Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

Teacher Tuesdays Coming to the Apple Store


At the New England Apple Tech Update it was shared that Apple Stores would begin offering Teacher Tuesdays. What does that mean? Free Professional Development!

I contacted the Apple Store at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, New Hampshire for more details. I was told that beginning in June they will be hosting Teacher Tuesday workshops. Sessions will be every other Tuesday. The time was not disclosed, but right now, the topics are as follows:

  • June: Encouraging Creativity with GarageBand on the iPad
  • July: Collaborating with Keynote
  • August: Storytelling with iMovie

I am waiting to hear more. I am hopeful that this opportunity could turn into a valuable resource for teachers. Perhaps, even a study group that takes field trips to the Apple Store for the sessions?!

I will keep you posted.

In the mean time, here’s Apple Teacher, a self-paced professional development program that you may want to check out. It’s also free and has starter guides for Apple products.

Update: Here’s a link to the specific Teacher Tuesday sessions!

Students as Creators – Collages of Learning & Discovery


Last week, I ran a hands-on workshop for K-2 teachers in my school district. I do not work directly with these teachers, but I did my best to give them ideas of how to think about how students could be creators versus consumers on iPads. The student examples that were showcased during the workshop were from the results of my collaborations with Abbot teachers. I wanted to share this creation work with more people, so I’m posting it on my blog today… perhaps, I little bit of a boast… but I’m proud of our work and hope it will inspire others. I’d also love to gather more ideas. Please comment with your how your students create on iPads!

Students as Creators

Summer PD


Looking for some free summer PD to help you make progress with student and professional practice goals?

Here are a few places that may help:

SimpleK12 Educational Webinars

(Don’t forget that Westford has accounts if something is not FREE, and you can make an individual professional development plan to earn PDPs from the District!)

Verizon Mobile Learning Academy Course Webinars

Education Week Webinars


Inspire: Virtual Community of Practice Course

(For Westford educators through the “University of Westford”)

EdTechTeacher Webinars

(Subscribe to find out when they will become available!)

Happy Summer!

Digital Learning PD – Meeting Teachers’ & Students’ Needs


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.

Promoting & Sharing Your Classroom Blog


You’ve set up a classroom blog. It has an eye-catching theme, and you’ve included tons of pages to help the students and parents know the expectations of the classroom. You even write a post updating the latest happenings. Maybe, you have your students writing posts, too. So how come no one is reading it?

I’d like to share a couple of ideas that I picked up during Sue Waters#ETMOOC Blogging with Students session. Plus, I’ll throw in a few of my own.

  • Have a blog launch party. Invite students and parents into the classroom either during or after school for a live demonstration of the blog. Kids love a party, and what better way to build excitement and curiosity about the blog! It is the perfect opportunity to go over how to access the blog and give a tour. Also, expectations for posting and commenting can be explained and clarified. (Thanks to #ETMOOCer, Michelle Cordy, who suggested the party idea during Sue’s session!)
  • Make a detailed direction sheet (with screen shots) about how to find the class blog. On this sheet, also explain guidelines and expectations for using the blog at home.
  • Make a QR code for your blog address. Typing in a long email address from a flyer can be frustrating. By making a QR code for your blog address, parents/guardians with QR readers on devices such as SmartPhones, iPod Touches and iPads quickly can scan the code and jump right to your blog. This code can go right on the direction sheet as well as on business cards or any paper that is sent home. Why not tape the code to the inside cover of a homework agenda book?
  • Add a subscription by email option to your blog. At Edublogs, this is a widget that easily can be added to your blog. What happens is when a person visits your blog, s/he can choose to supply an email address and then will receive a notification when there have been changes made to the blog.
  • Sign up for a Twitter account for your class. Let parents/guardians know so that they may follow your class. (Please see a previous post that explains a little more.) Essentially, when there is a new post or update to the class blog,  you would tweet it out. That way caregivers will receive notice in real time on devices. Perhaps, accessing and reading your blog will be a good use of time while in line at the grocery store?
  • Use the #comments4kids hashtag if your students are writing posts. What will this do? It sends out a tweet to people who are interested in leaving comments for students. (Read a previous post about how this works. Interested in being added to the #comments4kids list, go here.)
  • Choose a month to be family blogging month. During this time, have students invite specific family members to visit the blog and comment. Here is a link that was shared during the #ETMOOC session about how one class took this approach to getting more people involved in their blog.
  • Get a buddy class. We comment on yours; you comment on ours. Start a partnership to increase readership. This could be another class in your own school or town, or you could find one via another network such as the Student Blogging Challenge or the Global Classroom Project.

For more ideas and inspiration, check out Activity 6 of the Edublogs Teacher Challenges on Blogging with Students and/or watch the archived #ETMOOC Blogging with Students session.

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