Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Curriculum Framework

May30

I took some time today to review the Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Curriculum Framework.

I know at this point in the year, many teachers have full plates wrapping up their school years. I get that you probably don’t have the time or energy (perhaps, if we’re really being honest here- even the desire!) to read a Framework. So here’s a very, quick run down…

This Framework created in June 2016 takes a critical leap from the past, recognizing that students most be both consumers (users) AND creators in our global community when it comes to technology. The four Strands are Computing and Society, Digital Tools and Collaboration, Computing Systems, and Computational Thinking. The Framework outlines a real balance with understanding the impact of technology and one’s responsibilities as a  digital citizen while still getting the nuts & bolts. A key emphasis also is on students being problem solvers.

How will this weave into the rest of our curriculum? That’s where some thoughtful investigation needs to take place. The progressive skills should not be out of context or add-ons.

I am looking forward to my work on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s DLCS Implementation Panel that begins tomorrow. I’m sure there will be plenty of good conversation there as well as with my district colleagues over the next year. Stay tuned.

Here’s the Spark You May Have Been Looking For! Update

November8

If you have tried to use Adobe Spark, you probably have encountered a student log-in conundrum. The user guide states that children under the age of 13 are not allowed to create their own Adobe ID and so they will need to sign in with an account created by and supervised by a teacher or parent.

Originally, I thought we were fine with our student Google accounts… sadly, I was wrong. If we try to create accounts with our GAFE accounts, students still are prompted to supply a birth date. It seemed like we would be able to circumvent this age requirement as we were using District supervised emails, but that was not the case. A misinterpretation on my part, I admit. Wanting to model good digital citizenship (not lying about our age!), I had to do some thinking about what the user guide was implying…

First Solution: create a generic Gmail account. This Gmail is used to create an account at Adobe Spark. Essentially, it is a class account that all students will use. Since the Gmail is supervised and controlled by the teacher, the teacher’s birth date (or year of the school’s creation) may be used for the creation.

The tricky part to this solution: Can a whole class log into this one Adobe account simulataneously and create a Post, Page or Video? We started to try this solution out with a few of us adults, making a new Video project at the same time. It seemed to work. We thought it may be prudent to either stagger the students as they began the initial save of each “file” as to not crash the account. The classroom teacher I am working with on this inaugural project even agreed to make the files ahead of time so that students would just access/open the files as they all logged in.

However, not wanting to waste valuable student learning time if everything went awry, I started to investigate another solution…

#2: Use the old Gmail hack trick to create student accounts. (Thanks to my colleague, Marianne Butterline, for reminding me about this one as I haven’t used it in years. The reason? Our individual student Google accounts with so much access to Google services.) In a nutshell, the Gmail hack is that you create a Gmail account and then add +1, +2, +3, etc. to the address when you sign up for a service.

Hypothetical example: the original account is MsSandersonsClass@gmail.com. Therefore, when I go to Adobe Spark, I create an Adobe ID by setting up a teacher demo account with MsSandersonsClass@gmail.com. When asked about the birth date, I can supply my own. From there, I would proceed to create more accounts for each student in the following manner: MsSandersonsClass+1@gmail.com, MsSandersonsClass+2@gmail.com, MsSandersonsClass+3@gmail.com, etc. until I had enough accounts. All of these accounts would receive their notifications to the original MsSandersonsClass@gmail.com email address that I am monitoring. I would be able to access them all, and they were created by a supervising teacher (satisfying the Adobe user guide).

Overall, an important reminder in all of this: keep an eye on what your students are doing. No great tool replaces the watchful eyes and guidance of a teacher!

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of our trials and tribulations.

Oh, and here’s Mrs. P’s example for her students.

And some by her students:

Learning objective: Demonstrate how a character has changed over the course of a story.

That was always our guiding light.  To quote Monica Burns, ‘Tasks before apps!’

Here’s the Spark You May Have Been Looking For!

October25

A month ago, I watched a great SimpleK12 video, “Creation Tools for Web Browsers: Projects for Students on Chromebooks” presented by Monica Burns. One of the tools mentioned was Adobe Spark. At the time I was intrigued, but in consulting with various teachers, I didn’t push it as there were other tools that seemed to be more fitting for meeting current student learning objectives in their classrooms. I have learned over the years not to get too crazy about trying out EVERY new thing. (Yes, I was a free app hoarder for a while… <sigh>.) Essentially, find a tool you like and really try out its potential. If it’s a good one, the tool will help reach many goals that you have.

Fast forward to the MassCUE Conference last week where I noticed that Adobe Spark was a workshop being offered. Also, the presenter was no other than Monica Burns! I admit a little celebrity-itis hit, and I had to go see her in person. Boy, was I glad I did… it gave me a chance to explore a little deeper with the Adobe Spark products and discover how great they can be for education.

A little promo video:

There are 3 options: Post, Page and Video.

Post is more socially minded… think 140 characters… getting a short message out… summarizing with an eye-catching visual… showcasing a vocabulary word. Here’s an example from the site. See more about Post here.

Page is poster-like, but with web page navigation. Photos, text and links can be shared to an audience on-line. Here’s an example from the site. See more about Page here.

Video is exactly what it implies with visuals, animation, sound and music. Here’s an example from the site. See more about Video here.

All of them are so easy to use and FREE! You can supply your own images or use built-in ones. Music is the same way. Video even produces a credits page. One thing that I was very impressed by were the templates. Video had quite a few that were so student-friendly with guiding suggestions for analyzing characters and events.

All three options are web based, so a Chromebook is perfect. You also can download them as separate apps for iPad.

As far as log-ins… this is the policy stated in the user guide:

‘Children under the age of 13 are not allowed to create their own Adobe ID and so they will need to sign in with an account created by and supervised by a teacher or parent.’

It seems reasonable that since we are a Google Apps For Education district, and our student accounts have all been created by us and we supervise these accounts that our elementary students could use the Adobe Spark service by logging in with their school Google accounts.

So I am ready to start delving into this new opportunity. Anyone have a student learning objective that they (and their students) are stuck on and want to…

adobe-spark1

Google Custom Search

March8

A real concern for teachers is having students search online safely. I have had this conversation with many of you. Three suggestions that I have given are:

  1. Use a kid-friendly search engine, like KidRex.
  2. Supply the websites for students, for example, use our shared resources on a district curriculum links page.
  3. Keep your eyes peeled and circulate when students are on devices!

I was very excited to see a post by SimpleK12 over a week ago about making a Google Custom Search. It seems like this service marries my usual suggestions.

Check out the straightforward, brief, easy-to-follow video on how to set up controlled search for your students from websites that you want them to use:

What I really like about this approach, is that it keeps students focused on sites that you approve with the functionality of doing a “real” search. I know many of you are supplying links in your Google Classroom which is fabulous! (And you don’t have to wait for someone to put your link on a district page.) In Google Classroom, students easily click on each individual site as they are seeking information. However, you can stream line and pull the process together by supplying students with the link to a Google Custom Search you create. Students then can search all of your given sites at once, giving them an authentic searching experience.

Of course, there is no substitute for being a physical presence while students are online searching. Reality, though, is we are not always there, especially if we are asking students to do research at home. Then it all comes down to making sure that we have conversations with our students about being good digital citizens, but that’s another post…

Let me know what you think… I’d be happy to help you give this potentially better way to search a try!

Getting that Works Cited List into Google Classroom

December15

Recently, a video posted online helped me resolve an issue with Google Classroom (see here). I decided that I should try my hand at an instructional screencast.

My topic: how to pull that Works Cited list into Google Classroom.

It’s important for us to teach students to be good digital citizens and cite sources, no matter what the research project is. However, we often struggle with how to pull the pieces together. Here’s my tutorial:

Tip: You can’t view this video in full screen, but it can be “popped out”.

On a side note: would you make screencasts for your students on any particular topic?

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