Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

What Needs a Make-over in 2017?

December6

Believe it or not, December is here.

A whole lot of excitement for upcoming holidays and vacation time make the weeks often fly by us. Before you know it, we are into the new calendar year. At that point, we often ask students to partake in the traditional activity of New Year’s Resolutions. Sometimes the focus is on school and what students hope to achieve, or maybe it’s of a personal matter. You may even do some reflecting yourself.

My experience is that I tend to focus on personal life resolutions. Maybe, you do as well? Yes, in the past I have pledged to eat healthier, take on a new exercise regimen, drink lots of water each day and even take more deep breaths before reacting to my family. Any of these sound familiar to you?

This year, I’d like to make a proposal that when we have our students make a resolution that we do one as well for our work at school. Honestly, I’m not sure what mine will be yet… But I’d like to invite you to join me in thinking of it in terms of a “make-over”.

What curriculum area, subject, objective or practice needs a little highlighting and sprucing up? What needs a little life breathed into it in 2017? Maybe, there’s a digital learning solution…

Before December gets away from us, let’s take time to reflect now… as well as set a plan in motion to hit the ground running in January.

Abbot Colleagues- I know it’s a busy time of year; however, please let me know if you’d like to set up a time to chat for a few minutes this month.

posted under Thoughts | 2 Comments »

Conversations

October11

Last week was a great week of chatting…

No, we didn’t have our feet up eating bon-bons in my office space, talking about the beautiful fall weather…

Instead, I really got to listen to teachers tell me where they want to be heading with their students. These conversations led to me asking lots of questions and showing teachers different possibilities in Google and with apps to help them get started with achieving their student as well as professional goals.

Did I always have an answer?

No.

At least, many times last week I really had to stop and think… about the desired outcome and what was the most developmentally appropriate and manageable way to make it happen. And I think we came up with some great ideas and next steps if I do say so myself.

For example, a teacher wanted an easy way for students pass in work to her when working on an iPad. In the past, we had been using Dropbox, but she wanted them getting into Google Drive and sharing with her. After many different ideas, we came up with a quick solution that also marked the students work so she knew from whom it was coming (an issue with Dropbox): make a Google Classroom Assignment. Students then can log into GC on the iPads and add an attachment to the Assignment and submit to the teacher. Anything that is in the camera roll can be attached, and Classroom names and organizes the attached work for her. Easy, peasy. Let the flood gates of creation, submission and then sharing on her projector begin and keep going! To many this may seem like a no brainer, but for us the workflow of sharing on a community iPad to the teacher has been a challenge in the past. We’re excited about this new procedure.

I like to think last week’s conversations really got my brain fired up.

Let’s keep it rolling… let’s chat soon!

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Automagic!

May31

I love the way Google Classroom organizes student work.

Life has never been easier for a teacher. Create an Assignment: either give students a copy or Google will make them one right in Docs. No more naming files and then misplacing on the local server. A teacher can view finished and unfinished work all via the Classroom, too, from anywhere… at home or at school. Convenience at its best!

I think I was at a digital learning conference and someone referred to this beautiful system that Google had created as “automagic”! Truly, it is!

However, over the course of this year, I’m beginning to wonder if there are some drawbacks to this magical automated system in the sense that students really don’t have to think.

Of course, they have to think about the curriculum content, and that’s the most important thing. Hey, that’s another perk! The other stuff that held up student’s from getting down to work (naming files, finding files) is no longer a part of the equation. But should it be? Maybe, that stuff that can be annoying to us is really good for them to know how to do?

Is it important to know how to create a file yourself?

Is it important to know how to make a folder yourself and to be able to organize and move files?

If we want students to understand the process and to be able to troubleshoot for when the going gets rough, the answer to both questions is “yes”.

I have witnessed on several occasions this year when students are outside of Classroom trying to do a task using a digital device that they come to a complete halt when having to connect to another service and then save and create a file. Then to have to move or copy that file has continued the pain.

I don’t think we should stop using Classroom. I want to be clear: I am not advocating that solution at all! However, I do think that it would be very wise on our part to create situations for students to work on their digital organization skills.

My suggestion: have students go directly to Google Drive and My Drive and create a folder. Perhaps, a folder called Grade _ Projects.

Then have students open finished projects (Docs, Slides, etc.) from within Classroom and go to the file menu to Make a Copy. This will give students the experience to rename the file (as Classroom automagically names things, right!). When the copy of the file opens up on the screen, have students click on the folder icon to organize the file. In other words, now students can move that copied file to that newly created Projects folder in his/her My Drive. You then can show students how to access this folder via Google Drive instead of Classroom. All of this experience will be very helpful, especially since life does not exist entirely in Google (yet).

I’m looking forward to a portfolio project with grade 3 students next year. The endeavor will give them opportunities to select and reflect, but also very importantly, students will have to organize. A skill, in my opinion, that we can’t afford for them to lose.

Just some thoughts over my lunch time today… please share your thoughts below! Thanks!

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Do You Remember These?

April14

Definitely NOT the tool to foster the 4C’s!

posted under Thoughts | 2 Comments »

Digital Learning PD – Meeting Teachers’ & Students’ Needs

March17

Today at Abbot, we had the opportunity to address specific student learning objectives in three 90 minute sessions. And it wasn’t even a District PD Day!

Instead substitute teachers were hired to come in and cover each grade level’s classrooms on a schedule, allowing teams of teachers to attend digital learning workshops with me throughout the day. With so many initiatives and demands on everyone’s time, I have found it very challenging to meet with entire teams at Abbot this school year. While meeting with individuals is an important part of coaching, I think meeting with teams also is equally important. These team meetings give me a sense of curriculum priorities across a grade level as well as letting team members brainstorm, share and support each other with their growth in digital learning.

In the past, technology PD was approached by participants attending a session and being presented with a tool or service. For our Digital Learning PD sessions, each grade level was asked to submit a student learning objective that they would be addressing this spring that may need a fresh approach. This shift in designing the workshop around that specific student learning objective personalizes the PD for teachers. How many times have you gone to a workshop and found that the material presented didn’t really work with your curriculum or age level? Nothing is 100% guaranteed, but I’m pretty sure that teachers today walked away with at least one concrete idea of how technology could enhance, perhaps even transform their students’ learning in the very near future because the workshop was created with that student objective at the forefront.

Moreover, another break from tradition tech PD: these sessions today were not a showcasing of every possible example of how the technology could be used. I designed one specific example, took teachers through the process of how to recreate that example with step-by-step directions and then encouraged brainstorming and exploration. Often the brainstorming went beyond that student learning objective. And that’s the key. As a digital learning specialist, I can suggest tools and services, but without knowing what a teacher is trying to achieve with his/her students, it’s a shot in the dark. We then are beginning to border on technology just for technology’s sake.

A digital learning specialist can not do his/her job well without conversations and collaborations. I think today’s PD allowed for both, and I look forward to coaching teachers in their efforts of meeting students’ needs.

In the spirit of sharing, here are the samples that I created for today’s sessions.

Grade 3 – Student Learning Objective: To study an author – Cynthia Rylant

This example is a BrainPOP Style Video using Explain Everything and iMovie Apps

Grade 4 – Student Learning Objectives: to look at physical features in conjunction with geology (Science), to look at places and to look at climate i.e. weather (Social Studies), and to travel between places discussed in literature (ELA)

This group challenged me with a set of objectives, so we spent time looking at the various layers in Google Earth to start. All of those objectives could be addressed with making a tour; however, I focused on the Tour Builder online service as a user-friendly alternative to making tours as Google Earth tour creation in the software itself is very time consuming. For our 90 minute session, this tool would be a good fit, especially with “looking at places” covered in the social studies curriculum as the example shows.

Grade 5 – Student Learning Objective: To give supportive details from text

This is an example based on a Hypothermia article. The Explain Everything app was used.

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