran across an article in twitter that discussed tips on teaching in the one iPad classroom. The article share several great tips and I thought I would continue the discussion by providing some of what I have learned along the way myself.

Splashtop - this app was mentioned in the above article and have to agree it is great. Available in the app store for $2.99 this app allows the teacher to utilize wifi to control their teacher desktop from anywhere in the room. While it requires a bit of installation to get started, you basically stream across the network to your computer and you can see your desktop (PC or MAC) on your iPad. Sort of like using the iPad as a slate.

Socrative- who needs clickers when students can respond to your questions on their own devices via this free app. Teachers download the socrative teacher app to their iPad to create and deploy questions. Student's download the socrative student app to access your questions via a code given by you. What better way to employ #BYOD!

HDMI or VGA Out cable - Depending on which type (HD or VGA) LCD projector you have in your classroom, you can purchase a cable for $40 or less to connect and mirror content from your iPad onto your projected screen. This is great if you are teaching from keynote, trying to demo an app, or simply teaching from the web. The only caveat is that you are wired to your projector. If you don't like that, you can go wireless by connecting Apple TV to your projector and using AirPlay.

Flipping with videos- planning on flipping your classroom this Fall? Try one of these apps (educreations, screenchomp, or explain everything) to record your lessons and offer them up as short bits of lecture/homework for your students.

Thanks to Think-Share-Teach for the inspiration for this entry! Enjoy the new school year!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What kind of teacher are you?

How would you answer this question?  What kind of teacher are you?  I'm sure there are many different ways you might answer this.  But in terms of how you work with students, the kind of workspaces you have, what you do with the time  you have in class...what kind of teacher are you?  I've thought about this many times, but the video below really poses this question in an intriguing way.  Watch the video and think about what you would change about your teaching style, your classroom, your school:

It is late July, and many teachers are preparing to go back into the classroom.  As you do, think about what you've done in the past, what you would like to change, and if possible, begin steps toward that change with one thought in mind - who is your audience and how will you serve them?

Flash Content, Flash Browsers and iOS

In the recent flurry of discussions that have occurred regarding the flipped classroom, one hurdle that I have noticed is the ability to post videos that are accessible on iOS devices (iPods, iPhones, iPads).  With the inability to view Flash content, many students who try to view videos on these mobile devices run into the issue that they are unable to view your videos.  There are a few options and a few workarounds to help your students view Flash content and videos on these devices. 

First, in terms of storing your videos, many people like to use YouTube as a place to post them.  This is fine and tends to work well when students try to view your videos on and iOS device.  One trick I have found that helps out tremendously is to share by using the URL to your YouTube video as a link from your LMS, Teacher Website, or wherever.  This means that when students click on it, it will open in the native YouTube app on their iOS device. 

If you plan to Embed your video, it helps to check the box marked "Use Old Embed Code".  The reason for this is that some sites will often reject the standard embed code which is based on HTML 5.  The old embed code is based on Flash.  I know this sounds crazy since Flash is not an option on iOS devices, but sometimes you just have to play around with the one that works.  If one doesn't work, try the other.  But always, always, always, setup your embedded video on your website and then try to view it on your iOS device to make sure it is viewable/playable.

Second, if you are not much of a techie, there are other ways to help  your students gain access to your video content on their iOS device.  The easiest route is to direct them to a Flash Browser in the App Store.  There are several good ones for free and some great ones that cost a few dollars.  A few that I have found to be good are:

Photon Flash Browser - $4.99 in the App Store - This one works great, but comes at a cost.  If students are willing to spend the money, this one allows users to view any flash content via a streaming process.  There is a slight lag, but it is not that noticeable.   For iPad/iPhone/iPod.

Rover - Supported by ads from educational providers such as Discovery Education, this app is Free!  As a result you have ads that popup at the beginning, but once you enter your site address and navigate, the ads go away while you browse.  This app is for iPad only.

Puffin Web Browser - Available as a Free and Paid App - this browser works as the others do by streaming content across the web and back to your device to provide the experience of viewing flash content.  Works great.  Expect ads on the Free version. 

Whichever route you take in making content available to your students, make sure you spend a few minutes at the beginning of the school year going over accessibility options.  This will help prevent any obstacles your students have to accessing content and viewing it as homework.  Good luck flipping your classroom!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Are Computer Labs Obsolete?

Today, I read the Point/Counterpoint discussion in ISTE's Learning and Leading journal. ( The question posed was, "are computer labs obsolete?" In an age of iPads, PBL, and common core values, this is an important question. Some schools across the country are moving to a 1:1 computing initiative or BYOD movement, while others are forced by circumstance or economics to continue living in the computer lab age. As this is the case, I think this is an important question, but it also raises other questions.

Do we need to teach the way we have always taught?

Computer labs were seen for many years, as the solution to provide computer access to students. They allowed students to access the internet, or allowed them to learn and utilize word processing, presentation, and database software. Many schools rely on these labs to teach keyboarding skills or to provide space for researching term papers or projects. But the difficulty became scheduling the lab so that each teacher could have access. They were a great thing in their day, but they are starting to wear with age.

So is there a place for keyboarding and basic computing skills? Yes, but not in the secondary schools as much as it used to be. These are skills that children should be introduced to at a younger age. By the time a child reaches middle school or high school, they should be well versed in the use of these tools as well as many others out there. As well, we should be teaching them less about the tool and more about the philosophy of what it means to be digitally literate and responsible. We should teach students less about software and more about the ability to determine the suitability of the tool for the situation or project. It seems we have gotten into the habit of using technology for the sake of having technology.

Do we need to spend money on new programs without cutting budgets on old programs? Do we need to explore a BYOD policy?

Today, as grant dollars flow into schools and as budgets may allow, tablets and carts are making their way into classrooms while students carry around cell phones that are the equivalent of a computing device. Are we foolishly spending money on equipment and labs while we should be changing our policies to allow students to use these devices? The argument to that last statement often comes in the form of "not all children have access to such devices". While that may be true, we do not necessarily have to provide a computer/mobile device to each child in the district. We could provide enough to allow for those students who do not have access.

While it can be argued that we do still need to teach kids how to use technology, it can also be argued that we throw dollars away on each new technology while we continue to spend dollars in other areas. If we are going to pursue the use of tablets in schools, we should scale back spending on computer labs. Mobility of tablets, laptops, and carts means the lab can be used in other ways - classroom space, commons areas, etc.... As well, we need to determine where dollars can be cut in other areas. If an increased focus on mobile devices means we move away from computer labs in the upper grades, then fewer dollars could be spent on textbooks. And if schools opened up WiFi, then students could load textbooks on their mobile devices, while classrooms reduced spending to providing 1 classroom set of books instead of 1 book per child.

What can the portable classroom and mobile devices do for classroom pedagogy?

If we were to move away from the computer lab design which can be seen as a once or twice a semester trip down the hall to do a project, we could allow for more interaction and discussion in the classroom as students are able to pull up information on the fly. With mobile devices in the classroom, students can answer those spur of the moment questions without having the teacher say, "let me get back to you on that" or "lets go to the computer lab next week and look at that".

I don't claim to know everything, but it seems that we are definitely living in an age where we look to the future while continuing to pay for the past. As a shift in thinking occurs regarding classroom instruction, maybe a shift in spending and infrastructure need to come at the same time. It takes baby steps for some schools, but it needs to occur. If you can't make change occur rapidly, then be the change agent in your school by bringing up these discussions often.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Adding annotations to YouTube videos

Found this tutorial on adding annotations to YouTube videos. Thought it might be helpful to those of you who are flipping your classroom by making your own videos and adding them to your tube channel.
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Monday, July 09, 2012

If Students Loved Learning

This is a repost of an article I wrote over a year ago on The Eighth Floor Ning. I think it lends itself to the current discussion on Flipping the Classroom since it discusses a change in traditional classroom teaching. I was recently asked if kids are watching video lectures as homework, what do I do with them during the class period in the day other than the same homework they would have done at night. In terms of the math classroom, this is one answer. . .

If students loved learning, what would it look like? Think back to the days when you were a high school student. Think of the classroom moments you remember the most. Why do you remember them? Was it because they involved some spectacular word problems? Was it because you remember writing some awesome lab procedures? Probably not. The moments you remember the most probably involved a teacher that helped you understand concepts in a way that was meaningful to you, and it most likely didn't involve rote memorization or unrealistic examples to get a point across.

I've been thinking about what those moments really reveal about learning and finding out the answers on our own. Most of these internal conversations were started by an article about Dan Meyer in Ed Week. Dan Meyer is a math teacher at San Lorenzo Valley High School in California. He has developed a wonderful approach to get students interested and involved in math. If you've never heard of him, watch the video below, read the article from Ed Week, or check out his blog. If students loved learning, it would look like this...

Hopefully watching him at work doesn't turn your stomach as you think about changing your teaching style. Instead, I hope you feel empowered to make learning more interesting and fun for your students. As I have analyzed my teaching style over the past few years, I have come to the realization that I don't teach they way I learn. If I were teaching an audience made up of 30 of "me", then I think my approach would be drastically different. Here's a thought...if you as a student would be bored with you, think about what you would change. Think about it.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Nearpod - iPad Teacher App

@KleinErin tweeted about an app called Nearpod today. This app, available for FREE in Student and Teacher versions, allows a teacher to push a presentation from their iPad to a group of student ipads with the Nearpod app installed on them.

This is something I have been waiting for for a very long time; an app that would allow the ability to share, collaborate, and poll students across the iOS platform.

Best of all, there is nothing that you need to buy. As long as you have the iPads and a wifi connection, you can use this app. All the teacher needs to do is provide their students with an access PIN that allows them to view what the teacher is presenting.

The first time I logged in, I noticed there was a "store" button. I figured it would be full of paid presentations that they wanted you to buy. But so far, the store provides a pretty good mix of free presentations (NPP Format) for download.
I also noticed that there is no button to create your own presentations. But if you visit their website, you can upgrade to the Silver edition for free. This license allows you 200MB of storage. There is a School Site License that will be coming soon.

The only drawback to using this app is that once you upgrade to the Silver Edition, you can create your own presenations but to do so you must login to the Nearpod site; you do not have the ability to create them directly from the iPad app. However, this is a small obstacle to overcome. Once you login from your PC or Mac and create your NPP Presentations, they are stored on Nearpod's site (remember you get 200MB free). I don't know how long the free upgrade will last, so you might want to check it out as soon as possible.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Flipping in Time

Coming home from the ISTE national conference in San Diego, I found on our doorstep, a copy of Time Magazine for the week of July 9th. As I flipped through the latest I found the following article (,9171,2118298,00.html) on Sal Khan called "Reboot the School". It seems that in reading the article, the idea of the flipped classroom has reached Time Magazine. However, as I read further, I found the usual story of how Salman Khan went from Hedge fund manager to online tutor/teacher. As I read further, I discovered what the magazine describes as the flipped classroom, but refers to it as Khan's Way.

Now I am a big fan of Khan, and while I am happy to see the idea of the flipped classroom reach such a wide audience, I was disappointed to see that other names such as Bergmann and Sams were left out of the discussion; or to also see that no mention was made of the success that is occurring in schools across the country where teachers have made their own videos through their own efforts.

While Khan Academy is a great solution for students who need additional help, and it provides a solution for teachers who are starting out on their own in a flipped model, nothing replaces the familiarity of a student being able to see and hear their own teacher in a video lesson as homework, and being able to relate the information back the next day in a hands on activity.

I would encourage anyone who reads this article and is interested in flipping the classroom to do the research. There are many examples of how flipping can be successful. I would also recommend that for teachers who are just starting out, Khan is a great starting point, but nothing can replace the teacher students are familiar with. So when you get the nerve and get over seeing or hearing yourself on video, start with a few simple tools such as Camtasia, Explain Everything, or Educreations, and make your own videos to begin flipping the classroom.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

California Desert

On our way home from the ISTE conference, we had the opportunity to drive through the California desert. The Mojave is something that is beautiful and mysterious at the same time. It's interesting how we take for granted the vast differences that exist across the landscape of this country.

When we asked the kids what they thought of the desert, one said," look to the left-desert, look to the right-desert. Big deal". But it is a big deal, and it is one that I took for granted on taking this same trip when I was their age.
It's interesting the things we come to appreciate with age.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ISTE 2012: Pirates of the Class-I-Wanna-Be-In ~ The Journey to Paper's End

I loved this presentation! From the start, it was very entertaining. The presenter, Captain IO, was clad in pirate costume and brought on the full effect with an authentic pirate accent! Aargh!
The focus of this workshop was on the paperless classroom and use of mobile devices. He poses the idea that a trained "tech pirate" can find most anything:

Pull media
Pick out images
Snag shared fair-use resources
Collaborate with others
Acquire inspiration and creativity

If going paperless, Cap'n IO mentions that you have to get yer stuff from somewhere! Creating a site to put things out on the web was necessary. His choice was dreamweaver, weebly, and wix. Weebly and Wix provided a user friendly drag and drop interface for teachers who didn't feel savvy enough for dreamweaver.

He says you also need a means of assessment, content absorption, and expression. In other words, testin', learnin', and creatin'! The key is to go around the HMS Admin. that thar was a boat to avoid! Rough waters ahead he says (ya feelin' how cheeky this presentation was?).

His setup meant that he totally threw out all paper. And aside from his website, he had a teacher workstation, student owned devices, a projector, and a few other peripherals.

Keeping the attention of the kids was a problem, but he says it can be easy. What with all the activities, parent meetings, sports events,and tutoring sessions ( sound familiar), he had to keep their attention. But he needed machines. He had enough machines (rebuilt, borrowed, hijacked) to create a 2:1 ratio. Even though it wasn't 1:1 it wasn't bad. He even had a kid that brought in a PS3 because it had wifi and could get on the net. Anything to get them wired. And the techs didn't quite love it.
They complained about the hodge-podge of machines and the nightmare created by the mix. But no matter how old it was, once he reached the satisfaction of making it work, the key was it worked.

Turning in work came down to emailing assignments. Gmail was what he used. He had now entered Googledom. He had one gmail address, one site, per class.

For grading and assessment, he used He never had to grade homework, but he could track mastery and understanding of content.

"Thar still be big problems"

The desire would be to have a 1:1 environment, but sometimes that doesn't happen. And kids get lost and sucked in by the "Fracken" (Facebook) or other distractions. And when not all kids are working on the same device and same format, you get assignments turned in in so many formats (.doc, PDF, works, ppt, etc...) that it can be frustrating. Also, where do they take notes? How do you know the work is authentic? So rather than have them do all the work outside, it was done in class, by hand on paper; their own, not the schools. But by flipping it in this way, their understanding transformed.

But this wasn't paperless! He still depended on the kids to buy theme books for writing. Argh! There be no papers end!

"But thar be a place!"

A place called Tabletonia! They headed in to Tabletonia and found Everything he had created could be ported through one device with a battery that would last all day. But flash became a problem, as when he created his videos with Camtasia, they couldn't be viewed on iPads. But he found if when creating links, he linked to the video instead of the site, they indeed could be viewed on iPads!

As well, the iPad allowed students/teachers to record, edit, use special effects, create, and export items on one device. And rather than spend tons of dollars on graphing calculators, he used the $0.99 calculator on the app store.

Apps provided a way so that notes could be handwritten, PDF could be converted to word and back, comments could be written, and it was paperless! Try Notability. Notes can be created by hand and emailed from within the app. And in PDF format. Everything could be converted and handed in via the PDF format. You can also record. Great value.

If you want more about this great speaker go to
Print out a poster of his material for your classroom.

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ISTE 2012: Classroom Flipping - How We Did It
This morning I am attending a workshop on flipping the classroom at ISTE 2012. Never hurts to get all the additional info you can. This morning's presenters are Rebecca Evans and Kate Kanach.
If you haven't heard of flipping the classroom, it's not actually a new concept, but it has taken on a life of its own in the past two years. I have posted several articles on it in the past. If you want to check them out, check the tags at the left.

Flipping the classroom entails changing your traditional lectures to a video format and posting them online as homework. Then face to face classroom time can be used to focus on hands on activities, practice, and guided instruction through inquiry. Think Salman Khan (Khan Academy) for homework, and homework as classwork. That's an extremely simplified view, but hopefully you get the picture.

Back to our presenters, one of the things they stressed in their presentation is that some statistics show that student test scores go up in the flipped model of instruction. They also point out that flipping encourages teamwork and 21st century skills, as students work in teams more frequently, and utilize more technology skills. The caveat to this, they say is that some teachers are Leary of this modl because they are no longer the center of attention. It does take you off center stage. But remember: it's not about you, it's about the kids.

If you check out their website, they have provided a wealth of articles and resources. They provide examples of how they have setup their classroom, and provide a sample unit so teachers can see and understand the flow of a flipped lesson. Something they have done, and what needs to be pointed out here is that the "homework" doesn't always have to be a video, it can be a Prezi, a PowerPoint, or other interactive content. They use Edmodo to post their lessons and questions.

When doing class in this manner, you have to realize that student projects will build interpersonal skills and will allow students more variety in the ways they produce work. As they do work, they will be there with you and they will have the benefit of your help. Likewise, you will benefit by being able to observe them at work.

The presenters also pointed out something I feel is important. It is not always necessary or proper to flip every lesson. But it will work with most things. Also, check out "Flip Your Classroom" from ISTE. This book provides a great deal of insight from flipping pioneers Bergmann & Sams.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

No boundaries: Using iPads to reach English Language Learners

Tis afternoon I attended a session by Lisa Estrada, Program Coordinator, and Heather Parris-Fitzpatrick, Program Specialist with Nassau, BOCES. The discussion focused on the use of iPads for ESL students.

Essential questions:

--How can educational apps strengthen and support critical thinking?
--How can digital media remove boundaries and promote achievement for ELLs?
--How can distance learning expand horizons for All students?

To answer these questions, the presenters stress their love of the iPad because it provides multimedia support, accessibility, portability, multiple modalities for learning, and that the device addresses all language skills.

iBooks was a key component of their program as they feel that it promotes critical thinking through its features:

Google and Wikipedia access

For designing curriculum for ELL and ESL students, presenters suggested resources which can be found in iTunes U. This iPad/iPod/iPhone resource provides a wealth of ESL/ELL material in the form of podcasts and vodcasts which can be downloaded as full courseware for free.

The focus of the session focused heavily on iBooks, but I must point out what some of the attendees brought up. The accessibility features of the keyboard allow users to type in their native language. As well, the standard keyboard will allow you to add special characters to your documents by pressing and holding any letter

The presenters also pointed out that critical thinking can be enhanced through use of apps such as:

ebook readers
Graphic organizers
Test prep
Subject specific apps

A list of suggestions is found on their site:

They also are big fans of one of my favorite apps, Explain Everything!.

Tis app can be used to record audio, screenshots, and screencasts along with notes, edits, and graphics. Once your video explanation is complete, it can be uploaded to the web for student viewing. This app is one of my favorites (said that already) and one I'll be covering in our Flipping the Classroom class in July!

Other apps they recommend include:

Notability - allows students to take finger written notes, or audio notes.

Photo card - allows students to write on a photo. Great for creating postcards, or even flash cards.

iTranslate - free app.

Polycom- app that allows you to connect from iPad to anyone with polycom video conferencing system.

Popplet- good For creating concept maps and charts.

For more information and tips on teaching ESL/ELL students using technology, visit

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:ISTE 2012, San Diego

#ISTE12 Technology Tools and Differentiation

How do you use graphics, photos, draw interest and bring together an idea? This morning I attended a presentation on Dynamic Differentiation & Digital Age Learning by Annette Lamb in which she answered that question. Using technology, we can address the differences in our students. Technology can help us focus on the needs of groups in our classrooms. Technology can help achieve readiness, develop interests, and provide choice. Technology can do this by adding visuals, auditory components, and writing.

For instance, if a child has problems in an area such as writing or typing, an iPad can help a child as it provides a way to record and transcribe thoughts. But as well, technology can help students relay ideas or understand content through rich visual content which can attract student interest.
Create a bridge between media by connecting a reader to video or online content related to a book they are reading.

The example Annette uses is that Graeme Base, author of The Jewel Fish of Karnak has recorded youtube video commentary on his book. The online content creates an extension which can't drive student interest. Weaving these experiences and extensions together can become important.

But not all media are this rich in related content. As a result, we as educators need to work together to share resources or seek out those who have connections to content online. If something isn't available, build it yourself!
One way to turn kids on to reading is to use google as a starting point. Have a child search for a book, and read a synopsis or first few pages of a book before going to the library to check it out.

To generate interest in global topics, use the web to do a search on videos, visuals, etc... For example, on a discussion of Egypt, have them refer to sites suggested by Google to help them understand that Egypt is a real place and find out what it looks like.

Use fun tools to help them conduct their search:

-Student made tools, maps, books, artwork can be overplayed over existing content to draw a comparison. Have kids make their own map of Egypt and compare it to the real thing on google maps.

-iPad apps can help immerse students in new content. D a search for apps related to your subject.

- do a search for student work created by others and have student's critique their work for accuracy and understanding.

-put together resources using keynote or PowerPoint, Glogster, or some other web based tool.

With almost anything, you can generate student interest just by searching out supplemental videos, websites, and tools on the web. With the results you get, you can create an extension activity that enriches student understanding and interest.

As she discussed these topics, I was reminded how Apple has led us down this very path by generating iBooks textbooks that create visuals that jump off the page or provide interactive activities that go deeper into topics that normally would just lay on the page in print media. Today, she says, we have reached "a different way of thinking" and learning.
But in relating these thoughts she stresses that it is important that kids learn to generate their own content. After all, we do learn best by doing! There are a wealth of tools available to us now, especially for free, that can be utilized to generate our own content. Organizers, cameras, video tools, aggregators - all sorts of web 2.0 tools and tools on handheld devices - have given us the ability to create! Many kids have iPods of their own, or phones that carry these tools. We need to make use of these tools.

As she continues, Annette also stresses that we need to give students choice. I have been saying this for years. We need to let them choose how they analyze content, how they create content. Students don't always want to use the methods prescribed by us. They have strengths of their own; they have interests that can be used to create authentic works.

Every year, we as educators spend an inordinate amount of time learning and discussing new apps and tools that we can use. We need to apply those tools to projects in the classroom. This leads to the discussion of producing 1:1 tools such as tablets and computers. Student learning can be greatly amplified by integrating technology and allowing students to use these tools. Why do we continue to use technology behind the desk as a teacher, but expect kids to do the same old dry activities and projects? It's time to bring those tools to the other side of the desk.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

ISTE keynote: Dr. Yong Zhao

I'm attending the Keynote address by Dr. Yong Zhao at the ISTE 2012 conference. This morning he is discussing education, goals, assessments, and technology. The following post chronicles his speech today.

He starts by saying that, if you choose the wrong goal to achieve, you won't succeed. Where your priorities lie greatly influences your level of success and could ultimately determine your level of failure. With this in mind, where are we going in education today..."no child left behind", "common core", etc....

Dr. Zhao suggests that test scores have become the "new god in education". Technology is used to enslave students and teachers to produce better scores. As a result, he says test scores don't lead to real education. Test scores are not a stick by which everyone should be measured.

He refers to Marc Tucker's "Surpassing Shanghai". In discussing goals to surpass Asian countries in test scores, the idea is that literacy is the key to achievement. We have focused on this goal for years as the baseline. But is reading the real goal we should have? Somehow, China has become, to many, the line of measure by which we must rise, or the standard of comparison for education. In other words, why can't our education system be as good as China's. They're kicking our butts in math and science! But in truth, China has the best and worst education system, combined. Many Chinese feel their education system has stifled them.

"Why aren't the model minority happy?"

Asians as a group do very well based on test scores. Asians seem to be the model minority, educationally. But in the world of work, their stake in leadership positions is much lower statistically.

If American education is so poor, and has been for so long, why is the US still here? looking back in time, many news stories and studies have compared us to other countries, only to show that our educational system is far behind.
However, economically, the US is doing well in comparison. So why does the paradox exist? If we have a country of horrible test takers, why do we still seem to succeed as a world power?

A great deal of student success can be tied to their level of confidence. In the push to get high scores, we may be damaging their confidence. "To get high test scores we need to make our kids slightly more miserable."

"Confidence underpins creativity and entrepreneurship"

The traditional model of education is to create a curriculum. We make a bet that if we form curriculum, kids will be successful as a result of that effort. With any curriculum, you are not only educating, but you are selecting. So what matters - diversity of talents, creativity, entrepreneurship, and passion. We tend to kill these things in our current system.

So what matters? We need creativity, innovation, etc.... You need unique people with special skills, not a large population of people with the same skills. Choosing to excel in one area is not a bad thing. We need to view everyone as an entrepreneur. Those that are on happy with a situation and create their own situation or solution. These are the creative people who don't wait on a position to open up for them, they create their own path.

Education should enhance strengths and follow the students. Education has to become product oriented. Kids shouldn't be making projects for the teacher, they should be producing solutions to problems; not just become idle consumers. Test scores do not reflect teaching ability, student future, or school quality. A good education is one that helps every student maximize potential.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

There's an App For That #ISTE12

Attended a forum for the ISTE Special Interest Group on Mobile Learning (SIGML). Presenters promoted use of the following website, which provides a resource list of apps for most any mobile platform (blackberry, iOS, android) and any age level (pre-k to PhD).
Many apps were presented, but discussion shifted very early on to the fact that we as teachers need to speak up and tell the publishers what content, interactive, video, etc, we would like to see in the educational apps we use. Results will happen if you ask.
A few of the super cool apps presented:
Frog Dissection by Emantras
Al Gore: Our Choice
Splashtop Presenter
Verbally - provides words and phrases and speaks them aloud for special needs kids.
News in Slow Spanish -actually a podcast - provides news commentary in Spanish -can be played at slower rate for Spanish learners. Available on iTunes.
Art Rage - painting tool for the iPad. Use a stylus!
Dropbox - cant stress enough how great this file storage app is! I use it myself. Access files anywhere.
Kobo - free books
Wattpad - free original stories
Skitch - Annotate over anything.
Puppet Pals - make your own Puppet play using characters and backdrops provided. Play back on iPad. Great for building creativity.
Check them out. The level of interactive content and productivity is wonderful.
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Location:ISTE 2012 San Diego, CA

ISTE Exhibit Hall

Walking through the ISTE exhibit hall, you never know what you will find. I happened to visit the Promethean booth and ran across this:
There are literally enough exhibitors to cover a city block and they are proof positive that technology is moving forward at a fast pace (like you didn't know that already).

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Location:ISTE 2012 Conference, San Diego, CA

Apps with Aptitude

Cathie Loesing, Program Coordinator with the eMints National Center, presented a session this morning on the use of iPads in the K-2 classroom. She stresses that when using iPads and selecting apps for lessons that teachers should focus on the following:
Apps should promote higher level thinking
Lessons should prompt community based learning
Stress inquiry based learning
She discussed many of her favorite apps, but rather than have me pick and choose, I though I would post a link to her site so you could see the apps for yourself. She lists many paid and free apps. Enjoy!
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Location:ISTE 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

We made it!

After 24 hours of driving and coffee, followed by a few more, "are we there yets", we have finally made it to San Diego. There temperature is great! Looks as though the highs are in the 70s with lows in the 60s. Couldn't be more perfect. After picking up the registration materials, it looks as though there are many great things in store for those attending ISTE this week! The keynote speakers include many well known and informed educators! I can't wait!

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Now Entering New Mexico!

Had to stop for gas across the border in New Mexico. The truck stop has a free car museum. Had to stop for a while, stretch the legs, and absorb the Radiator Springs feel of the area. That's a Cars reference if ya didn't catch it!

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On our way to San Diego

Well we started the long trek to ISTE this morning. We left Oklahoma at 7:00 am and we just stopped in Amarillo TX to take a rest and grab a bite to eat. The kids are excited about taking a vacation in CA, and I'm ready for the conference. The sounds of "are we there yet!" echo from the back of the car every hour or so. Hope we as parents can survive!

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Location:Georgia St S,Amarillo,United States

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

EdCompass and Flipping

This month's issue of EDCompass Magazine (SMART Technologies) features an article on Flipping the Classroom. In addition to a discussion of what Flipped Learning means, there are also features of success stories, SMART Resources related to flipping, and examples of how to use SMART Tools to create your own one-take videos. Check out the latest edition here.
You can also sign up to receive EDCompass Magazine by visiting their blog.